They say dogs reveal much about their owners (and sometimes physically resemble them) and the same can be true of airplanes and the pilots who own and fly them —or, in this case, design and build them. “Bruce Dickenson and the airplane he dreamed up, spent a decade building with his own hands, and flies, are much alike,” says AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman, who flew with Dickenson in his DGA–21 at Santa Paula Airport in Southern California (“ The Perfect Howard, ”). “They’re both bigger than life, single-minded, purposeful, and uncompromising,” he says. “Oh, yeah—and they’re both really loud, too.” Hirschman also writes about another big, powerful airplane, Quest’s versatile Kodiak in this issue (“ A Higher Calling, ”), and the diminutive, now-orphaned, SportCruiser that Piper Aircraft championed for a year and suddenly disowned (“ Left Out in the Cold, ”).
Another in our “Challenges” series appears in this issue with Senior Editor Al Marsh flying a multiengine seaplane for the first time with a brave Chief Photographer Mike Fizer sitting in the back (“ Challenges: Thunder On the Water, ”). Kudos to instructor Eric Weaver as well for accepting the challenging of keeping Marsh out of trouble. What neither had expected was the discovery of a second story concerning seaplanes in general. The town fathers of Tavares, Florida, have linked their city’s future to the hope of becoming the best-known seaplane base in America. The town is sponsoring a seaplane fly-in April 16. When Fizer returned from the trip he discovered his photos had mysteriously been deleted from his computer, but he was able to recover the best ones, as you’ll see. A few of the missing photos were replaced with scenes from a video available online. You’ll be right in the middle of the action. Marsh’s next challenge is to paraglide off a mountain, but the photographer won’t be riding along for that one.
“The best stories always drop unexpectedly out of the blue,” says author Paul J. Fournier. “I ran across the Big Reed Pond arctic char story quite by accident. On a chance visit with Maine Inland Fisheries Director Pete Bourque he mentioned the Big Reed Project, which led me to Biologist Frank Frost and to Igor Sikorsky III. Through sometimes garbled satellite phone calls and e-mails, the story emerged with the great quotes from Sikorsky—who is bursting with enthusiasm and generous in sharing his experiences. Now, we’re all anxiously awaiting spring and the, hopefully, triumphant return of Big Reed’s trout and char to their ancestral home.” (See “ GA Serves America: Back to Life ,”.)
Finding and sharing the good news in general aviation can sometimes be like mining for gold—but once you get going, the nuggets start appearing. That’s why Associate Editor Jill W. Tallman is excited to continue our year-long “Rally GA” series of articles with a look at the surprising findings from the AOPA Flight Training Summit last year (“ Rally GA: Help Is On the Way, ”). The “Rally GA” series focuses on people and organizations that are going all out to promote general aviation. “We will bring you the great things that are happening around the nation,” says Tallman, “and I encourage our members to let me know what’s happening at their airports.” E-mail [email protected].