“Dr. David Nichols is not only an extraordinary doctor and pilot, but also a teacher and encourager,” says AOPA ePublishing Managing Editor Alyssa J. Miller. “Upon learning that I’d just received my single-engine land instrument rating and that I’ve always dreamed of learning to fly helicopters, Nichols replied in a matter-of-fact tone, ‘Well, it’s done then. If you’ve got a dream, you’ve got it.’ Coming from him, I believe it.” Nichols has inspired all 600 residents on remote Tangier Island in Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay, where he provides affordable healthcare ( “ GA Serves America: DR COPTR”). He even helped a 17-year-old high school dropout become a nurse and later a physician’s assistant; she now runs the island clinic under his care.
“Looking down on the farm fields of Ohio while my airplane’s engine hummed along on its first tank of an experimental fuel derived from sorghum, I couldn’t help but daydream about the hopefully not-far-off day when those farms grow the raw material for a domestically produced, unleaded, inexpensive, and renewable avgas,” says Senior Editor Dave Hirschman. Hirschman visited Swift Enterprises, a small company near Purdue University’s campus in Indiana, which has developed its own fuel and makes it in a small factory that looks like a microbrewery ( “ Grass as Gas”). “The fuel looks and smells kind of odd, but it propelled my Lycoming 0-320-powered airplane smoothly, and, yes, swiftly, home to Maryland. The economic, environmental, and logistical perils of 100LL and our total reliance on it are well known. Finding a suitable replacement will be devilishly complex, but it’s exciting to know that real alternatives are taking shape that could power general aviation to a brighter future.”
“Long ago I had three lessons in a Schweizer 2-22 training glider in Arcadia, Florida,” says contributor Mark R. Twombly. “Two of the flights lasted 12 minutes each, including the tow, and one went for all of 10 minutes. If there were any altitude-sustaining thermals around that day, the instructor managed to skillfully avoid them.” Contrast that less-than-inspiring experience to spending more than three hours aloft on a cross-country speed run in a high-performance glider piloted by one of the best and most accomplished glider pilots in the world—and then doing it again the next day. Such was Twombly’s redemptive experience at the Senior Soaring Championship in Clermont, Florida, last March. Read about the complex, highly competitive sport of competition gliding as practiced by “mature” pilots in Twombly’s “ Pure Magic.”
In October 2007 aviation attorney Rick Durden received a call from Roger Rushmeyer, the unpaid president of the organization that was running historic Park Township Airport near Holland, Michigan ( “ The Little Airport That Could”). Rushmeyer explained that the township had turned over the operation of its 70-year-old airport to a group of pilots some years ago and things were not going well. There was pressure to close the airport and the pilot organization could not afford the costs of keeping the airport open. They needed help negotiating a new agreement with the township. With that start, Durden was plunged into what would be a frantic, months-long effort to help save the airport. Largely because of the work of the pilots and airport supporters, the story has a happy ending. Durden writes about the challenges the airport faced in its uphill battle and offers suggestions for those who are fighting to save local airports.