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The story behind the storyThe story behind the story

"First I want to settle something once and for all; I do not hang out of airplanes while shooting air to airs," claims AOPA Pilot Senior Photographer Mike Fizer. (See "Getting the Shot," page 103.) "I may lean out occasionally, but, well, I'm strapped in.

"First I want to settle something once and for all; I do not hang out of airplanes while shooting air to airs," claims AOPA Pilot Senior Photographer Mike Fizer. (See " Getting the Shot," page 103.) "I may lean out occasionally, but, well, I'm strapped in. It's really not so different than riding with your windows down in the car, just a little breezier. And for those whose eyes go wide at the obvious dangers of flying aircraft closer together than two miles apart, I ask if they are comfortable with a 120-mph closure rate and missing another car by 4 feet. They reply, 'Why, of course, they stay on the other side of the line.' Bingo! We always stay on our side of the line."

When author Jeff Van West saw a short story in an online magazine about a company with a new seaplane hull design, he was intrigued. "I had just learned to fly floats at the time, but I've always been enamored with the era of the great flying boats. The prospect of resurrecting some of the flying-boat history was very appealing," he says. Van West contacted company officials to find out more, and kept in touch with them over the years. "At first, it was their design technology that fascinated me. They had something unique and original — a rarity in aviation where most new ideas are just refinements of older ones. As time passed, I became even more interested in their story. It was an amazing saga that shed light on how complex it was to fund and certify a new airplane design." Van West tells that story in "The Quest for the Centaur," on page 133.

"A pilot that my brother flies with is the son-in-law of the owner of the first 172. Instead of trying to make sense of that far-reaching relationship, I was already thinking, 'I've got to write a story about this airplane,'" says Peter A. Bedell, author of " The Skyhawk Turns 50," on page 70. "Typical of aviation's glacial pace and the participants' busy schedules, a few years went by before I had the opportunity to fly Joe Nelsen's 1956 172, immediately followed by a new glass-cockpit Skyhawk SP at Cessna's single-engine facility in Independence, Kansas. I was struck by the difference in the mission of the two airplanes and how much flying has changed in the last 50 years. The truly amazing thing, however, is that despite how much aviation has changed, the Skyhawk has been modernized and morphed to fit the changing mission and remains the world's most popular airplane."

"Probably like most Southerners, I always thought of Canada as being cool in the summer and bone-chilling cold during the winter," says author and photographer Tim Wright ( " Fishing in Canada's Remote Wilderness," page 88, and "The Can-Am Fly-In: English Spoken Here," page 97). "So the fact there was no air conditioning in my rental car or my hotel came as no surprise," he says. "But the heat that gripped Quebec during June was a big surprise. At night my hotel room was so hot and stuffy that I wound up on the floor beneath my windows in search of enough cool air to get some sleep. Ironically, I was told that only the month before, there was still ice on the lake. Despite the summer heat, the warmth of the French Canadians, and their lip-smackingly delicious beer, made any discomfort worthwhile."

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