Instructing is a great way to build flying time, but ferrying an airplane from the factory is better, says contributing writer Barry Schiff. “My first such flight involved ferrying a new Cessna 182 from Kansas to California in 1957. I didn’t want the trip to end; it was that much fun,” he says. Schiff flew owner John Casalegno’s restored Cessna 182—the very first 182 ever made—which reminded Schiff of his 1957 flight even though Casalegno’s airplane is 52 years old (see “Cessna 182: Mr. Popular,” page 74). “N4966E looks and flies better than when it left the factory,” Schiff says. A popular aviation writer, Schiff has logged more than 27,000 hours in more than 300 types of aircraft.
At the behest of filmmaker Doug DeVries, novelist Stephen Coonts went to Northeast Philadelphia Airport to meet the owners of a 1942 Stearman, The Cannibal Queen, which Coonts used to own. In 1991 Coonts flew the Queen to all 48 of the contiguous United States and wrote a book—named after the airplane—about his adventure, a book that is a general aviation classic. The old girl is still gorgeous and still flying, hopping rides with owner Jim Lonergan in the rear seat (see “A Stearman Smile,” page 89). Coonts learned to fly 40 years ago in the U.S. Navy and flew A-6 Intruders in Vietnam from the deck of the USS Enterprise. He’s managed to accumulate more than 5,400 hours in the air so far, about 700 of which were in the Queen.
“‘Drinking from the firehose’ is probably my least favorite aviation cliché of all time,” says Associate Editor Jill W. Tallman. “However, when you’re talking about accelerated training of any type, no other phrase sums it up quite so well.” Tallman went through the rigors of an accelerated instrument program in May 2007, and she documented the highs and lows of the experience for “Clouds on Deck” (page 97). “I was prepared for it to be an intensive regimen—how could it not be?” she says. “What surprised me was how physically tiring it was. I had never drunk a Red Bull before. By day four I made sure I had an ample supply for the FBO’s refrigerator and my hotel mini-fridge. I’ve never drunk one since.” Tallman has been with AOPA since 1999 and earned a private pilot certificate in November 2001.
It seemed like a dark and stormy night, but really wasn’t when Senior Editor Al Marsh got the idea for his “Technique: City Lights” story (page 116). Night currency requirements came due, and Marsh decided to make a short cross-country out of it to get the full effect of night flying—such as trying to find the destination airport. The short flight was to Hagerstown, Maryland, where lights around the airport environment can hide it from transient pilots on downwind. And the airport is not even in the city. As for the dark and stormy night, Marsh was convinced fog was building that might affect his return to Frederick, Maryland, but after landing there discovered it was just hazy dirt on the side windows that made the night look foggy. The windows are clean now. Marsh has been writing for AOPA’s magazines for the past 16 years and is an ATP and flight instructor whose passion is aerobatics.