Pilot Briefing

July 1, 2008

Smithsonian aviation photos to tour next year

Unlike the movie, Carolyn Russo’s Night at the Museum was real, and there were many nights while she took photographs for her book and museum exhibit called, “In Plane View: Abstractions of Flight.” Both contain abstract images of museum aircraft.

You can do it, too. Take an abstract photo of the airplane you own or rent, that is; you just can’t stay in a closed museum all night. Russo suggests you focus tightly on some aspect of the airplane’s personality that you love. It wasn’t until 1:30 a.m. on one of those nights that the Lockheed SR-71 finally spoke to her, saying, “OK, here’s my good side.” Her late night visits were to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, the museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center, and the conservation center in Suitland, Maryland. She is employed at the museum as a museum specialist and photographer.

An exhibit of photos from her book is leaving the National Air and Space Museum in January to tour aviation museums in Kansas, Michigan, Texas, Maryland, New York, and Texas. Russo also provided photos for the books Women in Flight: Portraits of Contemporary Women Pilots, and Artifacts of Flight.

For more information, see the Web site. Submit your abstract photos to AOPA Pilot’s General Aviation Photography contest.

Thielert troubles reverberate through the industry

The impact of the bankruptcy of Thielert Aircraft Engines, the German company many regarded as one of the pioneers of diesel aircraft engine technology, has deepened and taken an ugly turn.

Cessna Aircraft Company officials, nearly ready to make deliveries of Thielert-powered Cessna 172 aircraft, said they would make no deliveries this year, but hope an engine will be available next year. There’s no telling if it will be a Thielert or some other compression-ignition engine on the 172.

Diamond Aircraft has Thielert-powered aircraft flying in its customer fleet, but 10 days of negotiations with bankruptcy lawyers ended in bitterness. Diamond officials said they offered numerous alternatives, including buying a huge parts stock or just buying engines, but bankruptcy officials rejected each of these proposals. Diamond said in a letter to customers that nothing could be done until the first phase of the bankruptcy ends in July. Under this current phase, the German government provides funds to keep the plant operating.

By the end of 2008, Diamond officials working under a different company name hope to certify their own diesel engine in Europe. Certification in the United States might take until 2009. The engine has been in development for years and has already flown.

Diamond officials said the insolvency officials seem to view customers with aircraft on the ground as perfect targets for price gouging. The most recent parts list shows prices that Diamond officials said are “excessive.” The insolvency officials have not replied to AOPA Pilot inquiries.

Slick takeoff is April winner

“The J-3 Cub was taking off at my small base airport in Cypress, Texas, but the background wasn’t what I wanted,” says April’s photo contest winner, Curtis Chapline. Thus he changed things to his satisfaction using computer software. Chapline also won March’s vote, and his “Tower Man” landed him second place in the altered category of last year’s finals, published in the December 2007 issue. Submit your best photograph online for a chance at cash prizes and publication in AOPA Pilot. Go online to see the 2008 monthly contest winners and click on “2007 winners” to view last years grand finale and a slideshow of honorable mentions. This year’s contest runs through September 2, 2008.— Machteld A. Smith

This Month in Aviation History

Compiled by Kathryn Opalewski

July 29, 1958 | President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the Space Act of 1958, forming NASA.

July 1, 1959 | A new safety rule becomes effective, requiring that holders of first-class medical certificates—airline transport pilots—must submit to annual electrocardiograms.

July 19, 1961 | Trans World Airlines (TWA) becomes the first airline to introduce regular in-flight movies.

July 16, 1969 | A Saturn V launches Apollo 11 from the Kennedy Space Center.

July 20, 1969 | Astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., become the first to walk on the Moon.

July 29, 1969 | Brazil’s ministry of aeronautics creates Embraer, an aerospace conglomerate.

July 6, 1973 | The Environmental Protection Agency issues the first air pollution standards for aircraft engines.

July 28, 1976 | Capt. Eldon W. Joersz, USAF, pilots a Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird at 2,193.16 mph near Beale Air Force Base, California, setting a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale absolute world speed record over a straight course.

July 13, 1983 | An FAA effort to improve runway safety through surface grooving and other structural modifications reaches approximately 500 runways at 360 airports.

July 1, 1985 | A toll-free FAA Aviation Safety Hotline begins.

July 6, 1986 | President Ronald Reagan proclaims National Air Traffic Control Day.

July 17, 1989 | The Northrop B2 Spirit, a bomber virtually invisible to radar, makes its first flight.

July 30, 1992 | The FAA excludes general aviation aircraft from the rule that all transponders installed after July 1, 1992, be Mode S transponders.

July 6, 1995 | Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is established.

July 3, 1996 | Cessna’s new single-engine aircraft assembly plant is dedicated in Independence, Kansas.

July 16, 1999 | John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and sister Lauren G. Bessette, are killed when the Piper Saratoga he is piloting crashes near Martha’s Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast.

July 11, 2003 | The FAA certifies the Learjet 40 on the fortieth anniversary year of the first Learjet flight.

July 27, 2004 | Cessna unveils the all-glass avionics system (Garmin G1000) for new Skyhawks.

July 2, 2005 | Steve Fossett and co-pilot Mark Rebholz re-create the first nonstop crossing of the Atlantic in their replica of the 1919 Vickers Vimy biplane.

Cessna Centers first in line for SkyCatcher

Individual buyers of Cessna SkyCatcher airplanes have discovered that no matter when they signed a contract with the manufacturer, they aren’t first in line. Or even close to first.

Cessna Pilot Centers (CPC) and Cessna Sales Team Authorized Representatives (CSTAR) have always had the inside track to receive the first SkyCatchers. Cessna’s John Doman explains: “There has been some confusion with people who ordered SkyCatchers at Oshkosh in assuming the number that appeared on the electronic board we had set-up at the SkyCatcher display to be the serial number (production position) they would receive. In fact, we pre-allocated SkyCatcher delivery positions in advance of Oshkosh to our CPCs, CSTARs, fleet customers, and retail purchasers. This has resulted in some purchasers being disappointed in the preliminary delivery schedule information they were provided in April. When we provide a more complete explanation of the situation, most order holders understand, but obviously, everyone would like to be able to take delivery of their new SkyCatcher as soon as possible.”

The delivery schedule has not changed. There will be 50 in late 2009, Cessna says, meaning most individual customers will not see an aircraft until 2010. Then 350 will be delivered in 2010, followed by 600 in 2011.

And the first production SkyCatcher is already flying above Wichita.

What’s in AOPA Flight Training this month?

  • Considerate Flying. “Do unto others” works in the aviation arena, too.
  • The Tuesday Night Flying Club. A weekly ritual helps three friends become better pilots.
  • Fueling Tips. Safe practices for self-service operations.
  • Be a Weather Skeptic. Don’t believe everything the forecaster says.

The July issue mailed on June 4. Current AOPA members can add a subscription to AOPA Flight Training for $18 per year. For more information call 800-872-2672.

Al Marsh

Alton K. Marsh | AOPA Pilot Senior Editor, AOPA

AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.