AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton K. Marsh would jump at the chance to own a $300,000 to $400,000 airplane, but given the need to pay the mortgage, it isn't on his to-do list. Pilots who want to buy new will discover that even the most basic four-seaters aren't all that basic—they're full-featured and well-equipped. Marsh looks at the "starter" four-seaters from four major manufacturers—Cessna Aircraft, Diamond Aircraft, Cirrus Design, and Piper Aircraft (see " Budget Buys: Bottom-Line Four-Seaters," page 60).
"Many of the accidents that we discuss in AOPA Pilot can be traced directly to the pilot's judgment—or lack thereof," says AOPA Air Safety Foundation Executive Director Bruce Landsberg (see " Safety Pilot Landmark Accidents: Ice Crisis," page 68). "When I first heard of this icing accident in California my initial reaction was one of déjà vu. It looked like just another pilot who had ignored an icing forecast, which are frequently unreliable. After studying the facts I came away with a much different perception and, given the circumstances, might well have flown the trip myself."
As a multiengine and instrument-rated private pilot who is currently working on her commercial certificate, AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Machteld A. Smith knows firsthand the challenges pilots have been facing with the new flight service station system. But she's happy to report that AOPA has not only addressed the situation, but come up with solutions (see " Automated Flight Service Station Update: FS21: Wx Brief," page 113). Accompanying Smith's story is an insert card, specially prepared for AOPA members, to help them navigate through the improving system.
"We had a deadline and we met it, thanks to the executive leadership of Karen Gebhart, Bob Morningstar, and Jeff Coffey," says Nathan A. Ferguson, managing editor of AOPA ePublishing. That date was September 19, the scheduled maiden flight of the completely redesigned AOPA Online. The ePublishing and information and technology staffs worked pretty much round the clock in the months leading up to the Web site launch. "One person slept on an air mattress—with an alarm clock and a toothbrush—outside her cubicle the night before to make sure everything went smoothly. By dawn, 'Big Blue,' as some staff members are fondly calling it now, was born. We, of course, are proud parents." (See " AOPA.org: Big, Blue, and Beautiful," page 30.)