More than five years ago, author Michael Maya Charles talked with Super Corsair owner, Robert Odegaard about doing a story on his rare fighter (see “Childhood Dreams,” page 68). But the Corsair went down for a year-long engine change after it began making metal (you don’t go to your local Pep Boys for a new R-4360). Later, a supercharger replacement grounded it again, and then it was tied up for months in the movie production of Thunder Over Reno. “After dozens of phone calls, schedule conflicts, and e-mails, we got it done,” says Maya Charles. “This was the longest I’ve ever worked on a story in my 35 years of magazine work. But what a sa-weeet ride!”
As part of this month’s thunderstorm awareness package, Senior Editor Paul J. Richfield takes a close look at the three most effective weapons in any pilot’s anti-weather arsenal: airborne radar, lightning detectors, and datalink (see “Avionics: Thunderstorm Avoidance Tools,” page 127). Although Richfield has been flying for many years, a recent trip to Florida in a Beechcraft Bonanza was his first experience with the current crop of datalink services and receivers—in this case XM Weather piped through a Garmin GNS 530. “I found myself compulsively comparing the cloud buildups in the distance with the three-color radar returns depicted on the screen,” he says. “It’s easy to convince yourself that the clear path on the display is the one you’ve chosen.”
The dogs may be the stars of the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, but the pilots are the real heroes. Since its inception in 1973, the event has depended on the volunteers of the Iditarod Air Force to move people and supplies along the 1,150-mile trail. “So if you love airplanes and dogs, what better place in the world is there to be?” asks author Tom LeCompte (see “The Dog Days of Alaska,” page 90). “Alaska is amazing. The vastness of the land, the terrain, and the fact that given the proper equipment you can land just about anywhere makes it a unique place to fly. But it also very unforgiving. Considering the conditions in which these pilots fly, and the fact that they have done it for 35 years without a fatal accident, is a real tribute to their skills.”
“Thunderstorms are high on everyone’s avoidance list and yet sometimes we get caught,” says AOPA Air Safety Foundation Executive Director Bruce Landsberg.
In this month’s “Safety Pilot Landmark Accident: Always Another Dawn” (page 74), Landsberg examines the loss of test pilot legend A. Scott Crossfield and the ways both pilot and air traffic controllers contributed. “This is essential reading for all pilots who fly IFR and face the possibility of being on the gauges when big storms are embedded,” says Landsberg.