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Pilot Briefing

Clandestine museum offers semi-public tours Don't be fooled by the inviting road sign. And don't blow out the tires on the rental car trying to make the exit.

Clandestine museum offers semi-public tours

Don't be fooled by the inviting road sign. And don't blow out the tires on the rental car trying to make the exit. Because even if you find it, the Air Force Flight Test Center Museum at Edwards Air Force Base is under such tight security after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that you'll be lucky to get in.

After you take the exit off state Route 58 near Mojave, California, you drive across hallowed ground, made famous by Chuck Yeager, and come to a guardhouse surrounded by what looks like World War II metal tank traps. The heavily armed guards force you to make a curving approach around orange cones so as not to approach the building head-on. When you pull up, a sign says the guards are authorized to use lethal force and, judging by their serious demeanor, you believe it.

Then you find out, after they take your driver's license, that the museum is open only to those who have "official business" on the base. The other way is to go through a registration process on the base's Web site.

When asked if seeing the museum was worth it, one of the guards said, "I don't know. I've never been there." He also indicated that it used to be a lot easier to tour the museum before 9/11.

Should you decide to accept this mission, the tours are conducted on the first and third Fridays of each month between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. (security conditions permitting). Each tour consists of a 90-minute walking tour of the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, a presentation at the museum, and a "windshield tour" of the base's flight line. No pictures on the flight line, please. The tours are free. If you don't want to go through the red tape or have a questionable background, you can take a virtual tour on the base's Web site.

AOPA's Airport Directory 2007-2008: Coming to your mailbox next month

Is your copy of AOPA's Airport Directory getting tattered and worn out? You'll be happy to know that a crisp, new updated edition of AOPA's Airport Directory will be flying off the press into your flight bag in late February. At your fingertips will be more than 5,200 public-use airports, updated FBO listings, new airport diagrams, restaurants, hotels, and attractions. This valuable companion to AOPA's Airport Directory Online, which is updated around the clock with downloadable instrument approach charts and a kneeboard printout of airport information, will be delivered to AOPA members who requested the print version of the directory.

A rule of thumb

Do you forget what items to record during a 30-day VOR check? Just remember SLED: signature, location, error, and date.


Anne Morrow Lindbergh was often overshadowed by her husband, Charles. Yet she was one of the defining figures of American aviation. Bright, adventurous, and introspective, she traveled the world and helped pioneer air routes.

In Anne Morrow Lindbergh: First Lady of the Air, author Kathleen C. Winters, herself a pilot, re-creates Lindbergh's early years with fresh perspective, including never-before-revealed details from the Lindbergh archives.

Much of the 212-page hardcover book is based on interviews with the Lindberghs' daughter, Reeve Lindbergh. "Set against the dazzling backdrop of aviation's golden age, this book finally restores Anne Morrow Lindbergh to her rightful place in aviation history," according to the publisher, Palgrave Macmillan. It sells for $24.95 and is available in bookstores.

Pilot and bestselling novelist Clyde Edgerton has written an aviation memoir, Solo: My Adventures in the Air. With smooth, flowing prose, Edgerton's real-life story arc begins with the fun of getting through the first solo, then moves on to Air Force pilot training and flying combat missions over Laos during the Vietnam War. After the excitement of military flying, Edgerton didn't have much interest in civilian flying. That was until he met a Piper Super Cruiser he dubbed Annabelle. Published by Algonquin Books, the 276-page soft-cover book sells for $12.95.

The 2007 Bahamas & Caribbean Pilot's Guide is ready and waiting for your trip to the islands. The twenty-ninth edition of the book covers everything you need to know from survival gear to customs procedures. There are colored tabs and hundreds of photos for each country. The travel guide comes with a VFR planning map and approach charts for the major airports. The guide sells for $54.95 from Pilot Publishing Inc. For more information, see the Web site.

The AOPA Pilot 2007 General Aviation Photography Contest

The AOPA Pilot 2007 General Aviation Photography Contest opens for entries January 1 online. There are five categories: GA Aircraft; Airports; Pilots; Aerials; and Altered Images. From January through August AOPA ePilot subscribers will select a picture of the month from among the entries chosen by the AOPA Pilot staff. Monthly winners will be announced in ePilot and published in the magazine. AOPA members will select the first, second, and third place winners in each category online this fall. Last year's winners took home more than $7,500 in prize money. Complete details and official rules will be available on the Web site after January 1.

Dept. of R&D: NASA helps bison from space

Sometimes satellites in space can help ease things on the ground. Montana ranchers have long been concerned about the possibility of bison infected with brucellosis (a contagious, costly disease of ruminant animals that also affects humans) spreading the disease to domesticated cattle. Each winter deep snow in Yellowstone National Park drives the 3,900-member bison herd to lower elevations in search of food. Now NASA Landsat satellite data and computer modeling are showing how the snowpack is influenced by vegetation patterns, geothermal features, and wind. Park officials time the release of captive bison to ensure a higher likelihood that they'll remain in the park as the snow melts. Now they'll have science to back up those decisions. After all, studies have shown that bison don't read park signs.

What's in the January issue of AOPA Flight Training?

  • Getting Down. Tips for planning proper, passenger-friendly descents.
  • Instrument Exercises. These elevator-throttle coordination activities will help you attain precision in your flying.
  • 10 Things Examiners Love To See. Good habits that can be applied to nearly any practical test.

The January issue mailed on November 29. Current AOPA members can add a subscription to AOPA Flight Training for $18 per year. For more information, call 800/872-2672.

Pilots chosen for airshow hall of fame

Four legendary pilots were scheduled to be inducted into the International Council of Air Shows for the ICAS Foundation Hall of Fame in December 2006 at Las Vegas.

They are Paul Mantz, Marion Cole, Eddie "The Grip" Green, and Patty Wagstaff. Wagstaff is known to audiences nationwide for her airshow performances, and less known for being a three-time national aerobatic champion during her days of formal competition. Like Mantz, she has worked as a movie stunt pilot. Mantz was best known as a stunt pilot who also flew in airshows and air racing from the 1920s to the 1960s. Few know he was a technical advisor to Amelia Earhart and three-time winner of aviation's Bendix Trophy. He died while filming The Flight of the Phoenix in 1965. Cole flew with his family in the Cole Brothers Air Shows after World War II and established Marion F. Cole Air Shows, which performed into the early 1990s. He mentors young airshow performers today. You may not know Eddie "The Grip" Green, but he is the most experienced airshow performer of all time. In one show, he would perform a parachute jump, do a car-to-airplane transfer, wing walk with such well-known pilots as Harold Krier, Bill Barber, Bob Barden, and Jimmy Franklin, and finally dangle from a rope ladder to do a ribbon pickup. He invented the trick of landing an airplane on a moving truck.

The ICAS Foundation Hall of Fame stores its artifacts in a climate-controlled FedEx locker in Memphis while looking for a permanent home for the museum, and has displays at the Hiller Aviation Museum at San Carlos Airport in San Carlos, California, and the Frontier of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas. — Alton K. Marsh

AOPA ePilot Headlines

Recent news from AOPA's weekly e-mail newsletter

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Piper selects Williams
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First hop for Nexaer
Nexaer's curvy two-seat LS1 light sport aircraft recently made its first test hop. It flew the length of the runway at Meadow Lake Airport in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The company plans to conduct a series of over-the-runway flights before subjecting it to an extensive flight-testing program.

SuperCobra strikes
A new high-performance, four-seat single-engine airplane is now flying in the Czech Republic, and it aims to take a strike at the U.S. market. The Evektor SuperCobra is an all-metal retractable-gear design, powered by a 315-horsepower Lycoming engine.

A revamped Champ
Where's the Champ? The answer is, close to the factory door. It seems like it has been years since American Champion said it was returning the legendary tailwheel Champ 7EC to production because, well, it has.

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