Archive for March, 2013

Strange But True General Aviation News

Friday, March 29th, 2013

They love the smell of jet fuel in the morning — and all day!  News Track India brings us a story about bears in Russia’s Kronotsky Nature Reserve who are getting high by sniffing fumes from discarded barrels of aircraft fuel. After deeply sniffing the fuel, the bears dig a shallow hole and lie back as the effects kick in.

I’ve never seen a hunting truck like this! Field & Stream magazine’s Gun Nut blog profiles photographer Dave Tunge, who uses his Piper Super Cub — he calls it his “hunting truck” — to hunt for pheasant.   He uses the aircraft to fly 150-200 miles away and land directly in fields to hunt for the birds.

To catch a thief.  A helicopter owned by Detroit’s WJBK-TV played a key role in helping police nab a car thief suspect, reports  The helicopter helped police keep track of the suspect’s car during a 20-minute high-speed chase.

I guess it wasn’t a helicopter to the rescue.   Two men who escaped from a prison located outside of Montreal via helicopter are now back in jail, reports the Guardian.  The trio were arrested about 30 miles away from the prison.

A mentor earlier in life might have been helpful. Jonathan Standridge, a project manager at Boeing, has become a mentor to Colton Harris-Moore, who became well known as the Barefoot Bandit, reports AvWeb. 21-year-old Harris-Moore was arrested after a two-year spree of stealing and flying aircraft.  Standridge says the young man wants to earn a degree in  aeronautical engineering degree, earn a pilot’s certificate and design his own aircraft in the future.


Want to run a flightseeing business like David Snell?

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

David Snell, the entrepreneurial soul who runs Starlight Flights in Dallas, Texas–and that’s just one of his three businesses—says he knew AOPA Pilot readers would be interested in what he does. And he was right.

Since my article on Snell (“2,000 Feet Over Dallas”) was published in the March 2012 issue, I’ve received numerous emails from members wondering how they, too, could get started in the flightseeing business without owning an airplane. Snell, you’ll recall, rents a Cessna 172 (so no operating expenses), and meets clients in the lobby of the FBO from which he purchases fuel (so no brick-and-mortar expenses). He has commercial and flight instructor certificates but has logged thousands of hours without having to, you know, actually flight instruct.

I’ve forwarded all your emails to David since the article ran, but he has graciously consented to provide his email address on this blog for anybody else who wants more details. He warns that April is the busy time for his crawfish business, but I’m pretty sure that his enthusiasm for what he does and his genuine desire to share his knowledge with fellow pilots means he’ll get back to you. And if you’re in the Dallas area, you just might want to hit up one of his crawfish boils, because I’ve seen photos–and they look delicious. Email Snell at [email protected].


Hawker jet line to find owner by mid-year

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Beechcraft Corporation will sell off the jets the company once made as the former Hawker Beechcraft by mid-year. Dow Jones Business News had a report on the possible sale last month. The last time the jets were almost sold, the interested parties, according to the Dow report, were: Textron (parent company of Cessna), Mahindra and Mahindra of India, Embraer of Brazil, New United of China, and Carlyle Group, an investment company. There are new parties interested, the Dow report indicates.

World’s busiest airports named

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

The Airports Council International has ranked the world’s busiest airports once again, and Atlanta wins.  Top ranked are, in order: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, and Los Angeles. Then Beijing comes in at number six, followed by: Charlotte, Las Vegas, Houston, Paris, Frankfurt, London, Phoenix and Philadelphia. At number 15 is Amsterdam, followed by: Toronto, Detroit, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Newark. At 21 is New York JFK, followed by: Munich, Miami, Mexico City, Madrid, Guangzhou (China), and La Guardia. At number 28 is Jakarta, followed by Phoenix, and in thirtieth place is Istanbul.

Strange But True General Aviation News

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

This is MY kind of wedding! Heather Howley and Marius Ivascu decided to bring the aviation theme to their recent wedding, reports Yahoo News.  The bride, a helicopter pilot, flew up 3,000 feet to allow the groom, a pilot and skydiving instructor, to jump and land at their reception.  The reception was held at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, an aviation history museum.

Do the crime? Do the time.  James R. Cate of Talpa, Texas, is facing 1.5 years in prison after being convicted of shooting at a crop duster spraying his neighbor’s field, reports KENS-TV.  A bullet hit the propeller, went through the engine cowling and into the chemical hopper, but the pilot wasn’t injured.

Meet dumb and dumber!   Margarito Trisitan III and Eugene Uresti were arrested after allegedly shining a laser into the cockpit of a Customs and Border Protection helicopter, reports the Monitor.  The men were found after the helicopter followed the car where the light came from.  Trisitan was also charged with marijuana possession.

Not such a happy birthday. New Zealand’s Nelson Aero Club celebrated its 80th birthday last year, and it might be its last.  The club’s two instructors were laid off after a meltdown of procedures, reports  Club members rallied to call for a special meeting about future operations.

We all love a good ending.  Linda Shackelford, a NASA employee, managed to walk away after an emergency landing in a wooded area outside of Baytown, Texas, reports KTRK-TV.  Shackelford said her engine stalled.

Here’s how Americans send robots to Mars

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

UPDATE: Link to video repaired

Doesn’t hurt to recap one of America’s proudest achievements, sending a huge robot to Mars. Thanks to blimp pilot, author, and aerial photographer Hunter H. Harris of the Eastern Shore of Maryland for sending this link along. It’s easy to get to Mars. You just build a rocket, aim to the right of the moon, and it’s all downhill from there, as you’ll see. Crank the volume–this one’s hard to hear.

Strange But True General Aviation News

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Sequester forces a move to the rails.  Yet another victim of the sequester is the military jet used by Vice President Joe Biden.  FOX News reports that the vice president made the decision to ground Air Force 2 and take Amtrak to his home in Delaware.

I hope he yelled “fore.”  The pilot of a twin engine Aero Commander was forced to make an emergency landing on the Omni Interlocken Golf Course in Broomfield, Colo., after reporting a loss of power, reports the Denver Post. No one was injured.

He’s a talk show host, he’s an aircraft investigator! Late night talk show host Carson Daly recently expressed concern about a photo that his friend Adam Levine, lead singer for Maroon Five, posted of the band boarding a private jet during a snow storm in Minneapolis, reports Daly reportedly looked up the aircraft’s tail number, and discovered it had been described by a pilot as being “dangerously unsafe.”

Sure I’ll loan you my jet! The Chicago Bulls found themselves flying on the private jet of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban after the team’s own aircraft experienced mechanical problems on a flight from Chicago to Indianapolis, reports Yahoo Sports. The Bulls management used Cuban’s jet for a  flight to San Antonio.

Reel Stuff releases schedule for upcoming film festival

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

As AOPA’s unofficial aviation movie critic, it’s my solemn duty to inform you that the Air Force Museum Foundation’s Reel Stuff Film Festival of Aviation announced its lineup for the upcoming festival, April 12 through 14 in Dayton, Ohio. And it looks good.

Friday, April 12:

  • The Restorers, presented by Director Adam White and Producer Kara Martinelli. The one-hour documentary tells eight stories of warbird restoration folks. Produced in 2003, it recently became available in a tenth-anniversary commemorative edition; a new television series is in the works.
  • First in Flight, presented by Producer Tara Tucker and Director Brandon Hess. View the trailer for this film about the Wright brothers here. Tucker is the daughter of Sean Tucker.
  • High Flight and Uncle Jack, a pair of films presented by Producer/Director Jon Tennyson. High Flight is narrated by Gary Sinese (also a pilot), and it chronicles his 2011 preparation and flight in a U2 spy plane. Sinese financed the project and proceeds from its sales on DVD benefit the Gary Sinese Foundation.
  • Wings, presented by William Wellman Jr., son of the film’s director, William Wellman. I saw Wings accompanied by live organ music, and it is a beautifully made film for its time (1927). No wonder it won an Academy Award for best picture, and another for best effects. And no CGI!  I’ve heard bits and pieces of what production was like and it’s certain Wellman will have fascinating insights into how the film was made.

Saturday, April 13:

  • Air Racers 3D, presented by Producer/Director/Writer Christian Fry and Steve Hinton Jr. Hinton flew a P-51 Mustang in this documentary, which explores the Reno National Championship Air Races.
  • Memphis Belle (1944 documentary), presented by Catherine Wyler, daughter of director William Wyler.
  • Memphis Belle (1990 feature film), presented by Catherine Wyler.
  • Top Gun 3D, presented by Clay Lacy and Barry Sandrew, founder of Legend3D. I missed Top Gun’s 3D debut when it arrived in Frederick, and from all accounts it was worth seeing, even if you (like some pilots I know) can recite the dialogue in your sleep.

Sunday, April 14

  • Steve Canyon, presented by historian John Ellis. This appears to be the live-action television series from 1958-1959 based on the popular comic drawn by Milton Caniff. Ellis has been restoring the original 35mm prints for release on DVD.
  • Honor Flight: One Final Mission, presented by Producer Kmele Foster. The documentary focuses on a Midwestern community’s efforts to give four World War II veterans “the trip of a lifetime.”
  • Encore screening of Top Gun 3D

For more information, including ticket prices and where to stay, see the website. And yes, I’ve plugged Moraine Air Park into the flight planner and am making tentative plans to point Miss J west.

Skycatcher rumors proved true

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

At the last U.S. Sport Aviation show in January at Sebring, Florida, rumors indicated hundreds of Skycatcher buyers with deposits down bailed on their order as soon as the price of the light sport aircraft rose to $149,900. AOPA’s Jim Moore has looked at the records and found the rumors to be true. It appears Cessna is conducting more test flights and will have something or other to announce regarding the Skycatcher in two or three months. There are 77 sitting in crates somewhere, either China or Independence, Kansas. Cessna has no comment. In the meantime, Flight Design continues to hold the lead in sales of LSAs.

Update: Brush up on safety skills, help the Air Safety Institute

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

On Feb. 7, I did a blog post and story on AOPA member Shannon Osborne, a member of the North Jersey chapter of The Ninety-Nines, who had come up with a unique idea to help keep pilot skills sharp when bad weather limits winter flying.  She pledged to donate $5 to the AOPA Foundation’s Air Safety Institute for every course the 16 members of her Ninety-Nines chapter took in the month of February.

Eight of Osborne’s chapter’s 16 members participated in her challenge, taking five ASI safety courses.  So she flew to Frederick last week with her former flight instructor, Tim O’Neil, and presented ASI with a check for $40. “I’d like to see 100 percent chapter participation next year and make this challenge an annual thing,” she said.

Osborne would also like to see more Ninety-Nines chapters take up the challenge, or even donate to ASI. “If we can get more people talking about ASI products, more will be invested in safety,” she said.  “It’s a focus on air safety and that’s a win-win for everyone.”

I’m a student pilot, so I decided to take up Osborne’s challenge, completing four courses: “Say It Right,” “Runway Safety,” “Airspace for Everyone,” and “Do the Right Thing: Decision Making for Pilots.” And I was happy to write a $50 check to the foundation.  For a complete list of ASI offerings, click here.