Editors Archive

Howard Hughes plane/boat floats on

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

I had forgotten about this old Howard Hughes airliner that was made into a boat and later dubbed the Cosmic Muffin by singer Jimmy Buffet who happened to float by one day and entered the craft into a novel he was writing. Looks a little beaten up, but still as interesting as when it was on “Oprah” and CNN.

UPDATE: The owner of the planeboat just called from Fort Lauderdale. Dave Drimmer says he plans refitting, repowering, and repainting the boat in 2014. During a refurb in 1994 a data plate was found locking in the Hughes ownership of the aircraft. Apparently it was going to go to Europe to show off American technology when the German invasion of Poland cancelled plans. Rumors that it was going around the world are most likely untrue. Dave suggests you check out the boat’s Web site here. There is also a “planeboats” channel on YouTube about the Hughes plane. When the military tried to confiscate the airplane during World War II, Hughes made sure it was in pieces on a hangar floor to keep it from flying. Hughes always operated it as an airplane, not a boat, and owned it from 1939 to 1949. The next serial number to this one (there were 10 made) is on display at the Smithsonian Udvar Hazy Air & Space Museum at Dulles International Airport.

Strange but true general aviation news

Friday, January 31st, 2014

I feel the need…the need for speed. The Daily Mail has posted a heart-pounding video that gives a glimpse of what it’s like to fly an RAF Typhoon jet. During the video, the supersonic jet flew from a low of 250 feet and a high of 40,000 feet

Was Road Runner there too? Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson had a good excuse for being late to a speech before he Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce’s Rooster Boosterbreakfast — a coyote on the runway, reports AviationPros.com.  As Abramson’s aircraft was landing at  Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport, it had to do a gor-around because of a coyote on the runway.

Do the crime, do the time. John Quinn of Rutland, Vt. pleaded guilty to stealing high-speed carbide drill bits and other aviation-related tools from GE Aviation, reports the Republic. Quinn received more than $108,000 from the proceeds of sales via the Internet.

Happy landings. No one was injured when a small Cessna slid off the runway at Winchester Regional Airport while doing touch-and-go landings, reports the Republic. A small aircraft made an emergency landing in a bean field near Huntland, Tenn., after the engine failed, reports WHNT-TV. No 0ne was injured when a TBM7 made an emergency landing at Sioux Gateway Airport with landing gear issues, reports the Sioux City Journal.

 

Strange but true general aviation news

Friday, January 24th, 2014

But it looked so real! A viral video that allegedly shows a large aircraft crashing into a bridge has been determined as a fake, reports Epoch Times. The video shows the crash, complete with smoke, fire, and a person falling off the bridge.

Cash wasn’t king. Conor Guckian paid $20,000 in cash to charter a private jet for a flight from Nashville to California. The police were tipped off and went to the airport to investigate, reports News Channel 5. When the K-9 unit used dogs to sniff Guckian’s money, they detected a narcotic odor. When they searched the jet, they found another $153,000 in cash.

Let’s go to the video! A New Zealand pilot and his passenger were forced to make an emergency landing on Martin’s Bay Beach after the engine quit, reports AvWeb. After finding and repairing a fuel system blockage and taking off, the aircraft was covered in a spray of water.

Upside down helicopter. Soft snow on a glacier near New Zealand’s Mt Cook caused a helicopter to topple over after a wayward landing, reports the New Zealand Herald. The four tourists aboard were not hurt.

Helicopters to the rescue. A sailor was rescued by the Coast Guard near Piedras Blancas in California after his boat crashed into the rocks, reports the Cambrian. Two men were rescued by a New York Police Department helicopter after they got stuck in the marsh, reports the New York Post.

The importance of a washer

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Now, how important can one little washer be?

Pretty important, as it turns out. While this is not a general aviation incident, the lesson here is dramatically applicable to all of us.

The FAA prepared an analysis of what happened to a China Airlines Boeing 737-800 on August 20, 2007, after landing at Naha Airport on Okinawa, Japan. Watch these two short videos. The first is an animation that explains what happened. Then, watch the second video, which shows the consequences of one missing washer.

That’s about a $90.5 million washer, based on average 2013 Boeing list prices. The 165 people on board were evacuated with no casualties, even though it appears to take about three and a half minutes for fire trucks to arrive. Thanks to my friend Bob Punch for calling this to my attention.

 

Strange but true general aviation news

Friday, January 17th, 2014

The highway became a runway. A pilot and two passengers were forced to make an emergency landing on New York’s Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx after an engine malfunction, reports NBC New York. No one was injured and the Piper PA had minor damage.

A different interpretation of getting high. Despite an effort to fly under the radar, federal and Lawrence County, Utah, authorities were suspicious of  pilot Ken Barton Burrows, who was detained after landing at New Castle Airport, reports the Ellwood City Ledger. After inspecting his single-engine Cessna, Dept. of Homeland Security officers found 240 lbs of marijuana worth nearly $1.2 million on board.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Andrew Decker, says he didn’t know that pointing a laser at a helicopter was dangerous, reports WESH-TV. The teen, who allegedly pointed a laser in in the cockpit of a sheriff’s helicopter as it flew over his neighborhood,  faces a felony charge.

Helicopters to the rescue! Two Tampa police helicopter pilots made a dramatic rescue of a pilot whose airplane had just crashed  as it approached Tampa International Airport, reports the Tampa Bay Times. A California Highway Patrol helicopter rescued a glider pilot who ended up trapped in a 50-foot tree, reports CBS San Francisco.

Good landings.  The Coast Guard rescued two passengers after their airplane went down off the coast near California’s Catalina Island, reports KPCC Radio. A pilot was not injured after he made an emergency landing of his ultralight aircraft in a field in Odessa, Texas, reports the Odessa American.

Strange but true general aviation news

Friday, January 10th, 2014

He could have just used skates. Helicopter pilot Bradley Friesen has defended a stunt where he “skated” his aircraft between two groups of players in Canada’s North Shore Mountains and shot video of it, reports CTV News. He defended the stunt, saying that the video had been “carefully staged” with proper safety briefings.

Do the crime, do the time. Commercial aircraft restoration group B-25 Group, LLC has agreed to pay the government $55,000 after removing parts from an F-82 Twin Mustang that crashed in Fairbanks, Alaska back in 1950, reports the Daily News-Miner. The agreement ends five years of litigation.

It’s all about survival. A pilot and two passengers managed to make an emergency landing at Montana’s Glacier Park International Airport after icing caused the airplane to stall, reports the Spokesman-Review. No one was injured when a private jet with country singer Dwight Yokam made an emergency landing after the pilot reported a fire in the Hawker 800, reports TheBoot.com.

Helicopter rescues. After a series of explosions at the construction side of a student housing complex in downtown Kingston, Ontario, a helicopter operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force rescued a crane operator trapped in the fire, reports AvWeb. A man who was kicked off a mountain in Puerto Rico by a goat was rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter, reports ABC News.

 

6 favorite AOPA Online stories in 2013

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

As editors, we here at AOPA have a wonderful job, getting to tell the great stories of our members. As the newest member of the team, I had the chance to interview some amazing people, so below are my six favorite stories from 2013, in order.

1.  I’ve been in love with aviation since I was six. And growing up as the daughter of a non-flying Air Force officer, I had access to aviation that many African-Americans of my generation didn’t have. Even before coming to AOPA, I worked to make aviation more diverse, which is why my Oct. 1 story on Delaware State University, a historically black college and university based in Dover, is a special favorite. The university, which traces its aviation training roots back to the Tuskegee Airman in World War II, has officially been training aviation professionals in its flight program since 1987. It is also the only HBCU aviation program that owns and operates its own aircraft fleet. Only about two percent of professional pilots in the United States are African-American, said Capt. Stephen Speed, the school’s aviation program director.

2.  AOPA member Will Davis discussed how he was able to continue his flight lessons after a video of him clipping an SUV as he was landing during his first cross country solo went viral worldwide. Despite that, he got his certificate on Feb. 2, as I wrote back on Feb. 27.  I heard from him recently, and he said that he tries to fly at least once a month, with plans to fly more when he gets the time. He also thanked everyone for their encouragement and support during that difficult time and after.

3.  Talk about inspiration – a father inspired his daughter to go through a second harrowing liver transplant by promising to buy her the airplane of her dreams after she made it through the surgery and recovery. Thirty-year-old Julie DeStefano comes from a family of pilots, including herself, her brother and her father, Dennis, who both own aircraft, as I reported in my March 27 story. Dennis recently reported  that Julie send him and her mother on several reconnaissance missions to Monte Vista and Alamosa, Colo., and Taos, N.M., to look at potential tail draggers, to no avail. “Then in May she located her dream plane in Knox County, Ohio. On June 14 I flew her there to take delivery of N7679E, a really clean 1958 Champion Model 7FC,” he said.

4.  On Aug. 12, I wrote about 20-year-old Jennifer Guetterman, who won a free trip to France and participated as the only American among 75 racers in the Tour Aérien Des Jeunes Pilotes, which ran July 15-28. The event was created to motivate the next generation of pilots and promote general aviation to the public, and Guetterman’s trip was funded by AOPA, the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations, and the Fédération Française Aéronautique. Since the tour, she said, she has continued to teach Ground School at AFI Flight Training Center at Fullerton Airport. “I am one semester away from my Associate of Science, Commercial Pilot degree at Cypress College and my Instrument Rating check ride should be in January,” she said. “I have kept in touch with my French pilot friends and plan on returning to France to visit during the next tour.”

5.  Sixteen years to the day after getting his student pilot license, Glen Wenzel, recipient of the Erral Lea Plymate Memorial flight training scholarship in 2012, passed his checkride and got his private pilot certificate on July 31. My story was published on Aug. 8.  He is a career firefighter in Winston-Salem, N.C. His father was a pilot, and he has been around aviation his whole life, taking his first flight at age four.  An AOPA member since 2010, Wenzel said that learning to fly has been a lifelong goal. After his father died in a helicopter accident, Wenzel inherited his Cessna 150. “That made it easier to do my training, despite the unfortunate circumstances,” he said. “Inheriting his plane made it even more important to finish my flight training.” Since then, he said he’s been trying to do as much flying as he can. “I’m going to try to get my instrument license next year some time. I’ve mostly been flying out to the beach and up to Jersey to see family,” said Wenzel. “Hopefully next year will bring an instrument and maybe a commercial ticket.”

6.  Seven employees at Woodinville, Wash.-based Dynon Avionics who formed the Swamp Creek Flying Club, including CEO Robert Hamilton, built a Glasair Sportsman under its Two Weeks To Taxi program for their club aircraft. I covered the story on April 1. Kirk Kleinholz, a CFII sales manager for Dynon and a club member, says the original members are still in the club, and that the aircraft has been performing well.  Two members flew it to AirVenture this year and parked it with other GlassAirs. “We also use it to visit Dynon’s business partners, and it was on display at the Golden West Fly-In,” he said. “It’s truly been a thrill to have our own aircraft.”

Strange but true general aviation news

Friday, December 27th, 2013

These drugs just fell from the sky!  Officials at Hull Prison near Ottawa, Ontario, are beefing up security after a drone was able to drop a package that allegedly was filled with drugs, reports AvWeb. The package was never recovered.

Speaking of drones… Samy Kamkar, a computer programmer, has released a set of free instructions showing how a toy Parrot drone can be turned into a “skyhacker” drone, reports AvWeb. It can then interfere with WiFi-controlled drones and take control of them.

This spa wasn’t so relaxing. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency raided the offices of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based  charter operator World Jet as part of a drug trafficking case, reports the Durango Herald. The company allegedly used The Springs Resort & Spa in Pagosa Springs, Colo., to launder money for the operation.

Helicopter to the rescue. An 18-year-old cliff jumping the waters off Tasmania’s Blackmans Bay Beach had to be rescued by helicopter after he injured his back after falling 26 feet into the water, reports ABC News.

A safe landing is a good landing. A pilot flying from Maine’s Portland International Jetport to Waterville was forced to make an emergency landing on I295 after allegedly running out of fuel, reports Flying magazine. A Beechcraft BE-200 used by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made an emergency landing after the landing gear failed to deploy, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Have a Chuck Norris Christmas

Friday, December 20th, 2013

If you can’t do this, you ain’t nothin’. Chuck Norris does a one-up on a Claude Van Damme video to wish you a Merry Christmas. And yes, he pushed the planes apart when he felt like it because he’s Chuck Norris! What do you think now, Van Damme (except you did it for real, eyes closed, backward, but only 10 feet above the ground)?

Strange but true general aviation news

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Talk about high flying. Two men who landed a private aircraft at Johnson City Municipal Airport are facing drug charges after a Drug Enforcement Administration agent found 75 lbs of marijuana aboard, reports the Times News.

He gets a double penalty. John Walsh, 46, faces trouble times two after he allegedly flew an unregistered LSA-type aircraft and flew with a falsified pilot certificate, reports AvWeb. He was using the vehicle and his fake license to to fly customers near Key Largo, Fla.

And here’s another double penalty. Paul Douglas Tharp, 53, has been charged with lying to the FAA about being a pilot and a mechanic, along with flying aircraft without a license, reports the Charlotte Observer. He is facing up to five years for each count of lying, plus three years for flying without a license.

Survival of the fittest. Juan Hernandez, Honduras’ ruling party presidential candidate, his wife and three members of his campaign team survived after his helicopter crashed on the way to a rally in Juticalpa, reports the Daily Times.  A pilot was forced to make an emergency landing in Trussville, Ala., after losing power, reports WVTM-TV. A small aircraft made an emergency landing at the Fargo Jet Center after experiencing landing gear problems, reports WDAY-TV.

He couldn’t just use an axe? The Gizmodo blog reports (and posts video) of ace helicopter pilot Dan Clark using his rotorcraft to harvest Christmas trees.  “Oregon helicopter pilot ruthlessly owning inertia,” says Redditor coolmandan03.