From 35 to 36, a dark afternoon aboard Air Force One

November 25, 2013 by Mike Collins

Like many, I spent some time last Friday watching coverage of the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas. However, I didn’t come across the article that I found most interesting about that day until this morning.

The October issue of Esquire magazine includes a fascinating story, “The Flight from Dallas,” which chronicles the afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963, aboard the modified Boeing 707 that then served as Air Force One–the apprehension, the fear, the loathing as the country abruptly transitioned from its 35th to 36th president. The text is a bit long, but goes quickly; don’t miss the part where the jet’s pilot, Col. James Swindal climbs higher than he’d ever flown before with Kennedy aboard to top tornado-spawning November weather over Arkansas and Mississippi. Read it here.

Built in 1962 as the first jet intended specifically for use by the president, the Air Force VC-137C aircraft known as SAM 26000 (Special Air Mission, tail number 26000) left presidential service in 1990 and was retired in 1998. It’s now preserved at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton.

 

 

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Benet Wilson

Strange but true general aviation news

November 22, 2013 by Benét Wilson

40 years later, the wreckage remains. The Jalopnik blog reports about the 40th anniversary of a U.S. Navy Douglas C-47 that ran out of fuel and crash on a beach in Sólheimasandur in Southern Iceland. The aircraft is still sitting on the beach after the military abandoned plans to remove the wreckage, located two hours away from Reykjavik. It has become a popular tourist stop.

It was the crash that wasn’t.  Local firefighters participated in a mock airplane crash exercise near New York’s Jones Beach, reports Five Towns Patch. The drill served as good practice in case of a real emergency at nearby JFK Airport, according to Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department Deputy Chief Anthony Rivelli.

Do the crime, do the time.  A pilot and his passenger are facing two years in prison after pleading guilty to possession with intent to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana, reports FOX34 News. The drug was discovered after the pilot made a belly landing after a refueling stop at Texas’ Yoakum County Airport.

Happy landings. A pilot and his passenger escaped injury after their Piper aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing right after taking off from Blosser Municipal Airport in Kansas, reports the Salina Journal. A pilot made an emergency landing at Georgia’s Thomaston-Upson Airport as his ultralight’s nose gear collapsed upon impact, reports the Thomaston Times. Two survivors of a crash near Staniel Cay, Bahamas, were rescued by a U.S. Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, reports the Las Vegas Sun.

 

 

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Benet Wilson

Strange but true general aviation news

November 15, 2013 by Benét Wilson

It’s a miracle. NBC News has exclusive video footage of what happened when two skydiving aircraft hit each other mid-air. It’s amazing that there were no fatalities among the nine skydivers and two pilots. One aircraft was destroyed, while the other only had damage to the propeller and wing.

It’s another miracle. Two men from Tasmania say they are lucky to be alive after they crashed their ultralight into the sea near Waterhouse Island, reports Yahoo News. The men clung to air matresses they packed and were eventually rescued by a police boat.

Here – take my private jets. The MLS soccer team the New England Revolution, in the middle of a playoff run, got an assist from team investor Robert and Jonathan Kraft. According to MLSSoccer.com, they loaned their personal jets to the team so it could cut travel times to a playoff game in Columbus, Ohio. Robert Kraft is also the owner of the NFL’s New England Patriots.

No please — take mine! Texas state Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas) loaned his corporate aircraft to  fellow Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) so the latter could campaign around the state, reports the Texas Tribune. Patrick is one of three candidates vying for the seat of lieutenant governor.

Come on — we all have to eat! The St. Louis Cardinals baseball team was on the way to Boston for the World Series when their charter jet was delayed for nearly seven hours. The passengers, stuck on the aircraft, were hungry and sent the message out via Twitter. Domino’s Pizza ended up dlivering 16 pizzas to the jet, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Let’s go to the video. A 16-year-old girl shot a video of a small aircraft as it did a hard landing at Oklahoma’s Wiley Post Airport, reports NewsOn6.com. The aircraft’s landing gear collapsed after touching the runway.

The last flight. A modified Douglas DC-9 that once flew as Air Force One and Air Force Two made its final flight, from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport to California’s Castle Air Museum, reports the Arizona Aviation Journal. The U.S. Air Force, which had been maintaining the aircraft, tried to sell it for $50,000 before donating it to the museum.

Emergency landings. A pilot walked away after making an emergency landing along a highway in Raymondville, Texas, reports FOX Rio 2-TV. A couple sustained minor injuries after losing power in their aircraft engine and landing in a park near Amarillo, Texas, reports WREG-TV. A pilot in his 80s managed to land his aircraft in a muddy field outside Robstown, Texas, reports KRIS-TV.

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Al Marsh

Around the world for eight by private jet

November 12, 2013 by Alton K. Marsh, Senior Editor, AOPA Pilot

hong kong

Hong Kong

Every holiday season it seems one company, usually Macy’s, captures media attention for the most luxurious gift. This time, it may be Flexjet. If you really loved your family and friends this holiday season, you would buy them the new Abercrombie and Kent offering–a $1.5 million trip around the world for eight aboard a Flexjet Challenger 605. Hotel rooms, granted they are luxury accomodations, are double occupancy at that price. So what did you expect for only $1.5 million? The leather seats transform into beds if the pace wears you down.

Yes, excess, I know. I’m just the reporter here. For the record, I am a lot more likely to go around the traffic pattern at Frederick, Maryland, in a rented Diamond DA40 than I am to go on this trip.

The price includes private showings and events at every stop that the rest of us will never see. The two-week grand tour includes a visit to Japan to see the Toji Temple and the emperor’s private retreat, both of which are closed to the public. There are two nights in Beijing, two nights in Hong Kong, and two nights in Agra, India, near the Taj Mahal. There are also two nights each in Turkey and France.

Challenger 605 aircraft

Challenger 605

Trips start after the current travel season ends in February. The Challenger will repeat the trip as many times as there are millionaires who are willing to pay the price. Or, at least they were millionaires before the trip began.

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Al Marsh

The twin-engine Cub

November 4, 2013 by Alton K. Marsh, Senior Editor, AOPA Pilot

DoubleEnder is good at short landings and takeoffs --Photo by bushplanedesign.com

DoubleEnder is good at short landings and takeoffs. Photo by bushplanedesign.com

Maybe one day you can get your multi-engine rating in a Cub–sort of a Cub, anyway. It’s based on the Cub heritage but is a clean sheet design and is meant for the rough bush country. The DoubleEnder has a tractor prop and a pusher prop and unprecedented forward and side visibility, unless you spend your flying hours in a bubble-nosed helicopter, of course. It may end up as a kit one day, but development has been in progress many years. It has two Rotax engines modified to produce 130 horsepower. You’ll see a full report on bydanjohnson.com here.

Want to go “cliff diving” in Alaska aboard the DoubleEnder? Watch this video. Here’s a much more relaxed look at the DoubleEnder Prototype practicing SHORT landings. The next DoubleEnder will have side by side seating.

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Benet Wilson

Strange but true general aviation news

October 25, 2013 by Benét Wilson

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.

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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.

 

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Benet Wilson

Strange but true general aviation news

October 18, 2013 by Benét Wilson

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.

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Goodbye, Goodyear blimp

October 15, 2013 by Mike Collins

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.

 

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A correction — and an apology

October 11, 2013 by

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.

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