Archive for December, 2011

List FBO freebies here

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

No, the deadline is NOT past. Thanks for asking. — In the January issue of “AOPA Pilot” you’ll find my article, “FBO Freebies: Mooching your way across the USA,” on how to score neat gifts at FBOs. Do you know of any additional FBOs giving away free gifts, or selling funny or otherwise cool airport-related T-shirts? If so, let us know what it is, where it is, and the FBO offering the freebie or selling the T-shirt. Keep’em coming until January 31.

Blind spots

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Here’s a great illustration of why pilots should keep their eyes moving when searching for other traffic. Copy and paste this link into your browser and stare at the green dot. You’ll be amazed at how much you’re missing . . .

Reason No. 151

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

I was expecting it to be Reason Number 150, but the rescue group decided to juggle the passenger list, and I wound up with eight dogs and puppies rather than seven. Most were small, so I didn’t have to harness anybody in the co-pilot’s seat. A hard crate in the back seat carried a beagle mix and her two pups, still nursing; the soft crate next to it held another hound mix and a Border collie, both half grown. A soft crate in the baggage hatch was big enough for a black hound who’d served as  a foster mother and two more beagle pups. By the time we’d climbed above 5,000 feet, everybody had settled down to nap.

An English setter on his way to a new home.

For the second straight week, I’d had to tunnel into 40-knot headwinds all the way across West Virginia. In a 180-hp Piper Arrow, that slows things down considerably; the groundspeed readout on my GPS only occasionally showed triple digits. But heading east, it boosted us to 175 knots. The 320-nm leg from Yeager Field in Charleston to the Queen City Airport outside Allentown, Pa., actually went seven minutes faster than the 210-nm outbound leg from Frederick, Maryland, and the pups reached their foster homes by dinnertime.

I made my first rescue flight in January 2009. Not long afterwards I began using a column in my logbook to track the number of dogs I’d hauled. This latest pack brought the total to 151. Without a doubt, it’s the most rewarding flying I’ve done. I’ve landed at airports I’d never have had any other reason to visit, flown on gusty, bumpy days when it would have been easy to be lazy and stay home, and put those hard-won instrument and crosswind landing skills to practical use. I have met some of the most selfless, generous, hard-working people on the planet–people who will not let themselves be discouraged by an endless stream of unwanted animals and county shelters that can’t afford to help them. Best of all, I have pictures of 151 dogs (and counting) and the satisfaction of having given them a little help getting home.

Maybe dogs aren’t your thing. No problem! Opportunities for public-benefit flying are everywhere. Whether it’s transporting human patients on Angel Flights, training to do search-and-rescue with the CAP, carrying out environmental surveys, or giving demo flights at your airport’s open house, there’s no end of ways your airmanship can help make things better for someone else. Look around, and you’ll find plenty of reasons to fly–enough to deserve a separate column in your logbook.

If aviating for others has changed your attitude, tell us more in the “Comments” section.  We’d love to hear about the worries as well as the rewards … not to mention any really good flying stories.

David Jack Kenny is the statistician for the Air Safety Institute.

Light sport prices going up

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

This Pittsfield, Mass., Aerotrek is headed into the January "Pilot." That's owner Bob Sullivan preparing for our air-to-air photoshoot. (Click to enlarge.)

Cessna Aircraft can hold down the price of the two-place light sport aircraft (LSA) Skycatcher no longer, and says in 2012 it will be $149,900, although many previous options will now become standard equipment. It started out at $110,000 and had drifted up to $115,000. At those prices, it was below cost. So much for the 2004 dream that maybe some of the light sport aircraft could start at $20,000 but rise no higher than $60,000 when tricked out. The lowest-cost LSAs are about $80,000, but have lots of bells and whistles. You’ll see a report in the January issue of AOPA Pilot on the full-featured Aerotrek at $78,000, and Pipistrel, a company gaining fame for its electric aircraft work, says it will develop a low-cost two-place LSA trainer.

Pipistrel proposed trainer

When the announcement was first made, the Pipistrel price in euros amounted to $83,000. Now, five days later, the Pipistrel price of 59,000 euros amounts to $74,800.  Great price, but the airplane isn’t in production yet. What to do? There’s always the used LSA market to provide lower-cost airplanes, and that is growing with the increase in the LSA fleet. In fact, you can buy the Aerotrek you’ll read about in January–for the right price. I’ve flown it, and it’s a terrific airplane. So do I have the money? Well, not at this time…or times in the past. Future times don’t look all that flush, either. Fun to think about, though.