The Shuttle ‘has wings’ with the public, why not GA?

East Coast folks and TV viewers everywhere flocked to watch the Space Shuttles fly into Washington and New York recently. Some Washington friends took the day off. AAA even published safety tips to avoid distraction if you saw a Shuttle overhead while driving. The public was fascinated. So why is our flying now so seemingly passé?

Discovery was the first operational shuttle to retire, symbolizing the end of the landmark program. And despite Enterprise’s residence at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center for years, most in D.C. (or New York, for that matter) had never seen a shuttle aloft in person. Moreover, the spectacle of the shuttle/747 combination was itself a rarity.

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Flying someplace different(ly)

A seaplane trip to Bimini? I took the bait and learned a lot, had a good time and spent more than I should. But getting away to an island is the perfect case for general aviation. And Bimini is closer to the Florida coast than any Bahamas island.

I got the chance to ride along with Jones Brothers Air and Seaplane Adventures, the great guys based at “America’s Seaplane City,” Tavares, Florida. [Read more...]

Remembering The Mighty Eighth

Traveling I-95, the East Coast’s main street, you come to something seemingly out of place in Savannah, Georgia: A museum dedicated to World War II’s Eighth Air Force. Visit and you’ll see why it’s here. You can’t fly-in, but it’s only two miles from KSAV.

Why Savannah? Nearby Hunter Field was “the birthplace of the Eighth Air Force.” [Read more...]

A control tower for FDK

May 1 was the day many in Frederick, Maryland, had long awaited — or dreaded, depending on your point of view. The home of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), defender of our freedoms to fly, was finally getting a control tower. Was it a day to celebrate or commiserate?

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Media promotion: The right — and wrong — way

As a 30-year industry PR man and promoter, I think I know something about media relations. Perhaps I’m kidding myself, but at least I was successful in my time. Recently, I encountered two general aviation examples of how — and how NOT — to do it.

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Their unique sound marked a generation…

So says the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation. I don’t know much about helicopters — most general aviation pilots don’t. But these guys are grabbing attention and filling seats at airshows. And I had hardly heard of them before.

What sound? It’s the distinctive “whop-whop-whop” of a two-bladed Huey of Vietnam War fame. [Read more...]

Flight training adventure: Just add water

Some pilots become jaded with time. Need to perk-up your aviation life? Pre-Sun ’n Fun, I returned to Central Florida’s lake country and a training operation that will freshen anyone’s outlook on flying.

Located on Lake Dora above Florida’s Turnpike 35 miles northwest of Orlando, it’s Jones Brothers Air and Seaplane Adventures in “America’s Seaplane City,” Tavares, Florida. [Read more...]

TICO Warbird Show suffers iffy weather, but still shines

The weekend wasn’t kind to the TICO Warbird Airshow. Showery weather plagued Florida’s east coast. Some complained online that warbird flying was thinner this year and a promised act didn’t appear. But for the dyed-in-wool military aviation aficionado, this was still a pure play.

Any time of year, the Valiant Air Command (VAC) offers its wares at its Space Coast Regional Airport Museum in Titusville. It’s a destination for any enthusiast, with the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame and Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center nearby. But for one weekend each March, it’s World War II and Cold War aircraft on the taxiways and in the air.

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‘FIFI’ kicks off month-long Florida tour

The Commemorative Air Force’s star attraction, the B-29 “FIFI,” landed late in Daytona Beach March 1 because she flies “VFR only” these days. But she immediately swelled the hearts of World War II vets and awed general aviation flyers here more than a decade after her last Florida appearance. And there’s more to come.

Sun ’n Fun visitors are in for a treat March 27-31. So are the aviation-minded in Titusville March 7-11 at the TICO warbird show, Ft. Lauderdale March 14-18, Punta Gorda March 18-25 at the Florida International Airshow, and in Tallahassee April 3-5.

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Recreation time?

Strange as it seems with many millions jobless today, it wasn’t so long ago that theorists pondered what Americans would do with all their free time. The idea played its part in the 1970s transition of at least one pioneering GA brand from family ownership to conglomerate subsidiary.

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