Pilot Briefing

Historic photos placed online

August 1, 2010

There are now 100,000 historic photos online for you to browse. The San Diego Air and Space Museum is sharing the photos on Flickr.

The aviation-related subjects include the Flying Tigers, the Ryan Aeronautical Archive, and the Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) archive. The project, with assistance from the Balboa Park Online Collaborative, is funded by a grant from the Legler Benbough Foundation.

The museum’s library and archives houses one of the world’s largest collections of aerospace still and moving images, including images of approximately 95 percent of all aircraft ever conceived.

The Balboa Park Online Collaborative was created to change the way museums, cultural arts, and science institutions in Balboa Park approach the use of online technology.

Lycoming to produce own pistons

Lycoming is returning the production of pistons to its factory in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The company has not made pistons in nearly 50 years.

Lycoming developed a process and equipment with the help of companies in Japan and England. The new process has built-in quality inspections, but every fifth piston is checked manually. A piston is made in less than 10 minutes. The process was designed by Cosworth Group of England, while Takisawa of Japan built the machines. It relieves Lycoming of dependency on subcontractors.

Lycoming officials said they believe the new technology makes them more competitive. Having piston manufacturing “in house” provides the company with complete control over the process. It will provide pistons for new and overhauled engines, and for spare parts.

Women’s air race lands in Maryland

More than 100 women pilots in more than 50 aircraft descended on Frederick, Maryland, on June 25 as the thirty-fourth annual Air Race Classic (ARC) concluded its cross-country race from Florida. Team “Wild Mama”—pilots Terry Carbonell, Ellen Herr, and Laura Ying Gao—won the 2,200-nm event in Carbonell’s Cessna 182RG.

AOPA had some skin in the game: First-time racer Sandi Terkelsen, director of donor development for the AOPA Foundation, teamed up with Heather Woiciechowski to fly a Piper Cherokee. Team Warrior Women managed to overcome gasket problems and thunderstorms to finish the race.

ARC racers toured AOPA headquarters and toasted each others’ successes at a banquet hosted by the association. “AOPA has always been extremely proud to support the Air Race Classic,” said Jennifer Storm, AOPA director of public relations. “This year was particularly special with the terminus at our home base, Frederick Municipal Airport, and a record number of teams racing. It was a terrific celebration of the centennial of licensed women pilots.” To learn more about the ARC, see the website. — Jill W. Tallman

Hawker Beechcraft coy about new turboprop

When will Hawker Beechcraft unveil its new single-engine turboprop? For now, the company will neither confirm nor deny the existence of the aircraft.

“The company has made no such announcement. However, as [company official] Shawn Vick has said, the $2 million to $4 million end of the market is very robust with multiple aircraft and aircraft types already announced or in the market. Hawker Beechcraft’s well-planned and executed product development strategy over the last decade has included bringing to market 18 clean sheet and/or derivative products. While the company will not comment on any specific product development programs, there is no reason to believe we are not looking to do the same moving forward,” said a spokesperson.

Let’s take that as a “yes.” The company last flirted with the idea of a single-engine turboprop in 1982 to 1984 when it put a turboprop engine on the front of a Beech Baron, fastened Bonanza wings to it, and called it the Beechcraft 38P Lightning. A dip in the economy killed the project, although prototypes exist. Reports indicate the new design is based on a King Air 200 aircraft.

Chevron drops avgas at 200 locations in 27 states

Chevron’s General Aviation division will withdraw from marketing Chevron and Texaco branded aviation fuels in 27 states (approximately 200 locations) by November 15. The company said the states are beyond Chevron’s refinery distribution system. “Effective June 1, 2010, [Chevron] General Aviation will only market Chevron and Texaco branded aviation fuels in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington. Chevron will continue to be a leading manufacturer of jet fuel and aviation gasoline but is changing its branded distribution channel to reduce costs while continuing to serve the aviation industry.”

The Chevron statement said the actions “have no impact on product supply. Aviation customers should not experience any impact as a result of this transition.”

Flight instructor of the year named

The FAA General Aviation Awards flight instructor of the year is Jeff Moss of Los Angeles. Moss holds five single-pilot jet type ratings and is an independent instructor and mentor pilot on Cessna, Eclipse, Embraer, and Hawker Beechcraft aircraft.

Other GA Award winners are: Neil John Nederfield of Lafayette, New Jersey, Aviation Maintenance Technician of the Year; Kirk H. Peterson of Larimore, North Dakota, Avionics Technician of the Year; and Thomas P. Turner of Rose Hill, Kansas, FAA Safety Team Representative of the Year.

The FAA administrator will present the national awards during EAA AirVenture 2010 in Oshkosh. Included in the prize package for all four national winners is an all-expense-paid trip to Oshkosh for the recipient and a guest to attend the awards presentation and other GA Awards activities.

Want to fly an airship?

If you’ve got $3,000, you’ve got an airship—at least for half an hour. Airship Ventures, located in California, operates the only Zeppelin in the United States and is now offering a two-day course that puts you in the pilot’s seat.

The time does not count toward a rating, but makes for a fine adventure. Airship pilots teach the ground school, supervise stick time, and provide a logbook endorsement. Every student is guaranteed 30 minutes in the left seat. Classes are limited to six students; participants must hold a private pilot certificate and a current medical.

While aloft you’ll explore the sights of the California coast while experiencing the differences between aerostatic and aerodynamic lift. Fees are $2,950 per person, plus taxes. For reservations, call Randy Kolstad at 650-969-8100, extension 141. There are efforts in progress to have the airship at Long Beach during AOPA Summit November 11 through 13—not so much for training as for rides. Watch future AOPA Summit news for updates on the airship rides.

Airship Ventures operates the only commercial passenger airship in the United States. The company’s airship, Eureka, is a Zeppelin, not a blimp; it is one of only three in the world. Eureka’s cabin holds 12 passengers and boasts luxury features like oversized windows (some can be opened during flight), an on-board restroom with a view, and a rear loveseat complete with a panoramic window.

Living the dream life

Pat Magie and wife Debbie live the life they love, and love the life they live. First the dream was to fly, so Pat bought a Piper J–4 Cub for $850, put $950 floats on it, and paid a mechanic $350 to attach them. Only then did he learn to fly.

Now he has 39,100 hours, including 32,000 on floats, 5,500 on skis, but only 1,600 on wheels. That’s because he doesn’t like airports much, Magie jokes. If you attend one of Jimmy Buffett’s concerts this year, you’re going to see a huge picture of one of Pat’s airplanes. The two have flown together at Magie’s Island Seaplane Service across the harbor from Honolulu.

Hawaii is just the latest stop on Magie’s list of dreams. First, he was an independent operator and aircraft dealer in northern Minnesota. Then he was a bush pilot in Cordoba, Alaska, delivering fuel, fishermen, and sightseers around, and transporting campers. When he tired of that, he sold the business to his daughter. “I can’t stay in one place too long,” he admits.

Once in Hawaii, it took him eight years to get his seaplane sightseeing business going. His location was a base where five Martin Mars flying boats once flew from Hawaii to Alameda, California, during World War II, and for several years after. His business and his home are on the same floating office.

At first, he leased a house, but traffic was a mess and then the owner sold the home. So they moved to the boat until he and Debbie could find something, but found they liked living on the boat. It bobs a little during storms, but breakfast, dinner, and the whole workday are quite scenic. He operates a de Havilland DHC–2 Beaver and a Cessna 206 on floats, tied up to the floating office.

You can’t tell the story of Pat and Debbie without talking about weddings. He leases a wedding chapel next to his floating home to a Japanese company, but zoning rules are tough and prohibit wedding chapels in the area. Since couples can’t legally pay for a wedding, the bride and the groom are each charged the cost of a seaplane ride. There have been 669 weddings, and five of those couples actually took the seaplane ride.

Magie is selling his business soon. He lost his medical, but that has only led to another opportunity—the couple is going back to Alaska to open a fishing camp. Debbie will learn to fly, and that puts Pat back in the air when she is along. The Island Seaplane Service is for sale at $2 million, debt free. The couple is justly proud of that, especially in a recession.

Single data burst can locate crash scene

A newly commissioned search-and-rescue ground station at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center near Washington, D.C., takes advantage of search and rescue repeaters on GPS satellites. It’s the only one of its kind in the world.

The repeaters are on only a few satellites now. It will take at least until 2017 to equip all new-generation GPS satellites. The ground station is capable of receiving instantaneous bursts of data, relayed by the satellite, including the GPS location. It provides search capability for ships, aircraft, and hikers.

Just like the lottery, you must play to win. If you want to take advantage of the latest search-and-rescue system, you must have a 406 MHz ELT. You must register it with the government as well so searchers can call the right location to begin their detective work. In addition, if you want your exact GPS location sent automatically, you need to have a 406 MHz ELT that can be connected, and then have an avionics technician actually hook it up.

There are 275,000 406 MHz locators in the government database, but only 45,000 are registered. Officials from several agencies giving a joint press conference from the Goddard Space Flight Center in June said pilots flying over water may want to have a handheld 406 MHz locator as well as the one required for their aircraft—if a pilot is floating in a raft, the raft may be miles from where the airplane ELT was when it transmitted the location.

World’s largest airship nearly ready

Watch for a huge airship to fly somewhere in the Montgomery, Alabama, area later this year. At 235 feet, builder E-Green Technologies claims it is, or will be, the largest in the world.

The airship can carry payloads of 2,000 pounds up to 20,000 feet at dash speeds (for an airship) of 80 mph. The Bullet 580 looks like, well, a bullet. The craft completed a successful inflation recently inside a domed stadium in the Montgomery area.

Payloads are carried inside the outer envelope, which is only one-sixteenth of an inch thick, but is made of Kevlar that is 10 times stronger than steel. It is being touted for a number of surveillance and communications uses and can remain on station for hours at a time. The first mission will fly equipment to measure the moisture content of soil for NASA and Old Dominion University.