May 1, 2001
Nathan A. Ferguson
While New Yorkers were deep in the doldrums from a harsh winter, an artist gave them a reason to look up.
Two times in February, a skywriter drew clouds over the Manhattan skyline. Designed by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz as part of a public arts project, they were made big enough to be visible from Wall Street to Harlem and from New Jersey to Queens on a clear day.
Muniz, who likes to demonstrate how viewers can be deceived by surrounding images, works in a variety of media including chocolate, dust, and cotton. Clouds coincided with Muniz's photography show at The Whitney Museum of American Art and the release of a documentary titled Worst Possible Illusion: The Curiosity Cabinet of Vik Muniz. The skywriting was done by Aviad Skywriting, headquartered in North Andover, Massachusetts, in a modified Ag Cat flown by pilot Chris Loprinze.
Muniz's project was presented by Creative Time, an organization that supports adventurous public arts projects. Through the group's Web site ( www.creativetime.org) people could sign up for an e-mail service that would notify them when to look up. The group planned to fly at least three more times, beginning in April, and to possibly take the cloud show on the road to other cities.
The current state of aviation maintenance is barely adequate to ensure the safety of the growing aircraft fleet, and a "devastating" shortage of experienced maintenance technicians is looming, according to a letter to President Bush from the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association.
In the March 5 letter, PAMA President Brian Finnegan called for more education and liability reform. He later told AOPA Pilot that the problems exist throughout the industry, from the airlines on down to general aviation.
"Low and noncompetitive wages are the most obvious and fundamental problem with building a career in aviation maintenance today, but poor wages only begin to tell the story," Finnegan wrote.
PAMA believes that part of the problem was the 1994 General Aviation Revitalization Act (GARA) that shifted some product liability exposure away from manufacturers and onto technicians and repair stations. Finnegan said that soaring costs have made insurance unaffordable and sometimes unavailable for maintenance shops.
Among the five recommendations PAMA made to the president to stem the tide were:
Ever since Steve Green learned to fly in 1978, he had dreamed of a dramatic way to propose marriage to a woman. He was 15 then, a long way from the altar, but that didn't keep him from at least planning Operation Engagement.
About two years ago, Green met Tammy Smith at a Starbucks coffeehouse in Sunnyvale, California. He had just finished chemotherapy the previous fall and was coming back to life. Shortly after they met, he worked to become current in an airplane again; he had been grounded because of the cancer. He kept his flying a secret from her. It was all part of the plan.
He decided to set the mission in motion last Valentine's Day. He tricked her into thinking that they would not do anything on the actual holiday, but instead go to Calistoga on the weekend. Green and his friends, meanwhile, scoped out Roosevelt Beach, just south of Half Moon Bay Airport, and started making arrangements with state park rangers to form a giant sign out of red table covering. It read, in 15-foot letters, "STV loves TMY, Marry me?"
They started work on the sign at dawn on Valentine's Day, despite high winds that threatened to blow it apart. Since Green works days as an air transportation specialist at NASA and Smith works nights as a hospital nurse, he gave her a wake-up call later that morning and asked if she could meet him for lunch. While she got ready, he preflighted the airplane at Palo Alto Airport of Santa Clara County. When they met at the restaurant he told her that there had been a change of plans, but she didn't figure out that something was up until they arrived at the airport. It would be their first flight together.
Since Smith joked that she was afraid of heights, he promised to fly low. They headed for the beach and he maneuvered so that she couldn't see the sign. At the right moment he banked the airplane and commented that somebody had done something strange to the beach. She stared at it for a while as if she were, as he put it, trying to read a license plate. By the time Smith had turned to face him, Green had the ring ready. And she said yes.
After they landed, a friend drove them out to the beach and she more formally answered his question by spelling the word yes with driftwood on the beach. "We've been in shock ever since," he said.
A nonprofit organization is taking the story of U.S. Army aviation on the road, so to speak, with a flying demonstration that features a variety of mostly Vietnam-era aircraft.
The Army Aviation Heritage Foundation (AAHF) was incorporated in 1997 to educate the American public on the heritage of Army aviation and preserve historic Army aircraft in flying condition, operating them in educational presentations. Many of the organization's members and volunteers are veterans of Army aviation.
AAHF can call upon more than a dozen ex-Army aircraft for its demonstrations, including Bell UH–1 Huey, Hughes OH–6A Cayuse, Bell OH–58A Kiowa, and Bell AH–1 Cobra helicopters, as well as the Cessna L–19 Bird Dog, de Havilland CV–2 Caribou, and Grumman OV–1 Mohawk airplanes.
More than 1.9 million people saw AAHF aircraft displays or demonstrations last year. The 12 events on the schedule for this year include the Andrews Air Force Base open house in Washington, D.C., from May 18 through 20; Wings of Eagles Airshow in Corning, New York, from June 30 to July 1; U.S. Air and Trade Show in Dayton, Ohio, on July 21 and 22; and St. Louis Fair and Airshow from September 1 through 3. They are expected to draw more than 2 million spectators.
Visitors are welcome at the foundation's hangar, located at Tara Field in Hampton, Georgia, just south of Atlanta. Operating hours are generally 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays but can vary, so call first. For more information, write to the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation, 506 Mount Pleasant Road, Hampton, Georgia 30228; call 770/897-0444; or visit the Web site ( www.armyav.org). — Michael P. Collins
Officials at Kansas City International Airport (MCI) in Missouri say they know how to think outside the box, er, fence for answers. With a big whitetail deer population and a history of animal strikes by aircraft, they had to. It's a matter of survival in more ways than one.
In 1980 an aircraft barely missed a herd of 10 to 12 deer; in 1983 a commercial aircraft struck a deer; and in 1995 a commercial aircraft aborted a landing because of two deer on the runway. Since May 1996 airport records showed that there were 30 instances when vehicles struck deer along airport public roadways and two instances in which deer jumped off airport road bridges. Passengers aren't safe even after they step off aircraft. There were at least two instances when deer entered the terminal building. One jumped through a plate-glass window and injured two bystanders.
Beginning in 1999, the airport established 1,280 acres of cattle grazing pastures, creating a buffer between wildlife habitat and the airfield. Since the cattle eat grasses, weeds, and woody plants, this forces wildlife to move farther away from the airport in search of food. Previously, the land was under a conservation program that left it undisturbed and provided an excellent wildlife habitat. Not only does the new cattle program keep wildlife at bay, but it also generates an estimated $25,000 a year in revenue for the airport.
The Kansas City Aviation Department also has been working with Farm Management Associates Inc. to manage farmland surrounding the airport. By preventing development, it provides a noise buffer between the airport and the community. Certain crops that attract wildlife, such as milo and wheat, are prohibited within 2,000 feet of runways.
But there are also hazards in the air, because a 5- to 15-pound bird can bring down a 300,000-pound airplane. From 1990 to 1999, there were 27,433 bird strikes by civil aircraft, and about 300 people worldwide have died as a result, according to the FAA. Seeing the seriousness of the problem firsthand, the airport and the U.S. Department of Agriculture initiated an aggressive raptor control program — hawks, kestrels, and owls — by killing off rodents within the perimeter fence. Airport officials believe the move to clear the skies has significantly improved safety. "It all comes down to basics," said Bob Johnson, airport wildlife coordinator. "Food, water, and shelter are why the raptors are patrolling the skies around our airport."
Aircraft Manufacturing and Development Company Inc. (AMD) introduced not one, but two new aircraft, the OMF-160 Symphony and the Zodiac CH640, on the same day.
The Symphony, a new production design, stems from the recent acquisition of the former Stoddard-Hamilton's GlaStar design by a German company, OMF Aircraft. Under a licensing agreement between AMD and OMF, AMD will manufacture and market the Symphony in the United States. The two-seat Symphony features the GlaStar's fiberglass shell, redesigned aluminum flying surfaces, and a 160-horsepower Lycoming engine. It has a cruise speed of 130 knots, a 639-pound useful load, and a rate of climb of 800 feet per minute. FAA certification flight tests of the Symphony were completed on March 9. The price for a standard Symphony is $120,000.
The second aircraft introduced by AMD was the 180-hp Zodiac CH640, a four-place kit version of the CH2000 production airplane. It's designed to be assembled with basic hand tools in 750 hours. Based on preliminary flight tests of the prototype, it has a cruise speed of more than 120 knots. The kit price was not available at press time. For more information, see the Web site ( www.newplane.com). — Julie K. Boatman
In an effort to provide some clarity to the sometimes confusing airworthiness directives (ADs) affecting several early models of Beech V-tail Bonanzas, the FAA recently proposed two new ADs. Proposed AD 93-CE-37-AD revises an earlier AD by condensing and clarifying information. It also removes several models from the earlier AD; they would fall under proposed AD 2000-CE-44-AD, which incorporates a mod developed by Raytheon that would eliminate operating limitations currently imposed upon affected airplanes. To view the ADs, see AOPA Online
The FAA issued final-rule AD 2001-06-06 on March 28, requiring inspection of main landing gear pivot assemblies on Cessna 172RGs. AOPA opposed the proposed AD in December, stating that only a relatively small number of service difficulty reports actually existed in the FAA's database. For more, see AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/whatsnew/regulatory/regcessna_gear.html).
Looking for a rugged bush airplane that's been around for nearly 40 years? Found Aircraft Canada Inc. has modernized the Bush Hawk, an FAA-certified production aircraft based on the original FBA-2C.
Of the nearly 30 aircraft that were manufactured by Found Aircraft in the 1960s, nine are still flying. Some have more than 13,000 hours and have yet to show a need for overhaul of the airframes, company officials said. The modernized model was to make its U.S. debut at the Sun 'n Fun EAA Fly-In in April.
The 300-hp Bush Hawk-XP has a cruise speed of 150 knots on wheels and 130 kt on floats; a range of 880 nm and 710 nm, respectively; and a useful load of 1,600 pounds for the model with wheels and 1,450 pounds for the float-equipped model. Found Aircraft planned to offer a Sun 'n Fun special price of $225,000 for the 260-hp model and $235,000 for 40 more horses. For more, see the Web site ( www.foundair.com).
A Florida pilot hopes that by writing a biography of Martin Caidin, he can help to preserve the personal archives of the prolific aviation and space author. One of his novels, Cyborg, served as the inspiration for the television series The Six Million Dollar Man. Caidin died in March 1997 of thyroid cancer (see " Pilot Briefing," May 1997 Pilot).
Caidin's archives are stored at a university but are badly in need of preservation, according to W. Baker Quinby. "Martin was a friend of the head librarian at this institution, and back during his lean days, [Caidin] contributed loads of his old notes and other materials to the university to get some tax breaks," he said. The archives go back to Caidin's days as a cub reporter during World War II and include a number of his articles from that time. Also saved were first drafts of manuscripts, printer's galleys of some of his more famous books, and the author's correspondence.
Quinby hopes that through the biography, he can focus attention on the preservation of Caidin's archives, and he plans to contribute any proceeds from the project to that effort. Anybody with information about the author is asked to contact Quinby at 101 Bent Tree Drive, Apartment 5, Daytona Beach, Florida 32114; telephone 904/274-1764; or by e-mail ( firstname.lastname@example.org). — MPC
The Spruce Goose is the queen of hangar queens and with that, of course, comes high maintenance to keep the relic in show condition. Moving it is another matter, especially when you're dealing with football field-length wings.
The latest challenge after it was moved to its new home at The Capt. Michael King Smith Evergreen Aviation Educational Institute near McMinnville, Oregon, (see " Caution: Goose Crossing," December 2000 Pilot) was to reinstall eight giant 28-cylinder Pratt & Whitney R4360-series engines. Once the work was finished, the airplane restoration was two-thirds of the way completed. Much of the work has been accomplished by volunteers and donated equipment. Liberty Steel Erectors Inc. of Gresham, Oregon, supplied the hoists for the engine project, and more than 30 volunteers have put in about 20,000 hours toward the five-year restoration process.
For more information, see the Web site ( www.sprucegoose.org).
Mark Polansky, AOPA 829320, flew as the pilot on space shuttle Atlantis that touched down at Edwards Air Force Base on February 20. STS-98 installed Destiny, the $1.4 billion science laboratory, on the International Space Station. The mission lasted 12 days, 21 hours, and 21 minutes. The descent back to Earth took 66 minutes.
Robert C. Pulliam, AOPA 986465, was inducted into the South Carolina Aviation Association Hall of Fame for his commitment to improving aviation in the state. Pulliam was also named Aviator of the Year, SCAA's highest form of recognition.
Paul M. Gahlinger, AOPA 718648, has published The Cockpit: A Flight of Escape and Discovery. On his wild flight from California to Africa, the author endured mechanical problems, ice storms, sand storms, an earthquake, and a civil war. "The Cockpit is one of the great American stories of adventure travel — the journey as a search for meaning in life, and the crazy, reckless things some people do to find it," according to the publisher, Sagebrush Press. The 272-page hardcover book is available for $19.95 from Amazon.com and most bookstores.
J. Randall Reinhardt, AOPA 1000426, has been elected chairman of the United States Aerobatic Foundation. He succeeds Robert Minkus. Reinhardt is a trial attorney who typically represents pilots, aircraft operators, and FBOs.
Philip T. Corbell, AOPA 832772, has been named CFI of the year for the FAA Arizona District and also for the Western-Pacific Region, which covers four states and 13 FAA districts.
Dan Pierce, AOPA 1064177, has been named Western U.S. District Coordinator for the International Aviation Fire Protection Association (IAFPA).
Marvin "Sonny" Eliot, AOPA 205481, was one of four aviation pioneers to be inducted recently into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame. Eliot, who works as WWJ-AM 950's weathercaster, flew B–24s for the Eighth Air Force in Norwich, England, in World War II. His honors include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Purple Heart, and a Presidential Citation.
Patrick Sweeney, AOPA 741716, has been named one of North Dakota's 2001 Business Innovators of the Year. Sweeney, who serves as president of Weather Modification Inc. of Fargo, North Dakota, was recognized for his leadership in worldwide atmospheric research and cloud seeding.
Ken Donaldson, AOPA 901615, and Robert Deen, AOPA 808557, have launched Carolina Skies Magazine, which will publish six times a year. It focuses on the social side of flying, such as new pilot starts and events. A subscription sells for $24 a year. For more information, contact Carolina Skies at Post Office Box 874, Mount Gilead, North Carolina 27306.
Steve Widmer, AOPA 661130, has been named manager of Central Maine Regional Airport, located in Norridgewock. Widmer recently moved to Maine after 25 years in Alaska, where he retired from a career in law enforcement. He has many hours "flying the bush" and owns a Cessna 180.
Recent news from AOPA's weekly e-mail newsletter
FAA certifies Premier I jet
At long last, Raytheon Aircraft received FAA certification for the Premier I six-passenger business jet.
Mooney enhances Eagle
Mooney Aircraft Corporation unveiled an enhanced version of the Eagle. The M20S Eagle2 offers improved takeoff performance, a useful load increase, and interior enhancements.
Adam applies for certification
Adam Aircraft Industries applied for FAA certification of its M-309 and announced a name-the-airplane contest.
Racers die in Iceland crash
Gwen Bloomingdale, 59, and her copilot Barbara Gard, 52, died March 6 in an aircraft that crashed on the southern coast of Iceland en route to London for the London to Sydney Air Race 2001.
Business goes ballistic
Business is exploding for Ballistic Recovery Systems Inc., which noted a sales increase of 72.9 percent over the first quarter of last year.
Air Force releases collision report
The Air Force determined that a "critical combination of avionics anomalies, procedural errors, and individual mistakes — on the ground and in the air" led to the November 16 midair collision between an F–16 and Cessna 172 in Florida.
To sign up for the free AOPA ePilot or to view the archive, see AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/members/files/pilot/epilot/).
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