Wednesday, September 30, 2009

WSJ: Some Frequent Travelers Prefer to Be in Cockpit

The Wall Street Journal posted a very evenhanded and informative article on small business use of a general aviation aircraft. The comments to the article are also very helpful and informative.

Monday, September 28, 2009

AOPA defends community airports

In response to an incredibly short-sided and poorly researched article written by the USA Today

they did give Craig Fuller, CEO of AOPA a chance to rebut. I wish he had made an even stronger case, as he could have mentioned the many ways in which municipal airports server their community, but at least he had a chance to set the record straight.

update 9/30/2009:
“It’s very disturbing when a major newspaper like that does not bother to take the time to get the facts straight before they write a major article like this, especially with their nationwide circulation,” Ehlers (Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.)) said during the hearing. “I think we have to speak up against that and make them aware of the situation.”

Friday, September 18, 2009

Trip to Dayton to see the National Museum of the United States Air Force

I usually like to post about trips right after we get back but this time everything transpired to get in the way of writing, but at least now I have to time to write, I'm going to put it down as well as my memory will serve me. A balmy, gorgeous September morning, Charlie and I drove to the airport to meet our friend and fellow pilot, Ben Kramer. Today was a special day. We were all going to fly together from Zelienople to Dayton to visit the National Museum of the US Air Force in near Dayton, OH. The plan was to fly to I19 - Greene County-Lewis A. Jackson Regional and then hope to snag the crew car for the 15 minute ride to the museum.

Of course Charlie and I arrived late and by the time we arrived Ben had already pulled out our 1971 Piper Arrow II and had it preflighted and ready to go. The remaining job was to jam Charlie's car seat into the rather tight back seats of the Arrow and then jam 6' 5" Ben into the left seat. All was well though and soon we were doing the run up on the 200 hp IO 360 and departing for I19. We climbed to 4500 and settled in for the cruise with Ben at the controls. Ben called Pittsburgh approach for flight following, which we received, and then Ben and I dialed in the cruise power settings. Charlie kicked back and took in the view, happy as a clam as long as there was gum around.

Soon we were passing directly over Columbus Intl, and Ben was a master at dialing in the handoff frequencies for flight following ahead of time (Ben is also a turbine pilot for a local charter outfit nearby). After a smooth and uneventful 1 1/2 hour flight (notwithstanding a flaky transponder) we saw our destination airport and Ben and configured the airplane and soon had the Arrow down with a nice landing.

The FBO had the crew car available as promised and I got Charlie's seat out of the airplane and into the car. Soon enough we arrived at the USAF Museum and Charlie's head was on a swivel looking at the giant aircraft parked outside. Once we parked and we were inside the museum, we grabbed a quick lunch at the well equipped cafeteria (I recommend the baked potatoes) and then we went downstairs to the main lobby to try to orient ourselves. The museum is by all accounts enormous and one could easily take a couple of days to go through the exhibits in detail. Many of my favorite aircraft happened to be in one hangar called the "Cold War Gallery", and having limited time on our hands, that was where we went.

We were greeted upon entering the hanger nose to nose with the truly massive and awe-inspiring B-2 bomber. Apparently, it is the world's only permanent public display of a B-2 stealth bomber. After walking for almost a minute I realized that we were still underneath it's gargantuan wing. Right after that impressive site, we gazed upon one of my all-time favorites, the Lockheed SR-71A. The SR-71 they had on display was special in that it made the first operational sortie by an SR-71. It was flown to the museum upon cancellation of the SR-71 program in March 1990 after flying 257 operation missions in its' 20+ year career.

We then moved on to another personal favorite, the A-10 Thunderbolt, AKA the Warthog.
The one was interesting in that you could climb a scaffold to look in the cockpit. Charlie really got a kick out of that. Another massive aircraft we saw was the Convair B-36J Peacemaker, the predecessor to the B52 bomber. All in all it took us hours to look at all of the 60+ aircraft in the exhibit. Charlie was starting to drag from running from airplane to airplane and we decided we should hit the road anyhow. We hopped back in the car and got to the airport where the extremely courteous FBO had the Arrow fueled and pulled it right up to the door! Very nice.

The flight back, with me in the left seat this time was another very enjoyable one. I put on the foggles to get about an hour of hood time, so I left it to Ben and Charlie to soak in the views.
After removing the foggles because we were needing to dodge a few building cumulus along the way, we headed back into Zeli. It had been a fantastic day and Charlie had been just amazing. He had endured 1 1/2 flight down, a 20 minute car ride, a 2 hour museum stay, another car ride, and almost 2 hour return flight with a smile and nary a peep. I'm hoping to get back to the museum again sometime and hopefully stay for an entire day, perhaps an overnight. It would be well worth it.