Hangar Talk

The story behind the story

December 1, 2009

This month’s award for most envious assignment goes to Editor at Large Tom Horne and staff photographer Chris Rose. In Bound for the Bahamas,” Horne refreshes our Bahamian flying knowledge database, and takes us on a brief tour of four islands. After a two-hour battle with eAPIS, Horne and Rose were rewarded with visits to Long, Cat, Grand Bahama, and Great Abaco islands. Rose sums up the duo’s sole dilemma: “I was going to make Facebook posts about the trip, but I knew I’d never hear the end of it at the office.” That may be, but the AOPA Pilot staff still thinks the article gives some great insight on those enticing islands not so very far away.

Looking down at the majestic yet fragile-looking Yosemite Valley in California; the fiery fall carpet of leaves at Acadia National Park in Maine; the desolate Rockies of Wyoming; a snowy rainbow over the jagged Wasatch range in Utah ( AOPA 2009 Sweepstakes Cirrus SR22: As Good as it Gets). “The views from the AOPA’s 2009 Let’s Go Flying SR22 have been extraordinary, and sharing the story of this magnificent airplane and its travels with fellow AOPA members has been a rare privilege,” says Senior Editor Dave Hirschman. “But the most memorable part isn’t the airplane itself, or the places it’s been—but the people behind the adventure. J. Lloyd Huck, the World War II B–29 pilot and philanthropist who donated it to AOPA; the craftsmen who improved it; Joshua Ben, a wounded soldier who flew in it; and the kids whose eyes light up whenever they see it. They make general aviation great, and the eventual winner of this incredible airplane will surely add to their legacy.”

“Hitting a mountain is to break one of airmanship’s cardinal rules,” says AOPA Air Safety Foundation President Bruce Landsberg about his story Safety Pilot Landmark Accidents: Comfortable and Complacent.” This accident killed two extremely well-qualified and respected pilots who were devoted to public service. “The simplest truth is often the most profound, and my hope is that in focusing on this mishap, there is benefit to both beginning and senior aviators alike. We all fly in the same cockpit,” says Landsberg, a multiengine-rated pilot for more than 30 years.

As the AOPA Pilot staff discussed the many ways that general aviation serves American society, training tomorrow’s professional pilots was at the top of Technical Editor Mike Collins’ mind ( GA Serves America: The Accidental Aviator). “Not many active GA pilots—and even fewer members of the general public—are aware that since early this decade, GA has provided the majority of U.S. airline and charter pilots. A downsized military, with longer service commitments for pilots, can’t keep up with the demand,” he says. “Dave Tatone, chief pilot for Airline Transport Professionals in Phoenix, graciously suggested several students to profile. All were interesting; ultimately, I felt that Erika Thompson offered the most compelling story. Since my visit to Arizona, she has completed her training and landed a job flying Learjet charters in Texas.”