Archive for January, 2009

Is aviation splitting in two?

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Some events have transpired lately that have led me to believe aviation may be splitting into two distinct camps–the no foolin’ around go-somewhere types, and the very light airplane fly around the pattern type. The first type uses the airplane as a tool, whether for business or pleasure.  The second group uses it purely for fun, and wants flying to become more and more fun as time goes on.

In other words, we have one group that wants airplanes to be faster, carry more, and have a high dispatch rate, and another group that wants the airplane to be cheap, slow, and carry one or two people. An extreme view might be that when the dust settles, no airplanes exist between a Cirrus and a Sport Cub. Well, nothing except for 172s used for training.

The driving force is obviously cold hard cash. As things get more expensive, credit becomes tighter, and a family’s income increasingly is dedicated to survival–do the haves and have nots move into TBMs and LSAs, respectively? Or, has it always been this way? Those who believe the middle class in this country is going away probably also think our industry is changing to reflect the split scenario.

Air Force students featured in October succeed

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Where are the Air Force candidates now?

The U.S. Air Force pilot candidates featured in the October 2008 AOPA Pilot article “Solo!” have completed initial flight screening and moved on to higher-level training. Here’s where they are now. 

Lt. Andrew Maston is completing multiengine training in a Hawker Beechcraft King Air with the U.S. Navy at Corpus Christi, Texas. He heads to Little Rock, Arkansas, for Lockheed C-130 training in February 2009. 

Lt. Kelly Wolters went to Laughlin AFB and trained in a T–6A Texan II and a T–1A business jet. She graduates January 23 and takes Survive, Evade, Resist, Escape training prior to heading to Altus AFB, Oklahoma, to train in the giant C–17 transport aircraft. After training she will fly the C-17 out of McGuire AFB, New Jersey. 

Lt. Josiah Smith and Lt. Tandon Mardis went to Columbus AFB, Mississippi, to fly the T–6 Texan II and will next fly a trainer based on a Hawker Beechcraft business jet, as will Lt. Ben Gleckler.  

Lt. David Foster went to Vance Air Force Base, Enid, Oklahoma, to train in the single-engine Hawker Beechcraft T–6A Texan II. His training was interrupted to correct a sinus problem and will resume soon.

Weather-mecca in Phoenix

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Sure, the weather is nice in Phoenix, but that’s not why I’m here. I’m at the 89th annual convention of the American Meteorological Society, where a primarily academic crowd of some 4,000 weather professionals are assembled. From 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m, hundreds of seminars are conducted. Most of them this year address climate change, but several discussed some aviation aspects of satellite metorology and lightning forecasting. To someone familiar with aviation conventions, the structure here would seem unusual. Mornings and afternoons are for lectures. A daily briefing comes at 12:30 to 1 p.m. The exhibit hall doesn’t open until 5:30 p.m., and it shuts down at 7:30 p.m. I went to the briefing, which was topped off by a review of the day’s “space weather.” Turns out that space weather–which encompasses solar radiation levels and solar storms–is provided on a daily basis to aircrews flying airliners across Polar routes. The atmosphere is thinnest there, so solar radiation poses a big hazard. Big enough to cause reroutings.

Great shot of B-2 Bomber above Rose Bowl

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Nope, Mark Holtzman of West Coast Aerial Photography of Sherman Oaks, California, wasn’t right above the Rose Bowl stadium when the B-2 bomber flew over. It just looks that way. Holtzman was aboard his Cessna Turbo 210 just for the opening ceremony of the Rose Bowl game. You can tell he was safely offset from the stadium (he was talking to controllers) by the fact that the bomber appears to be off-center. Have no fear, the Air Force is never that far off target. Great shot!

You think you can fly?

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Who said flying had to involve wings?