Archive for July, 2008

Better listings On Google

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Did you know that’s what blog stands for? That was a definition mentioned Monday afternoon at a seminar on aviation blogging at AirVenture, initiated by Rob Mark, who maintains the Jetwhine blog. I’m not sure if I believe it, but certainly understand that’s one of the results you could achieve with an effective blog. Mark’s Aviation Blogfest, the first of its kind–at least to my knowledge–drew more than two dozen people, including many active bloggers.

What makes a blog successful? “Blogs are successful because their authors are passionate about what they’re writing about,” said Todd McClamroch, who writes MyFlightBlog. It was a pleasure to meet McClamroch after talking with him several months ago while writing a column in AOPA Flight Training.

Paul, a flight instructor, maintains a blog called Ask A where he answers questions about flight training. Although Norman, a Boeing 777 captain, could not attend the seminar, Mark displayed a photo and said “he’s here digitally;” Roach’s blog is The Digital Aviator.

Rod Rakic is building something interesting, a social networking site (think Facebook or Myspace) for aviators. The site, myTransponder, is in “closed beta” testing now. That means you have to have an invitation to participate in the beta test. “We’re still finding bugs and squashing them,” Rakic explained. (If you e-mail him through the site and ask, I bet he’ll invite you to participate.)

I just saw an interesting link on Mark’s Blogroll, to a blog named FAA Follies. That sounds like it could be interesting…and as soon as I get a chance, I plan to give it a read.

See how blogging works, and check out some other aviation blogs. Look at the Blogroll on Jetwhine for some good starting points.

Emergency cocktail hour at Eclipse

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Although I realize the move was necessary for Eclipse Aviation’s long-term survival, I was nevertheless saddened Monday morning to learn that founder Vern Raburn was stepping down as CEO. “For me, the show ends today,” he said, opening a media event on the first day of AirVenture 2008.

I was in Albuquerque for the Eclipse 500 rollout in July 2002, and I wrote much of AOPA Pilot’s early Eclipse coverage. And I fondly remember my first visit to Eclipse, while researching “Turbine Pilot: An Inside Look at Eclipse” for the February 2001 AOPA Pilot.


It’s a luxury car, it’s a jet, it’s…an LSA?

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Do you like free beer, cocktail shrimp, dance music, and Hollywood models? Then you, my friend, need to buy an Icon. The Icon A5 is a new amphibious LSA introduced with much fanfare (and no doubt money) in L.A. a few months ago. Last night the young company threw one heck of a party at Oshkosh to give it a proper aviation unveiling, complete with the aforementioned draws. Kirk Hawkins, the former fighter pilot CEO, kept saying the airplane would bring back the “fun” and “adventure” in aviation. You’d think no one has ever produced an amphibious airplane before.

Taking a cue from Cirrus, Icon is going after non-pilots. It’s a cool-looking airplane, no doubt. The cockpit looks more like a Ferrari than a Cessna, and the ability to fold the wings is pretty nice (see the video below, which by the way is a little bit of extra showmanship. The wings only fold electrically if you don’t opt for the wheels). Will they last? Maybe. Funding is coming from heavy hitters, including Eclipse Aviation founder Vern Raburn. One thing’s for sure – it was probably the first time anyone ever has or ever will play Metallica in EAA’s museum.

Last chance for Tempelhof

Monday, July 28th, 2008

AOPA-Germany’s managing director, Michael Erb, wrote me the other day asking for help in saving Berlin, Germany’s Tempelhof Airport. It may be the last chance to keep the historic airport open. A referendum to keep the airport open failed to get enough votes earlier this year. And Klaus Wowereit (pronounced Vo-ver-ite), Berlin’s mayor, who has always wanted to close Tempelhof, now seems to be on track to getting his way. He’s the Richard Daley of Berlin.

Erb sent me a link that you can use to send in your vote to preserve the airport as a UNESCO world heritage site. Here it is:

Fill it out and send it in. It’s the most we can do at this point.

How ironic that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama used the Berlin Airlift so often in his recent speech in Berlin. Without once referring to the airport that made it possible. Anyway, here’s a way to make your voice heard on the matter.

Where do we get such men (and women?)

Monday, July 28th, 2008

An airline maintenance technician in Baton Rouge, La., said she intended to spin the airline compressor blades slowly on one engine of a parked RJ during a routine washing.

But the engine started and went to nearly full power. The CRJ 700 surged forward and slammed into two other parked jets. No one was hurt during the early morning mishap that took place on July 7. About 14 workers were in the hangar at the time of the accident.

ASA officials declined to put a dollar value on the amount of damage.

Saving $4,000 in the real world

Monday, July 28th, 2008

My August “Waypoints” column “Saving $4,000 in Fuel,” has generated a number of questions and comments from readers also curious about running their engines lean of peak. I just landed this afternoon at Appleton, WI, after flying LOP from Frederick, MD. Brutal headwinds kept our groundspeed in the 140s all day, stretching our flight time to about 4.4 hours. As usual en route to OSH, I stopped for fuel, this time at Mason Jewett Field near Lansing, MI, where avgas was a reasonable (by this week’s standards) $5.05. Nice airport, but completely deserted this beautiful Sunday morning. My fuel burn LOP was about 12.5 gph while true airspeed at altitudes of 6,000 and 8,000 feet was around 160 knots. Rich of peak, I would usually see about 17.2 gph and maybe 165 KTAS.

A big difference today was that I could have made the trip nonstop, even with the strong headwinds of about 25 knots on the nose. That wasn’t even an option when operating ROP. The Garmin GNS 530 showed that we could have landed at ATW with an hour and 16 minutes of fuel nonstop from FDK. Because of the uncertainties of traffic flows associated with AirVenture, I chose to stop. On a “normal” flight I would have charged ahead and made the trip nonstop.

To answer a few of the questions from members: You can expect exhaust gas temperatures LOP to be in the 1,400s, depending on conditions. As for fears about burning exhaust valves, George Braly of General Aviation Modifications, Inc., reminds that the exhaust valves spend 75 percent of their time seated, allowing heat to be wicked away into the engine. Also when seated, they are not exposed to the combustion process, which can run 4,000 degrees F or so–making 1,400 degrees seem downright chilly. Those operating LOP properly with good monitoring equipment shouldn’t see problems with exhaust valves.

One member reports running the Lycoming in his Cessna 182 25 degrees LOP and shaving about 3 gph off his fuel burn, but costing him 9 knots. That’s a larger speed decrease than most Continental engine drivers will see, especially when running only 25 degrees LOP.

Keep sending your questions and sharing your experiences. Everyone benefits.

Hitchin a ride to OSH

Monday, July 28th, 2008

I’m the lucky one. Pubs admin Miriam Stoner and I flew the Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Archer to Oshkosh yesterday. It was a great trip. We left Frederick at 0910 local and landed at OSH at 1530 local. I thought we were going to be able to make it VFR, but the leading edge of a cold front that was sitting in western OH forced me to pick up our IFR flight plan in western MD. Despite some strong weather in Wisconsin and other areas associated with this front, it had lost steam and was only producing light rain.

I planned the flight using Voyager, a flight planning software I was using for a product review. It told me that Fulton County, OH (USE) had fuel for $4.95 a gallon! Sure enough, it was still less than $5 when we got there, and they gave us a courtsey car to grab a bite.

For the final leg we climbed up high to cross Lake Michigan. It was a great view, but winds were on the nose at 40 to 45 knots.

The arrival into OSH was fairly uneventful. Things happen fast and you need to keep your head on a swivel. But do that and you’ll be fine. Here are some pics of the cockpit.


Monday, July 28th, 2008

One great thing about large air shows like Oshkosh is that regardless of background, everyone comes together to share in the joy of aviation. Homebuilts mix with jets and gyrocopters mix with high-performance pistons. It’s a melting pot of flight. Want proof? Check out the King Air pilot and passengers. Who says you can’t camp out under a turboprop (beside an FBO no less)?

Best of both worlds

Friday, July 25th, 2008

On Tuesday, Associate Editor Ian Twombly and I flew N208GG, AOPA’s Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Archer, from Brandywine Airport in West Chester, Pennsylvania, to Frederick, Maryland. I was pretty excited about the opportunity because I have a bunch of Archer time, and this beautiful airplane didn’t disappoint me. Where to begin? First, there’s that Knots 2U baggage door strut. If I had a Cherokee and $179, that would be the first upgrade I’d do, thinking back on the times I’ve accidentally let go of the baggage door and hit myself in the head. Then there’s that sleek black leather interior. Admit it, you’ve had the same thoughts as me: Black leather interior? Won’t that be hot, and not in a good way? The airplane had been sitting outside Penn Avionics’ hangar on a 90-degree mid-July day, and when we opened the passenger door and climbed in, I braced myself for the expected pizza-oven blast. None came. The interior wasn’t cool as in “Oh, thank God for air conditioning,” but neither was it the unbearable heat you’d expect. You can thank the LP Aero windows for that. And you will, trust me. Oh, and those seats? They’re so luxurious, you’ll wish you had them in your family room.


Around the World–Job Done!

Friday, July 25th, 2008

Well, Air Journey LLC’s escorted around-the-world trip is now fully logged by all 8 of its pilot-participants. As you may recall from my earlier blogs, this saga began back in May at Quebec City, then crossed the Atlantic to Inverness, Scotland and Paris. On July 22, the trip officially finished the home stretch as the airplanes cleared customs in Alaska and then re-entered the good old continental United States. The trip itinerary included stops in Malta, Egypt, Dubai, Oman, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, South Korea, and Russia. Air Journey president Thierry Pouille declared the trip a success, but admitted that the pilots and passengers were a bit bushed after the two-month-long circumnavigation. Journey director J-P Arnaud took 10 days off to decompress from all those briefings, permits, and reservations he had to manage.

The airplanes on the trip included a PC-12, a TBM 700, a Cessna Mustang, a Royal Beech Duke (a turboprop conversion), and a Cessna Conquest II.

There were only two reroutings due to unanticipated events, Pouille said. The biggest road block came when the group tried to enter the People’s Republic of China. PRC officials denied the group entry, a setback I discussed in a previous blog, so the group forged ahead to Taiwan and South Korea.

As for mechanical problems, there were a few. The Duke needed new vacuum pumps and the PC-12’s AHRS units momentarily lost its bearings in a zone of magnetic anomalies called the “South East Asian Anomaly,” for example. Then its flaps malfunctioned. The biggest mechanical was with the Conquest II. Its landing gear wouldn’t extend, so repairs were made–twice–in Bangkok. Bad idea. The crew had to extend the gear using the nitrogen blow-down bottle three times, and even flew one leg with gear down until additional repairs were made in Hong Kong.

But all’s well that ends well. Want to go on Air journey’s 2009 RTW trip? It’s $68,750 per person, and leaves May 13, 2009 from Bar Harbor, Maine. The stops will be the same as this year’s trip, with the exception that the PRC is crossed off the list. Bali will take its place. For more information, go to the Web site and see blogs of the 2008 trip. With any luck, I’ll be along on a few of the 2009 trip’s legs. Air Journey will also be at EAA AirVenture–in Hangar D, at booth 4095–so you can sign up there and meet the Air Journey staff.