Monday, March 23, 2009

UCAP Wichita Meet-Up...

Wednesday, March 25
5:30 p.m. to about 7 p.m., give or take a few minutes...

The Stick & Rudder Club at Savutes
3303 N Broadway St
Wichita, KS 67219
Here's a map:,0,10317613485974766690&ei=W-rHSefIN53snQfWxajsDA&sa=X&oi=local_result&resnum=1&ct=image

Looking forward to seeing and meeting some of UCAP's Wichita posse...

-- Dave

Monday, March 16, 2009

Probably gonna want to build airplanes too. Such a tragedy.

Found by Dave H.:

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Wright old days sure look familiar...

They were so tactile. So in-touch and unobstructed. These traits still stand among the many strong appeals of the hang gliders and ultralights that started me off in aviation. These traits help keep me on the look-out for opportunities to still fly some of my old favs...when we can make it work, well, we go flying in something of the Lightest Stuff.

In between those too-infrequent opportunities, unfortunately, great memory jogs -- sights and sounds that send my mind's eye back into the air in one of the Lightest Stuff -- seem few and far between. When they come, they're worth savoring -- half out of nostalgia, half for the inspiration to get aloft again.

So this little film clip, a scant 3:29, seemed worth sharing because it performed the flashback function better and more viscerally than anything I've seen in years -- outside of actual airtime.

Wilbur Wright, 1909, ostensibly the world's first aerial photography work.

When the clip shifted from ground-based footage to the flyers' P.O.V. , it took me back to my earliest flying, the stuff that lasted far too short and stayed close to the ground throughout. As low and slow as you'll see in the clip.

Hope you enjoy this little slice of history...great way to go into the weekend.

-- Dave

Sunday, March 08, 2009

User Fees and Economic Recovery...Hummm...

Funny how repeating cycles can make new things seem decidedly familiar...happened recently with the convergence of an economic downturn and a new budget proposal with a hauntingly familiar item tucked away inside: converting some of the FAA funding stream from excise taxes to direct payments from users...user fees. Yawn...have heard this all before; we'll fight, likely win, waste a lot of effort unnecessarily, and then go back to focusing on the economy...

Well, this whole recycling of an issue to fight sent my mind wandering a little, thinking of the relatively few U.S. pilots who've used user-fee-financed services in their international travels and remembered our own experiences on two trips, one on which a third party carried the bulk of the bureaucratic load, the other on which the paperwork fell to me as Senor Capitain to a host of officials at about a half-dozen Mexican airports.

Naturally, that experience gave me a different, less abstract perspective on the issue.

With today's forefront focus on the economy and on issues of job-retention and job-creation here in the good ol' US of A, it recently occurred to me that someone at the Office of Management & Budget might have read this tidbit of mine from AvWeb back in the heady old days of 2000: It speaks to user fees from our flights around Mexico between Christmas 1999 and Jan. 5 2000.

We were, then, as we are now -- in a debate with others about the fundamental foundation of financial funds for our Friendly Aviators' Agency. Check it out and check back here...we'll wait...

Now that you've seen the AvWeb piece, think about this. If this is actually the case, that OMB did read the article, in the spirit of the piece let me suggest the fine Fed folks first fall back from any and all plans, programs and contracts that target increasing efficiency and cutting costs by increasing automation and reducing human staff...say, maybe starting with the weather service staffing as ATC facilities -- call off the reduction plans.

Then let me suggest reversing the private-contract solution to Flight Service and reopen at least the old Automated network, if not the pre-automated 480-station network -- all updated with modern digital comm and data acquisition hardware...heck, you could just help staffers buy a house near the airport and operate their stations as home-based federal employees, adding jobs and saving on facilities costs...

But maybe, in the unlikely event the OMB reader did realize my year 2000 piece on flying in Mexico was actually that case, we're hoping OMB's alt.user.fee idea is equally farcical...sure seems that way to me. But think you should seriously consider keeping functions that can use lots of's good for the country.

Happy flying, everyone...

-- Dave