As this issue went to press, the number of Embraer Phenom 100s in the United States just broke the 14 mark. But back in February, when Editor at Large Tom Horne went to Brazil to fly a Phenom, only four had been delivered (see “ Thrill From Brazil,” page 58). Those next in line were in completion. “What this meant was that I flew the serial number one Phenom—PP-XOM on the Brazilian registry. This bare-bones prototype was chock full of flight data recording gear, the highest-time Phenom 100 in the world, and a real workhorse,” says Horne. At the time, Embraer was bringing aviation editors down one after the other. When Horne finished flying, the next day another scribe would strap in. To get the most stick time, Horne decided—and Embraer pilots agreed—on flying even if conditions weren’t ideal.
Miles O’Brien is a third-generation general aviation pilot. He lives in New York City and bases his Cirrus SR22 at Essex County Airport in Caldwell, New Jersey. For nearly 17 years, he worked as CNN’s science, aerospace, and environment correspondent. In December 2008, CNN gave him and his entire unit their walking papers. “Since then, I have been having all kinds of fun working on many projects I was precluded from doing while at the network,” he says. A board member of the Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation, O’Brien was asked by the organization’s President Knox Bridges to make a movie of the expedition to teach Kenya Wildlife Service pilots. He jumped at the chance—and so did his wife, Sandy O’Brien, a photographer, who captured the stunning photographs in the story (see “ Over Africa,” page 66).
“I don’t want to reignite the high-wing/low-wing debate—but I will say that I’ve always favored low-wing airplanes,” says Associate Editor Jill W. Tallman. “I’m five-foot three, and I’d rather lean over to check the fuel tanks than have to scramble up onto the wing strut of a Cessna. But I would convert for an Eaglet.” Tallman flew the Italian-made Tecnam P92 Eaglet light sport aircraft for “ Little Giant,” page 72. “It’s a small aircraft, but it doesn’t feel small. I had no problems fitting inside, and I talked with a six-foot pilot who flies the Tecnam without any difficulty. If you’re not a standard-FAA-size pilot, this may be the LSA for you.”
It generates excitement, enthusiasm, and a fair share of sarcasm. Showing up in AOPA’s 2009 Let’s Go Flying Sweepstakes SR22 is never dull (see “ On the Road,” page 79). In less than a month, the highly visible and extraordinarily capable aircraft has been the centerpiece of a successful rally to save an endangered airport, performed a spectacular series of air-to-air and air-to-ground photo flights, and anchored AOPA’s high-profile exhibit at the annual Sun ’n Fun Fly-In at Lakeland, Florida. Soon, it will be on its way to public events in every United States time zone to fulfill AOPA’s goal of building the pilot population and continuing goodwill for general aviation. “When AOPA members see the Let’s Go Flying SR22, they marvel at the generosity of J. Lloyd Huck, the philanthropist who donated it,” says Senior Editor Dave Hirschman. “They recognize its attention-grabbing graphics, and they admire its high performance. They say they want to win AOPA’s annual aircraft sweepstakes every year, but this year they really want to win. And a few smile and say they like the graphics so much, they promise to keep the Let’s Go Flying logos if and when they do win.”