Archive for January, 2013

In the hot seat of a MiG-15

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

migBuilt in the 1940s, the Russian UTI MiG-15 trainer is a stick-and-rudder turbojet designed to train pilots for combat. This week, I’m learning the peculiarities of the way this early fighter flies with Larry Salganek, Jet Warbird Training Center owner and instructor, and FAA designated examiner based at Santa Fe Municipal Airport in New Mexico.

One of the features of the fighter not associated with the aircraft’s instability and handling characteristics is what gave me pause: Hot ejection seats. If the MiG were to go out of control and the aircraft couldn’t be landed, or we couldn’t bail out on our own, we could eject. Keep in mind, this was built it the 1940s. My ejection seat would be catapulted from the aircraft by an estimated 18-inch canister filled with gunpowder at a force of about 20 Gs. Most civilians who have had to eject from a MiG have not survived, Salganek said. The ejection seats are old, civilians don’t have a lot of training in ejecting, and often they are hesitant to eject and may wait too long.

Ejection, bailing out—that part of the pre-flight briefing always gets me (well, bailing out, as this is the first time I will have experienced flying an aircraft with a live ejection seat) when going on aerobatic flights. Watching how to jettison the door, making sure my parachute is tight, and learning how to open it after exiting the aircraft always causes a lump in my throat that stays until engine start and I re-focus my attention on flying.

I called a friend who flies aircraft with ejection seats for some advice, hoping to calm my nerves. His advice: Keep my hand away from the ejection handle. While one of the pins for the ejection seat will be removed before we close the canopy, a safety pin that goes through the handle to jettison the canopy and pull the ejection seat will remain in place. I would have to complete three steps to eject, so that pretty much rules out doing so accidentally.

Salganek, who has been doing this type of training for nearly 20 years, also put me at ease talking about how well the aircraft runs and its impeccable maintenance record. Watch for an upcoming story in AOPA’s print, online, and video publications to find out how the MiG flies and what it was like to sit on top an 18-inch canister filled with gunpowder for a 40-minute flight.

New twin to enter development

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Phil McCoy shows twin details

Phil McCoy shows twin details

Phil McCoy, who is preparing to produce the Storm aircraft at Light Sport America in Bartow, Florida, found something unusual in the hanger he acquired for his factory; a very small twin-engine aircraft. It was built by the former occupant of the hangar, but will be developed and certified as the Derringer GB trainer by McCoy. It is expected to cost $130,000, and for the record, does not meet the limitations for certification as a light sport aircraft. It is powered by two 70-horsepower Volkswagen engines, but McCoy thinks he may have to change those to certified aircraft engines. It is claimed to cruise at 120 knots indicated airspeed.

It is reported to weigh 1890 pounds and carry 25 gallons of fuel, burning 6.4 gallons total for both engines. Click twice on the photo of a proud McCoy to read additional details. He was photographed at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida.

Strange But True General Aviation News

Friday, January 25th, 2013

I want my airplane back!  Puerto Rican singer Noelia is accusing the Venezuelan government of “arbitrarily” seizing her private jet at Maiquetia International Airport in Caracas, reports Latino Daily News.  She accused National Institute of Civil Aviation agents of extortion in apprehending the jet and has asked Venezuela’s vice president for its safe return.

It’s a novel form of a user fee.  Indiana’s Putnam County Airport needs runway improvements and there’s not enough federal and state funding to make the repairs.  So county officials are asking local residents to help raise the $27,000 needed to make the repairs by donating $5 a foot for the 5,400 foot runway, reports Indiana Public Media.

No more private jets — for now. The Nigerian government has stopped the country’s billionaires from importing private jets and helicopters until it develops a new policy on the practice, reports the Osun Defender.  The newspaper says the Aviation Ministry has a four-month backlog of applications to import private aircraft.

Charter fight!! Rizon Air, a Qatar-based aircraft charter company is accusing flag carrier Qatar Airways of unfair competition, reports FlightGlobal. Rizon believes that Qatar Air is trying to promote its own charter company, Qatar Executive.

Washington Dulles turns runway into a parking lot.  One of the runways at Washington Dulles International Airport was closed from Thursday through Tuesday to park 300 private jets that flew in for the president’s inauguration, reports CBS DC.

Strange But True General Aviation News

Friday, January 18th, 2013

It’s a runway, it’s a parking lot — two treats in one! New York’s Calverton Airport is using its runways as parking lots for cars damaged during Super Storm Sandy, reports Yahoo! News.  Insurance Auto Auctions Corp. is paying the airport, which is closed in the winter, nearly $3 million to rent its runways.

An amazing helicopter rescue–with a twist! A helicopter pilot under contract with the Canadian military was sent to the west shore of Hudson Bay to rescue two Nunavut hunters stranded on the ice.  But all three ended up being rescued by another helicopter after the original chopper landed on ice and sank, reports MSN News Canada.

Probation for airplane shooter.  Jason Allen McCay received probation after pleading guilty to firing a shotgun at an antique biplane, reports AL.com.  Under his probation, he can’t have access to guns and ammo, and may have to take anger management classes.

It’s moving day!  Officials at Wisconsin’s Wittman Regional Airport recently completed an operation to relocate two snowy owls that had made the facility their new home, reports the airport’s blog.  Gene Jacobs of Raptor Services  used a lure and remote-controlled net to capture the owls, and they were relocated far away from the airport.

Strange But True General Aviation News

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Someone should have said something. General Aviation News reports on a pilot flying a Piper Cherokee who landed on a runway in Platinum, Alaska, that had been closed for two years. The pilot said he activated the runway lights but didn’t see them when he landed. His passenger said she saw the lighted runway as they flew over and wondered why he was landing on the closed runway, but didn’t ask.

An expensive rescue.  Jacalyn Toth Brown, who survived a 2008 aircraft accident in Eagleswood Township, N.J., was awarded a $125,000 settlement by the state, reports NJ.com. Brown said state police forced her to wait hours for medical care when they didn’t start a search-and-rescue mission for her immediately after the accident was reported.

One heck of a landing, part one!  A 21-year-old student pilot made the landing of a lifetime after one of the wheels fell off his Piper Cherokee right after he took off at Australia’s Mangalore Airport, reports the Herald Sun.  He flew solo for five hours to burn off fuel, then was talked down by his flight instructor.  Check out the YouTube video here.

One heck of a landing, part two!  A pilot made what was called a “perfect” landing in the middle of traffic on Interstate 40 in Memphis, Tenn., reports WREG-TV.  Pilot Trevor Prather said his Cessna 172 experienced engine trouble, so he let ATC know about his emergency and landed his 172 between an 18-wheeler and a car.

That’s one way to avoid an aircraft repossession!  Argentina President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has decided to charter a private jet on her next official trip in order to keep the official presidential aircraft from being impounded by “vulture funds,” reports the Buenos Aires Herald.

EAA confirms Jetman negotiations

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Slow flight for Grand Canyon cameras.

Slow flight for Grand Canyon cameras.

EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski has confirmed that talks have taken place to have Yves Rossy, the Swiss pilot who flies with a wing on his back and a prayer in his brain, perform during EAA AirVenture 2013. His only flight controls are, like Superman, his body and a throttle for his jet engines. By adjusting his legs and moving his arms, he can perform a loop when and where he likes. He has flown in formation with a Douglas DC-3.

Landing at the Grand Canyon

Landing at the Grand Canyon

There are still details to complete, including an agreement with Rossy’s main sponsor, Breitling. “I am optimistic,” said Knapinski. Known as Jetman, the airline pilot uses four JetCat P200 jet engines intended for model airplanes. In this country, JetCat distributors grit their teeth and hope no one will attempt to copy Rossy’s carefully engineered flights. The engines are intended to power model airplanes, not humans. In Germany, where JetCat is headquartered, the company is an enthusiastic sponsor.

Rossy has flown down the Grand Canyon after the FAA classified him as an airplane. As this is written, he is preparing to perform at air shows in New Zealand. He has enough kerosene mixed with five percent turbine oil to fly 10 minutes. He averages 107 knots but has gone faster. When it is all over, he pops his Parachutes de France Spectra 230–another fine sponsor–and steers to a target on the ground. If he needs to dump the wing, it has its own automatic parachute, but usually he lands with the 66-pound wing still attached. The wing’s takeoff wing weight, accounting for the mixture of fuel and oil, is 121 pounds.

Rossy aims for his Grand Canyon target

Rossy aims for his Grand Canyon target

An FAA official in Milwaukee said Rossy’s act must still be approved for an AirVenture appearance. Previous approval by the FAA for Rossy to fly the Grand Canyon has no bearing on the AirVenture decision, the official said. However, starting the flight at a high altitude and ending with a pinpoint parachute landing are generally reassuring factors to FAA officials.

Restored Mosquito bomber to fly at ‘some’ airshows, but not Oshkosh

Monday, January 7th, 2013

The Fighter Factory in Virginia will soon add a flying restored Mosquito bomber to its collection. It was built with recovered parts and new tooling by Avspecs, Limited, at Ardmore Airfield on the outskirts of Auckland, New Zealand. The company is owned by Warren Denholm and his wife, Shona and was started in 1997. As you’ll see, the company has done a photoshoot in New Zealand and is selling a calendar with photos.

There are videos of the tedious and difficult restoration here, and here. You’ll find video of its first flight and landing here. If that’s not enough videos, here is one more of the first run-up of those powerful Merlins. You’ll see it at the Fighter Factory’s airshow, Warbirds Over the Beach, on May 17. It will also appear in Canada at the Hamilton Air Show near Toronto in June. 

It will not appear at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. Fighter Factory owner Jerry Yagen said he asked EAA for an appearance fee to offset expenses, such as he has received at New Zealand airshows where the aircraft is now performing, but was rebuffed by EAA Acting President Jack Pelton. EAA officials said it is impossible to determine who would get such a fee and who would be denied it.  An EAA spokesman asked, “Where do you draw the line?” See comments below.

Strange But True General Aviation News

Friday, January 4th, 2013

He’s exactly where he belongs.  Michael R. Fischer found himself sitting in a Palm Beach, Fla. jail after he was arrested for shining a laser in the cockpit of a county Sheriff’s Office helicopter and an AirTran Boeing 717, reports the Palm Beach Post.  After being caught by police, Fischer claimed he was only fooling around with the laser. Right…

Airplanes – the ultimate crime stopper.  David Zehntner saw an interesting sight as he was flying his own plane over LaBelle, N.C. — a thief was attempting to steal a trailer parked at his home, reports TBO.com. Zehntner followed the thief, who had attached the trailer to his truck, and called police from the air. The thief was caught and charged with grand theft.

Driving and sleeping don’t mix.  Three small aircraft in a Valdosta Regional Airport hangar were damaged after a sleepy driver drove through the facility’s fence, reports the Valdosta Daily Times.  The driver bumped his head and lost a tooth in the incident.

Flight training is a relative bargain in the United States.  The Niger government is facing some heat after disclosing that its the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology spent US$5.1 million to train 10 pilots, reports AllAfrica.com.

What a waste.  Two Afghan women trained as helicopter pilots in the United States have been grounded since October, as that country’s military continues to “review” their applications to fly, reports the Los Angeles Times.  The hold on their flying is blamed on a resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, which denies women the right to any education.

Was the photo really worth all that?  Photographers in Germany assigned to cover the final landing of a Transall C-160 twin turboprop nearly had it become their final assignment, reports AvWeb. The photographers, placed 100 feet short of the runway, were nearly hit by the aircraft’s wings as it bounced on a raised roadway.

That’s Hollywood for you! “Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson appeared to have been in a real rush to leave the Caribbean island of St. Bart after reports say he tried to take a jet being used by fashion designer Ramy Brook Sharp, reports FOXNews.com.  The star was trying to leave the island before its sundown deadline on flights.