Over-the-top FAA oversight

Dave Sclair was General Aviation News’ publisher from 1970-2000.

I was reading Charlie Spence’s Capital Comments column recently and I became intrigued by the numbers he was quoting from the FAA’s annual forecast. This annual study, which predicts aviation activities over the next 20 years, is used by the FAA to plan for the effects of expected growth.

The forecast predicted a rate of growth for general aviation over the forecast period of less than 1%, with fixed wing pistons having the smallest growth — barely 2/10ths of 1% a year!

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A tale of two airparks


Dave Sclair was co-publisher from 1970-2000. He also is co-founder of Living With Your Plane and a renowned expert on airpark living.

I’m an optimist by nature. It’s a good thing I am, considering having spent the last 40 years not only in the aviation business but the aviation publishing business. During this major slice of my life, I can attest to the ups and downs of this business (no pun intended) as I’ve watched the number of pages we’ve produced expand and retreat, a nearly perfect mirror of the industry itself.

However, through all those years I’ve always felt the next month or next period or next year was going to bring improvements and, without fail, over the decades things have always gotten better. Granted, it has sometimes taken longer than I liked to see the turnaround, but it has consistently improved, given the time.

What brought this all to mind? [Read more…]

Airparks & GA: International interest in U.S. airparks highlights strength of GA here

Dave Sclair was co-publisher of General Aviation News from 1970-2000 and is the co-founder of Living With Your Plane

Recently I received an interesting note from an individual in Europe. He had watched an EAA-sponsored webinar on residential airparks and was really wanting to find one in the U.S. to which he could move. He has already decided that he prefers Florida. He indicated he had looked at advertisements for Leeward Air Ranch in Florida. The grass runway was OK with him, but now he was obviously looking for someone to make the final decision for him … or at least weed down his options dramatically.

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The fallout from sonic booms

Recently the Seattle-Tacoma region in Washington state where I live was hit by a pair of sonic booms. They were caused by the flight of two Oregon Air National Guard F-15s sent to intercept a floatplane that had violated a TFR established when President Obama visited Seattle.

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Weeks, Tucker join Lindbergh Foundation board

Photo cutline:  Lindbergh Foundation director John Peterson announced the addition of Kermit Weeks (second from left) and Sean Tucker (second from right) to the foundaton'sboard. Also participating in the announcement during pre conference during EAA AirVenture 2010 was David Treinis, Lindbergh Foundation executive.

Two of aviation’s best-known names, air show ace Sean D. Tucker and aircraft collection icon Kermit Weeks, have joined the board of The Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation. Both say they were drawn to the foundation by its substantial programs within the aviation community to further the Lindberghs’ strong interest in applying technology to solve environmental problems.

Lindbergh Foundation director John Peterson announced the addition of Kermit Weeks (second from left) and Sean Tucker (second from right) to the foundation's board. Also participating in the announcement during AirVenture was David Treinis, Lindbergh Foundation executive.

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Book review: ‘Hearts of Courage’


In January 1943, an Electra piloted by Alaskan bush Pilot Harold Gillam crashed in foul weather on its way from Seattle to Anchorage. Gillam died trying to find help for the survivors. One other passenger also died after a couple days. Miraculously, four others survived nearly a month in the wilderness with little to eat, only the clothes on their backs and minimal survival gear.

John M. Tippets’ father, Joe Tippets, was one of those on the aircraft. Much of the survival story in Tippets’ new book, “Hearts of Courage,” is related as father told it to his son. In addition to the survival aspect and courage shown, the author has done considerable research into the crash and the harrowing survival and rescue experiences with the end result a fascinating, larger than life experience.

Tippets was a member of the Mormon Church and he credits his faith for surviving the crash and the ensuing days and weeks in sub-freezing weather, hiking down the side of a mountain and making his way, with one of the three other survivors, to the beach and ultimately having sailors on a ship spot them.

Hearts of Courage also includes numerous photos of the crash scene and additional information about Gillam, as well as flying operations in Alaska during the war years.

Copies of Hearts of Courage are available from Amazon and most aviation bookstores. Retail price is $19.95. You can also contact Tippets by email: johntippets@yahoo.com

A trip back in time

I’ve been working on a book about my newspaper career. A major portion of my time in the business — more than 50 years in total — has been spent in the world of aviation. As I ventured into different aspects of my life in aviation, I tried to recall what airplanes I had flown and when. That’s when I dug out my logbooks, going all the way back to my first lessons at a strip in Wink, Texas (look it up on a chart), where my initial flight instructor was Nancy Brumlow. Back then having a female instructor was really something different.

Going back through my logbooks was a wonderful trip back in time and helped me recall a host of wonderful memories…and a few that made me shudder again. Thank heavens, most of my flying experiences were dull and boring.

If you want to spend a few hours delving into nostalgia, get your logbooks and let yourself drift back in time. One word of caution, however: Don’t expect to spend just a few minutes perusing the records. My planned work session on the book quickly fell by the wayside as I read and recalled the planes, the instructors, the airports visited, and the weather experienced.

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Book chronicles efforts to buy a 150 and fly around the world


Books by pilots about their experiences vary dramatically from very good to, well, being polite, not as good!

When a friend brought me a book written by a friend of his about the friend’s efforts to buy a plane and fulfill a lifelong ambition to fly around the world, I kinda rolled my eyes. And, when I started reading and discovered the airplane he was buying was a Cessna 150 and the lifelong ambition was to fly around the world, well, I almost threw it away without opening the cover.

I decided to read the first paragraph or two and then the first chapter just because my friend had brought it to me. After getting that start I was glad I did because this was a fun-filled, humorous account of an episode that shouldn’t happen to anyone.

The book was very good!

“So you Think You’d Like to Buy an Airplane … and fly off to Adventure” is the rather lengthy title of the book by Gerald F. McMahon Jr., a native of Charleston, S.C. He’s a US Army vet active in real estate and with a business in Irish imports.

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WASPs honored at museum gala

WASPgroup1 2

Six WASPs (Women’s Air Force Service Pilots) of World War II were recently recognized at the Museum of Flight’s Hangar Gala at Seattle’s Boeing Field. In addition to the WASPs, the gala was held to recognize the anniversary of the B-17, built at the Boeing plant in Seattle. The WASPs (each wearing a red ribbon holding their Congressional Gold Medal) are (left to right) Josephine Swift, Betty Dyboro, Enid Fisher (in wheelchair and who died two days after the ceremony), Dorothy Olson, Mary Sturdevant and Nancy Dunham. (Photo courtesy Museum of Flight)

For more information: MuseumOfFlight.org

Flying in Alaska

I regularly attend aviation events all over the country and have been doing so for around 40 years. I always enjoy seeing the numbers and variety of aircraft at these events, whether the event is primarily for sport aviation enthusiasts or features high-end business aircraft.

Oshkosh and Sun ‘n Fun always amaze me by the sheer numbers of aircraft that are on the field at any one time. The business events impress me with the size and scope of the planes used in corporate flying. The Reno Air Races are fun to watch for the simple power, speed and, yes, the daring of many of those pilots.

But, for absolute fascination, there is nothing like driving around Lake Spenard and Lake Hood in Anchorage and viewing the multitude of airplanes. This is the only tower-controlled floatplane facility anywhere and, with the number of planes based here and the extent of the operations, it is easy to understand why some control is helpful.

I’m writing this while attending the Alaska State Aviation Trade Show & Conference, which took place in Anchorage May 1-2. I’ve already run into people I know from virtually every corner of the United States and Canada. The show is located in the FedEx hangar at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) and the interior is filled with exhibitors, while the ramp is packed with aircraft ranging from antiques to sport planes to cabin class bizjets.

But, what continually surprises and thrills me every time I come up here and have the opportunity to look around, is the number of aircraft and pilots. There are 613,745 pilots in the United States, according to FAA data from 2008. In Alaska, about 10,000 people have pilot certificates and about that same number of aircraft are registered in the state. And, it is often said that if everyone in Alaska who flew had a pilot certificate and current medical, the numbers would probably be a heck of a lot higher.

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