When Editor at Large Thomas A. Horne joined AOPA Pilot, his first pilot report was on the venerable Ercoupe. "I flew a yellow 415-C that was based at Frederick, Maryland, and it didn't have rudder pedals — just that single brake pedal," he recalled. "But brother! I spent a lot of energy pushing on those floorboards. It's hard to fight your rudder instincts in an Ercoupe." In this issue, 26 years later, Horne flies a 'Coupe with the rudder pedal mod (see " Budget Buy: Friendly Flier," page 56). The photos and sidebar accompanying his article feature one owner's classic 1946 Ercoupe, which is used to train physically challenged pilots, a role for which the Ercoupe is well suited ( " A Charmed Life," page 61).
There are more than 48,000 navigation fix names in the FAA database, counting five-letter fix identifiers, airports, VORs, and military fixes. How does AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton K. Marsh know that? He asked Jeppesen for the entire list, then spent two days reading all the five-letter identifiers and weaving them into a story for this month's " Pilot Briefing: Talking in Fixes" on page 52. Marsh admits that by the C's he was already questioning the wisdom of this writing project. Undoubtedly you know of several interesting identifiers, and you are invited to spin them into your own story and submit it online. Those found but left on the cutting-room floor include FLYBY in New Mexico, FLYER in Texas, and FLYIN in California.
"After I set my PA-12 down off airport in the Moose Range, I had to hire a helicopter out of Anchorage to recover it," says AOPA Pilot Associate Editor Steven W. Ells of his own out-of-gas grounding (see " Proficiency: Don't Be a Fuel Fool," page 117). "Before we took off, the helicopter pilot gave me a one-dollar bill and said, 'I just bought your airplane — I'll sell it back to you for the same price after we get on the ground in Anchorage.' Fortunately the 45-minute flight from near Grouse Lake back across Turnagain Arm to the west ramp at Ted Stevens Anchorage International was smooth and uneventful. If anything had gone wrong when my airplane was hanging on the hook, he would have dropped it, and that's why I had to sell it to him before we took off."
"The airlines fly some pretty nifty equipment, designed to handle most weather conditions, and the crews have the experience and incentive to deliver the goods," says AOPA Air Safety Foundation Executive Director Bruce Landsberg, author of " Safety Pilot Landmark Accidents: Dark and Stormy Night," page 82. The American Airlines flight that crashed on Runway 15 in Hartford, Connecticut, after a harrowing instrument approach in stormy conditions showed, once again, that it takes more than hardware or lots of hours to arrive safely. Critical attention to detail and procedure, when only 50 or 100 feet would have made all the difference, comes into play. There are great lessons for all pilots in this landmark accident, which even resulted in a reworking of the instrument approach procedure.