Archive for August, 2010

Your chance to land on the lakebed at Edwards

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Have you ever dreamed of landing on the expanse of Rosamond Dry Lakebed at Edwards Air Force Base–or even just flying over the historic site? This may be your chance.

The Air Force Flight Test Center will host its first-ever GA fly-in on Oct.1. The center will give 100 civilian pilots the opportunity to fly themselves into Edwards’ airspace–and land on the lakebed–for the 2010 Flight Test Nation Lakebed Fly-in.

Apply well in advance of Sept. 10, which is the date of a lottery that will select the 100 lucky pilots and 20 alternates. More information is available online; the application to participate is online as well.

Personally, I enjoy living in the Mid-Atlantic region…but unique, once-in-a-lifetime bucket list opportunities like this make me wish I was in California.

Will no-lead avgas cost $10 a gallon?

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

I debated awhile before posting this due to an obvious conflict of interest between the author of DieselAir newsletter who just wrote about the future of avgas, and his past consulting work. Andre R. Teissier-duCros was a consultant to an Atlanta company called DieselAir Aircraft formed to equip Cessna 182 aircraft with the SMA line of diesel engines, but the company no longer exists, according to former CEO Leonard Harris. Teissier-duCros is also publisher of the DieselAir newsletter. That said, I checked his background and decided his expertise is worth considering. The bottom line of his survey is this: a lead-free, ethanol-free alternative to 100LL will be available in five to eight years, but it will cost $10 a gallon. That price, the prediction goes, dramatically reduces the general aviation fleet. Manufacturers will begin equipping piston-engine aircraft with diesel engines–especially for fleet sales to flight schools. Many aircraft owners will switch to mogas, and the light sport aircraft equipped with Rotax engines actually prefer mogas. Those that can afford the $10-per-gallon price will continue to fly with the more expensive but environmentally friendly fuel, but will eventually convert to diesel engines when one is available for their make and model. Is that the truth, or a dream found in a PowerPoint presentation on the floor of the SMA board room? Teissier-duCros says it comes from his worldwide survey of opinion.

An airline’s view of Oshkosh

Monday, August 9th, 2010

I had already left AirVenture 2010 when one of Southwest Airline’s Boeing 737s,  N948WN–a month-old 737-700–arrived on July 31.  The jet carried a special “2010 AirVenture” logo on its nose.

The arrival of an airliner at Oshkosh is nothing unusual; last year the show saw the gigantic Airbus A380, among others.  But a recent post on Southwest’s blog describes the Aeroshell Square experience as seen through the fresh eyes of an airline employee who helped to coordinate the Boeing’s arrival. You can read the post here.

Hard lessons learned 25 years later

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

August 2, 2010, was the twenty-fifth anniversary of one of the most influential aircraft accidents of all time. The 1985 accident occurred when I was a newspaper reporter. But a few months later I was in my first job in aviation journalism, reporting for an aviation magazine and the accident investigation was fodder for many articles.

Looking back today, it’s hard to imagine an airliner sucumbing to windshear the wayDelta Flight 191 did that stormy day as it approached Dallas-Fort Worth. The Lockheed L-1011plowed through a thunderstorm at the edge of the airport headed for a landing. Instead, the airplane flew into windshear and crashed short of the runway, hitting a car on a highway and plowing through fences before breaking apart and burning. 135 people died. Dallas television station WFAA did a reflective piece on the anniversary and includes video and stills from the accident.

Of course, part of the reason it’s so unimaginable that an airplane would crash from wind shear is because of all that was learned from the 191 crash. Scientists investigating the crash “discovered” wind shear and as a result, airliners were required to be equipped with wind shear detection systems. Dozens of airports now have low-level wind shear detection systems and Doppler radar has been tuned to pick up the nuances in the atmosphere that suggest wind shear. Who knows how many accidents have been prevented because of what was learned from this one landmark accident.

For more on wind shear and its affect on aircraft, see“WxWatch: Shear Threats”  from the September 1997 issue of AOPA Pilot.

Oshkosh from a mechanic’s view

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

What was hot at Oshkosh from a mechanic’s point of view? Find out from Steve Ells, former writer for AOPA Pilot, and an airframe and powerplant mechanic (A&P, AI) who has advised members of the Cessna Pilots Association. See his Baby Boomer Aviation Blog. He now heads Ells Aviation.