Aviation gets its cool back

For the past week I have been acting in a very non-Floridian fashion. While the typical Sunstate dweller seeks shade and close proximity to a pool, I have been standing beside large expanses of pavement soaking up the sun with gusto. My excuse is a good one, however.

I was at SUN ‘n FUN, the kick-off event of the aviation season that attracts people from near and far to sample the delights of aviation from Remotely Piloted Aircraft, also known as drones,  to homebuilts, Warbirds, Light-Sport Aircraft, helicopters, biplanes, the Thunderbirds, the Breitling Jet team, and pretty much anything else that flies or can be installed in an aircraft. [Read more…]

SUN ‘n FUN an absolute blast


The 41st annual SUN ‘n FUN fly-in is the books. It was hot, humid and an absolute blast. I’d say that even if I hadn’t gotten a ride on a B-25 — with four T-6s and four CJ-6s in tow —as part of a My MacDill Air Force Base support flight.

No longer just “Spring Break for Pilots,” SUN ‘n FUN is “Building a Better Future through Aviation.”

Everything the 20-person full-time team does at SUN ‘n FUN is with an eye on adding pilots to our rolls. SUN ‘n FUN is really just a big fundraiser that supports education opportunities — an effort made easier by recently retiring more than $2 million of debt over the past three years. Today, SUN ‘n FUN is debt free. [Read more…]

Frugal pilots KISS: Keep it safe and simple

It is great to be a part of the general aviation community where pilots share their ideas to help each other with knowledge and kindness. I especially like to see the many helpful frugal tips offered online from readers of my column. They add their own proven experiences that helped them fly more while spending less.

For example, many readers have responded with information on their own tax laws after last month’s tip on Reducing Taxes. Thanks to everyone who has contributed. Keep your frugal tips coming. Email me at dan@frugalpilot.com. [Read more…]

Navigating a box canyon

Cessna 210

I once flew into a box canyon on purpose.

A friend of mine lived in a canyon between Pacific Palisades and Malibu on the southern California coast. He’d introduced me to a powerful men’s weekend retreat and it course corrected my life. That one retreat helped me achieve the dream of becoming a pilot, and so when I got my helicopter license, I decided to give him a view of his home like he’d never seen it.

He accepted the gift. That day, we departed Torrance Airport to the east instead of to the west due to strong easterly winds. Temperatures were also unusually high for December. [Read more…]

A niche of a niche

Dave Hensch taking off from a dolly.

Do you hold an Israeli pilot certificate? If so, are you looking to add a seaplane rating? Well, I’ve found the guy. Probably, the only guy – in the world – who can help you. How’s that for a niche market? [Read more…]

Have you ever considered teaching?

You may have heard somewhere that a pilot shortage is looming. Personally, I believe that rumor to be true. I also believe there will be challenges in finding qualified people to fill skilled positions as aircraft mechanics, engineers, designers, administrators, and maybe even line personnel. The future is a blank slate. However, we can affect it if we choose to. [Read more…]

Aero Adventure continuing upward

William Lacomba's Aventura II floats in the clear water near Puerto Rico.

Does the Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) world seem somewhat obsessed with seaplanes? Certainly, it appears that’s where a good bit of the most innovative thinking is occurring.

However, to observe that is to focus only on the newest designs, the most innovative of which have yet to hit the market and may be years away. For pilots who want to fly today, Aero Adventure is one of those companies you should keep in mind.

Besides the available-today quality, the DeLand, Florida-based company has a seaplane the rest of us can afford. Can you believe average kit prices in the mid-$50,000s and starting below $49,000? [Read more…]

FBO tales

Cut Bank, Montana

Talking about flying with non-pilots reminds me of just how foreign the concept of general aviation is to most people.

The ease of traveling in one’s own airplane is wildly different from most non-aviators’ experiences of flying. I remember being in the front row at a comedy show, and the comedian began his routine about how painful commercial travel had become by asking the audience “who likes flying?” Without thinking, I nodded and smiled — of course I like flying! Cue the relentless teasing and heckling.

But what many non-pilots don’t know is that there is an exceptional network supporting the flying community and making air travel enjoyable and convenient.

[Read more…]