Ramblings about flying for fun and profit.

Category: Aviation News Page 2 of 45

Aviation news and comments.

Two Flights This Week So Far

So far I have flown twice this week – once a pattern ride to do a little practice (which didn’t seem to help much) and the second another EAA Eagle Flight with a local EAA Chapter member.

The weather up here in Reno had been unusually nice for November. We actually set high temperature records last Friday and Sunday. 

The Eagle Flight was completed yesterday with an individual who was involved in aviation early in his life in several volunteer capacities but never took any instruction toward a pilot certificate. Then, as so often happens, life got in the way an flying was set aside. 

Now he is interested in changing his life’s direction and sees aviation as a possible later-in-life career path – not necessarily in an airline capacity but more likely in one of the other myriad of commercial flying possibilities.

Another Article About Aviation by a Non-pilot Reporter

No Aviation BullshitAs many of you probably know, a Phenom 100 crashed on approach to the Gaithersburg, MD Monday killing three people on the plane and another three in one of the houses that it hit.

The Washington Post got right on the trending subject and put out an article on their website that would get them as many page-loads (and advertising revenue) as possible while being semi-related to the subject. Their article The Many Reasons Small Planes Crash was obviously a quick survey of the latest Air Safety Institute Nall Report interpreted and “explained”  by a non-pilot reporter. The USA Today “Investigation” was also quoted as a main source of information – an article ripped completely apart by the FAA, AOPA and NTSB for its sensationalism and inaccuracies.

There are currently eight comments to the Washington Post article – most blasting it for the inaccuracies and false conclusions.  A couple of the comments are obviously from people with no knowledge of aviation who just want to see their words in print.

One part of the article was particularly onerous to me:

There are several reasons the risks are higher with small planes. For one, they are piloted by people who don’t fly planes for a living. The rules are looser for amateur pilots, who don’t have to log as many flight hours to be certified. Small planes also land at small airports that may not even have paved runways.

This, above all, indicates just how little the reporter knows about aviation. Every pilot must have the same amount and type of training to be certified at a particular certificate level. The requirements for a given pilot certificate are clearly specified in 14 CFR Part 61. If a pilot meets the minimum requirements for a particular certificate level  it is their decision option to take the written, oral and flight evaluations for the award of the certificate. But no matter what the certificate level, all pilots start out as a student pilot and train to proficiency in the flying skills for the certificate that they are seeking.

Yes, higher certificate levels require more experience. That is because the higher certificates may be used in commercial operations where the pilot is being paid to transport good or people. It is the same philosophy that the government uses to certificate bus drivers and truck drivers – more training is required to be paid as a professional.

The Washington Post reporter cited the statistic that in 2012 a total of 440 people died in General Aviation accidents (all non-airline operations). Yes, that is too many and the aviation industry has active initiatives attempting to reduce the accident rate. Why did the reporter even bring up the number? Because very few people know anything about aviation. There are roughly 316 million people in the United States but only about 600,000 are certificated pilots. That makes aviation an excellent target for sensationalism – you can say just about anything you want and few people will know whether or not it is a valid statement or conclusion.  Contrast that with approximately 210 million licensed drivers in the United States. ‘Everybody’ knows how to drive, it’s common-place.  And every year since 2007 over 300,000 people have died in auto accidents – averaged out that is over 800 deaths on our highways every day. Why no sensationalism every time there is an accident – because it happens all the time and everybody knows how to drive – you can’t make wild statements or draw invalid conclusions without being called out by every driver who reads the article.

I’m not trying to trivialize the deaths in this accident. The loss of a young mother and two infant children in one of the houses is truly tragic… as are the other lives lost in aviation accidents.  It is our duty as pilots, at whatever certificate level we hold, to perform in as professional a manner a we are capable. And it is our duty to try to educate those around us about all aspects of aviation.

This reporter and her editor obviously took no time to seek out an experienced pilot to gain additional insight for the article. I’m sure reporters are assigned to write articles all the time on subjects about which they know relatively little.  Maybe some day they will learn to ask a professional in the subject matter for input  – but for aviation articles I find that doubtful… after all, sensationalism sells.


Flying Stories for December 28, 2012

I hope you all had a good Christmas holiday – and that Santa brought you at least one item you can use in your flying activities.

Now your assignment is to have a safe and sane New Year’s celebration.  Maybe since the new year rings in on a Monday night the celebrations will be more subdued – but I doubt it.  Have a great time but be careful out there!

Not much new on the Swift front. I have all I need to complete the annual inspection – except reasonable temperatures. I have mentioned before that my hangar is not heated. The high temperatures each day for the rest of the year are supposed to be at the freezing mark. It doesn’t look good for winter flying this year.

Boeing 307 Stratoliner

Boeing 307 Stratoliner.
Photo Credit: D.Miller/Armchair Aviator | Flickr:CC

I’m not sure how many of you have heard of the Kickstarter Program. It is set up to allow individuals or organizations to pitch their ideas or projects to potential investors through the internet. This is usually done with a video and accompanying text explaining what they are trying to accomplish. Individuals who think that the idea/project has merit can click on one of several buttons to donate to the project to help the project move along. It is VERY IMPORTANT TO UNDERTAND THAT THE ACTIVE WORD IS DONATE.  There is no guarantee that the project will ever be completed or the product will ever be developed and offered for sale. Often the donate buttons offer items in return for the donations – usually associated with the product to be developed. No matter how much you would like to have one of the proposed items and you provide the maximum donation there is no guarantee that you will receive anything in return.

Having said that, I received an unsolicited email today pointing to a Kickstarter project to develop a documentary film around one of the only remaining Boeing 307 Stratoliners. There were only 10 of these planes built. One is still in flying condition – the one that the Boeing employees restored for a second time and donated to the Air & Space Museum a few years ago (after putting it into the water in Seattle on an early flight after it’s first restoration). The only other surviving fuselage is from a plane once owned by Howard Hughes. It was ultimately turned into a private yacht and is moored at a marina in Florida. Louis Trueba of TruebaMedia has established a Kickstarter Program for his effort to film a documentary on the history of the airliner-boat. You can find the kickstarter project here.  And an article from BornRich about the boat here.

I’m not saying that I endorse the project, I just thought you might be interested  in finding out that it exists.

Here are some fairly recent articles that you may have missed:

Learn to fly, beat the crowd
This is from Fosters Daily Democrat in Dover, NH. Conner Makem is a reporter for Fosters and, as he describes himself, a semi-frequent traveler. He found himself dreading the commercial flying experience. He was invited recently to take a flight lesson at a local airport – here he describes the experience and compares it to his average commercial flight…

Wright factory to be preserved
This is from AOP Online. Thanks to the auto industry the original Wright Aircraft factory buildings are still standing – the oldest original aircraft factory buildings in the world. The National Aviation Heritage Alliance in Dayton, OH has taken title to the buildings and plans to restore them as part of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park…

The ultimate paper airplane.
This is from the RadioTimes in the U.K. James May has always been fascinated with airplanes. “That fascination with flight is wonderfully apparent as May supervises a project for his Christmas Toy Stories special – to build a model balsa-wood glider and fly it 22 miles over the English Channel to France.” At the end of the article he gives instructions for folding his Ultimate Paper Plane.

This is from General Aviation News. Here is your first (that I have seen) wrap up of the aviation trends we saw this year and what we may see in 2013. The article by one of GAN’s editors discusses the purchasing trends seen by Sporty’s Pilot Shop over the past year. I hope the comment about taildraggers proves true…

Top 10 Air Safety Institute products of 2012
This is from the AOPA website. The AOPA Air Safety Institute(ASI) provides videos, articles and courses to pilots and prospective pilots. This article is a list of the top ten ASI products of 2012 – the most often watched/read content that they produced. Some are videos, some are webcasts answering questions posed to ATC representatives and one is a set of training flash cards. You do not have to be an AOPA member to access the material.

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