Plastic Fantastic P-51

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By any number of surveys, the P-51 Mustang is one of the most admired airplanes in the history of aviation. Even though that statement sounds bold — on the verge of exaggeration — most readers will surely agree.

Like most aviators, I’ve never flown in an original P-51, although I have flown in a light kit version called the 5151 and a closer-to-original-size S-51. The Loehle Aviation version was made entirely of wood and had a Rotax two-stroke engine. While it had the right basic shape, it was docile to fly … unlike the immensely powerful original, I’m told. The Stewart Aircraft iteration was bigger and bold, powered by a 450-horsepower Corvette engine.

However, while both were close-enough recreations of the original to be desirable, even a non-pilot could tell they were replicas. I see nothing wrong with that, but is it simply too challenging to make one that looks truly like the original? It turns out the answer is “no.” Someone finally did do so.

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OpenAirplane partners with Cirrus

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DULUTH, Minn. — Cirrus Aircraft is collaborating with OpenAirplane. Pilots who participate in the Cirrus factory approved initial and proficiency training will be offered rental credentials through OpenAirplane for the same model of Cirrus, without the hassle and expense of another checkout.

With its universal checkout, OpenAirplane makes renting an airplane as easy as renting a car. Once pilots pass the checkout, they can go to OpenAirplane-affiliated flight schools and FBOs and rent an airplane.

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Misrigged airplane crashes

Aircraft: Kitfox Super Sport. Injuries: None. Location: Twin Bridges, Mont. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot purchased the airplane from the builder approximately four months before the accident. At the time of the accident, the pilot had logged about 16 hours in the Kitfox. The accident happened when he attempted to perform a full-flap soft-field takeoff for the first time.

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Is Facebook changing how you consume news?

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Facebook. It’s social. It’s mobile. It’s ubiquitous. It’s free. What’s not to love about Facebook? [That’s sarcasm, by the way.]

Facebook “drives up to 20% of traffic to news sites,” reports Ravi Somaiya in a recent New York Times story.

On the General Aviation News website, since the start of 2014, we’ve seen just under 20% of our traffic come from Facebook. Since Aug. 1, however, the percentage soared to more than 35%.

On Jan. 1 we had just north of 26,000 “likes” on our Facebook page. As I write this on Oct. 27, we have more than 187,000 “likes.”

a4e3cabab20a65370bdca853f9ad426aIn the popularity contest that is Facebook, we’ve passed Plane & Pilot, Flying Magazine, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), and all the non-publication pages I found to track. Woo hoo…

There have been weeks that we’ve sent a ton of traffic to our own website, as well as those we link to. I have to admit, it is fun to receive a call from someone who thanks me for driving so much traffic to their website from a simple share on our Facebook page.

But Facebook is a fickle mistress. As quickly as she gives, she takes.

From the same New York Times story, “About 30% of adults in the United States get their news on Facebook, according to a study from the Pew Research Center.” And since the majority of people who read this aren’t in the news/media business, the second half of the paragraph is a throw-away, “The fortunes of a news site, in short, can rise or fall depending on how it performs in Facebook’s News Feed.” Or is it?

In isolation, the first part of the above quote isn’t particularly bothersome. However, there’s more: “Roughly once a week, Greg Marra, a Facebook engineer, and his team of about 16 adjust the complex computer code that decides what to show a user when he or she first logs on to Facebook. The code is based on ‘thousands and thousands’ of metrics, Mr. Marra said, including what device a user is on, how many comments or likes a story has received, and how long readers spend on an article.”

1e8246950a74b4eaed3388ca222a3de7For those of us with a Facebook Page, we can immediately impact a user’s news feed, if we’re willing to open our wallets. All any of us have to do is click the blue “Boost Post” button to reach more people. Disclosure I: We have not boosted any posts. Disclosure II: As a business owner, in the media business, the “Boost Post” button make absolute sense to me.

So, if you are one of the 30%-ers who get their news from Facebook, and don’t want to subject yourself to the whims of 16 Facebook engineers for said news, I suggest you sign up for a few subscriptions to the human-edited publications you enjoy and trust. [Yeah, I know that is a self-serving suggestion.] Whether it is General Aviation News, or BoldMethod, or EAA, or AOPA, or Flying, or Plane & Pilot, or The New York Times or [insert publication here] matters not.

Come to think of it, I found the New York Times story that inspired this column from a human edited newsletter called, Next Draft [tagline: The Day’s Most Fascinating News from Dave Pell.] May I suggest you subscribe.