Dave Hirschman Archive

Vans RV-12 is creating a swamp

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Vans RV12

What can a mud bog in the shape of an airplane tell you about a particular design?

So far, the amount of grass-stomping foot traffic around the Vans RV-12 has been so impressive that I’m convinced it’s going to be the best seller among Experimental LSAs–by far.

Visitors have surrounded the company’s two RV-12s since Sun ‘n Fun opened, and the green grass around them has been trampled to mud.

Richard Van Grunsven, the airplane’s gruff designer, said the company is doing a brisk business and expects to sell “a couple hundred” RV-12 kits this year. The RV-12 is the first Vans model to use a Rotax engine, and Van Grunsven said he’s convinced it offers the best value, reliability, and performance in its class. But builders–and potential builders–have been expressing interest in other engine options, such as the Continental 0-200 that Cessna is putting in its C162 SkyCatcher.

“People are always asking for something different,” Van Grunsven said. “Usually, it’s just an excuse not to do something they weren’t going to do anyway.”

The easy way vs. the hard way

Monday, April 7th, 2008

SNF Arrival Timeline

How a 270-Knot General Aviation Turboprop Beats A 550-Knot Airliner

by Dave Hirschman and Paul Richfield

Dave’s Turbo-Prop Day April 6, 2008:
Paul’s Airliner Day April 6, 2008:
Sleeping soundly Wake up at 4:47 a.m., out the door by 6:00 a.m.
Still sleeping soundly Drive to work, park the car, move luggage into building to keep it out of the rain, get coffee from machine upstairs. Get into co-worker’s SUV for ride to airport, driver runs upstairs to make copies.
Turn away from sunlight peeking in-between the curtains and pull covers over my head. 6:45 a.m.: We finally leave, and head right to a gas station to top off the SUV.
Still sleeping. Back on the highway, it’s already almost 7:00; our departure on AirTran from Baltimore is scheduled for 8:55.
Wake up at 7:30 a.m. 7:33 a.m.: Arrive at BWI daily parking garage, find a spot on the fourth level. Take elevator down to first level, learn that shuttle buses leave from second level. Get back on elevator, go up to second level.
Shower and shave by 8. 7:41 a.m.: Shuttle bus arrives; picks up our party of three, plus around 18 other people and their luggage. Bus creeps methodically toward the terminal, arriving at 7:56.Curbside check-in packed; head for AirTran check-in inside. I’m number 34 in line. I show the attendant a boarding pass I printed the night before; this confuses him but he checks my bag anyway.
Play Wii with my 8-year-old son until 9. 8:14 a.m.: Head for security gate; learn that the line snakes its way down approximately 175 yards or hallways and corridors, with roughly 1,500 people in line ahead of me. Finally get to the front of the line, remove hat, jacket, shoes, belt watch, pocket change and keys, pull laptop out of bag, divide all of this between two plastic bins. Walk through X-ray machine. Attendant asks for my ticket; guess I left it in one of the bins. We find it, I am allowed to go.
Eat a bowl of granola with wife, son and 11-year-old daughter (the kids have toaster waffles). Pack a rucksack (including a Swiss army knife that’s been grounded since 9/11) and am ready to go out the door at 10 a.m. 8:43 a.m.: Arrive at gate D21. They’re already boarding other zones. I get on the Boeing 717, take seat 19C, an aisle seat on the left. The airplane is packed; a family of five, including three boys under age seven occupy the row ahead of me. Lots of kicking, screaming, and inter-parental drama. Clearly, this is not a flight that caters to business travelers. We take off, climb up to FL340. It’s 2.5 hours to Tampa with light chop for most of the flight. Cabin and flight crews very chatty on the PA; lots of advisories, warnings, welcomes, expressions of gratitude, and stern recriminations to head off unacceptable behavior. No, we shouldn’t activate our personal electronic devices, or get out of our seats unless the captain deems it safe. Yes, we should enjoy our stay in Tampa, and fly AirTran again.
Son asks if I have time for a game of checkers. Why not? He nearly takes me out with a triple jump, but my treachery prevails by 10:15.
Hugs all around. I arrive in my car at FDK at 10:30, drop my bags by the plane and park in the AOPA lot 100 yards away.
Trevor and Brady, the Hawker-Beech crew, arrive at 10:45 and fire up their King Air 90.
We’re off the ground and heading south at 11:02.
Our TAS at 24,000 feet is about 270 knots, but we’ve got a 30-knot headwind for most of the flight. I eat a Snickers bar and drink a bottle of water from the galley. The sky is clear above a low undercast until the Georgia-Florida border. Brady weaves around some heavy rain during the descent, but we break out in time for a landing in VMC on Runway 9 Right. Total flight time: 3 hours 40 minutes. 11:35 a.m.: We arrive in Tampa and stop ten feet short of the gate. More warnings to stay seated or else. Airplane lurches forward the remaining 10 feet, seatbelt sign pings off.
  11:50 a.m.: Finally get off the airplane, head for baggage claim. After 20 minutes the bags appear. Get in line for rental car. Get rental car, hit the road for Lakeland, around 35 miles away.
We unload the plane at the Landmark FBO a quarter mile from the Hilton Garden Hotel where most of the AOPA staff is staying. I gather up a few display items that will go in the AOPA tent and walk to the lobby where I encounter my friend and alter ego, Paul Richfield, who arrived at the hotel at the same time. 2:40 p.m. Arrive at hotel. See Dave Hirschman in the lobby. Mission elapsed time? Seven hours, 53 minutes.