Archive for August, 2008

Calling all warbird lovers

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Want to fly a warbird? Yeah, me too. How about a T-34 Mentor, a PT-17 Stearman, or even a T-6 Texan? It’s the kind of stuff dreams are made of. But a new organization is trying to make that dream a reality for more of us.

Fly History is a new concept in warbird ownership, using an old concept to try and make it happen. In essence, Fly History is a flying club. Become a club member, meet some very basic flight requirements, and you too could soon be flying a warbird. Solo.

The idea is simple. Buy in. Start flying the T-34. Move up to the Stearman, and finally fly the T-6 solo. The prices are incredibly reasonable and membership should be available in major cities around the country. Now please excuse me while I go check out my bank account…

The ethereal Arctic

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

The team arrived in Resolute on Aug. 19 after a five-hour flight from Cambridge Bay. Along the way they saw beluga whales and some otherworldly scenery. They are now stuck on the ground with freezing temperatures and snow showers. The next stop is Eureka before they reach the North Pole. The problem is that heavy pack ice is choking the bay where the team’s fuel barrels are located on the beach. In the meantime, the teams plans to have some some polar bear fun.

Sonny and the $22 million Bellanca

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue (right) with CFI Ron Carroll and a Robinson R44 in front of the Georgia captiol.

Look out Georgia Dems! If you thought Sonny Perdue was a formidable force with a Bellanca Super Viking at his disposal, think what he can do with the addition of a helicopter.

I was among the crowd of thousands at the 2007 National Business Aviation Association convention in Atlanta when the Georgia governor told of his exploits using general aviation over the years. Perdue, an enthusiastic pilot since his boyhood in central Georgia, routinely flew a Bellanca Super Viking to campaign stops around the state in his 2002 bid for the Georgia governorship. He won–the first Republican to win the seat since Reconstruction. He says the Bellanca is worth $22 million–the difference between the $3 million he spent to win the seat and the $25 million his non-pilot Democratic opponent spent to lose.

Perdue, 61, claims the speedy four-seater allowed him to be more places than his opponent and especially allowed him to easily access smaller communities than his opponent.

So if the Bellanca provided easy access, imagine what he can do with a helicopter. We’ll find out because Perdue in July earned his rotor rating in a Robinson R44 with Ron Carroll, an instructor at Blue Ridge Helicopters in Lawrenceville. Perdue used his vacation time to solo and a total of 66 hours to get the rating. All in all, he has more than 2,800 hours of flight time. On the fixed-wing side, the governor has a commercial certificate with a multiengine rating.

Because of Georgia term limits, Perdue won’t be eligible to run again until 2014, enough time for him to truly hone his helicopter skills. Also enough time for any opponents to recognize his secret weapon and begin flight training now! May the best pilot win.

How to handle fuel in the bush

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Watch the GAAA crew go through the Gong Show antics of filling a de Havilland Beaver from 55-gallon fuel drums. They get help from a crew of boisterous Inuit boys. Because no avgas is available on portions of the trip, the team had shipped drums of fuel on Canadian icebreakers and cached them in strategic spots.

Mike Goulian smacks a pylon

Friday, August 15th, 2008

Want to see airshow star Mike Goulian hit a cloth pylon during a Red Bull race in London? The Red Bull video team provides multiple camera angles on this hit.

If the video does not play, look for it on the right side of Goulian’s Web site.

Mice bring down a Cessna 182

Friday, August 15th, 2008

Mice thought they had a nice home when they settled in the alternate air intake of a 1968 Cessna 182. They didn’t count on the owner actually using alternate air. Read about it here.

Multimedia, 1970s-style

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Occasionally I have horrible flash backs to my private pilot ground school experience. It was the winter of 1976/1977. I wasn’t even 16 yet and had only been in an airplane–any airplane–once. The three-hour weekly session was held in a dowdy conference room at a rail yard for a freight line–heated by steam to a sauna-like atmosphere. Lights dangled from the high ceiling casting a yellow glow across the sparse and threadbare room. I felt as if I were in a Soviet interrogation cell. The classes were held on school nights. And, yes, I confess to falling asleep from time to time.

The “multimedia” consisted of chalk and a blackboard. The instructors brought a few charts to hang on the wall for enticing subjects such as calculating headwind and tailwind components. Primary support material came from FAA Exam-O-Grams–my forehead hits the desk as I write those words. These dry, grainy black-and-white government publications contained good information–presented poorly.

I thought of all this recently while listening to John and Martha King of King Schools describe their new online private pilot curriculum. The Kings have taken their famous highly interactive, engaging CD/DVD courses and made them available online. Now you can access your course from any Web-connected computer. The system keeps track of your progress on the server, so no matter where you are you can log on and pick up where you left off. For more on the courses see their Web site. You’ll find the courses the complete antithesis of Exam-O-Grams. You new student pilots out there have no idea how good you have it!

Apparently feeling masochistic, I Googled “exam-o-gram” and found a Web site where you can download those old government documents. At the site, I clicked on one enchanting Exam-O-Gram from 1967 titled: “Simple ADF for VFR Navigation.” Here’s the engaging first sentence: “To test the applicant’s knowledge of the practical aspects of cross-country flying, FAA written examinations contain test items on the use of radio aids to VFR navigation.” (Remove forehead from desk.)

Caution: Do not click on the Exam-O-Gram site while operating heavy equipment.

How was your ground school experience?

Missed it by that much

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Are you one of those pilots who sits through films and TV shows just waiting for the aviation parts? (Sure, who isn’t?) Now I’m psyched to see the upcoming James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, because it will feature an appearance by a SIAI-Marchetti SF.260TP military trainer. (Thanks and a tip o’ the hat to Air & Space magazine, which did a rundown on all the cool and not-so-cool airplanes in the Bond oeuvre.)

Most recently I saw Get Smart. There’s a sequence in which the Chief commandeers a Cessna towing a banner to chase after Agents Ninety-Nine and Eighty-Six. Much of it seemed computer generated—no surprise there. (Here’s a really inside-baseball article on how the computer effects were created.) I hate to be the one to tell our friends in Wichita, but the man who got kicked out of the cockpit at the beginning of this sequence was credited as “CESNA PILOT.” Sorry about that, Chief.


Why we go to Oshkosh

Friday, August 1st, 2008

Why do you go to events such as AirVenture in Oshkosh? Is it to stand in a long line just to walk through an Airbus, like these people are doing?

Nothing against Jet Blue, but I go to airshows to catch up on industry news, talk with other pilots, and see cool airplanes. Boeing and Airbus airliners can be cool in their own right, especially when you’re the person flying the airplane (or flying the simulator). But one of the reasons that I fly general aviation airplanes is to avoid lines like this.

Maybe these folks were just seeking a few minutes in the air conditioning, and a respite from the heat of the ramp….