Hangar Talk

The story behind the story

October 1, 2004

More than 20 years ago Ian Blair Fries, M.D., spotted Richard "Dog" Brenneman's Workbook of Advanced Flying while browsing a Los Angeles aviation bookstore. The two began a fruitful coast-to-coast correspondence. In April, Fries was invited to Brenneman's two-day instrument procedure seminar at USAF Kelly Field in San Antonio for the C-5 Transport Wing. Fries presented a talk in honor of Brenneman, using one of his geometric ideas applied to identifying a conflicting traffic situation. This was the origin of the article " Scanning for Traffic" (see page 137). Just imagine an auditorium of uniformed Air Force pilots and crew looking through the bottoms of water bottles!

The discovery of a four-place Taylorcraft came from an AOPA member who e-mailed AOPA Pilot Editor in Chief Tom Haines with his unusual sighting at Culpeper, Virginia. The tip was passed on to Senior Editor Alton K. Marsh for detective work (see " Tailored for Four," page 114). Finding the airplane owner took a few weeks, and that led in turn to the real find, the Fiberglas four-place Taylorcraft of the 1950s. "Ahead of its time" is one phrase that might be employed. Fans of the aircraft claim it is the first Fiberglas airplane ever built, although it had a steel-tube skeleton. Whatever its place in history, Taylorcraft's tough bird led the way for other composite and Fiberglas airplanes of today.

Any fatal accident in general aviation is tragic and even more so when it involves a high-profile individual. Negative publicity and the cry for more regulation is frequently an outcome. Such was the case with the accident involving U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, as AOPA Air Safety Foundation Executive Director Bruce Landsberg discusses in " Landmark Accidents: Much More Than a Bad Day," page 106. "When flying as a crew, there's a need to take action if the other pilot isn't up to the task," says Landsberg. "In this case it seems that many knew about the captain's weaknesses and yet no one intervened. Aviation is a performance activity and if someone isn't up to standard, protecting them may be the worst thing one can do."

After nearly a decade of working for members of Congress and U.S. senators, AOPA's Jon Hixson now spends his time leading the AOPA advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill. In this month's issue, Hixson shares his insights by profiling members of Congress who consistently support general aviation pilots (see " Election 2004: Candidates Who Understand GA," page 76). In what has become the election edition, this month's AOPA Pilot also provides questions and answers from both President George W. Bush and Democratic Presidential Nominee Senator John Kerry. With so many important aviation policy and security actions coming from Washington, D.C., it is more important than ever that pilots are well informed voters.