Posts Tagged ‘Al Marsh’

Why I like Homestead GA Airport

Monday, November 17th, 2008

I was in Miami writing about NASCAR drivers who are pilots, and that included taking a look at the huge fleet of NASCAR aircraft that move the car teams around the country. All aircraft at left are NASCAR planes at Kendall-Tamiami. Notice the prominent racing name.  

For the race at Homestead Miami Speedway the crews use primarily Tamiami, but several use Homestead General Aviation Airport as well because, although it has shorter runways, it is closer. I no sooner showed up at Homestead Executive Jet Center than James Starkweather, husband of the owner of the Jet Center and owner of the Advanced Aircraft dealership at Tamiami to the north, said a Cirrus was waiting for me. “Would you like aerial views of the NASCAR track for your article?” The answer was easy. The results are published here and were taken two days before the final NASCAR race of the season. After the flight I drove a few hundred yards to Roberts Air South to see the jets used by Jack Roush of Roush-Fenway Racing, and Carl Edwards who at the time was in second place for both the Nationwide race series and the Sprint Cup series. There I met Max the dog who steals things. You’ll learn more in an upcoming feature on pilots who happen to be race car drivers or wives of drivers.

NASCAR driver Kyle Petty passes checkride

Monday, November 17th, 2008

One of the newest pilots in the country is NASCAR race-car driver Kyle Petty, who passed his checkride recently in Concord, North Carolina, in a Cessna 172. Petty already owns a Columbia 400 and is in the process of transitioning to his beautiful new airplane. You’ll see it for yourself in a video to accompany an upcoming article in AOPA Pilot.

In that same video, you’ll find out what Matt Kenseth thinks of his new Mooney and hear how aviation comes to the rescue of busy drivers and crew on the circuit. Kenseth qualified third at the Homestead Miami Speedway at an average speed of more than 170 mph in his 800+ hp car. To get that average, he had to drive 210 mph on the straightaways. Look for the “NASCAR Pilots” article in 2009. (If a NASCAR racer were to run in a straight line, top speed would be 240 mph.)

Matt Kenseth (center) watches other cars qualify for the NASCAR race, November 14, at Homestead Miami Speedway while he waits in line for his attempt. He was third fastest after his qualifying run and came in 11th overall in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

1993 Sweeps 172 is training pilots in Miami

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

The aircraft AOPA gave away in 1994 after full refurbishment the year before has helped to train 4,000 pilots and given renters a means to get around Florida for 14 years. The upholstery shows the wear from life as a trainer and the “AOPA” is missing from the “Good as New” logo on the tail, but otherwise the Cessna 172 is fully operational.

It is in the fleet of Dean International headed by Robert Dean and his wife, Elisa. Elisa notes the Garmin GPSMAP 530 added by the school makes this a, “Good as New, New” airplane. Since the picture was taken Nov. 14, the school moved into beautiful new quarters at its home base, Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport in Kendall, Florida, south of and adjoining Miami. The school trains students from around the world and hopes to add those from the Peoples’ Republic of China in coming months.

We’re tracking NASCAR for you.

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Guess which NASCAR drivers are also certificated pilots? Actually, no need to guess; we’ll have them all plus the wife of a NASCAR driver who is about to solo in an upcoming issue of AOPA Pilot. This past weekend research led me to Atlanta for the Pep Boys 500, where I spent hours waiting for a chance to talk with some of the drivers. Nonstop schedules to meet and greet the fans and especially the sponsors require every second of drivers’ time in the days leading up to the race, so I spent several hours sitting on an ice cooler in hopes of grabbing them. Next year sponsors will cut back some of their support and fans are reconsidering the average price, for the better seats, of $115 at Atlanta. The stands looked 65 percent full at last weekend’s Sprint Cup Chase race.

Here are some shots from my weekend in the garage area at Atlanta.

What’s going on with Swearingen?

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

It wasn’t easy to find an answer to the above question during a press conference in Orlando Oct. 5 at the National Business Aviation Association. I had questions, but Anthony Power of Emirates Investment and Development (which owns Emivest Aerospace) didn’t want to give answers without the boss present.

Sino Swearingen Aircraft is now called Emivest Aerospace since the Dubai-based company completed the deal in June. The aircraft shall hence be known as the Emivest Sj30.

A day later I had the chance to talk with the boss, Buti Saeed Al Ghandi (chairman of Emivest Aerospace), whose airplane had been 30 minutes late on Oct. 5, causing him to miss the press conference.

Al Ghandi said he will spend $700 million to $1 billion over the next four years to set up tooling, establish a support and sales network, and do all the other things a large jet company needs to do business. All sino Swearingen ever had was engineering tooling that was able to produce four aircraft, but never could have supported full production, he said.

The first customer delivery could occur in the first quarter of 2009. A report in that he planned to build 100 aircraft a year was incorrect, he said. No decision has been made on production rates, or even if there will be 100 copies of the first model. He implied there will be a second model with improvements to include increased range. Al Ghandi says he is not a pilot, and plays a key roll in a dozen companies, none of which are related to aviation. For example, he now regrets selling a fertilizer company that once was in his stable.

Your private airliner

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Boeing said this week it has 190 airliners out there, or on order, that are privately owned and equipped like castles in the sky. Boeing officials went to the Middle East to talk to customers who are buying private Boeing 747s. One wanted 12-foot ceilings in rooms throughout the jumbo jet. The most expensive private 747 flying so far cost $475 million.

On the convention floor at NBAA in Orlando Lufthansa said they can convert a private Boeing 787 Dreamliner to your needs, and offered one design. You can see my walk down the model here. It gives new meaning to the name Dreamliner.

Man-jet crosses English Channel

Monday, September 29th, 2008

He did it. Yves Rossy, known as “FusionMan” and “Jetman,” jumped from an airplane wearing two folded eight-foot wings, extended them from his shoulders, fired up four little jet engines, and crossed the English Channel to the UK where he landed by parachute. Watch him land here.

Bryan Regan stands in for Aeroshell team

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

The formation biplane Aeroshell team will have a new temporary leader, Bryan Regan, who is standing in for Alan Henley, founder and leader of the Aeroshell team. Henley was injured in an accident at his home last summer.

In this video, which I personally shot, you can see Regan briefing the Red Barons a few months before that team was disbanded by the sponsor. He leads a rehearsal and then leads them through a loop. Be warned, this is noisy, unrestrained engine and air blast noise. Get that volume down if you are in the office.

Explanation: Regan waits to feel the lift from air off the accelerating airplane beneath him as his signal to start the loop. If the slot airplane, the one I was in, does not accelerate, it will finish behind the team because it is on the outside of the loop and must travel farther. You’ll see us rush beneath Regan as the group dives to gather speed for the loop. The air off the top wing lifts Regan, signaling our presence.

Need a good aviation quote?

Friday, September 5th, 2008

Do you make speeches about aviation? Ok, maybe not. Some of you do, and if you are in need of interesting quotes you might want to pick some from the guote garden. My favorite is, “If God had intended man to fly, he would have made it easier to get to the airport.” One to avoid, however, is by the greenest of environmentalists, Henry David Thoreau. “Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.” But Hank! (I call him Hank.) We’ve got carbon offsets!

LSA deliveries grow slowly

Friday, September 5th, 2008

Dan Johnson of has an interesting chart on his blog today showing how monthly light sport aircraft sales spike, nearly double, after major trade shows such as Sun `n Fun and EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh. The monthly average of 38 registrations (an indicator of sales) doubles to 70 or even 88. At the moment registrations have dropped to 24 for last month, possibly an indicator of the state of the economy and the economic tension leading up to a major election.

Two large LSA distributors (one in Denton, Tex., the other in Salainas, Calif.) say, in general, that sales are well below what they had expected when they entered the business. But they believe sales will grow when the economy heals and both remain enthusiastic about the future of the LSA industry.

Cirrus Design sees its Cirrus SRS LSA as one of the best chances for attracting new customers, especially in an economic malaise.