Recently, while covering the subject of Part 91 regulations with a crowd of general aviation enthusiasts, I posed this question: Let’s say you’re planning on making a day VFR flight from your local airport. You show up and preflight the airplane and everything looks great — except the attitude indicator isn’t working. Can you still make the flight? [Read more…]
Now that 2015 has entered the history books, we will slowly begin to see statistics for the year. My guess is that most aviation media will completely miss one of the big picture perspectives.
This oversight does not represent a knowledge failure, but instead reflects a U.S-centric focus on general aviation.
In the world of conventionally-certified aircraft, such a viewpoint is correct. An estimated 80% of the world’s such aircraft are produced and used in America.
However, beyond our shores lies an international gold mine for small aircraft producers. [Read more…]
Doom and gloom too often find the spotlight. While some view the world through Eeyore’s sad eyes, many are too busy enjoying what life — and flying — have to offer. [Read more…]
The Wright Brothers Flying Club (motto: Wright side up!) was the first of thousands of organizations intended to enjoy flying on a budget. Though not as popular as they were in the 1970s, flying clubs are resurging in interest throughout the country, especially among budget-conscious pilots.
Flying clubs are about the passion pilots have for flight, as well as their budgets. For many pilots, the cost of owning an aircraft is beyond their means. Flying clubs offer a way for frugal pilots to co-own an aircraft.
A year ago, this column covered flying clubs. Following is a different perspective: How to form a frugal flying club with a focus on one of the most complex expenses — insurance.
Keeping an eye on insurance as you form a club can help you make smarter and more cost-effective decisions. [Read more…]
I recently read about a study involving dogs in homes, dogs in shelters, and wolves. The researchers rounded up 10 animals from each category and gave them each a puzzle box containing a food reward. The catch was that the box could only be opened with some persistence.
Eight of the 10 wolves successfully opened the box. Only one of the 20 dogs succeeded.
According to the researchers, the wolves spent almost the entire time working the problem. The dogs spent almost none.
It seems funny that this study revealed a remarkable lack of interest in minor canine self-preservation. Dogs are highly intelligent, empathetic and coachable. But have they become lazier than wild animals due to human contact?
Pilots as a group have a reputation for being independent, lone wolves. But after reading several reports to NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System like the one below, I wonder: Are we really more like domesticated dogs? [Read more…]
To keep myself awake while watching TV in the evenings, I will read other aviation magazines or pull them up on the internet. One of the main purposes for this is to learn what the latest in aviation lubrication thinking is. The other is for a good laugh.
Recently, I was reading an article on aviation lubrication do’s and don’ts. The author had evidently worked in the aviation industry and had a few good points.
However, he made a statement to the effect that the only two ways to get rid of moisture in the oil was to change the oil or add this additive that, I assume, he was advertising or selling.
I read the article over several times, and he never mentioned the best way, which is evaporation. This is like talking about Dec. 25 and not mentioning Christmas (and I hope you all had a merry one). [Read more…]
Human beings are, by nature, a somewhat dull and pedestrian crowd. They tend to like the status quo and abhor change. If you know any human beings, you’ve no doubt noticed this characteristic of their personalities.
Perhaps nothing illustrates this resistance to change the way the global cooling/global warming/climate change argument has. Had the earth’s atmosphere been constant from start to finish, we would not have all this hubbub about whether it’s getting colder, or warmer, or wetter, or drier. Rather, we simply wouldn’t exist, because the original atmosphere surrounding the earth wouldn’t have supported mammalian life. Yet people insist on fussing and fighting about the temperature of the earth, as if there is a thermostat that can be set and locked, providing the perfect climate and weather for all time.
Uh, no. That’s not how this big blue ball works.
In the aviation world we’re not all that thrilled about embracing change, either. Consider the Sport Pilot movement. [Read more…]
The Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) sector is aviation’s newest and most prolific with numerous outstanding aircraft available from Europe and the United States.
Europeans seemed to own the category at first because regulations on the other side of the Atlantic permitted companies to fully build very similar aircraft. When the FAA caught up by releasing the Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft regulation in 2004, a tsunami of foreign models arrived on American shores.
In more recent years, U.S. companies made the transition from supplying aircraft kits to manufacturing ready-to-fly models. The two activities are very distinct business models, so the transition took some years.
With both sets of skills now well developed, many American companies are providing have-it-your-way airplanes in either kit form or factory built. To the FAA’s credit, the regulation is surprisingly accommodative of such innovative methods.
As we move deeper into the second decade of LSA, what might be called third generation designs are emerging and a number of these are something to behold.
A third-gen design is one created specifically to fit in the new category and one of the best known examples is Icon Aircraft’s A5 LSA seaplane. I got the chance to fly the production version at this year’s AirVenture in Oshkosh. [Read more…]
I’m in the middle of what’s shaping up to be a long-term project: Organizing my logbooks and other flight records. I have varying details on literally decades of personal flying spread across four bound logbooks, a roll-my-own database on a hard drive, and my airplane’s tach sheets. Very little is duplicated in the three formats.
Getting it all in one place — updated and totaled — recently became a goal. [Read more…]
Introduced in February 1930 at the St. Louis Air Show, the Aeronca C-2 was the first lightweight aircraft to be type certificated for production.
Coming as it did during a time of economic distress that affected everyone in aviation, the low-cost, low-upkeep Aeronca C-2 put flying within the reach of many. It was available for $1,245 in 1931, at a time when the average car sold for $670.
Flying time could be had for $5 an hour, so many could afford to now and then do a few turns around the airfield. [Read more…]