Archive for October, 2012

NBAA 65th Convention–Challenges Galore!

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

When it comes to trade show challenges, the National Business Aviation Association gets a two-fer this week–a hurricane and a presidential TFR. And, oh yea, big time office construction issues back in D.C., but that’s another story.

For now, though, the association is dealing with Hurricane Sandy barreling toward the Northeast, where a lot of NBAA member companies are based; many of which will be making the decision on whether to leave their companies and come to Orlando for the big annual convention or stay at home and deal with the storm. By the way, the weather here in Orlando is great! Sandy just brushed by here a couple of days ago with no impact at all. And speaking of Sandy, is it just me or is it hard to take a storm named “Sandy” seriously? I mean, does anyone know anyone named Sandy who isn’t a nice person–easy to get along with, friendly?

NBAA is doing a nice job of keeping its attendees updated on the storm through a dedicated web page.

Meanwhile, last week, the NBAA staff learned that President Obama and his accompanying TFRs would be paying a visit to Orlando on Monday–set up day and arrival day for most attendees. The TFRs would be shutting down the airspace for hours. However, not even Air Force One is prepared to do battle with Sandy, so POTUS is now due here in Orlando Sunday evening, with the TFR time already changed a couple of times. Here is the latest from NBAA.

Host FBO for the aircraft display at Orlando Executive Airport is Showalter Flying Service. Owner Bob Showalter, normally a patient man, says he is fed up with Obama’s negative stance on business aviation–and the changing TFRs aren’t helping. He told me late last week that for the first time ever he has put up a political sign outside his FBO–and you can bet it is not for Obama.

But despite the challenges, the show must on, as they say. Earlier today I toured the exhibit hall, which is a chaotic scene of  people, gear and equipment. There’s a literal highway down the middle with a constant stream of fork lifts–looks like the Beltway at 5 p.m. on a Friday. Frantic and disjointed as it may seem, by 10 a.m. Tuesday when the halls open, it will be a showcase the business aviation community can be proud of.

Look for our reporting from the event throughout the week. AOPA Live This Week will be anchored from the hall. Look for it, as always, on Thursday, last day of the show.

Strange But True General Aviation News

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Wait — this *isn’t* a runway?  A pilot in Michigan thought he was landing at St. Cloud Regional Airport, but in fact landed on a country road, reports the Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch. The pilot, who said it was raining, noted that the weather was “less than ideal” for flying.

Look up – you’re being pulled over! The Wisconsin State Patrol reports it has given out 1,324 speeding tickets, 1,662 citations and made 2,197 traffic stops using three Cessna Skyhawks, reports the LaCrosse Tribune.  The patrol called its aerial enforcement program, “a valuable traffic safety enforcement tool,” and plans to bring it back in 2013.

This time, the plane was not to blame.  Officials at Philadelphia International Airport say an aircraft was not to blame for a tire that smashed a hole into the roof of a local building, reports NBC Philadelphia. Instead, the damage is being blamed on a truck that lost a tire.

It was the accident that wasn’t, part 1.  Residents in the Wildomar/Murrieta/Temecula, Calif., region reported an aircraft accident after hearing a “loud bang” around 7 in the morning, reports the Temecula Patch. A search by the Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department was called off after it was determined the residents just heard a loud noise.

The accident that wasn’t, part 2.  On the other side of the country, the Warwick, R.I. Fire Department called off the search for a airplane that appeared to drop off the radar at the air traffic control tower at T.F. Green Airport, reports the Boston Globe.  No calls about a downed aircraft were made and searches by the Marine Task Force and the Coast Guard came up empty.

Airplane meets deer. A pilot and his student are fine after their single-engine airplane hit a deer while trying to take off at Ohio’s Carroll County Airport, reports WTOV-TV.  The owner and student pilot, Tom Erb, had just bought the aircraft.

Taking some air out of the campaign.  A blimp being used for advertising by the Mitt Romney presidential campaign was forced to do an emergency landing in Davie, Fla., because of high winds, reports the Washington Post.  The pilot and passenger were unharmed.

“Corporate Jet Investor” lists possible Beechcraft suitors

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

The savvy jet industry publication, Corporate Jet Investor, has an article detailing what might happen next in the stage of the Hawker Beechcraft bankruptcy–soon to emerge as just Beechcraft Corporation. Here is a list by Corporate Jet Investor of companies that are, should be, or have been interested in the company in the past.

Mahindra & Mahindra
India’s largest auto maker supplies components to Boeing and Gulfstream.

Nextant/Directional Capital
Nextant, which already offers the Hawker 400XP aircraft, might want to offer modifications for other models.

China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) has joint ventures with both Embraer and Cessna and owns Cirrus Aircraft.The article states the company could still be interested in Hawker. Other Chinese firms might be interested, Corporate Jet Investor said.  Xi’an Aircraft International acquired Austrian composite parts maker FACC in 2009. Hunan Boyun that makes carbon-fiber auto and aircraft parts could possibly be interested in Hawker’s carbon-fiber jet.

BAE Systems
BAE Systems sold Hawker to Raytheon in 1993. It had been hoping to merge with EADS, which owns Airbus, but the deal fell through for political reasons, the magazine said. “Hawker could give it a commercial aircraft business of its own,” the magazine article said.

Looking for a few good aircraft owners

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

A British outfit is looking to profile a few good aircraft owners. See the note below.

Dave Hirschman
Senior Editor
AOPA Pilot magazine

Hello, I work for UK-based documentary production company NERD TV (

We’re making a TV series for a US network about people with interesting collections of aircraft. The important thing is the collections cannot be entirely comprised of gleaming, pristine museum pieces.

An ideal candidate would be someone with a couple of airworthy planes and a few other projects that are in various stages of completion (the messier the better). They could be unfinished projects, once-loved specimens that have fallen into disrepair, or just rusty shells in a barn. The more the better.

We would also need the subjects to have other (non-aviation) items in their vehicular collections; a classic car gathering dust, a pile of disassembled motorbikes, a boat sitting on a trailer, or maybe even an old bus in a field.

At this point, we’re just trying to speak to people – nothing will be broadcast. The idea of the show is for our restoration team to help bring fading collections back to their glistening best. This could be a chance for people to finally complete projects that have been on-the-go for years, and may even add significant value.

If you, or someone you know, might fit the bill (or are just curious about the idea), please email me at [email protected] or call 0207 043 0080.

Many thanks,

Oliver Good
T: + 44 (0)207 043 0080
M: + 44 (0)7877 287 919

The Sweeps Debonair: Sign of a Trend?

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Now that AOPA’s Debonair sweepstakes is under way, I’ve been thinking about the previous owners of this very special 1963 airplane. Our/your Debonair was previously owned by two partners. One was 90 years old. The other wanted a newer airplane–an A36 Bonanza, I understand. The 90-year-old is still flying, by the way, and the day I checked out the Debonair I watched him taxi out in a Skyhawk with an instructor. For him, the Debonair was too much expense for too little flying. For the past five years he averaged just 20 hours per year in the Debonair. Keeping it made no sense.

This sounds a lot like the previous owner of the 2011 sweepstakes airplane–a 1974 Cessna 182 we dubbed the “Crossover Classic.” The owner was in his late 70s and only flew his Skylane 10 hours per year. Though he couldn’t justify keeping the Skylane he, too, kept flying. He purchased a Piper J-3 Cub, restored it with a partner, and now flies it under Light Sport Aircraft rules.

Let’s go back further, to AOPA’s 2004 “Win-A-Twin” sweepstakes airplane–a 1965 Piper Twin Comanche. Same deal: an ex-airline pilot rarely flew the airplane. He was getting out of the twin because, you guessed it, he didn’t fly so much any more.

It strikes me that these pilots represent a groundswell in sales of older general aviation airplanes. All three owners were deeply involved in GA flying, and emotional about parting with their beloved airplanes. In each case it took years for the owners to come to the decision to sell. And in those years, I might add, each deferred essential maintenance. They became inured to their airplanes’ signs of wear and tear.

I’ll bet that there are hundreds, maybe thousands of owners and airplanes out there in the same situations. And guess what. Those owners and airplanes were part of GA’s glory years, which ran roughly from the early 1950s to the late 1970s. That’s when more GA pilots were trained, and airplanes built, than ever before–or since. It was the apex of GA’s bell-shaped activity curve.

Now many of those older owners are getting out of “conventional” GA and into light-sport flying. Others are simply walking away. No surprise here, but my point is that there aren’t enough younger pilots entering GA to compensate for the older ones leaving. That’s why AOPA’s many initiatives designed to promote growth of the pilot base–our flying club iniative being the latest–will be so essential in the years to come.

Wisconsin’s Winnebago Flying Club Uses Fall Foliage Footage to Tout GA

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

The first two general aviation flights I ever took were both trips to view fall foliage, one in Burlington, Vt., and one in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.  AOPA recently created the AOPA Flying Club Network Facebook group, and one of the members – Sam Wiltzius (@wiredforflight) — sent in a comment that turned into this post.

The Winnebago Flying Club has been around since 1978, after the merger of two other clubs.  It currently has 28 active members and flies a 1972 Cessna 172L that’s been upgraded with GPS, said Wiltzius.  “We keep our aircraft up to date.  We believe in having a quality aircraft and keeping things  simple,” he said.  “Our membership ranges from people in college up right up to our president, who is retired. We have three CFIs and one designated examiner.”

The club wanted to do something in the area of new member recruitment and show people what they can do with a pilot certificate, said Wiltzius. “My friend Tom and his wife wanted to do a fun flight somewhere. His wife has early onset dementia, so we wanted to do something where she’d enjoy it and get something out of it,” he recalled.

They had many memories in Door County, Wis., which has beautiful foliage, said Wiltzius.  “So I came up with the idea to fly over the foliage and do a video for Tom and our club,” he said.

The results were amazing, both for the passenger and the club. “Tom’s wife was nearly in tears being able to see her old stomping grounds by air. She was thrilled and excited to see the area from a different angle,” said Wiltzius. “It brought back so many good memories for her and the colors were amazing. It was a magical time.”

Once the video was ready, Wiltzius used social media to get the word out. “Twitter and Facebook are our primary means, but we did do an email blast to our members as well,” he said. “I’m a big fan of social networking. Our membership is aging and social media is a great way to attract new and younger members and get them excited about GA.”

The club wants to show the beauty and magic of aviation in a social and non-negative way, said Wiltzius, and that’s not limited to Winnebago County.  “If I can get someone in Chicago to get excited about flying, that’s great.  They don’t have to join our club,” he stated.  “We just want them to become advocates for GA or even become a pilot. It’s all about joining the family that is aviation.”

You can view the Winnebago Flying Club’s video below. 

Strange But True General Aviation News

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Yes, you just got pulled over — because of a plane. The Florida Highway Patrol has begun using a Cessna SkyHawk  to catch speeding drivers in the Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach and Broward counties, reports the Palm Beach Post.  An officer pilot tracks speeders from the skies and transmits the informantion to a patrol car on the ground, who then issues a speeding ticket.

I guess he wanted a certain look. Embattled Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Michael Jeffries has been embarrassed by a set of rules required for the actors and models that serve as flight attendants on the company’s Gulfstream G550, reports Bloomberg. According to a 40-page document released as part of an age discrimination lawsuit filed against the company by a former pilot, Jeffries insisted on rules including: black gloves had to be used when handling silverware and white gloves to lay the table; males required to wear a belt, hat, gloves, boxer briefs and a “spritz” of the retailer’s cologne; and specific seating arrangements for the CEO’s three dogs.

He had a ticket to ride. Ultimate Fighter Champion Stephen Bonnar had a problem — he had to be in Rio de Janeiro for a championship, but his wife was in Las Vegas about to deliver their first child. UFC founder Dana White came to the rescue, offering Bonnar a ride home in his Bombardier Global Express, reports Flying magazine.

Speaking of tickets to ride… Amber Nolan is hoping to visit all 50 states…by hitching rides on general aviation aircraft, reports the Seattle Times.  So far, she has visited 11 states and flown in planes ranging from a Piper Lance to an Eclipse 500.

Nice haul.  The Australian Federal Police seized nearly $100 million in luxury goods from criminals in the past year, nearly double that of the previous year, reports Among the items seized was a Beechcraft A36 and “multiple” Rolls-Royces.

The accidents that weren’t. An alleged aircraft accident in El Reno, Okla.,  turned out to be a controlled burn, reports KFOR-TV.  Fire companies and a helicopter searched an area in Fredericksburg, Pa., for a reported accident that turned out to be  plane doing a smoke show, reports the Lebanon Daily News.

Amazing! 90-year-old pilot and World War II veteran Vernon E. Bothwell Jr. managed to land his 1986 Woody Pusher when it went down after experiencing engine failure, reports WTHI-TV.  Bothwell was treated for a ankle fracture and a head laceration.

AOPA Flying Club Network Facebook Group Takes Off

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Last week at the AOPA Aviation Summit, our new Center to Advance the Pilot Community announced it was creating a network of flying clubs as part of a long-term initiative to facilitate flying club growth, which, in turn, will help grow the pilot population.  Center Senior Vice President Adam Smith did a PowerPoint presentation, “Special Interest Education: AOPA Flying Club Network,” to show benefits including the ability to share information and resources.

A mere week after starting the AOPA Flying Club Network Facebook group, we’re already at 639 (sorry, make that 644) members and growing.  The group was created to start a conversation among flying clubs and those who want to start or join a flying club, and what a conversation it’s been so far.  Topics already covered include:

  • Templates/models to create a club;
  • Aircraft used by flying clubs
  • Financing and insurance;
  • Setting club dues;
  • Attracting new members;
  • What members expect from clubs; and
  • Finding the time to fly.

So join the Facebook group, pass along your Twitter handle for our flying clubs list, and go here to join our email list to be updated on the latest news and events within AOPA’s Flying Club initiative.

Wish lists and budget buys

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

Super Decathalon

My dream aircraft!

On my commercial flight to AOPA Aviation Summit, I started daydreaming about the products that would be on display in the exhibit hall. If my purse had no limit, I thought, what would I buy? Immediately, I thought of a new pair of headsets. I’ve been borrowing a pair for almost a year now after my signature blue Sigtronics that I’ve had for 12 years started to interfere with communication. Then, I started making a wish list of everything else. List in hand, I set out in the exhibit hall with two budgets in mind: unlimited and a more realistic $500 limit.


Unlimited budget

$500 budget


I’ve been weak in the knees ever since I saw 5G Aviation’s fire-engine red Super Decathlon in the Parade of Planes on Oct. 10. So, I headed straight to the exhibitor outside the Palm Springs Convention Center to inquire. For $175,000, the base airplane would be mine; plus, I’d purchase two $1,995 training sessions from them to finish off my tailwheel endorsement and take an unusual attitude recovery class.

I’d buy a Cirrus SR22 for my distance-flying machine. That costs $449,900.

Subscription to Trade-A-Plane. I’m on a 10-year savings plan to buy a used aircraft, so Trade-A-Plane will help educate me on the market. A one-year subscription costs $9.95.


Headsets are very personal items. I tried out David Clark, Lightspeed, Bose, and Clarity Aloft headsets in the exhibit hall. The Clarity Aloft headsets interested me because they wrap around the back of my head and fit inside my ears. Traditional headsets typically start hurting the top of my head after about two hours of flying. If I had an unlimited budget, I’d buy one from each headset manufacturer, fly around with them, and then pick my favorite.

I’d buy the tried and true David Clark H10-30 headset with passive noise attenuation for $270. David Clark will repair anything that breaks or goes wrong with the headsets—for free, no questions asked. Even though they don’t have active noise canceling, they are comfortably quiet.


Garmin aera 796 portable GPS—oh, the luxury of not folding and unfolding a sectional a million different ways. The aera 796 costs $2,499.

I would enter every raffle exhibitors at Summit were offering to win a free iPad. Then I’d wait a few weeks for AOPA’s FlyQ EFB to be released and buy the VFR plus IFR subscription for $119.

Aviation adventure

Air Race Classic 2013—four days of flying over 2,133 nautical miles. The adventure costs $6,000 per team.

I’d live vicariously through The Aviators. I can buy a season on DVD for $20.


Scheyden talked me into trying on their Albatross line, which costs $209. I have an older pair of Scheydens that have served me well. They’ve lasted three years so far, a remarkable feat for someone who has stepped on and rolled a nosewheel over sunglasses before.

Hazebuster exhibited some stylish sunglasses at Summit that range in price from $38 to $115.


Strange But True General Aviation News

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Mid-air miracle. Pilots of two Piper Cherokees are happy to be alive after theyclipped each other midair in the skies above Maricopa, Ariz., reports the Arizona Republic.  Despite heavy damage, both planes landed safely, one at Gila River Airport and the other at a vehicle test track, the newspaper reported.

If he can pose with the wreakage, then he’s OK.  Tony Vowels was flying his brand new experimental aircraft from Albuquerque, N.M., to Durango, Colo. when he went down into trees after attempting to land four times in a slight crosswind and an uphill breeze, reports the Silverton Standard.  His plane was destroyed, but Vowels only had a small laceration on his left hand, a bump on the back of his head and a bruised shoulder, the newspaper reported.

Maybe it was only cracked.  A pilot decided to forgo an emergency landing at Kansas’ Salina Airport after reporting a broken windshield, reports the Salinas Journal. The pilot opted to fly his damaged Cessna Citation jet  to Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, which has a Cessna Citation Service Center.

Isn’t it usually kittens that get stuck in trees?  An unidentified man found himself stuck in a tree 80 feet above the ground after his powered parachute malfunctioned, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  He was rescued by fire fighters about 45 minutes after the accident.

Speaking of cats… Bernard Harris and cat survived an acciddent after his Piper PA-28 struck power lines and went down about a mile south of Beatty, Nev., reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal.  The man was hospitalized in fair condition, but the town was without power for 14 hours.

Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “takeoff.” Billy Wayne was forced to land his Cirrus SR22 in the parking lot of a strip club after experiencing visibility problems, reports CBS-42.  Wayne, who deployed the Cirrus’s parachute, was credited for his quick thinking in making the landing.

I guess he really needed to air it out.  An unnamed Kansas City Chiefs fan took out his frustration on quarterback Matt Cassel by hiring an aircraft to fly a banner over Arrowhead Stadium that said “WE DESERVE BETTER! FIRE PIOLI — BENCH CASSEL,” reports USA Today.  The team lost to the Baltimore Ravens, 9-6.