Hangar Talk

The story behind the story

July 1, 2010

“I remember flying a Cessna 180 on amphib floats back in the early 1990s that had an upgraded, turbocharged engine—with a manual wastegate on the turbocharger,” reminisces Editor in Chief Tom Haines. “At any one time, it seemed I was only seconds away from destroying this beautiful new engine through possible overboosting.” Today, of course, that would never happen. Automatic wastegates take all the guesswork out of it for pilots and Cirrus takes full advantage of that in its new turbocharged SR22T. Haines got an exclusive first look at the airplane ( “ Cirrus Amps Its Turbo Line”) and is impressed with the simplicity and performance of the new engine—but he wonders how customers will decide between the new turbocharged airplane and the turbonormalized version Cirrus has offered for a few years.

A fabric-covered biplane equipped with digital, glass-panel avionics seems like a flying contradiction—and it is. But when Senior Editor Dave Hirschman heard Waco Classic Aircraft’s new “Model D” biplane was ready to fly, he hurriedly left for Battle Creek, Michigan, to jump in the open-cockpit airplane even though winter wasn’t quite over yet ( “ Wonderful Wacos”). “A glass-cockpit biplane doesn’t make any sense,” says Hirschman, who logged about 1,000 flight hours in Wacos during a former weekend job as a scenic rides pilot. “But biplanes are totally impractical anyway, so why get practical about the panel?” Hirschman came away with a new appreciation for Waco’s handmade works of art and the painstaking craftsmanship of the people who build them. Also, see Hirschman’s two tales of triumph—hijacked FedEx pilot Jim Tucker, who has refound flight in an LSA ( “My Salvation”) and wounded warrior Sgt. Michael Blair’s first solo (“ Turning Bulldog Loose”).

We get all sorts of e-mail and other correspondence here at AOPA Pilot, but none of it quite like the one that popped up in Editor at Large Tom Horne’s inbox. Member Dave Lawlor wrote in to say that Horne’s December 2009 article on flying to the Bahamas (“ Bound for the Bahamas”) prompted him to buy a 1976 Beech Baron. Was it an impulse buy, or a desire he’d been suppressing for years? See online to find out. Lawlor’s story is a part of a larger package of stories profiling pilots who have realized the economic downturn has a silver lining—reduced prices on aircraft for sale. We also offer a look at what you get for your money these days and helpful tips from our growing volume of AOPA Online resources ( “ Time to Buy: Seizing the Day”). Is it time to buy? You be the judge.

Some pilots launch on multi-state cross-countries with aplomb; for others, that’s a no-go. What is it that keeps some of us tied to our home states, unwilling to venture more than a hundred nautical miles from home? “For me, it’s the nagging fear that I will get lost,” says Associate Editor Jill W. Tallman. “But there’s a whole country to explore, and GA is the very best vehicle to explore it.” Tallman’s longest cross-country to date is a group fly-out she joined in 2002. “We flew from Maryland to Nantucket, Massachusetts, to Maine, to Vermont, to New York, to Pennsylvania, and back to Maryland,” she says. “A lot of planning went into that event because there were multiple airplanes and pilots involved and overnight stays, but it has been one of the best experiences of my flying career.” Tallman discusses techniques for planning a long cross-country in “ Technique: Planning a Big Trip.