Archive for September, 2012

Photo of the Day: Piper Super Cub

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

The gorgeous Piper Super Cub shown here is in trail on a photo shoot over over the modest hills near the Virginia-Maryland border. Its pilot, Nate Foster, was just 17 at the time of this photo shoot–starting his senior year in high school. And that’s not the most interesting part. Nate had returned just a few weeks prior from a cross-country that took him from Maryland to California in that very same airplane. You can read about Nate’s trip in the January 2011 Flight Training (and see another photo of Nate with the gigantic taped-together sectional chart he used to plan his trip).—Jill W. Tallman

Photo of the Day: Dickenson/Howard DGA-21

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

This hybrid Experimental combines aspects of the DGA-15 and the famous DGA-6 racer. Its builder, Bruce Dickenson, dubbed it the Dickenson-Howard DGA-21. The 21 comes from 15 plus 6. It lives at Santa Paula Airport in Southern California, where Dickenson put together his project without blueprints. The airplane has wooden wings and are built from a spruce bar, birch ribs, and mahogany covering. Read much more in the March 2011 AOPA Pilot ( http://www.aopa.org/members/files/pilot/2011/march/feature_howard.html ), where you can also view a video of the airplane’s test flight.—Jill W. Tallman

Dumb things pilots have done, Part II

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

In Part I of this blog, Chip Wright shared some  of his favorite random, dumb, and often funny things that pilots have done. Here’s the second installment from Chip, gleaned over more than 20 years of flying.–Ed.

The FAA has eyes everywhere. There isn’t a pilot in the Chesapeake Bay region who has not dreamed of flying under the Bay Bridge. I know of two instances when it happened. The first one was a very elaborately planned event on a calm Sunday morning. It was, even in the pilot’s words, “really, really dumb.” But he pulled it off and lived to tell about it.

The second one was beyond really dumb. He did it during the normal course of a weekday, and as he did so a local FAA employee was—you guessed it—driving across the bridge. The airplane was distinctively colored and had 12-inch N-numbers.

I would have paid to see the ramp check after the landing.

The FAA has eyes everywhere, Part II: Here’s a hint: If you fly to an airport that has been clamoring for an instrument approach for years, don’t go blowing minimums when you first get to do it. The pilot in this case was known for being a hot dog. Bay Bridge Airport in Stevensville, Maryland, had just gotten a VOR approach to Runway 29, and it was at a fairly stiff angle to make the turn from the radial to the runway. On the day in question, an FAA inspector was at the airport, waiting to see if anyone would fly the approach. A pilot in a twin Cessna announced his arrival and proceeded to fly the approach and land, even though the ceiling and the visibility were both below minimums. The pilot’s enthusiasm had overcome his common sense, in part because he knew the terrain so well that he knew if he established ground contact he’d be OK.

The inspector was not amused.

Cleared to land…but didn’t. The controller in Cincinnati who told me this story swears it’s true. A Boeing 767 was arriving during a major non-push, and was at 3,000 feet on the final, obviously locked on to the localizer, and cleared to land…but he didn’t descend. The controllers tried to call the crew, but got no answer. As the airplane began to fly over the runway, the controller hit his mic and said, “So…you guys want a left or a right downwind? And this time, for our planning, are you actually going to land?”

The captain was very terse on the radio for the rest of flight.

Oops. I read this in a publication somewhere. A pilot in a Bonanza (I believe) flew into Smallville, USA, for business, and left the airport for a while. When he came back, his airplane was gone…as in, up-in-smoke gone. It had caught fire. The investigation finally revealed that he used a magnifying glass to read the charts in the cockpit, and he had left the magnifying glass on top of the charts. As the sun came overhead and began shining through the window, the magnifying glass heated the paper, and the rest is history. So is the airplane.

Who’da thunk? A friend had just bought a Piper Warrior, a real pretty blue one. After one of his first flights, he was taxiing to his tiedown and decided to come in from the tail end, as the spots on either side were empty. He had the nosewheel lined up perfectly with the bottom of the ‘T’ where the tail tie is. And that, my friends, is as far as he got. The prop sucked the rope up and wrapped it around the shaft. The nose was pulled down, and the prop hit the ground and stopped.

The insurance adjuster had never seen that one before.

None of these take into account pilots who have landed at the wrong airport—even ones with a tower—or pilots who have taxied into a ditch or a building (I have one of those stories), or flipped up the gear lever too early on a touch and go, only to settle onto the runway (I have one of those stories too), or have done myriad other dumb things. If you have a story to match or beat these, I’d love to hear it.—Chip Wright

Photo of the Day: Mustang II

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Put the Mustang II next to an RV7 and you might think the two are from the same company. But there are subtle differences. (Hint: Check the shape of the wing and the canopy.)  The Mustang II will soon be able to demonstrate its flying capability against an RV7, as AOPA Pilot editors recently put the two aircraft in a head-to-head competition. Stay tuned!—Jill W. Tallman

Photo of the Day: Quest Kodiak

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Sometimes mistaken at first glance for a Cessna Caravan, the Quest Kodiak was designed specifically for bush flying (something the Caravan can’t claim, since it was intended to carry air freight from one hard surface to another). The Kodiak is quite at home in the backcountry and in remote mountainous areas. Quest Aircraft Co. was founded with the sole purpose to create an aircraft that would allow missionary and humanitarian organizations to safely perform their work around the world. The aircraft are built in Sandpoint, Idaho. As Senior Editor Dave Hirschman found when he flew the Kodiak, you can land the Kodiak gently, or you can land it short–but you can’t land it gently and short. He writes more in the March 2011 AOPA Pilot.—Jill W. Tallman

This month in solos: August 2012

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

The 24-hour news cycle is a blessing and a curse for general aviation. A curse, because now anybody who has ever had a gear-up, an emergency landing, or even a “hard landing” is likely to find themselves the subject of breathless-bordering-on-sensational coverage. A blessing, because the happy events of general aviation–like solos and certificates–are now finding their way into the mainstream media more often. From time to time we’ll post the good stories so that we, too, can celebrate the successes. Congratulations to all!

Christopher Tugman of Lynchburg, Va., soloed on Aug. 21 on his 16th birthday. Once you get past the “he’ll be flying before he’s driving!”, this is a well-written account by Alicia Petska in the Lynchburg News Advance that really captures the joy of a solo moment with a worried-but-proud set of parents on hand to watch the excitement. I loved the quote from his 3-year-old cousin, “You were really flying!” This teen is now on his way to influence the generation that follows him.

Hugh Barklem, 16, soloed a Robinson helicopter . You’ll be glad to know that in the United Kingdom, where Hugh’s solo took place, they’re also impressed by the fact that he has not yet learned to drive. Hugh also passed one of seven “air law exams” he’ll need to take before he can get a private pilot license, says the Hensley Standard.

These pilots didn’t solo, but I love this story. Two “seniors” earned their pilot certificates at Cleveland Municipal Airport. One was 17-year-old Ellen Falterman, and the other was 86-year-old Bill Malone. The two pilots live near Houston, Texas. This story appeared on YourHoustonNews.com.—Jill W. Tallman

Photo of the Day: Ryan PT-22

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Many of the volunteers who signed on to become military pilots in World War II took primary training in a Stearman Kaydet. The rest were trained in the Fairchild Cornell and the airplane you see above–the Ryan STA-3KR Recruit, aka the PT-22. Pilots who know the PT-22 say it made a better trainer than the Stearman or the Fairchild, because it was more demanding and less forgiving. Barry Schiff flew the PT-22 for the June 2008 AOPA Pilot magazine. Here, Mike Fizer photographed Jay Becker’s 1942 PT-22–an Oshkosh Grand Champion–flying off the coast of Santa Monica.

Photo of the Day: Robinson R66

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Our Hover Power blogger Tim McAdams says the Robinson R66, the company’s first turbine helicopter, feels a little bigger and a little heavier than the piston-powered R44. Its cabin is about eight inches wider than that of the R44. It uses a T-bar cyclic, which means transitioning from the R44 is eaiser. In a full pilot report for the December 2010 AOPA Pilot, McAdams pointed out that the R66 has a sleeker profile along with a Bell JetRanger-style baggage compartment located under the transmission deck. It can hold 300 pounds and “one design objective was for it to be large enough to carry two sets of golf clubs.”—Jill W. Tallman

Dumb things pilots have done, part I

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

This is a random series of dumb, sometimes just “plane” stupid, and often funny (in retrospect) things that pilots have done. There isn’t a rhyme or reason to the order. But looking back over more than 20 years I’ve been flying, I’ve seen—or heard first hand—some real doozies. These are some of my favorites.

Tried to leave, but couldn’t. One pilot, a student, forgot to untie the tail of the Cessna 152. He started it up, did his After Start checklist, and with his instructor’s consent, juiced the throttle. The nose immediately jerked, went up a bit, and then came back down as the airplane rolled backwards a bit. The CFI had not seen that the tail rope was still tied either, but immediately figured it out. He also acted as though he let all of this happen: “Don’t make me do that to you again! Now, shut this airplane down, and go untie the rope. I hope you’ve learned something!”

At least he was a quick thinker.

Left, but shouldn’t have. Airline crews have certain things that they simply can not leave without. The maintenance log is one of them. I’ve heard of several captains, though, who have, and if they are lucky, they take off, get a radio call before they get too far away, and return to the airport. The tower usually knows what’s going on, and they take enormous pleasure in introducing the world to Captain Forgetful. It’s never happened to me, but I can only imagine what the speech to the passengers is like, let alone the explanation to the chief pilot.

What’s worse is when the crew gets where they are going, and then a special ferry flight has to be scheduled if the company can’t get the logbook onto another flight to XYZ.

As a result, guys come up with all kinds of reminders to make sure that they don’t make this mistake: turning screens off, moving their rudder pedals out of reach, writing notes on their clips or their hands. Hey, whatever works.

Left, but he shouldn’t have, Part II. Did you ever try to retract the landing gear, only to find that you didn’t remove the gear pins? Me either, but others have. The pins are put in to move the airplane after the hydraulic systems depressurize. But even modern hydraulic systems can’t overcome those pins. About the time you notice it, the tower can see the “REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT” flags flapping the slipstream. “Hey, did you guys know…?”

Maybe they’ll get the chief pilot mentioned below.

Left…the engine running. This has happened twice that I know of. The first time, jets were new to the property and the crew left for the hotel. Upon arriving in his room, the captain got a phone call from the station. He talked the station through the shutdown procedure, and went to bed. Rumor is the company never knew.

The second time (different captain), the company and the FAA got wind of it, and the captain had to do the carpet dance, as he had several thousand hours in the aircraft. Not too long after, he became the chief pilot. Go figure.

In part II, Chip Wright will share incidents that illustrate how the FAA has eyes in the back of its head, and much more.–Ed.


Photo of the Day: Beriev Be-103

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Some airplanes turn heads on the ramp. This one undoubtedly makes all the boaters’ heads swivel–even those who are accustomed to seeing Piper Cubs on floats. The Beriev Be-103 is a light ampibian aircraft that hails from Russia. Some Facebook commenters expressed confusion about the placement of the wings, which are close to the water. Barry Schiff, who flew the airplane for AOPA Pilot magazine, says it performs and handles extraordinarily well on water. Those wings displace water to help keep the airplane float and take maximum advantage of ground effect during takeoff and landing–no flaps needed. Read more in Barry’s pilot report in the October 2004 AOPA Pilot.