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Pilot Briefing

Cirrus, Cessna, Diamond top piston manufacturers First-quarter numbers from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) show Cirrus Design topping Cessna Aircraft in piston-engine aircraft shipments; Cirrus had 144 and Cessna 133. But closing not far behind was Diamond Aircraft with 115 shipments in the first quarter, including 42 DA42 Twin Star aircraft.

Cirrus, Cessna, Diamond top piston manufacturers

First-quarter numbers from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) show Cirrus Design topping Cessna Aircraft in piston-engine aircraft shipments; Cirrus had 144 and Cessna 133. But closing not far behind was Diamond Aircraft with 115 shipments in the first quarter, including 42 DA42 Twin Star aircraft. Piper Aircraft had 43 shipments counting piston and turboprop aircraft, and the newly named Hawker Beechcraft (formerly Raytheon Aircraft) shipped 19 piston-engine aircraft and 32 jets. Topping the jet shipment list was Cessna with 67, followed by Bombardier (Learjet, Challenger, Global, and CL850) with 56. Only two topped $1 billion in billings: Bombardier billed $1.3 billion and Gulfstream, shipping 30 jets, billed $1.1 billion. Among the smaller companies, Mooney Airplane shipped 18; Liberty Aerospace, 16; Maule Air, 12; and American Champion Aircraft, 10. GAMA does not report on the light-sport-aircraft manufacturers, where top companies last year delivered 60 to 100 aircraft, with all manufacturers delivering 456 for the year. — Alton K. Marsh

MIT builds little airplane that roars

A student team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology took the $2,500 prize in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Design/Build/Fly international competition with a 1.9-pound twin-engine biplane that became a 5.5-pound-gross-weight heavy hauler. The radio-controlled aircraft was required to lift two separate payloads, including one held by team member George Kiwada weighing 3.5 pounds, slightly less than a brick. To get the needed power the team wildly overboosted two electric Parkjet Littlescreamers, sparking them with far more wattage than the design allowed. They were smoking, literally. A pair of engines turned into charred parts every five flights. A video of the radio-controlled aircraft flying is available online. — Alton K. Marsh

Fuel alert: Check prices in AOPA's Airport Directory online

AOPA has teamed up with to provide information on fuel prices as part of a new feature in AOPA's Airport Directory online. "With increasing fuel prices nationwide, it's important for pilots to have the latest information available so they can plan fuel stops accordingly," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "We are pleased to be working with, a resource known among the aviation community for providing reliable, up-to-date fuel prices." The information is posted in AOPA's Airport Directory online, which all members can access free of charge. After you type in an airport identifier, click on the FBO/Facility/Fuel Information link and scroll down to find the FBO. Don't forget, you also can find electronic sectional charts, instrument approach charts, METAR information, and taxiway diagrams through the airport directory online. It's all free to members.


What if the Russians were first to land on the moon? British author Jed Mercurio posits this dramatic question in his American debut novel Ascent. Yefgenii Mikhailovich Yeremin grows up as an orphan in the ruins of postwar Stalingrad. Singled out for his math skills, he gets plucked from the drudgery of factory work and is sent to a top Russian flight school. Yeremin proves himself among the elite jet jockeys and goes on to fight secretly — violating United Nations' agreements — in the Korean War against such future American luminaries as Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, and Wally Schirra. But he can't fly for notoriety's sake. Names of dead Russian pilots are wiped from the files. Later, in the 1960s, the goal of landing a man on the moon once again plucks Yeremin from drudgery, this time from an isolated fighter base high above the Arctic Circle. He is chosen as a solo traveler on a secret moon mission. If he succeeds, he gets fame. If not, he gets consigned to oblivion. Published by Simon & Schuster, the 240-page hardcover book sells for $24 and is available in bookstores.

After launching a unique Web site, aviation historian Gary W. Hyatt now has an accompanying book that captures a snapshot of the golden age of flight. Hyatt has published a 322-page ring-bound copy of a register that recorded all the pilots who visited the historic Davis-Monthan Aviation Field in Tucson, Arizona, from 1925 through 1936. These include Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, and Pancho Barnes. Of interest to history buffs are the actual signatures along with the aircraft the pilots were flying, destinations, passengers, and other information. He also includes cross-references to the register so readers can look up pilot names, aircraft registration numbers, and aircraft makes. The Web site also features a database containing the 3,689 landings with built-in menus so users can research individual pilots, vintage airplanes, and passengers. The book sells for $29.95 and is available for order on the Web site.

It's amazing the kinds of contours and shapes you can get out of a flat piece of paper, and you don't even need to know anything about origami. World War II fighters and stealth bombers spring to life in amazing detail from Paper Pilot: The Paper Airplane Pilot's Manual. There are 24 do-it-yourself punch-out projects at 1:600 scale. If you build them right, the airplanes are supposed to fly. The book also serves as a coffee-table book and is packed with photos, aircraft specifications, and historical information. Written by Benjamin Haynes, the book sells for $25 and is available in bookstores.

Member in the news

George Bolon, AOPA 689406, a Winona State University professor and president of Win Air, was presented on May 10 with the Past President's Distinguished Service Award by the Minnesota Aviation Trades Association (MATA). Bolon served as president and spokesman of MATA, and served on the organization's board of directors for many years. He holds an airline transport pilot certificate and is a designated pilot examiner.

AOPA Pilot 2007 General Aviation Photography Contest: Up, Up, and Away wins April photo contest

Imagine participating in a church festival that is donating a ride in a hot air balloon. As the fog dissipates, your beautiful balloon ascends quietly into the early morning sky together with a flight of other majestic lighter-than-air vehicles. It's a great snapshot moment on such a lofty occasion, which is exactly what Aaron Stonerock realized when he took the winning picture. More than 3,000 votes were cast for the five April finalists, but Stonerock's photograph won the most AOPA member votes. See AOPA Online to find out how you too can become a contender for cash prizes totaling $9,500, including the grand prize of $1,000. Submit your own GA snapshots online for a chance to win in the AOPA Pilot 2007 General Aviation Photography Contest, which closes September 5, 2007.


Justin Dillon, company demo pilot

How did you start flying the Cirrus?

I was an instructor at University of North Dakota when September 11 happened and saw my job interview with Piedmont Airlines canceled. Some folks from UND were working with this company called Cirrus; they needed some instructors. At that point, I had been teaching about two years. I had mostly multiengine students. I didn't know if working for a single-engine company was the right idea. Now I look back on it and it's just "holy cow." The experience, the lifestyle this kind of job brings, you can't get that anywhere else.

What was it like training new Cirrus owners?

Teaching at UND your longest trip was occasionally that 250-mile cross-country. My first day on the job [at Cirrus] they said, "Take this airplane [from Duluth, Minnesota] to Seattle, Washington." It was just a great experience. In those first two years, I was averaging 1,000 hours a year. You go out, deliver the airplane, and train the owner. Then you airline it home and go out the next day and do it again. The customer interaction was great. They'll tell you that you can stay at a hotel or crash at their house. Always take the house. It is just the coolest.

For a while you were doing demo rides just for CFIs, right?

I had maxed out what I could do with teaching. I wanted to do something with all this knowledge of the product. My job was to travel the East Coast from Maine to Florida and as far west as Kentucky and fly with as many flight instructors as I could. At the time, people didn't know who Cirrus was. This way instructors, whether they liked the airplane or not, could tell their students the right things about the product. At a busy flight school I'd do 10 flights in a day. That was just an outstanding, outstanding job.

What's your job now?

I still do demonstrations, but now I do mostly media flights. There are about three of us so we can work together to ensure a consistent message. I still travel a lot. I've been to the lower 48. I've flown in Europe. I've flown in China.

Tell me about flying in China.

We have a rep in Beijing and an airplane. There was an airshow in southern China and they needed some more support, so they said, "Justin, get on an airplane." It was a 17-hour flight from Chicago to Hong Kong cramped in econo. The airshow is very military. The airplanes are all fenced or roped off or behind fences. The whole airspace is red blocks — restricted airspace. The route is all prearranged. You fly to this route and these altitudes and they don't tolerate anything else. You're allowed two flight slots per day and you have to file a day in advance. — Jeff Van West

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

  • Hazard ahead? Thunderstorms, fog, sleet — we know they're bad news. But do you know the hazards presented by these lesser-known environmental factors?
  • Glass class: Flying with the autopilot. The integrated autopilots of glass-cockpit aircraft bring a lot of new capabilities — and a dollop of added responsibility.
  • Career Pilot. This new section gives you a leg up the career ladder with industry news, advice, and commentary.

The July issue mailed on May 30. Current AOPA members can add a subscription to AOPA Flight Training for $18 per year. For more information, call 800/872-2672.

AOPA ePilot ® Headlines

Recent news from AOPA's weekly e-mail newsletter

Carbon Cub unveiled
CubCrafters is experimenting with a proof-of-concept airplane made with numerous nonstructural carbon-fiber parts. The Carbon Cub is based on the Sport Cub, but is powered by a souped-up 220-horsepower engine.

Eclipse goes green
Eclipse Aviation has been honored by the federal government for its patented, environmentally friendly fire-suppression system.

Blind ERAU student graduates
Barry Hyde, a former pilot, made history on May 7 as the first blind student to graduate from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Daytona Beach, Florida, campus. He earned his Master of Science in Aeronautics with specializations in aviation safety and aviation operations.

Trees spring from jet exhaust
A private jet services company in New Mexico wants to help the environment each time it flies. Santa Fe Air has teamed up with Forest Guardians, a nonprofit environmental group, to plant trees in the Southwest to help offset carbon dioxide emissions from jets.

Sporty's wants to help kids
Hal Shevers, founder and chairman of Sporty's Pilot Shop, recently established the Sporty's Foundation to promote aviation education and safety initiatives with an emphasis on youth programs.

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