Hangar Talk

The story behind the story

May 1, 2007

After safely piloting wide-body airliners for decades, it must be quite a blow to the psyche to be told with the flip of a calendar page that you are no longer qualified for such duty. What must that be like, pondered AOPA Pilot Editor in Chief Thomas B. Haines. He got the chance to find out first hand when Delta Air Lines Chief Pilot Gary Beck invited him along for Beck's final flight as an airline captain. "It was a poignant moment when the 767 touched down at Los Angeles with Gary's cheering yet tearful family and friends filling the business class section," said Haines. Haines writes about the experience and Beck's future plans in " Waypoints: One Last Flight," on page 36.

"I used to think that vortex generators — those tiny blades that seem to operate in direct opposition to basic airflow dynamics — were some sort of a gimmick," relates AOPA Pilot Associate Editor Steven W. Ells (see " Positive Force," page 105). "Every time I rode an airliner I couldn't help but notice a minor flurry of these blades. I flew my Comanche for nearly 100 hours before installing a set of VGs and now the airplane is much more stable and maneuverable during approach to landing, can handle stiffer crosswinds, and can be pulled off earlier during the takeoff run."

Spring weather signals the pleasant hum of airplanes droning lazily through warm, beckoning air. If you longingly gaze at the sky, but find yourself slightly out of touch with your aviator skills, read " Flying Seasons: Emerging from Hibernation," on page 113 by AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Machteld A. Smith. Smith, who has more than 750 hours and holds multi-engine instrument airplane and single-engine seaplane ratings, suggests taking things up a notch. "An excellent way to sharpen your skills is to seek a new rating or certificate," says Smith. She's taking her own advice and is working on her commercial-multiengine rating.

AOPA's Catch-A-Cardinal sweepstakes airplane is taking shape because of the heroic efforts of a group of hard-working people in Griffin, Georgia, and Sarasota, Florida (see " AOPA's Catch-A-Cardinal Sweepstakes: Panel Magic," page 97). To put the finishing touches on the avionics installation, Dave Clarke, along with colleagues from Sarasota Avionics, has made three trips in a 182 to Griffin to burn the midnight oil with Dan Gryder and AOPA Pilot Technical Editor Julie K. Boatman, and the rest of the people putting their hearts and souls into the project. Doing it the right way isn't easy, but the rewards are great.