My dinner with Henry

“My Dinner with Andre” was the movie where two actors do little but talk over a meal (seemingly forever) about the meaning of life. I’m saying very few goodbyes to industry friends here before leaving D.C., but couldn’t miss comparing notes earlier this month with the infamous Henry O. It was “My Dinner with Henry.”

The “O” is short for Ogrodzinski, president of the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) since 1996. “Henry O” is known in many circles here, from his year as president of the Washington Aero Club to a still-renown turn on the Washington singles scene. [Read more...]

A great little airplane, now becoming rarer

This story began as fall sunlight kissed the grass at The Flying Circus Aerodrome in Bealelton, Virginia, some 50 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. The surprise was two Aeronca L-16s among the show’s Stearman and WACO “heavy-iron.” There were even post-show rides and mid-week dual available in one of the post-war period’s great little airplanes.

[Read more...]

Meigs Field: Still a pyrrhic sacrifice to ‘good intentions’

With last month’s passing of Maggie Daley, Chicago’s former first lady, from power, political blogger Greg Hinz reflected on stillborn plans to turn Meigs Field, the city’s former lakefront GA airport, into a major city park. Years later: Nothing – a typical fate for big government plans and ever more so now under today’s tight budgets and changing political fortunes.

[Read more...]

The NRA of the Air

Chris Dancy, talented media relations staffer at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), recently moved on to the Helicopter Association International. This prompts some reflection on GA’s relations with the media. AOPA is a good exemplar for this, having long dominated the effort as “The NRA of the Air.”

[Read more...]

Turbulent times

“Occupy Wall Street” protests have made news, raised questions, and recently generated violence. They recall MY generation’s turbulent college years when politics and values took a sharp turn. During the era of “sex, drugs and Rock ‘n Roll,” I wondered how many were lost to the disciplined world of aviation.

[Read more...]

It’s a new world

I’ve always believed that much of General Aviation’s success in our time is a legacy of World War II. Aviation was a hero, if not “the” hero, of the war. Pilots were idolized. And everyone saw a bright future and new horizons for “The Air Age.”

[Read more...]

A road not taken

My pre-move house cleaning has yielded another aviation memory: A 1972 letter from the old Monmouth Airlines. It offered an answer to every young hopeful’s need for multi-engine and turbine time — very expensive but necessary stepping stones to pro flying. The question was, as always, how to afford it — and back then, how to survive it.

[Read more...]

Aboard Flight 93: GA’s man on 9/11

I have the feeling that few GA pilots know “one of ours” was up there on United Flight 93, capable of bringing that 757 back had passengers overcome cockpit hijackers. He was a college classmate of mine. Donald Freeman Greene was the name. I only bumped into him briefly freshman year in the dorm. He was an engineering student and an athlete. I was far from either.

Unknown to me until much later: He was the son of Leonard Greene. Don’t know that name? Founder of Safe Flight Instrument Corporation, Leonard Greene pioneered the stall warning system in 1946 after seeing a plane stall and crash. [Read more...]

Why can’t GA be more like renting a car? Once, it was…

Debates about GA’s practicality are weighty, sometimes bitter, discussions I think often miss the point. But one of the best deals I ever found was “Hertz-like” plane rental at Lease-A-Plane. It opened up lots of possibilities.

[Read more...]

Is there still ‘Room at the Top?’

Drew Steketee was president of BE A PILOT, senior vp-communications for AOPA and executive director of the Partnership for Improved Air Travel. He also headed PR and media relations for Beech, GAMA and the Airport Operators Council International.

We’re packing up our home of 21 years to leave Washington, D.C., for the last time. In boxes, I’m finding 45-plus years of aviation memories, decisions made, and paths not taken. Most poignant: The 1965 full-page United Airlines ad promising, “There’s Room at the Top.” Just above that headline was a photo: an empty seat in a United cockpit. Pasted on my bedroom door back home, it was the air under teenage dreams of a flying career.

[Read more...]