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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Pilot reports: The beginnings

the 1938 Luscombe 8 (N22013) is courtesy of Ty Sundstrom and was taken at Tehachapi, CA.

“After running the motor a few minutes to heat it up, I released the wire that held the machine to the track, and the machine started forward into the wind,” reported Orville Wright in the December 1913 issue of Flying magazine.

Though possibly not the first pilot report in an aviation journal, it sure is a pilot report about the oldest aircraft.

Though flight test articles became a common feature of general aviation magazines in the 1960s and on, these pilot reports on performance and handling of aircraft were rare before World War II. The emergence of flight test articles on new private aircraft owe their origins to two magazines: The Sportsman Pilot and Air Facts. [Read more…]

Take it to the bank

A few decades ago, I became very interested in electronics. The home computer was just beginning to look like a viable product and it occurred to me that devices that used to be purely mechanical were rapidly transitioning to become computerized. Once gas pumps and grocery store checkout counters stopped clacking and banging in favor of beeping and buzzing, it became clear that a change was underway — a change that I’d be better off getting in front of, rather than lagging behind.

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One dicey noise flap

A flying buddy emailed me about the big noise flap at East Hampton Airport near the tip of New York’s Long Island. In fact, I’ve been watching since The New York Times covered it this summer. Now, with federal grant assurances set to expire Dec. 31, there may be a tricky crossroads ahead for general aviation.

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