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…]

The beginning of the light airplane movement

Moth2 copy

In the 1920s Great Britain saw a great growth in civil aviation, which was an outgrowth of its light aircraft movement.

This movement originated with light plane trials held in Lympne, England. These competitions led to the development of new light aircraft for private ownership and flying clubs. The flying clubs saw thousands of pilots learn to fly in the light planes, creating a market for these aircraft. This, in turn, led to the development of one of the most iconic of light planes, the de Havilland Moth. [Read more…]

Do unto others, and all that sort of thing

Poster

You know the drill. The neighbors complain about the airport because it’s populated entirely by spoiled, rich white guys who get their kicks by flying low over the neighborhood and making lots of noise.

We can disagree, we can explain, we can put thousands of hours of effort into going door to door to tell our story – but none of that will change the general public’s disdain for the local general aviation airport. We’re the pariah of the municipality. Noisy, expensive, and very nearly useless.

Or at least that’s how most of our neighbors see us. [Read more…]

Taxing the lead out of 100LL

California was the first state to attempt to remove the lead from 100LL by lawsuit. Unfortunately, the result of the unsuccessful CEH lawsuit only increased the cost of 100LL in the state.

Now, along comes Oregon, which wants to tax the lead out of 100LL. I have a feeling this method will appeal to other states, so prepare to see it find traction in your state legislature. [Read more…]

Go where your heart takes you

By FlugKerl2 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

It will come as no shock to regular readers of this column that I am on a mission. My goal, and yes I have absolutely chosen to accept it, is to shepherd as many aviation enthusiasts into the industry as full participants as I possibly can.

If they learn to fly, that’s great. But if they choose to fill other roles in the industry, that’s fine with me, too. Whether they involve themselves professionally or on an occasional basis as a hobby, I consider it a win whenever someone new breaks out of the pedestrain day-to-day grind and takes to the skies in an aircraft.

It’s an awesome job, and thank goodness I get to do it. There is nothing I’d rather be doing. Truly. [Read more…]

Sensing good things on the horizon

Sense and Avoid top view. Artwork from Boldmethod.

While flying, have you ever looked down to tune a radio? Check an engine or fuel gauge? Referenced your navigation chart? Chat with your passenger? Focus on something on the ground?

Well, then you aren’t seeing and avoiding to the best of your ability. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some help? Something that doesn’t cost what TCAS (traffic collision avoidance system) costs. [Read more…]

Anachronism or genius?

Flying_boat_Benoist

The world of 100 years ago was quite different than the one we inhabit today. There was no central heat or air-conditioning back then. Private dwellings and places of business were drafty and cold, or insufferably hot, depending on the season. Distances were covered on foot, or on horseback, or in a wagon that bumped along a dirt road with all the grace and poise of a bag of rocks falling down a stairwell. Electricity was scarce at best.

So with all that going against it, why is the past so intriguing? Maybe because it’s known – or at least partially known, and yet it’s still up for discussion. What happened is generally a given. But why it happened, or how it happened is often as much a mystery to us as it was to the bystanders of the day.

Case in point: I give you the Benoist flying boat that established the first scheduled commercial air route in the world. The year was 1914, the place was Tampa Bay, Florida. And the pilot was Tony Jannus, a daredevil of a man who flew airplanes when airplanes were barely understood. [Read more…]