General aviation goes to the political conventions

Just a portion of the crowd at the AOPA/NBAA convention-watch party in Tampa. At left, NBAA President Ed Bolen.

For the first time, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the National Business Aviation Association teamed to hold events at the two national party conventions. The goal: Schmoozing politicos to hold high the flag of general aviation.

I attended the first, at the Republican National Convention in Tampa on Tuesday, Aug. 28, to see if AOPA held to its long-time non-partisanship — and to see if anyone would show up!

Boy did they. By 6 p.m., the place was packed. [Read more…]

The evolution of AOPA Live

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Many associations and news organizations are producing video news and features – some even in the TV news format – now that the Internet has solved distribution issues. But since the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) pioneered an in-house news show in the 1980s, critical viewers found most early efforts painful. Will the online news-format aviation TV show now succeed in the age of Internet videos?

[Read more…]

Will Generation Y be pilots?

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Several recent, seemingly unrelated reports pose issues in our hopes for a new generation of pilots. Boeing’s July announcement that half a million airline pilots will be needed worldwide by 2031 made big news. But many of us have heard such news before. And this time, there are new caveats and wrinkles.

One that caught my eye was a Frontier Group study “Transportation and the New Generation” cited in MOTOR TREND. It said the share of 14- to 34-year-olds without a driver’s license was up to 26% in 2010 from 21%  in 2000. MOTOR TREND worries that young people are weaning themselves from cars and driving. Compared to the mechanically minded “motorhead” generations of yore, this could be more than just a trend toward big-city mass transit or close-in suburban living. At the least, it’s a symptom of generational poor incomes and gas prices that affect flying and flight training, too.

[Read more…]

Chinese ‘stalking horse’ at Beech?

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Pundits are checking in on the news that Hawker Beechcraft has arrangements to be acquired by a Chinese firm. Some believe the offer is just a “stalking horse” to flesh out the real value of the company, especially without its defense business. The Chinese have been stalking before, or at least, doing their research.

[Read more…]

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

You can see the wear and tear on the Space Shuttle

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.

[Read more…]

Flying someplace different(ly)

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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

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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…]

Their unique sound marked a generation…

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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…]