Posts Tagged ‘Ian Twombly’

Risk management

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Acting as pilot in command has many responsibilities, not the least of which is getting to the destination safely. But meeting that goal can happen any number of ways.

In the November issue of Pilot I made reference to the fact that I flew over Lake Michigan on my way to Oshkosh in the sweepstakes Archer. Recently I received an e-mail from a member who felt what I did was foolhardy, displayed poor judgment, and was a “stunt.” The message got me thinking about what the risk really was and whether I had put myself and my passenger at risk and not properly exercised my position as PIC.

During the flight, I figured I was beyond gliding distance from shore for 10 miles. The Archer had less than 100 hours on a newly overhauled engine, it was summer VMC, and I had plenty of fuel. David Kenny, the statistician for ASF, ran some numbers and found that there were roughly 500 accidents and incidents last year in which the airplane quit producing thrust for one reason or another. Only 250 of those were evenly remotely attributed to mechanical error beyond the pilot’s control, and that is probably a stretch. (more…)

A beautiful sunset

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

After 2,000 miles with the 2008 Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Piper Archer, the Pacific Ocean finally came into view. Unfortunately it was 20 miles to the west, and would be the closest we would get.

A California sunset

But let’s back up a bit. We left Falcon Field in Phoenix late morning and headed for General Fox in California for fuel. Big headwinds kept us a little short, so we decided to divert to Van Nuys instead. What better place to make a last fuel stop than one of the busiest GA airports in the country with tons of heritage? But trying to beat weather into San Jose meant a quick turn and sightseeing limited to what could be seen from the taxiway.

Leaving Van Nuys we flew west toward San Marcus. At 10,000 feet, we were welcomed to the biggest headwinds of the trip, around 40 knots. The turn north for San Jose was where the fun started. After the beautiful sunset, we finally got lower to try to escape the winds and get to some warmer air. Nothing is free though. The lower altitude put us in IMC. As we flew toward San Jose, the rain intensified. Salinas was shrouded with extreme precipitation, none of which was showing up on datalink (definitely a lesson there). Close to San Jose, the rain was heavy, the wind shifted, and we were put in a homemade hold to wait for airline traffic on the ILS. What a better way to end a long trip than night IMC and an approach?

Landing in San Jose was bittersweet. We had made it, and looking back, it was fairly easy. Thanks to advanced avionics, trips like these are stress-free and much less taxing than they used to be. Imagine an Archer as a cross-country luxury ride. The Get Your Glass Archer makes it possible.

The Colorado River alters the desert landscape.

The Colorado River changes the desert landscape.

The Banning Pass near Palm Springs.

The Banning Pass near Palm Springs.

Miles upon miles of windmills.

Wide open spaces

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

Boy, when they say the Western U.S. is full of wide open spaces, they aren’t kidding. The sweepstakes flight today was from Altus, Oklahoma, to Falcon Field in Mesa, Arizona. The scenery was incredible. Between the red rocks, mountains, spectacular cliffs and mesas, New Mexico and Arizona clearly have something special. Aside from getting knocked around by turbulence all day, it was a great seven hours of flying.

Tomorrow it’s on to San Jose. I’m hoping seeing the Pacific will be the end to a great trip.

Massive areas of cattle in Texas with nothing else around for miles.

The beautiful vista of New Mexico.

West Texas.

Just a little short

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

Murphy’s Law set in early. We left Frederick an hour late for the trip west in the sweepstakes Archer. Headwinds beat us down even more. But, after 11ish hours of flying, we were rewarded with a great stop–Altus, Oklahoma.

The day took us through Clark County, Indiana, Springfield, Missouri, and finally into Altus. Altus is a town that used to be built around the active Air Force base. But it’s closure means things aren’t what they used to be. At least that’s what the lineman told me. But service and a smile still reign here. Let’s see, gas was $3.60 full service, a linewoman cleaned my windscreen unprompted, and they gave us a ride to the hotel about a mile away. I’ll be back here someday.

But as great as Altus is, it’s not as far as we had wanted to make it. Lubbock, Texas was the original goal. In hindsight I’m glad we didn’t make it though. Texas Tech v. Texas in Lubbock last night probably meant hotel rooms were slim.

This morning we’ll be leaving early to try and make the Phoenix area by early afternoon. There I have an interview with an interesting guy you’ll read about shortly in the magazine. Afterward, who knows? All I know is it’s West.

Let the journey begin!

Friday, October 31st, 2008

I’m a very lucky man. With Expo in San Jose this year, the 2008 Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Archer has to get from AOPA’s Frederick, Maryland, headquarters to the west coast. I get the privilege of making the journey.

The route will take me through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and finally California. With the advances in technology, you’ll be able to follow along like never before. I’ll be blogging on these pages over the next three days, and also giving immediate updates via Twitter.

Follow me at Twitter (ijtwombly) to see where the stops will be. It’s a good way to catch the sweepstakes airplane and get an up-close and personal tour. Happy trails.

Calling all warbird lovers

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Want to fly a warbird? Yeah, me too. How about a T-34 Mentor, a PT-17 Stearman, or even a T-6 Texan? It’s the kind of stuff dreams are made of. But a new organization is trying to make that dream a reality for more of us.

Fly History is a new concept in warbird ownership, using an old concept to try and make it happen. In essence, Fly History is a flying club. Become a club member, meet some very basic flight requirements, and you too could soon be flying a warbird. Solo.

The idea is simple. Buy in. Start flying the T-34. Move up to the Stearman, and finally fly the T-6 solo. The prices are incredibly reasonable and membership should be available in major cities around the country. Now please excuse me while I go check out my bank account…

Aw, how cute

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

I didn’t appreciate how cute stuff like this was until I became a father.

The Fly Market

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

One rather unique Oshkosh feature is the Fly Market. It’s row after row of unique, largely independent exhibitors. Think part flea market (get it?), part county fair, part warehouse of parts. Because the exhibit rates are cheaper in this area, the goods are usually cheaper as well. But it’s also where you usually find the U.S. Air Force, thanks to the discounted rates. Some of my colorful favorites from this year include gold chain by the inch, numerous hammock exhibitors, and all the unique and crazy windsocks. It’s a fun place to get lost for awhile.

That’s one big airplane

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Wow. The Boeing Dreamlifter is a HUGE airplane!

Front and center in Aeroshell square

When are you going to deliver my airplane?

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

The question on everyone’s mind as they come see the Big Yellow Tent at Oshkosh is when we’re going to deliver their airplane. The answer: sometime next January or February.


Manning the sweepstakes airplane at shows is a lot of fun. Members ask all sorts of great questions that we usually have answers for. Although sometimes there are questions like, “Why is the stabilator so big?” Unfortunately I don’t know.

Clearly you’re all reading the magazine because the questions have gotten better and better over the year. Instead of, “What’s that big thing in the panel?” the question becomes, “Are you happy with the Aspen?” So keep those questions coming, either at Oshkosh or through the sweepstakes homepage. See ya around.