The streamlined decade

The DC-2 bore all the hallmarks of streamlining developments of the time: All-metal, stressed-skin construction, cantilever wings, retractable landing gear and cowled radial engines.

During the decade of the Great Depression, the streamlined form stood as an optimistic symbol of progress and efficiency. Streamlining was applied to cars, trains, ships, buildings, and even household appliances. This new idiom replaced the angular, art deco forms of the 1920s.

By the mid-1920s aircraft construction was in need of a new design approach. With the availability of engines with 200 to 350 horsepower, aircraft were flying faster, but not in proportion to the increase in power. With all the higher turbulent flow being experienced at higher speeds due to common design practices of the time, a reduction in drag became important to improved performance.

So in the era between the middle 1920s and middle 1930s, streamlining came into its own in aircraft design.

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Company launches to scatter ashes

It’s not uncommon to scatter ashes from airplanes, but a new company in Boulder has taken final disposition of cremated remains to a new level. Launching a high-performance glider aircraft near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Aerial Tribute provides access to stratospheric thermals, which ascend to altitudes so high as to allow some of the ashes to remain in the upper atmosphere forever, company officials claim.

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The comment period is now open

Jamie Beckett is a CFI and A&P mechanic who stepped into the political arena in an effort to promote and protect GA at his local airport.

What would you say if you were booked to make a speech titled, “The Value of Aviation?” Imagine for a moment that your audience is made up entirely of the movers and shakers of your community. Business leaders, elected officials, bureaucrats, and high level employees from the private sector will all be gathered to lend an ear to what you have to say in support of aviation.

I know what I would say. In fact, I’m about 75% along the path to knowing what I’m going to say, because I will be making that speech in a matter of weeks, to the East Polk Committee of 100, right here in Polk County, Florida. [Read more…]

Coming clean in the TSA era

Jamie Beckett is a CFI and A&P mechanic who stepped into the political arena in an effort to promote and protect GA at his local airport.

The conversation turned to the TSA at my morning coffee gathering today. Pretty much everyone at the table flies for business or pleasure, at least occasionally. So it is no wonder that scattered amongst the chatter about local, state, and federal government shenanigans, the recently implemented grope-fest going on at airports all across the United States should come up.

Opinions differed as to how each person felt about the latest security measures. Eventually the focus shifted to me, the pilot in the group. Which caused me to admit publicly what I seldom speak of. The truth is this: I don’t fly commercial. Not ever. Not for any reason. I just don’t. [Read more…]

Be specific when talking to the press

During a recent newspaper interview about the management of the local airport, the reporter stopped me and asked for clarification. “I’m sorry, “ he said, “What’s an FBO?”

“FBO stands for Fixed Base Operator,” I answered. “The FBO is the primary business on most general aviation airports.” The reporter appeared curious, so I expanded on the concept. “The FBO traditionally provides four core services,” and I ran down the list quickly.

“Can you repeat those services?” the reporter asked.

“Sure,” I said. And this is where I made my mistake. “The FBO typically provides fuel sales, aircraft maintenance, aircraft rentals, and flight training.”

That seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Well it certainly does to you and me. You’re an aviation enthusiast. You know what each of those terms means. Just as I do. Just as I assumed the reporter did. But I was wrong. [Read more…]

A few words in the first person

One of the great advantages of a blog is the immediacy it offers both the reader and the writer. Unlike a traditional article published in the hard-copy version of a publication, the blog format allows for rapid feedback from readers, in the form of comments and e-mails.

In my case, I can tell you with absolutely no shame that I am a writer with just enough of an ego to enjoy the comments and e-mails that Politics for Pilots elicits. From my perspective, there is benefit in that feedback, on both ends of the communications stream.

I recently received an e-mail from a reader who asked a very reasonable question. To paraphrase, he asked: What do you personally do to enhance and encourage the use of your local airport? It’s a fair question. And one that I should probably address more directly at times. So let me take a whack at answering that question in public, hopefully for the benefit of all concerned.

To be perfectly honest, I take my own advice. When I write a piece suggesting an approach to making progress on behalf of the airport, it is almost always a third person generic report on something I have personally done in the past. But let me provide a specific example of how that works for me. [Read more…]

You’ve talked the talk, now walk the walk!

As I write this blog post it is Monday afternoon, April 12. In a few hours I will sit at the dais at City Hall, flanked by four fellow city commissioners, all committed to doing the business of the people. But tonight will be different. Tonight will have an undeniably pro-aviation angle to it, something that has not happened in my home town for many, many years. A sitting commissioner will sing the praises of general aviation, and he’ll do it on the record.

Like me, you know that a massive gathering of aviation’s faithful are coming together, even now, at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (LAL) in central Florida. Sun ‘n Fun officially opens its doors Tuesday, an annual event that is celebrated by untold hundreds of thousands of aviation enthusiasts from all over the globe. Some, like me, will be there in person. Others celebrate from afar, tied down by work, or family, or a stalled cold front that they can’t get over or around.

Like the Cubbies, we all hope for better luck next year.

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