Posts Tagged ‘Jill Tallman’

A jewel of a find on Google

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Quite by accident today I discovered that Google is the home of the newly digitized LIFE magazine archive. When I did a search for “aviation,” I got more than 200 images. Here’s my favorite, taken in 1943 by Peter Stackpole and labeled, “Female pilot of the US Women’s Air Force Service posed w. her leg up on the wing of an airplane.”* Just in time for the holidays, you can order a framed copy of your favorite print, and prices start at $79.99. Even if aviation isn’t your main passion, the LIFE archive is ever so much more of a satisfying lunchtime surfing experience than, say, a certain video of an aerobatic airplane that purportedly loses its wing in flight…

*If you can ID the aircraft in the photo, tell me in the Comments section.

Your 15-second “Quantum of Solace” review

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Come for the Star Trek trailer; stay for the sequence in which a Douglas DC-3 tries to outrun a SIAI-Marchetti SF.260TP. Here’s a brief clip of the scene, courtesy Fandango.

Want to know more about the Marchetti? See Marc Cook’s July 2000 article in AOPA Pilot. And feel free to weigh in with your opinion of the flying sequence (how realistic was it?) in the Comments section.

Reason Number 458 to become a pilot*

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

From a Spirit Airlines press release: “Ultra low cost carrier Spirit Airlines has launched its latest innovation—customized onboard advertising…Where else can you find an average three-hour gaze time? Advertisers can choose from a variety of customizable media options including seat backs, window shades, overhead bins, tray tables, drink carts, and more.”

’Nuff said.

*…as if you needed 457 other reasons.


Missed it by that much

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Are you one of those pilots who sits through films and TV shows just waiting for the aviation parts? (Sure, who isn’t?) Now I’m psyched to see the upcoming James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, because it will feature an appearance by a SIAI-Marchetti SF.260TP military trainer. (Thanks and a tip o’ the hat to Air & Space magazine, which did a rundown on all the cool and not-so-cool airplanes in the Bond oeuvre.)

Most recently I saw Get Smart. There’s a sequence in which the Chief commandeers a Cessna towing a banner to chase after Agents Ninety-Nine and Eighty-Six. Much of it seemed computer generated—no surprise there. (Here’s a really inside-baseball article on how the computer effects were created.) I hate to be the one to tell our friends in Wichita, but the man who got kicked out of the cockpit at the beginning of this sequence was credited as “CESNA PILOT.” Sorry about that, Chief.


Best of both worlds

Friday, July 25th, 2008

On Tuesday, Associate Editor Ian Twombly and I flew N208GG, AOPA’s Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Archer, from Brandywine Airport in West Chester, Pennsylvania, to Frederick, Maryland. I was pretty excited about the opportunity because I have a bunch of Archer time, and this beautiful airplane didn’t disappoint me. Where to begin? First, there’s that Knots 2U baggage door strut. If I had a Cherokee and $179, that would be the first upgrade I’d do, thinking back on the times I’ve accidentally let go of the baggage door and hit myself in the head. Then there’s that sleek black leather interior. Admit it, you’ve had the same thoughts as me: Black leather interior? Won’t that be hot, and not in a good way? The airplane had been sitting outside Penn Avionics’ hangar on a 90-degree mid-July day, and when we opened the passenger door and climbed in, I braced myself for the expected pizza-oven blast. None came. The interior wasn’t cool as in “Oh, thank God for air conditioning,” but neither was it the unbearable heat you’d expect. You can thank the LP Aero windows for that. And you will, trust me. Oh, and those seats? They’re so luxurious, you’ll wish you had them in your family room.


Into thin air

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

Tingling hands. Dizziness. Blurred vision. Those are my hypoxia symptoms. Do you know what yours are? There are a couple ways to find out. You could fly a non-pressurized airplane above 14,500 feet without supplemental oxygen and see what happens, but I know you wouldn’t do that. Here’s a better idea: Take the FAA’s physiological training class and experience hypoxia in a controlled setting.  

Yesterday I joined 14 students in the altitude training chamber at the Eighty-ninth Physiological Training Flight at Andrews Air Force Base in Camp Springs, Maryland. Wearing helmets and oxygen masks that covered everything but our eyes, we were there to see how our bodies would react to oxygen deprivation. The altitude chamber simulates flight to 25,000 feet, at which point you’re instructed to remove your mask and try to complete a series of tests, such as writing your name, solving a maze, and computing multiplication problems. (Heck, mazes and math are a challenge for me when I’m not oxygen-starved. Watch the YouTube video below or click on this link to see how these trainees perform.) I put myself back on oxygen fairly soon (it’s called “gangloading” in Air Force parlance), but some in our group stuck it out the three minutes of useful consciousness to see how they’d fare. One student seemed fairly coherent–until he was asked to count backwards from 100 by 7. He came up with the first one, 93, on his own. Then he gave incorrect answers for the next four numbers. (He did protest that he isn’t good at math, but he wasn’t allowed to count backwards by 5 or 1, as he suggested.) 

We’re schooled in basic aerospace physiology when we learn to fly, but how many of us give it much thought beyond the IM SAFE assessment? Give yourself a birthday present and take the FAA training. It costs $50 and is offered at 14 locations. You can read a detailed account of what goes on in Jeff Pardo’s article, “Going Up: The Elevator to the 2,500th Floor,” in the May 2001 issue of AOPA Flight Training. But when it comes to understanding how your body reacts to physiological stressors, there’s no substitute for the real thing.



Cheap thrills

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Riding on a Seattle city bus headed downtown, I saw a huge expanse of hangars and other aviation-type buildings, and realized I was in the heart of Boeing country. And there it was, practically yanking me out of my seat: the Museum of Flight. After paying the $14 admission, I spent a happy two hours wandering around the exhibits, which include the modified GeeBee pictured here, and a Concorde that you can climb into. (Did you know that AOPA Pilot Editor in Chief Tom Haines flew in the Concorde?)

Then it was off to the gift shop, where I plunked down $49 for a coffee mug, a mousepad emblazed with the Seattle sectional, and an aviation shirt (hey, you can never have too many). But the best part of the day didn’t cost me one thin dime. That’s the time I spent on the patio at the museum’s Wings Cafe, which overlooks Runways 13L/31R and 13R/31L at Boeing Field/King County. Here I got to watch a steady stream of commercial jets play nicely with the ceaseless GA traffic, which included a pair of 172s doing pattern work, a biplane, and the occasional floatplane.

Juneau mountains’ majesty

Monday, June 30th, 2008

I can now cross “Flying in Alaska” off my bucket list.

Well, that’s not precisely true. I’ve never had a formal list of things to do before I depart for new horizons. But if I did, “Flying to Alaska” would be near the top, now with a big red check next to it.

Last week I flew a modified Cessna 150 (a Texas taildragger) out of Juneau International. My CFI and affable tour guide was Wallace Long of the Alaska Flight Center. Long provides flight instruction, tailwheel training, and flight reviews and such in the highly polished 150 as well as a Cessna 172. For 1.3 on the Hobbs and a mere $168–less than half of the cost of a floatplane sightseeing tour–I experienced some of the most beautiful sights and fun flying I’ve ever done. Aside from the astounding scenery–a tiny portion of which you see here–a highlight of the trip was a low pass over a backcountry airstrip, about 1,900 feet long.

I can’t wait to go back. If you have an Alaska flying story, please share it in the Comments section.

Say goodbye to the bump

Friday, June 13th, 2008

Mention “Tangier Island” to Mid-Atlantic area pilots, and those who’ve been will tell you that it’s a great place for a day trip, but oh, that runway… The 2,950-foot asphalt strip at TGI is legendary for having cracks and a “bump” in the middle. But those are soon to become a part of pilot lore.

Quick pirep: This tiny island community of about 600 people is accessible only by boat or airplane. It’s located on the lower Eastern Shore in the Chesapeake Bay, and many of its residents are commercial watermen. The airport is open from dawn to dusk (there’s a $7 landing fee), and although there’s no fuel available, you can easily hop over to Crisfield Municipal or Accomack County. TGI is the airport whose crosswinds on a  blustery spring day many years ago proved a little too much for AOPA Pilot Editor Mike Collins. The Pilot Information Center’s Claire Kultgen has taken AOPA’s Piper Archer to Tangier, and she recalls, “It’s neat to fly to an island. The crab is awesome, and it’s fun just to walk around. It’s also great to see a community that understands the importance of its airport and works actively to get pilots to fly in for a visit.” There are no cars on Tangier, one of many visual reminders that “it’s a different way of life,” she notes.

With crab and oyster harvests on the wane, Tangier is eager to boost tourism to its shores, and a $3.25 million repaving project for the airport and the island’s handful of roads is part of that effort. The town is raising $65,000, or 2 percent of the total.

I’ve had TGI on my personal flight planner for years now, but this is the year I’ll go. I already knew Tangier boasts some great seafood restaurants. (You know how pilots love to talk about food! Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House is the fave of some folks in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation.) But I recently learned that Tangier also has free (!) loaner kayaks and canoes you can borrow to paddle one of the island’s four designated water trails, and a new museum that opened this month.

If you’ve been to Tangier, tell us about your visit in the Comments section. And if you haven’t been, well… see you there!

AOPA Fly-In is for kids!

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

Seeing an airplane 35,000 feet above you is one thing. Getting a chance to climb inside a cockpit and see everything up close is a whole lot better. And the smallest visitors to AOPA’s eighteenth annual Fly-In and Open House are getting plenty of opportunities to climb into airplanes big and small, crawl under the wings, or fly a foam bird of their own.

This year’s Fly-In is introducing kids to a sky full of aviation. Not only can they see GA airplanes of every shape and size at our static display, but they can also check out gleaming model radio-controlled airplanes, see exactly how wide the wingspan of a glider is, and climb into the front seat of a weight-shift-control trike. Many of the kids who stopped by to check out the trikes on display stayed to meet Kiwi. She’s the 3-year-old parrot that belongs to Terri Sipantzi of Precision Windsports. She rode on Sipantzi’s shoulder as he explained the nuances of weight-shift-control aircraft to a fixed-wing pilot. “She enjoys the activity,” he said.

But speed is still an eye-catcher for many. Nine-year-old Cole Gibson, visiting Fly-in with his dad, Duane, and his younger brother, Owen, said he liked the Eclipse 400 best. “We saw that fly at Oshkosh last year,” Duane Gibson, of Chevy Chase, Maryland, said of Eclipse Aviation’s single-engine jet.