Hangar Talk

The story behind the story

February 1, 2011

Barry SchiffBarry Schiff has had a pocketful of helicopter (and gyroplane) ratings for 47 years. “Trouble is,” he says, “I haven’t had my hands on a collective and a cyclic very much in the interim.” So it was that he had mixed emotions when invited by Jim Magglos to fly his fully restored Bell 47G-3B-1, the subject of Movie and TV Star .” “You see,” Schiff says, “most pilots—including Magglos—suffer from the oft-mistaken notion that aviation writers are fantastic aviators. Ha! He should only have known that I had zero confidence in my ability to fly a helicopter after all these years. I felt like a student pilot all over again, but it sure was fun.”

AOPA photographer Chris Rose and AOPA Senior Editor Dave HirschmanSome people will do just about anything for the chance to catch some really big fish—and pilots are no exception. If that means flying for hours across a rugged and remote wilderness, landing on a gravel airstrip in the midst of a 200-mile-long lake, and crossing a couple international borders, so much the better. “Not many things can compete with a good flying story—except, perhaps for a flying story that’s also a fish story,” says AOPA Senior Editor Dave Hirschman (right), who flew an Bonanza A-36 to the Canadian arctic with AOPA photographer Chris Rose in pursuit of northern pike and lake trout (“ Arctic Lodges ”). “For pilots who like fishing, and fishermen who like flying, it’s hard to top an adventure like this one.”

AOPA eMedia Director Alyssa J. MillerWhen eMedia Director and Managing Editor Alyssa J. Miller started taking aerobatic lessons for the first installment of our new “Challenge” series ( Rock ’n’ Roll), she thought it would be easy. “The loop and the roll don’t require a lot of steps. However, I quickly realized that the maneuvers require a lot more attention and precision to end on the correct heading and altitude,” she says. “And, I’m still working on those two points. Throw in other basic aerobatic maneuvers, like the Cuban eight, and things get very challenging, very quickly.” The great thing about aerobatics, Miller observes, is that just like any other challenge in aviation, it can be overcome with practice. It just so happens practicing for this challenge is a whole lot of fun. Miller is a 500-hour pilot with instrument ratings. She is a commercial pilot.

AOPA Senior Editor Alton K. MarshIt was November 2007, and Senior Editor Al Marsh was stepping over video cables in downtown Tallahassee as he entered a restaurant. Movie equipment trucks blocked the street; generators powering lights on the top floor of a building next to the restaurant roared as shooting started. The movie was Recount, the story of the 2000 general election and the Florida vote recount that made George W. Bush president, instead of Al Gore. Like wine, Eyes above the Forest has aged three years since Marsh went to Tallahassee to write about the Vulcanair used by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. The movie has come and gone, but the article from that year is just emerging. Since the article was written, the Vulcanair has flown hundreds of hours above the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.