Tuesday, February 16, 2010

See you out west, mom

Becky Pieper April 16, 1954 - Feb 14, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pimp your Piper Cub

If you think still think LSA aircraft are nothing more than slick-looking toys that a REAL pilot would never fly for serious missions, then you need to check out CubCrafters Carbon Cub SS.

To call this airplane a Cub is a vast understatement. Unlike the Legend Cub, the goal of the Carbon Cub is not to replicate a classic, but to push the envelope and take the airframe to the next level. CubCrafters has created an aircraft that has 50% less parts than a Super Cub and is 250 lbs lighter.

If that wasn't enough, CubCrafters created their own custom engine that weights less than 250 lbs and is rated at 180 hp for takeoffs and climbs, and 88 hp for cruise.

This creates an Cub with amazing performance, climbs of 2100 fpm at sea level, and 1100 fpm at 10,000 ft and a 420lb useful load. Cruise can be done at the max LSA limit of 120 knots.

Don't take my word for it though:

Monday, February 08, 2010

Sweepstakes to professional captains don't promote GA

Just found out via AvWeb that a FedEx captain was the winner of this year's AOPA sweepstakes plane, the "Let's Go Flying" Cirrus SR-22. Congrates to Mr. Graves (the winner) and his family!

That said, I think year's sweepstakes highlights a huge blind-spot in GA's thinking when it comes to getting the public more interested in flying. If you're not familiar with the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) sweepstakes, if you enroll in the AOPA or renew your membership, you're automatically entered in a sweepstakes for an aircraft that AOPA selects each year. Usually AOPA takes a used aircraft and spends a year upgrading and renovating it to better-than-new condition. Last year AOPA took a different approach and accepted a donation of a relatively new Cirrus SR-22 from owner Lloyd Huck, who donated the Cirrus to the AOPA to promote awareness in aviation and increase the pilot population.

AOPA spent a year flying the Cirrus to aviation trade shows, and even to a couple of non-aviation shows as well as part of a tour titled "Let's Go Flying" in order to promote GA. I don't know how many new pilots or members the signed up, but I can be sure of one thing. I bet more than a few are disappointed that the brand new Cirrus they envisioned they would one day fly ended up in the hands of a FedEx captain who already owned a Cessna 180.

Now I know, the sweepstakes is open to any member and I trust the AOPA does a random, blind drawing to determine a fair winner. But if you have the sweepstakes in order to bring in new pilots into GA, you need to think about the message you're going to send when the winner turns out to be someone who is ALREADY a professional pilot and airplane owner.

I'm a loyal, long-time member of the AOPA. If you're a pilot and you don't belong to either the AOPA or the EAA, then you're missing out on some great benefits and opportunities for increased training. Plus, while user fees have been defeated this year, its a constant battle GA will have to continue to fight in the years to come as we have to justify the importance of public dollars to the non-flying public year after year. Organizations like AOPA, NBAA, and EAA are our most important defenders of our privilege to fly.

But if the AOPA is really serious about getting new pilots, they need to think really hard about these kinds of contests. The next sweepstakes plane is a REMOS, a really fun, capable light sport aircraft. Its a great aircraft to introduce someone to flying, or a great first-time aircraft for someone making the transition from renting to owning. It would be a shame next year to see it go to a Bonanza owner whose been flying for thirty years.

Oh, btw the full article on AOPA's website is here, it's a pretty funny story about how they surprised the winner.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Get your boots on

My community Q&A site, CircleToLand.com is now in "bootstrap mode." This means all the usual safeguards and switches are turned off for new users, they can pretty much run wild and do crazy things like:

1) Ask more than one question every twenty minutes
2) Vote on answers & questions
3) Create new tags

Normally new users are restricted in a sandbox until they earn reputation points (given out usually by other site members voting up the user's answers and questions). This is a good thing because it keeps the trolls and crazies to a minimum. However, when EVERYBODY is a new user the sandbox rule gets in the way.

In short, the jailhouse is now run by the inmates. Got a question about flying that's always been nagging you? Run wild and ask it on CircleToLand.com.

You may ask why I'm pushing this site so hard, its because I believe in the site's tools in regards to fostering a healthy, knowledgeable online community centered around pilots helping other pilots.

If you have any questions or feedback about the site, please don't hesitate to email me (my email address is on CircleToLand.com on every page) or just comment on my blog.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

You want to check my what?

Just taken my medical exam yesterday. I passed! Of course my AME said I was blind as a naked mole rat and that I really should carry a backup pair of glasses (which I mostly do, however there are times when they don't make it in the flight bag..heh)

Since my last exam was three years ago, one thing I had forgotten about was an interesting requirement the FAA wants the AME to ask.

AME : "Okay, would you like me to proceed with the rectal exam?"
Me : "(blank stare) Uh...are you serious?"
AME : "Yeah, the FAA wants me to ask, most people turn it down. Basically I just look at it to see if its healthy."
Me : "Uh..yeah that's okay, I'm going to turn it down as well."

Whew, dodged that bullet. But it's really begs the question, why the FAA would even have a provision like that anyway?

The only thing I can figure out is that since most pilots spend a lot of time on their butts, government-thinking follows that it should be medically fit.

Pilots got back!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

65 days aloft

If two men have their way, this year an aviation record that has stood since 1958 will fall. The goal? Spend sixty-five days aloft in a four-place single engine airplane without touching the ground.

For non aviation folks, imagine driving around in small sedan without stopping...for anything...for one thousand five hundred and sixty hours.

Holy crap!

Chet and Matt Pipkin, father and son will hopefully take off in October 2010 in Boise Idaho and fly for 65 days in a modified Cessna 172. They plan to refuel and resupply via truck; their Cessna will be modified to carry an extra fuel tank with a quick release that can be refueled in mid-air. The Skyhawk will also be modified for them to change the oil in mid-flight, and of course there will a lav.

I think its a crazy idea, crazy good! This is more than a simple aviation stunt, they're hoping to raise money for charity, increase awareness in aviation, and inspire others to do something daring in their lives. Their mission statement:

To ignite a flame in the hearts of individuals in our world, by means of a simple flight. To encourage others to recognize their intrinsic value and to empower and challenge them to pursue their passions, contribute to the world in their own unique ways, great or small, and pass the flame to those in their world.

Blog: 65 days
AvWeb article and podcast with Matt Pipkin

I can't wait to see what happens, both in the flight and who gets inspired to take up their greatest passion!