Archive for May, 2013

Jackie Chan appears in Embraer video

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Embraer is so proud of its $18.4 million Legacy 500 business jet that it made a six-minute Hollywood-style promotional video to promote it. If you want to make big bucks you gotta spend big. Apparently the Mach 0.82 Legacy 500 can travel through space (not) and carries a bluish glow that could be from re-entry (not). It can carry eight passengers 2,800 nm or four passengers for 3,000 nm. On shorter flights it can carry 12 passengers.

Barnstormer sets off to grow general aviation

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Sarah Wilson will join with the B-29 bomber Fifi this summer on a national tour. Her goal is to use the original Stearman Speedmail that promoted a wildly successful radio show in the 1930s, “The Flying Adventures of Jimmie Allen,” to interest another generation of youth in aviation. The show, sponsored by an oil company, started a youth club called the Jimmie Allen Flying Club and attracted a million kids. Here’s a schedule of where she will appear. Chalres Lindbergh flew the 1929 Stearman on April 2, 1930 (scroll halfway down this Facebook page).

Five things you didn’t know about Rinker Buck and ‘Flight of Passage’

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Rinker Buck and his brother Kernahan flew from New Jersey to California in a Piper Cub in 1966. Kernahan, the pilot in command, was 17 and Rinker was 15—and the trip was done with their parents’ full consent. (And flown solely by pilotage and dead reckoning—Rinker’s job was to be the navigator.) Rinker Buck’s memoir, Flight of Passage, has become available in eBook format. I talked with him yesterday for an interview that will appear in the August issue of Flight Training magazine, but here are some extras from that very interesting conversation:

  • He doesn’t consider Flight of Passage an aviation book. “I consider it a memoir in the truer sense. It’s about life.”
  • He was surprised when people wrote to tell him the book inspired them. “The biggest surprise of the book was getting emails from people saying ‘I’m so inspired by this, I’m going to learn to fly, I’m going to go take a flight.’” Many current pilots told him the book inspired them to make a coast-to-coast trip–and several did, including a pilot from Rhode Island who conducted the trip in an L-19.
  • He and his brother are still flying, but not as much. Buck has been busy working on his latest book, which chronicles a trip by horse-drawn wagon over the Oregon Trail, but says that he still enjoys flying with friends. Kernahan is an attorney whose Boston practice keeps him busy.
  • When researching Flight of Passage, he re-flew most of the routes in a Cessna 182. “It was amazing that I just remembered our old routes, that’s why the book could be so accurate in terms of landscapes.” The brothers landed at 30 airports. “Twenty-seven of them are still there and they look exactly the same.”
  • He thinks you need to read Stick and Rudder, if you haven’t already. “The principles have not changed. You might be flying along in a Cirrus with a glass cockpit but it’s all still subject to all the same laws that [Wolfgang] Langewiesche wrote about.”

 

The coolest airplane I’ve ever seen

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

90FK Lightplanes, one of the top small-aircraft manufacturers in Europe, has designed a FK51 70-percent replica of the famous P-51 Mustang using whimsy, a passion for flying, and a sense of humor. It weighs only 1,000 pounds (a limit for ultralights in Europe), has retractable landing gear (can’t do that in the American light sport aircraft world), and three very special details. You can see a video about it with designer Peter Funk of South Africa on bydanjohnson.com.

Detail one: the carbon-fiber airplane has 100,000 simulated rivets and screw heads in its molds, meaning the airplane appears to be made of metal. Detail two: when the pilot starts the aircraft, a sound system is automatically triggered playing a recording of the Merlin engine used by the real Mustang. The speaker is on the lower cowl disguised as a cooling vent. Detail three: puffs of smoke emerge from the fake exhaust stacks to add to the impression that this is almost the real thing.

Its aerobatic as heck, capable of plus 8 Gs and minus 4 Gs. Here are some details from the FK Web site. So when can you buy this $130,000 aircraft? You can’t yet. In July final testing and approval will be done in Europe, with deliveries in late summer. Then FK Lightplanes, headquartered in Poland with a branch in Germany, will go to work making the airplane with fixed gear to comply with the American light sport rules, getting rid of the adjustable prop because it also isn’t allowed on light sport aircraft, and getting ASTM approval so it can be sold as a S-LSA light sport aircraft.

Dan Johnson, head of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association and owner of the bydanjohnson Web site, reports on this and other models displayed at Aero, the main airshow in Europe for lightweight aircraft. Check his May 8 story.

Wingsuit jumper aims for rock wall

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Granted, there was a small opening in the rocks, but does that make this safe? Looks like Alexander Polli used up one of his nine lives.

Cessna lays off workers

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Local Wichita television station KAKE reports the layoffs announced this week by Cessna Aircraft total 100 workers. Cessna had not announced totals. The layoffs come in addition to a voluntary retirement program announced earlier this year. Cessna lost $8 million in the first quarter, causing parent company Textron officials to reduce their earnings forecast. A loss is expected in the second quarter too, but profitable quarters are expected to resume late in the year when deliveries of the upgraded Sovereign jet begin.

Cessna small-jet line not suspended

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Cessna Aircraft CEO Scott Ernest told reporters at EBACE, a corporate jet show in Geneva, Switzerland, that the production line for its smallest jets was never suspended. It is still going, but slowly, and just how that slowness was achieved was never explained. The small jet market is terrible right now and Cessna was getting pressure to lower prices below the profit level. Confusion came when parent company Textron’s CEO, Scott Donnelly, said during a phone call with stock analysts that the smaller jets like the CitationJet and Mustang would be built to a good stopping point, and then the company would “stop production” on the models. I reported the line would be paused because Donnelly implied that production would be resumed at some point. Then Cessna officials called, wanting to know where I got such an erroneous impression. So, I played Textron’s own recording of Donnelly over the phone and stopped it just after Donnelly said, “…stop production.” “What does ‘stop production’ mean?” I asked. I was told, “We’ll call you back.” I got a statement in a phone call a few minutes later that any comment as to how “slowness” is achieved “was speculation.” I asked if that meant Donnelly was guilty of speculation, but didn’t get an answer to that question, either. So, if you looked at the small-jet production line, would everyone be moving in slow motion? That’s speculation.

Strange But True General Aviation News

Friday, May 24th, 2013

You never know where you’ll find love!  A swan named Whooper has been searching for a new mate for two years after losing his partner, but one must question his new choice. Whooper has fallen in love with a dark grey Eurocopter EC155, reports the Daily Mail.  The swan has had its wings clipped for its own safety after approaching the helicopter every time it lands near the  Les Mielles Golf and Country Club on the Channel Island of Jersey.

Flying car didn’t live up to its name.  Two pilots sustained minor injuries after crashing a Maverick, a powered parachute/car built in Florida, reports AvWeb.  AvWeb Editor Russ Niles was scheduled to fly the craft next.

Wasn’t the accident enough?  It was bad enough when pilot Kelly Thompson had to make an emergency landing on a road adjacent to Cottonwood Municipal Airport. But now, after a joint investigation by the FAA and the Cottonwood Police Department, Thompson is being charged with operating an airplane without a proper license, operating a not-airworthy aircraft, and reckless aircraft operations, reports the Verde Independent.

He’s taking on the FAA.  Pilot Keith George has decided to challenge the FAA’s proposed 180-day suspension to his commercial pilot’s certificate because of an emergency landing he did on Wisconsin’s Interstate 94, reports the Journal Times.  The FAA charged George with four counts related to the incident, including operating his aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger life or property of another after he allegedly overshot the runway on a normal landing, turning the event into an emergency.

What was he hiding? Singer/actor Marc Anthony’s private jet was delayed from leaving Mexico’s Veracruz International Airport after he tried to avoid a customs check, reports Latino Daily News. The singer was asked to deplane and go through the airport security checkpoint and refused. His jet was held until he complied.

Eye in the sky. The West Vancouver Police Department and the Squamish Royal Canadian Mounted Police have a new weapon in catching speeders – the RCMP’s regional traffic patrol helicopter, Air One.  The two departments recently teamed together to catch eight speeders posted speed limit on the Sea to Sky Highway, reports the Province.

Justice scales and a helicopter?  A statue of Lady Liberty sitting atop Ohio’s Marion County Courthouse was holding more than a set of scales.  In addition to the scales, Lady Justice is also holding a 9-inch, remote-control helicopter, reports FOX News.  The owner, video producer Terry Cline, has been trying to get the helicopter back, to no avail.

It’s a highway, it’s a runway! A pilot was forced to make an emergency landing on highway U.S. 50 in Delta, Colo., reports the Montrose Press.  The pilot told local police that his single engine aircraft experienced a power failure.

AOPA Foundation’s Giving Back: 10 GA charities that should apply

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

The AOPA Foundation recently announced its new Giving Back program, created to do these things:

  • Award grants of up to $10,000 to 10 nonprofit groups that perform charitable work through GA;
  • Award flight training scholarships to individuals who want to learn to fly or pursue aviation careers;
  • Provide free memberships to armed forces personnel who want to be part of the GA community; and
  • Provide memberships through our AOPA AV8RS program that gives teens an opportunity to learn about and explore the world of aviation.

The one that intrigued me was the the first one.  I know of so many general aviation nonprofits out there doing work, so below is my list of organizations, in no particular order, I think should apply for a grant.

  1. Wings of Grace Ministries –  I recently had the pleasure of writing about this Melbourne, Fla.-based nonprofit, which offers free flight training to youths age 13 to 18.  $10,000 would allow founder Dwight Bell to bring more youths — who are all members of AOPA’s AV8RS program – into the fold.
  2. Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum — In May 2012, CNN profiled this Compton, Calif.-based program that provides flight training for inner city youth out of Compton Airport. As a minority myself, I believe strongly in the power of aviation to put — and keep — these youths on the right path. And I applaud any program that brings more diversity to the industry.
  3. Girls With Wings — I first learned about pilot Lynda Meeks’ efforts to inspire young girls to fly when she appeared on the Airplane Geeks podcast on Nov. 8, 2011.  She offers scholarships, female role models, and events across the country designed for women and girls.  A foundation grant would help Meeks give away more scholarshps.
  4. Candler Field Museum — Last month, I interviewed Ron Alexander, a retired Air Force and Delta Air Lines pilot, after he was inducted into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame.  One of his claims to fame is this museum, created to document the history of the original Atlanta airport, originally named Candler Field. Part of the effort includes a partnership with the Candler Field Flying Club, which has youths work in the museum in return for scholarships to learn to fly.
  5. Tuskegee Airmen Scholarship Foundation — this Los Angeles-based organization provides scholarships to  deserving young men and women based on the criteria of responsible citizenship are character and achievement, rather than ethnic origin.
  6. Professional Women Controllers — I met officers of this organization that promotes careers in air traffic control at this year’s Women In Aviation conference and did a profile on their efforts.  I’m sure a foundation grant would help fund their education and career development programs.
  7. Air Race Classic — among the things this organization is dedicated to are encouraging and educating current

    and future women pilots and increase

    public awareness, two causes that fit well with the foundation’ mission.  Read my story on this organization here.

  8. Pilots N Paws — I’m a dog lover, so I know first hand how much people love their pets. This nonprofit serves as a facilitator for people and organizations who rescue, shelter or foster animals, and volunteer pilots and aircraft owners willing to assist with the transportation of animals.
  9. Recreational Aviation Foundation — this organization, a friend to AOPA, protects recreational air strips across the country, making them available for general aviation pilots to use.  Read here about the organization’s latest advocacy efforts.
  10. Youth Aviation Adventure  – I’m in favor of anything that helps show kids and teens all the joys of being involved with aviation, which is why I like this program. In a single day youths go to participating airports to learn all about aviation, with the goal of inspiring them.

 

Strange But True General Aviation News

Monday, May 20th, 2013

This was a test. It was only a test.  Police in Loxford, Australia, have stopped their search for the wreckage of an airplane crash after determining it was only helicopter training in the area, reports the Newcastle Herald.

It was a crash party.  Olympia, Wash.-based Aircare Solutions Group celebrated the completion of its eighth full-motion aircraft cabin simulator by simulating several crash landing scenarios, reports the News Tribune.  Company executives, staff and other businesses who helped build the simulator were allowed to test the simulators and held a barbecue lunch after to discuss their experiences.

Unusual landings. A pilot* was not injured after making an emergency landing and having his aircraft flip several times before landing upside down in the grass off the side of the runway at Connecticut’s Meriden-Markham Airport, reports the Record-Journal.   Pilot David Windmiller was forced to land his aerobatic airplane on a Long Island, N.Y., highway after experiencing engine trouble, reports the New York Daily News.
*Correction: AOPA incorrectly identified the pilot who performed the emergency landing at Meriden-Markham Airport as Jeffrey Standel. Standel, who is  a pilot, was not flying the aircraft; he had ridden his bike to the airport and was a bystander mentioned in the article. 

Drones hunt pigs, deliver marriage proposal. Electrical engineers Cy Brown and James Palmer are using camera-mounted drones to hunt and kill feral pigs causing damage to land in Louisiana, reports ARS Technica.  Photographer Jason Muscat used an RC helicopter camera and mounted an engagement ring to propose to his now-fiancee in San Francisco, reports Peta Pixel.

It was the least he could do.  Actor Charlie Sheen sent a private jet to pick up his ex-wife Denise Richards in New York on Mother’s Day so that she could get home to Los Angeles in time to take their daughters to school the next day, reports ContactMusic.com. Richards currently has temporary custody of Sheen’s twin boys with ex-wife Brooke Mueller.