For the first installment of our new proficiency series this month ( " Precautionary Tales," page 105), Technical Editor Julie K. Boatman asked pilots to write in if they had made the decision to land short of a destination, and to detail the situations that led to those decisions, and to explain what the outcome was. "Each pilot who had stopped short of a goal — whether it was because of worsening weather, a potential or realized mechanical problem, or concern over fuel supply — was satisfied with the decision to make a precautionary landing to assess the situation further," says Boatman. "Even if the nagging feeling turns out to be misplaced, the time spent in landing to take a 'look-see' is rarely time wasted."
When Senior Editor Al Marsh arrived in Renton, Washington, to write about the Boeing Employees Flying Association, 60 club members came to the Renton Municipal Airport to push 16 airplanes 300 feet into a semicircle for a photo. While the photo didn't make the cut for our story ( " The Boss Says Fly!" page 75), it demonstrated the passion for flying among those who concentrate on the really heavy iron. Why cover Boeing? Because its pilots fly the same aircraft as the rest of us; it's just that their other airplane is an airliner. At Lockheed Martin, the flying club president's other airplane is a C-5 Galaxy. By the time you read this, the Cessna Employees Flying Club will have changed its club fleet to glass-cockpit aircraft, and Cirrus Design's club will include employees at Grand Forks, North Dakota.
This is the year when very-light-jet (VLJ) expectations meet reality. Eclipse Aviation anticipates certification of the Model 500 within a matter of months, and Cessna should complete certification of the Mustang — the newest and smallest of the company's line of Citations — by yearend. Deliveries of both designs should begin thereafter, at which time issues such as training, insurance, and operating experiences will morph from speculation around the hangar to hard data derived from time spent at flight levels. John W. Olcott, author of " Turbine Pilot: The Year of the Very Light Jet," page 85, has been following the VLJ phenomenon since the days of NASA's Advanced General Aviation Transport Experiment and General Aviation Propulsion programs, precursors to the Small Aircraft Transportation System research, better known as SATS.
Anybody who lives north of Florida spends at least part of the winter wishing for life in a tropical paradise. On a miserable winter day of airline flying, when delays for deicing and falling snow were running more than an hour, author Chip Wright muttered to his first officer that he was going to retire and find a seaplane company in the Caribbean to fly for. The FO mentioned a company called Seaborne Airlines (see " Island Life," page 68). "I was fascinated by the fact that there was an airline flying Twin Otters on floats and doing well," says Wright. "As much as I love flying seaplanes, it was the scope of the operation that impressed me. It's a very safe, very professional, and very well-run organization — that happens to operate in a beach-and-sunshine environment. I only wish I'd discovered them a few years ago. I would never have come home!"