Sensing good things on the horizon

Sense and Avoid top view. Artwork from Boldmethod.

While flying, have you ever looked down to tune a radio? Check an engine or fuel gauge? Referenced your navigation chart? Chat with your passenger? Focus on something on the ground?

Well, then you aren’t seeing and avoiding to the best of your ability. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some help? Something that doesn’t cost what TCAS (traffic collision avoidance system) costs. [Read more…]

Anachronism or genius?

Flying_boat_Benoist

The world of 100 years ago was quite different than the one we inhabit today. There was no central heat or air-conditioning back then. Private dwellings and places of business were drafty and cold, or insufferably hot, depending on the season. Distances were covered on foot, or on horseback, or in a wagon that bumped along a dirt road with all the grace and poise of a bag of rocks falling down a stairwell. Electricity was scarce at best.

So with all that going against it, why is the past so intriguing? Maybe because it’s known – or at least partially known, and yet it’s still up for discussion. What happened is generally a given. But why it happened, or how it happened is often as much a mystery to us as it was to the bystanders of the day.

Case in point: I give you the Benoist flying boat that established the first scheduled commercial air route in the world. The year was 1914, the place was Tampa Bay, Florida. And the pilot was Tony Jannus, a daredevil of a man who flew airplanes when airplanes were barely understood. [Read more…]

The dangers of overthinking

Cessna 172N. "Cessna172N" by FlugKerl2 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cessna172N.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Cessna172N.jpg

My wife’s lovely voice pierced an almost-as-lovely evening flight. “What’s that red light on the instrument panel?”

She was pointing to the alternator fail red warning light. And now a fancy-free evening above central Virginia pine forests had just turned into “a situation.” [Read more…]

One becomes two, then becomes a movement

Camp 1

While there are plenty of reasons to hang your head and lament the difficulty of making a difference in your community, it is not impossible to have a positive effect. Hard? You betcha. Impossible? Not hardly.

There is reason for real hope even when the hill seems unimaginably steep and the burden feels too heavy to carry one more step because, in all honesty, one person can do a lot. That’s especially true if they employ the massive, almost unstoppable power of the multiplier effect.

Let me give you an example. [Read more…]

The secret is out — finally

sunnfunlogo

Shhhh. I’m going to trust you to keep this to yourself. It’s a secret. It has been for years. Yet, I’m going to tell you the truth. Here. Now. Only a few sentences hence.

Now, if I’m going to be completely honest, I have to admit the paragraph you just read is hyperbole. I’ve used a writer’s trick to get you reading, and hopefully keep you reading. Exaggeration is my tool of choice. By elevating something that’s largely unknown to the status of a well-kept secret, I’ve grabbed your attention a little more forcefully than I might have done if I chose more passive words, or a less impassioned approach. Good.

What I have to share is important. It truly is. For while it might not really be a closely held secret that’s been shielded from the wider public, it is information that’s unknown in the wider world and directly affects the future of general aviation in a very real way.

You’re still with me, right? Excellent.

In only a matter of weeks the second largest aviation-related event in North America will take place in my back yard. It’s called SUN ‘n FUN and it’s been one of the highlights of my year for more than two decades. You’ve probably heard of it too. Hopefully, you’ve been there to experience it for yourself. It is, in a word, amazing. [Read more…]

Result Of CEH lawsuit settlement: Were there any?

Fly Unleaded map

Late in 2011, a little known environmental organization, perhaps totally unknown in aviation circles, Center For Environmental Health (CEH) filed a lawsuit against “30 companies that sell and/or distribute lead-containing aviation gas (avgas) at 23 California airports, calling on the companies to provide safer alternative fuels.”

At the time, there was some fanfare in the aviation press about the lawsuit and it has been news off and on for three years. (Go ahead, Google: CEH leaded avgas I dare you).

[Read more…]

Stories from the logbook

The evidence we're all connected is in the page of my logbook.

We’re all connected…somehow. A July 1987 entry in my logbook proves it.

I was barely 17 years old and had flown our 1946 J-3 Cub on July 17 from our airpark home – Shady Acres – to the annual Arlington Fly-In. My logbook notes, “massive headwinds, heavy x-wind when landing.” At this point, I was still a student pilot, and was signed off for the 70-mile cross country flight two days before. [Read more…]