Dave Hirschman

Sunburned, tired, happy . . .

April 15, 2008 by Dave Hirschman, Senior Editor

A few closing thoughts on an exhausting and invigorating week:

* Aircraft parking areas at Sun ‘n Fun were beginning to resemble used car lots. I don’t think I’ve ever seen “for sale” signs on so many airplanes in one place.

* Supersize that airplane! Bulbous, load-hauling airplanes abounded at SNF. The AirVan was my favorite of the Beaver derivatives. Too bad so many of them have nosewheels . . .

* My aviation roots are in aerobatics, and I’ll always be drawn to the precise, physically, and mentally demanding aviation niche. So it’s with surprise and reluctance that I point out the airshow’s aerobatic performances were painfully dull and monotonous. One unlimited monoplane performing gyroscopic maneuvers after another became mind-numbing, even for a guy like me who eats that stuff up. I can’t imagine how dull it must have been for people who aren’t necessarily drawn to akro.

The sound of screaming IO-540s made me think about the late Chris Smisson and the beauty, grace, and finesse that he showed flying his Zlin with Ray Charles singing “American the Beautiful” in the background. We miss you, old friend.

* Thanks to Brady and Trevor from Hawker-Beechcraft for letting me stow away in their King Air for the trip to SNF–but it was the hat that saved me. My neck and ears were getting lobsterized by the scorching sun, so I pickup up a floppy, wide-brimmed hat at the H-B tent about halfway through the show. It sure was goofy looking, but it was a lifesaver. I stopped by the H-B booth a couple days after the University of Kansas won the NCAA basketball championship, and the folks from Wichita were still celebrating . . .

* Aspen’s “Evolution” PFD and Garmin’s “Synthetic Vision Technology” were the biggest hits of the show, and major developments that I’m convinced will improve general aviation safety. So here’s the question: How long do you think it will take Garmin (or some other innovative firm) to put synthetic vision in a portable GPS? VistaNav is getting close, but I’m talking about SVT on something the size of a Garmin 496. This is a pure guess, but I’ll bet that we’re be able to buy synthetic vision hand-helds in 2010 for $5,000 each . . .



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