Subjects Archive

Propulsion Pushback

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Many pilots are early technology adopters and push the bounds of the possible – so it’s a cruel irony that we, as a group, have been stuck for so long with ancient air-cooled engines that are largely unchanged from the middle of the last century.
The first in our Propulsion series in AOPA Pilot magazine is getting lots of response from pilots eager to move forward.
Commenting on the AOPA Facebook page, Paul Roper puts it bluntly: “One of the most disappointing things I experienced during my foray into general aviation was the ludicrous prices manufacturers would charge for crappy, low-tech, Flintstones-era, underpowered, thirsty, boring engines. Well, not only the prices, but the whole head-in-the-sand attitude to anything invented after about 1950. Carburetors? Pushrod valves? Are we in the Victorian era?”
Others, like AOPA member Terry Welander, have written to take issue with the likely future elimination of leaded avgas:
“Most of the environmentalists have knee jerk reactions whenever the word lead comes up; which is highly ignorant; based on the below facts on the lead and other toxins in the atmosphere from volcanic emissions. There will never be a rational reason to remove the one part per million lead from avgas. Worse, as with practically all past fuel transitions, the increased costs and hidden safety hazards of new fuels not evident until substantial use has been accomplished will likely result in a temporary to intermediate degradation of aircraft safety which is completely unnecessary.”

In case you missed it, here’s the link to the July kickoff article in AOPA Pilot.
Share your thoughts by commenting here.

Dave Hirschman
Senior Editor
AOPA Pilot magazine

Solar Impulse adds D.C. visiting hours

Monday, June 24th, 2013

The Solar Impulse—the manned, solar-powered airplane currently making its way across the United States–has added some additional public visiting hours during its stopover at Washington Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia.

The historic aircraft, which arrived at Dulles early Sunday, June 16, is parked behind the National Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center. It will be open to the public Tuesday, June 25, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. If you’re in the area and have the opportunity–go! Additional public visiting hours could be added as the team awaits suitable weather conditions for departure.

Solar Impulse will launch on the last leg of its transcontinental journey, to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, in late June or early July. Plans call for its successor, already under construction in Switzerland, to fly around the world in 2015, making one stop on each continent.

 

 

Five things you didn’t know about Rinker Buck and ‘Flight of Passage’

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Rinker Buck and his brother Kernahan flew from New Jersey to California in a Piper Cub in 1966. Kernahan, the pilot in command, was 17 and Rinker was 15—and the trip was done with their parents’ full consent. (And flown solely by pilotage and dead reckoning—Rinker’s job was to be the navigator.) Rinker Buck’s memoir, Flight of Passage, has become available in eBook format. I talked with him yesterday for an interview that will appear in the August issue of Flight Training magazine, but here are some extras from that very interesting conversation:

  • He doesn’t consider Flight of Passage an aviation book. “I consider it a memoir in the truer sense. It’s about life.”
  • He was surprised when people wrote to tell him the book inspired them. “The biggest surprise of the book was getting emails from people saying ‘I’m so inspired by this, I’m going to learn to fly, I’m going to go take a flight.’” Many current pilots told him the book inspired them to make a coast-to-coast trip–and several did, including a pilot from Rhode Island who conducted the trip in an L-19.
  • He and his brother are still flying, but not as much. Buck has been busy working on his latest book, which chronicles a trip by horse-drawn wagon over the Oregon Trail, but says that he still enjoys flying with friends. Kernahan is an attorney whose Boston practice keeps him busy.
  • When researching Flight of Passage, he re-flew most of the routes in a Cessna 182. “It was amazing that I just remembered our old routes, that’s why the book could be so accurate in terms of landscapes.” The brothers landed at 30 airports. “Twenty-seven of them are still there and they look exactly the same.”
  • He thinks you need to read Stick and Rudder, if you haven’t already. “The principles have not changed. You might be flying along in a Cirrus with a glass cockpit but it’s all still subject to all the same laws that [Wolfgang] Langewiesche wrote about.”

 

AOPA Foundation’s Giving Back: 10 GA charities that should apply

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

The AOPA Foundation recently announced its new Giving Back program, created to do these things:

  • Award grants of up to $10,000 to 10 nonprofit groups that perform charitable work through GA;
  • Award flight training scholarships to individuals who want to learn to fly or pursue aviation careers;
  • Provide free memberships to armed forces personnel who want to be part of the GA community; and
  • Provide memberships through our AOPA AV8RS program that gives teens an opportunity to learn about and explore the world of aviation.

The one that intrigued me was the the first one.  I know of so many general aviation nonprofits out there doing work, so below is my list of organizations, in no particular order, I think should apply for a grant.

  1. Wings of Grace Ministries –  I recently had the pleasure of writing about this Melbourne, Fla.-based nonprofit, which offers free flight training to youths age 13 to 18.  $10,000 would allow founder Dwight Bell to bring more youths — who are all members of AOPA’s AV8RS program – into the fold.
  2. Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum — In May 2012, CNN profiled this Compton, Calif.-based program that provides flight training for inner city youth out of Compton Airport. As a minority myself, I believe strongly in the power of aviation to put — and keep — these youths on the right path. And I applaud any program that brings more diversity to the industry.
  3. Girls With Wings — I first learned about pilot Lynda Meeks’ efforts to inspire young girls to fly when she appeared on the Airplane Geeks podcast on Nov. 8, 2011.  She offers scholarships, female role models, and events across the country designed for women and girls.  A foundation grant would help Meeks give away more scholarshps.
  4. Candler Field Museum — Last month, I interviewed Ron Alexander, a retired Air Force and Delta Air Lines pilot, after he was inducted into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame.  One of his claims to fame is this museum, created to document the history of the original Atlanta airport, originally named Candler Field. Part of the effort includes a partnership with the Candler Field Flying Club, which has youths work in the museum in return for scholarships to learn to fly.
  5. Tuskegee Airmen Scholarship Foundation — this Los Angeles-based organization provides scholarships to  deserving young men and women based on the criteria of responsible citizenship are character and achievement, rather than ethnic origin.
  6. Professional Women Controllers — I met officers of this organization that promotes careers in air traffic control at this year’s Women In Aviation conference and did a profile on their efforts.  I’m sure a foundation grant would help fund their education and career development programs.
  7. Air Race Classic — among the things this organization is dedicated to are encouraging and educating current

    and future women pilots and increase

    public awareness, two causes that fit well with the foundation’ mission.  Read my story on this organization here.

  8. Pilots N Paws — I’m a dog lover, so I know first hand how much people love their pets. This nonprofit serves as a facilitator for people and organizations who rescue, shelter or foster animals, and volunteer pilots and aircraft owners willing to assist with the transportation of animals.
  9. Recreational Aviation Foundation — this organization, a friend to AOPA, protects recreational air strips across the country, making them available for general aviation pilots to use.  Read here about the organization’s latest advocacy efforts.
  10. Youth Aviation Adventure  – I’m in favor of anything that helps show kids and teens all the joys of being involved with aviation, which is why I like this program. In a single day youths go to participating airports to learn all about aviation, with the goal of inspiring them.

 

Birthday tribute

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

One of the many IAPs debuting with the start of the current FAA charting cycle today is the BNELE ONE Arrival (RNAV) to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. This standard terminal arrival was designed to bring jets from the lower flight levels over Nashville and Memphis onto an approach to ATL.

The final waypoint on this STAR for arrivals landing to the west on Runway 26 Left or 26 Right is KEAVY, and like many waypoints today, there’s a story behind it.

Keavy Nenninger learned to fly while she was in high school by pumping gas into airplanes at Moontown Airport–a grassroots airport with a 2,180-foot grass runway just outside of Huntsville, Alabama. Ralph Hood wrote about her checkride in Flight Training magazine in the way that only Ralph Hood could write. She earned a degree in aerospace engineering from St. Louis University’s Parks College of Engineering and Aviation in 2010. There, Keavy was a member of the college’s flight team. She pursued a career in aviation, a passion that she lived and breathed. I met her once at a Women in Aviation conference and remember thinking, “Here’s somebody that’s going places in this industry.”

 Tragically, Keavy died July 23, 2011, in an aircraft accident in Maryland. “Keavy’s adventurous spirit was infectious and she died doing what she loved most–flying,” her obituary read.

Today would have been her 27th birthday.

Her friends will gather for a cookout at Moontown Airport on Saturday evening, May 4–not all that far, by air, from KEAVY, just northwest of Atlanta.

Want to run a flightseeing business like David Snell?

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

David Snell, the entrepreneurial soul who runs Starlight Flights in Dallas, Texas–and that’s just one of his three businesses—says he knew AOPA Pilot readers would be interested in what he does. And he was right.

Since my article on Snell (“2,000 Feet Over Dallas”) was published in the March 2012 issue, I’ve received numerous emails from members wondering how they, too, could get started in the flightseeing business without owning an airplane. Snell, you’ll recall, rents a Cessna 172 (so no operating expenses), and meets clients in the lobby of the FBO from which he purchases fuel (so no brick-and-mortar expenses). He has commercial and flight instructor certificates but has logged thousands of hours without having to, you know, actually flight instruct.

I’ve forwarded all your emails to David since the article ran, but he has graciously consented to provide his email address on this blog for anybody else who wants more details. He warns that April is the busy time for his crawfish business, but I’m pretty sure that his enthusiasm for what he does and his genuine desire to share his knowledge with fellow pilots means he’ll get back to you. And if you’re in the Dallas area, you just might want to hit up one of his crawfish boils, because I’ve seen photos–and they look delicious. Email Snell at dsnell@grandecom.net.

 


Reel Stuff releases schedule for upcoming film festival

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

As AOPA’s unofficial aviation movie critic, it’s my solemn duty to inform you that the Air Force Museum Foundation’s Reel Stuff Film Festival of Aviation announced its lineup for the upcoming festival, April 12 through 14 in Dayton, Ohio. And it looks good.

Friday, April 12:

  • The Restorers, presented by Director Adam White and Producer Kara Martinelli. The one-hour documentary tells eight stories of warbird restoration folks. Produced in 2003, it recently became available in a tenth-anniversary commemorative edition; a new television series is in the works.
  • First in Flight, presented by Producer Tara Tucker and Director Brandon Hess. View the trailer for this film about the Wright brothers here. Tucker is the daughter of Sean Tucker.
  • High Flight and Uncle Jack, a pair of films presented by Producer/Director Jon Tennyson. High Flight is narrated by Gary Sinese (also a pilot), and it chronicles his 2011 preparation and flight in a U2 spy plane. Sinese financed the project and proceeds from its sales on DVD benefit the Gary Sinese Foundation.
  • Wings, presented by William Wellman Jr., son of the film’s director, William Wellman. I saw Wings accompanied by live organ music, and it is a beautifully made film for its time (1927). No wonder it won an Academy Award for best picture, and another for best effects. And no CGI!  I’ve heard bits and pieces of what production was like and it’s certain Wellman will have fascinating insights into how the film was made.

Saturday, April 13:

  • Air Racers 3D, presented by Producer/Director/Writer Christian Fry and Steve Hinton Jr. Hinton flew a P-51 Mustang in this documentary, which explores the Reno National Championship Air Races.
  • Memphis Belle (1944 documentary), presented by Catherine Wyler, daughter of director William Wyler.
  • Memphis Belle (1990 feature film), presented by Catherine Wyler.
  • Top Gun 3D, presented by Clay Lacy and Barry Sandrew, founder of Legend3D. I missed Top Gun’s 3D debut when it arrived in Frederick, and from all accounts it was worth seeing, even if you (like some pilots I know) can recite the dialogue in your sleep.

Sunday, April 14

  • Steve Canyon, presented by historian John Ellis. This appears to be the live-action television series from 1958-1959 based on the popular comic drawn by Milton Caniff. Ellis has been restoring the original 35mm prints for release on DVD.
  • Honor Flight: One Final Mission, presented by Producer Kmele Foster. The documentary focuses on a Midwestern community’s efforts to give four World War II veterans “the trip of a lifetime.”
  • Encore screening of Top Gun 3D

For more information, including ticket prices and where to stay, see the website. And yes, I’ve plugged Moraine Air Park into the flight planner and am making tentative plans to point Miss J west.

Update: Brush up on safety skills, help the Air Safety Institute

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

On Feb. 7, I did a blog post and story on AOPA member Shannon Osborne, a member of the North Jersey chapter of The Ninety-Nines, who had come up with a unique idea to help keep pilot skills sharp when bad weather limits winter flying.  She pledged to donate $5 to the AOPA Foundation’s Air Safety Institute for every course the 16 members of her Ninety-Nines chapter took in the month of February.

Eight of Osborne’s chapter’s 16 members participated in her challenge, taking five ASI safety courses.  So she flew to Frederick last week with her former flight instructor, Tim O’Neil, and presented ASI with a check for $40. “I’d like to see 100 percent chapter participation next year and make this challenge an annual thing,” she said.

Osborne would also like to see more Ninety-Nines chapters take up the challenge, or even donate to ASI. “If we can get more people talking about ASI products, more will be invested in safety,” she said.  “It’s a focus on air safety and that’s a win-win for everyone.”

I’m a student pilot, so I decided to take up Osborne’s challenge, completing four courses: “Say It Right,” “Runway Safety,” “Airspace for Everyone,” and “Do the Right Thing: Decision Making for Pilots.” And I was happy to write a $50 check to the foundation.  For a complete list of ASI offerings, click here.

‘Charlie Victor Romeo’ goes from theater to 3D

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Charlie Victor Romeo

Mention the Sundance Film Festival to most pilots, and you’ll get a blink or a shrug. That’s because Sundance, which yearly showcases new work from U.S. and international independent film makers in Park City, Utah—and attracts large numbers of Hollywood types—doesn’t usually screen films with a lot of aviation content.

Until now, that is.

Charlie Victor Romeo (Cockpit Voice Recorder) was named an official selection in the New Frontiers category at this year’s Sundance. The film is based on a play in which all dialogue is taken directly from the cockpit voice recorder transcripts recovered after six airline emergencies. The show’s message was so non-sensational that it was filmed by the U.S. Air Force as a training video for pilots. According to the website, one-third of the production’s audience have been members of the aviation community.

Charlie Victor Romeo comes from 3-Legged Dog Media and Theater Group, and was directed by Bob Berger, Patrick Daniels, and Karlyn Michelson. We reached out to the production on Twitter for information about when and where you can expect to see it. Answer: “Looking forward to screening at film festivals and other events this year. Announcement soon. Thanks!” In other words, keep checking the film’s website, or follow Charlie Victor Romeo on Twitter (@CVRPerformance)…or follow me (@jtallman1959) and I’ll do my best to post updates.

Now hear this….

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

The following could ONLY come from a federal agency:

If you have recently had or if you will have an FAA Practical Test using a Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) or a Designated Mechanic Examiner (DME), you may be contacted by the FAA for a survey. The questions will be limited in scope to the conduct of the ground and flight (if applicable) portions of your Practical Test.
This is part of an emphasis program by the FAA Designee Quality Assurance Branch, AFS-650. This program interviews recent applicants tested by a DPE/DME and also observes the DPE/DME conducting an actual Practical Test. The purpose is to observe the DPE/DME, not the Practical Test Applicant. The goal is to eventually check all DPEs/DMEs. These checks are prioritized based on, among other things, the type and amount of testing activity conducted by the DPE/DME.
What is a SEED? Special Emphasis Evaluation Designee Inspection.
For more information contact your local FSDO.

Translation: If you have recently taken a check ride or earned an A&P certificate, you may get a survey from the FAA.