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Build a Plane builds two planes, Day 1

Monday, June 17th, 2013

“Get ready to drink from the firehose.”

Can they build an entire airplane in two weeks? Build a Plane is betting they can.

Can they build an entire airplane in two weeks? Build a Plane is betting they can.

If you’re in aviation, you’ve probably heard that phrase before—particularly if you did an accelerated rating or a type rating. Today I heard that phrase applied to the process of building an airplane.

“Building an airplane” and “drinking from the firehose” are generally not concepts that you hear in the same conversation, but when you consider that we’re talking about assembling an Experimental kit in two weeks, it all makes sense.

The kids who took their first deep drink from the firehose today are eight teenagers from high schools in Michigan and Minnesota. They are the winners of an aviation design contest sponsored by Build a Plane and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. School’s out, and they’re here in Arlington, Wash., to spend some quality time with fiberglas, rivets, and bucking bars.

learning about wingsThe day began at 7 a.m. with a briefing at Glasair’s Customer Assembly Center at Arlington Airport. (We should all have hangars this immaculate and organized. Talk about a place for everything and everything in its place!) By the first morning break, the students had begun mounting rudders and installing rudder cables, and mounting the main landing gear and tires. In another corner, fuel lines were being threaded along a wing.

Glasair’s Two Weeks to Taxi program has several years under its belt, and the level of preparation that goes into it is evident. To the casual observer, today looked a little like “organized chaos,” as one observer put it—but it was also apparent that a lot of progress was made. That’s good, because the plan is to get the first of the two airplanes ready to taxi on Wednesday, June 26, and an FAA inspection on Saturday, June 29.

tire on rimWill they make it? Stay tuned as I post updates from Arlington and the progress of the Build a Plane/GAMA projects.

Want to run a flightseeing business like David Snell?

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

David Snell, the entrepreneurial soul who runs Starlight Flights in Dallas, Texas–and that’s just one of his three businesses—says he knew AOPA Pilot readers would be interested in what he does. And he was right.

Since my article on Snell (“2,000 Feet Over Dallas”) was published in the March 2012 issue, I’ve received numerous emails from members wondering how they, too, could get started in the flightseeing business without owning an airplane. Snell, you’ll recall, rents a Cessna 172 (so no operating expenses), and meets clients in the lobby of the FBO from which he purchases fuel (so no brick-and-mortar expenses). He has commercial and flight instructor certificates but has logged thousands of hours without having to, you know, actually flight instruct.

I’ve forwarded all your emails to David since the article ran, but he has graciously consented to provide his email address on this blog for anybody else who wants more details. He warns that April is the busy time for his crawfish business, but I’m pretty sure that his enthusiasm for what he does and his genuine desire to share his knowledge with fellow pilots means he’ll get back to you. And if you’re in the Dallas area, you just might want to hit up one of his crawfish boils, because I’ve seen photos–and they look delicious. Email Snell at dsnell@grandecom.net.

 


Strange But True General Aviation News

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Sequester forces a move to the rails.  Yet another victim of the sequester is the military jet used by Vice President Joe Biden.  FOX News reports that the vice president made the decision to ground Air Force 2 and take Amtrak to his home in Delaware.

I hope he yelled “fore.”  The pilot of a twin engine Aero Commander was forced to make an emergency landing on the Omni Interlocken Golf Course in Broomfield, Colo., after reporting a loss of power, reports the Denver Post. No one was injured.

He’s a talk show host, he’s an aircraft investigator! Late night talk show host Carson Daly recently expressed concern about a photo that his friend Adam Levine, lead singer for Maroon Five, posted of the band boarding a private jet during a snow storm in Minneapolis, reports CBSLocal.com. Daly reportedly looked up the aircraft’s tail number, and discovered it had been described by a pilot as being “dangerously unsafe.”

Sure I’ll loan you my jet! The Chicago Bulls found themselves flying on the private jet of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban after the team’s own aircraft experienced mechanical problems on a flight from Chicago to Indianapolis, reports Yahoo Sports. The Bulls management used Cuban’s jet for a  flight to San Antonio.

“Pilot Getaways” iPad app

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

PilotGetaways_iPad

Pilot Getaways, a travel and destination publications that features great fly-in destinations, has a new iPad that shows the current issue of the bimonthly magazine and offers back issues for sale. Pilot Getaways has been featuring recreational destinations accessible to general aviation for 15 years. “Readers have been demanding an easy way to reference our extensive travel information without carrying 73 back issues weighing more than 30 lbs. By the end of the year, we expect to have our complete library of more than 500 destinations available,” said editor-in-chief John Kounis. An annual subscription costs $19.99 and back issues are available for $4.99. For more information, visit www.pilotgetaways.com, or call 877-PILOT-GW.

Vote for Great Lakes paint scheme

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Waco Classic wants you to select the paint scheme for the first Great Lakes biplane the Michigan company is producing.
The first aircraft is nearing completion, and there are five contenders for the paint scheme.
I know which one I like. What’s your favorite?
You can see them (and vote for one) using the following link: http://www.wacoaircraft.com/great-lakes/voting/

Now hear this….

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

The following could ONLY come from a federal agency:

If you have recently had or if you will have an FAA Practical Test using a Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) or a Designated Mechanic Examiner (DME), you may be contacted by the FAA for a survey. The questions will be limited in scope to the conduct of the ground and flight (if applicable) portions of your Practical Test.
This is part of an emphasis program by the FAA Designee Quality Assurance Branch, AFS-650. This program interviews recent applicants tested by a DPE/DME and also observes the DPE/DME conducting an actual Practical Test. The purpose is to observe the DPE/DME, not the Practical Test Applicant. The goal is to eventually check all DPEs/DMEs. These checks are prioritized based on, among other things, the type and amount of testing activity conducted by the DPE/DME.
What is a SEED? Special Emphasis Evaluation Designee Inspection.
For more information contact your local FSDO.

Translation: If you have recently taken a check ride or earned an A&P certificate, you may get a survey from the FAA.

Iran’s comical “stealth” fighter

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Iran’s recent unveiling of what it claims is a new stealth fighter was supposed to instill fear in adversaries — but so far it’s mostly produced laughter and derision. Military aviation experts point out some of the craft’s many flaws: uneven coatings in the supposedly radar absorbent coating; terrible canopy optics, no head-up display (HUD), no weapons systems, and no actual jet engine. General aviation pilots also will note the avionics are mostly Dynon and Garmin units designed for the civilian market. (There are two small Dynon screens, one large one, a Garmin transponder and SL30 radio, an AvMap GPS, and what looks like a Bendix/King AV8OR touch-screen GPS. Of course, U.S. military pilots use commercial, off-the-shelf avionics from many of the same manufacturers. But Iran’s choice of the touch-screen GPS seems inspired. When Iranian pilots are shot down, they can still use the portable unit to walk home.

The end of aircraft icing?

Friday, February 8th, 2013

I know next to nothing about nanotechnology — but this video about a new type of hydrophobic coating that repels water has me excited about potential aerospace applications. Could we simply coat our aircraft with this type of chemical and make them shed water, ice, and maybe even bugs?

Strange but true general aviation news

Friday, February 8th, 2013

I’m not sure videotaping should have been the priority here.  The amazing thing about the emergency landing of a Cessna 175 in a field in Cache County, Utah, was not that all five aboard were not injured. The amazing thing was that passenger Jonathan Fielding videotaped the whole thing on his cell phone, reports KUTV-TV.

Build an airplane — and an air strip.  Friends Patrick Tippman and Patrick Borton are about half way to building a Zenith STOL CH 750 kit plane, reports the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.  But their work isn’t done when the aircraft is complete. They will then build a 1,700-foot grass runway at Tippman’s back yard to fly the airplane.

What did that crop duster ever do to you? Stephen Paul Riley, owner of the Flying Lead Ranch in Texas, has pleaded guilty to shooting at a cropduster that flew over his property back in 2008, reports Flying magazine.  He apparently was unhappy that Keeter Aerial Spraying was passing over his property and had warned he would shoot any aircraft flying over his ranch.

Not a good target.  A Coast Guard HC-130H Hercules practicing approaches into Hawaii’s Kahului Airport was forced to return to Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point after someone pointed a green laser into the cockpit, reports the Maui News. No one was injured in the incident, which is being investigated.

Some people just know how to fly. Old Dominion University football coach Bobby Wilder was able to do recruiting trips from Tampa, Fla., to Rochester, N.Y., because Stephen Ballard, owner of a Virginia Beach construction company, loaned his private aircraft for the effort, reports HamptonRoads.com.  The coach credits having use of a private airplane for his successful recruiting class.

Strange But True General Aviation News

Friday, December 7th, 2012

But it looked so real!  WGN-TV news anchors Larry Potash and Robin Baumgarten were just doing their job when they went live and began reporting on what appeared to be an aircraft accident in Chicago, reports the Herald Sun.  The problem was, the accident was fake, having been staged for the NBC television series “Chicago Fire.”

Rocky Mountain Low.  Pilot Carl Steven Gruber’s excuse that he flew 55 pounds of pot into Boulder Municipal Airport to provide medical marijuana didn’t fly with Judge Thomas Mulvahill.  Gruber was sentenced to two years probation and a $10,000 fine, reports the Daily Camera.

Those were expensive airplane rides!  Among the gifts Inland Waters CEO Tony Soave gave former disgraced Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was private jet flights totaling nearly $400,000, reports WXYZ-TV.  Soave, who also gave Fitzpatrick and his family an all-expenses-paid trip to Naples, Fla., says he did it because he didn’t want to lose the city’s business.

From private to commercial.  Juan Manuel Marquez, who will fight Manny Pacquiao on Saturday in Las Vegas, arrive six hour later than expected.  Why?  The private jet he was using had to make a U-Turn after the pilot discovered a problem with the tire right before taking off, reports Yahoo Sports. The pilot determined the aircraft would not be able to fly, so Marquez ended up catching a commercial airline flight.

We’ll end the week with this blog post from Huffington Post: The Emily Post Guide to Flying Private. Enjoy!