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4flyby – Patty wagstaff

4Dick Rutan on The Next 5 Minutes!

May/june 2010




Treat Williams Talks Flying Passion An Icon Aloft

We fly the new Beech Bonanza

The Plane that Won the Space Race Jack Conroy, Clay Lacy and The Guppy


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If it Looks Good It Flies Good John and Martha King on evaluating airplanes

Top Reasons Engines Quit! Training, Products, Theory…

Sporty’s Answers Your Flying Questions!





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THE 2011








speed quest More dash than cash. What it’s like to run a Bonanza in the Sport Air Racing League



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40 49

26 FUTURE FLIGHT Festo’s air jelly 94 DesTination Mackinack Island 98 FBO SPOTLIght LAKE HAVASAU 101 The fine print passive activity tax issues


64 BONANZA Beechcraft G36 70 SPEED QUEST “RUN WHAT YA BRUNG” 84 LSA FOR THE NEXTGEN THE Allegro Light Sport Aircraft



88 34 TREAT WILLIAMS Treat Williams, the pilot who acts discusses his passion for flight. 40 KINGS EVALUATE AIRPLANES Kings, Handy tips and tools for evaluating an airplane on the ground, and in the air. 49 Jack Conroy, Clay Lacy & The Guppy Guppy, The audacious, big idea that helped put man on the moon.


88 KNEE-JERK REACTIONS Knee Jerk, an honest discussion of the threat to general aviation and the spirit of freedom by bureaucratic overreactions. 78 MONITORING ENGINE VITAL SIGNS How to maximize your chances of avoiding an engine failure, while maximizing your chances of surviving an engine failure.


About the Cover: Actor Treat Williams in front of his 1941 T-6. Photo by Jeff Berlin M ay / j u n e 2 0 1 0



May/june Contributors ®

THE FUTURE OF AVIATION MEDIA Chief Executive Officer Brad Irwin, birwin@pilotmag.com Chief Financial Officer Jon Boesen, jboesen@pilotmag.com Editor in Chief Jeff Berlin, jeff@pilotmag.com Associate Editor Ronald D. McElroy, CaptRon@pilotmag.com Art Director Dan Eggers, dan@pilotmag.com Webmaster John Judish, jj@pilotmag.com VP of Sales and Marketing Terri L. Glassmen, terri@pilotmag.com Account Executives Aleza Cahill, aleza@pilotmag.com Emily Straw, emily@pilotmag.com Scott Sullivan, sully@pilotmag.com Charles Raber, charlie@pilotmag.com Video Production Jeff Mattoon, jmattoon@pilotmag.com CIRCULATION DIRECTOR Lisa Eggers, lisa@pilotmag.com Contributing Writers & Photographers Steve Ells, Dave Higdon, Scott Slocum, Dan Cheung, Jamail Larkins, Scott Wolff, Sporty’s NEWSSTAND CONSULTANT Gary Judy, gjudy@judypublishing.com Volume 3, No. 3, Copyright © 2010 by Pilot Magazine, LLC. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint or quote excerpts granted by written request only. PilotMag is published bi-monthly by Pilot Magazine, LLC. Subscriptions are available at $18.95 for one year (6 issues) and $34.95 for two years (12 issues). Subscribe at: www.pilotmag.com. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Pilot Magazine, LLC. 8001 S. Interport Blvd. Suite 260 Englewood, CO 80112 or call at 1.800.PILOTMAG. For change of address include old address, as well as, new address with both zip codes. Allow four to six weeks for change to take place. Please include current street address and email address when writing about your subscription.

Pilot Magazine, LLC 8001 Interport Blvd. Suite 260 Englewood, CO 80112 1.800.PILOTMAG www.pilotmag.com PilotMag is printed by:

Printed on 100% Recycled Paper



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Dick Rutan soloed and earned his driver’s license on his 16th birthday. As a Tactical Air Command fighter pilot during his two decades in the Air Force, Dick flew 325 combat missions in Vietnam. Before retiring from the Air Force in 1978, Lt. Col. Rutan had been awarded the Silver Star, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, 16 Air Medals and the Purple Heart. World Records Held: EZRocket – Longest Distance Flight by Ground-Launched Rocket Powered Airplane; Voyager – 1986 – Distance Around The World 40,212.14 KM; Voyager – 1986 – Speed Around The World 118.11KM/H; Voyager – 1986 – Flew for 9 days, 3 minutes and 44 seconds without stopping; LongEZ – 1981– Distance Anchorage, AK to Grand Turk (British West Indies). Four days following the historic flight of the Voyager, President Ronald Regan awarded Dick the Presidential Citizen’s Medal of Honor. The medal has been presented only sixteen times in the history of the United States. In 2002, Dick Rutan was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio. Erik Lindbergh is a pilot, artist, and professional speaker. In May of 2002, Erik, a commercial rated pilot and flight instructor, flew a small single engine airplane on a 17 hour solo flight from New York to Paris and raised over a million dollars for charity while celebrating the 75th anniversary of his Grandfather Charles’ epic 1927 flight. Erik is a committed social entrepreneur, and currently serves on the board of directors of the XPRIZE Foundation, the Aviation High School in Seattle, the Olympic Park Institute and is the founder of the Creative Solutions Alliance and the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize. A wonderful storyteller, Erik is a professional speaker with a long list of corporate, non-profit, government, and educational clients. Margy Bloom is an LA-based writer specializing in aviation history. She is currently working on several projects, including a biography about the life of Jack Conroy, and, with colleagues in the UK, an anthology of stories about the rough-and-tumble (and often secret) business of air cargo prior to 1980. Her background includes marketing and advertising for airlines including United Airlines, Virgin America, Lufthansa and others. In addition, she is from an aviation family – her father was one of the very first Curtiss JN Jenny pilots in WWI. Author and journalist James Wynbrandt’s articles on general, commercial and military aviation have appeared in more than a score of aviation magazines, as well as publications including The New York Times, Barron’s and Fortune. A multi-engine instrument and seaplane rated pilot, he has flown his Mooney M20K throughout North America, from the Caribbean to Alaska. He has flown and written about aircraft ranging from Piper Cubs to Kings Air turboprops and L-39 jets. His ten books cover topics including history, medical science, business, popular music and humor as well as aviation. The second edition of his A Brief History of Saudi Arabia (Facts On File) will be published this year. He lives in New York City. Pete Muntean got his start in flying when he was only two weeks old strapped into a car seat in the back of his parents’ Piper Lance. Today, he’s an instrument-rated private pilot and multimedia journalist specializing in aviation stories. He’s led a varied life in flying— the highlight was several summers barnstorming as the crew chief and narrator for an air show performer. His life in journalism has taken him to great places, too, including stints at CNN and CBS News. Muntean still occasionally takes the microphone at air shows and flies frequently… no car seat required. Visit him online at www.petemuntean.com.



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publisher’s Note

Dear Subscribers, Advertisers, and Readers, For those of you who are new to PilotMag, I would like to introduce our magazine and websites. To those who have been loyal subscribers, advertisers, and readers over the last 18 months, I would like to say thank you, we sincerely appreciate your business and support. Pilot Magazine, is now embarking on a new mission – to create a global media company that will provide the most interesting and informative content in the world of aviation. To begin with, we are focusing on our publication, PilotMag, the most innovative and cutting-edge print media resource in aviation today. When we launched PilotMag, it was our intention to “boldly go where no aviation magazine has gone before.” To publish a magazine that was interesting, exciting, modern, visually amazing, and contained stories about pilots and aircraft that people actually wanted to read about. We think we have achieved this goal and produced a magazine that is extremely unique and informative at the same time. We also think we can take this magazine to a whole new level, making it the most outstanding aviation publication ever printed. To enable us to reach this goal, we have recruited a new Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Berlin, who is not only an excellent pilot, but who also brings with him years of knowledge and experience in the aviation publishing business. Formerly the Editor of Plane & Pilot and Pilot Journal, Jeff also has years of experience as an aviation writer and photographer, writing for just about every major aviation publication in print. We think this issue will showcase Jeff ’s talents as an editor and writer and will be the beginning of a great partnership that will make PilotMag the leader in aviation publications. In addition to PilotMag, we are continually in the process of revising and updating our online properties,



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PilotMag.com and PilotLounge.com. Our goal is to make these websites the most viewed in aviation today. By constantly updating the content and offering news, information, training, and advertising in a high-quality format, we can raise the bar for aviation websites to a level never seen before. We are also currently developing a television series, PilotMagTV, to bring the excitement and adventure of aviation to the entire world in digital high definition. This program will feature the stories and people that we write about in PilotMag, as well as, provide additional content highlighting the contributions made by general and corporate aviation in our modern lives. We believe this show will be one of the most exciting and entertaining on television today. We hope that you will join us in our mission over the coming months and years to make PilotMag the standard in our industry and the future of aviation media. Thank you, Brad R. Irwin, CEO | Publisher Pilot Magazine, LLC



e d i t o r ’ s N o t e | Column

Equinox By Jeff Berlin


s I sit to write this, my first editor’s letter for the new PilotMag, it’s not just another sunny day in Los Angeles, it’s the Vernal Equinox. I do some of my best writing at this small café, sitting at the intersection of left and right and north and south. It bustles with people ordering lattes, cokes, and breakfast served all day. It’s not a Starbucks. It seems fitting on numerous levels that starting on this day of renewal, when the shorter and colder days of winter gradually transform into the longer, warmer, sunnier, and more colorful days of Spring, we’re bringing you a renewed PilotMag. Last year at the Reno Air Races, in between thunderous heats of tricked Mustangs and Sea Furies battling for the Unlimited Gold, PilotMag’s CEO, Brad Irwin, offered me the reigns of the magazine in an effort to help take the magazine to the next level. It was a great opportunity and I look forward to bringing you not only a revitalized PilotMag, but an aviation magazine that’s entertaining, absolutely relevant to your aviation experience, and not the same old deck, reshuffled year after year. So if you’re a seasoned old salt that has been there, flown that and has the t-shirt, a sleek turbine owner, a pre-solo student looking forward to kicking their instructor out of the plane, or even a pilot like me, who tools low and slow one day and high and fast on another, PilotMag is for you. I also hope that on these pages we can impart some of the passion for flight that we feel here at PilotMag. For me, flying has always been about the people. Don’t get me wrong, I love the tech and planes too, but it’s the people that make aviation so special and a privilege to be a part of. In my years as a contributor to most major aviation magazines, and as an editor of this publication and a couple others, I’ve had an extraordinary opportunity to fly some pretty exotic planes to some rather exotic places. It’s hard for me to even pick one flight as my most favorite. It seems a common problem as my friend, uber-writer Lane Wallace, recently came out with a book called “Unforgettable: My 10 Best Flights.” If I were to recount mine, would I choose my gut-wrenching sortie flying air combat 10


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maneuvers in an F-16, my first takeoff and landing in a DC-3, my two trans-Atlantic crossings in Daher-Socata TBM 850s, my other longest flight, when I hopscotched my way to Sao Paulo, Brazil in a brand new Cirrus SR22, or my first water landing in a Cessna Caravan on New York City’s East River with the Empire State Building visible just across town. And then there was the time I was just cavorting with friends in an Aviat Husky. That was such a fun afternoon, just flying along, following roads and the contours of the countryside. Now that was flying - pure, simple, low and slow. Knowing Lane, I really wonder how she picked just 10. I could really keep going. Over the past few months as we’ve worked to put this first new issue together, some friends have suggested we’re crazy to be launching, or relaunching, a magazine in this economy. Besides our feeling at PilotMag that aviation found its bottom months ago and is now on the upswing, please notice that we bill ourselves on our cover as the Future of Aviation Media. We’ve got big plans at PilotMag, are constantly looking forward, and plan to be the vanguard of how quality aviation content is delivered. Ultimately, none of this would be happening without you, so please don’t hesitate to drop us a line anytime with your ideas, comments, questions for the experts at Sporty’s, or just to say hello. Or maybe you’d like to tell us about one of your favorite flights. Regardless, we’d love to hear from you, so drop us a line at editorial@pilotmag.com.


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K E Y N O T E S P E A K E R | Column


Chewing over a can of campfire philosophy with some new friends, I was asked what it was like to grow up as a Lindbergh. I mentioned that my childhood felt no different from that of my friends, and that I thought I had a pretty regular upbringing.


hewing over a can of campfire philosophy with some new friends, I was asked what it was like to grow up as a Lindbergh. I mentioned that my childhood felt no different from that of my friends, and that I thought I had a pretty regular upbringing. Growing up on an island in Puget Sound, I was relatively sheltered from most Lindbergh mania. I knew about my grandfather’s solo transatlantic flight in 1927 that made him so famous, but in those days it didn’t go much beyond an elementary school friend’s excitement while doing a book report about my grandfather.

On the other hand, “Lindbergh mania” opened up doors through which I’ve met some of the most brilliant and amazing people. One of those people, Peter Diamandis, was inspired by the $25,000 Orteig Prize which Grandfather won. Peter went on to create the ten million dollar XPRIZE which jump-started the personal spaceflight industry. My desire to promote the XPRIZE culminated in an exhilarating and challenging personal experience - a 17 hour solo transatlantic flight in my Lancair Columbia 300. That trip pretty much exorcised my Lindberghophobia.

The older I got, the more interesting this legacy became. On one hand, a certain lack of ease around this legacy built up into what I call “Lindberghophobia.” This self-diagnosed condition lurked in the background as strangers discussed my family of origin too loudly at a party or the grocery store. It also manifested itself at public events where people would gush about Charles or Anne while shaking my hand too vigorously or too long and leaning in too close. This stuff had a tendency to make my skin crawl when I was younger.

Being in the company of pilots, I knew this fireside conversation was headed in an aviation direction, and sure enough my fireside companions asked about my solo flight from New York to Paris in the Lancair in 2002. The standard responses to these questions started to bubble to the surface as if on autopilot, but the spell had been cast. This was no hangar flying session, or press conference; it was a campfire in the woods fueled by roasted sausages on a sharpened stick and cold beer with the hissing and popping of Douglas Fir flaring up in the fire.



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So, my story began. For several hours I was flying through heavy precipitation in a storm system out over the middle of the Atlantic. I had descended to 7,000 feet to find warm enough temperatures to ensure negative icing. Because I’ve learned to not always trust the temperature I kept shining my flashlight at the black stripes on the white wing for contrast so I could measure the insidious stuff if it did start forming. I knew that in a pinch, I could fly to a lower, warmer altitude if I needed to melt off any ice, even though ATC had given me a block clearance between seven and seventeen thousand feet. There wouldn’t be any traffic out in

K E Y N O T E S P E A K E R | Column

I was chatting with the crew of a Delta flight when all of a sudden I saw a bright red/orange light at two o’clock - same altitude. It was a weird triangular shape and I immediately thought it was traffic, and mentioned this to my new pals up above. the mid-Atlantic at low altitudes, but just the same I wanted to keep altitude to trade for time in case I had an emergency. Icing, fatigue and engine failure were what concerned me the most. I had scared myself pretty badly once on a flight between Seattle and Bend, Oregon, with no less than three quarters of an inch of ice accumulating on the tiny Lancair before emerging into clear air. Compounding the danger was



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the fact that I was also right over the Cascade mountain range and had lost my opportunity to fly down to warmer air to melt off the ice. I requested a slow climb and began edging up above the flank of Mt. Hood, but after about 1,000 feet of altitude gain the airplane suddenly stalled. In spite of my increase in airspeed it mushed again and kept falling out of the sky. Upon pointing the nose further down and holding it down much longer than a normal stall recovery should

take, it started to fly again, although at a much lower altitude. After a short discussion with ATC, I requested VFR on top which relieved them of terrain clearance requirements and gave me some latitude to stay clear of clouds, mountains and the grim reaper who seemed hot on my tail. Whenever I think about this icing experience I kick myself for not executing an immediate 180 degree course reversal like I was taught in flight school! But I digress from my story‌ After


several hours of vigilance, I finally cleared that system in the North Atlantic and was enjoying a lively conversation with the pilots of the heavies above when the North Star appeared off my left wing. I was chatting with the crew of a Delta flight when all of a sudden I saw a bright red/orange light at two o’clock - same altitude. It was a weird triangular shape and I immediately thought it was traffic, and mentioned this to my new pals up above. I was about to alter course, when they laughed and said it was probably the Moon. From their lofty ‘big boy’ vantage point the moon was unobstructed while little brother was five miles below pedaling along as fast as I could on my little trike trying to keep up! Gradually the triangle morphed out of the clouds and grew into a bright half moon. It was beautiful! The stars were shining; Polaris was on my left wing and the Moon on my right. I was

cradled in the same sky that carried my Grandfather across the ocean. At this point in my story, my fireside companions complained that I was laying it on a bit thick – which I was. After all, I had a sausage and beer and campfire license to lay it on thick. But, not wanting to lose them and suffer through one of their lame stories I continued. The airline pilots flying above me were asking me all about the Lancair. What size engine? How fast? How much fuel? What kind of equipment? They were pretty excited that I was way down below them somewhere in my tiny four seat piston powered aircraft. I wasn’t really that interested in their engines or fuel or speed, so I asked them if they had a passenger by the name of Peter Diamandis onboard. Peter had watched my take-off at Republic Field on Long Island and was trying to beat

me to Paris. And he had my baggage! American 44 radioed back and said “We have a Mr. Diamandis onboard. What would you like us to do?” It was the middle of the night, but I asked them to wake him up anyway and tell him I was down here talking to them. They came back on the radio a few minutes later and told me they went to his seat and woke him up, but it was some other guy! They didn’t know where he was so they said they would make an announcement for him when everyone was waking up as they were beginning the approach. Upon Arrival, Peter managed to persuade the pilots to come out to Le Bourget field for my landing. It was really great to meet them. They were so excited they gave me a pair of those little plastic American Airlines wings for my flight suit. Hmmm - at least the Delta pilots offered to buy me a round at the James Joyce…

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Ask a sthe k T Hexperts E E X P E Rat T SSporty’s | Departments

Bigger is better with Garmin’s newest portable, the GPSMAP® 696. It has a bright, sunlight readable 7-inch diagonal display that is as crisp and color rich as any available in aviation portables.

#1. I’m in the market for a new handheld GPS. There

seem to be so many good ones available by various wellknown manufacturers. Do you have any tips that will help me decide which one is best for me? I’m an instrumentrated private pilot. The past year has seen an amazing number of new GPS products announced, and there’s probably never been a better time to go shopping for a portable. Some of the features now available were unimaginable just a few years ago, even for panel avionics systems. Perhaps best of all, the range of features and prices from companies like Garmin and Bendix/King means there’s something for every type of pilot. Finding the right one for you is a matter of asking yourself some basic questions. For example, how will you use your new GPS--as a backup, or as an everyday navigator? For backup use, a basic unit with moving map features may be all you need. The new Garmin aera 500 and the Bendix/King AV8OR Handheld are both available for under $800, and offer loads of situational awareness. Stepping up the ladder a little, do you need XM Datalink Weather capability in your GPS? XM Weather can be a real life-saver in the cockpit, displaying NEXRAD radar, METARs, TFRs and much more. Multiple models are available with this function, like the Garmin aera 510, 560 and GPSMap 696. XM Weather can also be added to both AV8OR models. If weather is not an important feature, you can usually save around $500 by opting for the Garmin aera 500 or 550, or the AV8OR without weather.



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Since you’re an instrument pilot, do you want to use digital instrument charts? If so, the Bendix/ King AV8OR Ace and the Garmin GPSMap 696 are great choices, as they are FAA-legal replacements for paper charts. The Ace even shows en route charts. Do you plan to use the GPS in a car as well as the airplane? The AV8ORs and the Garmin aera line are excellent on the road, with complete points of interest databases and turn-by-turn directions. Finally, choosing a GPS often comes down to personal preference. For example, is a touch-screen interface a must-have for you, or do you prefer the sturdy, panel-style controls of the Garmin 696? Do you like the readability of a large screen, or prefer the compact size of a smaller one? Just like buying a new pair of shoes, a new GPS has to be the right fit for you.

The AV8OR ACE incorporates an exceptional sunlight-readable touch screen user interface and dedicated hard buttons for Zooming, Going Direct-To, Changing Chart Views and Accessing the Menu. Panning, scrolling, zooming and even looking up waypoints are all simple and intuitive, meaning you will be spending less time accessing information and more time flying your aircraft.


#2. I am considering buying a pre-owned aircraft

because values appear so attractive, but I’ve heard that it’s very hard to borrow money now. What are the current standards for getting an aircraft loan, and what can I do to improve my chances of being approved? You pose your question at an interesting time because it brings up another of those good news / bad news scenarios. Let’s begin with the bad news. The Winter 2009 copy of the Aircraft Bluebook Digest has just been mailed at the time of this writing. For most models it shows no price change from the previous quarter or modest increases for some models. As the Bluebook information is always dated by a couple of months, we’ll add our own anecdotal evidence to suggest that the market has bottomed out or may indeed be recovering. This may indicate you have missed the bottom. The good news is the credit market is showing signs of recovery along with the aircraft market. Last year, when the value of pre-owned aircraft was declining faster than a Cirrus after chute deployment, many bankers were unwilling to lend to any but their best current customers, as they were fearful of borrowers defaulting. As the markets have stabilized we now have bankers and brokers calling looking for new business. Reputable lenders are careful and may require more “skin in the game” than they would have in the pre-recession era. 15 – 20% down may be considered the new normal. Additionally, the lender may require the two most recent tax returns with all attached schedules to help ascertain the borrower’s ability to repay. Lenders start with some underwriting guidelines providing for a minimum income-to-loan service ratio. It is fair to ask the lender up front


as to what their ratio is, just as you would ask for their interest rate, closing fees, etc. Let’s assume a ratio of 125% of your structured debt service including the payment on your new aircraft loan. Let’s further assume your monthly after tax income is $5,000, and you have a home mortgage payment of $1,000 and two $500 car loans with little credit card debt. You could afford a $2000 per month aircraft payment from an underwriting standpoint to borrow approximately $225,000. In short, talk with your proposed lender(s) before you submit your application to determine their underwriting standards, be prepared to pony up the down payment and any sales or use tax charged by your state, arrange to support your financial statement with two years income tax returns and start the process at least three weeks in advance of your anticipated closing to assure adequate time to complete the process.

Reputable lenders are careful and may require more “skin in the game” than they would have in the pre-recession era. 15 – 20% down may be considered the new normal.

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a s k T H E E X P E R T S | Departments

#3. It’s said that it’s not a good idea for family mem-

bers to teach another family member how to drive. What about teaching them how to fly? Our daughter has expressed some interest in learning. My husband is a CFI and thinks it’s foolish to pay for instruction, but I’m concerned because sometimes he’s not very patient with her. What’s your advice? My advice would be for your husband to use his experience and skill as a CFI to carefully select an instructor for your daughter and here’s why. No doubt there are pros and cons to teaching a family member to fly. On the positive side you have an instructor who is very dedicated and interested in providing the best possible education for a successful completion. You also have the benefit of having that instructor nearby should a questions come up say after dinner one evening when your daughter is studying (could also be construed as a negative which I’ll get to). The cost savings cannot be ignored in this case either which can be significant. Also on the positive side is the special bond that takes place between instructor and student which can ultimately strengthen the father/daughter relationship. And there will be plenty of joy and celebration that can be shared as a family working together toward the goal of a pilot certificate.

On the negative side, there can be tremendous added pressure to an already stressful situation – for both the student and instructor to succeed. The daughter will undoubtedly be trying to please her father and should your husband lack patience or waiver somewhat in his encouragement, this could lead to an unhealthy motivation to reach the end or worse, not reach the end at all. The delivery of flight instruction also requires some candor and tough love. I would be concerned that the father may not feel he can be as direct with his daughter as with other students. The opposite extreme is also very possible, that in your husband’s desire to be the best, too much pressure and unrealistic expectations may take over. As mentioned earlier, there’s an overarching concern of not being able to separate home life and the educational environment. The lack of separation could become unbearable for both father and daughter and remember learning to fly should be a fun, thrilling experience. These potential negatives can have damaging, long-term affects in the relationship. In the end I would agree that the advice we’ve all heard also applies in aviation, not to say there aren’t exceptions to the rule. But in the end I think the father can be involved, supportive and an invaluable resource without being the lead CFI. Good luck!

There will be plenty of joy and celebration that can be shared as a family working together toward the goal of a pilot certificate.

#4. I’m considering going for my commercial rating,

but I don’t plan to fly for a living. Will this extra rating be worth the expense and time? Would my money be better allocated on a glider or seaplane rating? Most additional flight training is worth the time and expense. While it may not appear to be directly related to your day to day flying, it will improve that flying and make you a safer pilot. Each of the ratings you mentioned has merits. The commercial rating will cover much of what you learned during your private training but it will be in more depth and to tighter standards. New maneuvers such as the Chandelle and Lazy Eight will improve your ability to control the aircraft in a coordinated manner. The Power-Off 180 will enhance your approach planning, judgment, and landing skills. The glider rating will open your flying up to new experiences and it is a lot of fun. Most landings in a glider are without power. I say most, because self-launched gliders, aka motorgliders, may have the option of an engine on landing. Without an engine, you do not have the option of a go-around. This will enhance your landings and raise your confidence in airplane flying. You will also learn about energy management and micro-meteorology. This is knowledge that you will find useful when back in an airplane.



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The seaplane rating is really about fun and adventure. Even if you never fly a seaplane again, you will learn how to read the wind without a windsock. This valuable skill can be useful in the event that you ever need to make an off-airport landing due to emergency or other circumstances. The ability to read the water will also improve your chances if you ever have to ditch an airplane. Ultimately, it is up to you, but I think that you will find value in whatever path you choose.

The commercial rating will cover much of what you learned during your private training but it will be in more depth and to tighter standards.



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Hardware and required monthly subscription sold separately. Subscription fee is consumer only. Other fees and taxes, including a one-time activation fee, may apply. All programming fees and weather data are subject to change. XM WX weather data displays and individual product availability vary by hardware equipment. Reception of the XM signal may vary depending on location. Subscriptions subject to Customer Agreement included with the XM Welcome Kit and available at xmradio.com and are available only in the 48 contiguous United States. XM WX is a trademark of XM WX Satellite Radio Inc. The XM WX service is not for “safety for life”, but is merely supplemental and advisory in nature, and therefore cannot be relied upon as safety-critical in connection with any aircraft or other usage. XM is not responsible for accidents resulting from or associated with use of the XM WX Service. Contact XM WX Satellite Radio by phone at 800.985.9200 to subscribe to XM WX Weather. ©2009

e c o s y s t e m | Column

Embraer delivers first Phenom 300 Embraer ended 2009 on a high note. On December 29, the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer delivered its first Phenom 300 light jet to Kansas City-based Executive Flight Services. Its parent company, Executive AirShare, is the largest single operator of Embraer’s VLJ, the Phenom 100. “We have been extremely pleased with the performance and low direct operating costs of this entry level jet, and hold similarly high expectations for the Phenom 300,” said Executive AirShare President Keith D. Plumb.

787 Completes First Flight The first new commercial jetliner of the 21st Century, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, made its first flight on December 15. A crowd of 12,000 people watched as the plane lifted off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington. Pilots Mike Carriker and Randy Neville flew the Dreamliner for three hours over the Strait of Juan De Fuca to gather data, which was transmitted in real-time back to the ground, on the airplane’s systems and structures. “Today is truly a proud and historic day for the global team who has worked tirelessly to design and build the 787 Dreamliner,” said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. “We look forward to the upcoming flight test program and soon bringing groundbreaking levels of efficiency, technology and passenger comfort to airlines and the flying public.” 56 customers have ordered 851 of the technologically advanced airliners, which feature composite construction for the fuselage and wings. The first 787 deliveries are scheduled for the fourth quarter.

First plane in Antarctica found Remains of the first airplane ever taken to Antarctica have been found in the ice by a group of researchers. Parts of the 1911 Vickers monoplane were spotted by an expedition from the Mawson’s Huts Foundation on January 1 after a search that spanned three summers. The plane was last spotted was during the 1970s when researchers found the steel fuselage nearly covered in ice. Although originally brought along as part of Douglas Mawson’s expeditions, the Vickers’ wings were damaged in an accident prior to its 1912 Antarctic journey. The plane was primarily used as a motorized sled to move equipment across the ice, earning the handle “air tractor.” The plane was ultimately abandoned because its engine could not withstand the extreme arctic temperatures.



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The Phenom 300 can jet up to ten passengers more than 1,900 nautical miles with reserves at speeds up to 453 knots—one of the fastest cruise speeds in the light jet class. It features a BMWdesigned interior, lavatory, and single-port fueling.

NexAir offers glass Saratoga “transformation” What do you get when you take a used Piper Saratoga, replace the steam gauges with glass, revamp the paint and interior, hang a zero-time engine on the mounts, and tack on a slew of other mods? Then you’d have the Saratoga NX, a fly-away, nearly new airplane from Massachusettsbased NexAir Avionics. The keystone of the transformation is the Avidyne Entegra Release 9 glass avionics suite.

Morgan Freeman buys new jet

undertake long flights without having to stop for fuel all the time,” said Freeman, an Air Force veteran and owner of a Cessna 414 and Citation SP.

Actor and pilot Morgan Freeman has taken delivery of a new Emivest SJ30 jet. Freeman traveled to the company’s Dubai headquarters over Christmas to take delivery of the sleek twin-engine light jet, which boasts a Mach .83 cruise speed and 2,500-nautical mile range.

Emivest Aerospace, the plane’s manufacturer, says Freeman’s purchase will free up capital to allow the company to explore new markets for airplane production in the UAE. Freeman says he’ll use his SJ30 to travel as he tours to promote his new movie, Inivctus.

“It’s fast, economical to run, and will allow me to

G1000 now available on PA-46 models The Garmin G1000 glass cockpit is now available on the entire Piper PA-46 model line. All three variants of the plane, the turboprop Meridian, the turbocharged piston Mirage, and the unpressurized Matrix will feature a 15-inch multi-function display flanked by two 10.4-inch primary flight displays. Prior to the announcement, the Avidyne Entegra FlightMax was the only glass avionics suite available

“Rather than simply installing devices in a panel, we leverage our knowledge as engineers and pilots to integrate the avionics into the aircraft in a way that optimizes performance and ease-of-use,” said David Fetherston, president of NexAir. In addition to Avidyne system, the Saratoga NX features aerodynamic modifications from LoPresti and can be outfitted with options like AmSafe seatbelt airbags and even a DVD entertainment system. A standard, well-equipped Saratoga NX has a fly-away price of $395,000. NexAir will modify an owner’s existing Saratoga for $250,000.

on the Matrix and Mirage; the G1000 was only available in the Meridan. “By adding Garmin’s G1000 to all of the PA-46 series of aircraft, we are providing our customers with a wider array of options than they have ever had on our flagship aircraft,” said Piper President Kevin Gould. G1000-equipped PA-46s will come standard with Synthetic Vision Technology and the GFC 700 threeaxis autopilot. Terrain warning, weather radar, and XM Satellite Weather are additional options.

Release 9 now Cirrus factory option Cirrus has added the Avidyne Entegra Release 9 flight deck as a factory option on new SR20s and SR22s. Previously available strictly as an aftermarket option, the newest iteration of the system features dual fully redundant IFDs (Integrated Flight Displays), integrated radios, and a QWERTY keyboard for data entry. “Cirrus and Avidyne launched the glass flight deck revolution back in 2003,” said Cirrus CEO Brent Wouters. “We are making Entegra Release 9 available as a post production option on new aircraft to meet the needs of those customers desiring the next generation Avidyne avionics platform.” Earlier iterations of the Entegra system are flying on 4,000 Cirrus aircraft. m ay / j u n e 2 0 1 0



Departments | f ly b y

A life inverted:

an interview with Patty Wagstaff By Pete Muntean


ost people know Patty Wagstaff as the famed female pilot that broke down barriers for women pilots with her three consecutive U.S. National Aerobatic Championship wins in the early90s. They know her as somebody honored at the highest levels—from the National Aviation Hall of Fame to the Smithsonian Institution (her Extra 260 is hanging from the ceiling of the National Air and Space Museum). I know her as one of my closest and oldest friends. In fact, I’ve known her as long as I can remember. On my desk sits a picture of us taken at an aerobatic contest in 1991. I’m three years old. Patty keeps the same picture on her desk, too. So, naturally, when this assignment came my way, I jumped at the opportunity. Call it retribution for the harsh instruction she’s given me over the years at the controls of her support plane (I’m always off the centerline, she says), but I was thrilled to have an excuse to ask her a few questions that she’s never been asked before. In this PilotMag interview, Patty, who will fly her 25th season on the air show circuit this year, muses on her love of flying and animals, the role of women in aviation, and looks ahead to her role as an industry ambassador while looking back at her charmed life in flight.

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f ly b y | Departments

PilotMag: What kind of changes have you seen in aviation and air shows since you first started? Patty Wagstaff: I’ve seen a lot of changes in the technology of the airplanes we fly. When I first started the hot monoplane was a Laser. Some of the early ones had chains around the engines to hold them on their mounts. Today I fly an Extra that’s ten years old, has 1,600 hours on it, and I have complete confidence in the airplane. When I first started doing aerobatics I would wear out the planes really quickly. PM: What do you feel about the acceptance of women in aviation? Wagstaff: I remember early on landing somewhere in a single-seat Pitts. The guy in the FBO comes out and asks me if I actually flew that thing. I’ve seen some changes there—and I think there’s still a little bit of that—but now I think women are really encouraged. I’ve seen a lot of changes as far as women being actively recruited for flying positions and with the airlines, but I find it really disappointing that only six percent or so of pilots are women. PM: What about in aerobatics? Wagstaff: After the second woman won the nationals, somebody asked me how I felt about it. I think it made it more accepted and helps people compete on an equal base. Before that, I was sort of treated like an anomaly. As more women compete and fly in air shows, I think we get taken more seriously. I encourage women

and I want there to be a lot of women so I’m not so special. PM: What can be done to get more people, women especially, interested in aviation? Wagstaff: A lot of people see pilots as spoiled, wealthy dilettantes that use our airplanes on the weekends to get around to spas (as nice as that sounds). I have a vision of an advertising campaign geared towards the general public, in mainstream magazines—public service-type messages showing the use of aviation in everyday life. People don’t realize how much their whole way of life depends on aviation. PM: So are you volunteering to spearhead this industry overhaul? Wagstaff: I would like to do more—maybe join another advisory board in some capacity. I think there’s a place for me to utilize all this knowledge I have and hopefully have the ability to be a spokesperson, too. I have a lot of ideas. PM: Okay, oddball question. When and where were you happiest? Wagstaff: I’m always happiest when I’m deeply involved with some professional activity. It’s a form of meditation when you have to focus 100 percent on something. I’ve gotten into showing horses. I’m not big time—not nearly at the same level as I am with my flying. It’s the same type of focus and sense of purpose. I think that any athlete would tell you that that’s when they’re the happiest.

PM: Do you see many similarities between flying and riding horses? Wagstaff: Show jumping is very similar. It’s exhilarating and intense. It’s sort of like competition aerobatics—you have to do the jumps in a prescribed sequence and, just like in aerobatics, you can zero a maneuver if you get a refusal and run into the fence. You know, my horse and my airplane are about the same weight—about 1,300 pounds. Of course, the horse is more difficult because it has a mind of it’s own! PM: You retired from aerobatic competition in 1996. Do you miss it? Wagstaff: I did it for twelve years full-time and it was time to quit, but it was very hard for a few years after. I read books on the retiring athlete and I had talked to people who said it’s really important to have the next thing already figured out because you can feel really depressed and purposeless. It was still hard not to wake up and know exactly what my number one focus and goal was (like winning the nationals). It was really strange-- I missed it so much. PM: How do you feel about the awards you’ve won? Wagstaff: I’ve really been honored by a lot of people, but I feel really humble about it-- I don’t feel arrogant about it at all. I still have this



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Departments | f ly b yin the I still have this feeling back of my mind like “don’t they know I’m just this hippie from Alaska?” I’ve gotten past that a little bit.

feeling in the back of my mind like “don’t they know I’m just this hippie from Alaska?” I’ve gotten past that a little bit. I think everybody longs for a place in history—they want their life to stand for something. I’ve got that and I’m really lucky, but it makes you realize you have to live up to it. It’s a huge responsibly. You can’t disappoint people and when you slip it’s a much bigger deal. PM: Is that the way you feel when you walk around the Air and Space Museum, too? Wagstaff: It’s always been really surreal for me. I’m kind of shy about it. I want to sit in a corner and watch people and see what they think. For me it’s a neat little place in history. I don’t have any kids—I think that people who have kids have a sense of history because your genetic makeup is out there. I guess in a way it’s kind of like having a kid. It’s a piece of history that you that you’re always going to have—the airplane is always going to be there. I felt really strongly about it when it first went in. Now it’s in a new location—it looks like it’s flying again.

PM: So what’s next for you? Wagstaff: I’ll see that I’ll eventually slow down with air shows-- I’m going to continue to fly, but I would like to transform into a broader area. I’d like to do some training, too—not necessarily dual instruction, but study the process of it. I’d like to know why so many women drop out and how instructors could be better. I guess that’s a little bit nebulous, but I’ve always been in places where I’ve had to create my own positions. PM: Air show flying is dangerous business and you’ve lost a lot of friends. How do you deal with that? Wagstaff: It’s really important to believe that it’s not going to happen to you. The hardest thing is when somebody who is so much better than you dies. I remember when Bob Herendeen died. He was a really fabulous air show pilot and he made a mistake when he wasn’t even flying at an air show. You start to think if they do it then of course it’s going to happen to you, but then you’re putting yourself in peril. You have to be confident 100 percent of the time.

PM: Finish the sentence. I get a rush from… Wagstaff: Flying with the Kenya Wildlife Service and seeing the animals up close. When you land you have to look around for zebras and warthogs on the runway-- there’s always something darting out. Last year we went into the brush in a Super Cub. It gets exciting! PM: There’s no way to prepare yourself for… Wagstaff: Life! When I was growing up I always dreamed of running away and joining the circus, or being a professional rider in the Olympics or an FBI agent. I didn’t know my passion was going to be aerobatics. I had never even seen aerobatics-- I didn’t go to air shows as a kid. I never thought I’d be doing it for this long either. I remember knowing people that had been doing air shows for 25 years and here I am one of them. You can’t prepare for all the things that life brings on.

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F U T U R E F L I G H T | Departments


Festo’s AirJelly

To pilots, air isn’t a gas—it’s a fluid. You probably realized it the first time you stuck your hand out a car window. As the camber of your hand changed, it became obvious that the once stagnant air had incredible character; it shared its inherent buoyancy, waves, and currents with the ocean. Even some of the world’s greatest pilots, like air show superstar Sean D. Tucker, liken the grip on a stick to the feel of sailboat’s tiller.



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Departments | F U T U R E F L I G H T

By Pete Muntean


aybe that’s why aviation visionaries and innovators aren’t looking to the sky for shapes of future flying machines, but underwater. Enter Festo, a German-based automation and biometrics company. They’ve blended two century-old balloon technology with the organic movement of a jellyfish to create an entirely new (not to mention unusual) design called AirJelly. Festo’s Head of Corporate Design and AirJelly Project Manager Markus Fisher says that the company thought it was necessary to study the motion of jellyfish and other non-winged creatures, like snakes, as inspiration for transportation. “We thought there could be some interesting principles to learn here.” The result oozes cool factor. AirJelly is entrancing to watch. “We have not seen such beautiful motion from a man-made creature before,” said Fischer. The remote-controlled proof-of-concept design thrusts itself through the air with the aid of eight paddle-tipped tentacle arms attached to AirJelly’s helium-filled transparent head. A synchronized pulse of the arms the gracefully pushes the 2.8-pound machine skyward.

Photos courtesy of Festo

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F U T U R E F L I G H T | Departments

“Beating the eight tentacles together produces almost the same effect as ejecting water out of the hollow bell of a jellyfish,” said Fischer. AirJelly uses a weight mounted on a two-axis pendulum to pitch and roll the craft. Fischer says pilots of fixed-wing aircraft wouldn’t have much trouble learning AirJelly’s controls. “AirJelly is really easy to fly,” he said. “You merely have to control the propulsion and the direction of the pendulum. When you wish to land, you only have to cut off the propulsion.” It sounds interesting, but is it practical? Will AirJelly sister ships be flying, or perhaps, swimming through skies soon? While no plans have been made to mass-market an AirJelly derivative (only three have been built), Fischer says a fullsize, passenger-carrying balloon with tentacles wouldn’t be difficult to conceive. “The advantage could be greater maneuverability than with standard gas balloons,” says Fischer, adding that a major drawback of modern balloon designs is that they aren’t steerable. Fischer also sees AirJelly being employed as a UAV, perhaps as an unmanned drifting aerial platform.

Heavier-than-air versions of AirJelly are out of the question though. “A lot of thrust must be generated,” he said. “We are not thinking in that direction at the moment.” While it may be slightly impractical, AirJelly is truly a sight to behold. “AirJelly has a beauty of motion all of its own, “ said Fischer. “It shows that we can learn much more from biology and transfer it to technology.”



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H o r i z o n s | Column

Blue Side Down, Brown Side Up By: Jamail Larkins

Aviation is a unique adventure; but, flying aerobatics in an airshow environment is the ultimate rollercoaster. Over the last 13 years, I’ve had the opportunity to gain slightly more than 1,500 hours of total flight time in a wide range of aircraft. Fortunately my aviation journey has taken me across the entire United States, Canada, and the Caribbean.


espite seeing most of North America from a general aviation cockpit, my most memorable experiences involve hanging from the straps of a biplane inverted for almost 600 hours of flight time. At some point in most general aviation pilot’s careers, they have had the opportunity to roll upside down inside in an airplane. Whether it was in an old Cessna 150 Aerobat or a modern, all composite Extra 300L, the experience usually expands most people’s understanding of how to control an airplane. One of the greatest things I’ve enjoyed about aerobatics is the more advanced stick and rudder skills one gains as a pilot, which directly increases pilot proficiency in all flying environments. I can noticeably tell the improvement in my stick and rudder skills, when I’ve been recently flying aerobatics versus when I’ve been away from aerobatics for awhile. That even applies to everyday flying in standard or normal category general aviation aircraft. In addition to the improved motor skills, there is a certain challenge involved in safely learning how to properly perform hammerheads, spins, loops, and tail slides in an aircraft which is designed to be inherently unstable. It’s also a great learning experience to learn one’s physical limitations in relation to G’s forces and the physical experiences that your body encounters. 30


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The easiest way to get started in aerobatics is to start training under a well-known and reputable aerobatics instructor. There’s a lot to learn and safety is paramount. As such, it’s vitally important to train with someone that has a superior amount of knowledge in the sport. Just like in obtaining your private license, the more you fly, the quicker (and cheaper) you will learn how to master the world of aerobatics. It’s also a very good idea to compete if you have an interest in expanding your aerobatic knowledge. Most aerobatic competitors are normal everyday people that gather from time to time to hone and test their aerobatic skills. Almost all competitions are sanctioned under the International Aerobatic Club (IAC), a division of EAA. Each of the IAC competitions are very safety oriented and allow pilots the opportunity to learn a lot about the aviation industry. IAC competitions also give pilots a basic understanding of what it’s like to perform inside of an aerobatic box - key if you have any interest in continuing your aerobatic training to ultimately perform aerobatics in an airshow. The training involved in becoming an airshow performer is quite intense. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience it first hand, and it takes more out of you than you can ever possibly imagine, but it’s worth it. I can’t fathom the amount of training

and dedication it has taken some of the greats of the airshow community, like Patty Wagstaff, Sean D. Tucker, and the late Jim LeRoy, to attain the high levels of accomplishment they have, or had, during their careers. Despite the level of commitment required to become proficient and safe, it is also by far one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in aviation. Because of the financial and time requirements required to obtain airshow certification, on average less than .001% of pilots hold an aerobatic competence (ACE) card at any given time. The ACE card entitles you to enjoy the privilege of sharing the gift of flight as a professional aerobatic performer at public venues across the country. To obtain an ACE Card, pilots must demonstrate aerobatic proficiency and knowledge in front of an ACE Examiner (the FAA has recognized that internally, it does not have the expertise to determine if airshow performers are competent, and has therefore


For more than five years I enjoyed the opportunity to fly low level aerobatics in a highperformance aerobatic biplane at events on the east coast. My experiences ranged from small to medium sized shows and it was one of the most exhilarating experiences I have had in aviation. Imagine taking off in an aerobatic airplane knowing that for the next ten minutes, fifty thousand people are about to watch you perform “magic in the air.”

contracted the International Council of Airshows organization (ICAS) with regulating the ACE program. The experience is very similar to a standard checkride for any pilot license or rating, except the examiner will stay on the ground and watch you perform aerobatics. You must successfully demonstrate your intended aerobatic routine as well as a variety of standard aerobatic maneuvers to the satisfaction of the examiner.

Ultimately though, the best experience about flying airshows was the inspiration that it gave the audience. On a regular basis, after landing, I was swarmed by kids and adults wanting to talk to me about how I made the airplane do what it did. It’s been amazing to receive letters from people explaining how their talk with me after my performance inspired them to try to make their personal dreams and passions a reality. Having the opportunity to inspire others through aviation is a cool experience, and airshows definitely afford that experience.

| Horizons

Whether you take a few basic upset recovery courses, or if you decide to become the next airshow legend, learning how to fly aerobatics will be a great experience that will ultimately make you a safer pilot. Your improved motor skills will be a huge asset in all types of flying, but the best part will be the experience of seeing the blue side down and the brown side up. About Jamail Larkins: Jamail Larkins started his career in aviation as the National Spokesman for the EAA Young Eagles Program in 2000. He graduated with an Aviation Business Administration degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. In 2005, Jamail became the FAA’s Ambassador for Aviation & Space Education, and is now one of the leading advocates for general aviation to mainstream America. He is also the President & CEO of Ascension Aircraft, an aircraft sales & leasing company based in Augusta, GA.

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S u b s c r i b e N o w a n d WI N!

Grand Prize is a Gobosh 700S Airplane Pilot Magazine, LLC is proud to announce the launch of PilotMag, an exciting new aviation magazine and our website PILOTLOUNGE.COM, a social networking website for aviators.  As part of this launch, we are giving away a 2010 Gobosh 700S aircraft. If you’re a pilot or ever dreamed of becoming a pilot – your dream is about to come true. Gobosh offers a Light Sport Aircraft to help you take your life to a new level. 


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Treat Williams

Lights Camera

Airplane! by Jeff Berlin & james Wynbr andt

A star of stage, screen and television, Treat

Williams has appeared in more than 75 films, several television series, and numerous Broadway and other theatrical productions. His next film, “Howl,” with Jon Hamm and James Franco, will open this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Yet Williams is apt to describe himself as a pilot rather than actor. A multiengine instrument rated commercial pilot with rotorcraft, CFI and Citation type ratings, the Park City, Utah resident has been flying since high school. »



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Treat Williams after landing at Andover Aeroflex airport in New Jersey.

Photos by Jeff Berlin

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took off before sunrise once on a flight to LA. I was alone in my Cherokee 180, off to do a Spielberg film. I was only 24 and had just gotten my instrument rating. After flying through a lot of weather all the way to the edge of Ohio, I emerged into clear skies. I was just coming out of the Midwest and rising up into the plains. It was dawn and it was really mystical. It was an extraordinary feeling. I was flying about 1000 feet above the ground and I could see forever, and I realized how incredibly lucky I was. It was one of those really joyous experiences where you’re beside yourself with joy and it’s almost uncontainable. It was very spiritual. But I have little doses of that every time I fly an airplane. I get a little bump with that every time I lift off. I get a little rush of joy. It’s never stopped. And it hasn’t stopped in 30 years of flying. “In my industry, in my business, let’s say you have a task, and that task is to perform a role in movie. And even if you think you did a hell of a good job, you can pick up a New York Times the next day and read scathing reports about what you did that you thought was good. It’s really hit or miss in terms of success or lack of success. Flying an airplane is so task specific. If you fly an airplane, let’s

I don’t think of myself as a celebrity who flies, I think of myself as a commercial pilot who acts. say on a rainy day from Teterboro [New Jersey] out of the edge of a front to beautiful sunny weather in Martha’s Vineyard, or vice versa, and you handle the instrument system well, and you accomplish that task, there’s a sense of incredible immediate satisfaction and gratification that you have this skill, and you work very hard to keep this skill at a very high level, because you have a lot of people



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whose safety is in your hands, and it’s an extraordinary feeling…. To have a skill that is a hand-eye coordination, nuts and bolts skill, as opposed to this kind of very vague, odd business I’m in, is a great balance in my life.” “My first airplane was a Clipped Wing Cub, which I bought, gosh, ’74. And it had nothing. And I was doing things like flying from New Jersey to Connecticut, and I would call the tower [on the phone] at an airport, like Danbury, and tell them when I was coming in, and I’d get the light gun. So I really was a part of that kind of flying, which I’m really pleased to have done. I think some of the younger pilots miss the joy of just… turn the whole panel off, and let’s fly the airplane for awhile.” On the 1941 T-6 he used to own and fly: Getting in the cockpit and smelling the combination of oil, fuel, and hydraulics, it was great. Especially when the engine starts and things begin to heat up. When that fresh air streams over the canopy, there’s just nothing like it. And there’s nothing like when the airplane’s aerobatic. It’s a ballet. It’s just an awesome thing… It gets in your blood and never leaves you. “I can go out and fly any time I want, and I do. I live in an extraordinarily beautiful area to fly. I can fly over the Wasatch Range. And you can fly out over the desert, you can fly down south to where the Red Rocks are in Utah. This has to be one of most beautiful states to own an airplane in. And when the weather comes, you’re also flying around a lot of rocks; you have to be very careful. But I go out whenever I feel like it, and I’ll say, ‘I’m just going to go fly.’ And I’ll just take the airplane out for an hour or two. And just have fun.” “I had Gil [Treat’s son] up. We were going to Ithaca College. It was hard IFR. We went up to 8,000 [feet], and I let him be on the controls with me as we got up into the soup. And


then there’s that wonderful feeling as it starts to get brighter and brighter, and then it’s almost unbearably bright, and then you pop out - it’s just exquisite. He was jazzed by that, but I don’t think he has an interest in learning to fly. He’s 17, he wants to make his own way and not be just like Dad…It may well be that in five or six years he says, ‘I’m going to learn to fly.’” There’s a very strong feeling of immediate gratification when you fly an airplane that you just don’t get in film or theater. “My favorite flight is my last flight. It’s just always a joy to be in the airplane, it doesn’t’ really matter where I went, or what I did.” “I never lost that appreciation for how lucky I am to be flying anything anywhere. And if it turns out that I end up with a Piper Cub or a Husky or something, that would be thrilling to me. Just fine.”

“I’ve never lost that little racing heart that I have every time you pull back on the yoke and the airplane leaves the ground… there’s just this incredible feeling of freedom, and it’s

“I don’t think I fly because my business is what it is; I was flying before I was acting, and I just always loved it.” almost as though all of your problems got left on the ground. And it’s never left me in 35 years.” “I think communing with nature in some kind of solitary way is important. For example, there’s a time in the cockpit as the sun is set-

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F E A T U R E ting, the lights [on the ground] become bright, and you’re really at one with the airplane. It gives me an extraordinary sense of peace and contentment and a feeling that all is right with the world. It has a real centering effect. When I get out of an airplane or helicopter after a flight, I’m always extremely calm and all the jagged edges of my life seem to have settled down. All my frayed nerves are calmer. I don’t know if I could actually get through life very well without it”. “It’s still joyous to go through the process of a pre-flight, getting the engine warmed up, and getting the airplane off the ground. There’s nothing like it. And if there’s nobody there at the end of the flight, you can look in the mirror and say, ‘You did a good job,’ or, ‘OK, I made a couple of mistakes today, let’s find out why, and I’ve got to improve upon that. It is very absolute: you either did it well or you didn’t. Your landings are absolute; sometimes you make a greaser, and sometimes it’s harder than you thought it was going to be. But you always get to come back and try again.” “I just love the airplane,” Williams says of his 1978 Navajo Chieftain. “I call it the poor man’s King Air. It’s been an ongoing project. I got it five years ago. It had more than 114 squawks. We stripped out the aircraft, we just went at everything from the guts out. I got factory remanufactured engines, and redid the interior and upgraded the avionics… I’ve got basically the closest thing you can get to a new airplane. It’s been a great platform for the family.” “I used to dream about flying as a kid all the time, and I was always fascinated by airplanes. I always wanted little pedal things that looked like airplanes, I loved airplane books. In fact, I’ve got one coming out in June. [Air Show, Hyperion 2010]… It’s really a little book, my way of saying thanks for so much fun flying airplanes, and just a kind of way of saying how much I’ve loved doing this for so long.”



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photos by Jeff berlin


Airplane Checkouts Fit for a

King The Ultimate Experts’ Guide to Evaluating an Aircraft on the Ground and In the Air By James Wynbrandt Few thrills in aviation trump flying an aircraft type you don’t have in your logbook. But how do you approach an airplane you’ve never flown before? Can you learn anything about its handling from a walk around inspection? And what’s the best way to check out an unfamiliar airplane in the air? Perhaps no one has ever faced and answered those questions more times than John and Martha King. Founders of the eponymous pilot education empire, the Kings are the only couple (and Martha the only woman) ever to hold every category and class of FAA rating on their pilot and instructor certificates: fixed wing single and multi, land and sea, blimps, hot air balloons, rotorcraft, weight shift trikes, and more. When it comes to getting into different aircraft types, they are truly the Kings. m ay / J u n e 2 0 1 0




“We sold an airplane to somebody who had 11 airplanes one time,” John recalled during a recent conversation, “and he said, ‘You have to fly my airplanes.’ We flew all 11 airplanes in one day.” ohn wasn’t bragging. He told the anecdote while he and Martha were discussing crosswind landing characteristics of various aircraft at the NBAA (National Business Aviation Association) Convention in Orlando last fall. John and Martha, at the convention to receive the NBAA’s prestigious American Spirit Award, took time out to share their techniques for checking out unfamiliar aircraft with me. (Caveats about studying the Pilots Operating Handbook (POH) beforehand and flying with a qualified demo pilot duly noted). The understanding and enthusiasm they brought to the subject helps explain the popularity of the King School videos and CDs. More than half of all pilots are said to have received instruction via their videos and CDs. In person the Kings are every bit as unpretentious and open as they appear in their videos. But once the talk turns to aviation, it’s as if someone called out, “Take one!” “Everything about an airplane is a compromise,” John, said, as we plunged into the topic in a small conference room above the convention floor. “You’re compromising speed with simplicity, maneuverability, maintainability and runway performance,” Martha added. “And what you’re trying to do as you’re getting familiar with an airplane,” John continued, “is know where these compromises were struck. You want to know how this airplane handles a given situation. And as you walk up to an airplane, you can tell a lot about that.”

The Wing The Kings begin their static assessment of aircraft handling characteristics at the wing. “Is the wing relatively thin or relatively fat?,” John first asks himself. “When you look at a (Piper) Cherokee, the original Cherokees had fat Hershey Bar wings, and they don’t perform well at high altitude, but they’re very benign in a stall. Take a look at a Mooney versus a Cherokee. It has thin, relatively long wings. The Mooney’s going to be faster, and tapered long wings do better at high



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altitude because they have less induced drag, and less lift is being destroyed at the wingtips. A smaller percentage of the long, tapered wing is wingtip.” Ailerons and flaps also reveal handling and operating envelope clues. “What kind of flaps does it have?,” Martha asks. “How big are they and how far down do they deploy? That will tell me a lot about how much the stalling speed is going to be reduced when you put the flaps down, whether it affects it a lot or not much at all.” “You can also look at how the ailerons travel,” John added. “If the airplane has more up aileron travel than down aileron, it isn’t going to have as much adverse yaw as an airplane where the ailerons move the same amount in each direction. It’s the


down aileron that causes most of the adverse yaw. So you know it’s not going to require as much rudder in a turn as an airplane where the ailerons move the same amount in each direction.”


While at the engine the Kings consider the propeller, including ground clearance (“That’s tells me where I can take this airplane, what I can do with it,” John said.) and on multi-engine aircraft, direction of prop rotation (“Are they counter-rotating propellers, or do they both go in the same direction?,” Martha asks. “That tells you a lot about the handling characteristics if you lose an engine on one side versus another.”) They also note engine position on the wing, for handling characteristics in engine-out situations. (“If it’s farther out, it’s going to have a higher Vmc (Minimum controllable airspeed on one engine),” Martha noted.

“If the airplane has more up aileron travel than down aileron, it isn’t going to have as much adverse yaw as an airplane where the ailerons move the same amount in each direction.

Pilots often focus on an aircraft’s horsepower but the Kings downplay its significance. “Unless it’s got a turbine or a turboprop on the front, the power is really going to mostly be proportionate to what the aircraft needs, based on the drag of the wings and the fuselage,” Martha said.

“The certification of an airplane requires that it be able to climb at a certain angle and a certain rate,” John noted. “So if you’ve got an FAA certificated airplane, it’s going to have an engine of a certain capability in order to make that airplane climb at a certain rate and climb at a certain angle.” “It takes four times the horsepower to double the speed,” John continued, noting that the Piper Comanche, originally a 180-hp aircraft, ultimately included a 400-hp Cherokee variant that was only about forty knots, or 25 percent faster, than its 180-horsepower cousin. “So adding horsepower doesn’t make it a whole lot faster,” John said. “It makes it climb better.”

Fuselage & Empennage After checking out the wings, John and Martha advise stepping back and taking in the airframe as a whole. “One of the things you would look at is the length of the fuselage relative to the size of the rudder,” Martha said. “The farther back the rudder is, the more effect it will have. With a relatively long fuselage you can have a smaller rudder and still have plenty of rudder authority.”

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Once at the empennage, examine the amount of elevator travel. “If you have an airplane that has a problem with stalls or might have a tendency to spin, one of the things (a manufacturers) does is limit the travel on the elevator,” John said. Such an aircraft may run out of back elevator before the nose is as high as in the landing attitude of most GA aircraft.

“Again, you get a feel for the changes in stick force as you get into slow flight. Does it get harder to control? Does is get sloppy? Is the handling still tight?”

overbanking tendency? Does it ride easy in a 45 degree banked turn? What are the control pressures needed to keep it on that bank and keep the nose a little above the horizon to hold the altitude?”

The talk turned to stabilators, stabilizers, and trimmable stabilizers found on some jets. John and Martha, who fly a Falcon 10, also talked about jet wings (straight, swept, slatted), rotorcraft (two-blade, three-blade; U.S., European), characteristics of the Fuji Blimp they pilot on occasion and more before John said, “We’ve just about exhausted all you can tell by walking up to an airplane and looking at it.”

“Airplanes have design specifications for how much stick force per load factor is needed to move the controls, and how the stick force varies with speed changes,” John said. “That’s one of the things you want to know about the airplane. So doing the steep turn is standard in any aircraft because you can feel how the control forces change with the increasing load factor. You go to 60 degrees bank, you get two Gs on the airplane. The only way you can put two Gs on the airplane otherwise is put it in a dive and pull out.

Time to consider the cockpit.

“And it’s very easy to overstress the airplane that way,” Martha said. Slow flight is next.

Inside the Airplane “When you get in an airplane and sit down and look at the panel, look at the airspeed indicator,” John said. “Look at the placards. Look at the limitations. It will give you an idea of what your options are in the airplane.” “Look at the limiting speed for the flaps,” Martha advised. “In some airplanes the maximum speed at which you can put the first notch of flaps down becomes an issue because it’s low, so you won’t be able to use the flaps to slow you down as you would on another airplane. That means you’re going to have to think a little more ahead of the airplane in the pattern.” “Look at maximum landing gear extension speed, and see if that’s available to you as a speed brake,” John suggested. An important principle behind John and Martha’s approach to an unfamiliar aircraft was becoming clear. While many pilots might focus on how the aircraft will perform in the air, John and Martha are thinking first and foremost about how to get it back on the ground.

In the Air The Kings begin every fixed wing check out flight the same way. “First of all, you do some steep turns,” Martha said. “That gives you a real good feel for the handling of the airplane. What you want to find out is, does the airplane have an 44


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“Again, you get a feel for the changes in stick force as you get into slow flight. Does it get harder to control? Does is get sloppy? Is the handling still tight?,” John said. “And as I put down each sequential notch of flaps,” Martha added, “how much pitch change do I get and in what direction? Is it a little tiny pitch change, hardly noticeable, or is it a big deal, and do I need to be ready to push?” “Then you want to do some stalls,” John said. “Some straight ahead and some turning stalls, in a clean configuration. In jets you don’t take it right into a stall, because they don’t always behave well in one. In a piston engine airplane you want to take it into a stall and see if it breaks nicely, does the nose come down straight ahead, or does it tend to roll off on one wing? Then do stalls in a landing configuration, and there we want to see, ‘What’s the [aircraft’s] attitude going to be just before I touch down?’ Because the landing configuration stall is what you want to be in just as you’re touching the runway.” With the low end of the envelope fully explored, the Kings are ready for their final step in checking out a new aircraft: flying a pattern with a big cushion of altitude underneath them. “I go up to about 3,000 feet above ground level, and make an approach to an [imaginary] airport at two thousand feet above ground level,” John said. “I try to get 1.3 times the stall speed in the landing configuration, that’s going to be my approach speed, and I want my descent rate at five times my ground


speed. Let’s say your approach speed is 80 knots, descend at five times that, or 400 feet per minute, and see what’s the power setting to come down in a stabilized approach on a normal three degree glide path. I would go through the process of changing the flap configuration, getting my power settings, get my speeds, so now for landing all I have to do is replicate what I’ve already done.” “And you know how it’s going to behave if you have to do a go around, because that’s what you do at the bottom of that practice approach,” Martha said. “You do a go around. No surprises.” “Following this procedure I would feel comfortable getting into a strange airplane and landing it,” John concluded. “If you’ve done what we’ve just talked about, I think you’ve set yourself up for success in the airplane.”

a mini city of gleaming booths, studded with display aircraft: pistons, turboprops, rotorcraft, jets, each with an envelope and checklist all its own. Our ground speed was slowed by gale force headwinds of well wishers who stopped John and Martha to say hello as we walked the aisles. Up ahead was the Cirrus booth with an SR22 and a mockup of the SJ 50 Vision single-engine jet on display. Coincidentally, that morning Cirrus confirmed a slowdown of the Vision jet program, but that didn’t change the aerodynamic lessons to be learned from its airframe.

“I try to get 1.3 times the stall speed in the landing configuration, that’s going to be my approach speed, and I want my descent rate at five times my ground speed.”

“Aerodynamically,” Martha said. “Avionics are a different ballgame.”

A Practical Demonstration With the theoretical discussion over, we headed downstairs for a quick practical demonstration. The Convention floor was

“Look at the chord and camber,” John said of the SJ 50 wing’s width and cross section. “Basically it’s a thick, straight wing, not swept back, with high lift and good, pleasant stall characteristics. It’s not going to be fast, and it’s not designed to fly at high altitudes. The fuselage is relatively big, and very roomy. As we discussed, all airplanes are a compromise. What [Cirrus] wants is a safe, reliable, comfortable airplane.” Moving to the engine nacelle, positioned atop the fuselage just forward of the empennage, the Kings talked about the asymmetric thrust issues created by an off-centerline mounted

John and Martha King discuss the Aviat m ay / J u n e 2 0 1 0 Husky at the EAA display at NBAA




single engine, a design the SJ 50 shares with Piper’s single engine PiperJet, currently in development. We headed over to the EAA booth, where an Aviat Husky was on display, mounted as if taking off amidst a faux camping site. “Look at the size of the empennage!,” Martha exclaimed as we approached the Husky. “It has a big rudder and a big elevator, both of which are designed to give you more controllability. In a tail dragger with fairly high horsepower, you need a big, strong rudder to make sure you’re in control of the airplane, and not vice versa.” “Look at the aileron – it’s bigger than on our Falcon!,” John said. “Those give very solid controllability when you’re flying at quite slow speeds,” said Martha of the Husky’s jumbo-sized ailerons. “This airplane is made for short fields and unimproved conditions,” John said in summation. As we examined the Husky, EAA president Tom Poberezny appeared and joined our conversation. Talk turned to Pennsylvania’s Van Sant Airport (9N1), where Tom recalled renting a Great Lakes bi-plane while attending an EAA event. A moment later Dan Schwinn, boyish-looking president, CEO and founder of avionics manufacturer Avidyne, sidled up and the discussion moved to turbine aircraft. A former Falcon 10 owner, Schwinn and the Kings began discussing the benefits and drawbacks of the jet’s optional thrust reversers. As we stood talking under the Husky’s wing, I was reminded of something John said before we hit the convention floor: “I think the miracle of man learning to fly is the greatest expression of humankind’s ability to overcome obstacles. It’s a wonderful example of how we can use innovation and imagination to accomplish the previously thought impossible.” The static Husky, perhaps the most modest aircraft on display at the business aviation convention, was nonetheless demonstrating the miraculous power all aircraft share, whatever the differences in their checklists and operating envelopes – the ability to bring people together. As Martha had said earlier that day, “One of the wonderful things about aviation is, when you’re a pilot and you meet another pilot, you’re never alone. You’ve always got a friend.”



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SPACE RACE Jack Conroy, Clay Lacy & The Guppy by Margy bloom

THE SCENE: Early Spring, late afternoon at the Sky Trails restaurant, next to Van Nuys Airport. The year is 1961 and Space Fever has come to Southern California. A group of pilots and friends of pilots are seated at a table, laughing and arguing about NASA’s attempts to move equipment around the country as they built vehicles to carry man into outer space and on to the moon.

The problem: Logistics NASA had an army of scientists and engineers inventing the impossible every day. And American politicians had figured out how to slice up NASA’s budget allocations, so that nearly every state had a piece of the Space Race action. That meant thousands of small and huge…hardworking and delicate, yet-to-beinvented components would have to come together perfectly and on schedule, from NASA contractors and sub-contractors all over the country. “I came across the ideas that NASA was considering for transporting the S-IV stage of Saturn I, and boy, they were lulus. They were talking about putting it in a glider and towing it behind a C-130.”

Jack Conroy

The biggest piece of all, the S-IV stage of the Saturn I subassembly, was being built by Douglas Aircraft in Huntington Beach, California, with no practical way to transport it to Cape Canaveral, Florida for assembly and launch.

The solution: TBD MEANWHILE, BACK AT SKY TRAILS: Jack Conroy was laughing with the other pilots, his blue eyes sparkling, his mouth flashing the famous mischievous Irish grin. The 42 year-old ex-B-17 pilot, ex-POW and, now, Air National Guard C-97 pilot was a regular at Sky Trails when he wasn’t flying. In addition to his ANG shifts, he also flew freelance for several “non-sched” airlines and had been in the process of starting a cargo airline. But on this afternoon, he listened to the conversations around him, then picked up a cocktail napkin and a ballpoint pen. And with the precision he’d learned during the brief months he’d attended engineering school many years before, he drew an airplane that had never been built, to carry a rocket that had never been launched, to take man to a place nobody had ever been before. Jack Conroy had just sketched the airplane m ayGuppy. /june 2010 that would become the Pregnant

“Jack Conroy was one of the closest friends of my life. He had a lot of big ideas, and he had one really big hit – the Guppy.” Clay Lacy




» WWII -Toughened in battle, prepared to lead


here did Jack get the vision to come up with his big idea and the chutzpah to sell it? He was probably born with some of it… and grew a little bit more along the way.

He learned how to lead men in his early 20’s, in the 527th squadron of the 379th bombardment group of the Eighth Air Force, out of Kimbolton, England, during World War II. In 1942, Jack Conroy, just months past his 21st birthday, became a 2nd Lieutenant, pilot of a B-17 and put in charge of a 9-man crew. After training in the U.S., he flew his B-17 across the North Atlantic and eventually racked up 19 missions over Germany during some of the toughest fighting of the war. B-17 duty was unglamorous and uncomfortably tough work – the planes were built to kill, not for the comfort of the crews who flew them. Because it wasn’t a pressurized aircraft but flew at altitudes averaging 26,000 feet, where the outside air temperature sometimes got down as low as -50F, oxygen masks were available – even required. But the tanks were unwieldy and often blew up during heavy combat.



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No bathrooms on board, of course. And it wasn’t uncommon for a crew member to throw up – or worse – during a mission. At the end of a typical 10-hour bomb run, the floor of a B-17 could be swimming with a rich mixture of human excrement, blood, vomit, urine, spent cartridges and engine oil. Harsh realities for young men barely out of their teens. Through the Spring, Summer and Fall of “Jack was a little, 1944, Jack and his young tough Irishman who crew white-knuckled it believed he could do in strict formation, flyanything. And he ing daylight bomb runs was right.” straight through heavy flak to targets deep in Milbrey Conroy, (wife) Germany. Then, on his 19th mission, on the last day of November, 1944, Jack’s plane, “Landa,” was shot out of the sky at 20,000 feet. He waited until the rest of the crew ejected, and then body slammed his way out of the nose door, dislocating and fracturing his shoulder in the process. He parachuted to earth, landing in a farmer’s field somewhere near Zeitz, Germany, and was captured, interrogated and eventually transported to Stalag I on the Baltic.


» Frozen earth.Wooden mattresses. Old shoes. Maggots and starvation.

Jack Conroy spent his 22nd birthday as a POW in Stalag Luft I, North III – Barracks 306 – Room 2, where he endured the coldest winter in recorded human history.

At the end of the war, Jack received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal and the Purple Heart, and came back home. He was a hardened veteran. And just 25 years old.

Jack would never forget his POW experience. Although he didn’t discuss the war with his family, he remembered it in other ways. According to his daughter, Angelee Conroy, even 30 years after WWII, a “Remember the POW/MIAs” sticker was positioned prominently on the back bumper of his favorite blue Impala SS convertible.

» Cold winters, lasting bonds As Jack endured the rigors of Stalag I, Werner von Braun, later of NASA, led his team of scientists at Pennemunde, perfecting the V2 rockets that were then raining terror across the battle-weary cities and villages of England.

For 7 months through the winter of 1944-45, Jack Conroy, American POW and Werner von Braun, German rocket scientist, were separated by a mere 42 miles of frozen German countryside. That’s equivalent to the distance between Dallas and the outskirts of Fort Worth, Texas. Rocketry know-how would eventually bring von Braun and the best of his engineers to the U.S. as part of “Operation Paperclip,” to form the nucleus of NASA and the space program. And the Pregnant Guppy would eventually bring Jack Conroy to Werner von Braun. Many miles and 20 years after the bitter winter of 1944, the men would meet in Huntsville, Alabama, each knowing he could not succeed without the formidable talents of the other.

life and a family. Always a pilot, he joined the Air National Guard to fly the shiny, sexy F-86A-7 Sabre jets that had just been inherited from the Air Force. Then, in May 1955, Jack had a big idea. He marshalled the resources of the Air National Guard and flew a specially modified Sabre jet from VNY to New York and back again, all within the same daylight hours. Boomerang! It had never been done before. It broke records. It got press coverage. Jack averaged 445 mph, including stops for meals. Back on the ground, Jack was a bona fide blue-eyed, curly-headed, ear-to-ear grinning, flight suit-wearing media star, appearing a week after the flight as a “self-employed swimming pool salesman” on the TV program “What’s My Line,” on May 29, 1955. By 1960, Jack was a businessman as well as a pilot, speeding in his silver Lincoln Continental “As a pilot, you have across the hot, dusty quite a bit of time off. floor of the San I was also operating a Fernando Valley, hustling swimming couple of other busipools to the builders nesses on the side.” of the subdivisions Jack Conroy that would eventually fill the land.

» A world apart Meanwhile, Werner von Braun had chosen Huntsville, Alabama as the location for his Marshall Space Flight Center. In just a few years, Huntsville would be transformed by the science of rocketry from a sleepy town of 16,000 in 1950, known as the “Watercress Capital of the World,” to the nerve center of NASA. By 1964, the population had grown to 123,000.

» Post War: Rock star in a flight suit After the war, Jack eventually moved to the San Fernando Valley in Southern California and started building a new

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The catalyst for that growth came from the civic minded German scientists from Pennemunde and their families, who were immediately accepted by Huntsville natives; so much so, that the city became known for a time as “Pennemunde South.” Just 5 years after their arrival, the first group of 109 Germans became American citizens and the growth and importance of the city continued throughout the Saturn program. Then John Kennedy decided to put a man on the moon before 1970 and the pressure was on von Braun and his scientists to deliver the payload.

» Barges and BB guns The space program was growing quickly, but NASA was still mired in logistical issues, transporting delicate space-bound materiel on barges, through the Mississippi and Tennessee Valley river systems. But barge transport was sometimes dangerous. Mysterious, shrouded objects floating on barges between the grassy banks of the Mississippi at 8 miles per hour made easy targets for kids with a good aim and a .22.

Who knew?: Little Johnny and his Brand New Shotgun could jeopardize the whole Apollo program. Clearly, a faster, safer way had to be found to transport parts. That meant air travel. But no airplane existed that could accommodate the girth of the S-IV stage. And NASA had a mandate: “No new airplanes!”

FULL CIRCLE: SKY TRAILS RESTAURANT. VNY. 1962. “I came across an article in a magazine, which depicted the different concepts that had been proposed to NASA for flying large pieces of hardware. All of the proposals for the Saturn rocket, particularly flying the second state, seemed unfeasible.” Lee [Mansdorf] came up with the idea of modifying a Stratocruiser to carry these outsized space vehicle parts, and I completed the final design.” Jack Conroy

» Jack Conroy’s just-in-time idea that changed history

To appreciate the Guppies, you have to appreciate what they were made of: the last, biggest, most luxurious 4-engine piston-driven airplane ever built by Boeing: the C-97/Stratocruiser.

In 1960, Boeing Stratocruisers were being sold for scrap, for about $75,000 apiece – or $19 per pound. Jack Conroy and investor Lee Mansdorf bought 27.

Born on the cusp of the jet age, the Boeing Stratocruisers evolved from the WWII-era, B-29 long-range heavy bomber. (Enola Gay, the plane that delivered the first atomic bomb to Japan was a B-29). Presaging the 747 by 20 years, the Stratocruiser was designed with a lower deck cocktail lounge accessed by a circular staircase. At night, the lounge was bathed in the bright blue glow of the 4 Pratt & Whitney 3,500 hp Wasp Major engines just outside the windows. Glamour!



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But the beautiful Stratocruiser was too slow and too expensive to operate profitably – it took 14 hours to fly from New York to Paris, was plagued by mechanical problems and it guzzled gas. Along came DC-7 and Boeing 707 jets and the world that created the Stratocruiser was gone in less than a decade.

» Inventing on the fly Jack planned to use two of his Stratocruisers to make one Guppy: one to enlarge and one to cannibalize for parts and metal. The greatly enlarged Stratocruiser that eventually flew as the Pregnant Guppy started as Boeing Stratocruiser prototype #3, and flew for the first time in October, 1948. The additional five meter section added behind the wing came from an ex-BOAC aircraft; and the entire thing was put together by Mark Engineering in Van Nuys. To create the distinctive Guppy “volumetric” shape, Jack would add length to the aft section behind the wing, height with a new fuselage, make the entire rear section removable, so delicate cargo could be loaded directly into the gut of the aircraft. The wings, tail, engines, nose and Stratocruiser cockpit with the distinctive wraparound windows were retained. The new fuselage would grow to 19’ in diameter and measure 127’ from nose to tail. Jack, the master salesman, planned to fly the new aircraft to

“The big question then was whether it was aerodynamically feasible to fly such a big craft. We could build the configuration to hold the missile parts, but we didn’t know if we could fly it.” Jack Conroy Huntsville himself, and through sheer force of personality, sell the idea on the spot to von Braun and his NASA rocket scientists. One airplane for one customer. That was the plan. Easy? Oh sure. Of course, as Jack recalled years later, there were a few hurdles… “The Guppy was built strictly on speculation. We recognized the need and had many meetings with NASA. We felt if we flew the Guppy we would get a contract. Once we flew it, we thought that financing from that point forward would be relatively simple, but NASA wouldn’t give us a contract until we had the plane ready.”

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Jack Conroy




» People expected it to crash on take-off The first test flight took place on September 19, 1962. Jack, out of money but filled with confidence, flew left seat, waving to the press from the open cockpit window. Jack saw it all as a great adventure – after all, he’d flown through danger before, in 19 missions in a B-17, and according to Milbrey: Clay Lacy, “Jack could fly every single airplane you’ve ever heard of.”

Jack’s best friend and seasoned test pilot, would fly right seat on that first flight and many more that followed. The late Clete Roberts, another close friend, pilot and television newsman, covered the event that day. Later, he would say: “Jack tried our patience beyond reason. But he was never dull.”

were there, trepidation was in the air, but von Braun, a former Luftwaffe test pilot himself, was intrigued. By all accounts, the demonstration was a success. Some of that success was due purely to Conroy’s showmanship and sleight of hand on the controls. But records of the flight show that:

“Even with the number one and two engines out, the [Guppy] could maintain course and altitude with only light control.” Light control might have been an exaggeration. The thing felt like a heavy truck without power steering. But after viewing a fly-over, von Braun and Herman Kroger, a former test pilot and a member of the von Braun group since the Peenemunde days, were so excited, they jumped aboard the unfinished prototype for a flight. Then, overcome with enthusiasm, Kroger fell back into his native German in describing the experience to his colleagues.

Jack and Clay took their “Pregnant Guppy” on a test run, and a day later, they flew to Huntsville, avoiding major population areas along the way, just in case. Two old friends: the inventor and his best pal flying at 10,000 feet in the cockpit of a Stratocruiser with a huge, empty fuselage frankensteined on the back. The cavernous innards of the new aircraft were supported with wooden 2x4s scammed from the ANG base. After a few stops, they landed at the airstrip of the Army’s Redstone Arsenal, outside Huntsville. Von Braun and his team

» Von Braun: Friend and benefactor The passage of time obscures the indecision of the moment. But, fact is, it took an enormous leap of faith for von Braun to “come aboard” and approve the purchase of the first Pregnant Guppy. In effect, von Braun was placing the launch schedule 54


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Clay Lacy on the first Guppy By Jeff Berlin

and much of the equipment for the Apollo program in the hands of an ebullient promoter with an untested machine. But Von Braun loved the audacity of putting one flying machine inside another and was forever after Conroy’s enthusiastic supporter. Jack eventually finished, then sold that first Pregnant Guppy to NASA. Final cost to build: $1,000,000 and Jack had financed it himself, using his house as collateral. As Jack put it, “We finally got a NASA contract because they had a problem that the Guppy solved.”

In later years, von Braun gave Jack a photo with an inscription that read:

“To Jack Conroy, my fabulous friend, who made the Guppies pregnant.”

» The moon and Nairobi – so near and so far away

Angelee Conroy remembers her father’s deeply-felt emotion: “Why the hell can’t someone figure out how to get a TV out here!?” Jack never stopped pushing the envelope.

Clay Lacy: I’ve flown a lot with Jack in a lot of different airplanes. I flew all thorough South America with him. He was a very good pilot. He was more of a transport pilot, let’s say, more than he was a fighter pilot, but Jack could fly a fighter okay too. [The Guppy] basically felt just like the C-97 or the Boeing Stratocruiser to fly. It was a nice flying airplane. It was very quiet. The control pressures were quite heavy so it had a pretty big wheel because it’s all manual. It had rudder boost on the original airplane, but after adding that 17 feet [to the Guppy], we found we didn’t need it any more, so we took it off. One of the concerns was, for a lot of people… it was so big in the front, that if we got in a heavy sideslip, it might try and change ends, but it didn’t. I didn’t think it would. [On the first flight,] we took off out of here (Van Nuys Airport in the Los Angeles Area) and our route over the least populated areas took us out over the Hollywood Hills. [Then we flew west] down Mulholland [Drive] across the top of the Santa Monica mountains and then toward Mojave. And with PR and everything, we must have had eight photo planes, [including] a little Midget Racer. They took a picture [of him next to us] and we got the centerfold of Life Magazine… the smallest airplane and the biggest. So when we went to raise the flaps… there were two concerns.

Anyway, we accelerated to about 140 knots over the hills and I started to bring the flaps up. And when the flaps got within about five degrees of up, [the Guppy] went into a really heavy buffet. So I put the flaps back down to where they were, about 22% I think it was called. There was a Constellation that flew all the press and VIPs up to Mojave for the landing. It was flown by Fish Salmon and Allen Paulson. So we flew around while we waited for it to get there. We left the flaps the way they were on that flight. The second day when we flew it, it had heavy buffeting down to the stall, and then we did sideslips with full rudder because one of their concerns was that maybe it would try to turn around. And we flew all other normal stability checks. Induced a pulse to the ailerons, a little bit, to make sure we didn’t feel any flutter situation. We flew about two and a half hours on that flight. And on the third flight, that same night, if we did all the [testing] that we did, Conroy got permission for us to fly it to Las Vegas and put it on display. The Air Force Association was having their big meeting. That was kind of fun. We were pretty happy [flying the Guppy]. I was happy for Jack, but when we were flying [the Guppy], there was hardly any flying time on it, so we were seeing if we noticed anything different, if something could be changed, could be better. The cockpit looked identical [to the Boeing 377]. It hadn’t changed at all. [When it was all loaded up] it didn’t fly well. It flew okay except it was too heavy. That’s why we reduced the gross weight to about 135,000. At high weights the size [of the plane] started affecting it more than it did at light weights. At light weights you hardly noticed [the size], but at weights of about 130,000 pounds, you started to notice that it flew heavy. It didn’t want to perform. So they figured that 135,000 was about the maximum to have about the same engine out performance that the regular airplane had at 153,000 pounds.

People thought there was going to be so much drag [with the Guppy] that the engines would have to work too hard and wouldn’t get proper air cooling, that we would be going fast enough. Boeing was very interested in this airplane because they were planning the 747, and there had never been an airplane this big in diameter to see if the drag formulas worked. The most popular methods to figure drag from front plate area-the most optimistic one had us at 105,000 pounds with 1900 horsepower. The worst of the drag formulas [predicted we would lose] 60 knots. The best one said about 25. So the way they all averaged out was that we would lose about 30 to 35 knots. When we were light, we lost about 18 knots. Now as we got heavier, the performance went to hell, so the airplane was restricted. The original airplane [the Boeing Stratocruiser] had a takeoff gross of 153,000 pounds and [the Guppy] got restricted to 135,000 because it wouldn’t climb with an engine out. But that wasn’t a big thing because we could make [our trips with] stops. They normally made m ay / j u n e two stops between [the west coast] and The Cape.

Photo by Jeff Berlin

On July 20, 1969, a man would stand on the moon for the very first time. But Jack Conroy didn’t see it happen. Instead, he was vacationing with his family in the isolated bush country of Kenya, looking up at the sky on a clear, cloudless night, struggling to hear Neil Armstrong’s “giant step” commentary coming through on a battered old radio. Jack was emotional about the event that he had helped bring to fruition and upset that he couldn’t see it on television.

A few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to sit down with the legendary Clay Lacy, who worked with Jack Conroy every step of the way during the Guppy’s development. He flew the first flight as copilot with Conroy, flew with him as test pilot, and then crisscrossed the U.S. with Conroy, flying oversize cargo in support of the United States space program.

[The Guppy] accelerated [well] and didn’t feel all that differentFfrom when we E the A original T U Rairplane E were light. The Stratocruiser is the only airplane where you got into the [pilot’s] seat by walking around the outboard side.





Many more – and even larger – Guppies were to be built by Aero Spacelines, partly because Conroy, always looking ahead, had the foresight to buy up all the scrapped Stratocruisers available, a move that put him in front of any competition in the development of additional jumbo transports.

“The Guppy was the single most important piece of equipment to put a man on the moon in the decade of the 1960’s.”

Jack’s Guppies would continuously ferry one-of-a-kind, multimillion dollar cargoes between space program facilities and the launch site at Cape Kennedy for the next decade. He would carry NASA freight including launch vehicles for the Gemini program, Apollo command and service modules, hardware for the Pegasus meteoroid detection satellite, F-1 engines, the instrument unit for Saturn I and other outsized NASA cargo. Jack and Clay Lacy flew many of those flights themselves.

On May 26, 1968, Jack was awarded the City of Paris Medal at the International Aeronautics and Space Show. The medal is awarded bi-annually ‘to one person from each country in recognition of their contribution to the advancements in the field of aerospace.’

Even after Conroy and Aero Spacelines parted ways, more Guppies would continue flying, logging over 2,000,000 miles in support of NASA’s Gemini, Apollo and Skylab programs. In his comprehensive book, “Stages to Saturn,” author Roger Bilstein says of the Guppies:

“Without the availability of these unique planes, NASA might have been forced to scrub some of the schedule launches, incurring horrendous costs in money and time.”

» A sketch on a napkin writ large for history Before the word “entrepreneur” was used very often, the down-to-earth vision of one man made it possible to put the first man on the moon. Jack went on to invent many more planes, all pragmatic responses to changing market conditions, but it was the Guppy that made him a star. To commemorate the contributions of the Guppies, Werner von Braun gave Jack a letter that stated:



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Werner von Braun

Jack Conroy would continue to invent airplanes until 1979 when he died of cancer at the age of 59. All four of his wives and all seven children attended the funeral, which was a fly-by at Camarillo Airport in Southern California, featuring every airplane Jack had ever invented or flown. Jack’s Guppy was the star. As Clay Lacy said, Jack had one big idea. And as Jack Conroy said, it was a lulu.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Margy Bloom is a Los Angeles-based writer specializing in aviation and aviation history. She is currently writing a book about the life of Jack Conroy. FOR FURTHER READING Stages to Saturn by Roger E. Bilstein, c. 2003 University Press of Florida Global Security.org www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/b377pg.htm Aviation Visionary: “Smilin’ Jack” Conroy by Robert R. Kirby & George M. Warner; Foreword by Clay Lacy, c. 2008 BAC Publishers Allaboutguppies.com The CL44 Association: http://swingtail44.blogspot.com/ Goleta Air and Space Museum: http://www.air-and-space.com/

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Pilot Reports

Beechcraft G36 Bonanza: The Best of 63 years of Evolution – plus a Garmin G1000 Panel By Dave Higdon


nce in a while an assignment comes along that makes you smile at the thought of going to work. Sometimes the smile comes from the job reuniting me with an old friend; sometimes the root is the prospect of returning to a favored locale; other times, it comes from the prospect of experiencing something new. Pilot Magazine Editor Jeff Berlin’s inquiry into my interest in reviewing Hawker Beechcraft Corp.’s G36 Bonanza hit on all three points. The assignment offered a chance to reconnect with the newest version of an old friend – the Bonanza itself. My acquaintanceship with the Bonanza family dates back years and includes a particularly memorable 10 hours of solo flying a friend’s 1948 B35 between Wichita and Oshkosh. Other pleasant Bonanza encounters include several trips, short and long, in V35Bs, a number of model

33 versions and both model 36 and A36 Bonanzas. Excellent. Sign me up on that basis alone. The work locale at the factory airstrip, Beech Field (BEC), holds so much historical significance that I made it a regular “destination” when working on both my private ticket and my instrument rating. The “something new” of the equation centers on this particular plane: Hawker Beechcraft’s 60th Anniversary G36 model Bonanza. As you likely knew, the Bonanza’s newest designation accompanied the latest major update to Garmin’s G1000 integrated avionics package. The G1000 and the changes accompanying its adoption stand as only the most-recent in a lengthy line of revisions and evolutionary improvements that began shortly after the first model Bonanza rolled out for delivery in 1947.



imply put, the G36 Bonanza benefits from the sum of

nearly 65 years of evolution – and it’s a sum that keeps it the longest-running production airplane in history. With more than 17,000 delivered, the Bonanza is also among the mostproduced airplanes in the field, even if it falls short of being the most-produced airplane in history. Regardless, the Bonanza remains a standard against which all other highperformance singles get measured – a yardstick that imparts a compliment when anyone claims that another airplane “flies as well as a Bonanza.”


Photo by Dave Higdon

Pilot Reports

» Bonanza Wasn’t Always A Six-Seat Single

Originally a four-place, all-metal low-wing retract, the Bonanza came along at a time when most planemakers still put their birds on fixed, conventional gear and tube-and-rag airframes dominated the private-aircraft market. Walter Beech conceived the model 35 to replace for the highly lauded Model 17 Staggerwing, according to Trevor Blackmer. While the Staggerwing helped the fledgling company establish itself when it came into existence in 1932, low sales volume and high production costs failed to help the company achieve the financial foundation it sought. Blackmer, Senior Manager, Beechcraft Product Marketing at HBC, observed that the goal was to keep the four-seat flying family sedan, with the excellent speed and efficiency of the model 17, Beech’s first product, but to build it for less than the cost of using the archaic materials and techniques employed in Staggerwings. Beech engineers first employed all-metal monocoque construction in the Model 18 Twin Beech, a pre-World War II design that won widespread adaptation during that war and spent more than 30 years in production thanks to its utilitarian appeal. When Beech engineers returned their focus to post-war projects in 1945 they designed a single-engine four-seater around one of the new generation of lightweight opposed six-cylinder engines and a distinctive, drag-cheating V-tail. The Bonanza became a quick hit, the flying man’s family sedan suitable for business with strong appeal for a new batch of owner pilots and business operators. Improvements started almost immediately after certification, making the Bonanza faster, more capable and more flexible. And it’s the Bonanza’s versatility that that helped keep them in demand through a stretch to six seats, the loss of the V-tail, and on into today’s G36, which came as the Bonanza entered its seventh decade. Where the dollar meets the runway, the G36 delivers great value.



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Photo courtesy of HawkerBeechcraft.com

» G1000: A Spacious Panel Solution

Of course, for most of the people reading this publication, the seats of greatest interest and use are the two front seats – where a Pilot-in-Command and Second-inCommand get to manage one of the world’s most-proven flying machines. And up front, it’s a thoroughly modern aviating machine. By now the majority of aviators likely know about the popular G1000, a system used in a dizzying array of aircraft ranging from fixedgear singles to sophisticated light jets. In the G36 Bonanza the G1000 system consists of two 10.4-inch high-resolution liquidcrystal displays, with the left-side screen serving as the Primary Flight Display (PFD) and the right side the Multifunction Display (MFD). In between the screens is a control stack used to manage this sophisticated package. To the right of the MFD a vertical stack holds the three stand-by instruments required: an airspeed indicator, attitude indicator and altimeter – all full-size. The G36 Garmin package includes dual WideArea Augmentation System-compatible GPS receivers, dual VHF Nav receivers and 16-watt Comm transceivers with 8.33 MHz frequency spacing. Also installed: A Garmin Mode S transponder with Flight ID and TIS; an audio panel – complete with six-place intercom and three-light marker-beacon receiver; engine in-

strumentation in both digital and analog forms; and Garmin’s sophisticated GFC700 digital three-axis flight-control system, with the third axis operating as a yaw damper. A Class B TAWS system is also integral to the package, as are XM Satellite Radio and WX Satellite Weather. It’s a lot to learn. So to help the G36 buyer make the G1000 transition HBC includes in the G36 purchase price a five-day training package at the Flight Safety International Beech Learning Center adjacent to the delivery center.

» Firewall Forward:

Familiar Hardware Abounds

Of course, none of this sophistication or capability helps much parked. It takes power to make the plane and HBC retained a familiar name for the powerplant, Teledyne Continental Motors. Up front HBC uses the Beechcraft-exclusive TCM Special Edition IO-550B making 300 horsepower. The attention to balancing components in the Special Edition engine shows up in its nearturbine smoothness, from idle right through to its 2,700 rpm redline. Balanced fuel injectors allow for lean-ofpeak (LOP) operation, which Blackmer both endorses and practices; LOP operations should help the engine more easily and economically make its 1,700-hour TBO.

Pilot Reports

Photo courtesy of HawkerBeechcraft.com

Up front, a heated Hartzell three-blade prop translates engine power into thrust. For redundancy, G36 standard equipment includes dual electrical systems with a 100-amp main-buss alternator and matching battery, plus a 20-amp alternator and a smaller battery for the stand-by buss. There is no suction system or air-powered instruments; even the stand-by Attitude Indicator is electric.

Photo courtesy of HawkerBeechcraft.com

» Still Flies like a Bonanza…

The walk-around of the G36 doesn’t differ appreciably from that of the A36, and the configuration of the airplane and cowl access makes easy work of conducting the vital checks necessary before flight. The start process begins with the flip of four switches on the lower-left panel – they’re all color-coded a matching blue, to it’s easy; the PFD starts to come alive with engine gauges showing along with a caution to keep the wings level as the AHRS initializes. It’s worth noting that the AHRS can realign itself in flight, should a reset be necessary.

closed, then cracked about a half inch, a turn of the keyless magneto/starter switch and at about the ninth prop blade to pass the big Continental fired up and settled into an ultra-smooth idle.

While the single AHRS gets its bearings, with mixture at full rich and throttle at full, I arm the fuel-boost pump long enough to see flow reach 14 gph and shut it off. Throttle

Avionics switch on and the MFD lights up as its systems come on line – a process that ends when the engine data disappears off the PFD and show up in its own space on the MFD.

Photos by Dave Higdon

During the run-ups, you add to the usual magneto checks an electrical-system check at 2,100 rpm. Once we see the two electrical systems “handshake” we’re ready to go. With the trim set for take-off, flaps at the takeoff stop on the panel switch, and my target rotation speed of 72 knots noted, it was time to fly. Throttle at full, brakes off when the tach showed 2,700, and the G36 accelerated afM AY / J U N E 2 0 1 0



Pilot Reports

firmatively with little need for right rudder – a trait courtesy of the engine being canted a scant few degrees to the right. The Airspeed tape on the PFD hit 65 knots, the time to put a couple of fingers’ worth of backpressure on the yoke; as 70 knots rolled by the Bonanza rotated and I trimmed to 100 knots for a 1,300 fpm climb. The left turn to a heading for Newton City/ County Airport (EWK), about 20 to the northnorthwest, and the G36 produced a solid 175 knots at 2,500 rpm and about 27 inches of manifold pressure at 3,500 msl. During a later cruise-power run, we’d see 175 knots at 6,500 msl pulling 24.7 inches of manifold pressure running wide-open throttle and 2,500 rpm and leaned to 50 degrees rich of peak – good for 17 gph. Pull the mixture back aggressively through peak EGT to 20 degrees lean of peak EGT brought fuel flow to about 14 gph at a penalty of about 8 knots – and 167 knots in a Bonanza burning fuel at that rate worked out to a still-air range of more than 650 nautical miles – plus reserves. Going higher makes it stingier to go farther –

to the edge of 700 nautical if you don’t mind flying at 9,000 to 10,000, where fuel flows can drop into the 11 gph range but speed stays above 150 knots.

» The Yardstick

The true joy of flying the Bonanza comes when its flown by hand. In the air, perhaps nothing exceeds the Bonanza for harmony and balance in the flight controls; the big airplane stays where you put it, tenaciously holding pitch and bank angles you set up to 30 degrees; steeper turns to 45 degrees take a noticeable bit of back pressure on the yoke, but not much. And despite its higher operating weights, the Bonanza still responds to my inputs predictably, and with no objections. It also trims easily for level flight, hands-off. Slowing down is part of the game and the G36 responds as well here as it does to the need for speed. Flown through full stalls, both clean and with gear and flaps down, produces a soft, noticeable bit of aerodynamic buffeting that begins

after the stall horn begins to sound, but comfortably before the stall occurs. Clean, the stall results in only a small break, little tendency to drop a wing, and an easy recovery after losing only 125 feet of altitude; dirty, the break arrives more pronouncedly, falls farther and requires a more aggressive response. Altitude loss came in at around 200, 225 feet – but with the airspeed falling below 65 indicated as it occurred at 4,500 msl. Approach management is one of the treats of late-model Bonanzas, with high flap and gear speeds making the arrival slow-down easy – and as quick as you might need, thanks in part to a speedy three-second gear-cycle time. Downwind at 90, base at 85, final at 80 slowing as the threshold arrives and a nose-high flare as the speed falls below 70…makes arrivals short, sweet and with minimal runway used. Twothousand-foot strips should be no problem for most pilots and most days – and it fits the book specifications. And taking advantage of Runway 8 at EWK gave me a crack at handling the airplane in about 15 knots of 90-degree crosswind. Feed in the aileron just to the point of holding her Photo courtesy of HawkerBeechcraft.com



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Pilot Reports

level, steer straight on the centerline and the G36 uses slightly more runway but otherwise feels like it’s flying into straight-on winds. One of my approaches involved simulating an emergency return with a descending 180-degree turn from abeam the numbers to final. Starting the approach clean at 120 knots on downwind, the Bonanza responded nicely to my desire to swiftly slow down and get down. We rolled out just in time to cross the numbers about 25 feet high and five knots fast – and still got stopped in less than 2,500 feet of runway. The G36 Bonanza responds as you want, when you want, and does so with confidence.

» Flexible, Fast & Frugal

At a fully-fleshed out cost of just $1.01 per mile to fly – $171.13 per hour in direct operating costs, according to HBC – the G36 Bonanza stands out as a reasonably priced ride, even as it’s the most-sophisticated – and heaviest – Bonanza ever. And let there be no question here – this is a big airplane with a Maximum Gross Take-Off Weight of 3,650 pounds and a Maximum Ramp Weight of 3,663 pounds. Its empty weight varies with options, Blackmer noted, but nominally comes in at about 2,770 pounds, a weight which includes the most-common options: air conditioning and traffic. That puts the typically equipped useful load at 979 pounds. With its 74 gallons of useable fuel, the full-tanks payload comes in at about 535 pounds or, as Blackmer described it, three people and luggage or two adults, three kids and some luggage. Whatever the pilot decides to carry, the G36 delivers considerable flexibility in how you use the cabin. That cabin features club seating with the second row, right behind the cockpit chairs, facing aft; the third row, with the fifth and sixth seats, faces forward. New-design cabin seats are pilot-removable, without tools, and even as installed the aft-row seats can be tilted up to make more legroom for second-row passengers.

Remove all the aft-cabin seats and you have a long, open space capable of handling 670 pounds, including the 70 pounds allowed in the 10-cubic-foot luggage space behind the third-row seats. HBC designers worked some other magic on the interior by creating recessed wells for the arm rests available for the outside arm at each seat, giving the cabin a modern look that serves the practical purpose of adding almost two inches of extra elbow room for each seat. HBC handles domestic sales of the Bonanza and its twin cousin, the G58 Baron. Blackmer suggested visiting www.hawkerbeechcraft.com and clicking on “Find a Sales Contact” to line up your own G36.

» The price for all this performance?

The basic airplane, very well-equipped already, comes in at $645,000. Air conditioning adds $18,900 to the price; the L-3 Skywatch Traffic system adds another $26,100; L-3’s WX-500 Stormscope fetches another $12,500. C





If you prefer Jeppesen’s ChartView products to the standard Garmin charting, add another $5,800 – a price that includes the first-year’s update subscription. CY



If you fly internationally where ADF and DME are still required, HBC offers them as options, as well. And this spring the company expects to start offering Garmin’s Synthetic Vision System, further enhancing the Bonanza’s capabilities. At the $680,000 I would pay for a G36 built to my specifications, there are very few other comparable airplanes on the market for the money. Of course, after more than 62 years in production, the market also has yet to deliver an airplane that people can say, “Flies better than a Bonanza.” And that alone should guarantee we’ll be talking about new Bonanzas well into the next decade. With a little luck, we’ll get to renew this acquaintance again when HBC christens the next evolution of the Bonanza. M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 0



Pilot Reports

Speed Quest!

“Run What Ya Brung”



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By Scott Slocum

creaming on the down line to finish, the wind noise is crazy. She seems more nose-down than usual and my peripheral vision is confused, as things are passing under me faster than I can process. A glance at the airspeed indicator reveals 226 miles per hour, can that be right? I can’t descend any steeper as VNE isn’t far away and in the five years we have been together, my 36 Bonanza has never seen this kind of speed! Now on the center line, the flagman is looking at me and I find myself leaning forward to gain every ounce of speed possible. The Bonanza passes right over his head at 200 feet, going full out and then straight up like a Reno racer climbing for cooling altitude after passing the checkered tower. Slowly coming back on the power and setting up for landing, I wonder about my time. Did I beat that V-Tail? Did I miss a turning point? … three green, fuel on fullest, mixture still all the way in and prop set. My jaw is tight. Is that from clenching my teeth or smiling for the last 35 minutes straight? Either way, what a rush!

Photos by Scott Slocum

That was my first experience running in the “Sport Air Racing League” out of Taylor, Texas this past November. The quest for more speed has been a topic ever since I started using my 1976 A36 for air to air photography. “How fast will she do with the doors off,” is the common question when we are shooting warbirds and jets for the pages of magazines like this one. With the two cabin doors removed, and power setting at 25 squared, we typically see around 180 to 183 miles per hour at 4,000 feet, pressure altitude. The placard limitation in that configuration is 190 mph indicated, so there is room for improvement, but with the 300 horsepower conversion and a good paint job done already, there didn’t seem to be much more that could be done to speed her up.

Pilot Reports


nter Chester Jurskis, Director of Sales for an aircraft charter company in Addison, Texas. We met concerning a photography project, and located right next to desktop photos of the family was a bright red and white model of a V-Tail Bonanza with yellow racing stripes. The model sparked a conversation and it turns out, it’s a replica of his 1965 S model 35, which also has a Continental 550 conversion and runs a Scimitar prop. Comparing notes on performance, he blew me away by saying he was getting around 217 mph when he races it, about 10 to 12 mph faster than the book says it should go. Needing more information about racing and what he is doing to go faster, we scheduled a meeting to see his plane and some of his racing buddies.

wind tunnels, no aerodynamic engineers; these guys are just using common sense and the new technologies available to lighten aircraft load, reduce drag and maximizing the performance of the engines.

Chester explains how the “Sport Racing League” is run. “There are about seven When I first saw these airplanes taxi up, I to fifteen races per season. Anyone can was a taken aback by how “regular” they enter with a prop driven plane in differlooked. Each had racing numbers and one ent categories of stock or experimental, had a very nice paint job, but other than fixed gear, retractable gear and horsepower. that, they seemed to be pretty much stock Three aircraft constitute a class with a $25 Bonanzas. My heart entry fee, which sank thinking I may includes lunch and have been a victim of No wind tunnels, no a thorough briefing a “hangar fish story.” aerodynamic engineers; of the race. Each Then they began to these guys are just using course is around show me some of the 125 miles long and common sense and the new little things that have shaped like a square been done to reduce technologies available to or triangle, with drag and get the most lighten aircraft load, reduce left and right turns out of these forty plus drag and maximizing the around VFR fixes year old airframes. (usually unconperformance of the engines. Speed slope windtrolled airports). shields, smaller and The start and finish are usually at the end fewer antennas, particularly on top of the of the runway, with the faster planes going plane. Smooth props, gap seals, fairings on first, at 30 second intervals between starts. openings, taped areas like the gas caps and Each turning point has an altitude restricseals around parts. The engines sounded tion (minimum and maximum) with spothealthy, like they are tuned to perfection ters taking photos, timing and making sure and the flaps, ailerons and elevators were there are no “pylon” cuts. “Typically we tight and aligned correctly. The air filters stay as low as possible (1,000 feet AGL) for are super clean and the engines have new maximum manifold pressure,” states Chesspark plug wires/harnesses, and the fastest ter “but if there’s a strong wind at three guy is even running fine wire plugs. No 72


M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 0

thousand feet for example, it may be worth it to climb for the advantage. Fastest time on the course wins, with trophies given in each category.” My mind is already buzzing about opportunities with my airplane and my first race. But before I start carving away, I felt compelled to confirm some of these theories with the experts. Who better to confirm some of these ideas than the “Speed Merchant” himself, Curt LoPresti,

senior engineer and CEO of LoPresti Fury and their chief pilot, Hollywood stunt and Warbird aerobatic ace, Corkey Fornof. “The most important thing is the rigging of the airplane,” states Curt right off the bat. “It’s amazing what people will get used to when it comes to the way their airplanes fly. Flaps all the way up, ailerons rigged correctly, elevator and rudder trim in the

Pilot Reports

“Speed increases as a cube of power, so you’re going to have to add a lot of ponies (read dollars) to see the kinds of gains reducing drag will give you.”

proper positions; all of these elements can make a huge impact on drag. If you’re flying hands/feet free and the ball isn’t centered or the aircraft has a tendency to roll, these are indications of possible speedrobbing rigging issues. Proper sealing of gear doors is also very important. Some Bonanzas have what we call the “Bonanza smile,” where the nose gear doors open

slightly while in flight, caused by out of rig and/or older doors that bend open. There are companies that make a thicker aluminum door that can correct the problem and save big on drag.” I asked Curt about the value of adding horsepower vs. reducing drag, “Speed increases as a cube of power, so you’re going to have to

add a lot of ponies (read dollars) to see the kinds of gains reducing drag will give you.” Corky chimes in to illustrate the point, “The F8F Bearcat and P-51 my dad and I flew are around the same dimensions as the Bonanza, but could achieve over 410 mph, twice that of the Bonanza going full out. However, even though they weighed twice as much (empty), it takes about seven times the horseM AY / J U N E 2 0 1 0



Pilot Reports

power to go twice as fast as the Bonanza.” So why doesn’t LoPresti make many products for the Bonanza? “Firewall back, the Bonanza is a pretty clean airplane,” explains Curt, “we worked on a cowling modification to create more ram air for the intake but we would have had to extend the propeller shaft to create enough room to fair the air intake to see a performance difference.” Curt did say that anything you can do to increase manifold pressure, like clean filters and or ones that are less intrusive, can add speed. 74


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LoPresti does offer a landing light modification kit called “Boom Beam” that covers the existing “hole” on the front of the cowling, making it more streamlined, and it’s a heck of a lot brighter than the stock light. In addition, they offer two exterior finishing products; one is called kNotWax and another called SpeedCoat, an easily applied, slick wax-like sealant that shines up the paint and ads UV protection. I also had to ask about clean airplanes, and, “it’s true; a clean airplane is faster (grinning at the cli-

ché)?” LoPresti sums up our conversation …“First you want your plane rigged correctly, then you want all of the horsepower you’re paying for driving the best prop you can buy, pulling the cleanest airframe you can have through the air.” Curt also confirmed that removing larger antennas in favor for smaller ones can make a difference. “The fuselage is a lifting surface, air moving over the top of the aircraft is going faster, just like with a wing, so if you can move any drag producing objects to beneath the aircraft or further back, you will see a gain.” He goes on to elaborate that the most important foil on the Bonanza is the propeller. “If you didn’t have time to clean anything

Pilot Reports

Ultimately, of all the things you can do to try and win a race, practicing your flying skills would pay the most dividends else, clean your prop, front and back.” How important is weight in this speed quest? Curt continues, “The general rule is 100 pounds equals about one knot of speed, so every little bit counts.” He goes on to speak about how the placement of weight is also important and talked about when his dad raced Mooneys, he would have someone sit in the back for extra speed. On this point alone I encounter many different opinions on what’s better, weight forward or back. All I know is my 36 goes faster when the CG is more aft, which I attribute to the horizontal stabilizer having to work a bit less hard with an aft CG and thereby create less drag.

So the Bonanza boys are doing it right after all. Now you’re probably thinking, all of this fuss over 10 knots? I asked Chester about this and he had a very good point, “When you’re looking at ways of going faster in your airplane, you’re getting involved with the mechanics and details of your ship, which ultimately makes you safer than the guy who hops in his plane once a month, does a cursory walk around and cruises over to lunch. Racing our Bonanzas isn’t just about speed, it’s about testing your pilot skills in navigation, flight planning, coordinated flight, and maximizing the performance of your airplane. For example, just one small screw up in navigation can erase

all of your speed advantage and much more. Ultimately, of all the things you can do to try and win a race, practicing your flying skills would pay the most dividends.” However Chester says with a smirk, “There is no better feeling in the world when racing, than seeing yourself reel in the guy ahead of you who is supposed to be faster.” So what about my airplane? So far I have removed 18 pounds of weight, three antennas, the step, waxed her up and added a “Boom Beam” light. This gained 7 mph. The next modifications are tuned exhaust, adjusting the wings, vortex generators…. the quest continues.

M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 0



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Engine Maintenance

The Two Step Plan Take care of your engine, and plan for an engine failure

During an engine emergency, altitude above the ground is more valuable than a wheelbarrow full of gold By Steven Ells

Today’s reciprocating airplane engines are well built. But on rare occasions they do fail. Simply maintaining these engines—flying often, changing oil at regular intervals, doing 500 hour magneto inspections, using a comprehensive trend monitoring program to keep track of changes in operational trends and insisting on professional maintenance—lessens the possibility of a failure. These steps are preventive maintenance.



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Engine Maintenance


his formula works as proven by Flight Express, which bills itself as a carrier of “time critical air cargo and air freight,” that’s home based in Orlando, Florida. This company utilizes statistically-driven maintenance and operations programs to operate a fleet of 86 piston-powered airplanes across the country. During 2002 the Flight Express fleet—which also includes Beechcraft Barons—flew 81,144 hours. Their maintenance system is so effective they changed only 76 cylinders over the course of the entire year.

Instrumentation— the Cornerstone of Engine Management Few of us have the luxury of having a full-time team of very experienced fulltime maintenance professionals at our beck and call; but there are instrumentation systems that, when combined with preventive maintenance, help us keep an eye on our engines. Enter the engine monitor. The most sophisticated of these tell-all systems track and record every tidbit of engine, charging system and flight data,

have interactive checklists, and can even help pilots with weight and balance computations. Pilots that install a monitor system are able to keep an eye on engine health, track mixture leaning procedures, control cylinder head temperatures, and—if used correctly—save fuel. But an engine monitor is only dashboard dressing unless the operator knows how to interpret the avalanche of data. Fortunately there are schools and software programs that do a very good job of teaching pilots how to understand this data stream. The best and most informative of these is Advanced Pilot Seminars (www.advancedpilot.com) in Ada, Oklahoma. Their online course is $395. Once operators understand what’s going on “under the hood” and know how to control the care and feeding for their engines, the odds of a catastrophic or partial engine failure lessen. However, even the best maintained and managed engine can suffer a partial or complete failure.

The Boneheaded Engine Failure GA pilots continue to mismanage their fuel, often with disastrous results. Some-

times it’s because the pilot doesn’t know his airplane’s quirks, such as a requirement to slowly add the last 10 gallons of fuel to fully top off the tanks. But usually the reason boils down the false hope that there’s enough fuel to make it those few more miles to the destination. Toss in a strong dose of get-home-itis and rational reflection is further skewed . One study showed that 70 percent of fuel exhaustion accidents occur within 10 miles of the intended destination. Every pilot who has survived a fuel mismanagement accident remembers how shocking it is when the engine noise stops. If a no-fuel no-noise (NFNN) incident takes you by surprise: • Pitch up to gain altitude and trim for best glide speed. (Wolfgang Langewiesche in the classic Stick and Rudder calls this the Speed of Best Distance). Best glide speed varies with aircraft weight. Best glide speed for a Cessna 182S Skylane is 75 knots at 3100 pounds; 70 knots at 2600 pounds, and 62 knots at 2000 pounds. What are the best glide speeds for your airplane? • Take steps to determine if the NFNN is from fuel exhaustion (no fuel on board) or fuel starvation (fuel onboard but not supplied to the engine).

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Engine Maintenance

• Switching the fuel selector from the presently-selected tank to another tank • Turn on the fuel boost pump • If the engine re-starts locate the nearest airport and land immediately since either fuel planning or a system malfunction has occurred.

The Complete Engine Failure Complete engine failures—the everything’s-fine-clatter-clatter-bang-bangnow-what kind of failures are very rare. The most common causes of complete and sudden engine failures are: 1. A broken crankshaft. 2. One or more spun main or rod bearings—lubrication distress. 3. A broken connecting rod—this is almost always caused by lubrication distress and can also result in the rod or rod cap being ejected through the engine case. 4. A broken or loose accessory drive gear. This failure disconnects the crankshaft from the accessory and magneto drive gearing—when the magnetos stop turning the engine stops turning. These are all true emergencies. Sometimes the failure is trumped by a loss of forward vision due to engine oil on the windscreen. There’s a very slight chance that you may be fighting a sudden out-of-CG situation if the propeller is slung off the airplane following a broken crankshaft. The emotional impact of many engine failure emergencies is further ratcheted off the charts by the cacophony of very loud noises of the failing machinery variety. These emergencies get your attention right now. Steps to take during one of these emergencies include:



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• Control the airplane. Level the wings and trim the airplane as necessary. Set up best glide speed. • Move the fuel selector to the off position—lessens the possibility of a fuel leak and engine fire. • Locate the nearest airport (Even the simplest handheld aviation GPS navigator has a “nearest” function that’s invaluable in an emergency situation) and determine if you can make the runway. • Don’t stall the airplane--seatbelts and shoulder harnesses are built to protect the inhabitants during forward deceleration; most GA airplanes have no protection against vertical deceleration. It’s much safer to fly to a fully-controlled off-airport landing than it is hit the ground in near vertical out-of-control flight cause by stalling the airplane. • If you have a remote switch for your ELT, turn it on. • Put in a radio call to ATC or on 121.5 giving your position and your intentions. • Turn your transponder code to 7700. • Tell your passengers to tighten their seat belts and shoulder harnesses—if you haven’t yet installed shoulder harnesses do it today.

• Open the doors on final approach to landing—if you can, wedge a shoe or towel or flight bag in the opening to prevent the door from jamming during the landing.

Partial Engine Failures Partial power loss is more common than complete engine failures. The most common power loss causes are: • Cylinder head separation (compression loss). • Stuck valve. • Can result in a bent or broken pushrod (compression loss—oil leak). • Detonation-caused piston and ring damage (compression loss). • Burnt Valve (compression loss). With the exception of the cylinder head separation, all these failures provide

Engine Maintenance

warning signs many hours before the date of failure—if the operator has an engine monitor and knows what to look for.

Prop Blade Tip Separation

Partial power loss events are just that—the engine still runs and still makes power but it’s broken and it’s not going to get better without help. Partial power losses call for precautionary landings.

There’s one more emergency—and it may be the scariest of all because of the almost unbelievably violent and destructive vibration that accompanies this emergency. On very rare occasions, a propeller blade tip will break off during flight, causing the whole airplane to shake uncontrollably. The vibration can be severe enough to require repeated attempts to grip the throttle knob to pull back the power.

Sparky Imeson, who recently passed away, was an extremely knowledgeable mountain pilot and author of the Mountain Flying Bible, wrote that, “A precautionary landing is a deliberate, on- or off-airport landing caused by forethought and planning.” In other words, the pilot has a few minutes to survey the possible landing sites, plan the approach to landing, and the luxury of partial power to control the flight path toward the most survivable landing. If we all flew in an ideal world, every engine failure and partial power loss event would happen on a day when the weather is severe-clear and there’s a world-renowned engine repair shop on the airport you can see just off the nose of the airplane. That rarely happens. Partial power loss events can be extremely dangerous if they’re not recognized as true emergencies simply because there’s no way for the operator to determine the extent of the damage, or how many more minutes the engine is going to continue to run.

Safe Not Sorry

These failures can be prevented by conducting a thorough pre-flight inspection of all blades, looking for nicks, gouges, or rock divots. All of these can create stress risers, and must be removed by a qualified technician before resuming flight operations. A prop tip separation is another one of those true emergencies and requires the operator to work through the same checklist of items as a complete engine failure with one exception. Power must be reduced immediately lest the out-of-control forces tear the engine lose from its mounting system.

No one doubts that the best time to look into possible engine problems is when the airplane is on the ground, yet one engine expert, when interviewed for this article, said it like this. “One way of avoiding engine failure is to stop flying an aircraft that has a problem that has not been identified. Used to bug the hell out of me. People would call up and explain an engine problem to me and then say, ‘How about if I fly it up for you to look at?’ Don’t fly an airplane that’s rocking and rolling and you don’t know why.” Good advice, that. Practice loss of power landings and procedures—you probably won’t ever need use your skills but you’ll be glad you did if your flying dice roll out craps. • Plan to survive and fly your plan—your goal is to touch down at the lowest speed possible while still under control of the airplane. • Altitude above the ground is more valuable than a wheelbarrow full of gold. Trade airspeed for altitude in an emergency. • Don’t pass up a suitable landing strip for any reason. If you’re high, lose altitude over the landing area instead of trying to stretch your glide to a more “suitable” landing area or airport. • Decide on a course of action and commit to it. • Take a couple of real deep breaths and get on with it.

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Pilot Reports





by Ron McElroy

eople often ask me to describe

and Betty Hempstead, the owners, and Ross

In 2004, the FAA unveiled the Sport Pilot and

my favorite aircraft. My an-

Kennedy, my instructor, rekindled a spirit of

Light Sport Aircraft Rule that allows many

swer is often, “Whatever air-

adventure and new definition of fun flying

pilots to fly light sport aircraft with a valid

craft I’m flying at the time.”

that I had been away from for many years!

driver’s license in lieu of a medical certifi-

And so it was with my first flight in an Alle-

Aviation personified is the definition of light

cate. It also created a new, less-expensive

gro Light Sport Aircraft, at the invitation of B-

sport flying! Remember why you wanted to

way to become a pilot. These pilots are re-

Bar-D Aviation (www.b-bar-daviation.com)

be a pilot? Remember your first solo flight?

stricted to daytime flying, 10,000 feet MSL

of Raleigh Exec Airport at Sanford, NC. Doug

Or is that where you are right now?

and below, only one passenger, a visibility

of at least 3 statute miles, plus other restric-

The Allegro is a beauty! It’s clean, with

efficiency and are about 50 pounds lighter

tions requiring an instructor endorsement at

smooth lines, and a flair for simplicity and

than the traditional Continental equivalents.

airports located in Class B, C, or D airspace.

ease of operation. I could tell right away that

I’ve flown behind a lot of engines, and to me,

my flights would be pure joy.

one of the most remarkable features was the

The Sport Pilot (airplane) certificate requires a minimum of 20 hours of flight training

The Rotax 912 engine, for starters, is a beau-

along with the ground training and FAA prac-

ty. It’s a simple engine with lots of perfor-

tical test (check ride).

mance, efficiency, and low cost. Both the 80 or 100 horsepower versions have great fuel

near instantaneous start and the lack of mixture control due to the “automation” with the constant velocity carburetor.

Pilot Reports

But that’s not the only quirk of LSA aircraft, they’re also certified using ASTM (American Standards for Testing and Materials) standards. These standards for manufacturing of the LSA are written by the manufacturing industry and accepted by the FAA with the following restrictions to the design of these aircraft:

A maximum of two occupants, a maximum take off weight of 1,320 pounds (seaplanes 1,430 lbs); a 45-knot clean stall speed; a 120-knot top speed at maximum continuous power; a single, non-turbine engine; and fixed landing gear.

SPECIFICATIONS: Construction: metal tapered tip profile SM 701 wing, composite fuselage Engine: Rotax 912 UL or Rotax 912S UL

As I understand it, the ASTM standards allow for common sense engineering and manufacturing of the LSA, such as the Allegro, without the burdensome and expensive process and cost of traditional aircraft certification and manufacturing as required by the FAA. This translates to a lower cost of ownership and operation. And, from what I observed in my preflight inspection with the Allegro, the quality of the workmanship was top-notch!

Fuel tank: 17 gal Propeller: 3-blade WOODCOMP Wing span: 35 ft 5 in Wing area: 122 sq ft Overall length: 20 ft 10 in Overall height: 6 ft 9 in

The cockpit is designed very nicely for two people. It was roomy, had some storage space behind the seats, and the visibility was superb through the front, to the sides, and below. Ground steering was via nose wheel steering and allowed for very tight turns.

Gliding quality: 1:12

The cockpit was laid out simply and logically, and like most aircraft available today, a glass cockpit option is available featuring the Dynon EFIS D-100. The control stick was in between the pilots and had an optional extension to make it easier for a right seat instructor pilot to demonstrate maneuvers with either their left or right hand.

Load limit factors: +4.0/-2.0 G

The Allegro surprised me with its quick and short takeoff roll and climb performance - almost 1000 feet per minute from the Sanford airport.

Stall speed (with flaps): 40 mph

The Allegro’s flying qualities were the biggest surprise for me. Simple coordinated turns were certainly not as trivial as those I do daily in a fast mover jet. That is, each displacement of the aileron to start and maintain a turn required thoughtful and deliberate rudder. For initial pilot training, I believe that the simple skill of proficiency in coordinated turns will pay big dividends in safety for pilots in LSA and general aviation aircraft. My instructor pilot, Ross Kennedy, explained that LSA students are taught from the start of training how



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Maximum T.O. weight: 1320 lb Basic empty weight: 622 lbs. with Rotax 912 UL, 628 lbs. with Rotax 912 UL-S

PERFORMANCE (with Rotax 912 engine): Max speed: 137 mph Stall speed (with flaps): 40 mp

Cruise speed 75% power: 120 mph Rate of climb: 1000 ft/min Max. range: 350 miles Takeoff run: 490 ft Takeoff to clear 50 ft: 820 ft Landing run: 340 ft Landing over 50 ft obstacle: 721 ft

Pilot Reports

And these same skilled pilots will do well as they transition to larger airplanes. For the lower cost of entry to be a pilot, the Allegro LSA is a great way to start. One of the joys of this adventure here in North Carolina was flying into the tiny airstrip at Gilliam Airfield, Carthage, NC (5NC3). It’s one of those “must see” airports with a 2,500 foot runway that’s only 36 feet wide and surrounded by 75 foot trees - it’s great! I checked in with Doug Hempstead from B Bar D Aviation to see how the LSA/Allegro flight training business was doing in these challenging economic times. Doug said that December 2009 and January 2010 business was twice that of the previous year. They’re finding many former students who quit are returning to earn their sport pilot certificate because B Bar D can help them for almost one-fourth the cost of getting a private pilot certificate in a non-LSA aircraft. Doug claims that 80% of students complete their training in the LSA versus 20% in the traditional private pilot syllabus. The Sport Pilot and LSA advantage is that students are transformed into pilots in a matter of weeks rather than months. B Bar D Aviation is a tremendous supporter of the EAA Young Eagles program. During the local air show event in October 2009, Doug, Ross and the staff were able to share the fun of flying with 61 Young Eagles in three Allegro planes. The simplicity and economy of the Allegro allowed each plane to fly all day using only one tank of gas! My discovery with the Allegro is that the dream is still alive for pilots that need to recharge their batteries of enthusiasm for aviation. The Allegro LSA allows the pilot to go full circle and get back to the dream of having an adventure every time they fly! to coordinate the proper amount of rudder with aileron in a turn. The students often have no preconceived ideas or bad habits to overcome – they just do what they are told. Because of the slower speed of the Allegro and other LSAs, there can be a significant amount of adverse yaw with improper use of rudder. Although the coordinated turn is a simple maneuver, many advanced pilots in advanced airplanes tend to get complacent about adverse yaw and its potential impact in a stall-spin scenario close to the ground. In my opinion as a former instructor, I believe that LSA pilots will be more aware of, and more proficient in, properly coordinated turns such that they will recognize and avoid the dangers of a low altitude stall and spin.

Fly Safe! Fly Smart! Capt Ron CaptRon@PilotMag.com

Captain Ron is a test pilot, instructor pilot, aviation writer and consultant, having published several books and study guides for aspiring pilots and airline candidates. He holds an Airline Transport Pilot, CFII, and Ground Instructor ratings with 10 type ratings and 10,000 flight hours in over 100 types of aircraft. He attended the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, CA where he was involved in numerous projects with the Air Force, DoD, and NASA.

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Knee-jerks’ Reactions: GA’s Clear and Present Danger By James Wynbrandt

he panic attacks seem to be getting more frequent, more intense and uncontrollable. The hyperventilation, the palpitations, the sweats I could care less about them. It’s the other reflexive reactions the public exhibits toward perceived airborne danger I worry about: the hasty evacuations of state and federal buildings; the White House lock downs; the traumatic shock triggered by news that taxes are spent on airports serving small planes; the misguided calls for action from uninformed politicians made in the reflected glare of tragedy.

Photo Jeff Berlin


Sure, I fear what this portends for the future of general aviation; fret over America’s lost love for aviators and aviation. But think of them, the knee-jerk. Have compassion. Feel the fear that is their constant companion. Imagine yourself, like them, the human version of a fuzzy scurrying herbivore from some Disney nature film, ever stopping to scan the sky for airborne danger. Consider the angst the members of this bizarre reverse cargo cult live with. The South Pacific natives who initiated those cults believed the airplane-shaped decoys they built in jungle clearings would lure the giant flying creatures they saw overhead down from the sky, where they could seize the precious cargo of manufactured goods. And we thought they were crazy. Even they recognized aviation brings benefits. What to make of educated people who act as if possessed by the belief a small aircraft will fall from the sky and smote them, leaving their feet protruding from under a pancaked Bonanza like the Wicked Witch of the East’s from beneath Dorothy’s house in the Wizard of Oz?


owhere did the knee-jerk put on a greater show of unity and stupidity than in the wake of last August’s tragic mid-air collision that occurred either within or just above the Hudson River Exclusion area, AKA the Hudson Corridor, adjacent to New York City. A Piper PA-32 Archer flying at an altitude of approximately 1,100 feet with three people aboard collided with a Eurocopter AS350 sightseeing helicopter carrying a pilot and five tourists from Italy. All nine died. The mishap called for grieving, a search for answers, for reassuring people that despite this terrible aberration, the sky is not falling. Instead, the leaders who traditionally provide that solace and calm were leading the panic attack. More than half a dozen of New York’s elected Federal, state and local officials gathered less than 48 hours later for a press conference laden with inaccurate statements, inflamed charges and a stunning display of ignorance regarding the regulations and realities of private aviation. “We came to the conclusion that it was the Wild West out there, totally unregulated,” Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who represents the west side of Manhattan said of the Corridor’s airspace in a warm up act before the press conference. How did he come to that conclusion? Probably from consulting the same expert Senator Chuck Schumer did, just not for as long: “The Hudson River corridor is the Wild Wild West (my italics) of New York City airspace,” the Senator told the media. I tried to find the source for the Wild charges but Senator Schumer’s press secretary wouldn’t return my calls. I figure whenever he heard Pilot Magazine he dove under his desk until he got the all clear signal. I finally stopped calling so I wouldn’t interrupt the Senator’s more pressing media relations efforts. Schumer, a Harvard graduate, displayed the least regard for regulatory and technological reality with his call for all planes and helicopters in the Hudson Corridor to file flights plans and be

One of these days, these knee-jerk reactions are going to get somebody hurt.

monitored by air traffic controllers. Apparently whoever told Chuck that the airspace is the Wild, Wild West forgot to explain the difference between IFR and VFR flight plans. The Senator underscored his lack of understanding while helping cement New Yorkers’ reputation for flaunting their jaundiced city-centric world view when he said, “Maybe in the middle of Idaho you don’t need to have a flight plan if you’re flying below 1,000 feet, but in the middle of New York City, you should.” Schumer’s source apparently forgot to tell him a VFR flight plan such as a pilot flying the corridor (which is not “the middle of New York City,” but over water) would file, is for search and rescue, not for collision avoidance. If you’re flying below 1,000 feet in Idaho and you crash, you better have a flight plan, Chuck. In the Corridor, half of New York will see you go down. This is the place it’s superfluous. Absent from the press conference was New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, himself a pilot, who that same day said, “I’m not going to pressure the FAA. They don’t need me weighing in…They’re professionals. I assume they’re going to wait until the National Transportation Safety Board makes its report and then they’ll make their decisions.” But any knee-jerk can understand the politicians’ reaction. Confronted with the fact that airplanes and helicopters have been flying up and down the Hudson River without filing flight plans and sans radar coverage for almost 40 collision-free years (the Corridor was established in 1971), the images of barely averted carnage such a realization conjures are bound to trigger irrational thoughts and statements. Perhaps Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer expressed this best when he said: “The FAA must put an end to the pattern of tragedy that has taken hold of New York’s skies over the last few years. The ‘see and avoid’ strategy of air safety is not working.” Some might argue there’s something cleansing and cathartic about such a public venting of anger, expressions of outrage, of prom ay / J u n e 2 0 1 0



F E A T U R E nouncements that say, “We can control this, and we will!” I agree. That’s why we have the theater. But no one goes to the theater anymore, do they? So why not have our elected leaders enact for us instead? And if that’s how you like to deal with a panic attack, you can feel mighty relaxed now, because our leaders are prepared for inaction. The fact that their demands are technically unfeasible, would likely degrade safety at adjacent Kennedy, Newark and LaGuardia Airports (not to mention in the Corridor), and are downright deluded should concern no one who needs to deal with anxiety rather than reality.

asking about the Archer, concerned about a potential conflict involving the aircraft he sees on his radar. The Archer, approaching the Eurocopter from behind, was outside the helicopter pilot’s field of vision. About 13 seconds after the call from Newark Tower to Teterboro the two aircraft collide.

Unfortunately the pols’ performance didn’t make for great theater. Because that requires an animate villain, someone the audience can hiss. The pols should have brought along some sacrificial lamb who didn’t care about getting reelected or was about to be embroiled in a scandal anyway, to get up and say something like, “I think tour helicopter operators flying in the Hudson Corridor should be equipped with TCAS” or “Let’s remember the Corridor diverts traffic away from flying nearer to our commercial airports, where the safety risks might be greater.” After all, mass hysteria of one sort of another – panic, scandal, grief - is about the only way we as a people commune anymore. No one wants a buzz kill trying to calm things down with logic and reason. The goal is to get the merely anxious to join the purely panicked, not the other way around.

You can see why it’s a good thing the pols didn’t wait for the facts to hold their Chicken Little convention.

Hey Chuck, do you think the pilot’s attempt to get radar coverage like you demand all pilots get played a role in this accident? Yo, Mr. Stringer, can we really add this to the “pattern of tragedy” aviation’s see and avoid safety strategy has wrought without putting an asterisk next to it?

But New York can claim no monopoly on aviation knee-jerk, as the increasing ability and efficiency of single engine aircraft to empty public structures nationwide attests. In Madison, Wisconsin last April the state capitol building was evacuated after a stolen C-172 from Canada crossed the border and came close to the city. Capitol Police told state workers and visitors to “get as far away as possible” from the building, according to the Associated Press. Not to be outdone, that same month the U.S. Capitol building was evacuated when a Piper Cub strayed into Washington’s airspace. I picture scenes from a Fifties sci-fi movie where the arrival of aliens in D.C. is dramatized by a montage of a crowd streaming down the steps of the Capitol, hordes sprinting down the street, casting terrified looks over their shoulders, and immobilized drivers leaning on car horns in a mass traffic jam. The one false note in transposing those sci-fi montages to current times is the Commander in Chief shot. They always showed the president (from the back, of course) meeting about the threat with his cabinet, the Capitol building framed in the window in the background. That’s fine if it’s just space aliens you’re dealing with, but we’re talking about a single engine airplane here! And that means lock down. That was the reaction at the White House to the errant Piper Cub. The president was probably whisked to a secure wine cellar in the bowels of the White House, while the cabinet members were left to duck and cover under the desk in the cabinet room. And of course whenever one of these stray aircraft drifts near the area, F-16s and a Blackhawk helicopter or two are dispatched to intercept it.

GA, ever the whipping boy for commercial aviation’s failures, had best be prepared for the regulatory equivalent of a full cavity body search.

And it’s a good thing the politicians didn’t wait to open their mouths. Because if they had, it would have been too late to make their “all filed, all flight followed” demand. Or it would have made their plan sound as dumb as it is. Because within days of the Fear Factor press conference, the NTSB’s investigation revealed that the pilot of the Archer was in fact in radar contact with controllers, and at the moment the collision occurred was in the midst of dealing with a botched handoff from Teterboro to Newark Tower. The tape and transcript of the Teterboro Tower communications reveal the errors and unprofessionalism that doubtless contributed to the accident. (http://www.faa.gov/ data_research/accident_incident/2009-08-08/). But perhaps more importantly, this record underscores the danger posed by grandstanding rule makers and knee-jerk. The Teterboro Tower tape follows the Piper Archer as the pilot prepares for departure from the airport, located just west of the Corridor, asks for flight following, and later receives the controller’s handoff to Newark Tower. Then two unfortunate circumstances collide before the Archer and Eurocopter do. The pilot mishears the frequency, and the Teterboro controller is preoccupied with a phone conversation he is simultaneously conducting with a girlfriend. Engaged in his jovial flirtatious banter about scraping dead animals off pavement, by the time the controller finishes what he’s saying to his woman friend to correct the pilot’s read back, it’s too late. That beat you pause in the cockpit before changing frequencies precisely to wait for that type of correction has passed. The Archer pilot is “lost in the hertzes,” as the Teterboro controller says seconds later to the Newark Tower controller who calls



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A couple of problems with this knee-jerk response. Let’s give security officials the benefit of the doubt and concede they actually believe a single engine aircraft – even a Piper Cub, which qualifies as an LSA today - poses a grave threat to the physical structure of these massive buildings and the lives of those inside. (As a postscript, the results of the despicable kamikaze attack on the glass walled IRS office complex in Austin, Texas in February illustrates the difficulty of causing catastrophic damage to a structure with such an aircraft.) If so, their reaction is entirely inappropriate and counter-productive. That Piper Cub got within three miles of the White House! What if those onboard had evil intentions? Or if those with evil intentions are watching? What do they see? A plane coming within spitting distance of these deceptively


fragile buildings, while F-16s and Blackhawks circle ineffectually. By the time the approval to shoot down the airplane worked its way up the chain of command, it would be too late. Meanwhile, pilots who transgress the restricted area get a slap on the wrist, creating little incentive to scrupulously avoid violating it. It’s only a matter of time before some reality show wannabes gate crash the D.C. airspace, claiming they had an invitation to land at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and try to parlay their bold display of trespass into a TV contract, paid interview or Congressional subpoena. And meanwhile, firm in its belief of the potential danger of these incursions, the government must launch intercepting aircraft and evacuate and lock down buildings each time in response. Not smart, government. You want to prevent pilots from straying into the airspace, and send would-be terrorists a strong message? Rig up a remotely piloted C-182. The 182 has a useful load of more than 1,100 pounds. Put a mannequin in the left seat, pack it with C-4 or other high explosive and aim it for downtown D.C. Sound the alarm, alert the media, hit the panic button. Drop dark hints about officials taking this very seriously, and when the TV audience has reached balloon boy levels, blow the airplane out of the sky – don’t even wait until it gets into DC airspace - to show you mean business. The explosion of a half ton of C-4 would make a strong case for the potential danger presented by even a small aircraft, and shut up those alphabet group GA supporters who hound you for focusing on the wrong threats. You wouldn’t have to spend as much energy trying to get pilots to pay attention and avoid the restricted airspace, either. And potential terrorists plotting how to top an attack that utilized three wide-body airliners loaded with fuel would be have to reconsider using a Cessna or a Piper Cub to get the job done. Most importantly, the action would likely reduce future evacuations of the Capitol and the real and present danger of sprains, broken bones or other injuries incurred in the course of these knee-jerk responses. Meanwhile back in New York the FAA rewarded the politicians’ foot stomping by changing the rules and configuration of the Corridor’s airspace. And Senator Schumer, to his credit, showed he doesn’t target only general aviation in his anti-aviation tirades. More recently he was



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quoted in the New York Times as having called a flight attendant on a US Airways jet a “bitch” for telling him to turn off his cell phone so the commercial flight could get underway. (http://www.nytimes. com/2009/12/17/nyregion/17schumer.html?hp.) But how much of a threat do security experts really consider GA aircraft? Is the heavy handed response simply a show meant for public consumption, a display of “securitiness” (a term that bears the same relation to “security” as Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness” does to “truth”)? Or is the orchestrated panic behind small plane sightings part of some darker effort that lies behind the government’s current war on general aviation, exemplified by its attacks on the nation’s GA manufacturing base and on residential communities that have had through-the-fence access to their adjacent airports for decades, along with whatever link conspiracy theorists want to make of the airline industry-USA Today connection? Whatever lies behind the knee-jerk’ reaction, an assessment of the security-industrial complex’s true perception of GA’s threat can be drawn from the agendas of two recent gatherings: The 9th annual Aviation Security Summit held in Washington, D.C. this past December and the 2010 International Airport Security Conference in Queensland, New Zealand in February. Attended by international security experts, TSA, DHS and airport officials, the multi-day palavers addressed all manner of security threats, policies and technologies. And where did GA fit into the discussion? In both conferences the very last topic, seemingly added as an afterthought to agendas that between the two managed to schedule several hours’ worth of “Coffee Break with Exhibitors” sessions, was General Aviation Security. The panels featured low level officials probably left behind to wave the flag after their bosses departed, the real business and commerce of the shows already having been concluded. But clearly the threat is seen as greater by half in the U.S.: the GA security session at the D.C. gathering was allotted 45 minutes, versus the half hour it got in New Zealand. Then again, perhaps we should applaud this as a smart, efficient approach. Why should security officials waste their time jawboning about general aviation security? Give the knee-jerk a little more time, and there won’t be any general aviation to worry about.

Travel Destinations PILOTMAG

The Gilded Age, Fudge and one Grand Hotel



by Steven W. Ells

Photos by Steven W. Ells

The Mackinac Island airport (MCG) runway is humped in the middle but that’s not unusual in a 3500 foot by 75 foot concrete runway. It’s quiet and pretty but that’s not unusual at a rural airport. I was busy tying down and securing the airplane when the clip clop sound of horse’s hooves pulled me away from my tasks. Our taxi--our horse-drawn taxi--had arrived. That’s when we knew—this is not going to be the usual fly- in adventure.


very pilot should add Mackinac Island to their fly-in bucket list—in ink! Why? Because it’s a time capsule of America’s Gilded Age mixed with a sprinkle or two of early U.S. history, seasoned with a mouthful of fudge, and topped off with picturesque views of the natural wonders of the upper Midwest.

When was the last time you visited a village where the hum-drum throbbing of our automobile age was absent? Where the sounds of bird song and wave lap accompanies the wind-blown rustling of tree leaves. Or settled into a rocking chair on a 660-foot long porch to rock away a few hours? Or ridden a bicycle around an island? Or had 15 fudge stores to choose from? Mackinac Island is a oneof-a-kind destination.



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The Grand Hotel According to Robert Tagatz, concierge at the Grand Hotel, there were over 1200 large wood-construction destination hotels in the country at the turn of the last century. America’s Industrial Age was booming. Better wages for working class citizens helped stoke the beginning of a middle class. This eager class of Americans took to the tracks and waterways as railroad and steamship companies expanded. In 1884 two railway companies and a steamship

seats 750. Very posh; very wellorchestrated wait staff. There are also three more casual restaurants on site.

company agreed to finance the construction of a large hotel on Mackinac Island. Construction started in 1887. Lumber was brought to the island, 300 construction workers were hired, and four months later the Grand Hotel was complete. The Grand Hotel, along with Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego and the Mount Washington Hotel in New Hampshire are regarded as the best of the 12 large destination hotels remaining from America’s Gilded Age. During a visit last fall—the trees were just beginning to change—we checked the Grand Hotel off our list. We stayed in the Jane Seymour suite. Highlights included taking an evening meal in the Salle à Manger—dress codes required that I wear a coat and tie and Audrey a dress or elegant pants suit. This 34,000 square foot dining room

The Grand is, in the style of an earlier age, a true destination hotel with its own 18-hole golf course, the Esther Williams swimming pool, tennis courts, bicycles, saddle horses, carriage tours of the island, nightly dancing to the music of the Grand Hotel orchestra, and a full length feature movie every night. Guest packages at the Grand are offered throughout the season which begins in early May and extends through the end of October. These include Honeymoon-Anniversary packages, an Arts Weekend, a Golf Package, a Girls Getaway Weekend, Family Value Added Days, Games and Garden Weekend, a Labor Day Jazz Weekend, and a late season Ballroom Dancing Weekend. Other specialty events include Carleton Varney’s Antique Show and Design Fall Festival, and the annual Grand Hotel Anniversary Package. There’s also a Somewhere in Time weekend. In 1979 the Grand and other sites on the island were prominently featured in a full length movie starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. Although the movie was only a moder-

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ate success, it’s gained a cult-like following and the weekend draws hundreds of enthusiasts. The Grand has a no-tipping policy. Room rates include both breakfast and dinner. Rates in 2009 ranged from $235 per person for a smaller, inside room to $360 per person for a uniquely appointed, luxury guest room during weekdays. Larger and more luxurious accommodations are available. There are also a full range of accommodations on the island ranging from single rooms in Victorian era hotels, to bed and breakfasts, to condominiums to full service resorts. See www.mackinac.com for more housing and island activity information.

The Clip-Clop Sound of Mackinac Island The clip-clop of horse’s hooves is the background music of the island. In addition to the island taxi service, visitors can rent horse-drawn carriages and saddle horses for touring the island. Mountain, tandem and touring bicycles can also be rented. Joggers, bicyclists and trail runners will enjoy the many trails that crisscross the island. In addition to the many well preserved historical buildings—such as the McGulpin and Biddle Houses which both date from 1780 and hotels such as the 1830 Inn and the Island House which was built in 1852—fully-restored Fort Mackinac is located high above the town center on a steep bluff overlooking Haldiman Bay and picturesque Round Island Lighthouse. Adjacent to the Grand Hotel, on a bluff that looks west to the 5-mile long Mackinac Straits Bridge, are a half-dozen of over 70 beautifully maintained Victorian “cottages” that dot the island. Cottages built on Mackinac Island between 1870 and 1910 are living examples of Queen Anne, Shingle Style and Carpenter Gothic schools of architecture. Surprisingly, this small island was at the center of the fight over the control of commerce during fur trades of the 18th and 19th centuries, was home port for many boats during the heyday of Great Lakes fishing, and has been fought over by French, British and American armies.

Carolyn May’s grandfather worked at Murdick’s before opening his own shop in the 1930s. “We still use my grandfather’s recipe book,” said May, during a conversation at the Grand Hotel, where she works during the summer. Robert Tagatz, the irrepressible concierge at the Grand, said, “During busy summer days as much as 10,000 pounds of fudge is shipped off the island.” I shipped three “slices” during my brief visit. There’s no doubt that I’ll be asked to send some more and there’s also no doubt that I’ll visit Mackinac Island again. Hope to see you there.

URLs: Mount Washington Resort:


Grand Hotel:


Hotel Del Coronado:


Great Lakes Air Service: www.greatlakesair.net



windows and further tantalized visitors by installing blowers to waft the sweet smell of fudge out over the sidewalks.

Two years after the Grand Hotel was finished, Henry Murdick opened the island’s first “Candy Kitchen.”

Mackinac Island Visitors Bureau:

By 1920 fudge had become the island’s most popular souvenir. Harry Ryba, a rival fudge shop owner moved the fudge mixing tables to the front of his shop, installed plate glass

Mackinac Island State Parks:


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f b o s p o t l i g h t | Departments

D2 AERO Lake Havasu City Airport (HII) By Brad Irwin Photos by Mark Frey


ocated just six miles north of beautiful Lake Havasu City, is one of the most accommodating and friendly FBOs that I have ever flown to. I met these nice folks when I flew to Arizona last year to get my seaplane rating with Lake Havasu Seaplanes (PilotMag May/June 2009). When we decided to create this new FBO Spotlight section in PilotMag, I knew we had to feature D2 Aero and get the word out to pilots looking for somewhere to fly that was interesting and a whole lot of fun.



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Home to the world famous London Bridge, Lake Havasu is a paradise for water lovers and desert lovers alike. The crystal clear water and sunny skies of Lake Havasu offer the perfect environment for any getaway. And, when you take a trip by plane somewhere that you’ve never been before, it’s always nice to have the help and support of a great FBO to make the trip more enjoyable. That’s exactly what I found at D2 Aero. Owner - Darin Craig; general manager Birgit Van Bynen; and line manager - Lee

Vandaalwyk, have done a great job creating an FBO that will treat you like royalty and provide you with fantastic service and a very pleasant experience. I was amazed when I got to Lake Havasu, how many things there were to actually do there. From renting a house boat or jet skis to seaplane rides, bi-plane rides, helicopter rides, golf, or just flying your plane over the three lakes in the area – Lake Havasu, Lake Mojave, and Lake Mead. That was the flight of a lifetime.

I was there to get my seaplane rating, which was an adventure that I will never forget. If you ever dreamed of flying a seaplane, Lake Havasu with over 400 miles of stunning coastline and 300 sunny days a year, is one of the best places you could ever imagine to do that.

interesting to fly, try Lake Havasu City. You will meet some very nice people and have a great time.

Being a resort town, there are plenty of rental cars, hotels, and nice restaurants nearby. I also found a really great health club in town called Havasu Fitness which was a great place to work out while I was there. And, since Lake Havasu City is a relatively small town, all the amenities like Walmart, grocery stores, and the like are close by. This is just a very nice place to get away for awhile. D2 Aero can also provide a hangar for your plane while you are there and Arizona Aircraft Maintenance is right next door should you need any assistance to keep you flying and smiling. If you are looking for somewhere new and

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t h e f i n e p r i n t | Departments

AIRCRAFT LEASING TAX ISSUES By Daniel Cheung, aviationtaxconsultants.com

General aviation has experienced an extended growth period throughout the past decade. The generous income tax incentive available for a business use aircraft has contributed to this growth. Taxpayers that utilize a business aircraft in their trade or business can realize significant tax deductions that can help offset the cost of ownership.


ome taxpayers elect to enter into aircraft leasing transactions to generate revenue to help defray operating costs. In addition to Federal Aviation Administration regulations, aircraft leasing faces various income, sales and use, and federal excise tax issues that should be addressed. In this article, we will discuss the depreciation benefits available for aircraft ownership, and some of the tax issues that will affect the deductibility of a business aircraft.

Income Tax Benefits Depreciation deduction provides the most immediate tax benefits to aircraft owners. The depreciable life for a business aircraft is five years for a Part 91 operator and seven years for Part 135 operators. The return of bonus depreciation in 2008 and 2009 allows a taxpayer to deduct 50% of the cost of the new aircraft in the year of acquisition. In addition, fixed and variable operating expenses are deductible. Below is a table illustrating the depreciation deduction percentage by year, based on the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) method of depreciation: Regular MACRS Depreciation

Part 91 Operator

Part 135 Operator

Year 1



Year 2



Year 3



Year 4



Year 5



Year 6



Year 7



Year 8





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Bonus depreciation allows a taxpayer to write off 50 percent of the acquisition cost of a new business aircraft in the year of acquisition, in addition to regular depreciation deductions. Below is a table illustrating the depreciation deduction percentage by year, including 50% bonus depreciation: Bonus Depreciation

Part 91 Operator

Part 135 Operator

Year 1



Year 2



Year 3



Year 4



Year 5



Year 6



Year 7



Year 8



Passive Activity Loss Passive activity is a trade or business activity in which the taxpayer does not materially participate. In general, all rental activities are passive activities. You materially participate in an activity if you are involved in the operation of the activity on a regular, continuous, and substantial basis.

A construction company operates in multiple states. The owner determines that a business aircraft will expand the geographical coverage of the business and will improve the efficiency of his construction managers. It is determined that the aircraft will be owned and operated by a special purpose entity that will serve as a leasing company. The main reasons for this structure are to manage the liability exposure of the aircraft, to comply with financial reporting requirements and to manage state sales tax. The aircraft is owned by a leasing company and a lease is drafted for the construction company to use the aircraft. The aircraft is utilized in the furtherance of the active business of the construction company. The owner expects the aircraft deductions to offset the business income from the construction company. The Internal Revenue Service, however, can consider the aircraft deduction to be “passive” due to the fact that aircraft entity is a leasing business. The net result to the taxpayer could be disastrous: the taxpayer will have higher taxable income due to the expansion of the construction business but the aircraft deductions will not be allowed to reduce this taxable income due to the passive activity loss rules or related party rental rules for business aircraft.

Exceptions to Passive Activity The tax code does provide some exception to this passive activity treatment. These include:

Internal Revenue Code Section 469 states that, generally, losses from passive activities that exceed the income from passive activities are disallowed for the current year. Unused passive losses are carried forward to all future years. This code section can result in some unexpected and unpleasant income tax consequence for the taxpayer that leases a business aircraft.

1. Average period of customer use is seven days or less: think of Blockbuster video rental

Here’s a scenario illustrating how Passive Activity Loss can negatively affect the desired tax results on the purchase of a business aircraft.

3. Extraordinary personal services are provided as part of the rental: think of a charter rental transaction when you are renting an aircraft, but the

2. Average period of customer use is 30 days or less, and significant personal services are produced: think of a hotel stay when you are renting a hotel room, but significant services are provided by the hotel during your stay.


| the fine print

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t h e f i n e p r i n t | Departments professional pilot service is an integral part of the transaction. 4. Rental of property is incidental to a non-rental activity of the taxpayer.

Charter Leaseback Transaction and Passive Activity Loss Leasing a business aircraft to a charter operator has been a common practice in general aviation. The owner receives revenue when their aircraft is flown in charter operations to offset ownership costs, in addition to benefitting from the professional management provided by the charter operator. However, careful consideration should be given to the income tax treatment of a charter leaseback aircraft. Since the leaseback transaction is likely considered to be a passive rental activity, a taxpayer should be prepared to meet one of the exceptions to the passive activity loss rule, listed above, in order to deduct the aircraft losses as an active trade or business loss.

Related Party Leasing It is a common planning strategy to set up a leasing company to own a corporate aircraft. Some would

argue that a leasing company can isolate the liability of aircraft ownership, and in some states, a leasing company can also be utilized to defer state sales and use tax liability. In a recently published Technical Advice Memorandum, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) determines that related party rental structure may limit a company’s ability to utilize bonus depreciation and the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) to depreciate a business aircraft. A careful review of your aircraft ownership structure and overall corporate structure is critical in achieving the desired tax benefits.

possession, command, and control of the aircraft, the owner is not engaging in a taxable transportation service, but is merely leasing the aircraft. Typically, this is referred to as “dry leasing” and revenue from dry leasing is not subject to federal excise tax (FET). Federal excise tax is assessed at 7.5% of all taxable transportation revenue, and the taxpayer is required to remit collected tax to the government and file a tax return on a quarterly basis. A business aircraft can generate significant operational and income tax benefits to a taxpayer. However, careful planning and review of how the various income tax and FAA regulations affect your ownership structure is critical to achieving your objectives.

Federal Excise Tax Internal Revenue Code Section 4261(a) imposes a tax on the amount paid for taxable transportation of any person by air. The IRS has a different definition for taxable transportation than the FAA. For federal tax purposes, if the owner of an aircraft leases it to others for the transportation of persons but retains possession, command, and control of the aircraft, the owner is furnishing taxable transportation within the meaning of § 4261. However, if the owner of the aircraft transfers the complete

Aviation Tax Consultants (ATC) assists aircraft purchasers in acquiring aircraft in a tax efficient manner. Our services include the elimination or reduction of sales and use tax at the time of purchase, maximizing income tax savings, and complying with Federal Aviation Regulations. Cooperation with client’s current tax and legal advisors is welcome and encouraged.

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» douglaslperry

approaching the airport on the 45 for runway 32. I waited for a response, but heard nothing. I scanned the immediate area but I saw no other planes in any direction.

Unwanted Encounter I thought I would share some of my flying stories. This happened about 10 years ago, but it’s still fresh in my memory. It was the day that I almost had a twin as a hood ornament. I had rented a Cessna 172 from the local FBO at Reid Hillview airport in San Jose, CA. It was kind of a clunker, but the engine was strong, and the wings seemed to be attached pretty well, so I decided to head south for some landing practice.

I scanned down below and located the windsock so that I could verify the wind direction. I saw that the direction of the wind favored landing on runway 14. I changed course to fly parallel to the runway so that I could enter the 45 for runway 14 and started my descent to pattern altitude. As I entered the downwind leg, I got on the radio again and announced my position. At the base turn I did the same. When I was on final I yakked on the radio one final time letting everyone in the area know my position. I greased the wheels on the runway, applied full power, slowly removed the flaps, and prepared to climb out. I was just doing touch and goes. After about five touch and goes, announcing my position on the radio every time, I prepared for my sixth landing.

About 20 miles South is an airport known in the local pilot circles as South County. I think it relates to the fact that it is at the southern edge of Santa Clara county, but I could be wrong about that. It’s located right next to Highway 101 in the city of San Martin. The airport has a fair bit of local traffic, but not enough to warrant a control tower. As I got within a few miles of the airport I dialed in the appropriate frequency and announced that I was



I once again announced on the radio I was downwind, turning base, and finally on final. I was about 100 ft altitude, airplane fully dirty (power off, flaps at 30 degrees, airspeed at 1.3Vso), when I noticed something at the far end of the runway. There was a medium size twin engine plane landing the other way, coming directly at me. Luckily I didn’t hesitate, but jammed in full power, slowly dumped

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the flaps, and started a climbing turn to the right. At first the other pilot must not have seen me, but when he did, it was like he didn’t know which way to go. I was taught to always go right, and that’s what I did. The other guy jinked left, right, left again, and finally turned right. By this time I was away from the airport and climbing, but it was still kind of funny to watch. Amazingly enough all of the sudden I now hear someone on the radio asking which runway was in use. Well imagine that, now he wants to talk on the radio. I didn’t get upset, though maybe I should have, but told him that the windsock favored 14. A few minutes later I see him in the pattern lining up for 14. He landed and parked his plane in one of the tiedowns close to the runway. On another practice landing I could see that he was an elderly gentleman, alone in the big twin. On another flight when I landed at the airport I talked to one of the locals, and he said that there were a number of “experienced pilots” that seemed to disregard talking on the radio and routinely made straight in approaches to the runway from miles away. Not the safest thing I’ve ever heard. n

» Paradise 1 Summer Plans? As we all head towards summer we all begin to make our flying adventure plans. What trips are we going to take, and where we are going to visit along the way? Here at Paradise Ranch Resort we are on our way to completion of our Jack Nicklaus-Nicklaus II Championship course and have many homesites and villas for sale. Yes, times are tough but we are plugging away. Fly directly to us and see our deals. Why not stop in and say hi and see what we are up to? Granted our Aviation Facilities are not up yet, but we would be glad to meet you plane side and bring you over ( 2 minute drive) to Paradise Ranch Resort in Grants Pass, Oregon (3S8). (Picture Taken Summer 2006) (Aviation Facilities: Private Ramp,Hangar,Terminal will be built)

The online community for pilots and flying enthusiasts.

If you like championship golf, fly fishing, vineyards, hiking,kayaking,rafting, jet boats, gambling and much more this is a place to stop off and say hi. Let us know when you are on your way and I will make sure you are taken care of. Come see the only Nicklaus-Nicklaus II Championship golf course with direct fly in access in the United States!!! www.paradiseranchresort.com http://twitter.com/ParadiseOregon (541) 956-0707 Or see our ad in Pilot Mag I hope to hear from you! Safe and Wonderful flights to all this coming Summer!!! n

» FlyGirl SkyBelts for the Flying Enthusiast Dear Pilot Loungers! I remember the days I took the short cut through the pilots crew lounge in ORD. Now I’m passing through the pilots lounge in cyber space...funny:) Anyway...thought I would stop in to share my new creations and websites of all aviation inspired fashion for fun viewing.

SkyBelts can be found at The Museum of Flight and on our online store at www. skybelts.com. We hope to make it to Arlington again this year and Oshkosh next year...we”ll see. Hope you check them out! Happy Travels and Safe Landings! n

» Gates 2009 What a Year! Last September, when PilotMag was in Reno for the National Air Race Championships and sponsoring the National Aviation Heritage Invitational, a newspaper was thrown on the breakfast table one morning in the Eldorado Hotel. On the front cover was Thomas Frank’s cover story in USA Today. With obvious bias and a blatant pitch for major airlines, Mr. Frank’s story “Little Used Airports Cost Taxpayers Big Money” was published for the readers to make up their own mind about the state of general aviation. We were furious. We published a response to Frank’s cover story on PilotMag.com, PilotLounge.com and even contacted our Congressman. We wanted to take immediate action. How dare Mr. Frank. Small, unknown airports receive needed FAA and Federal funding to train countless, future pilots

and provide maintenance and training facilities that feed the industry as a whole. When something means as much as aviation, we wanted to act quickly to preserve our livelihood and object to the negative press that aviation has received over the last year. All of us at PilotMag have endured challenges over the last year, and we have done our best to provide our readers with exciting, positive publications and websites that bring the romance and adventure back. Over the last year, we have taking you heli-skiing, to the sands of Turks & Caicos, flying float planes in Central Florida and we have introduced you to many pilots making a difference in our community. As we reflect on the last year, and now, as we delivery of our 8th issue, PilotMag has realized some very valuable lessons. We aren’t perfect, but we’re persistent in our pursuit to being the leading adventure resource in aviation. We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to our publication over the last year. The list is too long, but you know who you are. Taking what we have learned, PilotMag moves into the new year with changes that will perpetuate our success. Jeff Berlin, a frequent contributor to PilotMag, has been named Editor for 2010. A multiengine and instrument rated pilot since 1994, Jeff has flown a multitude of aircraft ranging from ultralights and LSA’s to cabinclass

turboprops and jets. He enjoys keeping an eye on how technology impacts the flying experience and has contributed to magazines including AOPA Pilot, Private Pilot, Private Air, Aerokurier, and Aviation et Pilote in the past. We look forward to Jeff’s energy and his help with Pilot Magazine, LLC’s mission.

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B i z a V F u t u r e | Column

Too Soon To Tell?

Business Aviation’s Current State of Affairs By Morgan Gray

2009 was an extraordinary year for business aviation. Let me be quick to point out that it was probably not extraordinary in the sense that any would have hoped for. As an industry with a reputation of being innovative and resilient, business aviation found itself back on its heels in the first quarter of 2009. Companies around the United States divested from their airplanes and dismembered their flight departments at astonishing rates, manufacturers’ “bulletproof” order books evaporated, and used business jet inventories rose to their highest level on record. Most economists had agreed that any downturn would be cushioned by a strong international market and big backlogs, but the global financial crisis and scrutiny on the use of business aviation hit the industry hard. THE BUILD UP It is a widely held belief that corporate profits are the indicator with the closest correlation to business jet demand. At the beginning of the decade, deliveries peaked in 2001 after U.S. corporate profits reached a high in 1999. In this particular cycle, business jet deliveries bottomed out in 2003 as the economic slowdown and the aftershocks of September 11th were felt. The downturn lasted for two years before positive growth returned in 2004. The U.S. economy regained 106


its momentum and corporate profits peaked again in 2006. The demand for business jets rose along with these indicators and business jet deliveries hit an alltime high two years later in 2008, when more than 1,300 business jets were delivered to customers around the world. The international market also started to gain its greatest momentum during the last cycle and untapped markets in Europe, Russia and the Middle East started to generate substantial demand.

U.S. economy going to sputter? With more than half of business jets sales coming from customers outside the United States, many hoped that this geographic diversity would insulate the industry and protect the coveted backlogs. However, in the several months that followed, the U.S. financial crisis spilled quickly, broadly, and deeply into the real economy worldwide. Investors panicked and access to capital became severely impaired. The industry scrambled to right-size its businesses in an attempt to maximize stability for the next few years.

Flight activity was up 3.2% in November 2009 over October 2009 and when compared year-over-year, activity was up 22.7% over November 2008.

THE FALL Spurred by the subprime mortgage crisis and its effect on credit availability in early 2008, the U.S. was the first to experience trouble. Even though business jet shipments in the second and third quarters remained strong, the industry took notice of the drop in flight activity. As we entered the third quarter of the calendar year, the big question emerged. How much and how long was the

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To make matters even worse, as public anger over the deteriorating market environment and job losses intensified, business aviation and the “fat cats” that flew on these jets became collateral damage as policymakers worked to address public outcry. I think we are all familiar of the debacle during a Congressional hearing in which the CEO’s of Ford, GM, and Chrysler came under heavy criticism for flying their business jets to Washington. Not long after, Citigroup, one of the many beneficiaries of

bailout funds was pressured to cancel its impending delivery of a business jet. The media fiasco that followed these events and others had a brutal affect on the industry. The global financial crisis, a major credit crunch and business aviation’s damaged image, led to one of, if not the toughest year, the business aviation industry has ever experienced. Cancellations of new jets outpaced orders at an astounding level. Production cuts and massive layoffs ensued. The used market became saturated virtually overnight as flight departments were shuttered and the number of business jets on the market reached record levels. RECOVERY? History has shown that demand for new business jets lag economic growth and corporate profits. There is no clear consensus yet on when and how the global economy will return to growth and many expect that any recovery in the business aviation industry is going to take time. One likely indicator will be economic growth in key international markets and the expanding base of wealthy individuals in these regions. Merrill Lynch and Cap Gemini estimated in their 2009 World Wealth Report that the population of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) (i.e., people with financial assets of $1 million or more) will start growing again as the global economy recovers. By


2013, they expect global HNWI financial wealth to recover to $48.5 trillion, after advancing at a sustained annual rate of 8.1%. They also forecast Asia-Pacific to overtake North America as the largest region for HNWI financial wealth. This is good news since many expect that China and India will probably be the next two markets to experience major growth in business aviation once the economy recovers. Economic growth and vast geography make China a promising market and the industry seems encouraged by the government’s attempts to improve the infrastructure and regulatory environment, including

| biz av Future

easing its air space restrictions. Once many of these political and cultural challenges are met, business aviation will be able to flourish. In India, the flexibility of their government and its openness to commerce could help the business jet market develop at a much quicker pace than even that of China’s.

terrupted decline. And according to the Aviation Research Group/ US (ARG/US), the latest business jet activity (IFR arrivals and departures) shows a continued upward trend. Flight activity was up 3.2% in November 2009 over October 2009 and when compared yearover-year, activity was up 22.7% over November 2008.

Beechcraft, and Learjet. The center now predicts the region will experience fewer than half of the 3,550 job losses that it had originally expected for this year. They cite increasing corporate profits (which they say have been growing for three quarters) as one reason for the amendment to their original predictions.

As these factors take several years to mature, industry insiders are going to be keeping a close eye on near-term indicators such as the strength of the used market and flight activity. In December, J.P. Morgan reported that used jet inventory (measured by ‘aircraft for sale as % of active fleet,’) decreased to 12.8%, its fifth unin-

In one more piece of encouraging news, Wichita State University’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research adjusted its economic predictions for 2010, including a reduction in the number of projected job losses in and around Wichita, Kansas – home to legacy business jet manufacturers Cessna, Hawker

It was by most measures a rapid descent to troubling times for this industry. Now that several positive indicators have finally emerged, some may be breathing a little easier in the new year. But, to say with absolute certainty that the industry is out of the woods would be nothing short of extraordinary.

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The Magazine and Online Guide for Adventure Flying





The objective of PilotMag is quite diverse and grand in scale. PilotMag is a comprehensive and diverse media resource created specifically for active pilots, aircraft owners, and aviation enthusiasts throughout the world. With the intent to provide the most complete and informative aviation adventure in the community, PilotMag provides “ondemand” information and an interactive interface that will be used by pilots of all ratings and certifications. Aviators and aviation enthusiasts have many choices of magazines to read in the market. PilotMag is breaking new editorial ground and setting itself apart with cutting-edge and newsworthy articles. Our editorial will take a deeper, more controversial look into the world of general and business aviation and how it’s shaping the environment for aviators around the world. Whether it is in-depth reporting on the federal government or investigative articles on manufacturers and their products, PilotMag is taking to the skies.


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f i n a l a p p r o a c h | Column

The Wright Brothers LSA By Ron McElroy

As we approach the deadline for this issue of PilotMag, the tragedy of the Haiti earthquake is on the minds of my family and our nation. I’m encouraged that our nation is one that always tries to respond to those in need. And I pray that those of us that can, have responded either financially or with time, energy, and efforts to help the Haitians in their time of need.


ilots as a group tend to be generous, productive, and inventive. I suspect that will never end. We don’t seek fame or reward when we need to find a solution to a problem or complete a task. The satisfaction and adventure we find internally as a pilot is usually enough. Sometimes glory and fame will choose a few among us, like Captain Sullenberger and First Officer Skiles and crew. They did a great job and deserve the accolades. Most of the heroes of industry are simple fellows working diligently on a project needing a solution, or a military man not afraid to do what needs to be done in the name of freedom. The past century is filled with such heroes, many of which could likely tell us about the greatest stories never told that impacted our lives in silence and in glory. I recently read a book about the Wright Brothers called “The Flyers,” by Noah Adams. It was a fascinating book that explored the nature of silent heroes as well as the story behind their creating the first controllable aeroplane. It’s discusses their family, their home, and their travels before and after Kitty Hawk. And it discusses their challenges and successes through the years. The story of the Wright Brothers was relevant to me since I had seen the Wright Flyer in the Smithsonian Museum just a few months ago



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with my family. My fifth grade twins had only ever read about the Wright Brothers and had never seen this airplane, the Wright Flyer, in person. Of course, as a father who cares about their grasp of American history, I had to prod their enthusiasm a little; but, along with the vast collection of the most famous of America’s first century of flight, it was fun to see them share in my excitement of airplanes and the days of glory. This airplane was not a small craft to handle. In fact, it seemed cumbersome and awkward to handle on both the ground and in the air. I can only imagine the leap of faith of Orville and Wilbur to deliberately try to fly the thing. By our current standards, the airplane was tremendously underpowered and unstable. Yet, with a 12 horsepower homebuilt engine, forty foot wingspan, and propellers, they made aviation history. Perhaps it was luck that they flew on December 17, 1903; but, they had worked diligently and patiently for years leading up to those few magical moments of powered flight in Kitty Hawk, NC. Indeed, the photos of the first moments of flight were, in themselves, a miracle. Much as the dawn of the 20th century awoke to the fever of powered flight, the 21st century holds remarkably similar opportunities for us to create another aviation adventure that could impact the next 100 years in ways we can only dream of.

The similarities of the 1903 Wright Flyer to current day Light Sport Aircraft and homebuilt experimental aircraft are intriguing. All use innovative construction. All use innovative engines. And all generate curiosity among those of us with creative and imaginative minds. I recently flew the Allegro LSA - it was a remarkably refreshing experience. I was having such a great time that it even made me laugh. I’m also excited about the continuing work of Sonex Aircraft, who are testing a prototype kitplane powered by a 240 pound-thrust jet weighing only 47 pounds. The challenges of the Wright Brothers were, in some ways, not so different for our own. We just have more gizmos and gadgets, and 100 years of aircraft development. But their spirit is kept alive in each builder piecing together their own aircraft in their garage or workshop. Pilots are always striving for the best performing, most economical, and now, most ecofriendly aircraft. I believe this century we’ll start to see some real Buck Rogers-type flying machines. Now, if we can just keep the bureaucrats out of the way…. Fly Safe! Fly Smart! Capt Ron CaptRon@PilotMag.com

Captain Ron is a test pilot, instructor pilot, aviation writer and consultant, having published several books and study guides for aspiring pilots and airline candidates. He holds an Airline Transport Pilot, CFII, and Ground Instructor ratings with 10 type ratings and 10,000 flight hours in over 100 types of aircraft. He attended the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, CA where he was involved in numerous projects with the Air Force, DoD, and NASA.

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t h e n e x t f i v e m i n u t e s | Column

The longest Flight The date: 14 Dec. 1986 Location: On the end of runway 04 Edwards AFB, in the high desert of California


By: Dick Rutan

survey the small, cramped cockpit and half sit up to look out the tiny bubble canopy. The forward fuselage was bent down more than I had ever seen it before. The left and right boom tanks, filled with tons of high test aviation fuel, were bent downward as well with the tips of the long, slim wings a mere ten inches above the three-mile long concrete runway. In the interest of saving weight, my colleague beside me had no seat or seat belt. She would lie on the uneven floor for the duration of the flight. She looked up at me, her eyes full of anticipation and confidence, ready to get on with it. This cluttered domicile of switches, levers, valves and gages was to be our world for the next 9 days. I attempted to fit the small canopy door into its position. It would not fit. The fuel on board this day far exceeded that of any previous flight, causing the frail carbon structure to contort the opening. With mixed emotions and a fist, I try to pound the door into the new misshapen opening, knowing that if it didn’t work I might not have to die today. We had worked on the project for five and a half years with the goal of being the first non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world. It would be an aviation milestone and quite arguably the last one in atmospheric flight. My fist delivers one last punch and the door pops into place. I secure the six tiny latches that will seal us in and leave us to our fate. I 112


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look outside and my loyal crew chief, Bruce Evans, who had held our lives in his hands, gives me a nod that all was ready. I key the mic. . . .”Edwards Tower, this is Voyager One. We are ready for takeoff.” “Voyager One, this is Edwards Tower. ATC clears Voyager One from Edwards AFB to Edwards AFB via flight plan route. Maintain 8,000 feet cleared for take-off and God Speed.” Well, this is what we had been working toward all these years. With no formal funding, depending on volunteers, begging for materials, equipment and engines, this project which had been fraught with a whole truckload of frustrations had finally come to fruition. The aircraft had deplorable flying qualities, a compromise necessary to achieve the 29,000 mile range needed for a world flight. During the 2 1/2 years of flight testing, we experienced numerous in-flight emergencies. These emergencies included a cockpit fire, a failed propeller that ripped the engine from its mounts, a cockpit noise level as loud as a passing freight train, and a pitch oscillation mode that we could never correct, and this oscillation only worsened with increased gross weight. On take-off this day, Voyager N269VA carried a fourth more fuel than had ever before been on board. An argument ensued with my brother Burt, the designer of this incredible long-range craft, after I had authorized that more fuel be loaded than recommended. His concern being that the longest runway in the free world would still not be long enough for the Voyager to become airborne. My concern

was that it would be too unwieldy to fly, even with my “velvet arm”. I took a few moments to reflect back on the day Burt thought that by using carbon fiber he could design a plane light enough to carry the needed fuel not only to break the current absolute distance record, but indeed to double it. I remembered turning down a multi-million dollar sponsorship from a narcotics firm, telling them their whole industry did not have enough money to put a cigarette on the side of our aircraft. We all had come a very long way to arrive at this point. Starting out, we had no idea that the road would be this difficult or dangerous. But there was no quitting now, no backing out. My mother had always reminded me that, “If you can dream it, you can do it. The only way to fail is if you quit.” At 0800 that cold December morning, with those words resonating in my mind, I pushed both throttles wide open, released the tiny brake on the nose wheel and . . . . . ..WONDERED WHAT THE NEXT 5 MINUTES OF MY LIFE WOULD BE LIKE. Dick Rutan, Voyager Commander Editor’s Note: The Voyager flight lasted nine days, three minutes and forty four seconds, and was filled with dramatic moments including threading their way through a hurricane, sustaining a failed fuel pump, and losing gallons of precious fuel that leaked from the shorn winglets; it’s an incredible story. We are pleased to welcome Dick Rutan onboard at PilotMag and look forward to hearing about more of his adventures, and more of his wisdom.

It’s not the Destination …

It’s the Journey. At Gobosh Gobosh, LSA means Luxury Sport Aircraft.™ And at the controls of a Gobosh 700S, the world just became a smaller, more colorful, more exciting place. It matters not where you go as long as you enjoy the journey. Call for a demo flight today and get a new perspective on life that you can only get from the sky. It’s your life, live it for all it’s worth.

Go Fly, Go Explore, Go Sightseeing, Go Big or Stay Home.

PHOTO CREDIT EAA and Jim Koepnick




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PilotMag-May/June 2010  

Aviation magazine

PilotMag-May/June 2010  

Aviation magazine

Profile for pilotmag