How bad could it be? That's the user-fee question AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne went to Europe to discover. And what he found was alarming. If Europe is any example, American general aviation is in big trouble (see " FAA Funding Debate: Euro-Fees Fears," page 83). "Although this article deals mainly with the United Kingdom and Germany, the fees charged in these nations are pretty much duplicated elsewhere in Europe," says Horne. And here's some late-breaking news: The U.K.'s Civil Aviation Authority is proposing a fee of $348 for a private pilot certificate issuance. After five years, to renew that certificate, the charge will be $130. And it may soon cost $1,424 to take the instrument rating flight test. Add in the $9-per-gallon cost of fuel, and you can see why student starts in Europe have plunged 25 percent in recent years.
Where do stories come from for AOPA Pilot? Sometimes from a breakfast bar. Senior Editor Al Marsh was staying at a motel for the final days of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2006 and spotted the Sky Arrow dealer he had first met a few years ago. Aware of the new Sky Arrow Sport, Marsh said he would like to do a story (see " Sky Arrow 600 Sport: Eyes in the Sky," page 64). The aircraft was co-owned by the Sheriffs' Association of Texas. The chief flight instructor is a volunteer attorney from Annapolis, Maryland. So Marsh interviewed a sheriff in Texas and flew with an attorney in Annapolis.
"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again is not necessarily a good strategy for pilots where instrument approaches are involved, especially if there is decent weather 20 minutes away," says AOPA Air Safety Foundation Executive Director Bruce Landsberg (see " Safety Pilot Landmark Accidents: Three Strikes," page 74). This accident is a "landmark," he says, not so much because of what happened during the event sequence — although there is something to be learned — but because of the legal interpretations that followed.
When blues music traveled north from the Mississippi Delta, musicians such as Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf rode in buses and cars, or aboard the Illinois Central on their way to Memphis, St. Louis, and on to Chicago. In a flight that traced the migration of the Blues (See " Flying America's Blues Highway," page 102), author Charles Stites and pilot/musician Duncan Cameron took in the big picture of how the Earth below changed the music as it went from field to city, and along the way they explored myth and history, a cast of characters, and sampled the juke joints where blues music still thrives.