February 1, 2012
By AOPA ePublishing staff
“The old Mooneys have always been one of my dream airplanes,” says Associate Editor Ian J. Twombly. “Not in the P–51 sense, but more as in an airplane I could actually afford to buy and own one day. But for years I’ve heard people say that, in essence, their only redeeming quality is speed.” Twombly finally got his chance to fly a Mooney M20E and find out the truth for himself for his report, “ Budget Buy: Classically Quick,” which begins on page 44. “No question the airplane is relatively fast. But I do think maybe some of the luster wore off for me as four of us tried to squeeze ourselves in the aircraft and my knees ended up jammed firmly into the panel. I had to laugh as the owner took a minute to explain the order in which we would have to embark, if ever we planned to get it done properly.”
Given the long lives of airplanes, when one is birthed and takes to the skies for the first time, it’s a big deal. Editor in Chief Tom Haines recently got to participate in the launch of a really big deal—the delivery flight of a shiny new Boeing 737-700 for Southwest Airlines ( “ Brand New Wings,”). “As we flew away from Boeing Field in that pristine new airplane, I felt honored to be involved in a flight that launched an airplane that will be flying for decades to come,” says Haines. “The employees of Boeing and Southwest clearly have a great deal of respect for one another. They really seem like a strong team. And I was amazed at how many GA pilots I ran into from both Boeing and Southwest. They are truly passionate aviators.”
“I spent a delightful fall afternoon in Washington, D.C., with Flying Wild Alaska reality show star Ariel Tweto,” recalls Managing Editor Julie Summers Walker ( “ Flying Wild in Alaska,”). “The lovely young woman was fun, very pretty, and extremely thin; I wondered how she stayed warm in Alaska without so much as an inch of insulation. It was a blustery day and I had to send her back to her hotel room for a jacket.” Tweto’s bubbly and slightly ditsy personality masks reality, says Walker: “This is a very smart, very savvy young woman with a goal—to be a star. Her determination helped launch the Discovery Channel reality show and I can only imagine that it has helped in her flight lessons, which were chronicled in the show’s second season. But no amount of determination on my part could get her to reveal if she passed her checkride—I have my prediction, but we all have to wait for the final episode, which was scheduled to air on January 20.”
Believe it or not, more different types and models of airplanes have been built than automobiles, and it has been author Barry Schiff’s goal to fly as many of them as possible. “It is no secret,” he says, “that I love getting checked out in new (to me) airplanes. Each one is educational, provides new experiences, and offers insight into a unique design philosophy.” One of his latest models to fly is the Curtiss OX–5 Robin ( “ The Bird and the Leprechaun,”). “This airplane is particularly special because of its cantankerous, water-cooled V-8 Curtiss OX-5 engine and because one was used by Douglas ‘Wrong Way’ Corrigan to make an incredulous flight across the Atlantic Ocean. He was the last of the widely acclaimed pilots to make such a journey.”
Experimental kit aircraft maker Sonex announced completing “a very successful series of initial flight tests” of the SubSonex JSX-2 personal jet.
PS Engineering is incorporating U.S. Air Force technology into its new PMA450 audio panel. Originally designed to help fighter pilots with situational awareness, the new system places com radio cues at various points in the earcups to help GA pilots focus.
Researchers at the University of Sheffield in England are designing autonomous flying machines that think for themselves, and learn as they go.
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