Hangar Talk

The story behind the story

November 1, 2011

Growing up in the Seattle area, watching Beavers and Otters on floats fly overhead, has long been part of contributor Jason Paur’s life. “It’s great to live in a city where the local airline flies de Havilland floatplanes,” he says. “Hearing the low rumble of a Pratt & Whitney radial still makes me look up every time one flies over.” After years watching them from the ground, and a ride or two as a passenger, Paur enjoyed finally getting the opportunity to sit down in the left seat and fly one of Kenmore Air’s Beavers for his story ( Where Flying is ‘Still Fun’ and At the Controls).

Would you ever climb outside of your airplane and scramble out onto its wing? OK, you Cessna pilots, we know you’re adept at climbing on top of the wing—but have you done it while the airplane is in flight? We thought not. For Jane Law Wicker, it’s all in a day’s work, as Associate Editor Jill W. Tallman found out ( Walking Back On). “I literally could not wait to do the photo shoot for this article,” says Tallman. “I knew that air-to-air photography with a wing walker is not what you ordinarily see in the pages of AOPA Pilot. But that’s what makes it so cool.” Tallman, photographer Chris Rose, and photo pilot Dave Hirschman traveled to Front Royal Airport in Virginia to capture Wicker doing what she loves best. Flying in the 2012 Tougher Than a Tornado Sweepstakes Husky—a perfect camera platform for Wicker’s Stearman—Hirschman and Rose completed a most memorable photo mission as their subject flipped upside down…and waved.

“I had never been to the Bahamas, never flown over open water for more than 20 minutes, and never seen the devastation of a Category 3 hurricane,” says ePublishing Managing Editor Alyssa Miller. “In less than 12 hours after getting the invitation to cover the Bahamas Habitat Hurricane Irene relief efforts, I was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, preparing for the next day’s flights. I probably slept only two hours that night because I couldn’t stop thinking of the day to come. Parts of Cat Island were destroyed. Some people lost nearly everything, yet their sense of community and will to remain upbeat and move on was remarkable. Just as remarkable were the pilots selflessly giving a week of their time and aircraft to fly long, demanding flights to deliver food, water, and building supplies,” Miller says. See her story, Flight for Survival.”

It took a concerted, multiyear effort involving pilots, aviation businesses, state legislators, and AOPA staff to finally eliminate a use tax in Maine that had discouraged many pilots from flying there in their airplanes (see AOPA in the States: The 5-Percent Solution). As a bonus, the legislation eliminating the use tax also provided relief from a sales tax on aircraft parts. “As pilots, we all should be thankful that there are people as excited about eliminating unfair taxes as we are about flying,” said Technical Editor Mike Collins. “It was impressive to see how a pilot, several aviation businessmen, and a state legislator all helped to make a difference. It’s also always interesting to see how hard AOPA works to accomplish changes like this—something that’s repeated across the country, throughout the year.” And pilots can now fly into Maine without worrying about the state’s use tax.