Archive for October, 2013

Strange but true general aviation news

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Locking the door is on the checklist.  The door of a Beechcraft King Air taking off from California’s Monterey Regional Airport fell on the El Castell Motel, reports the Californian. No was was injured, but the motel did sustain damage to its roof.

Why didn’t he just go to Home Depot? Timothy Lynch, 50, could get up to  10 years in prison after pleading guilty to theft of public property after stealing 7,200 feet of copper wire from the light tower at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, reports the Seattle Times. Lynch was caught after a Port of Seattle employee found a break in the airport’s fence.

Good landings. A pilot and his passenger made an emergency landing into Maine’s Moosehead Lake but were uninjured, reports WLBZ-TV.  A pilot was uninjured but his aircraft was damaged after making an emergency landing at Colorado’s Telluride Airport, reports KDVR-TV.

Lindbergh Monocoupe returns to Lambert–cool time-lapse video!

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

A 1934 D-127 Monocoupe once owned by Charles Lindbergh has returned to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport after a two-year absence. It was removed in March 2011 to make way for terminal renovations. Originally installed in 1979, the airplane carried more than 30 years of dust.

While it was out, the Missouri History Museum conducted a historic conservation of the Monocoupe, constructed using dope and fabric. The dope shrinks the fabric, which over the years puts pressure on the framework, until the fabric tears to relieve the stress or weaker parts of the interior structure fail. In addition to a thorough cleaning, stress fractures along several seams were repaired.

In nine hours on Oct. 20, the airplane was hoisted back into position over the C Concourse security checkpoint in Terminal 1. However, you can view the entire process in this two-minute time lapse video.

The Monocoupe was one of only three airplanes built completely in St. Louis by Lambert Aircraft Corporation. Lindbergh donated it to the Missouri History Museum in 1940.

 

Strange but true general aviation news

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Do the crime, do the time! A judge in Florida sentenced Diocenyr Ribamar Barbosa-Santos, an airplane mechanic with no criminal history, to two years in prison, despite the case prosecutor recommending  parole and community service, reports the Sun-Sentinel. Barbosa-Santos was prosecuted for trying to secure financing to smuggle seven civilian jetliners from a Chinese seller to Iran Air for $136.5 million.

It’s a highway, it’s a runway! A single-engine Bellanca Citabria made an emergency landing on San Jose, Calif.’s Capitol Expressway in the middle of Thursday morning traffic, reports the Mercury News. No one was hurt during the incident.

Bad advertising. A banner aircraft advertising for McDonald’s crashed on an unoccupied car in a field at the University of Florida used for tailgating, reports Deadspin. The pilot and passenger were taken to the hospital.

Another side effect of the government shut-down.  The FAA had to delay investigating the crash of an Air Tractor in Robinson, Texas, because it is short handed because of the government shut down, reports the Waco Tribune. The aircraft is owned by Corpora Aerial Service of Hearne.

Things you can learn from video games.  Video game Grand Theft Auto 5 includes instructions on how to steal a private jet, reports International Business Times.

Goodbye, Goodyear blimp

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

I had a chance to say goodbye this morning to what, for many of us, feels like an old friend. N3A, the Spirit of Goodyear–one of the company’s three blimps and the one traditionally based in Akron, Ohio–was on her farewell tour. The airship has left Ohio for the last time, and was passing through Frederick, Maryland, on her way to Florida. There, in a few months, she’ll be decommissioned.

Goodbye Goodyear blimp

The Spirit of Goodyear in thick fog.

Thanks to recent rains, the ground here has been pretty wet. Combined with a narrow temperature/dew point spread and calm winds overnight, morning fog at the airport was guaranteed. At 8:45, you barely could see the blimp, moored in the airport’s infield.

When the fog begins to lift, it lifts quickly.

When the fog begins to lift, it lifts quickly.

A few minutes later, the fog began to lift. It lifted so quickly that you could watch it go.

As soon as the fog lifted, N3A did too--headed to Florida and eventual decommissioning.

As soon as the fog lifted, N3A did too–headed to Florida and eventual decommissioning.

The Spirit of Goodyear followed soon after, soaring skyward toward the southwest. (I’m sure the crew had to circumnavigate the Baltimore/Washington Class B airspace, just like the rest of us do.) Yes, there will be a new airship next year, but it won’t be a blimp–it will be a zeppelin. “The Goodyear Zeppelin”–that’s going to take some getting used to.

 

A correction — and an apology

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Regular readers know that I write a weekly post here called “Strange but true general aviation news.” It was created to offer a light-hearted roundup of stories pointing out unusual events that happen under the GA banner, including stories on unique aviation technology and folks doing some interesting things in and around aircraft.

In the May 20 edition of the column, I reported on a story in Record-Journal about a pilot who made an emergency landing at Connecticut’s Meriden-Markham Airport. I inadvertently named the pilot who made the landing as as Jeffrey Standel. While Standel is a pilot, he was was not flying the aircraft. Instead, he was merely a bystander who was quoted in the newspaper article.  I will contact Mr. Standel and offer him an apology for my mistake.

Mooney announces its “comeback”

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Friday night Mooney released this announcement on achieving new funding that will allow a restart of production in January. Earlier this week a Chinese news agency reported a Chinese real estate firm was making an investment in Mooney. The announcement identifies only a California company as the investor.

 

Mooney Announces Its Comeback

With New Funding, Mooney Sets Itself to Re-enter the Single Engine Market

 Kerrville, Texas – After a five-year hiatus from manufacturing single-engine airplanes Mooney is pleased to announce that it will restart manufacturing at the beginning of January 2014 at its headquarters in Kerrville, TX.  New funding from Soaring America Corporation, a California based Company will provide necessary capital to re-launch and sustain the legendary brand. Details of the financial arrangements will remain confidential. The company will continue to manufacture the Acclaim Type S, and the Ovation series.

“It’s a new day for Mooney. And with a new investment group that is committed to the future, we’re expecting to make a strong move in the industry,” noted Barry Hodkin, Chief Financial Officer for the company. It’s been a long time coming and we couldn’t be more excited about our return to manufacturing one of the finest and most trusted airplane fleets in the industry.”

The first order of business will be to hire and train a new workforce and reestablish the supply chain. The company is projected to recruit up to 100 people within the first year of operation. The company has a large variety of personnel needs that includes technicians, engineers, line workers, accounting and sales people. Within two years, the company is anticipating employing significantly more people depending on the demand for its products.

“While we expect to be reunited with some of our previous employees, we are confident we’ll attract new talent as we re-enter this aviation space. We’re looking for the best and brightest people to help meet our vision for the future,” said Hodkin.

The Acclaim Type S is recognized as the world’s fastest single engine airplane. The turbo-normalized airplane is home to over 130 speed records with a normal cruise speed of 230 ktas and a service ceiling of 25,000 feet. The Ovation series has cruising speeds up to 190 ktas and a service ceiling of up to 20,000 feet.

“It’s too early to provide the details, but we’ll have some very exciting announcements in the near future about the technological advances that will accompany the Acclaim Type S and Ovation series,” said Hodkin.

During the difficult economic times starting in 2008, when single engine sales dropped by over 30 percent compared to the year prior, Mooney ceased production. Over the last five years, the Company that was started by Al Mooney more than 80 years ago has remained in business, focusing on customer support for the Mooney planes still in service. Given more positive economic indicators and the unique market niche for Mooney airplanes, the company feels confident about a sustaining future in the industry.

Strange but true general aviation news

Friday, October 11th, 2013

I guess he won’t be buying that aircraft. Pilot Curtis Boulware was forced to make an emergency landing of a 1956 Beechcraft T-34 Mentor Trainer he was contemplating buying, reports the Telegraph. The aircraft lost power as it was preparing to land at Spruce Creek Airport in Port Orange, Fla., so he put the aircraft down in the driveway of a country club instead.

Plane spotters love Tony Blair. Thanks to his  Bombardier Global Express BD-700 in a distinctive black-and-gold livery,  former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s jet has become a popular target for plane spotters, reports the Independent. The jet has been spotted in upstate New York,  Bangkok, and Sardinia.

A jet with the Midas touch.  CNBC reports on Eric Roth of International Jet Interiors, who specializes in upgrading private jets. He’s done everything from putting gold on every fixture in a jet to procuring an alligator skin toilet seat.

Jump! Two parachutists dressed in black were seen base-jumping off a building near the the World Trade Center site, reports CNN. They made the jump, got into a car and left without a trace.

We’ll end the week with this YouTube video about James Minton of  Wilkes County, N.C.. H was found safe after a plane crash in Alaska, where he left a the note at the scene and said he was OK.

10 things I look forward to at AOPA Aviation Summit

Monday, October 7th, 2013

AOPA Summit BIG logo

 

The AOPA Aviation Summit in Fort Worth, which starts on Thursday, Oct. 10, will be my first — and last — time in attendance. While I will be working hard as part of the AOPA ePublishing team to get out all the news from the event, I also look forward to participating in some of the planned events. If you see me around, please come up and say hello — especially if you have a story to pitch! Below is a list of my top 10, in no particular order.

  1. Congratulate the winners. I was among those who helped choose the 2013 Flight Training Scholarship winners, and their stories were inspirational. I want to thank them personally as I continue my own journey as a student pilot.
  2. Fly in warbirds. Greatest Generation Aircraft will offer attendees the chance to ride in or even fly a Douglas C-47.  The Commemorative Air Force is bringing B-29 Superfortress, Fifi, a B-24 Liberator, and C-45 Expediter to Summit. And the Cavanaugh Flight Museum will be offering flights in the H-13B “Sioux,” made famous by M*A*S*H; North American AT-6SNJ; PT17 Stearman; and Travel Air.
  3. See new iPad tricks. I look forward to an education seminar with John Zimmerman, vice president of marketing for Sporty’s, who will share hidden tricks to get more out of your iPad as well as how to use high-tech iPad accessories in “Advanced iPad flying.” The panel is Oct. 10 from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. in the Fort Worth Convention Center Ballroom B.
  4. Pancakes and pilots town hall. Like you, I look forward to hearing from our new CEO and President Mark Baker at this event as AOPA goes into its 75th year. I also look forward to meeting our members.
  5. Summit before the Summit. The AOPA Center to Advance the Pilot Community will be holding a pre-Summit event on Wednesday, Oct. 9. The event will focus on the AOPA flying clubs initiative, excellence in flight training, research related to lapsed and rusty pilots, and intensive conversations with leading aviation innovators, led by our own Senior Vice President Adam Smith.
  6. Catch a star. This year’s Summit will feature celebrity appearances by Major League Baseball star Ken Griffey Jr., country-western singer Aaron Tippin, and legendary football player Ed “Too Tall” Jones.
  7. Learn from the aviation masters. I’m excited about the lineup of aviation greats who will be speaking at this year’s Summit, including sirshow legend Michael Goulian, Rod Machado and John and Martha King.
  8. Summit exhibitors. I’m one of those people who try and visit as many exhibit booths as I can during conventions, so I plan on seeing everything from the AOPA Flying Club Network at Booth #1806 to XM WX Satellite Weather at Booth #922.
  9. Check out the next generation of pilots.  AOPA and Youth Aviation Adventure are sponsoring a free three-hour hands-on discovery program for teens ages 13-18 at Airportfest at Meacham International Airport on October 12, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  10. Drool at Airportfest. This year’s Airportfest will have around 100 aircraft on display. Look for my photos on the Meacham AOPA Pinterest board.

And I hope you’ll all remember to bring a teddy bear for the Teddy Bear Drive, to benefit Cook Children’s Medical Center.

Around the world, by the numbers

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Many of you have asked for statistics about the trip, and some of them are starting to come in:

Number of days: 25

Number of flight legs: 30 (fit into 20 flying days; there were five nonflying days on the schedule)

Distance traveled: 26,568 nautical miles (4,930 nm greater than the circumference of the Earth). Note, this is my distance traveled; Mike Laver’s journey began and ended in Aiken, S.C., so he logged two more flight legs and an additional 907 nm.

Total flight time: 98.1 hours

Average speed: 271 knots (312 mph)

Average flight leg: 886 nautical miles (1,020 miles)

Longest flight leg: 1,232 nautical miles (1,418 miles), from Ketchikan, Alaska, to Minot, North Dakota

Shortest flight leg: 93 nautical miles (107 miles), from Straubing, Germany, to Salzburg, Austria. Why so short? We wanted to visit MT Propeller in Straubing and the Red Bull Air Museum in Salzburg–why drive between the two, especially when fuel costs less in Salzburg? The next shortest flight leg was 674 nautical miles, from Broome to Ayers Rock, Australia.

Notebooks filled: 2.5

Photographs taken: 6,903

Video recorded: 175.5 GB

We’re still working on total fuel consumption, most expensive and least expensive fuel, highest fees, and similar numbers. However, many of those costs were billed through our handler, BaseOps, or primary fuel supplier, World Fuel. It could be another month or two before all the bills make their way to Mike’s business.

In the meantime, please take a look at the October 3 installment of AOPA Live This Week; Associate Producer Paul Harrop crafted a nice segment based primarily on video that I shot during the trip. The segment starts at about 4:20 into the program.

My wife really likes the homecoming segment on the September 19 AOPA Live This Week (very early in the show, about 1:30)…I’m not sure whether it’s the video itself or just the fact that I had returned from my longest trip ever.

 

 

 

Strange but true general aviation news

Friday, October 4th, 2013

The student learned a real lesson. A student pilot and instructor were forced to make an emergency belly landing at Buffalo Niagara International Airport after the landing gear on the Cessna Cutlass 172 they were flying locked, reports the Buffalo News.

What are those F-16 fighter jets doing there? a Diamond DA40 was one of three aircraft that were intercepted by F-16 fighter jets after enter a no-fly zone over the United Nations in New York City, reports the Asbury Park Press. The aircraft eventually landed at New Jersey’s  Monmouth Executive Airport.

Is it a ghost aircraft if you can see it? Officials in North Carolina are investigating how an aircraft ended up in the bottom of Lake Norman, reports the New York Daily News.

It did say “No Parking.” Business Insider  reports on a Boulder, Colo., police officer and jokester who issued a parking ticket to an Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter parked on the street in between work rescuing stranded victims of the Colorado flood. The pilot of the helicopter was cited for “facing the wrong way” and “parking in a no parking zone.”

Captain Kirk afraid to fly? Sir Richard Branson, the man behind Virgin Galactic, says that actor William Shatner, who portrayed Capt. James Kirk in the iconic television series “Star Trek,” declined an offer to fly into space on Virgin Galactic because of his fear of flying, reports the Daily Mail.

Now taking off — Air Turtle.  A juvenile loggerhead turtle was flown on a Cessna Citation II from Brigantine, N.J., y to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program in Charleston, reports the French Tribune. The turtle was missing the major part of its right rear flipper and will be in physical therapy.

Now landing — on Lake Shore Drive. Pilot John Pedersen was forced to make an emergency landing on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. He told investigators that his aircraft developed mechanical problems.