“Lest you think a jet makes you impervious to weather decisions, think again,” says Editor in Chief Tom Haines. After flying the latest iteration of the Eclipse 500 panel at the Albuquerque factory, Haines and Eclipse Flight Operations Pilot Tim Gerlach were attempting to return to Frederick, Maryland, when a string of thunderstorms from the Ohio Valley to the Northeast kept them away. One storm crashed through Frederick on 85-knot winds, knocking down a huge exhibit tent at AOPA and damaging 20 cars in the association’s parking lot. “From our Memphis fuel stop, we could tell that Frederick wasn’t in our immediate future,” says Haines, but the trip provided good fodder for his Eclipse 500 report, “ Eclipse 500: Typed and Tried,” (page 64). Haines is now type rated in the Eclipse 500. He has more than 3,000 hours in nearly 30 years of flying.
Years ago contributor Rick Durden and 450 Stearman owner Bob Matthews attended high school together in Des Moines, Iowa. Both of their fathers had flown Stearmans in the Navy and both young men were learning to fly, so they would get together and talk airplanes for hours while dreaming of owning a Stearman. Matthews managed to live his dream and recently made his perfectly restored biplane available for AOPA Pilot to photograph and for Durden to review ( “ Showstopper,” page 72). Durden learned just why these hairy chested airplanes have been the mainstays at airshows for more than 60 years. Durden started flying in June 1969 when he was 15 years old and has more than 7,000 flight hours. He instructed, towed gliders, flew crop dusters (briefly, until his father found out), and flew charter to help pay tuition for college and law school.
Concurrent with the announcement of the advent of very light jets (VLJs) came the concern that new jet pilots would not be up to the flying tasks. This month’s Safety Pilot Landmark Accident provides insight from long ago ( “ Safety Pilot Landmark Accidents: Jet Transition Troubles,” page 80). In 1979, Thurman Munson, star baseball catcher for the New York Yankees, died in his brand new Citation 501 shortly after earning his type rating. “Some may disagree, but in my view, the aircraft and pilot fit the profile of today’s VLJ marketplace and there are lessons to learn,” says author Bruce Landsberg, executive director of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation and a 6,000-hour multiengine-rated private pilot.
“What struck me most about Skip Monaghan was his irrepressible nature,” says author Phil Scott ( “ Medically Speaking: A Second Chance,” page 88). “Instead of lying on his back in the hospital just waiting for a heart donor, he’s building model airplanes for the staff. Instead of accepting that the FAA won’t give heart transplant patients a third class medical, he’s getting congressmen and senators to write letters on his behalf,” says Scott. “I’d fly with him any day.” A frequent contributor, Scott earned his private certificate in 1986. Since then he’s logged time in more than 30 different types of aircraft. He’s never had a heart transplant, but he survived surgery to remove a brain tumor.