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The story behind the storyThe story behind the story

"How hard could a night approach to a long runway be?" asks AOPA Air Safety Foundation Executive Director Bruce Landsberg. "Precision visual approach aids such as VASI and PAPI are designed to keep pilots on a safe glide path and yet in this month's story a professional crew managed to land in the rough." (See "Safety Pilot Landmark Accidents: Into the Abyss," page 70.) "There is no question as to what happened, but the why is far more complex and something that can affect every pilot, no matter what size aircraft or type of flight operation," he says.

"How hard could a night approach to a long runway be?" asks AOPA Air Safety Foundation Executive Director Bruce Landsberg. "Precision visual approach aids such as VASI and PAPI are designed to keep pilots on a safe glide path and yet in this month's story a professional crew managed to land in the rough." (See " Safety Pilot Landmark Accidents: Into the Abyss," page 70.) "There is no question as to what happened, but the why is far more complex and something that can affect every pilot, no matter what size aircraft or type of flight operation," he says.

The Champ story ( " The Champ is Back," page 60) was years in the making. After the new aircraft was first announced at Oshkosh years ago AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton K. Marsh tracked it month by month. An enthusiastic Champ flier, he had enjoyed renting one from a local flight school and going out to play in the grass. The Champ was completed in 2006 but FAA testing took longer than expected. The new Champ finally made its first appearance at the Sun 'n Fun fly-in this year. All the aviation media representatives wanted to fly it, so Marsh's report was delayed again. But when he showed up at the dealer's shop in Sanford, Florida, he had not one Champ but two to choose from.

"The Beech Party has been on my list of things to do for years - who can resist the combination of radial engines and classic Beechcraft?" asks AOPA Flight Training Editor Michael P. Collins. "I finally got to Tullahoma, Tennessee, in October 2006. I was surprised to find how far the Staggerwing Museum had gone to acknowledge the history of other Beech models, an evolution that came full circle with its name change to the Beechcraft Heritage Museum."(See " New Name, Same Great Beech Party," page 67.)

Inspired by Stephen Coonts' biplane adventure, The Cannibal Queen, author Douglas DeVries restored a 1942 Stearman biplane and shipped the airplane to Australia for " The Great Circle Air Safari" (page 111), a 4,000-mile epic flight through the vast Outback. The quest took him from the shining seas of Australia's east coast, across the coastal range, through the desolate Outback, and ultimately to Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock), the sacred aboriginal red-rock monolith. "The hardest part was learning Aussie pilot-speak, including phrases such as I've got five-to-10 on the bum," says DeVries. (Translation: The aircraft is experiencing a five- to 10-knot tailwind.)

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