Hangar Talk

The story behind the story

April 1, 2009

The AOPA staff is starting to think that Editor in Chief Tom Haines is a bit of an air head—or, lighter-than-air head. The Goodyear blimp featured on the cover this month is the fourth type of airship Haines has flown (see “ One Giant Icon”). “Years ago, I flew the Metlife blimp, which is small—by blimp standards,” Haines says. In the 1990s, he spent time flying the larger Fuji blimp over the U.S. Tennis Open in New York City. Last fall he flew in a new Zeppelin over San Francisco, as reported in the February issue. “The Goodyear blimps are as classic as they get,” he reports. “With roots in World War II-era aviation, the rugged ships shout ‘mil-spec.’”

“Electrical faults that result in fire are extremely rare but they can be deadly,” says AOPA Air Safety Foundation President Bruce Landsberg. “And, sooner or later most of us wind up flying an older aircraft with no idea what condition the wiring is in. We depend on good maintenance and circuit protection devices to keep us safe.” After reading “Safety Pilot Landmark Accidents: Something’s Burning”, Landsberg says you’ll never look at the electrical system in quite the same way. Visit the ASF Web site, which has some critical information on circuit safety that applies to all aircraft.

“The best part of our ‘Day in the Life of America’s Airports’ series, which we launched in summer 2007, is that you never know what you’re going to uncover when you spend the day at any given general aviation airport,” says Managing Editor Julie Summers Walker (see “ America’s Airports: Wings Field,”). And, really, that’s the beauty of these stories. “Photographer Chris Rose and I separate and walk around the field—he snaps photographs and I stick my hand out and introduce myself. By the end of the day we’ve both gathered our own impressions. At Wings Field I discovered an airport family working hard together to keep an airport alive and Chris saw the affects of what happens when nonaviation community members don’t support the airfield. But we both agreed that the airport where AOPA was born is a vital part of what general aviation is and what it means to America.”

“Like other readers of Into Thin Air, I was entranced by Beck Weathers from the first telling of his unforgettable survival story on Mt. Everest,” says Senior Editor Dave Hirschman. “Weathers’ intellect, humor, and determination—traits described in the best-selling book—are plainly self-evident in the cockpit (See “Ending Up On Top,”). Getting to ride along with Weathers was a real privilege,” says Hirschman. “He’s gracious, funny, full of insights, and a masterful story teller. And despite his physical injuries, he’s a heck of a stick-and-rudder pilot.” Weathers finds many similarities between mountaineering and flying, and his approach to both is rigorous, focused, and boundlessly enthusiastic.