AOPA Pilot Editor in Chief Tom Haines has visited general aviation airports all over the world and is fascinated by the diversity of activities at various locations. To understand the breadth of GA airports and the passion of pilots for their airports, the Pilot staff conceived the notion of reporting on one day's events at different types of airports. The result is our special report, " A Day in the Life of America's Airports" on page 73. Months of planning seemed about to unravel only a few days before the May 19 all-hands effort. "One writer got sick; I had a schedule conflict; one airport refused to cooperate with our photographers. But a versatile group of writers and photographers delivered a remarkable glimpse of life at our airports. Enjoy!"
When he was a 16-year-old lineboy and student pilot in 1956, Barry Schiff encountered his first Mustang. Vance Breese, the airplane's original test pilot, taxied a P-51D onto the ramp at Bell Air Service in Santa Monica, California, and asked the teenager to top the tanks. Schiff says that he had never seen an airplane before or since with such alluring panache. He promised himself that he would someday fly a Mustang. At age 69 it was time to make it happen. " Lone Ranger" on page 96 is the story of a flight that possibly made Schiff the oldest pilot ever to solo a P-51 for the first time.
"My first glimpse of a Beech Duke was lust at first sight," says Peter A. Bedell (see " Ruler of Performance," page 106). "I asked my dad why we didn't get one. He shot me down by explaining why the airplane wouldn't work for us in terms of performance and cost. All I knew was that the Duke was the coolest-looking light airplane I'd ever seen. Today, the Duke still holds a special place in my heart, but, like my dad said years ago, its performance doesn't fit my family's mission - until now. Northwest Turbine's Royal Turbine has eliminated one of the major hurdles of me obtaining my dream airplane - performance," says Bedell. "Now, all I have to do is hit the lottery to eliminate the other hurdle."
If you've ever returned your airplane to service after a long maintenance hiatus, you know how AOPA Pilot Technical Editor Julie K. Boatman felt when this year's sweepstakes airplane first flew in mid June (see " AOPA's 2007 Catch-A-Cardinal Sweepstakes: Flight Test," page 141. "Just about everyone at Griffin, Georgia, who had worked on the airplane over the past few months came out to the ramp to watch the Catch-A-Cardinal take off. The engine sounded sweet, and the airframe felt so fast flying through the air - we can't wait for you to see it," she says.