Take it to the bank

A few decades ago, I became very interested in electronics. The home computer was just beginning to look like a viable product and it occurred to me that devices that used to be purely mechanical were rapidly transitioning to become computerized. Once gas pumps and grocery store checkout counters stopped clacking and banging in favor of beeping and buzzing, it became clear that a change was underway — a change that I’d be better off getting in front of, rather than lagging behind.

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Phantom’s one man aircraft factory

With New Engine

By BILL WILSON

The phone rings at Phantom Aeronautics in Three Rivers, Michigan. A customer is calling the kit aircraft company with a request. There is a very good chance he or she is also asking about the new 4-cycle engine Phantom is in the midst of testing.

The milling machines, lathes, inventory control and office functions at the factory grind to a halt and the entire focus of all personnel is directed toward handling the caller’s problem. Talk about customer service! Even better is that the caller is guaranteed to be talking to the one person who can answer all questions from personal experience.

That’s because there is only one person in the factory and he is no phantom. Jim Bennett is real and he knows every nut and bolt in the kit he produces, where it goes and what it does. Jim is a one man airplane factory.

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FAA kicks off RPA public awareness campaign

Santa Claus may travel on a reindeer-powered sleigh, but he’s expected to deliver a ton of high-flying remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) this week to teenagers and other amateur aviators, which is making for an anxious yuletide season at the FAA, according to a report in The Washington Post. On Monday, the FAA and the RPA industry kicked off a public awareness campaign to urge novice operators to pay attention to safety and not do dumb things such as flying too close to passenger planes, buzzing crowds of bystanders on the ground, or flying that new ­remote-control helicopter while drunk.

Turbulence destroys King Air

Aircraft: Beech King Air. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Amarillo, Texas. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The accident happened during an IFR cross-country flight.  The 1,650-hour pilot, who held an instrument rating, was in contact with air traffic control during the flight. The controller cleared the plane to flight level 210 and gave the pilot permission to deviate east to avoid weather and traffic.

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One dicey noise flap

A flying buddy emailed me about the big noise flap at East Hampton Airport near the tip of New York’s Long Island. In fact, I’ve been watching since The New York Times covered it this summer. Now, with federal grant assurances set to expire Dec. 31, there may be a tricky crossroads ahead for general aviation.

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