Calling all frugal pilots: What are your secrets?

Also attached is a photo of my plane, "Goofy," taking off from the Willits Municipal Airport (www.WillitsAirport.com) which I manage. It's the most fun you can have without a prescription! ;-)

Frugal pilots aren’t cheap or unsafe. Their buying and flying decisions are based on getting the greatest value for each aviation dollar spent, not on squeezing every dollar until Washington yelps.

Frugal pilots aren’t poor. They may or may not be financially rich, but they do know the significance of money and that a dollar saved wisely can be a dollar spent on more avgas or iPhones or retirement.

Frugal pilots aren’t alone. There are many thousands of us who fly comfortably within a budget for a variety of good reasons: To go somewhere, to go nowhere, to see the world from above, to discover ourselves, to share recreation, to overcome fears, and/or to build an aviation career.

At my airport, I hear many stories from grinning pilots who started out mowing lawns, washing airplanes, or taking on a second job to afford flying lessons. Over the years, these veteran pilots have logged thousands of hours in their owned or co-owned aircraft by being frugal — and safe.

What are their secrets?

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New study finds that expert pilots see differently

An experienced pilot will make a better decision about whether to attempt a marginal landing while showing only about half as much brain activity as less experienced pilots, according to a recent study completed by scientists at Stanford University. A report on AVweb quotes the study’s lead author, Maheen Adamson: “The data show that the expert pilot seems to just know what to look for, where to look and when to look.”

Injured soldier gains new lease on life — in the air

Sport_2S

The folks at Quicksilver Aeronautics say they are especially pleased to report the sale of a Special Light-Sport Aircraft, the Sport S2SE, to a different sort of customer — a war hero. While any aircraft delivery is satisfying, this one deserves extra attention, they say.

“I met Jimmy Aguila recently. He called me to say he wanted a Quicksilver  Sport 2SE SLSA,” said Quicksilver Aeronautics President and CEO Will Escutia. “Every day I come to work and face the problems and challenges of running a business. However Jimmy’s story adds proper perspective to life. Jimmy’s story captured my attention and I feel humbled.”

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Teen celebrates 16th birthday with 14 solo flights

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Forget a Sweet Sixteen party. Wyatt Angel of Mount Airy, N.C., spent his 16th birthday doing something way more fun — flying 11 airplanes solo at the Mount Airy-Surry County Airport (KMWK), then making his way to the Piedmont Soaring Society in nearby Farmington, where he soloed three gliders.

He hopes his birthday celebration will win him a spot in the world record books.

Soloing 14 aircraft on the first day he was legally allowed to solo was something Wyatt had been planning for a long time.
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Drugs and the GA pilot

Drugs

FAR 91.17 prohibits flying after the use of “any drug that affects the person’s faculties in any way contrary to safety.” Yet every year pilots crash, killing themselves and their passengers, often because the pilot is chemically compromised by over the counter medications.

That’s the big message from a recent study by the National Transportation Safety Board on the use of drugs in the pilot population and how it contributes to accidents. The study concluded that drug use of all types, including prescription medications, is on the rise and, therefore, the risk of impairment from drugs is also increasing.

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Two airplanes (almost) anyone can afford

Aerolite

“Everything you need and not much else,” is the catchy tagline from aviation entrepreneur Chip Erwin.

With those words, he described the Italian Zigolo, which is based on a design by American Mike Sandlin. (In a sign of our global times, Erwin imports it to both USA and China.) One look at the aircraft and you can see what he is describing. Zigolo has everything you need to go aloft to have some aerial fun and, well … not much else.

A similarly simple but well packaged design is made here in the US of A but has recently made its way overseas to Germany and the European Union. Florida’s Aerolite 103 (Aerolite 120 in Europe to conform to its “120 Class”) also has all a pilot needs to see the countryside.

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Would you hesitate to declare an emergency?

The fact that all three of my passengers were throwing up simultaneously left me three options: Tough it out and press on to our destination; join them in their nauseous state; or declare an emergency and get the hell on the ground.

My right seat passenger was a Horizon Air first officer. She thought she was used to bumpy rides. I was flying her to her domicile. She was supposed to report for work there within four hours of our scheduled arrival time.

To top it off, it was only the 11th month of her 12-month probation period. Missing her show time could be reason enough to fire her. I wanted to press on…believe me. I wanted to impress her with my weather flying skills in hard IMC. I wanted to be her hero. But mostly I wanted her to walk my resumé in to her chief pilot the next time a hiring window opened.

Everything in me said, “continue.” Even my front seatmate pleaded for me to gut it out, so I hesitated.
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