Archive for September, 2012

Caution: Catfish on ramp!

Monday, September 10th, 2012

We’ve all heard the expression ‘raining cats and dogs.’ Now let’s add to that ‘raining catfish.’ Let me explain.

I had just landed at the Vero Beach, Florida airport and was cleared to taxi to Paris Air’s ramp at the east end of the field. It rained heavily the day before, and off and on for several hours before my arrival. The rain was heavy. So heavy that the airport’s storm drains–grass swales, really–filled to the brim. I came down the taxiway paralleling Paris Air’s ramp, hung a right, and–hey, what’s that? One, two, three black, curved shapes flopping around on the ramp.

Catfish taxiing at VRB

Yep, catfish. They had apparently washed out of the swales and were now trying to walk–er, flop–somewhere. It was a first for me! After taking a picture I went to check on them again but they were gone. A Paris Air employee snatched them, ostensibly to put in a pond at his home. That, or perhaps there was catfish for dinner that night!


Second human-powered helo crash video posted

Friday, September 7th, 2012

University of Maryland officials said the structural break during the last Gamera II flight occurred at the same point as a repaired break from an earlier crash. The statement issued today said U. of Md. students will press on to the final goal of 9.8 feet (they got 9.4 feet and were near the floor when this crash occurred). If they fly for a minute, stay in an 11.7 foot circle, and reach 9.8 feet, they win a $250,000 Sikorsky innovation prize–and endless bragging rights.

Strange But True General Aviation News

Friday, September 7th, 2012

I’m Benet Wilson, the newest member of the Reporting Points team, and I’m delighted to be a part of this great group of writers. On my personal blog,, I do a feature post every Friday called “Strange But True Aviation News.” It’s a weekly roundup of all the strange, crazy, unique and interesting things people do on airplanes and in airports. And now, I’ll be doing the GA version of the post right here. So let’s go!

That was one hell of a checkride! Brian Garrett of Westminster, Colo., had a checkride he’ll never forget.  According to AOPAOnline, magazine, he passed his checkride after one of the blades on his Sting Sport LSA separated during his flight, forcing him to land in a field.

I guess he didn’t really need that tire.  Duane Reetz, 57, of Clintonville Wis., managed to land his plane at Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport despite losing a tire during take-off, reports KLEW-TV. ATC told Reetz that he lost a tire, but he flew for two hours to burn off fuel before doing a nose dive into the runway. He was unharmed.

They were probably happy to see those teens! Four teens are being heralded as heroes after they rescued two victims of a seaplane crash on Lake Whatcom, Wash., reports KING-TV. The accident happened while the pilot was practicing landings.

You do need to deploy the landing gear. Jim Postma, a candidate for the 9th congressional district in Washington state, totaled his plane when he landed at Spanaway Airport without putting down his landing gear, reports KING-TV. When he was returning from a trip with his wife to the San Juan Islands, he turned around after his first attempt to land, then had his accident on the second attempt to land.

It’s a highway – it’s a runway! A small plane was forced to land on I-5 near Bellingham, Wash., after experiencing engine trouble, reports KING-TV.  The plane did hit a car, but no one was hurt in the accident.

Mystery crash. Folks driving by Springfield, Mo.’s Downtown Airport saw an interesting sight recently: a Piper PA30 that had landed without its landing gear deployed, reports

He’s a flying crane – he’s the president of Russia! Russian President Vladimir Putin hopped into a motorized glider to help endangered cranes fly their migration patterns to Iran and India, reports the Guardian. It took two tries to get the cranes to follow Putin in the glider.

Chivalry at 97,000 feet

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

As preparation for the Red Bull Stratos record-breaking parachute jump from a balloon at 120,000 feet in early October, Felix Baumgartner jumped in early August from 97, 145 feet. Why not just go on up to Joe Kittinger’s record of 102,800 feet set on August 16, 1960? Baumgartner wanted to make sure he broke the record on the last flight. If he had gone above 102,800 feet, then the final flight would have broken Baumgartner’s record, not Kittinger’s. He didn’t want to push Kittinger, the mission controller of the Red Bull Stratos project, out of the picture so early. By the way, that Aug. 9 test flight was to have been to 90,000 feet, not 97,000. Does that mean the final flight will be actually above 120,000 feet? You can bet the rent money on it. Baumgartner finally took Kittinger’s advice on the type of gloves to use after his hands became numb on an earlier practice flight, and had no problems. You can also bet the young pup will listen to the wisdom of 84-year-old Kittinger for the October flight. Orlando officials have rennovated Col. Joe Kittinger Park near Orlando Executive Airport. Kittinger was born in Tampa.

Red Bull capsule after hard landing

The flight was delayed to October because the capsule fell on its side in rocky terrain after the Aug. 9 flight, damaging its exterior and systems. The inner pressure vessel survived, but rebuilding seemed like a good idea. (Red Bull photo)

Hawker bankruptcy case to lag through February

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

A New York bankrupcty court has granted until Feb. 27, 2013, for Hawker Beechcraft to find a solution to its bankruptcy problems. During that time HB will continue to negotiate with Superior Aviation of Beijing for a $1.79 billion buyout, but is not limited to that solution alone. When the deal was announced, HB and the Chinese owner of Superior Aviation said they needed 45 days to work on the deal to the exclusion of all others, adding that it probably wouldn’t take the full 45 days. That period has passed with no deal, but with HB saying progress is good. An attorney told the court there could even be a negotiated deal this week. HB attorneys wanted the additional time–and have reserved the right to ask for an even longer period of exclusive negotiation–before others can file a Chapter 11 plan. The company is still free to drop the Chinese sale and pursue alternatives.  No matter which way the company goes it seems certain HB will move towards being a service company for the aircraft already in the fleet. Industry analyst Brian Foley says the company was already headed that direction before filing for bankruptcy.

Cloud Nine suspends operations

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Back in 2010 I wrote about Ted DuPuis and Cloud Nine, a nonprofit organization he created to conduct animal rescue and other types of humanitarian flights (“GA Serves America: The More the Merrier,” January 2011 AOPA Pilot).

Ted had recently acquired a windfall in the form of Sugar Pop, a donated Cessna 310 that would enable Cloud Nine to conduct more far-flung missions with its better range and weather equipment. (The photo shows Ted with Cloud Nine’s Piper Aztec, which he is in the process of selling.) Unfortunately, Sugar Pop was close to needing overhauls when she came into Cloud Nine’s fleet. Now she absolutely must have them, to the point that she is grounded and Cloud Nine has ceased operations until it can acquire the funds.

At least $55,000 is needed to do the work. For more information, see this page, or go to Cloud Nine’s website.