Ian Twombly Archive

Wide open spaces

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

Boy, when they say the Western U.S. is full of wide open spaces, they aren’t kidding. The sweepstakes flight today was from Altus, Oklahoma, to Falcon Field in Mesa, Arizona. The scenery was incredible. Between the red rocks, mountains, spectacular cliffs and mesas, New Mexico and Arizona clearly have something special. Aside from getting knocked around by turbulence all day, it was a great seven hours of flying.

Tomorrow it’s on to San Jose. I’m hoping seeing the Pacific will be the end to a great trip.

Massive areas of cattle in Texas with nothing else around for miles.

The beautiful vista of New Mexico.

West Texas.

Just a little short

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

Murphy’s Law set in early. We left Frederick an hour late for the trip west in the sweepstakes Archer. Headwinds beat us down even more. But, after 11ish hours of flying, we were rewarded with a great stop–Altus, Oklahoma.

The day took us through Clark County, Indiana, Springfield, Missouri, and finally into Altus. Altus is a town that used to be built around the active Air Force base. But it’s closure means things aren’t what they used to be. At least that’s what the lineman told me. But service and a smile still reign here. Let’s see, gas was $3.60 full service, a linewoman cleaned my windscreen unprompted, and they gave us a ride to the hotel about a mile away. I’ll be back here someday.

But as great as Altus is, it’s not as far as we had wanted to make it. Lubbock, Texas was the original goal. In hindsight I’m glad we didn’t make it though. Texas Tech v. Texas in Lubbock last night probably meant hotel rooms were slim.

This morning we’ll be leaving early to try and make the Phoenix area by early afternoon. There I have an interview with an interesting guy you’ll read about shortly in the magazine. Afterward, who knows? All I know is it’s West.

Let the journey begin!

Friday, October 31st, 2008

I’m a very lucky man. With Expo in San Jose this year, the 2008 Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Archer has to get from AOPA’s Frederick, Maryland, headquarters to the west coast. I get the privilege of making the journey.

The route will take me through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and finally California. With the advances in technology, you’ll be able to follow along like never before. I’ll be blogging on these pages over the next three days, and also giving immediate updates via Twitter.

Follow me at Twitter (ijtwombly) to see where the stops will be. It’s a good way to catch the sweepstakes airplane and get an up-close and personal tour. Happy trails.

Calling all warbird lovers

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Want to fly a warbird? Yeah, me too. How about a T-34 Mentor, a PT-17 Stearman, or even a T-6 Texan? It’s the kind of stuff dreams are made of. But a new organization is trying to make that dream a reality for more of us.

Fly History is a new concept in warbird ownership, using an old concept to try and make it happen. In essence, Fly History is a flying club. Become a club member, meet some very basic flight requirements, and you too could soon be flying a warbird. Solo.

The idea is simple. Buy in. Start flying the T-34. Move up to the Stearman, and finally fly the T-6 solo. The prices are incredibly reasonable and membership should be available in major cities around the country. Now please excuse me while I go check out my bank account…

Aw, how cute

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

I didn’t appreciate how cute stuff like this was until I became a father.

The Fly Market

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

One rather unique Oshkosh feature is the Fly Market. It’s row after row of unique, largely independent exhibitors. Think part flea market (get it?), part county fair, part warehouse of parts. Because the exhibit rates are cheaper in this area, the goods are usually cheaper as well. But it’s also where you usually find the U.S. Air Force, thanks to the discounted rates. Some of my colorful favorites from this year include gold chain by the inch, numerous hammock exhibitors, and all the unique and crazy windsocks. It’s a fun place to get lost for awhile.

That’s one big airplane

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Wow. The Boeing Dreamlifter is a HUGE airplane!

Front and center in Aeroshell square

When are you going to deliver my airplane?

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

The question on everyone’s mind as they come see the Big Yellow Tent at Oshkosh is when we’re going to deliver their airplane. The answer: sometime next January or February.


Manning the sweepstakes airplane at shows is a lot of fun. Members ask all sorts of great questions that we usually have answers for. Although sometimes there are questions like, “Why is the stabilator so big?” Unfortunately I don’t know.

Clearly you’re all reading the magazine because the questions have gotten better and better over the year. Instead of, “What’s that big thing in the panel?” the question becomes, “Are you happy with the Aspen?” So keep those questions coming, either at Oshkosh or through the sweepstakes homepage. See ya around.

It’s a luxury car, it’s a jet, it’s…an LSA?

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Do you like free beer, cocktail shrimp, dance music, and Hollywood models? Then you, my friend, need to buy an Icon. The Icon A5 is a new amphibious LSA introduced with much fanfare (and no doubt money) in L.A. a few months ago. Last night the young company threw one heck of a party at Oshkosh to give it a proper aviation unveiling, complete with the aforementioned draws. Kirk Hawkins, the former fighter pilot CEO, kept saying the airplane would bring back the “fun” and “adventure” in aviation. You’d think no one has ever produced an amphibious airplane before.

Taking a cue from Cirrus, Icon is going after non-pilots. It’s a cool-looking airplane, no doubt. The cockpit looks more like a Ferrari than a Cessna, and the ability to fold the wings is pretty nice (see the video below, which by the way is a little bit of extra showmanship. The wings only fold electrically if you don’t opt for the wheels). Will they last? Maybe. Funding is coming from heavy hitters, including Eclipse Aviation founder Vern Raburn. One thing’s for sure – it was probably the first time anyone ever has or ever will play Metallica in EAA’s museum.

Hitchin a ride to OSH

Monday, July 28th, 2008

I’m the lucky one. Pubs admin Miriam Stoner and I flew the Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Archer to Oshkosh yesterday. It was a great trip. We left Frederick at 0910 local and landed at OSH at 1530 local. I thought we were going to be able to make it VFR, but the leading edge of a cold front that was sitting in western OH forced me to pick up our IFR flight plan in western MD. Despite some strong weather in Wisconsin and other areas associated with this front, it had lost steam and was only producing light rain.

I planned the flight using Voyager, a flight planning software I was using for a product review. It told me that Fulton County, OH (USE) had fuel for $4.95 a gallon! Sure enough, it was still less than $5 when we got there, and they gave us a courtsey car to grab a bite.

For the final leg we climbed up high to cross Lake Michigan. It was a great view, but winds were on the nose at 40 to 45 knots.

The arrival into OSH was fairly uneventful. Things happen fast and you need to keep your head on a swivel. But do that and you’ll be fine. Here are some pics of the cockpit.