I joined the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) in 1973. I had just received my flight instructor’s certificate and the solicitation came in the mail. What caught my interest was that, with my paid new membership, I would receive a small “transistor VHF receiver radio.” I already knew of AOPA but hadn’t got around to joining. Now, not only would I finally make the move, but I’d get a great little radio with which I could listen to my students when they were in the pattern of our controlled field while on supervised solos. For years I used that radio to monitor students while standing alongside the taxiway at Morristown, N.J. In similar fashion, for the past 19 years AOPA has been returning to me far more than the dues I’ve paid.
Light aircraft are trainers, check-runners, news gatherers, ambulances, taxis, tour guides, fire fighters, police patrollers and family haulers. That’s what general aviation is all about.
In the last issue, I addressed how many pilots are also SCUBA enthusiasts, and how flying to dive destinations can satisfy both interests in one trip. I also mentioned that I would soon be returning to the Bahamas to try out a new destination, once I figured out where that would be. The excellent response I received from that column only enforced my belief of the flying-diving connection.
For my wife, it had been one of those miserable weeks. By Friday, she was stressed to the max, being driven nuts by her job as a commercial property manager. In contrast, it was a pretty good week for me. It was day five of my seven-day-off cycle in my work as an EMS helicopter pilot. I spent the entire five days holed up in my video-editing suite completing an aviation safety video and I was ready for a change of pace. Time to go flying. I wanted to give my wife a mini-vacation to a surprise destination. But where?
After all of the “new” airplanes I have flown for evaluation since the mid ’90s, it sure is refreshing finally to report to you on one that really is new and exciting through and through, and not just updated with high-tech avionics or new leather trim. In fact, strip the panel clean of radios, replace the leather seats with mesh, and the Lancair Columbia 300 still would be worthy of being called really new.
When you see the statement, “Flying versus Driving”, what is your first thought? For most, the obvious comparisons of time, fun, and convenience of general aviation flying to the alternative of driving probably come to mind first. But this time my intention is different. I want to discuss the mechanics of flying and suggest that all too often, pilots stop “flying” their aircraft and fall into a mode of just “driving” their aircraft. Go sit in view of a general aviation runway for an hour or so and you’ll see what I mean.
The route to fulfillment of a dream took this helicopter school owner to a destination he didn’t expect.
I suspect that most of our readers, like me, took flying lessons after the first couple of try-out flights because it was just plain fun. Who can forget the first solo, first long cross-country, private pilot check ride, and first passengers?
One of the pluses of owning your own aircraft is you have the opportunity to really get to know the machine, its characteristics, and its quirks. The operative word here is “opportunity.” Just because you own the aircraft doesn’t automatically mean you will be any more aware of its operating parameters than a rental aircraft. You must be willing and able to take advantage of the ownership opportunity and put forth the effort.
When looking to buy a used airplane, the usual route is to scan trade papers, magazines, classifieds, etc., for the initial search.