Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What I've learned from other pilots

Its funny, the one thing I didn't expect when I started a website for pilots to ask and answer questions was that I'd be learning so much as well!

The steadily growing number of pilots providing excellent, well thought out answers to such various questions as: Resources for young pilots, Proper landing techniques in snow, Calculating the best glide speed in a new aircraft, Equipment on shooting in-flight video, Nailing the perfect steep turn, has really impressed and inspired me to keep CircleToLand.com going.

The reason why I started CTL was because I knew there was an untapped goldmine of sharp, friendly, helpful pilots online who would be more than happy to share their insights and experience with each other and with those just learning how to fly.

It feels good to be right ;)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pilots are lovers

If you haven't been reading Paul Bertorelli's blog on AvWeb, you have no idea what kind of steamy hot prose you're missing:

I have fallen in love with airplanes. Again. Specifically, a J-3C Cub, a quarter of which I bought a couple of weeks ago. I flew my first Cub in 1972 and over the weekend, when partner Greg Woods was checking me out, it all came flooding back—that skip of excitement when the engine catches on the first blade, the whiff of exhaust you get in a right taxi turn, the kinda-sorta throttle response, the spoon-in-oatmeal trim system, if you can call rope and a crank a system. After we got down and nudged the thing back into the hangar, I sat on a step stool looking at this stupid thing trying to figure out why such antiques are so intoxicating.

. . .

Slow, underpowered, cold, uncomfortable and all the utility of a broken claw hammer, yet still I love it. Maybe it's just…the romance.

Please, someone just shoot me.

I swear to god when I read that I could have sworn I heard Marvin Gaye's "Let's get it on" in the background.

Let's face it, every single one of us who flies these stupid machines didn't get into it because they thought it was going to be a great career, or it would save them some time on business trips, or some other perfectly rational reason. Those are the reasons we say to our family and friends, but let's not bullshit ourselves or each other here. We do it because we're in deeply in love, and anyone who is that far in love is an irrational moron.

I fell in love at the age of four, when I traded my most prized possession in the world, my blanket, for a big awesome Tycho airplane. I fell back in love again in 2003 gazing at stunning photo of a Waco YMF's cockpit. That one photo cost me six grand in two years, for a plastic card that gives me the privilege to one day climb into that cockpit and take the controls in my hands (as soon as I can find a Waco I can get checked out in).

As pilots, we're so deep in love that we don't realize that other people who aren't in love with aviation just don't see things the way we do. Our love is so deep we think other people regard aviation just like we do and we don't communicate with them effectively. We give the rational reasons for flying instead of speaking from the heart.

As pilots we need to follow Paul's lead and broadcast our love more openly to other people. Yeah, we'll sound like idiots, dreamers, and boobs. But there will be some young kid out there who will listen, probably between the ages of 4-94, who just might fall in love as well.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Help Fatboy Run (to fight cancer)

Matt Friesner, my friend and instrument instructor (now an airline captain) is running in the Capital City Half Marathon (Columbus, OH) on May 1st to raise money and awareness about leukemia & lymphoma. He's in his second month of training (word on the street is he's training by running up and down the stairs of Columbus's courthouse and punching meat).

Help Matt set his goal of raising $1,500 by going to his fundraising page here.

Good luck Freeze!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Bonanza is dead! Long live The Bonanza!

I've noticed a trend in used aircraft pricing (to be sure, an anecdotal trend based on browsing Barnstormers and ASO when I should be working). In the past few months I've noticed that the prices of used large, high performance complex singles are becoming significantly less than lighter, slower singles.

This seems to suggest that owners of older high performance singles are having trouble selling their aircraft. It's not like these are bad airplanes either, I'm talking about seeing Mooney's, Turbo Lances, and Bonanza's with medium engine times (500-1000 hrs SMOH), NDH, complete logs selling for 60-80K.

Now it would be ridiculous of me to predict the future on one data point (not even a data point really, just me making an amateur observation). But it does feel like the GA landscape at large could be shifting towards lighter, slower singles. There are a few factors I believe that are affecting the GA market:
  • Rising fuel costs and rising pressure to do away with leaded avgas
  • Increased technology, easier to put into new airframes than retro-fit old aircraft
  • Increasing age of used aircraft, higher maintenance and upgrade costs
  • Despite problems with airlines, still cheaper / safer, and businesses would rather buy a plane ticket than reimburse a GA pilot to fly himself
  • Vast difference in price between NEW high performance singles vs. NEW or like new light sport
I don't think high performance singles (or even twins) will go away anytime soon (nor would I want it too...the day there isn't a Bonanza flying in the sky will be a very sad day), what I do think is that there will be a great divide in the GA fleet in the future. On one end you'll have a plethora of light-sport or light singles and on the other you'll see luxury turbine powered aircraft.

That's if I felt like making a ridiculous prediction of the future anyway. But if Kirk Hawkins is betting a company and billions of dollars on it . . . well maybe its not so ridiculous after all.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Mental spring cleaning (non-aviation)

Its been a rough February. It's an odd feeling losing the last of your parents, it still doesn't seem real.

My mom and I were close, she was my friend. Its strange how that happens, at some point in your twenties your relationship with your parents changes. I think primarily because you change, from a child, an insecure adolescent, to an adult.

This feels like a watershed moment in my life, I'll be turning thirty in a month and a half and I've been giving serious thought to how I want to spend my next thirty years.

My mom was a chemical dependency counselor and psychiatric nurse, I had the pleasure during the visitation at the funeral home to meet her coworkers and more importantly the people who she helped treat and would call her "Miss Becky." I pray that I can have the same impact on others as my mom had.

My life has changed, a door has closed and it feels like a new one has opened. I've had an idea for a while to help a large number of people and aviation as a whole. Now it feels like a calling.

I apologize to anyone whose read this for the free-form rambling of this post. I haven't blogged in a while and I feel like I need to write something, anything to get rid of the cobwebs in my mind.

Thanks, and clear skies.