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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Around the world, by the numbers

October 4, 2013 by Mike Collins

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.

 

 

 

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Benet Wilson

Strange but true general aviation news

October 4, 2013 by Benét Wilson

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.

 

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On Wednesdays, I occasionally like to post a fill-in-the-blank statement on the AOPA Facebook fan page. We currently have 35,864 likes, and those who visit never hesitate to comment on the content I post in there.

Two weeks ago, I had the chance to fly in one of EAA’s Ford Trimotorswhen it came to Frederick Municipal Airport and did a story about it for AOPA Live This Week (my first video piece!). Plus I did a story about how Fort Worth, Texas-based Greatest Generation Aircraft will offer visitors at the upcoming AOPA Aviation Summit’s Airportfest the chance to ride in or even fly a Douglas C-47.

So I must have had airplanes on the brain when I posted this – The one aircraft I’d love to fly is __________________. You can see the results, below.  We had a record response, so I thought I’d share 10 of my favorite from the 354 responses. You can also see photos of more of the named aircraft over on our Pinterest board.

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  1. Kevin Pannebakker Gulfstream G650
  2. Stephen Langkau Curtiss Jenny
  3. Scott Rodenbeck P-51 Mustang

  4. Heather J. Chandler F/A – 18 SuperHornet

  5. Greg D. Baker Lake Renegade

  6. Ankit Chauhan MIG 21 Bison

  7. Steven Bradshaw The Space Shuttle!

  8. Michael Kevin Sibille BD-5J

  9. Bradley Johnson Super Cub Amphib out of Lake Spinard/Hood AK

  10. Derek Grier Vought F4U-D

  11. John Vincent McGuire Beechcraft Starship

Bonus – Marty Gasper A newly refurbished Debonair!

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iPhone: Latest cause of runway incursions

September 27, 2013 by Mike Collins

Did you know that the Apple iPhone is causing runway incursions in Fairbanks, Alaska? No, it’s not Siri run amok–apparently, drivers from outside the area were following their iPhones’ built-in map app to get to the airport. The app directed them onto Taxiway Bravo and from there, it’s easy to see the terminal and drive across the main runway to reach it, the Alaska Dispatch reported.

I think we’ve all heard stories about drivers blindly following directions from their GPS navigators. Question: Is an instrument rating required for blind driving? An instrument rating might not have solved the navigation problems, but at least the drivers would have known to call the tower for clearance before crossing Runway 2 Left/20 Right.

Coincidentally, I was through Fairbanks late Sept. 15 and early Sept. 16, flying around the world with Mike Laver in his Mitsubishi MU-2, but nobody at the airport made mention of the first incident. We were watching for wandering bucks on our early morning departure, but a wayward Buick would have been a heck of a surprise.
 
Don’t fret about flying into Fairbanks now, however; the problem has been fixed–sort of. Apple created a temporary “you can’t get there from here” fix for the iPhone map app, according to the Alaska Dispatch. Directions to the airport have been removed from the map, unless you type in the airport terminal’s exact street address. What, you say you need to get to the terminal? Enter 6450 Airport Way, Fairbanks, AK into your iPhone–or request a taxi clearance.
 

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Benet Wilson

Strange but true general aviation news

September 27, 2013 by Benét Wilson

Amazing rescue! 85 fifth-grade students and their 14 adult chaperons from Fireside Elementary School in  Louisville, Colo., were rescued by seven Colorado National Guard helicopters from flooding after being stranded during a trip to the Cal-Wood Education Center, reports Flying magazine.

Drugs and airplanes don’t mix. A Falcon 50 jet based in France was stopped in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, after local police found 1,500 pounds of cocaine, valued at approximately $26 million packed in 26 suitcases, reports Aviation International News. The jet’s three pilots and one passenger were arrested and jailed.

Step away from the tower. Four teens were arrested by the FBI after allegedly damaging the VOR tower in Flagstaff, Ariz., reports KPHO-TV. Charges against the youths are pending.

The airplane crash that wasn’t. North Dakota’s Williams County Emergency Services recently did a training exercise based on an aircraft crash at Minot International Airport, reports KMOT-TV. was practicing what they would do if a plane crashed at the airport.

Do the crime, do the time. Steven French was sentenced to 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to pointing a laser into the cockpit of a Lexington Police helicopter because he was “bored,” reports WKYT-TV. He will also be on probation for a year.

Good landings. A pilot with three passengers onboard made an emergency landing in a cornfield shortly after taking off from Michigan’s Tiny Zehnder Airport in Frankenmuth Township, reports MLive.com. The pilot said the engine malfunctioned. A pilot walked away after landing his Piper PA-24 into a corn field after taking off from Canada’s Woodstock Airport, reports the Norwich Bulletin.

A commercial flight was just fine with him. U.S. Open Tennis champion Rafael Nadal declined an offer by the Spanish government to fly him by private jet to a Davis Cup match, reports TheLocal.com. He said he didn’t feel right making the state pay for private travel.

We’ll end the week with this video from the Alaska Dispatch that shows how to land your private plane in a gorge, in a blizzard.

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Al Marsh

Have you logged “startle” time? ATP training rules make the rating costly.

September 24, 2013 by Alton K. Marsh, Senior Editor, AOPA Pilot

The new requirements from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the Airline Transport Pilot exam, as demanded by Congress after a Colgan Airways accident, will hit in August of 2014. They are focused on giving pilots more experience before they get the ATP rating, and training them in upset recovery. The rules will increase the cost of just that rating, according to one school’s estimate, to $8,500 to $12,000. I got it in 1995 for less than $2,000 just for fun from ISO Aero, now known as Aero Services in Wilmington, North Carolina. The first effect of making airline candidates take more training is to discourage those of us who got it just for fun. The second is to take smaller schools and colleges out of the ATP training market. That’s because they can’t make money now that there is a new requirement for a full motion simulator replicating an aircraft of 40,000 pounds (minimum). Those things cost millions. AOPA and others fought the good fight to keep the requirements reasonable.

In that simulator, candidates are to learn some of the upset recovery techniques. Randy Brooks, a vice president at Aviation Performance Solutions in Mesa, Arizona, said a study of 16 accidents involving upsets (extreme banks, climbs, dives) revealed the pilot did the wrong thing. “In 16 out of 16 accidents the pilot did something that was contradictory to whatever training they would have had,” he said. As it turns out, the International Civil Aviation Organization that happens to be headquartered in Canada (it is for the world, not just Canada) will recommend to the world at some point in the future that upset training extend to those wanting the commercial pilot certificate. Once again, AOPA has officially expressed concerns that the suggestion consider all the consequences. The FAA doesn’t have to follow the suggestion.

Simcom Training Centers’  Tracy Brannon said the new ATP multiengine rules “…elevate the requirements to meet the title of the certificate.” His company, where he is the chief operating officer, is planning an ATP course that will be close to the ones Simcom offers for a full type rating. A full type rating course includes 14 hours in a simulator, and the new FAA requirements for the ATP call for 10 hours. The academic part will also be very similar. He has had inquiries from airline companies interested in sending applicants to such a course.

Brannon pointed out that the new ATP rules apply only to multiengine aircraft. So, the pilots like myself who got the multiengine ATP, just for fun, can still have the option of getting the single-engine ATP that does not fall under the new requirements. Simcom has a Saab 2000 simulator that meets the new requirement for training in a simulated 40,000-pound simulator, but company officials have asked the FAA to consider letting them use less costly simulators for the Hawker 800 and Dornier 328 that simulate aircraft weighing less than 40,000 pounds. There is no word from the FAA as yet on the request.

The FAA guidelines also require that the ATP candidate demonstrate a proper recovery technique after being startled. Brooks manages to startle students while flying an actual training aircraft by distracting them. “Then we’re going to talk about things you like to do besides flying, where you live, whether or not you’ve got kids–anything that will take you out of the cockpit, thinking I’m not going to do something, and wham. You’re going to have a simulated wake vortex encounter, and you’re going to hear me say ‘recover.’” Brooks can train students to automatically recover in three 45-minute flights. The new ATP rules call for use of a simulator for situations where the nose is too high or too low.

Opponents of the new rules warned that they could reduce the supply of airline pilots. “They’re going to pay $12,000 and then we start them out in a $10,000 job,” said the owner of a North Carolina flight school. The full impact won’t be known until after the rules take effect late next summer. In the meantime, a few hours of aerobatic training can pay big benefits. Make sure the instructor startles you before you graduate.

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Al Marsh

F-22 pilot tells Iranian F-4 pilots, “You really oughta go.”

September 23, 2013 by Alton K. Marsh, Senior Editor, AOPA Pilot

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, son of an Air Force combat veteran and father of an Air Force pilot, likes to brag on his personnel. At the Air Force Association convention in New Harbor, Md., this month he described what happened when Iranian pilots intercepted a remotely piloted vehicle doing surveillance over the Arabian Gulf. The encounter was first reported in “AvWeb,” and you can see the actual speech here. Change the quality to the lowest possible to help stream the video. (Click on the gear symbol at lower right and choose the bottom setting.)  The comments concerning F-22 pilot Lt. Col. Kevin “Showtime” Sutterfield occur at 18:25 into the video.

Welsh described the March incident this way: “You guys see the news clip not long ago about the Iranian F-4 that intercepted a remotely piloted aircraft over the Arabian Gulf, and then they were warned off? This is the guy that warned them off…after he rejoined on them, flew underneath their aircraft to check out their weapons load without them knowing he was there, and then pulled up on their left wing and called them and said, ‘You really oughta go.’” They left.

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