Tuesday, November 13, 2007

AirVenture 2008 -- It's not too early to plan to go...

This morning's trove of e-mail brought one from our friends at the Experimental Aircraft Association noting that planning for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008 is well underway, along with some subtle reminders of why this event is like no other in the world.

My message is simple: Now is not too early to start planning your own visit to this aviation icon of an event. Whether you plan to fly yourself, endure a trip in a Human Mailing Tube, drive, camp, rent a house or hotel/motel room, think about getting ahead of the crush and start making your arrangements now. EAA's housing bureau can help those with accommodation needs.

And we will, as before, nudge everyone who plans to fly about the importance of getting, reading and keeping handy a copy of the AirVenture NOTAM the FAA will issue next Spring.

The dates are July 28 through Aug. 3. Hope to see you there, doing my traditional gig and a couple of podcasts, as well, like we did earlier this year.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A couple of chances to fly cheap...

Winning EAA's 2008 Sweepstakes is one way to get into the sky cheaply...

Course the odds are small, but the cause is good: Supporting EAA's educational and preservation programs.

Top prize for the August 2008 drawing: a new Cirrus SR20 worth about $220K; next prize, a RotorWay A600 Talon helicopter kit worth $60K -- plus a $20K credit for use at RotorWay's new flight academy...plus a plethora of plane-oriented prizes...

Can think of worse ways to travel than cruising at 160 knots in an SR20 -- and worse plane in which to learn to fly...

Check out the ways to enter at www.winaplane.com -- and good luck, since it's my plan to buy the winning ticket...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Long Way Flown...

How's 3,500 airplanes flown two million hours -- in eight years?

That's what Cirrus Design's Alan and Dale Klapmeier have wrought on general aviation, a degree of success that so defied convention wisdom of 1994, when the brothers -- already 10 years in business as an aircraft-kit maker -- unveiled a mock-up of their futuristic SR20 at Oshkosh.

Thanks to cutting-edge airplanes that perform, innovative design and creative marketing, the Cirrus SR22 has become the single best-selling piston airplane in just six years...

Now the company is going in two new directions at once: growing up to a single-engine "personal" jet; and growing down to a Light Sport Aircraft...

And to think naysayers once proclaimed Cirrus would never deliver an airplane...

Congrats to all the folks at Cirrus. Nothing improves the breed like competition -- and nothing says success like imitation...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Winter Flying? Another area for preparation, for aircraft and you...

Yep, the days are getting shorter and the temperatures lower...Fall is in full swing and half over -- which mean that Old Man Winter, well, it's only about six weeks out and inbound direct.

Here's an FAA site that can help you be ready for those lovely cold-weather flights:


Here's another that addresses aircraft preparation, specifically, with notes on avoiding somewhat arcane problems -- like crankcase-breather freeze-up and its nasty byproduct: engine failure, or heater-system problems and its equally nasty prospect of carbon-monoxide poisoning...


Be warm, be careful, be prepared -- and enjoy the unique wonders of winter flying.

Think we were kidding about Night Flying?

Lest there be any nagging doubts or denial about the different risks of night flying without proper qualification or competency, consider this little squib from Aero-News.Net on the NTSB preliminary on last month's non-fatal crash of a Thorpedo LSA near Denton, Texas:

NTSB Issues Prelim On North TX Thorpedo Accident

Mon, 05 Nov '07

Sport Pilot Tried To Land At Wrong Airport... At Night

The National Transportation Safety Board recently released its Preliminary Report into the October 4 downing of a T-211 Thorpedo near Denton, TX.

According to the report, the aircraft crashed while on approach to land at Denton Municipal Airport (DTO) just before 2000 CDT, approximately 20 minutes past the end of civil twilight. The pilot, who was flying under a sport-pilot license -- and, thus, not trained or cleared for nighttime flying -- told the agency he became disoriented on a flight back from Granbury Municipal Airport (GDJ), located southwest of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, to Grand Prairie Municipal (GPM).

The pilot and his passenger departed GPM at 1751 CDT. After landing at Granbury, the aircraft departed under VFR conditions at 1905 intending to return to GPM. The pilot -- who admitted he had never flown at night -- told the agency he began to "follow the highway" back to GPM.

The pilot told the NTSB he saw a lake that resembled a body of water near Grand Prairie, with an airport nearby. He entered the traffic pattern at the airport, believing it to be GPM, and attempted to activate the pilot-activated runway lights on the GPM frequency. When the lights did not come on, he said, he realized he was at the wrong airport.

Knowing he had to set down due to darkness, the pilot attempted to land at Denton, located on the northwest end of the DFW metroplex -- 31 nautical miles from Grand Prairie, which lies south of D/FW International Airport.

There's more, but the important thing to note is the pilot's admission that he became disoriented in terms of his location -- over a huge, light-intensive urban landscape. LSA pilots are not provided with night privileges under the limitations of the pilot certificate, though properly equipped Light Sport Aircraft may be flown at night by private pilots. Even though the pilot kept the shiny side up, he didn't know which way was which.

So now that Standard Time is in effect and the hours of light are getting shorter by a few minutes a day, let's be careful up there -- and brush up on night skills, even if you don't think you'll need them. Our accident pilot didn't plan on his brush with night flight, either -- otherwise, it's not hard to imagine him making a different decision.

GAMA Names 2008 Leaders

Some familiar names here, as GAMA's release shows...


WASHINGTON, DC, November 6, 2007 – The board of directors of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) has elected Alan Klapmeier, Chairman and CEO, Cirrus Design Corporation, as GAMA’s chairman for 2008. Klapmeier previously served as GAMA’s vice chairman and chairman of GAMA’s security issues committee.

The board also elected Mark Van Tine as GAMA’s vice chairman. Van Tine is President and CEO, Jeppesen. He has served as chairman of the international affairs committee and will continue this roll in the coming year.

GAMA’s board of directors also approved two applications for membership: Wichita-based Aero Mach Labs, and Zurich's Jet Aviation.

For those who may not know, GAMA serves as the trade association representing the majority of the general-aviation aircraft, engine and accessory manufacturing concerns on the planet.

On an observational note, Alan's steady move through the GAMA offices stands as graphic testimony to the position Cirrus and he have attained in general aviation. Not bad for a company started by two brothers to develop a safe, speedy kitplane that morphed into an innovative, leading player in the industry -- particularly considering the "conventional wisdom" of the mid-1990s that said Cirrus would never certify the SR20...or ever certify the on-board parachute system...or actually produce an airplane...or...well, you get the idea.

Hats off to both Alan and Mark on their elevation.