There isn’t anything unmanned about most Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). There is a real, live human being attached (wirelessly) to that airborne craft.
“Everything you need and not much else,” is the catchy tagline from aviation entrepreneur Chip Erwin.
With those words, he described the Italian Zigolo, which is based on a design by American Mike Sandlin. (In a sign of our global times, Erwin imports it to both USA and China.) One look at the aircraft and you can see what he is describing. Zigolo has everything you need to go aloft to have some aerial fun and, well … not much else.
A similarly simple but well packaged design is made here in the US of A but has recently made its way overseas to Germany and the European Union. Florida’s Aerolite 103 (Aerolite 120 in Europe to conform to its “120 Class”) also has all a pilot needs to see the countryside.
“How can you fly visually, just looking out the window?”
So asked our smart-beyond-his-years 13-year-old friend back home in Virginia. The question really set me off. In his devotion to computer flight sims, he was starting at the top and working his way down! Sure, he could “land” a virtual 757, but was clueless about basic realities.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — General aviation now seems to be getting more attention in Congress and from the FAA. This observation comes from the appearance of a Congressman and a deputy administrator of the FAA at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Homecoming Fly-In earlier this month.
Michael Whitaker, FAA deputy administrator with the primary responsibility of developing the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), told a crowd of several hundred that he is getting his pilot’s license “to better understand my job and general aviation issues.”
The fact that all three of my passengers were throwing up simultaneously left me three options: Tough it out and press on to our destination; join them in their nauseous state; or declare an emergency and get the hell on the ground.
My right seat passenger was a Horizon Air first officer. She thought she was used to bumpy rides. I was flying her to her domicile. She was supposed to report for work there within four hours of our scheduled arrival time.
To top it off, it was only the 11th month of her 12-month probation period. Missing her show time could be reason enough to fire her. I wanted to press on…believe me. I wanted to impress her with my weather flying skills in hard IMC. I wanted to be her hero. But mostly I wanted her to walk my resumé in to her chief pilot the next time a hiring window opened.
Everything in me said, “continue.” Even my front seatmate pleaded for me to gut it out, so I hesitated.
For many frugal pilots, sharing their wings makes a lot of sense. Most private pilots fly less than 1% of the available hours in a year, often not enough time to keep their aircraft from suffering from inactivity. Add another pilot or two and the plane actually stays in better condition —and the costs go down.
But the big question isn’t so much should you share your wings, but how?
Obviously, it’s not a thorough analogy, but sharing wings is somewhat like sharing a life in marriage: The partnership can either be twice as good or twice as bad as going it alone.
Nobody who is seriously involved in aviation is unaware of the concern that student pilot starts are down and student pilot completions are down. At the same time, aviation has become a critical part of the global economy.
Ideas abound for how the industry might combat this trend and hopefully reverse it. You may have one yourself. That’s great. If even a small percentage of those ideas work, fantastic. Progress is progress.
Have you heard of the Flying Musicians Association?
The distance from Paducah, Kentucky, to Seattle, Washington, is 1,845 statute miles as the crow flies. My recent journey in an American Champion Citabria 7GCBC totaled 2,123 statute miles due to weather deviations and fuel stops.
Though this particular leg started in Paducah, the journey really began about a year ago when I flew the Cirrus into Johnson Creek, Idaho, and got a glimpse of the backcountry. I was smitten by the challenge of flying a tailwheel aircraft and wanted to be part of that world.
I did a lot of shopping, and by shopping I mean not buying. After several months of listening to me talk about buying an airplane, a good friend said to me: “I have a new mantra. I want to die with memories, not dreams.”
Last week I spent some time in Washington D.C. I had business in the area, but like most of us, when I get in the vicinity of the Mall, the monuments, and the Capital building, I find myself wanting to browse the wares of our country. There is art to peruse and documents to consider. Inventions large and small are collected there, as are homages to the achievements of average men and women who became heroic leaders through word and deed. And there are aircraft. Spacecraft, too.
The Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum is one of the best visited museums on the planet. A quick glance around the main room can remove any mystery for why that might be.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — When conditions in the Middle East erupted and President Obama unleashed air power on the Islamic State, officials at many general aviation organizations here became jittery over ISIL threats to retaliate on American soil.
If there is retaliation, would aircraft be used? Would the escalation of tensions raise the level of concern to a point that would mean an increase in security at airports? Would it mean limitations on flying?