Gliding the Wright way


It’s a beautiful view from the top of Jockey’s Ridge, the towering sand dunes on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. To the east, there are cheek-by-jowl beach cottages and then the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, topped with whitecaps. To the west the Currituck Sound forms a swath of blue between dunes and the lavender shadow that is the rest of the United States. Between here and the sound, there are vast mountains and valleys of soft golden sand and scrubby dune vegetation.

Atop one of those massive sand dunes, I am stretched out prone on the 1902 Wright Glider. For real.

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Flying high in Iowa

General Aviation 2012 1st Megan Vande Voort

Every year since 2004, the Iowa Department of Transportation holds a photography contest to celebrate aviation in the state.

The contest showcases the wide range of aviation activity connected to Iowa, notes Tim McClung of the Iowa DOT Office of Aviation. “Aviation is an integral component in Iowa’s economy, and it’s important to be able to show citizens and decision makers how the aviation system is used,” he said.

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Santa One cleared for flight


NORTH POLE – The FAA has announced that Santa One, the reindeer-powered sleigh Santa Claus uses to deliver presents to good children around the world, has been cleared for its worldwide Christmas Eve flight. Santa One will be faster, quieter and more efficient this year with the help of NextGen technologies, FAA officials said.

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What fuel does Santa burn?


As Christmas approaches, we wondered what fuel Santa Claus will be using this year? With the average price of avgas having risen from $1.81 in December 2008 to nearly $6 in December 2012, the nice folks up on the North Pole must be thinking about alternatives, just as many pilots are these days.

The image here from a Christmas card in 1909 hints, though, why Santa is smiling. He is flying what appears to be a Curtiss pusher, whose powerplant was typically a 20-hp Curtiss E-4 water-cooled engine that ran on < 64 octane gasoline, since that’s all there was over a century ago.

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The show goes on


Conversations drifted to tragedy in Connecticut, but the holiday season’s 25th annual Toy Parade went on as scheduled at the Spruce Creek Fly-In community in Florida. The parade boasted an ingeniously decorated Cub, Cherokee and Waco, the latter owned by 2012 Grand Marshalls Pat and Lenny Ohlsson, long-time real estate gurus (pictured below)

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The time of her life


Type “women’s pilot watch” into an Internet search engine. Chances are high that the first — and possibly only — company name that pops up will be The Abingdon Co. And that’s just fine with 28-year-old Chelsea Abingdon Welch, the company’s founder.

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Time and talent

The church my family attends makes available to all comers a time and talent sign-up form. Our church, like most churches, has far more needs, and desires, than the paid staff can, or should, reasonably accomplish. As a result, we’ve created this sign-up form to tap the collective knowledge and labor base that is the membership.

The aviation-related organization I can think of that taps the time and talent of its members the best is the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF). While its scope is narrow — backcountry and recreational airstrip accessibility — its needs, like all organizations, are broad — advocacy, fund-raising, member management, communications and more. RAF leadership has learned what gets its members excited and targets their tasks. They know it makes little sense to ask all members to fly to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress when they know a few who are more than willing to answer that call.

As we were walking home from church one Sunday, I got to thinking about the potential for a time and talent sign-up for aviation. While our scope varies by areas of interest, I believe all — or almost all — aviators would like to contribute to the broad mission of making all aspects of aviation accessible to whoever so desires.

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The family Cub


“They look like a field of buttercups,” is how one visitor to AirVenture 2012 described the sea of J-3 Cubs parked in the vintage area of Oshkosh.

This year is the 75th anniversary of the popular Piper airplane and as part of the celebration Cubs arrived in droves at the big show, one after another like a disciplined line of butterflies. One of those belongs to Frank Swinehart, from Lock Haven, Pa., the very home of Piper Aircraft back in the day.

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