August 1, 2011
AOPA Media staff
“The combination of a Waco Classic radial-engine biplane, sparkling autumn weather, and a whole continent to fly across was like an aviation fantasy,” Senior Editor Dave Hirschman says of the autumn 2010 flight from Maryland to AOPA Aviation Summit in Long Beach, California (“ Epic Flight: 88 Magical Aerial Miles ”). “Throw in some good friends and talented professionals like John McKenna of the Recreational Aviation Foundation, videographer Jim Clark, and AOPA Photographer Chris Rose and you’ve got the makings of an unforgettable flying adventure.” The highlight of a trip full of spectacular scenes took place above the winding Colorado River where the raging waters carve through the ancient and dramatic western landscape. “I kept trying to comprehend the massive expanse of time it must have taken for this single river—and the pre-historic ocean that came before it—to shape this incredible land, but it was futile,” Hirschman says. “The best I could do was to savor it, and with the help of Rose’s accompanying images, treasure the memory of it.”
“Going in to this story, I thought it would simply be a look back at the Cherokee and what it has meant for general aviation,” says Associate Editor Ian J. Twombly (“ Fiftieth Anniversary Piper Cherokee: When There was One ”). “A logical place to start is with the first airplane, which is still flying in Georgia. But when we got there, I was struck by the history of this particular airplane, and the interesting life it has led. There’s been a little damage, some time spent in storage, a flying club, and single and multiple ownership. It’s just so fitting that the first Cherokee has been operated as a perfect example of what the airplane’s designers envisioned. And getting to meet current owner Joe Warren was a treat. Warren takes wonderful care of the airplane, and appreciates it for the piece of history it is.”
It’s safe to say that Senior Editor Al Marsh was a bit skeptical when he first heard of his “rubber-band airplane” story assignment (“ Flying Skeletons and Electric Hummingbirds ”). Would “real” pilots want to read about these “aircraft”? Then Marsh discovered at the national model airplane convention in Johnson City, Tennessee, that airline captains, active flight instructors, and aircraft owners are involved in the hobby. While at the convention, Marsh also discovered the sister of an aircraft salesman from the Carolinas, serving breakfast at a Waffle House, and gave the surprised dealer a call after returning from the trip—”Hey, I met your sister.” There was also a side trip to the beautiful and well-run airport in Elizabethton, Tennessee. “What do we have to do to get mentioned in your magazine?” one of the airport staff wanted to know. “Pilots, check out Elizabethton Municipal Airport next time you are in eastern Tennessee.”
“Watching a National Intercollegiate Flying Association championship really is a treat,” says Technical Editor Mike Collins, who photographed the 2010 national Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (Safecon) hosted by Indiana State University in Terre Haute. By the time the story could get into the magazine, however, the 2011 championship—held at Ohio State University in Columbus—had concluded, so he updated the story (“ Short Work ”). “These young people are here because they want to be,” says Collins. “They’re very motivated, they’re incredibly professional, and they’ve worked hard to earn a spot in the national competition.”
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