“Reputations are usually deserved,” says Associate Editor Ian J. Twombly, a commercial pilot and flight instructor who recently added CFII to his list of accomplishments. “Certainly some airplanes get an undeserved bad rap or unproven accolade, but all the good things you’ve heard about the Baron are true. Between the power, all-weather capability, and superb flying characteristics that even Robert Frost’s prose wouldn’t do justice, there’s no doubt Beechcraft’s Baron represents the head of the class. And I’m not the only one who thinks so—even in this economy the Baron’s production is sold out through the middle of the year.” Fly along with Twombly as he experiences the airplane for the first time in “ Noble Steed .” “Some airplanes make you feel good. The Baron also makes you look good,” he says.
In more than 30 years of flying, Editor in Chief Tom Haines has flown more than 100 models of airplanes and experienced even more variants than that. Still, he’s on a quest for more and recently added another to the list: a Zeppelin. Haines has flown blimps twice before, but recently had the opportunity to fly in the only Zeppelin in the United States. “It was a historic flight not just for me and Managing Editor Julie Summers Walker and Photographer Chris Rose,” he says. “It was literally the first commercial flight of a Zeppelin over this country in 70 years—a real milestone.” Haines recounts the flight in California over the San Francisco Bay area and the workings of the high-tech airship in “ Low, Slow, and Comfortable .” The story includes details on how you can experience Zeppelin flight yourself.
On or about February 3, nearly every rock music station in the country will note the day the music died. It’s the fiftieth anniversary of the crash that took the life of the young rock legend Buddy Holly and “a recurring black eye for GA,” says AOPA Air Safety Foundation Executive Director Bruce Landsberg. “The accident that literally rocked the rock world is a monument to the responsibility that pilots have to innocent passengers—Part 135 or Part 91. Two generations of pilots since the crash often make the same mistakes,” he says. Read Landsberg’s accident analysis in “ Safety Pilot Landmark Accidents: The Day the Music Died.”
Senior Editor Al Marsh has become our cold-weather reporter, especially when reporting on America’s airports (see “ America’s Airports: Landing on a Mesa ” on page 70). When he went to Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska (“ America’s Airports: An Air-Mailed Village,” June 2008 AOPA Pilot) the air temperature was minus 38 degrees Fahrenheit with a constant wind (mountain pass, remember?) that brought the wind chill to minus 63 degrees F. Then in December it was time to check out Telluride, Colorado, where the prediction was for 15 to 25 degrees F. Only that didn’t happen. On the big day Marsh drove 16 miles on two to three inches of packed snow and ice with an air temperature of 1 degree F, which dropped to 0 degrees F. Fortunately, he still had his cold-weather gear from Alaska. Local photographer Brett Schreckengost is used to the cold weather and skied to a mountain warming hut to capture some of the incredible photography that accompanies Marsh’s story.