August 19, 2008
By Thomas A. Horne
Epic Aircraft of Bend, Ore., is experiencing firsthand the effects of the Russian incursion into Georgia.
Epic had formed a partnership with Tblisi Aircraft Manufacturing (TAM) with the idea of selling the 412-knot, eight-seat Epic Elite twinjet to the Russian market. The sole Epic Elite prototype is based at Tblisi International Airport in Georgia where it was intended to be used as a demonstrator.
Last week, Russian attack aircraft bombed the runways at the Tblisi airport. The TAM facility was spared, but the Elite Jet is trapped on the field. Epic President Rick Schrameck says that the strategy for the near term is to keep the Elite at Tblisi until “things settle down, because if we tried to fly out now I think a red-and-white business jet would be pretty easy for a Russian fighter to hit.”
Soon, however, the Elite should leave Tblisi for western Europe, then fly back to the United States.
Schrameck said in an interview, “Let’s just say that our plans to sell the jet with Russian certification to the eastern European market are pretty much over. TAM will remain as a partner and supplier, but we’ll pursue Transport Canada certification for the North American market first.”
The goal is for the besieged Elite to be on display at this October’s NBAA convention in Orlando, Fla., and at November’s AOPA Expo in San Jose, Calif. “We should have a big announcement to make at Expo,” Schrameck said.
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.
As the cold weather chills AOPA’s Headquarters in Frederick, many of us are inside generating new resources for flying clubs.
In my house, every Friday night is “Movie Night.” While the movies are rarely educational (I don’t think I learned anything from the Lego Movie), we look forward to the weekly opportunity to spend time together. Why not use the same concept for your Flying Club (with the addition of education, of course)?
AOPA Flying Club Manager Kelby Ferwerda posted the following on the AOPA Flying Club Facebook Page: “Recently I’ve talked with quite a few Flying Clubs about maintaining social activity through the cold winter months. Some clubs host Holliday Parties, others have Potluck Movie Nights. What does your club do to keep members involved during the chilly months?”
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