Archive for November, 2012

Debonair Sweeps: Panel Sneak-Peek

Friday, November 30th, 2012

N232L Radio Panel

N232L Radio Panel – click to see bigger image.

Ok, so the last Debonair post was a tad troubling…I mean, will that torn-up old instrument panel really make the leap to state-of-the-art?

Fear not! Santa Fe Aero Services has come up with a plan. And a drawing that shows their vision of the Deb’s panel-to-be. Click on the accompanying image and it will enlarge.

Take a look at the illustration and see if you like what’s planned. It’s a display-rich panel with a clean look and a load of new avionics. Again, check for subsequent posts–and the sweepstakes article in the January issue of AOPA Pilot magazine–for updates.

But for now I just wanted to give you a peek into the very near future. What do you think?

Want to help the DC-10 tankers survive?

Friday, November 30th, 2012

The two former DC-10 airliners modified for use as aerial firefighters by 10 Tanker Air Carrier (see “The New Rainmaker,” May 2012 AOPA Pilot) have seen a good bit of use during this year’s busy wildfire season–several of you have mentioned personally seeing the distinctive orange-and-white jumbo jets at low levels, battling blazes in the western states. (If you haven’t seen the “10” in action, you can catch the video on AOPA Live.)

However, the company has been unable to secure an exclusive-use contract from the U.S. Forest Service, which it says is required for continued operation of the aircraft. There were reports during the summer that absent such a contract, the company might ground the aircraft before the end of the year. Now, the company is calling on supporters–through its Facebook page and an email campaign–to sign a petition to the Forest Service supporting use of the aircraft.

 The Forest Service is assessing which aircraft it will use to fight forest fires in the future, the company said. “This is our chance to persuade the USFS of the DC-10s’ unique ability to contain forest fires. But we need your help to show USFS Chief Tom Tidwell that we have widespread support.” The efficiency of the flying supertankers certainly is impressive–one can cover about the same amount of ground as four C-130s.

You can learn more, and sign the petition, by visiting this website. I was impressed by what I saw, both during my visit to 10 Tanker and on news videos. They’ve got my support.

Strange But True General Aviation News

Friday, November 30th, 2012

 Everyone loves a successful ditching!  All 29 passengers on an Embraer Brasilia turboprop were OK after the crew of charter operator Inter-Iles Air was forced to ditch the aircraft off the coast of Mozambique after a reported fuel leak, reports AvWeb.   The passengers and crew were rescued by fishermen in the area.

Why wasn’t he flying private in the first place?  Pittsburgh-based rapper Wiz Khalifa and his entourage were forced to charter a private jet to make it on time for a show in West Virginia, reports The rapper was among 50 passengers on a US Airways Express jet departing from LaGuardia Airport that experienced a landing gear malfunction.

Get your birds straight.  A Philadelphia area animal rights group had a drone it was using to secretly film pigeon shoots at the Wing Point hunting grounds shot down, reports NBC10. The group claims a hunter shot down the camera, which sustained $4,000 in damage.

Case closed! Back on Oct. 19, I posted an item on an age discrimination lawsuit filed by a former pilot against Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Michael Jeffries, which included an embarrassing set of rules for those flying on the company’s Gulfstream G550.  The Columbus Dispatch reports that the sides reached a settlement right after the judge in the case ordered Jeffries to undergo a second deposition. No further details were released.

Pelicans hitch airplane ride home.  A set of pelicans that were blown from their home in Florida up to Rhode Island during Hurricane Sandy will not have to fly back, reports the Boston Globe.  After a stint at the Wildlife Rehabilitators Association of Rhode Island, local residents raised enough money to fly the birds back to Daytona Beach, Fla., on a private aircraft.

Help out the kids at U. of Md.

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Want to bet on a sure thing? The kids at the University of Maryland that built Gamera II, a human-powered helicopter, have a chance to win $10,000 to defray expenses on their next attempt at the Sikorsky challenge in 2013. They challenge requires them to reach 10 feet during a one-minute flight and remain in a 10-meter area. Watch this video and vote for it so that they win the prize. Before investing your two minutes, here’s an incentive. They have already reached nearly 10 feet in altitude and have exceeded the one-minute requirement during earlier flights. They are a sure bet to do it in 2013 and you can say you helped. They crashed a couple of times and could use the money. Give’em a break. They’re just kids. Gotta help the next generation. Stuff like that.

What Aviation Items Would You Buy If You Won Tonight’s PowerBall Drawing?

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

I am among the millions who bought a PowerBall lottery ticket as the jackpot hit $500 million.  On my drive into Frederick this morning, I daydreamed about all the aviation-related things I would do with the money.  My list included: an Embraer Phenom 300; an effort with AOPA to boost the number of minority pilots;  and major donations to the Delta Heritage Museum and Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum.

So I decided to put the same question to AOPA members via our Facebook page and Twitter account.  Below are some of my favorites. Enjoy!


  • Saving that money after seeing how this economy is going! lol. BUT were just dreaming so Id say C190, C180, C320, Cessna Mustang, King Air 300, Stearman PT 17. hehehehe TO START WITH!
  • Cessna 182. Simple as that.
  •  I suppose I’d have some cool jet in which to travel afar, but after I get that Mustang I’ve wanted since I was 6, I’d be hankerin’ for (relatively) slow, radial engined aircraft like a Beaver, C195, Twin Beech or Staggerwing.
  • I’m going with a Skyraider AD-5 (I think)….the big one… carry the family and dog…..a nice helo, and a Mustang of course. Then I’m going to donate money to a certain individual to get a B-17 done and I want naming rights and to fly it!!!
  •  I would have to add that I would love to make donations to the Wounded Warrior Project, Honor Flight, National Naval Aviation Museum, AOPA Air Safety, T.I.G.H.A.R., Sun ‘N Fun, The Commemorative Air Force, The 99’s, to W.A.S.P. Museums, and make scholarships available to those who have the desire and dedication, but who are struggling to afford being able to solve their dream.
  • BBJ for business jet, PC-12 for daily driver, Extra 300 for fun, Husky for more fun, and then take $20 MIL of it and fund my Welcome Sky Aviation Scholarship program to issue full-ride flight training grants to the best and brightest 16-21 year olds I could find.
  • An AOPA LIFE Membership for me and 100 people and a shiny brand new Cessna 182 JT A.
  • Im gonna finish getting my PPL, Then get every other pilot certification. Then I’m buying a Corvalis TTX, a Cirrus SR-22GTS, and a Citation Ten. I’ll of course buy a few Bose headsets for me and my Pax. I’d use the remaining money for fuel, maintenance, etc.
  • An HA-420, and a Quest Kodiak, The former Mary Talbot airstrip in Vinalhaven, Maine, a few bose headsets, attend aviation mechanic school, get ratings for those planes, and maybe buy all the abandoned salvagable airstrips around Maine.


  • P-51, J-3, Corvalis TTx, Citation Mustang. In that order.
  •  I think I will keep is lower key with a Cessna Mustang.
  • TBM 850, Carbon Cub…pay off debt…Build churches all over the world and keep working :)
  • Me? #Mooney factory, Kerrville TX.
  • With my $500 million #Powerballwinnings :-) I’ll first buy a @Terrafugia then work with @google (and @IBM) to make it self-flying 😉
  • Five T-6Bs or Super Tucanos. And start an airshow team.
  • I would get a Cessna 210 and completely re-do it nose to tail. Oh, also, one of those little jets like the Cirrus or Piper.


Debonair Sweeps: No Turning Back!

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012


The Debonair Sweeps' gutted panel

Yikes! The Debonair Sweeps’ gutted panel


I’ve shepherded three AOPA Sweepstakes airplanes through their restorations, and there’s something that shocks me each time.

What is it? It’s seeing a photo like one posted here! Yep, this is the stage where all the old avionics have been yanked, and then unceremoniously tossed or traded in to the avionics shop for credit (what little that might represent) against their labor.

But look at it…chaos incarnate. NO WAY the old panel is ever coming back! The point of no return has passed!

Even though you may intellectually grasp the idea, at this stage of a panel restoration the mind cannot fathom the concept of a full-on upgrade. How can any normally-endowed person have the ability to put things right after seeing such a mess of wires and gaping holes? You or I couldn’t, of course. So take a look, ladies and gentlemen: The Humpty-Dumpty metaphor, made manifest!

Good thing that Santa Fe Aero Services has been there, done that. Many times over. Before long, we’ll see a three-screen Aspen Avionics installation, along with Garmin’s GTN 750 and GTN 650 navigators, an Alpha Systems angle of attack indicator, an R.C. Allen backup attitude indicator, a PS Engineering PMA8000BT audio panel, a CO Guardian carbon monixide detector, a JP Instruments EDM 900 engine and systems monitor, and much, much, much more. Like a panel-mounted iPad Mini, USB charging ports, and new annuciators.

Check out the January 2013 issue of AOPA Pilot for more information about the Debonair Sweeps’ panel transformation.

And don’t worry. The gutted-panel look may prompt despair, but that will fade as the new panel springs, Phoenix-like, into the 21st century.

The $50 Cherokee

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Darrin Carlson took a 1964 Cherokee 140 from this…

One of the great joys of writing for AOPA Pilot is when I hear from members after an article is published (no, really!). They often write to remark on some aspect of my article, and then let slip some fascinating detail about their airplane or themselves.

In Darrin Carlson’s case, he asked a specific question about the seatbelt installation I described in the December 2012 issue of AOPA Pilot (“Ownership: Buckle Up). In a follow-up email, he added, “When I purchased my 50-dollar Cherokee, it was abandoned and in very poor shape. I started on small simple projects and worked my way up to overhauling the engine. This allowed me to get the experience to get my A&P/IA, then once it was airworthy it helped with my private and IFR rating now I am working on my commercial and CFI ratings.”

It turns out Darrin wasn’t joking about that $50 airplane. He really did buy a $50 Cherokee and rebuild it himself, step by painstaking step. He attached photos (which you see here) and a copy of an article that originally ran in the Nov.  27, 2007, issue of the Clay Center Dispatch. (Clay Center is in Kansas, which is where Darrin lives.) He bought the ’64 Cherokee 140 in 1993 after noticing it sitting in a scrap area near the Air Museum at Forbes Field in Topeka. He wrote the owner (who at the time was working in El Salvador) with an offer to buy it and sent him a check for $50 to cover the cost of processing the paperwork. The owner sent him a sales receipt, and a $50 airplane was his.

…to this. He replaced practically everything over four years.

It took four years, but he redid everything–not just the engine and the avionics but also the wiring. He even did the paint job, and it’s prettyspectacular. Don’t you agree?

Well, but an airplane owner is always looking ahead to that next project, and Darren’s considering installing shoulder harnesses. Not knowing the story behind his extra-special Cherokee, I told him I didn’t think he’d have a problem doing it himself. Turns out I was more than right!—Jill W. Tallman

The Air Adventures of Jimmie Allen

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

Sarah Wilson, a former employee of AOPA and a modern-day barnstormer, has resurrected a kids flying club tied to a radio adventure show called “The Air Adventures of Jimmie Allen.” The sponsor was the Richfield Oil Company, sponsor of air races and a beacon airway from California to Canada. The oil company used a now-rare 1929 Model 4E Stearman for publicity tours connected to the radio show. Actors Mickey Rooney and Shirley Temple were members. Wilson’s dream is to use the successful 1930s flying club, and that same Model 4E , also known as the Richfield Junior Speedmail (restored at Jim Kimball Enterprises) to attract kids and build support for general aviation. Jimmie was generally in trouble worldwide, with bad guys trying to sabotage his airplane and worse (gasp!). There’s a link to a sample of the old radio show at the top of this link. By 1937 the show was in decline and fewer kids were heading to Skelly gas stations to request their Jimmie Allen wings, so the actors involved moved to another boy hero, Captain Midnight. By the time the show reached television in 1954, Captain Midnight was an adult chugging his sponsor’s Ovaltine chocolate drink inside his Secret Club headquarters.

Strange But True General Aviation News

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Talk about coming down from a high!  Pilot Russell Hansen and his passenger, Jacob M. Beaty-Martinez were arrested at Hensley Memorial Airport in Fulton, Mo., after police seized $450,000 in marijuana from a Cessna 172, reports the News-Tribune.  They were both charged with second-degree trafficking of a controlled substance.

Watch what you say! Morning sports radio host Dean Molberg was suspended for the rest of the Canadian Football League season after saying on air that he wished the Saskatchewan Roughriders plane would have an accident and several players would die, reports Huffington Post. It was particularly in bad taste because in 1956, four of the team’s  best players were killed, along with 58 others in one of the worst accidents in Western Canadian history.

It was the end of the road. Helicopter pilot Henry Rosenau finally had to face the music and receive a sentence of 10 years for using his rotor craft to smuggle dozens of loads of marijuana into the United States from Canada, reports the Province. Rosenau fought extradition from Canada for nearly six years, and his first trial in April ended in a hung jury.

Speaking of helicopters…Medi-flight helicopter pilot Owen Park was cited for harassing wildlife in Colorado after a group of hunters witnessed him flying low over a group of elk several times near Grand Junction, Colo., reports Field and Stream.  He was assessed 10 penalty points against his hunting and fishing privileges, and fined $200.

Foam party!! A hangar at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport had fire retardant foam deployed although there was no fire in the facility, reports KTNV-TV. A local news helicopter showed photos of a hangar with foam flowing out.

We’ll end the week with this video of a coast Guard helicopter rescuing two men whose boat had capsized in Lake Erie.

Wolf Aviation Fund wants your great general aviation ideas

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

One of the great things about general aviation is the willingness of the industry to help its own and others.  The Wolf Aviation Fund was created to provide grants to those who are doing great work in GA.

Each year the Wolf Aviation Fund provides grants for a number of individuals and organizations doing great work in general aviation.  The fund has made more than 330 awards,which have allowed worthy recipients the funding and recognition for their ideas. 

The deadline to apply for grants in 2013 is Dec. 15.  The fund seeks applications in seven major program areas: Developing Public Policy and Airports; Networking and Mutual Support; Development and Alternative Resources; Communications, Media, and Community Relations; General Aviation Technology, Safety, and Noise; Improving Public Understanding and Perception; and Aviation and Space Education.

Past winners include:

  • Doug Stewart of the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE), Inc., who received a grant to form a new Aviation Educator Hall of Fame to recognize those having made significant contributions to aviation education;
  • The Atlantic Aviators Chapter of Women in Aviation International, which is building a custom-designed, aviation-themed playground at New Bedford Regional Airport in Massachusetts.
  • Penny Rafferty Hamilton, Ph.D., who will research, write, and publish a Flight Instructor Communication Manual presenting proven and effective communication techniques for providing instruction to women wishing to be involved in General Aviation;  
  • Teachers’ Day at AirVenture 2012, an event organized by Build a Plane’s Lyn Freeman designed to educate teachers how to use aviation in the classroom to motivate students to learn STEM subjects;
  • John Zapp of the Flying Musicians Association, who received a grant to organize career fairs and related events supporting the Association’s objectives; and
  • Flying High Coffee received a grant to support bringing its high quality product to the marketplace, with a portion of the proceeds being set aside to fund worthy non-profit aviation organizations. 

Most proposals receive  partial financial support because the Wolf Aviation Fund believes recipients can use the honor and recognition that comes from a grant to approach others and seek additional funding.  The fund also seeks donations in order to award more grants.

Go to for more information about the Wolf Aviation Fund.