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The Airplane: How Ideas Gave Us Wings Are you the pilot who always finds himself lost during those hangar-flying discussions of aviation trivia? You’ve heard of the Wright brothers, but not Glenn Curtiss. Or maybe friends ask you unique aviation questions that you just don’t have the answers for.

The Airplane: How Ideas Gave Us Wings

Are you the pilot who always finds himself lost during those hangar-flying discussions of aviation trivia? You’ve heard of the Wright brothers, but not Glenn Curtiss. Or maybe friends ask you unique aviation questions that you just don’t have the answers for. The prescription for your woes is The Airplane: How Ideas Gave Us Wings by Jay Spenser.

Spenser’s work is a look at airplanes, from daVinci to Boeing. Although brief by historical study standards, the book is perfect for the aviation enthusiast who craves knowledge of why our machines are what they are today, and what fellow aviators have accomplished along the way.

Interestingly, Spenser doesn’t take the normal approach of flowing the book chronologically, but instead takes it from a pilot’s perspective and breaks topics down by part. So although the book sometimes makes for a confusing forward-and-back read, it serves the unique purpose of immersing the reader on a single topic in things such as wings, the empennage, and even the landing gear. It’s more like what we do at the airport—rarely do we admire the Cub and talk about what came before or after. We look at the wing, the tube and fabric, and the wooden propeller as they relate to the whole machine.

Spenser is a good storyteller who will no doubt keep your attention through the course of aviation history. Check it out for a unique, interesting look at the past, with a little future thrown in for good measure.

Price: $25.95
ISBN: 9780061259197

Contact: Available at bookstores nationwide


Despite our desperate attempts to keep bugs, birds, and other creatures from entering our airplanes, the resistance is often futile. Mudsafe is a new company with a new weapon for the fight. Mudsafe is a small spring with a plastic cup and a long, visible flag intended to keep bugs out of the places we don’t normally think of. The spring is really just a bent wire that creates tension when squeezed. That holds Mudsafe in place, while the rubber cup helps to block the opening. Mudsafe also comes with rubber discs that can be swapped out to cover flush openings. The flag is bright red and of high quality to alert the pilot of the device’s presence.

Although fuel vents and other venting tubes aren’t places we normally think bugs could go, it does happen. We tested Mudsafe on a number of openings on a Bonanza and found it fit securely, but it proved too big for the small opening of the pitot tube.

Price: $24 to $60, depending on number of units

Contact:; 877-266-9277

‘The Pilot’s Library’

In the ever-expanding world of iPhone applications, more and more aviation applications are starting to pop up as well. The Pilot’s Library, a new application from Bond Works, combines fun and reference into one affordable package. Currently the application has nine broad categories—acronyms, aircraft identification, aviation humor, definitions, memory aids, Morse code, the phonetic alphabet, rules of thumb, and weather.

Each category offers something unique; however, memory aids, rules of thumb, and weather constitute the bulk of the serious information for pilots. The rest is fun and interesting, but not what we would call a library. Memory aids and rules of thumb are text-based and include some good tips, tricks, and reference info. Weather, like the aircraft identification section, relies on photos to help tell the story, resulting in a useful section that identifies clouds and other phenomena. Missing from The Pilot’s Library are the FARs, AIM, and other reference information, although the company said it is working on those upgrades.

The interface is quick and easy. Information is updated as the user specifies, even once a day. Finally, the program lets the user generate personal content by editing entries, adding comments, and inserting photos.

Price: $7.99

Contact:; iTunes

Professional Pilot Lanyard Kit

Don’t let the name Professional Pilot Lanyard Kit fool you. This lanyard, although marketed to corporate and airline pilots, is a useful tool for all pilots. The lanyard is a typical badge holder, except that it also has a detachable flashlight.

Even by restricting the lanyard to its obvious use of holding security badges, the product appeals to more than just airline pilots given the badging requirements popping up at general aviation airports around the country. With the addition of the detachable flashlight, however, the lanyard is a good tool for any cockpit, bearing identification or not. The flashlight lies flat and hangs at a perfect height for easy use on preflight and in the cockpit. It’s a great little tool that always keeps light at your fingertips. Add keys onto the clip at the bottom and you have a true multitasker.

Price: $19.99

Contact:; [email protected]

Quick hits

Help further the airplane’s purpose as a tool and combine easy travel with your personal tour guide, thanks to Trek Exchange, a clearinghouse of downloadable audio tours, city guides, and GPS-enabled tours developed by an AOPA member. The company offers resources for 32 U.S. cities and a number of international destinations. They’re a great way to get in touch with your destination.

Price: Varies


Sporty’s Pilot Shop recently introduced a new autopilot training course focusing on the basics of autopilot operations. Sporty’s Pilot’s Guide to Modern Autopilots is a 32-minute program that uses scenario-based training to cover VFR and IFR autopilot operation. Available as either a DVD or via download from Sporty’s Web site, Pilot’s Guide to Modern Autopilots takes viewers through autopilot fundamentals, proper autopilot preflight and set-up, and approaches. Topics such as rate-based versus attitude-based autopilots and GPS steering are also covered.

Price: $29.95

Contact:; 800-SPORTYS (776-7987)

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