Flight training adventure: Just add water

On approach back at Tavares, Florida, "America's Seaplane City"

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 B-25 "Panchito" was at the show.

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

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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?

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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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My dinner with Henry

OCCIDENTAL barscene_15

“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

Photo by Kevin D. Murphy

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.

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

Mayor Daley bulldozed Meigs Fields' runway in the middle of the night. AOPA Photo by Mark Schaible

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.

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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.”

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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.

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It’s a new world

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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.”

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