Pilot Culture Archive

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.

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.

 

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.
 

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.

 

 

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.

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.