Hangar Talk

The story behind the story

October 1, 2005

Everyone knows that VFR and IFR have different sets of rules," says Bruce Landsberg, executive director of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. "But while VFR is always VFR, IFR has elements of both, depending on the conditions." See " Safety Pilot Landmark Accidents: Radar Service Terminated," page 94. "This accident had many different aspects and the classic chain theory fits well — break one link and the mishap is avoided. Jammed radio frequencies, lack of official guidance for a missed approach procedure, and a perceived fault by air traffic control are all in play. The legal system will adjudicate a wrongful-death claim filed against the government based on some interesting tort concepts. The seemingly simple idea of operating at a nontowered airport becomes more complex and, regardless of your type of operation, there is something to learn from this accident," says Landsberg.

One of the great things about writing for AOPA Pilot is the chance to fly many different types of airplanes. This month, Editor at Large Tom Horne spans the spectrum, reporting on the 120-knot, 1,300-pound maximum-takeoff-weight Flight Design CT — a new airplane in the Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) category (see " Little Big Plane," page 86) — and the Cessna Citation XLS, a mid-size business jet (see " Little Big Jet," page 104). "The CT reminds me of the ultralights we flew in the early 1980s," Horne says. "But it's much more capable and airplane- like than those early ultralight designs." At the other end of the spectrum is the XLS, with its 435-knot cruise speed and 20,200-pound maximum takeoff weight. "Of course, if someone else were paying, I'd fly an XLS," Horne says. "But for most of us the CT would be an acceptable — and more realistic — alternative."

"If you have ever tried photographing a moving yo-yo in the wind from the seat of a moving swing you'll get an idea of the challenging nature of this assignment," says Jim Raycroft, photographer for " Little Big Plane," on page 86. "I showed up at the field to meet Flight Design's Tom Peghiny and he motioned toward an ultralight. What? We're shooting out of an ultralight? Tom says, 'Gee, did I forget to mention that on the phone?' It was very noisy so communication was next to impossible. The seats in the ultralight are small and don't allow for much twisting around to shoot back at the following aircraft. The human spine has its limits — at least mine does — and I was pushing the envelope. The air was rough and the photo plane was all over the sky; so was the target airplane. The gyro [a stabilizing unit for the camera] earned its keep that morning and the chiropractor earned hers too." In this photo, Raycroft is flying the A60+ blimp, which our "Pilots" subject Kate Board flies for the American Blimp Corp. (see " Pilots: Kate Board," page 166).

When writer Phil Scott set the National Aeronautic Association's national speed record from New York to Martha's Vineyard in a Cessna 152 — with an average speed of 93 mph — he felt absolutely Lindberghian. "At one point, if the engine had quit, it might have been difficult to make it to dry land," he recalls. Scott chronicles other interesting aviation feats — and wacky attempts at record breaking — in " Silly Airplane Stunts," on page 125. Scott's latest book is Hemingway's Hurricane: The Great Labor Day Storm of 1935 (McGraw-Hill, 2005).