Al Marsh Archive

“Doc” is ready and waiting…and waiting

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

A dataplate for Doc, the friendly Wichita B-29 bomber, was affixed to the aircraft this week symbolizing the volunteer team’s declaration that restoration is complete. One of the women chosen to help rivet the dataplate to the aircraft was 92-year-old Connie Pazacioz whose job during the war was to rivet together aircraft like Doc–she’s one of the original Rosie the Riveters. What’s needed next is FAA airworthiness approval, and so far that has taken months. You could write it off as the FAA just being careful until you look at a special requirement just for Doc, not the nation’s other B-29 Fifi. The volunteers have been told they must use a certified flight engineer, while Fifi can use any trained and “approved” flight engineer. There is only one certified flight engineer in the country, and he will be busy with Fifi flights in June and July. Doc must fly 20 hours before beginning its mission to honor those who sacrificed, including women like Connie. Having a second set of eyes from the FAA helps assure Doc is safe, but a requirement just for Doc? Meanwhile there will be lots of activity at McConnell Air Force Base Friday as Doc runs its engines for dynamic balancing of the propellers–the final step to fly. Someday.

German airport uses robo-bird to scare birds

Friday, April 29th, 2016

To little birds calling Weeze Airport home in Germany across the border with Netherlands it must seem like the Terminator. A group of students and former students from the University of Twente in Netherlands 54 miles northwest are coming to fly their peregrine falcon drone that flaps its wings and looks like the real thing. It is carried aloft on its own wings, not propellers. They have flown their lifelike birds for at least three years, but now it is time to test it. Weeze Airport agreed. You can see the robo-bird here. The students formed a company called Clear Flight Solutions, but they aren’t selling the robo-birds and aren’t marketing to airports. They are just testing. If you absolutely need a robo-bird that is unrelated to the university and too small to scare anything, you can get one for 100 bucks. Shown is Dutch guy Nico Nijenhuis of the University of Twente with the Weeze robo terminator.

Robird foto 26-04-16

`Bitchin Betty’ retires from Boeing; Who knew?

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Her name is not Betty at all, it’s Leslie Shook and she’s anything but a complainer. She is the voice, even after retirement, of the cockpit warning system in the F/A-18 Super Hornet, and she loves the plane and the people who fly it. Boeing employees and Navy pilots came to see her off. She recalls on a Boeing video of one pilot who thanked her for her warning that saved his life. She wasn’t the original Bitchin Betty. That honor fell to someone who recorded warnings for the F-15. But new commands were needed, new urgency that only Shook could provide, and she took on the role. See her story here.

Boeing 247D makes last flight

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Boeing247D About to Land copyTwo Boeing test pilots flew a rare United Air Lines 1933 Boeing 247D April 26, 2016, from its site of restoration at Seattle’s Paine Field to Boeing Field where it was manufactured to go in display at The Museum of Flight. It was a 15 to 20 minute flight. The two pilots signed the wheel well after the flight as is tradition for the final flight of an aircraft. It was successful and lost its job to the DC-2 followed by the DC-3.


Air France tribute to last 747

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

Beautiful French tribute to the last of the Air France 747 fleet. You can almost imagine the commands going out for the flight–“Smoke on!”

Piper to announce new aircraft

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Actually Piper will “announce” two new aircraft. The more secretive of the two is the Piper Meridian M600, unearthed by Australian aviation writers after a tip from a reader about a new trademark that Piper filed. The betting is that this latest Meridian will have a 600-shaft-horsepower engine to make it fly closer to 300 knots, and maybe an extra seat. The competition has that sort of speed and that extra seat. The other announcement is already on the Piper Web site and has been there for quite some time, just waiting for its diesel engine to be approved. It’s the Archer DX, and it will use the same Thielert/Continental/Technify (take your choice) CD155-horsepower engine as the Cessna 172. The Piper Archer DX is close to getting its supplemental type certificate, but the process must begin anew for the Cessna 172. Industry sources believe it will be “days” before the Piper STC is approved (the owner buys it separately from Thielert/Continental/Technify), which means it could be weeks in FAA time. With Cessna, the STC comes with the aircraft.

Welcome, drone pilots!

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Think you have all the ratings? If newly proposed FAA rules on drones get approved–it will take two years–as written, there will be a new type of “pilot” certificate (only required for commercial drone use) called Unmanned Aerial Systems Operator. (Can “Rocket Pilot” be far behind?) Most rule comment periods are 60 days, but apparently that limitation has been tossed away. Here’s the good news. An early draft of the regulations says you need to go to a Knowledge Test Center to take the written test. No previous flying experience, medical certificate, or pilot certificate is required. It must be repeated every two years. If you are already a pilot, you still have to get a UAS operator certificate. First there is an application process. You have to be 17 or older. Following that applicants must visit a flight instructor who signs them off for the written test. All this means we have a pool of potential pilots coming to the airport soon, since that is where many Knowledge Test Centers are located. Do you suppose if we treat them as one of the pilot community, they might actually become private pilots? How many will there be? We can be a lot more optimistic than the FAA. The FAA thinks there will only be 7,500 commerical-use drone pilots in the United States five years after the drone regs take effect. I just checked a Web photography site called SLR (single-lens reflex) Lounge Beta, and I believe the estimate I found there that there are 100,000 wedding photographers out there who want to be competitive, so could there be 20,000 who might want to get a certificate? Now then, the National Association of Realtors said in 2007 there were two million real estate agents in the United States working for 109,000 firms. A few thousand firms may want their own drone, or at least sign a contract with a local drone pilot. So, another 10,000? We’re leaving out a bunch of industries here that may send people to the local Knowledge Test Center. Welcome to aviation, folks.

Editor’s note: You can get more details about the proposed rule and AOPA’s position on safely integrating drones into the National Airspace System in the story, “Proposed rules set limits on small UAS.”

Where are our future pilots?

Friday, January 30th, 2015

12 14Look at the general age group in these DJI (a company that makes drones) photos posted on the drone company’s Web site. Aren’t these the youthful crowd we wanted in general aviation? And where are they? In drone pilot school. Should be a snap for those of us who are already pilots, right? You too can attend drone pilot school. It’s only one day. Select “North America” in the link above under “Select A Region” to see the schedule. DJI, the largest drone maker in the world which manufactured the drone that ended up in a White House tree, offers the school. They want to sell drones and they want to make sure you know the rules, one of which is, don’t drink and drone. If sober, you are more likely to remember you can’t fly a drone in D.C. Classes are worldwide, but  classes for the United States include Boston and Riverdale, Maryland on Feb. 7, and classes later this year in Miami; Englewood, Colorado; Raleigh, North Carolina; Philadephia; and Salt Lake City. Remember, friends don’t let friends drone drunk. Ok, so drone enthusiasts worldwide are stampeding toward drones. And what do we do to get them to stampede to the local airport?


Crazy formations

Monday, December 15th, 2014

You can see Jetman Yves Rossi in formation with an aerobatic airplane flown by aerobatics champion Veres Zoltán while it is performing stunts here. In 2015 Rossi will fly in formation with Zoltán, who will swap out his airplane for a wing strapped to his back with jet motors on it that were built for model airplanes like Rossi has, and you will see that they have already practiced their new act at the end of this video. Or, in an unrelated event done by a different set of pilots, you can see an aerobatic airplane fly in formation with a parachute guy here.

Your flying car will be ready soon

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

AeroMobile 3.0UPDATE 3/17/2015: AeroMobil says it can deliver this flying car in 2017.)

Original article 10/2014. Yeah, right. The Sovakian AeroMobil 3.0 flying car has made another splash in the news by appearing at another trade conference, the most recent one being the Pioneers Festival at Vienna’s Hofburg Palace. The first public presentation was in 2007 at Aero-Friedrichshafen in Germany.  You can see a video about the car here  (four minutes, cue the eerie music). The prototype actually works, doing 100 mph on the ground and a promised 124 mph in the air. The price (you can’t get one yet) is said to be like that of a super luxury car, which leaves one guessing. A 2014 Lamborghini is $200,000 if you get the one intended for poor people, or $548,800 if you get the Lamborghini Aventador which of course would be first choice for most of us. I’ll bet the AeroMobil would fit aboard your private luxury Boeing 747, which actually WILL be ready soon (April in Hamburg). Anyway, good luck AeroMobil, and while I’m at it, good luck to the following flying car companies: Terrafugia, Maverick, Parajet SkyRunner, Pegase (from Vaylon in France), Krossblade AerospaceMoller Skycar, and Fresh Breeze  (flying motorcycle) of Germany. And an additional shoutout to the good folks at Martin  Jetpack in New Zealand. Best of luck to everyone.