Hangar Talk

The story behind the story

August 1, 2010

Digital IFR avionics and autopilots were the furthest things from German engineer Walter Extra’s mind when he designed his unparalleled series of aerobatic aircraft ( “Extra LT330: Speed Demon,”). But as U.S. buyers have consistently added gadgets and sought more speed and range, Extra took the hint, and the result is the stunning Extra 330LT. “U.S. Extra owners have made it abundantly clear that they want a personal, high-tech, G-pulling fighter—and the LT is the nearest thing you can get to a piston F–16,” says Senior Editor Dave Hirschman, the first aviation journalist to fly the LT prototype at the Extra factory in Germany. The airplane’s wing design is modeled after a one-of-a-kind airplane that Extra built to compete in the Red Bull Air Races. “The LT is the fastest nonturbocharged, standard-category aircraft in production. It’s exhilarating to fly—and we have an energy drink to thank for it.”

And speaking of energy drinks...“I was on my way to the office when I got the call from AOPA Design Director, Mike Kline, asking me if I could photograph the Red Bull Air Race in New York City the following week,” says Photographer Chris Rose. “He barely got the words out before I replied, ‘Absolutely!’ Since the races began I’ve wanted to experience what I had seen countless times on YouTube and Red Bull’s website: long lenses, fast shutter speeds, and 10 frames per second were the order of the day. My excitement and anticipation had been confirmed. Like its namesake beverage, it’s refreshing, full of energy, and just strange enough to be wildly appealing.” See “The Red Bull Effect” by Senior Editor Al Marsh.

“Mastering the airplane in a crosswind is an essential skill,” says flight instructor and Associate Editor Ian J. Twombly. “But how you do it is up to you.” Twombly examines crosswind landing techniques as part of this month’s focus on landings, “ Landing Insights,”. “Everyone will say they have the best method, but ultimately it doesn’t matter if you crab, slip, or do some combination. What matters is that you don’t side load the landing gear.” Twombly, by the way, always flies according to what he says is the best way—the crab. In addition to crosswind landings in this feature, AOPA Pilot staff writers also look at short- and soft-field landings, and tailwheel landings, and editors Tom Horne and Dave Hirschman debate the pros and cons of the stabilized approach.

On an August morning 10 years ago, Technical Editor Mike Collins sat in the right seat of a Cessna 207 as air-taxi pilot Stephen Beck flew from Bethel, Alaska, to the Eskimo village of Akiak. In airspace far from ATC radar, they watched on a multifunction display as another Stationair passed them, 500 feet above and a mile off their left wing. Collins was reporting on Capstone, an FAA/industry demonstration of the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast technology (ADS-B) now being rolled out across the continental United States (“ Next Step Toward NextGen,”). “In 2000 I wrote that ‘The U.S. air traffic control system of 10 to 15 years from now may bear little resemblance to the ATC system in which we operate today,’” Collins says. “Those changes are coming, only a few years off the timetable hypothesized a decade ago.”