Sun ‘n Fun Archive

Sure, I can do that

Friday, April 11th, 2008

There’s something about every activity with which we involve ourselves, that around the period shortly after becoming certificated or being allowed to do it alone, we feel like we can do anything. Invincible.

I remember as a kid being just fascinated with airshows, as I’m sure most of us were. I remember Sean D. Tucker hanging vertical on his prop sliding back and forth for the crowd. Amazing stuff. But then I became a pilot. (more…)

Airshow vittles

Friday, April 11th, 2008

All winter my wife and I watch what we eat, but all that resolve and co-discipline flies out the window during my first exposure to airshow food. Every year this takes place in Lakeland, Florida, at Sun ‘n Fun, the first big airshow of the year. There are just some foods that mark the beginning of the airshow year. This year I kicked off the show with an Italian sausage sandwich smothered in grilled onions and peppers. Not bad.

Airshow Food


Sweepstakes Archer duty, day 4

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Sweepstakes ArcherWell, the members have had a few days to consider the sweepstakes Archer, and I’m noticing more observations than questions. Two men told me its paint scheme is the best they’ve ever seen; two others asked me what we were thinking. It’s hot here in Lakeland, Florida, so it’s not surprising that people are wondering if the airplane’s black leather seats will be “hot.” Some have questioned our decision to install vortex generators–I’m convinced of the safety benefits and pass that information on to everyone who asks about them. Mechanics are weighing in as well. Most compliment us on the work done forward of the firewall, although two have pointed out what they view as minor discrepancies, or departures from established practice. These recommendations are certainly under consideration. There are a lot of judgment calls in aviation maintenance, however, and I’m past the point of taking all A&P/IA opinions at face value. There’s safe and legal, and then there’s the method that ensures a healthy revenue stream for a shop. There’s often a significant gap between these two perceptions, and owner/pilots shouldn’t be afraid to keep mechanics “honest” as the need arises. Beware of this statement from an IA: “I always replace [part x] at [x hours], even though there’s technically no time limit on it.”

FAA, Sun ‘n Fun award Boyer for advocacy

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Phil\'s awardJohn Burton, president and convention chairman of the Sun ‘n Fun fly-in, and Doug Murphy, regional administrator of the FAA’s southern region, took the stage at the Sun ‘n Fun museum amphitheater to present AOPA President Phil Boyer with an plaque for being, “a champion and advocate for general aviation” minutes after Boyer was introduced to a packed crowd at the fly-in.

Burton cited Boyer’s, “unending commitment to aviation,” during his term as AOPA president as reason enough for the tribute, then added that AOPA’s recent request for a clarification of Florida state’s use tax laws as they apply to general aviation pilots as being an important step in keeping pilots free to fly their airplanes to Florida and to Sun ‘n Fun.


SMA celebrates 10 years; looks to the future

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Societe de Motorisations Aeronautiques (SMA) celebrated a decade of diesel- fueled engine development at Sun ‘n Fun today. CEO and President Luc Pelon said that 42 of the SR305-230 engines are now in service around the world. (more…)

Forward Vision teams with Maule Air for $21K enhanced vision option

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Maule Air of Moultrie, Georgia, has added the enhanced vision system of Forward Vision of Russell, Pennsylvania, to the options list in its line of utility category airplanes. Enhanced vision permits pilots to “see” through visual obstructions such as haze, darkness, and clouds.

“The pilots who really need this technology are the ones who fly low and slow and close to the ground,” said Forward Vision President Patrick Farrell.

The Forward Vision system consists of a long wave infra red (LWIR) sensor mounted in an aerodynamic shell that measures 3.7 inches by 8.6 inches. Weight is 1.2 lbs.

The “images” from the sensor can be displayed on a standalone display such as VistaNav’s portable MFDs or the Flight Display “Flipper” display unit. Farrell said that many of the MFD manufacturers are adding what he called pixel real estate capacity to display the images on their units.

Brent Maule, marketing manager of Maule Air, said the Forward Vision option cost is $21,900. Farrell said that his company is working aggressively with One Sky Aviation of Anchorage, Alaska, on an STC program and said the STCed systems would be in the same price range as Maule’s optional package.

Where in the world is Machteld from?

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

I received an e-mail today about my video interview clip reporting on the Mud ‘n Fun morning after the soaking rains on Sunday.

The question:was: “Can you tell us what the nationality and halting accent of that female interviewer is on the morning after views of the muddy camping tiedown area? We have a pool going with most insisting she is foreign and most of those saying Scandinavian but I think it could be Pennsylvania Dutch.”

Wow, I’m part of a pool! This is getting exciting! So, let’s see what hints I can give you…
I was born in Wellington, New Zealand, but it was not my native country. As the child of a diplomat, I lived throughout the world, although only one country, to which we returned periodically, was my family’s home and the origin of my accent. Water, flowers, and the Golden Age culture defines that country.

So, what do you think? Where am I from? Take a look at the video, to see if you can place me.

Seeing old friends

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

For me, one of the best things about attending shows is the chance to see old friends–and Sun ‘n Fun can be like a family reunion.

Jack Neubacher didn’t finish the annual on his Piper Tri-Pacer in time for the trip, so he drove down from Salisbury, North Carolina. With him were two friends who flew Douglas C-47s over The Hump during World War II. Jack has plans to get them into a DC-3/C-47 cockpit sometime this week.

John and Martha King arrived from San Diego in King Schools’ Falcon. “We didn’t get lost this time,” John quipped to friends.

Bonnie Higbie of Lakeland, Florida, a former media chairman for Sun ‘n Fun, now volunteers during the fly-in at the on-site radio station.  She let me in on one of the fly-in’s best-kept secrets (until now)–the radio station’s staff prepare fresh, homemade waffles every morning. That’s a good reason to say “yes” if one of the Sun ‘n Fun Radio reporters asks to interview you.


Thursday, April 10th, 2008

I went strolling and polling today.

Here’s the big consensus: Foreign sales have switched places with domestic sales. Five years ago, 70-80 percent of sales went to the U.S. market. The rest went overseas.

Today, 70+ percent of sales–piston and turbine–are now to foreign customers. And domestic sales seem to have slumped.

Sure Cessna sells a lot of piston singles, but how many are to Europe and Asia? And how long will it be before their demand for lightplanes is sated?

The pull across the oceans is increasing. Diamond has built a factory in China. Cessna’s SkyCatchers will be also be built in the Middle Kingdom. Russia will build Eclipse jets. Eastern European nations and the Ukraine are home to many light sport designs.

Is the U. S. losing its GA mojo?


Pure genius! (And other neat stuff that’s not avionics)

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

LoPresti Speed PantsEvery now and then, we all stumble across an invention that seems so simple, so obvious, that we wonder why no one (including us) did it before.

Such is the case with LoPresti Speed Merchants’ “Speedpants.”

They’re regular composite wheel fairings–with one key difference. They have a set of clamshell doors on the bottom designed to totally enclose the wheels when an airplane’s in flight. LoPresti estimates the fairings will add about eight knots to an RV-7’s top speed. (And for those of us who miss raising and lowering landing gear, Speedpants will provide us with another lever to move each time we take off and land.)

LoPresti SpeedpantsThe clamshell doors are hydraulic. And if the hydraulic system fails, internal springs will open the gear.

If we forget to open them on landing (and you know we will), the fiberglass scrapes off and the airplane remains on the wheels.

Speedpants are meant to minimize the aerodynamic penalty for fixed gear. And with so many of today’s aircraft manufacturers electing for fixed gear on airplanes that are meant to go fast, LoPresti may be onto something . . .

Nemesis NXTDave’s other faves:

* Nemesis NXT flybys. That airplane makes everything else with a propeller on it look slow.

CAF LT-6* The Commemorative Air Force’s LT-6. The silver “Mosquito” from the CAF’s Dixie Wing is absolutely gorgeous. The pride and workmanship really show through on this historical labor of love.

XP-30* The XP-30 is a German aerobatic brute painted in a scheme that seems to pay tribute to the Great Pumpkin. But it’s got a 450-degree-per-second roll rate, a 220-knot top speed, and more than 1,000 miles range. It’s only doing flybys at the show–not full aerobatic performances. But it looks like the closest thing to a magic carpet since Aladin.

Sport Cub* Sport Cub S2. I want to give it a hug whenever I see it. Cub Crafters is talking about offering a clipped-wing version. If they do, it will fit my notion of The Perfect Sport Plane and Back-To-The-Future Trainer . . .