Learning to fly in a Cub

As a student pilot flying a Piper J-3 Cub, on any beautiful Sunday afternoon it was not unusual to be 8th to 10th on downwind at Zahn’s Airport at Amityville on New York’s Long Island.

The year was 1954. Finally, I was able to take flying lessons, having been transferred from my position on a newspaper in San Francisco to New York City, working for publications owned by the Hearst Corporation.

This was at the height of the general aviation flying boom following World War II. [Read more...]

Able Flight calls on pilots to participate in ‘#Giving Tuesday’

Everyone knows about Black Friday, that frenzied national day of shopping the day after Thanksgiving. Now there’s an alternative: It’s “#GivingTuesday”, the first-ever national day of giving, slated for Tuesday, Nov. 27.

To fund a new flight scholarship for people with disabilities, Able Flight is asking 400 pilots (or family and friends of pilots) to donate $25 each. As of now, the organization is approaching 70 pledges, and needs 330 more to reach its goal.

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Happenstance — Go get some

I was having lunch last week with a woman who works in the tourism industry. Here in Florida, tourism is a big deal, and so we have folks in the private sector, and the public sector, who are dedicated to making sure travelers know there is plenty to do when they get here.

The list of awesome touristy things to do in the Sunshine State is almost limitless. Fortunately for those of us who are interested in things that fly, our spectacular weather and stunningly diverse offering of aviation centric opportunities has turned Florida into something of an aviation destination for people from all over the planet.

I like that. In fact, it’s the primary reason that I live here.

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By the numbers

We all have a lot of numbers thrown at us every day. A few numbers I’ve heard in the last few weeks are worrying, but I’ve also heard some numbers that give me hope.

From Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association President Craig Fuller at the Southeast Aviation Expo in Greenville, S.C., last month: Over the last 20 years, the pilot population in the United States has dropped from 800,000 to 600,000 — and it keeps shrinking.

It gets worse: [Read more...]

Experiences in other nations raise concerns about proposed user fee

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congress and the president have big taxation problems to resolve before the end of this year, so there will no doubt be a lot of discussion about aviation user fees. On Dec. 31, all the “Bush” tax cuts will expire, the debt limit will need to be increased, and payroll tax cuts will expire. On the next day, sequestration cuts are set to kick in.

But opposition to the proposed user fee continues, with many general aviation advocates pointing to experiences in other nations as cautionary tales of the effect of user fees. And while much of general aviation in the United States is exempt from the proposed user fees, GA advocates warn that an expansion of the fees to all flights is a possibility.

[Read more...]

Bahamas Pilot Challenge takes off

A new Bahamas Pilot Challenge has been launched for 2012-2013, drawing general aviation pilots to more of the many islands of the Bahamas starting just 50-60 miles off the Florida coast.

Pilots who document landings at 12 of the 20 Bahamas airports of entry before Nov. 30, 2013, will be eligible to win a total of 23 hotel nights at top resorts on various islands.

[Read more...]

Embry-Riddle hosts Pilot Supply Roundtable

PRESCOTT, Ariz. — Aviation leaders recently met at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s campus here to discuss the impending pilot supply shortage, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for pilots and other issues facing the industry.

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Estelle Wingster: A vintage airplane with a modern message

In 1953 Ken Miller of Van Nuys, Calif., was a college student. He went to the airport with two friends and met a man who was giving rides in his Cessna 150.

“The guy said he would take each of us up for $10 a piece,” Miller recalled. “I had $20 in my pocket. The first guy goes but doesn’t have any money, so I paid for him. Then the second guy goes and he doesn’t have any money so I pay for him too and then I told the pilot I was out of money, but he took me up anyway. I was hooked, and took lessons whenever I could!”

Fast-forward several decades and about 1,500 flight hours later. Miller is at AirVenture standing next to a 1950s-era Cessna 195 with the name Estelle painted on the cowl and Wingster emblazoned on the top wings. According to Miller, the airplane is a flying billboard, designed to attract more people to aviation.

[Read more...]

Family tradition

Back before David “Shorty” Wilkinson had a reason to be nicknamed “Shorty,” (because he is, after all, bean-pole tall) he thought every family traveled by airplane, because every family he knew had one. This made sense to him since his mom and dad were from Texas but lived in Georgia. An airplane made visiting relatives possible.

Some of his earliest memories as a child involved the restoration of the family station wagon, a 1943 V-77 Stinson, in the basement of their home. [Read more...]

Dress to survive: The Aviator Tactical Vest

If you had an unscheduled off-airport landing in rough back country, would you be able to survive to tell the story? Maybe, maybe not. It all comes down to how well prepared you are. A big part of that is having a survival kit, but if you can’t reach it after the “landing,” it doesn’t do a bit of good.

“Most of the crash sites I have been to, the tail of the airplane is about 400 feet behind the cockpit and when the survival kit is away from the main crash site, it doesn’t do anyone any good,” said Jim Herbert, who has more than 40 years experience as a pilot and back country guide and firefighter.

He’s also the creator of the Aviator Tactical Vest, which is designed for a 72-hour stay in the roughest terrain. [Read more...]