Archive for March, 2012
Grand Forks International Airport will host a spot landing contest on Saturday, July 28. Each entrant gets just one shot. The one who puts it down closest to the target line takes home bragging rights–and $10,000.
“No catch and no obligation,” says the website. You must be at least a sport pilot or higher to enter (too bad, Jacob Barson of Allentown, Pa., else my money would be on you), and the competition won’t be held if visibility is less than two miles and the ceiling is lower than 1,800 feet.
Brian Siefert, president of GFK Flight Support, says the event is being held to promote general aviation and encourage people “to visit our great airport.”
So how about it, hotshot? Are you in? Even in today’s economy, $10,000 buys a heckuva lot of avgas. See the website for more information.
Thanks and a tip of the aviator’s cap to Judy Birchler at LadiesLoveTaildraggers.com, who came across this contest first.
My first passenger was Martine, whose curiosity in airplanes and my piloting credentials kept me on my toes for answers and explanations. I let Martine know that I was a flight instructor before loading her into the left seat. Even though Martine knew many aviation terms, much of the experience was new, including learning that a Cessna 172 is steered on the ground by our feet. With so many people in the traffic pattern, it gave us the perfect opportunity to discuss radio communications and point out aircraft in the sky.
By the time we took off and leveled at 2,500 feet msl, she was ready to try her hand at straight and level. By the time we landed, she was ready to learn to fly! Martine promptly picked up a flight training packet at the flight school on the field, and I gave her a couple of CFI recommendations after I made her first entry in the logbook she had just purchased.
A few hours after the flight Martine had her husband, Bill, come out to the airport. He wants to learn to fly too. Apparently, learning to fly is on their “bucket list,” and they want to accomplish their dream while they still have time to enjoy flying. He had many of the same questions as Martine, which she proudly answered to prove she remembered much of our conversation during flight.
Martine and Bill’s enthusiasm for aviation matched that of two of my other passengers that day–Brownie Troop girls young enough to be their grandchildren. Each of the girls shared bonding time with her mom while looking over the patchwork farmland below. They were equally thrilled when their moms got to “drive” in the air. One girl was so excited she just started giggling after takeoff. (That’s such a precious sound to hear coming through the intercom!)
I hope the new adventure for these girls will leave a lasting impression and inspire them to learn to fly. And, I hope Martine and Bill get “pilot certificate” checked off their bucket list so they can travel together by GA.
UPDATE MARCH 24: He is now in India.
UPDATE MARCH 19: The aircraft structural damage is repaired and the journey continues. After a five-plus-hour flight, Matevz Lenarcic is on the West Coast of Australia in Broome.
Pipistrel says world-flight aircraft is of different construction.
This press release was received from Pipistrel in Solvenia on March 12 concerning the structural failure of the World Green Flight Pipistrel in Central Australia:
“Follow up on structural repairs during the World Green Flight 2012:
On March 6th, Matevz Lenarcic, flying his Virus 914 Turbo from Jacobs Well to Ayers Rock, Australia encountered severe turbulence, which resulted in airframe vibrations. Matevz commented it was the worst turbulence he had ever encountered in his life. When the vibration settled, the pilot found that the aircraft was still normally controllable, so he continued the flight. After landing, a crack was discovered in the lower vertical tail area on his aeroplane. Upon closer examination and discussion with Pipistrel engineers, it was decided that it was safer to repair the issue before continuing the around-the-world flight through tropical regions of south-east Asia, difficult conditions of Mount Everest and deserts of Africa.
Pipistrel quickly dispatched a team of two people, a highly skilled composite-technology specialist and an aircraft mechanic to fly from Slovenia to carry out the repair on site at Connellan Airport in central Australia. The team is already with Matevz and together they will also prepare the aircraft for the continuation of the journey through difficult tropical, Himalayan and desert conditions.
The Virus SW 914 Turbo, the aeroplane which Matevz is flying, has a specially modified airframe which is different from the serial-production Virus SW 80/100 aeroplanes. It has a different structure, a completely different fuel system with fuel tanks of 350 litre capacity, avionics with airframe-integrated antennae, turbocharged engine with intercooler and over 100 other modifications and improvements over the standard aeroplane.Matevž will set off on his flight again sometime during the weekend.”
Matevž Lenarčič of Slovenia is writing a book about his journey west around the world–his third photographic book. Included with this news item are some of the pictures he captured above Australia just before the vibrations started. Click to enlarge.
Here is his description of what happened: “Suddenly, terrible vibrations have shaken the aircraft, and first I thought that it will fall apart – autopilot off, throttle back, pitch up, stop the speed and terrifying vibrations. I carefully checked controls and found out that aircraft is still flyable. I made some pictures with my iPhone through the window to find the cause of flutter. Everything looked like it should be. After short flight over the Rock and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National park, I’ve put the aircraft very carefully down to the runway, because I was not sure in what kind of condition it actually is. I checked everything in details and found two minor cracks in tail section, I sent pictures to Pipistrel and then got an answer that it is probably serious. I soon got instructions to remove rear wing, elevator and rudders. This took me the whole next day on the hot apron, strong wind and with very limited tools.”
Photos by Matevž Lenarčič with permission
Fans of the previous Microsoft Flight Simulator product line, which ended almost a decade ago with the release of Flight Simulator X, should keep in mind that this new product is being marketed more as a game–it is a new product, not an evolution of what existed before. Initial user comments emphasize the entertainment focus of Flight.
Some enterprising student pilots–and instructors–used the previous Flight Simulator to enhance and accelerate flight training. Will Microsoft Flight be able to do the same? I don’t know; I haven’t had a chance to try it yet. Have you?