Archive for February, 2012
Matevž Lenarčič of Slovenia landed safely in Tahiti on his quest to circle the world to the west in a Pipistrel aircraft, but do it by zigzagging clear to Antarctica for environmental research and photographs for the photographer’s new book. This is what final looks like in Paradise. He had engine vibrations and leaking carburetors, and was stranded in Tahiti while Rotax engineers arrived from New Zealand. There were worse places to be trapped. Once repairs were made he flew on to New Zealand where additional engine work could be done. Then it was on to Australia where he experienced a serious in-flight structural failure.
Photos by Matevž Lenarčič
(Click to enlarge.)
“Amazing views were spoiled by engine problem, loosing [sic] some RPM and power so turned to Calafate. After several looong minutes engine sound got back to normal so I continued toward the glaciers Perito Moreno, Upsala, Viedma and Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy which were clear of clouds in almost no wind. Great views but a lot frustration as I was not confident with engine run and had a strong smell of fuel when I opened the window. “
He decided to push on and landed safely. He has flown thousands of miles in the 10 days since then.
UPDATE: He’s out of the simulator and proved that he could function using relaxation techniques and “micro-sleep” periods 20 minutes at a time. Next up–long-duration flights with two pilots above the Mediterranean. They will not sleep when over land and during those times, will use only relaxation techniques.
The Twitter postings of Swiss pilot André Borschberg–now in a simulator in preparation for longer Solar Impulse flights–could get pretty funny soon. The Solar Impulse will fly nonstop around the world in 2014. He has been in the simulator as of this posting for about a day, and has two days to go. His entries on Twitter may change as he gets exhausted–but they simulate making reports to his control center. He is wearing enough sensing hardware on his head and body to make anyone uncomfortable. The idea is that two pilots will fly day and night at very slow speeds, drifting downward at night when no solar energy is available, and climbing during the day, to circle the world.This was a single-pilot experiment. It could take weeks. Keep track of these guys. They are going to make it…my prediction. The aircraft has already made it to Paris and back.
I’m hoping to find out what it’s really like. I’ve been fortunate enough to be given an opportunity to apply for a media flight in the Thunderbird No. 8 fighter during Sun ‘n Fun. My chances aren’t bad either. The Air Force accepted five applications for two media flights.
The application process wasn’t difficult, but it was a little, well, revealing. The Air Force now knows more about my physical dimensions than my friends and family. Age, height, and weight weren’t enough. I also had to provide my waist and thigh sizes, measured from the largest point, and my butt-to-knee and butt-to-head measurements. The measurements had to be precise because, if I am lucky enough to be selected for the ride, the aircrew flight equipment must fit properly or my chance is gone. The Air Force was so exact that they provided a diagram about how to take the measurements. Needless to say, getting my butt-to-knee and butt-to-head measurements with the help of a coworker one morning in my cubicle made for some interesting conversation with the rest of my group!
The requirements didn’t stop there. I also had to provide my jacket, pant, and shoe size … in men’s sizes. So, I made a quick trip to Walmart one evening to try on clothes. I must admit, I felt rather odd shopping in the men’s section and then going to the women’s fitting room to ask to try on the clothes.
Even though the application was rather detailed on my measurements and medical history (certifying that I have no heart or back problems), it’s actually you, our members, who were most important. Part of the purpose of the media flight is to increase the Air Force’s exposure. AOPA’s 400,000 members pack power on Capitol Hill, and I’m hoping that strength in numbers will also help me get in the cockpit of the Thunderbird No. 8 jet.
Still, I wanted to add a note that if I didn’t meet their specifications, I would do anything in my power to meet their requirements by the March 30 flight. Lose weight, gain weight, add muscle—anything that I could control. Unfortunately, they didn’t have a spot for begging on the application.
If you had the chance to fly with the Thunderbirds, what would you be willing to do to make it happen?
New Hawker Beechcraft CEO Steve Miller gets a nice bonus if he can keep the company out of bankruptcy. Called “incentive interests,” they amount to six percent of the value of equity holdings held by sponsors, and six percent of the increase in the value of the company’s bonds held by sponsors. However, his three-year contract also warns, if the company enters bankruptcy the incentive interests will be canceled. Aside from that bonus, Miller gets $1.5 million per year for three years as his regular salary, and a 100 percent bonus if he meets financial targets. He makes up to a 200 percent bonus if financial targets are exceeded. Also, it was agreed by the board of directors that he was to get an additional $5 million cash payment upon joining the company to reflect his surrender of comparable value when he left MidOcean Partners. He has to give it back if he gets fired in the first nine months. After that it will be prorated if he is fired. You can read the SEC filing on the contract here. (Click on; “Entire Filing Including Exhibits.” Don’t worry, it’s not that big.) As you probably have read, Hawker has retained Kirkland and Ellis for advice on bankruptcy, according to an unconfirmed report in the Wall Street Journal. Here is a link to a story by AOPA’s Jim Moore containing the link to the WSJ story. So Miller’s work is cut out for him, with bankruptcy attorneys waiting on the other line.
We can help change that statistic and boost the pilot population by introducing more women to aviation and encouraging women who are currently in training. From my narrow perspective, 2012 seems to be getting off to a good start.
I met Jennifer Mastoris, a 17-year-old high school senior, shortly before Christmas. She was eyeing her private pilot certificate while I worked toward my flight instructor certificate. Both of us were training at Mad River Air at Grimes Field in Urbana, Ohio. She earned her private pilot certificate Jan. 8.
Just a few weeks ago, I attended a winter survival clinic in Marion, Mont., and bunked overnight in an icy fuselage with private pilot hopeful Donne Rossow, a student at Rocky Mountain College in Billings. She’s working toward her private pilot certificate and hopes to someday fly F/A-18s.
When I learned of Jennifer and Donne’s new accomplishments, I couldn’t help but look forward to March 10, the Women Fly It Forward event AOPA is participating at its home airport in Frederick, Md., to see how many women we can take flying that day. It’ll be a chance to perhaps introduce some women to general aviation flying for the first time. Hopefully the bug will bite so we can continue adding to the number of female pilots and pilots overall.