Pilots tend to regard Greenland as a steppingstone to somewhere else—and the gigantic, barren, and seemingly endless expanse of rock and ice is seldom a destination. But Adrian Eichhorn, an airline and former corporate pilot who had overflown the remote region many times at high altitude in jets, thought the towering fjords, massive ice cap, and otherworldly landscape would make the ultimate backdrop for general aviation flying. “Adrian’s enthusiasm for this trip was both boundless and infectious,” says Senior Editor Dave Hirschman, who made the 4,000-nm round trip with Eichhorn, AOPA Photographer Chris Rose, and four more pilots flying in two additional Bonanzas (“ Epic Flight: Greenland Adventure ”). “He was supremely confident that we could get there and back safely in unmodified airplanes, and that doing so would be the aviation adventure of a lifetime. It turned out he was absolutely right on both counts.”
“I hate it when people say flying is too expensive. Sure, it costs money. But so does golf, boating, and everything else we do with our discretionary income. If you’re smart about it, you can stay within a reasonable budget and still have a heck of a lot of fun,” says Associate Editor Ian J. Twombly. “One of the better deals out there is the Cessna 120/140. You can pick up a nice example for the average cost of a new car. Buy it with a partner, and it’s cheaper than every new car on the market. And because it only burns five gallons an hour, you are talking cheap entertainment.” Twombly’s Budget Buy report, “ Drag Your Tail Cheaply ,” on the classic tailwheel airplanes.
When the Sikorsky X2 flew for the final time in July, Senior Editor Al Marsh was the only reporter present. The press had already seen the helicopter in 2010 when it flew at 253 knots true airspeed, setting a world record, and had moved on to the next story. That left Marsh with time to discover underreported aspects of the X2, such as why thievery isn’t always a bad thing, why there is a pirate’s flag painted on the aircraft, and why the project couldn’t have succeeded without bananas—even fake bananas. You’ll find the answers in “ Swamp Pirates .” The X2 team stood in blowing snow during ground tests in New York, was attacked by fleas and mosquitoes in Florida before they could roll the aircraft from the hangar, worked in air conditioning that is 10 degrees short of comfortable, and ran like heck to the truck-mounted toilets parked outside. From a building without an indoor toilet, they invented a helicopter that won the Collier Trophy. They are prepared to do it all again with the follow-on to the X2, the Raider scout and attack helicopter, and with the Firefly, a little helicopter that carries a big load of batteries but no gasoline engine. If you thought aviation has gone about as far as it can go, keep an eye on Sikorsky Innovations. They seem not to have heard that.
“Walking into Shotsie’s Tattoo, in Wayne, New Jersey, my senses were overwhelmed—there was 1980s pop music playing; the smell of coffee and doughnuts; and that buzz of sharp, electrical pain,” recalls Photographer Chris Rose (“ Tattoos in the Air ”). He was at Shotsie’s to photograph Scotty Lowe, avid aviator and highly skilled tattoo artist. “If P.T. Barnum ever opened an aviation museum, Scotty’s office/studio is what the gift shop would look like. And while I would describe many pilots as colorful, Lowe’s amazing, aviation-themed body art and contagious enthusiasm certainly proves it.”