Prepare — winter doesn’t last forever

Recently a series of cold fronts have marched down from the region of the north pole, bringing biting winds, frigid temperatures, and enough ice to supply a wet bar that’s serving Jackie Gleason, Foster Brooks, and Dean Martin simultaneously. If you’re into ice fishing, snow machine races, or the latest cutting-edge snowshoe designs, the weather is ideal. If you’re a general aviation nut, however, it’s somewhat less conducive to getting out and putting some distance between your tires and terra firma. And if you’re a seaplane enthusiast, you’re pretty much out of luck for the moment. [Read more…]

Care to comment?

For those who love commenting on this website’s content, we have switched the comment section to the Facebook platform. The section will work the same, but now you’ll need a Facebook account to comment.

Why make this change? Since early 2009, nearly 18,000 comments have been approved to appear on this website. Many thousands more have been submitted but not approved for a variety of reasons. Until now comments have been moderated by Janice Wood or myself. That takes a great deal of time and energy. From what I’ve observed, the overall tone on websites using Facebook comments tends to remain more civil and on topic. And that is what this should be about… respectful discussion.

Tip this…or something like that

Malcom Gladwell, the well known author who possesses both an almost cartoonishly frizzy hair-style and a razor sharp mind, first came to my attention with his blockbuster hit “The Tipping Point.” Released in 2002, Amazon still ranks it high on its best sellers ranking. It held down the position of 533 on that literary hit parade as this week opened, nearly 13 years after its initial publication.

I wish my books sold as well.

In The Tipping Point, Gladwell observes that a magic moment exists in the life of a product or service that suddenly catapults it to the top of the sales charts. There are a variety of reasons for this phenomenon taking place, but in each of the cases he studies, there is a moment, an incident, an occurrence that causes an otherwise pedestrian object to become the instant darling of the consumer.

In short, masses of people suddenly become convinced they must have that product. They must subscribe to that service. Not one more day will pass without that thing, whatever it is, being in their home, their car, or on their feet. The possession of it becomes a social imperative. In other words, the nation cries as one, “I must have it,” and so they buy.

Not for nuthin’, as my New York area friends might say, but have you seen the price of avgas lately?

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The Spin Doctor

Stowell_N35BY_air-to-air-3

I have a confession to make: I have been flying for 17 years and until this year I had never been in a spin.

I began my pilot training well after the requirement for spin training had been eliminated from the FAA private pilot curriculum, and none of the planes I flew were certified for intentional spins — I learned in a Piper Archer, did most of my commercial training in a Piper Arrow, and have almost exclusively flown a Cirrus since 2006.

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Measuring growth in LSA

The Rotax BRP Factory in Austria

As a new year begins, it seems a good time to attempt to measure how the light end of aviation is doing. As 2014 was the 10th anniversary for Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA), it is doubly useful.

We have various ways to assess growth in aviation … pilot starts, new certificates, new airplanes delivered, used aircraft sales, and magazine distributions (also reported at the end of the year), among other methods.

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Ferry flight to Florida

Sea Rey Ferry Flight to Florida

Bay Bridge Airport, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore across the Chesapeake Bay from Annapolis, is a special place to fly. It’s even more attractive now with two flight schools specializing in light-sport aircraft (LSA). One recently posted an opportunity that can arise from time to time. When you see one like this, grab it if you can. [Read more…]

It’s called Expo, y’all

As I sit down to write this morning the thermometer is nudging its way toward 80°. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the breeze is slight enough to be refreshing without mussing even the most carefully coiffed hairstyle. Welcome to central Florida. This is winter at its finest.

I mention this meteorological trivia because at this exact moment it is well below freezing in Chicago, Cincinnati is frigid, New York is brisk, and I’m not even going to mention the forecast for Minneapolis/St. Paul. It’s too cold for a resident of the Sunshine State to ponder. All of which adds up to very little general aviation activity happening in the northern climes, while an abundance of snowbirds and locals find a way to get into the air today down south.

General aviation activity is so prevalent here during this otherwise inclement time of the year, in only a matter of days the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo will get underway in Sebring, Florida.

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The end of an era

WASHINGTON, D.C. — It was the best of times and the worst of times. Charles Dickens said that in “A Tale of Two Cities.” But I’m saying it now for me.

The worst of times is that at age 92, I must give up writing for General Aviation News the happenings in the nation’s capital and the various organizations based here.

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What time it isn’t

In 1998 Charles Spence – our beloved Capital Comments columnist – was awarded Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the National Business Aviation Association and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

We played a part in making sure Charlie (as we call him) and his lovely wife Majel could be on hand to accept the awards by assigning Charlie the task of helping us cover the back-to-back conventions in Las Vegas and Palm Springs. After all, it was to be a surprise. [Read more…]

What is causing bent rods and sticking valves?

Q: I am acquainted with two IO-540 engines with 1,000-plus hours that have bent rods in the #5 cylinder and stuck valves in the #2 cylinder. One aircraft was manufactured in 2007 and the other in 2009. The oil has always been changed at 50 hours using Exxon Elite 20/50. Any particular thoughts?

RICHARD WEICHMAN, via email

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