Pilot Briefing

September 1, 2008

Barnstorming is catching on

A new fad called “barnstorming” is catching on. It seems that pilots are flying town to town offering airplane rides.

Those lines could have been written in the 1920s, but they still apply in 2008—a year when AOPA is asking your help with increasing the pilot ranks—thanks to the American Barnstormers Tour.

Barnstorming pilots took their biplanes on a national tour as they did in 2006 (“Sky and Canvas,” AOPA Pilot, December 2006) and this time did even better. You can read about the 2006 tour online.

Here’s proof that interest in aviation is as strong as ever: The American Barnstormers gave 3,590 rides in only 15 days, topping the total rides given in 2006 of 1,980. This year, the 2006 total (there were 100-degree Fahrenheit temperatures most days) was passed after just the first two cities. The tour originated in Iowa and had temperatures in the 80s until reaching Kansas, where there were some days in the 90s with wind.

The 712-nm tour was conducted by 40 barnstormers flying 18 biplanes and a few newfangled monowings. Most were manufactured in the 1920s and 1930s, but restored to perfection. The tour assembled in Iowa from the pilots’ homes in Maine, Colorado, California, Florida, Virginia, New Jersey, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Their aircraft were seen by 20,000 people who gobbled up 4,500 posters, 3,000 barnstormer stickers, and 100 Vintage Flyers II books.

Photographer-pilots look at America from 500 feet

Powered-parachute photographers Bill Fortney and Mark Kettenhofen have captured America From 500 Feet II. This is a second book in the series.

The two met through their association with the Nikon camera company as nationally prominent photographers, and Fortney is known for founding the Great American Photography Workshops offering training for shutterbugs. The previous edition in 2001 was one of the best-selling landscape photography books ever published, with 51,000 copies sold.

This time the focus is beautiful landscape and historic sights often missed by travelers because the areas are too far off the beaten path—the field where the Tuskegee Airmen trained, the Field of Dreams baseball field, the aircraft boneyard at Tucson, and sights from above the famous Suwannee River.

The book will be out in October, but Acclaim Press is offering a reduced price for pre-orders. Learn more about the adventures of the two pilots on their Web site.

Last of the Tomcats adopted by good home

One of two Grumman F-14 Tomcats that participated in an official 2005 last flight when the F-14s were retired from the U.S. Navy has landed, by crane, at the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Honolulu.

The F-14 was delivered to the museum by the USS Bonhomme Richard. It marks the beginning of a new development phase for the museum that includes restoration of two historic hangars and the iconic red-and-white control tower. The museum is housed in a hangar that survived the Japanese attack of December 7, 1941.

The 1980 movie, The Final Countdown, involved a modern aircraft carrier that sailed through a time warp into December 1941 and sent its F-14s briefly against the Japanese aircraft.

The museum is located next to other historic sites: the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Oklahoma Memorial, the USS Missouri Memorial, and the Bowfin Submarine Park and Memorial. Learn more about the museum online.

Fishing trip hooks ‘The ultimate airport’

While Terry Bardwell and members of his fishing party anticipated a spectacular sunrise flight on their way to a fun-filled week at Lake Kabinakagami in Northern Ontario, Bardwell captured the early morning sun glistening off the water at Watson’s Air Service in Wawa, Canada. Thanks to Gary Palinkas for entering the photo in our June contest. Going flying? Get inspired, take a picture, and join the contest for a chance at cash prizes and to be published in AOPA Pilot. But hurry! This year’s contest runs through September 2, 2008. 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.— Machteld A. Smith

Aircraft tire prices up, but less than other tires

We all know the cost of flying is going up, mostly thanks to fuel, so it should be no surprise that Michelin is increasing the prices of aircraft tires by 9 percent.

There is actually something good to say about that; aircraft tires went up less than other types. A Pyrrhic victory for sure, but the company increased the price of passenger and light-truck tires by 12 percent. Motorcycle, scooter, and bicycle tires went up 15 percent.

Only commercial truck tires did better, increasing by 8 percent.

Heavy lifter under contract

The Boeing Company and SkyHook International have teamed to develop a helium-filled lifting envelope powered by helicopter rotors. It will be able to haul 40 tons up to 200 miles, delivering huge loads to remote regions such as the Canadian Arctic and Alaska.

The Piasecki Aircraft Corporation tried a similar idea in 1986 in which conventional helicopters were attached to a blimp and controlled by one pilot. A flight of the craft ended with a loss of control, killing the pilot.

Boeing’s Advanced Systems unit will build the craft, called a JHL-40 (Jess Heavy Lifter, 40 tons). SkyHook has the patent for this neutrally buoyant combination of a rotorcraft and airship. Two production prototypes will be built at Boeing’s Rotorcraft Systems facility in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania.

This month in aviation history

Compiled by Kathryn Opalewski

September 8, 1960 | The FAA adopts the British RAE visual glidepath indicator landing lights as a national standard for use at U.S. airports.

September 9, 1960 | The FAA permits aviation medical examiners to deny, as well as issue, medical certificates to applicants that they examined.

September 15, 1963 | The first Lear Jet is completed on production tooling and rolled out of the factory for preflight equipment installation and a final checkout.

September 30, 1963 | A National Aircraft Accident Investigation School, jointly established by the Civil Aeronautics Board and FAA, opens at Oklahoma City with an initial class of 16 students.

September 11, 1966 | Tracy Barnes completes the first hot-air-balloon flight across the contiguous United States.

September 25, 1967 | An FAA report concludes that general aviation airports are beneficial for business growth, helping to provide industrial jobs for displaced farm laborers, as well as providing operational bases for aerial crop seeding and spraying.

September 16, 1971 | The National Transportation Safety Board rules that pilots who suffer a stroke could not be automatically denied a first class medical certificate.

September 4, 1974 | The United States and Mexico announce an agreement on air traffic services adjacent to their common border.

September 4, 1981 | The FAA announces it will hire approximately 1,500 temporary employees to assist in replacing air traffic controllers fired for striking.

September 26, 1981 | The twin-engine Boeing 767 makes its first flight.

September 30, 1982 | H. Ross Perot Jr. and Jay Coburn land their Bell 206L-1 Long-Ranger II in Dallas, after completing the first helicopter flight around the world in 29 days, three hours, eight minutes.

September 24, 1983 | Continental Airlines files for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11

September 6, 1990 | A new Air Force One makes its maiden voyage. The specially designed Boeing 747 and its identical backup airplane replace two 20-year-old Boeing 707s.

September 25, 1990 | The United Nations votes to ban virtually all air traffic with Iraq, with the exception of certain humanitarian flights.

September 12, 1994 | A pilot flying a stolen Cessna 150 crashes a few yards from the White House and dies on impact.

September 11, 2001 | Using three hijacked airliners, terrorists attack New York City and the Pentagon, while a fourth hijacked airliner crashes in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

September 3, 2008 | Pilot and adventurer Steve Fossett disappears while flying in the Nevada desert.

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.