Thanks to a solid effort by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), I have data that can be used to assess the number of recreational aircraft around the world. That organization is significantly focused on business aircraft, but did include all levels of aircraft in their country-by-country review. [Read more…]
My last several columns have been on the relationship between knock and unleaded fuels in aircraft engines. I have received several questions from people who have experienced knock in their car engines, especially in the 1970s and 1980s. They note that knock didn’t harm their auto engines, so why am I worried about a little knock in an aircraft engine?
There are a number of significant differences between auto and aircraft engines. The biggest is liquid vs. air cooling. [Read more…]
Last night I spent the evening walking and talking with a young man from my neighborhood. He’s out of high school but hasn’t begun taking classes that would lead to a higher level of certification. He’s got a job, but it’s menial, low-paying, and often frustrates him. To his credit he wants to go to college, but he has no idea how to go about it.
In essence, he’s not much different than a lot of other young men and women who live near me. He’s probably not much different than those who live near you, either.
During our discussion, I suggested he might consider finding a new job. Something that required a little more skill, carried a bit of responsibility with it, and would pay better. At the very least that would make paying for college easier.
As it happens, there is an opening for a line-boy at a nearby airport. I mentioned this to him and was truly surprised to see how negatively he reacted to the idea. [Read more…]
I was once blinded by my best friend while flying at night. He was trying to help me read a map. We were out of KDAL, heading to KSMO.
Inbound to KSMO, at night, over California’s high desert, the earth below looked black as pitch, the sky above a planetarium ceiling’s worth of stars. I’d purposely kept cockpit lighting low to preserve my night vision.
When ATC descended us from12,000 to 8,000, I dropped my sectional. Thinking he was being helpful, my non-pilot friend saw this as an opportunity to show off the new, high-intensity headband flashlight he’d brought along, the kind intended for caves, not cockpits.
“Check this out!” he said. I turned toward him just as he flicked on the flashlight.
“AHHH!” I screamed and jerked away, but not before being blinded completely. [Read more…]
Imagine owning a frugal aircraft — a Cessna 120 through 172, Piper Cub and PA-11 through 28, Aeronca, Taylorcraft, and even some Grummans and Beeches — and being able to work on them legally. Yes, even sign them off for the annual inspection. [Read more…]
When you get right down to it, politics are not really about Republicans and Democrats, Greens and Libertarians, Socialists and Capitalists. It’s about people. Individual people and how they interact with other individual people, and how those people plan, debate, and ultimately work together as their numbers grow into an ever larger group.
The study of politics can be as simple and basic as a discussion about how people interact in groups. There are politics at play between husbands and wives. Politics are in the mix when employers deal with employees, and vice versa. [Read more…]
I could answer the question “Why should I learn to fly?” with very practical answers: The business benefits, the convenience, the ability to find better weather in which to bike and access it in a matter of hours, or visiting multiple clients in one day.
All of those things are indeed benefits of becoming a pilot and having an airplane, but ultimately the real answer is more primal than that. [Read more…]
General aviation — get evangelical about it.
This may seem unlikely, even inconceivable to some, but I have been fortunate enough to make a career out of being excited. It’s a pretty good career, too.
I spend the bulk of every day doing something I really love to do. I work with people I’m glad to be interacting with, and I get to write about, talk about, demonstrate, and actually do the things I am enthused to share with others.
To be honest, anyone could do it. Yet, few do. I wonder why. [Read more…]
There was a time when aviation was an almost impossible dream. Millions, no, billions of people around the world were aware of the airplane, but most didn’t have the means to experience flight for themselves. That was the way of the world between 1945 and 1975.
Then something miraculous happened. The Boeing 747 became ubiquitous in the commercial market, lowering prices, expanding opportunity, and truly making air-travel something the average man or woman could afford at long last.
Everything was different from that point on. Yet, there was a time before. A time that is nearly forgotten now. A golden hour for commercial aviation. [Read more…]
The 1920s saw many records set for altitude, speed, endurance and range, but they were destined to be only fleeting. The records fell quickly due to the development of better aircraft and engines.
January 1929 began the year with an achievement that many thought would never be exceeded anytime in the near future — the epic six day flight of the Question Mark.
The Question Mark was a modified Fokker transport aircraft that was flown to a refueled endurance record by US Army aviators. The flight established new world records for sustained flight, refueled flight, and distance. [Read more…]