Posts Tagged ‘Mike Collins’

It’s not just us in GA

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Coming home from AOPA Expo the other day, aboard a Delta Air Lines Boeing 737, we took off from San Jose’s Runway 30 Right and began a climbing right turn toward Atlanta. We kept climbing–and turning, and turning, and turning.

As we headed west toward the Pacific, I wondered if we were returning to the airport, but we were still climbing. Finally, we stopped turning and headed in a southeasterly direction.

Disembarking in Atlanta, I asked the captain what was up with that departure. He told me the spiraling climb was normal for San Jose, necessary to avoid the San Francisco and Oakland airspace to the north.

It reminded me that those kinds of things don’t always happen just to those of us flying small aircraft. Departing IFR to the west from my home airport, Frederick Municipal, usually requires flying to the northeast for radar identification–and then a climbing right turn until the DG finally points to the “W.” Does anything like that happen to you?

She ought to be in pictures

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

As a renter pilot, have you ever been disappointed to learn that one of your favorite airplanes had been sold, and was no longer on the rental line at your airport? Of course you have. But did you ever feel that way about an airplane you’ve never even flown?

It happened to me today.

There’s a Cessna 172, N505SP, that holds the title for airplane appearing most frequently in AOPA Flight Training. It was all a coincidence, really. The Skyhawk was purchased by a Wichita pilot for his daugher’s use in learning to fly. Our senior photographer, Mike Fizer, is based in Wichita, and 505SP’s availability allowed her image to make its way into the magazine. A lot.

So imagine my surprise when I opened an e-mail from a reader in Australia, who told me the airplane on Flight Training’s October cover (shown) was in a shipping container, en route to a flight school in Brisbane.

Fizer tells me the daughter earned her certificate, flew for a regional airline briefly, and now flies jets as a corporate pilot. Her dad’s moving up to a late-model Cessna 182, so 505SP was listed for sale. And it sounds like the Skyhawk is going to a good home; Gerry Dick says she’ll be used as a trainer and will share hangar space with a Super Decathlon and Citabria Adventure.

Even better, he’s encouraging me to visit. I may yet get to fly this Skyhawk the whole AOPA Flight Training staff has come to know so well.

Why we go to Oshkosh

Friday, August 1st, 2008

Why do you go to events such as AirVenture in Oshkosh? Is it to stand in a long line just to walk through an Airbus, like these people are doing?

Nothing against Jet Blue, but I go to airshows to catch up on industry news, talk with other pilots, and see cool airplanes. Boeing and Airbus airliners can be cool in their own right, especially when you’re the person flying the airplane (or flying the simulator). But one of the reasons that I fly general aviation airplanes is to avoid lines like this.

Maybe these folks were just seeking a few minutes in the air conditioning, and a respite from the heat of the ramp….

150 marks UND’s 40th anniversary

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Surrounded by much newer–and, except for the Cessna 162 Skycatcher, much larger–airplanes in the Cessna Aircraft exhibit at Oshkosh is a meticulously restored Cessna 150. Even the interior plastic looks brand-new, and the glareshield proudly sports the as-delivered pilot’s rear-view mirror (remember those?).

In September 1968, N50405, a Cessna 150H, was one of the first two airplanes delivered to the University of North Dakota. UND was just launching its aviation program, which marks its 40th anniversary this year. UND sold the airplane in 1973, and the UND Aerospace Foundation purchased the airplane in April 2007. The two-place Cessna had spent the intervening 34 years only 150 miles away from UND’s Grand Forks campus. The 150 was refurbished over a 12-month period.

Today UND Aerospace operates a fleet of more than 120 aircraft, including a Cessna Citation Mustang. The restored 150 won’t be used for primary training, however; a UND representative said the airplane might be used to provide spin training for CFI candidates, and the university’s flight team would no doubt love to use the airplane for precision landing competitions.

Better listings On Google

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Did you know that’s what blog stands for? That was a definition mentioned Monday afternoon at a seminar on aviation blogging at AirVenture, initiated by Rob Mark, who maintains the Jetwhine blog. I’m not sure if I believe it, but certainly understand that’s one of the results you could achieve with an effective blog. Mark’s Aviation Blogfest, the first of its kind–at least to my knowledge–drew more than two dozen people, including many active bloggers.

What makes a blog successful? “Blogs are successful because their authors are passionate about what they’re writing about,” said Todd McClamroch, who writes MyFlightBlog. It was a pleasure to meet McClamroch after talking with him several months ago while writing a column in AOPA Flight Training.

Paul, a flight instructor, maintains a blog called Ask A CFI.com where he answers questions about flight training. Although Norman, a Boeing 777 captain, could not attend the seminar, Mark displayed a photo and said “he’s here digitally;” Roach’s blog is The Digital Aviator.

Rod Rakic is building something interesting, a social networking site (think Facebook or Myspace) for aviators. The site, myTransponder, is in “closed beta” testing now. That means you have to have an invitation to participate in the beta test. “We’re still finding bugs and squashing them,” Rakic explained. (If you e-mail him through the site and ask, I bet he’ll invite you to participate.)

I just saw an interesting link on Mark’s Blogroll, to a blog named FAA Follies. That sounds like it could be interesting…and as soon as I get a chance, I plan to give it a read.

See how blogging works, and check out some other aviation blogs. Look at the Blogroll on Jetwhine for some good starting points.

Emergency cocktail hour at Eclipse

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Although I realize the move was necessary for Eclipse Aviation’s long-term survival, I was nevertheless saddened Monday morning to learn that founder Vern Raburn was stepping down as CEO. “For me, the show ends today,” he said, opening a media event on the first day of AirVenture 2008.

I was in Albuquerque for the Eclipse 500 rollout in July 2002, and I wrote much of AOPA Pilot’s early Eclipse coverage. And I fondly remember my first visit to Eclipse, while researching “Turbine Pilot: An Inside Look at Eclipse” for the February 2001 AOPA Pilot.

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Early arrival

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

AOPA staff member Brent Hart parks a Cessna 182 that was among the early arrivals to the AOPA Fly-In. Fog limited arrivals to IFR traffic.

Cirrus’ new panel

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

Among the airplanes on display at the AOPA Fly-In is this Cirrus SR22 GTS with Cirrus’ optional Perspective avionics suite by Garmin. Editor in Chief Tom Haines explores the Cirrus Perspective in the July issue of AOPA Pilot, currently at the printer–look for it in your mailbox soon.

When Harry met AOPA Pilot

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Harrison Ford is not a stranger to the pages of AOPA Pilot. Editing Barry Schiff’s June 2008 article took me back 10 years, when our June 1998 issue featured the making of Six Days, Seven Nights. Ford did all of his own flying in that film, which introduced him to the de Havilland Beaver–his favorite airplane.

In that issue, Ford also talked about how he became a pilot. I was asked to photograph Ford for that article, and the chosen day was miserable, with rain showers and low ceilings. Tom Haines, Tom Horne, and I flew up to Teterboro, New Jersey, for the shoot and Ford met us at the FBO door.

We waited in a large hangar for Ford’s mechanic to arrive with the keys to his helicopter. Just outside, an APU screamed, making conversation difficult. Some movie-related questions were met with polite nods. Noticing pop-out floats on the skids of Ford’s helicopter, I asked him if he ever flew the Hudson River corridor, a VFR route that follows the river right past Manhattan. Ford’s eyes sparkled as he responded, “Oh, yeah, all the time.”

We talked about flying the corridor, also a favorite of mine, until we gave up on the mechanic and went with Plan B, photographing Ford with a Beech B36TC Bonanza. He no longer owns that airplane, but our art folks found the photo (shown) in our files.

One that didn’t work

Friday, April 18th, 2008

It sounded like a great idea–fly from Frederick, Maryland, down to Tangier Island, in the Chesapeake Bay, for crab cakes. It was a windy spring day and the forecast called for the possibility of moderate turbulence. Except for a few small bumps the air was smooth.

When I got to Tangier Island, however, the wind must have been 35 knots, perpendicular to (and blowing water onto!) the narrow single runway. Even with full rudder deflection the wind pushed me to the right of the runway–and that Tampico, like its Tobago and Trinidad siblings, had a lot of rudder authority.

I gave the approach two tries and then diverted to Crisfield, Maryland, which had a runway conveniently pointed into the wind. You always have a Plan B (and file an alternate restaurant), don’t you?

Two other airplanes did make it into Tangier Island that day. I later learned that one pilot, flying a twin-engine Beech Baron, had to use differential thrust to land in that wind. The other was a Cessna Skyhawk, and I sure would have liked to see its arrival.

The crab cakes at Crisfield are every bit as good, by the way. In case you were wondering.