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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Al Marsh

Mooney announces its “comeback”

October 11, 2013 by Alton K. Marsh, Senior Editor, AOPA Pilot

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.

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Benet Wilson

Strange but true general aviation news

October 11, 2013 by Benét Wilson

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.

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Benet Wilson

10 things I look forward to at AOPA Aviation Summit

October 7, 2013 by Benét Wilson

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.

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