Subjects Archive

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.

 

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.”

Christmas concerts with an aviation twist

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

You may have had friends e-mail you links to online videos showing so-called “flash mobs”–and maybe you’re already sick of them.

But if you’re not, watch this one, which shows the U.S. Air Force Band at the National Air and Space Museum on Tuesday. A friend who served in the Air Force shared it, and with great music in an interesting venue, it’s definitely worth watching.

If you live in or will be visiting the Washington, D.C., area, the band will perform a number of holiday concerts in the area through December 15. The full schedule appears on the band’s website.

10 aviation organizations you can support on #GivingTuesday

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Giving Benet

It started with Gray Thursday, for stores that (foolishly) opened at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving day. Then we had Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, then Cyber Monday. So today, we’re at the second annual #GivingTuesday. #GivingTuesday was created to be a national day of giving to kick off the holiday season and as a way to celebrate and encourage charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations.

There are some great organizations out there doing a wonderful job of promoting general aviation and protecting our freedom to fly. So below are my 10 picks of groups I’m sure would love to have your #GivingTuesday donations.

  1. Because charity begins at home, I’m supporting the AOPA Foundation with a $50 donation. The courses it funds via the Air Safety Institute have be invaluable as I continue my flying lessons.
  2. Any organization that encourages more females to fly is worth supporting, which is why Women in Aviation International makes my list. I’ve been a member since 1996.
  3. Speaking of women, pilot and CFI Lynda Meeks is helping to encourage and grow the next generation of female pilots through her Girls With Wings organization.
  4. As the daughter and granddaughter of Air Force officers, I am a big supporter of all things military.  And the work being done by Veteran’s Airlift Command, which helps transport those injured serving their country, is worthy of our charity dollars.
  5. As a minority woman, I would love to see more people of color discover the joys of general aviation. To that end, Orlando-based Vision of Flight provides GA opportunities for economically disadvantaged youths.
  6. Another group that helps people of color learn to fly is the Tuskegee Airmen Scholarship Foundation. It offers aid to to assist financially disadvantaged and deserving students in the pursuit of their educational goals, preferably leading to careers in the fields of aviation, aerospace and science technology.
  7. The Air Care Alliance serves as a clearinghouse for groups offering humanitarian flying using volunteer pilots. Make a donation here, and they will make sure it gets to the right place.
  8. I guess that I’ve spent a good chunk of my life at both branches of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. This museum serves as the repository for the history of aviation and space, and is worthy of our continued support.
  9. The EAA Young Eagles program has flown more than 1.6 million children — for free — since 1992. Many children were hooked after that first flight, and anything that encourages the next generation of pilots needs to be funded.
  10. Last — bur certainly not least — for my pick of organizations to be supported on #GivingTuesday is the Recreational Aviation Foundation. I had the chance to spend time with them during the AOPA Summit, and I really admire their efforts to keep recreational air strips across the country open for pilots and their friends and family to enjoy. Plus they got my award for one of the best fundraisers ever, which I wrote about for AOPA Online here.

So I hope you will consider donation to one or more of these worthy organizations on this second annual #GivingTuesday!

From 35 to 36, a dark afternoon aboard Air Force One

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Like many, I spent some time last Friday watching coverage of the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas. However, I didn’t come across the article that I found most interesting about that day until this morning.

The October issue of Esquire magazine includes a fascinating story, “The Flight from Dallas,” which chronicles the afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963, aboard the modified Boeing 707 that then served as Air Force One–the apprehension, the fear, the loathing as the country abruptly transitioned from its 35th to 36th president. The text is a bit long, but goes quickly; don’t miss the part where the jet’s pilot, Col. James Swindal climbs higher than he’d ever flown before with Kennedy aboard to top tornado-spawning November weather over Arkansas and Mississippi. Read it here.

Built in 1962 as the first jet intended specifically for use by the president, the Air Force VC-137C aircraft known as SAM 26000 (Special Air Mission, tail number 26000) left presidential service in 1990 and was retired in 1998. It’s now preserved at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton.

 

 

Lindbergh Monocoupe returns to Lambert–cool time-lapse video!

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

A 1934 D-127 Monocoupe once owned by Charles Lindbergh has returned to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport after a two-year absence. It was removed in March 2011 to make way for terminal renovations. Originally installed in 1979, the airplane carried more than 30 years of dust.

While it was out, the Missouri History Museum conducted a historic conservation of the Monocoupe, constructed using dope and fabric. The dope shrinks the fabric, which over the years puts pressure on the framework, until the fabric tears to relieve the stress or weaker parts of the interior structure fail. In addition to a thorough cleaning, stress fractures along several seams were repaired.

In nine hours on Oct. 20, the airplane was hoisted back into position over the C Concourse security checkpoint in Terminal 1. However, you can view the entire process in this two-minute time lapse video.

The Monocoupe was one of only three airplanes built completely in St. Louis by Lambert Aircraft Corporation. Lindbergh donated it to the Missouri History Museum in 1940.

 

Goodbye, Goodyear blimp

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

I had a chance to say goodbye this morning to what, for many of us, feels like an old friend. N3A, the Spirit of Goodyear–one of the company’s three blimps and the one traditionally based in Akron, Ohio–was on her farewell tour. The airship has left Ohio for the last time, and was passing through Frederick, Maryland, on her way to Florida. There, in a few months, she’ll be decommissioned.

Goodbye Goodyear blimp

The Spirit of Goodyear in thick fog.

Thanks to recent rains, the ground here has been pretty wet. Combined with a narrow temperature/dew point spread and calm winds overnight, morning fog at the airport was guaranteed. At 8:45, you barely could see the blimp, moored in the airport’s infield.

When the fog begins to lift, it lifts quickly.

When the fog begins to lift, it lifts quickly.

A few minutes later, the fog began to lift. It lifted so quickly that you could watch it go.

As soon as the fog lifted, N3A did too--headed to Florida and eventual decommissioning.

As soon as the fog lifted, N3A did too–headed to Florida and eventual decommissioning.

The Spirit of Goodyear followed soon after, soaring skyward toward the southwest. (I’m sure the crew had to circumnavigate the Baltimore/Washington Class B airspace, just like the rest of us do.) Yes, there will be a new airship next year, but it won’t be a blimp–it will be a zeppelin. “The Goodyear Zeppelin”–that’s going to take some getting used to.

 

10 things I look forward to at AOPA Aviation Summit

Monday, October 7th, 2013

AOPA Summit BIG logo

 

The AOPA Aviation Summit in Fort Worth, which starts on Thursday, Oct. 10, will be my first — and last — time in attendance. While I will be working hard as part of the AOPA ePublishing team to get out all the news from the event, I also look forward to participating in some of the planned events. If you see me around, please come up and say hello — especially if you have a story to pitch! Below is a list of my top 10, in no particular order.

  1. Congratulate the winners. I was among those who helped choose the 2013 Flight Training Scholarship winners, and their stories were inspirational. I want to thank them personally as I continue my own journey as a student pilot.
  2. Fly in warbirds. Greatest Generation Aircraft will offer attendees the chance to ride in or even fly a Douglas C-47.  The Commemorative Air Force is bringing B-29 Superfortress, Fifi, a B-24 Liberator, and C-45 Expediter to Summit. And the Cavanaugh Flight Museum will be offering flights in the H-13B “Sioux,” made famous by M*A*S*H; North American AT-6SNJ; PT17 Stearman; and Travel Air.
  3. See new iPad tricks. I look forward to an education seminar with John Zimmerman, vice president of marketing for Sporty’s, who will share hidden tricks to get more out of your iPad as well as how to use high-tech iPad accessories in “Advanced iPad flying.” The panel is Oct. 10 from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. in the Fort Worth Convention Center Ballroom B.
  4. Pancakes and pilots town hall. Like you, I look forward to hearing from our new CEO and President Mark Baker at this event as AOPA goes into its 75th year. I also look forward to meeting our members.
  5. Summit before the Summit. The AOPA Center to Advance the Pilot Community will be holding a pre-Summit event on Wednesday, Oct. 9. The event will focus on the AOPA flying clubs initiative, excellence in flight training, research related to lapsed and rusty pilots, and intensive conversations with leading aviation innovators, led by our own Senior Vice President Adam Smith.
  6. Catch a star. This year’s Summit will feature celebrity appearances by Major League Baseball star Ken Griffey Jr., country-western singer Aaron Tippin, and legendary football player Ed “Too Tall” Jones.
  7. Learn from the aviation masters. I’m excited about the lineup of aviation greats who will be speaking at this year’s Summit, including sirshow legend Michael Goulian, Rod Machado and John and Martha King.
  8. Summit exhibitors. I’m one of those people who try and visit as many exhibit booths as I can during conventions, so I plan on seeing everything from the AOPA Flying Club Network at Booth #1806 to XM WX Satellite Weather at Booth #922.
  9. Check out the next generation of pilots.  AOPA and Youth Aviation Adventure are sponsoring a free three-hour hands-on discovery program for teens ages 13-18 at Airportfest at Meacham International Airport on October 12, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  10. Drool at Airportfest. This year’s Airportfest will have around 100 aircraft on display. Look for my photos on the Meacham AOPA Pinterest board.

And I hope you’ll all remember to bring a teddy bear for the Teddy Bear Drive, to benefit Cook Children’s Medical Center.

The one aircraft I’d love to fly: AOPA Facebook page fans weigh in

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

On Wednesdays, I occasionally like to post a fill-in-the-blank statement on the AOPA Facebook fan page. We currently have 35,864 likes, and those who visit never hesitate to comment on the content I post in there.

Two weeks ago, I had the chance to fly in one of EAA’s Ford Trimotorswhen it came to Frederick Municipal Airport and did a story about it for AOPA Live This Week (my first video piece!). Plus I did a story about how Fort Worth, Texas-based Greatest Generation Aircraft will offer visitors at the upcoming AOPA Aviation Summit’s Airportfest the chance to ride in or even fly a Douglas C-47.

So I must have had airplanes on the brain when I posted this – The one aircraft I’d love to fly is __________________. You can see the results, below.  We had a record response, so I thought I’d share 10 of my favorite from the 354 responses. You can also see photos of more of the named aircraft over on our Pinterest board.

facebook

 

  1. Kevin Pannebakker Gulfstream G650
  2. Stephen Langkau Curtiss Jenny
  3. Scott Rodenbeck P-51 Mustang

  4. Heather J. Chandler F/A – 18 SuperHornet

  5. Greg D. Baker Lake Renegade

  6. Ankit Chauhan MIG 21 Bison

  7. Steven Bradshaw The Space Shuttle!

  8. Michael Kevin Sibille BD-5J

  9. Bradley Johnson Super Cub Amphib out of Lake Spinard/Hood AK

  10. Derek Grier Vought F4U-D

  11. John Vincent McGuire Beechcraft Starship

Bonus – Marty Gasper A newly refurbished Debonair!

iPhone: Latest cause of runway incursions

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Did you know that the Apple iPhone is causing runway incursions in Fairbanks, Alaska? No, it’s not Siri run amok–apparently, drivers from outside the area were following their iPhones’ built-in map app to get to the airport. The app directed them onto Taxiway Bravo and from there, it’s easy to see the terminal and drive across the main runway to reach it, the Alaska Dispatch reported.

I think we’ve all heard stories about drivers blindly following directions from their GPS navigators. Question: Is an instrument rating required for blind driving? An instrument rating might not have solved the navigation problems, but at least the drivers would have known to call the tower for clearance before crossing Runway 2 Left/20 Right.

Coincidentally, I was through Fairbanks late Sept. 15 and early Sept. 16, flying around the world with Mike Laver in his Mitsubishi MU-2, but nobody at the airport made mention of the first incident. We were watching for wandering bucks on our early morning departure, but a wayward Buick would have been a heck of a surprise.
 
Don’t fret about flying into Fairbanks now, however; the problem has been fixed–sort of. Apple created a temporary “you can’t get there from here” fix for the iPhone map app, according to the Alaska Dispatch. Directions to the airport have been removed from the map, unless you type in the airport terminal’s exact street address. What, you say you need to get to the terminal? Enter 6450 Airport Way, Fairbanks, AK into your iPhone–or request a taxi clearance.