Seven airframe manufacturers and a cadre of curious buyers and potential buyers attended the VLJ Exhibition and Trade Show at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in North Carolina on March 4. Produced and promoted by JetPool, the first-ever event was held in one of Wilson Air Center's hangars.
Seven very light jet (VLJ) manufacturers exhibited: Cessna, Eclipse, Honda, Adam, Spectrum, Diamond, and Embraer, covering nearly the entire market segment. And buyers were there, too. At the end of the event, all of the exhibitors reported meetings with good prospects. But the show didn't stop with showing the products. There were seminars covering the entire gamut of how to own and operate a VLJ. Insurance, financing, legal issues, and safety were covered. It is no secret that this is a new breed of aircraft, which will appeal to a wide variety of owners. Some will be owner flown, which raises questions of past experience and future training. The presenters were surprisingly candid about such subjects, providing quality information to the customers. — Ralph Hood
The 1959 death of J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson is less of a mystery now that a forensic anthropologist looked at X-rays of the rock star's remains (see " Pilot Briefing: Big Bopper's Death Still Raising Questions," April Pilot). There were rumors about whether passenger Buddy Holly's pistol had been fired.
But William Bass of the University of Tennessee didn't find any evidence of foul play and concluded that Richardson most likely died immediately in the airplane crash in 1959, according to The Associated Press. Besides Richardson and Holly, Ritchie Valens and the pilot, Roger Peterson, died in Mason City, Iowa, on a winter night. The anthropologist's findings should not come as a big surprise. As we reported last month, the vertical speed indicator in the Beechcraft Bonanza they were flying was jammed, showing a 3,000-fpm descent, and the airspeed indicator needle was stuck between 165 and 170 mph when they hit the ground. Because Richardson's remains were going to be exhumed and moved to a more prominent gravesite, his son figured it would be a good time to conduct the examination.
Just 80 years ago, Charles A. Lindbergh captured the world's imagination with his nonstop solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in the Spirit of St. Louis, the Ryan NYP built specially for the attempt. On May 20 and 21, 1927, Lindbergh set a record that would not only prove his mettle, but also lay the foundation for the viability of aircraft in human endeavors. Throughout his life, Lindbergh put tireless effort into helping the aviation industry grow, through exploration flights (with wife Anne Morrow Lindbergh as his navigator), consultation with growing commercial airlines, and as a test pilot and advisor to the military.
That first flight across the steel-gray North Atlantic just set the theme, that aviation would tie together people, places, and events in ways never before possible. But the last flight Lindbergh made was perhaps the most poignant — and proved the point one final time. Just days before his death on August 26, 1974, Lindbergh (along with Anne and son Land) traveled on a stretcher in a Beechcraft Baron from Honolulu to the airport near his home in Hana, Maui. Anne spoke later of the trip in a thank-you letter to the pilot, describing how the flight itself was a homecoming. Lindbergh, lucid but nearing his end, made his last trip over water and islands — like those which the couple had surveyed from the air so many times — in a light airplane. — Julie K. Boatman
Recent news from AOPA's weekly e-mail newsletter
Study bodes well for older pilots
Research shows you can teach an old pilot new tricks. A study published in the February issue of Neurology showed that expert knowledge may offset the impact of old age in some occupations.
New Cubs sell
The Cub design hasn't lost its splendor. Ever since Legend Cub got the nod from the FAA to produce its light sport aircraft version in July 2005, the company has delivered 88 airplanes.
Flying wing goes on display
The Pathfinder-Plus, a solar-electric flying wing, is the newest aircraft you can check out at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. The museum is located at Virginia's Washington Dulles International Airport.
LightHawk gets a Skywagon
A California couple, Jane and Peter Carpenter, has scored one for aviation and one for the environment by donating an airplane to the LightHawk group. The turbonormalized Cessna A185F will be deployed this year and be initially based in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Liberty restructures staff
Liberty Aerospace, a Melbourne, Florida-based manufacturer of a two-place aircraft, has restructured its staff by eliminating 20 positions, most of them in management.
Robinson to design five-place copter
Robinson Helicopter Company is testing parts and will assemble a prototype in a year or two of a five-place R66 helicopter. It will be powered by a Rolls-Royce turbine engine.
The May issue mailed on March 28. Current AOPA members can add a subscription to AOPA Flight Training for $18 per year. For more information, call 800/872-2672.
Mike Goulian, AOPA 1058365, an airshow performer and aerobatic competitor, has won the prestigious 2006 Art Scholl Showmanship Award. It is presented each year by the International Council of Air Shows to performers who go beyond high-G maneuvers. Goulian is known for his passion for aviation and giving back to the industry through flight training and other endeavors. The award is given in honor of Art Scholl, the consummate airshow performer and motion picture stunt pilot.
Who among us hasn't thought of selling pictures taken from our unique perspective above the landscape? Alex MacLean is a pilot who has made a career of the dream. He recently sold his Cessna 182 and is downsizing to a light sport aircraft to reduce fuel costs. He'll rent when it's time for the family trip to the beach. He has six books out but is turning his efforts to a growing need for photos showing climate change and urban development. For the photography enthusiasts out there, he uses a Canon 5D with a Kenyon Laboratories gyrostabilizer and shoots lenses as long as 300 mm out the left window (camera shutter controls are normally on the right). He suggests setting the speed priority to one-one thousandth of a second, and uses his Canon's automatic feature that overrides the speed if the camera determines more light is needed. He had 4,000 hours in his 182 and never shoots through a closed window. — Alton K. Marsh
AOPA member Paul Tipton, AOPA 2826151, snapped this winning photo of a de Havilland Beaver on a lake near Misty Fjord, Alaska. Tipton and his wife, Lucia, both pilots for more than 30 years, enthusiastically remember the sightseeing tour out of Ketchikan that allowed this photo opportunity. For more details about the 2007 AOPA Pilot General Aviation Photography Contest, which runs through September 4, 2007, see AOPA Online. Enter your own general aviation photographs to become a contender for cash prizes totaling $9,500, including a grand prize of $1,000.
The 24/7 Web world is now being formally recognized by the nation's largest magazine association. And AOPA Pilot was there to receive an honorary click. At the Magazine Publishers of America's (MPA's) inaugural Digital Awards, Pilot tied for second place in the "Best Web-Only Tool" category. It competed against such heavy hitters as Wired, Sports Illustrated, Runner's World, and the first-place winner, Popular Science. AOPA Pilot was also the only aviation publication to be recognized in any of the categories. AOPA Pilot was honored for its August 2006 special report " 40 Top Technologies: The Future You Fly Today." The interactive guide explores the latest in general aviation technology from GPS to enhanced vision systems.
The MPA Digital Awards were devised to honor the excellence and innovation of magazine brands on digital platforms.