Hangar Talk

The story behind the story

January 1, 2009

“Guiding the 2008 Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Piper Archer through its rebirth has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” says Associate Editor Ian J. Twombly, who chronicles the experience in “ This Glass Is For You.”  “I’ve been lucky enough to see much of our country from 6,000 feet as I’ve flown N208GG around, and to have met so many members at the shows this year. But when I step back and look at the Archer, I see the hundreds of hours of sweat and elbow grease that have been put into it. And when I fly it, I imagine the winner and what he or she might say when we hand them the keys. My only hope is that they are as excited to win it as we are to give it away.” Twombly says this was his first experience with aircraft ownership, which allowed him to approach the project from a new owner’s perspective. He holds a commercial certificate with single-engine land, multiengine land, and single-engine sea ratings—and he’ll give up N208GG to a lucky winner soon.

Although Editor in Chief Tom Haines first met Craig Fuller last summer when it was announced that Fuller was going to be the new president of AOPA, an aviation link has existed between the two for more than two decades—Fuller just didn’t know it. “Shortly after I started working at AOPA in 1988, I got my complex checkout in a Cessna 172 RG Cutlass on leaseback at an FBO at Frederick, Maryland,” recalls Haines. “The instructor, who would later work at AOPA and still does, mentioned that the airplane was owned by Craig Fuller, then chief of staff for Vice President George H.W. Bush. I knew Craig’s name from hearing it associated with the White House. Little did I know our paths would cross in such a way 20 years later.” (See “Pilot to Pilot: Craig L. Fuller”) Since then Haines has also owned a 172 and now he and Fuller both own A36 Bonanzas.

During a couple of cross-continent trips in single-engine airplanes in 2007, Jason Paur had plenty of time to think about what kind of airplane is up for flying long legs. And with gas prices spiking last summer, the thought of another cross-country flight meant fuel economy rose up the ladder of priorities. Even though cross-country flying wasn’t on the top of the list when the LSA category was created, Paur realized there are LSAs such as Flight Design’s CTLS on the market that are great travel machines. For two people, he discovered the CTLS’ efficiency (28 mpg!) is hard to beat. And as he found out, great fuel economy does not mean you have to sacrifice comfort or speed (see “HPN to OSH in an LSA  ). 

Large aviation events always draw a few unique airplanes, but a one-of-a-kind airplane such as the 1939 Cessna Airmaster amphibian was a real find for seaplane junkie and contributor Mike Vivion at a recent Sun ’n Fun fly-in. “As soon as I saw this gorgeous little speedster on Wipline amphibious floats, I simply had to learn more of its history,” says Vivion (see “ Masters of the Air,”). As it turned out, the history of this airplane and the family that restored it had intricate ties to Vivion’s home at the time—Fairbanks, Alaska. Research for this article resulted in interviews with several seasoned Alaskan pilots who flew Airmasters in the 1940s in northern Alaska. The little Airmaster, now a treasure for an aviation family, still engenders memories of times long past—when the Airmaster was, “The most efficient airplane in the world.”