Hangar Talk

The story behind the story

September 1, 2011

Julie Summers WalkerRegular readers may have picked up on the fact that Managing Editor Julie Summers Walker is not a certificated pilot. (“Hey, I have 65 hours of instruction!”) Originally a white-knuckle flier and still a big baby in turbulence, Walker has, however, fallen in love with general aviation and is a great copilot—as long as the weather is perfect. So to volunteer to fly in a helicopter for our story on the heliports in New York was another routine assignment—not! ( GA Serves America: Above New York). But, she’s a convert. “It was gusting 29 knots and I thought ‘Oh, boy, here we go,’ but a helicopter has an incredibly smooth ride and I loved it, especially that slow elevator-like takeoff, bird’s-eye view, and gentle touchdown landing,” she says, sending a special shout-out to Eastern Regional Helicopter Council Chairman Jeffrey Smith who held her sweaty little hand until the fear subsided and the joy of the flight took over.

Barry SchiffContributor Barry Schiff was 7 years old when World War II ended. Like others growing up in that era, he was enthralled by the romanticism and mystique of the pilots, fighters, and bombers who helped America win the war. “We couldn’t build model airplanes fast enough,” he says. “When Japan surrendered, the most popular model quickly became the B–29. Mine was a solid-wood Strombecker that came to life with sanding, gluing, painting, and decals. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would ever fly a real one.” He believes that The Lady Has a History is one of his most significant articles written for AOPA Pilot. Schiff also examines the B–29’s role during the bombing of Japan in his monthly column “Proficient Pilot: Dropping the Bomb.”

Rick DurdenContributor Rick Durden exchanged telephone calls with his friend Stan Musick for more than a year as Musick searched for the right airplane for his family. After settling on an Aerostar 601P with a number of top-of-the line retrofits, including the latest Garmin G600 with a primary flight display and multifunction display replacing the aging six-pack, he invited Durden to fly the updated airborne hot rod (“ Family Rocket ”). After doing the review flight, Durden, who has more than 7,000 hours in some 200 types of airplanes, reports that he had never flown anything quite like the pressurized Aerostar with its combination of performance, handling, and slightly eccentric systems. He says he came to understand why the Aerostar has been enduringly popular and how the Garmin retrofit added tremendous utility to an already capable airplane.

Jill TallmanWhen Associate Editor Jill W. Tallman joined AOPA’s publications division in 1999, she had never been inside a small airplane. “My first flight was in a Cessna 172,” she says. “I sat in the right seat and had to fight not to dig my fingernails into the glareshield.” Proofreading the magazine column “Never Again” did not inspire her to want to learn to fly, but when she joined the Flight Training team, everything changed. She became a private pilot in 2002, got an instrument rating in 2009, and purchased a Piper Cherokee 140 in December 2010 (“ Renter No More ”). “Learning to fly has absolutely changed my life,” she says. “I get to do and see things that most people don’t experience. And I don’t take it for granted.”