Subjects Archive

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.

Debonair Sweeps: Panel Sneak-Peek

Friday, November 30th, 2012

N232L Radio Panel

N232L Radio Panel – click to see bigger image.

Ok, so the last Debonair post was a tad troubling…I mean, will that torn-up old instrument panel really make the leap to state-of-the-art?

Fear not! Santa Fe Aero Services has come up with a plan. And a drawing that shows their vision of the Deb’s panel-to-be. Click on the accompanying image and it will enlarge.

Take a look at the illustration and see if you like what’s planned. It’s a display-rich panel with a clean look and a load of new avionics. Again, check for subsequent posts–and the sweepstakes article in the January issue of AOPA Pilot magazine–for updates.

But for now I just wanted to give you a peek into the very near future. What do you think?

What Aviation Items Would You Buy If You Won Tonight’s PowerBall Drawing?

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

I am among the millions who bought a PowerBall lottery ticket as the jackpot hit $500 million.  On my drive into Frederick this morning, I daydreamed about all the aviation-related things I would do with the money.  My list included: an Embraer Phenom 300; an effort with AOPA to boost the number of minority pilots;  and major donations to the Delta Heritage Museum and Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum.

So I decided to put the same question to AOPA members via our Facebook page and Twitter account.  Below are some of my favorites. Enjoy!

FACEBOOK

  • Saving that money after seeing how this economy is going! lol. BUT were just dreaming so Id say C190, C180, C320, Cessna Mustang, King Air 300, Stearman PT 17. hehehehe TO START WITH!
  • Cessna 182. Simple as that.
  •  I suppose I’d have some cool jet in which to travel afar, but after I get that Mustang I’ve wanted since I was 6, I’d be hankerin’ for (relatively) slow, radial engined aircraft like a Beaver, C195, Twin Beech or Staggerwing.
  • I’m going with a Skyraider AD-5 (I think)….the big one…..to carry the family and dog…..a nice helo, and a Mustang of course. Then I’m going to donate money to a certain individual to get a B-17 done and I want naming rights and to fly it!!!
  •  I would have to add that I would love to make donations to the Wounded Warrior Project, Honor Flight, National Naval Aviation Museum, AOPA Air Safety, T.I.G.H.A.R., Sun ‘N Fun, The Commemorative Air Force, The 99′s, to W.A.S.P. Museums, and make scholarships available to those who have the desire and dedication, but who are struggling to afford being able to solve their dream.
  • BBJ for business jet, PC-12 for daily driver, Extra 300 for fun, Husky for more fun, and then take $20 MIL of it and fund my Welcome Sky Aviation Scholarship program to issue full-ride flight training grants to the best and brightest 16-21 year olds I could find.
  • An AOPA LIFE Membership for me and 100 people and a shiny brand new Cessna 182 JT A.
  • Im gonna finish getting my PPL, Then get every other pilot certification. Then I’m buying a Corvalis TTX, a Cirrus SR-22GTS, and a Citation Ten. I’ll of course buy a few Bose headsets for me and my Pax. I’d use the remaining money for fuel, maintenance, etc.
  • An HA-420, and a Quest Kodiak, The former Mary Talbot airstrip in Vinalhaven, Maine, a few bose headsets, attend aviation mechanic school, get ratings for those planes, and maybe buy all the abandoned salvagable airstrips around Maine.

TWITTER

  • P-51, J-3, Corvalis TTx, Citation Mustang. In that order.
  •  I think I will keep is lower key with a Cessna Mustang.
  • TBM 850, Carbon Cub…pay off debt…Build churches all over the world and keep working :)
  • Me? #Mooney factory, Kerrville TX.
  • With my $500 million #Powerballwinnings :-) I’ll first buy a @Terrafugia then work with @google (and @IBM) to make it self-flying ;-)
  • Five T-6Bs or Super Tucanos. And start an airshow team.
  • I would get a Cessna 210 and completely re-do it nose to tail. Oh, also, one of those little jets like the Cirrus or Piper.

 

Debonair Sweeps: No Turning Back!

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

 

The Debonair Sweeps' gutted panel

Yikes! The Debonair Sweeps’ gutted panel

 

I’ve shepherded three AOPA Sweepstakes airplanes through their restorations, and there’s something that shocks me each time.

What is it? It’s seeing a photo like one posted here! Yep, this is the stage where all the old avionics have been yanked, and then unceremoniously tossed or traded in to the avionics shop for credit (what little that might represent) against their labor.

But look at it…chaos incarnate. NO WAY the old panel is ever coming back! The point of no return has passed!

Even though you may intellectually grasp the idea, at this stage of a panel restoration the mind cannot fathom the concept of a full-on upgrade. How can any normally-endowed person have the ability to put things right after seeing such a mess of wires and gaping holes? You or I couldn’t, of course. So take a look, ladies and gentlemen: The Humpty-Dumpty metaphor, made manifest!

Good thing that Santa Fe Aero Services has been there, done that. Many times over. Before long, we’ll see a three-screen Aspen Avionics installation, along with Garmin’s GTN 750 and GTN 650 navigators, an Alpha Systems angle of attack indicator, an R.C. Allen backup attitude indicator, a PS Engineering PMA8000BT audio panel, a CO Guardian carbon monixide detector, a JP Instruments EDM 900 engine and systems monitor, and much, much, much more. Like a panel-mounted iPad Mini, USB charging ports, and new annuciators.

Check out the January 2013 issue of AOPA Pilot for more information about the Debonair Sweeps’ panel transformation.

And don’t worry. The gutted-panel look may prompt despair, but that will fade as the new panel springs, Phoenix-like, into the 21st century.

The $50 Cherokee

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Darrin Carlson took a 1964 Cherokee 140 from this…

One of the great joys of writing for AOPA Pilot is when I hear from members after an article is published (no, really!). They often write to remark on some aspect of my article, and then let slip some fascinating detail about their airplane or themselves.

In Darrin Carlson’s case, he asked a specific question about the seatbelt installation I described in the December 2012 issue of AOPA Pilot (“Ownership: Buckle Up). In a follow-up email, he added, “When I purchased my 50-dollar Cherokee, it was abandoned and in very poor shape. I started on small simple projects and worked my way up to overhauling the engine. This allowed me to get the experience to get my A&P/IA, then once it was airworthy it helped with my private and IFR rating now I am working on my commercial and CFI ratings.”

It turns out Darrin wasn’t joking about that $50 airplane. He really did buy a $50 Cherokee and rebuild it himself, step by painstaking step. He attached photos (which you see here) and a copy of an article that originally ran in the Nov.  27, 2007, issue of the Clay Center Dispatch. (Clay Center is in Kansas, which is where Darrin lives.) He bought the ’64 Cherokee 140 in 1993 after noticing it sitting in a scrap area near the Air Museum at Forbes Field in Topeka. He wrote the owner (who at the time was working in El Salvador) with an offer to buy it and sent him a check for $50 to cover the cost of processing the paperwork. The owner sent him a sales receipt, and a $50 airplane was his.

…to this. He replaced practically everything over four years.

It took four years, but he redid everything–not just the engine and the avionics but also the wiring. He even did the paint job, and it’s prettyspectacular. Don’t you agree?

Well, but an airplane owner is always looking ahead to that next project, and Darren’s considering installing shoulder harnesses. Not knowing the story behind his extra-special Cherokee, I told him I didn’t think he’d have a problem doing it himself. Turns out I was more than right!—Jill W. Tallman

AOPA members weigh in on GA prospects under second Obama term

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

As one of the administrators of the AOPA Facebook page, I thought it would be interesting this morning to ask members the following question:  “so, the election is over. What do you think the prospects for general aviation will be in a second Obama term? And please — let’s just stick to the GA issue.”  We’ve already had 58 comments this morning.  Below are some of them.

“It’s not ideal for GA growth, but I’m not convinced user fees are inevitable either. I fly for a living, but also for pleasure thanks to a flying club at half the rates of a FBO. With over 10k pilots retiring from US carriers in the next 8 years, something is going to have to give. The pilot shortage finally coming to fruition should have a positive affect. Support AOPA and similar organizations. They are our voice.”

“General aviation will suffer… we pilots won’t have the money to fly! And it’ll be regulated to the point where it’s pointless to fly anyhow.”

“I don’t think the political climate is what GA needs.. what GA needs is a much lower cost of entry to new participants (Next generation training) and new certified airplanes that are capable of at least some useful load which don’t cost $300K new (I’m looking straight at you, Cessna and Piper).”

“Not good. Good thing I have a professional pilot job, because I can’t attract a single student as a part-time CFI due to the overwhelming cost of learning to fly.”

“$20 per Gal AVGAS.”

“It will be the same. Administration proposes user fees, GA rallies its membership with advocacy efforts, and Congress dispenses with user fees.”

“Costs have got to come down. This includes everything from hangar rent, insurance, to aircraft purchases. The days are gone of flour drops and pancake flyins at local airports. Those days need to come back. Also, airports need to be public friendly and appear inviting, not restricting. The FAA needs to push back expensive equipment installs (ADS-B appliances) timeframes and increase training for controllers to handle “flight following requests.”

” I feel for those who are in aircraft manufacturing…. No reason to expect Obama will stop demonizing business GA aviation.”

” In my opinion, the US economy is in such bad shape that either candidate would have had difficulty coping with it. I’m not a fan of user fees – particularly since it already costs so much to fly. However money for economic recovery has to come from somewhere.”

“Hopefully people will start buying airplanes again and get down to the great business of flying again. Lets hope our leader stops criticizing business jets as well!”

” User taxes, higher gas taxes, greater penalty for being successful enough to buy an airplane.”

” It’ll be just fine. Obama is not one dimensional and he sees the economic benefits GA provides. The time for politics is over and we just need to work together for the greater good.”