AVwebFlash - Volume 18, Number 20a

May 14, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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AVflash! Cessna Longitude Debuts at EBACE back to top 
 

Cessna Unveils New Citation Longitude

Cessna introduced a full-size cabin mockup of it newest, biggest jet, the Citation Longitude, at EBACE in Geneva on Monday morning. The swept-wing Longitude will have the roomiest cabin and the longest range of any Citation jet. "It does a lot of things well and will appeal to customers in all corners of the world," said Cessna director of marketing Mike Pierce. In a first for Cessna, the jet will be driven by engines from Snecma, a French manufacturer. Snecma's new-generation Silvercrest design, still in development, will provide up to 11,000 pounds of thrust on takeoff, Cessna said. Longitude will have a range of 4,000 nm at Mach .82 and sell for $25.9 million, with first deliveries scheduled for late in 2017.

The new engines will not have a set number of hours before overhaul, Cessna said. Instead, maintenance requirements will be determined by data collected by the engine systems and monitored by mechanics. The cabin will have a flat floor and six feet of headroom, and will seat eight in double club seating. The cabin also features a galley, a spacious lav, and a large baggage area. Avionics have not yet been selected, but certain requirements have been set: pilots will have three large-format displays and touch controls. Cessna said it expects strong global demand for the jet, and it should enter the market around the time that China's airspace begins to open up. The Longitude will be built in Wichita.

Video: Cessna's Largest Jet Yet, the Longitude

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

On the first day of the European Business Aviation Convention and Expo in Geneva, Switzerland, Cessna Aircraft announced its largest jet yet — a new version of the Citation dubbed "Longitude."

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The Dawn of the Diesels? back to top 
 

Video: How Austro Engines Are Made

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

Daimler-Benz makes about 1,500 OM640 diesel engines a day, and Austro diverts about 15 minutes worth of production to its factory in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, where it forms the core of the AE300 aerodiesel. In this video, Austro's Peter Lietz takes us through how the company turns a car engine into an airplane engine.

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AVweb Insider Blog: Doing the Numbers -- Diesel vs. Mogas

And avgas need not apply. Although they're heavy and expensive, diesel engine economics bear up to at least short-term scrutiny because of their efficiency, which adds up over the life an engine. But if the mogas/Jet A fuel price spread gets to be around $3, mogas engines hold their own. Long-term, diesels' longer TBOs may tip the balance.

Read more and join the conversation.

 
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A New Day at Bendix/King by Honeywell
Bendix/King Avionics has established new business operations. Soon, we'll have an all-new product line. We have renewed our brand — and our promise — to design, build and support the best-performing, most innovative and cost-effective avionics products available for general aviation. Visit us online by clicking here.
 
Aviation Safety back to top 
 

Canadian Midair Kills Five, Beaver Also Down

As more details become clear the mystery of how two airplanes could collide in the middle of rural Saskatchewan has Canadian officials puzzled. We also received word late that a DeHavilland Beaver on floats went down with five aboard on a highway in southern British Columbia with near Peachland. Meanwhile, police, Transport Canada and the Transportation Safety Board are investigating how a Lake Buccaneer and a Piper Cherokee came together near the tiny town of St. Brieux, Saskatchewan (population 492) on Saturday, killing both occupants of the Buc and all three on the Cherokee. St. Brieux is a small rural community about 125 miles northeast of the nearest large town, Saskatoon. St. Brieux has an airport, however, and that's where the Cherokee was headed from Nanton, near Calgary in the adjacent province of Alberta. Initial reports said the collision occurred near the airport.

The Lake was en route from Regina, about 150 miles south of the crash scene, to La Ronge, about 150 miles north. The region is sparsely populated farmland with lots of wilderness and lakes and not much air traffic. The wreckage sites were about a mile apart.

 
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Babbitt Charges Thrown Out back to top 
 

Babbitt Cleared Of DUI Charges

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A judge has dismissed drunk-driving charges against former FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, ruling the Fairfax, Va., police didn't have a good enough reason to pull him over. Although a police statement after his arrest said Babbitt had been observed driving on the wrong side of the road the night of Dec. 3, 2011, WJLA reported that dashboard video from the police cruiser showed what Judge Ian O'Flaherty described as a "normal" left turn, even though it does not appear Babbitt used his turn signal. Nevertheless, the judge called the traffic stop "a hunch" and ended the proceedings there without hearing evidence that Babbitt wasn't legally impaired when he was pulled over.

According to Babbitt's lawyer, Peter Greenspun, Babbitt's initial breath sample showed a reading of .07, just under the .08 limit in Virginia. On subsequent tests (when he was safely off the road in a parking lot) the reading nudged over the limit but Greenspun said the police don't have the right to keep testing DUI suspects until the limit is exceeded. Babbitt said he didn't fault the officer in the case. "He was certainly acting in good faith," he is quoted as telling reporters outside the courthouse. "I am thrilled the charges against me have been dismissed at trial and I have been found not guilty," he added. Babbitt also doesn't sound like he misses his old job, from which he resigned a couple of days after the charges were made public. He said he intends to return to work in aviation as a consultant.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

GAMA First Quarter Report

The first three months of 2012 saw total billings for aircraft fall 8 percent, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), but piston-powered airplane shipments dropped by a smaller margin. Piston aircraft shipments totaled 184 units for the first three months of 2012, versus 188 shipments over the same period last year. The figures account for a 2.1 percent decrease that matched the decrease in total worldwide general aviation shipments. GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce offered a theory and some legislative advice.

"One continuing concern is the lack of available financing around the world," Bunce said. "An important step forward would be for the U.S. Congress to quickly reauthorize the Export-Import Bank." According to Bunce, the bank's lending authority stimulates sales. The first three months of 2011 saw 377 general aviation aircraft delivered while this year saw 369. Total billings fell from $3.68B to $3.39B. Business jet deliveries fell by 4.7 percent from 128 to 122. Turboprops were an area of relative strength, showing a 3.3-percent increase made manifest by the delivery of two more aircraft in 2012 than 2011. Find the full report online (PDF).

Navy's Great Green Fleet

The U.S. Navy's participation in a 22-nation exercise this summer will include a two-day demonstration of the "Great Green Fleet" carrier strike group, operating in part on alternative non-fossil fuels. The demonstration group will operate aircraft and non-carrier ships on 50/50 blends of biofuel and conventional fuels. The Navy has set a goal of 2020 to meet half of its energy needs with non-fossil fuels. The Great Green Fleet's two-day demonstration during the Rim of Pacific exercise is meant to precipitate a larger months-long deployment of a similarly fueled group set to deploy in 2016. Increases in fuel costs have pushed Defense Department spending $3 billion over budget in 2012 due to rising fuel costs.

The Great Green Fleet includes a nuclear-powered carrier and submarines. The Navy hopes use of non-fossil fuels will create more supply-side stability for its energy requirements -- both in cost and availability. The Defense Logistics Agency already has commitments for 450,000 gallons of biofuel purchased on behalf of the Navy. The directive comes from the top. According to Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the president offered the challenged in March 2011 "to work with the private sector to cultivate a competitively-priced -- and domestically produced -- drop-in biofuel industry that can power not just fighter jets, but also trucks and commercial airliners."

Volunteer Pilots Help Save Whales, Turtles

Marine scientists in Belize conducted a count of offshore marine animals for the first time recently, thanks to help from volunteer pilots flying with LightHawk. Government fisheries staff have surveyed marine mammals along the shore for 18 years, but in April, they were able to extend those efforts up to 50 miles off the coast. The aerial surveys found two sperm whales and 33 dolphins, as well as 11 turtles and 4 crocodiles. The sperm whales were seen at the southern end of Belize's barrier reef, swimming south towards Honduras. "This was not the first recording of sperm whales in Belize, but very little is known of their ecology here," said LightHawk's news release. Eclipse Aerospace also pitched in recently to help out when eight sea turtles needed a lift.

Eclipse CEO Mason Holland happened to be in the Boston area for a company event in January when the New England Aquarium rescued a group of endangered Kemp's Ridley sea turtles that had been found stranded on Cape Cod. The South Carolina Aquarium was willing to take them in, but they needed a ride south. Holland volunteered to deliver the turtles in his Eclipse jet. Four months later, the turtles were released into the wild, and Holland was invited to attend. "It was pretty fortuitous," Holland said. "A sea turtle rescue is a cool thing to be part of. Some people needed to get something done, and we were able to pitch in and help."

 
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Looking Back back to top 
 

Last Flight For Boeing 720

Check out AVweb reader Jean-Pierre Bonin's gallery of photos from the ceremony on Flickr.

We're not sure, but this might be the first "last flight" of an aircraft type that helped usher in the modern jet age of airliners. The last flying Boeing 720 took off from Saint-Hubert, Quebec, Canada for its presumably long-term stay at the National Air Force Museum of Canada at Royal Canadian Air Force Base Trenton, Ontario, on Wednesday. The airplane spent more than two decades as a test bed for Pratt & Whitney Canada, which mounted turboprops on the elongated nose, making it effectively the only five-engine four-engine aircraft flying. Pratt & Whitney moved to more modern Boeing 747SPs as test aircraft last year. They're primarily engaged in testing the company's new PurePower ultra-efficient turbofan engines.

The P&WC 720 was a 23B model built in 1961 and delivered to American Airlines. The 720 was a smaller, short-range version of the 707 and 154 were built. Pratt & Whitney Canada started using it as a test bed in 1988 and since the company makes a lot of turboprops the long nose was added as a spot to test their in-flight performance. The aircraft is officially on loan to the Trenton museum thanks to an agreement by P&WC and the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

P-40 Discovered After 70 Years

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An early model RAF Curtis P-40 Kittyhawk (Warhawk) wearing markings from the 260 Squadron and likely lost in 1942 was found last month largely intact in western Egypt's Al Wadi al Jadid desert, and researchers may now have identified its last pilot. The aircraft has been photographed sitting on its belly with the canopy nearly closed. It is suspected to be that of Flight Sergeant Dennis Copping, who went missing while ferrying a damaged Kittyhawk with markings "HS-B." If so, it could be associated also with Canadian ace James Francis "Stocky" Edwards. The aircraft's resting place is 200 miles from the nearest town and no evidence of the pilot's remains have been found. A museum may now attempt to recover the aircraft, but there are complications.

The RAF Museum in Hendon, North London, reportedly has plans to recover the fighter and efforts are being made to trace any surviving members of Coppings' family. The aircraft is reportedly located near a known smuggling route between Sudan and Libya. If so, recovery efforts may be coordinated with the Egyptian military. The UK's Daily Mail has credited discovery of the warbird to a Polish oil-company worker who was exploring the region.

 
International Association of Flight Training Professionals (IAFTP)
IAFTP Has Been Invited by the
U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

... to participate on the "Content, Quality, and Consistency of Pilot Training" panel of its 2012 General Aviation Safety Forum during June. Our focus will be the sharing of best training practices and some of the issues involved. Add your comments here:

What Should We as a Global Industry Do to Remedy the Inconsistent Way That Pilots Are Trained?
 
Upcoming Events back to top 
 

EAA Statement Sparks Concerns

AirVenture Cup race organizers are seeking to clarify a communication they received Thursday from EAA that they say could put the future of the race in question. An email sent Thursday from Chad Jensen, EAA homebuilt community manager, to Eric Whyte, chairman of the race's contest committee, reads in part, "EAA will no longer be associated with air racing in any form going forward." However, Kandi Spangler, who handles public relations for race organizers, told AVweb Friday that "EAA wants us to have the race and we want to have the race." She added, "If EAA is pulling out and not giving us the support we need, the race will likely be cancelled. But as it sits now, I feel good about the direction we're heading and the possible outcome." As of late Friday, the official public position from all parties was that the 2012 race had not yet been cancelled, as EAA officials and race organizers sought to clarify the nature of their relationship.

Race organizers Friday told AVweb they had scheduled a meeting with EAA officials to clarify the race's needs, EAA's position, and in what capacity EAA would, or would not, support the event. EAA communications director Dick Knapinski told AVweb Friday afternoon that he was not yet aware of such a meeting. At issue are differences between EAA officials and race organizers in their understanding of the role EAA will play in the race going forward. Race organizers told AVweb they have never seen themselves as a separate organization, but believed they were working as a volunteer group within EAA. And that volunteer group's understanding is that it has for the past 14 years organized the AirVenture Cup experimental aircraft race as an official EAA event. A statement released by EAA Friday said in part, "Since last year, there have been discussions with race organizers on better defining the event and its relationship to EAA, including clarifying name and branding elements." Race organizers hope to have a better understanding of that relationship, soon, and will then consider how, or if, the race will continue.

Aviation Legends Gather For Lindbergh Foundation

The Lindbergh Foundation marks its 35th anniversary on Friday, May 18, with a gala event at the Explorers Club in New York, featuring special guest speakers Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell, and Gene Cernan, and airshow legend Bob Hoover. "I can't think of a more compelling roster of speakers to help us celebrate our anniversary," said Larry Williams, chairman. "All of them encourage us to remember the significance of the contributions made by Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh to our lives today, 85 years after the historic New York-to-Paris flight." A few tickets are still available for the black-tie event, Williams told AVweb this week, at a suggested donation of $1,000 each.

Reeve Lindbergh also will join the speaker roster, Williams said, citing her own personal recollections about her parents' work and the importance of the foundation in carrying on their vision. The foundation works to promote the use of innovative technology to help address aviation's environmental challenges, offering award programs, Lindbergh Grants that support promising and creative technologies, and public education through its newsletters, website, symposiums, forums, and workshops. AVweb's Mary Grady spoke with Williams at Sun 'n Fun in March; click here for that podcast. For tickets to the event, call (763) 576-1596 or email info@lindberghfoundation.org.

 
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New on AVweb.com back to top 
 

Podcast: EBACE Begins with Europe in Turmoil

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Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia offers his thoughts on the show, Hawker Beechcraft's many options and how Cessna and Embraer are matching up. He spoke with AVweb's Russ Niles.

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Podcast: OpenAirplane Reinvents Aircraft Rentals

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AVweb speaks to OpenAirplane's Rod Rakic for more details about his company's plan to make renting aircraft easier and more affordable for pilots — and more profitable for aircraft owners.

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Forty-Seven Years in Aviation: A Memoir; Chapter 13: Tankers Revisited, Ohio State University, and 'The Barge'

Returning with his family to Ohio, Richard Taylor gets back into KC-97s in the Ohio Air National Guard ... this time the KC-97L, with two jet engines added to the four piston engines. After losing a major client in his non-aviation job, Richard fortuitously finds an opening as a faculty member in the Department of Aviation at Ohio State University.

Click here to read the 13th chapter.

Following our second near-transcontinental journey in two years, the Taylor family bought a new home in Columbus, Ohio, and I began traveling the state representing the same company I had worked for in Oregon. My largest customer -- who provided about half my income at the time -- was headquartered in Columbus, which meant less traveling and more time to engage in other pursuits, such as continuing to fly as a reservist on a part-time basis.

Late in the summer of 1965 I paid a visit to the Ohio Air National Guard unit where I had flown C-119s before we moved to Oregon; the squadron had transferred to Clinton County AFB in southwestern Ohio, was re-designated the 160th Air Refueling Group, and was now equipped with KC-97L tankers. There was a pilot position available and my work schedule permitted a reasonable amount of time for flying, so I signed up once again as a "weekend warrior" and began the transition to an airplane I knew well.

The "L" model appeared in 1964, having traded the KC-97G's two 600-gallon external fuel tanks for a pair of General Electric J-47 jet engines that provided a total 11,940 pounds of thrust. The additional power helped resolve the airspeed and controllability problems that had plagued bomber crews during in-flight refueling with non-jet KC-97s; the "L" was like a "G" on steroids and it bridged the gap between prop-driven tankers and the all-jet KC-135 that entered the inventory in 1957.

In the next seven months I logged 106 hours in the KC-97, including a trip to Copenhagen, Denmark, (with refueling stops both ways at Lajes in the Azores ... much improved quarters this time) and numerous training flights. (See Operation Creek Party, below right.)

June 1966 was a landmark month, with adjustments in just about every aspect of my life. The two-hour weekly commute from Columbus to Clinton County AFB, the relatively long missions in the KC-97 and my business travel combined to require more time away from home than I had anticipated. But good luck struck again: I secured a position as an operations officer in the Ohio Air National Guard's 121st Tactical Fighter Group at Lockbourne Air Force Base in Columbus. That cut the commuting time in half, and the average mission time in the soon-to-be-acquired C-54 (more on that shortly) was less than two hours.

The next big change involved my civilian job. My best customer decided to stop using paper packaging in favor of lower-cost plastic containers, resulting in "adios" to about half my income and "hello" to the realization that I needed to find another job, and find it soon. A wife, three young children and a mortgage could not be ignored.

A lot of pillow talk and "what if?" discussions later, the obvious solution emerged: I needed to make the most of my experience and training by continuing my aviation involvement on a full-time basis. I was acquainted with Jack Eggspuehler, chairman of the Department of Aviation at the Ohio State University, and figured if anyone in Columbus knew of an aviation job that would fit my needs, it would be him. I arranged a meeting with Jack and explained my situation, whereupon he said, "Strange you should show up here at this time. One of my professors left recently and there is now an opening on the OSU aviation faculty ... would you be interested?" Three cheers for serendipity! I had expected nothing more than a vague reference or two and here was a concrete offer to join the aviation faculty of my alma mater and one of the largest universities in the country. Would I be interested? Does it get dark at night? This was almost too good to be true.

The faculty position involved teaching OSU aviation students in the classroom and, to a limited extent, in the university's fleet of training aircraft. I would also serve as a pilot in the Air Transportation Service, OSU's in-house airline. What more could I ask for? It seemed like manna from heaven and I accepted the offer in a heartbeat. Then we talked about money and my association with the National Guard; the starting salary was nothing to write home about, but it was adequate for the time being and there was no problem with my military activities. As it turned out, entering on a new career path with Ohio State was one of the best decisions I ever made.

There is much more to come in this memoir with regard to the next 22 years I spent teaching and flying at OSU, but first, some information about C-54s in general and AF 72762 -- also known as "The Barge" -- in particular.

In 1935 United Airlines, thinking way ahead, asked Donald Douglas and Company to develop an airliner that would be much larger and more sophisticated than the super-successful DC-3 -- a request that was made even before the first DC-3 had flown. The new airplane would be designated the DC-4, would carry 42 passengers by day and 30 when configured as a sleeper transport. It would be the first large airplane with tricycle landing gear, boosted flight controls, air conditioning and a pressurized cabin.

Look closely and you can see two of the three vertical stabilizers that lowered the overall height of the airplane and permitted the use of existing hangars; this design feature also allowed takeoff with two engines on the same side inoperative. Unfortunately (or not) the airplane's weight reduced flight performance to an unacceptable level and the onboard systems proved too complex and expensive. The airlines settled for a smaller, simpler, four-engine design that went into production as the DC-4.


A footnote to history: Imperial Japanese Airways bought the original DC-4E in 1939 for the alleged purpose of "evaluation and technology transfer." Shortly after the purchase, the Japanese press reported that the airplane crashed in Tokyo Bay but, truth be told, there was no crash; the airplane was reverse-engineered (in secret, of course) and became the basis for the Nakajima G5N bomber which, by the way, never made the team in WWII ... it was too heavy and too complex, way under-powered, etc. etc. etc.

The U.S. involvement in World War II created an immediate need for a fleet of long-range military transports and the DC-4 was the airplane of choice. Several changes were made to meet the Army's specs -- a stronger floor, a cargo door, a boom hoist and larger wing tanks among them -- and the result was the C-54 Skymaster. Nearly all of the 1300+ C-54s that left the Douglas factory during the war years served with the Army Air Forces and other branches of the military in a wide variety of configurations.


Take note of the large amount of airplane behind the main landing gear, the pivot point on the ground. With a full load and an aft CG location, the airplane tended to settle on its hindquarters, a problem solved by installing a temporary brace 'tween tail and tarmac during the loading process. When all the people and cargo were on board, we would start the engines, hold the brakes and increase power a couple-hundred RPM; this would depress the nose and raise the tail enough so the flight engineer could remove the brace and climb aboard. It was also not a bad idea to have the passengers congregate in the forward part of the cabin until we got the engines running.


Considered in light of its contemporaries, the C-54 was a large airplane: 117-foot wingspan, almost 100-feet long, maximum takeoff weight 72,000 pounds with a 30,000-pound useful load, and four Pratt & Whitney R-2000 engines that developed 1450 horsepower each. It was capable of flying at 230 knots but the normal cruise speed was more like 160 knots and the no-wind range was about 2500 miles.


C-54 history is replete with significant aviation accomplishments. The airplane flew a million miles a month over the Atlantic during the war years, averaging 20 round trips each day. It was instrumental in breaking the post-war Russian blockade by hauling coal, food, etc., to the beleaguered people of Berlin. A one-off C-54 was designed and built from the ground up to transport President Roosevelt, including an elevator to accommodate FDR in his wheelchair. Designated VC-54 ("VC" for Very Comfortable), this airplane was named the "Sacred Cow" and was the first airplane used by a sitting president. In 1947 president Harry Truman was aboard the Sacred Cow when he signed the bill that established the U.S. Air Force as an independent service.

The Ohio Air Guard C-54D (Tail number 72762) came to us from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, home of the bone yard where old military airplanes go to die. The airplane had gone through a reconditioning program in Victoria, Texas, and was in rather good shape for a 30-year old transport that had been used hard and put away wet.

After a few hours of training in AF 72762, I began to think of it as a "double DC-3." The C-54, like the Gooney Bird, was a hydraulic airplane: The systems that moved the landing gear, wing flaps, and cowl flaps were operated by fluid pressure -- even the autopilot was hydraulic. The engines were quite similar to those on other round-engine aircraft in terms of power settings, temperatures, pressures, starting procedures, etc., which made things considerably easier for pilots transitioning to the C-54.

The front office was roomy and comfortable for the normal crew of three -- two pilots and a flight engineer. The FE's seat was behind and between the pilots, with full access to all the engine and fuel-systems controls. We were fortunate to have Master Sergeant Carl Westminster as our full-time FE; Wes knew the airplane from stem to stern and his knowledge and mechanical ability kept us out of trouble on several occasions. A case in point: He made his usual visual check of the engines one day immediately after takeoff, came back to the cockpit and said, "Captain, I think you'd better shut down Number Two." "What's the problem?" said I, to which Wes replied, "There's a loose exhaust fitting, probably about ready to fall off." We caged Number Two, landed, pulled the cowling and sure enough the suspect component was dangling by one bolt and would probably have caused an engine fire if it had departed the engine. "How did you know that, Wes?" "I could hear it," he replied. Despite the roar of four big radials at full power, he could hear the rattling of a loose exhaust fitting? That was Wes, a good man to have on board.

Wes wasn't superstitious, but he had a ritual that was part of every flight: As we added power for takeoff, Wes would gently pat the underside of the console and say quietly, "OK, Barge, let's go" -- an admonition to which the airplane responded with an outstanding record of mission completions, due mostly to Wes's TLC. The nickname "Barge" stuck with AF 72762 until it finished its tour with the Ohio Air Guard and was dispatched elsewhere -- probably back to the Air Force bone yard.

My life as a "double interest" aviator -- i.e. military and civilian -- began in the summer of 1966 when I first flew for Ohio State. The training fleet at that time consisted of several Piper Cherokees, a couple of Cessnas and a Piper Aztec used for multi-engine instruction. The Aztec (a six-seat light twin) was shared with the university's Air Transportation Service (ATS) and that was my primary assignment for the rest of the summer. The Aztec was near-ideal for the frequent short flights and low passenger loads that made up the bulk of ATS trips for faculty and staff. (When I hung up my wings in 2002, I had logged more flight time in the Aztec than in any other airplane: 2200 hours.)

My favorite trips took place during football season, when we would load an Aztec on Friday afternoon with several assistant coaches and drop them off one at a time at Big Ten game venues to scout future opponents. At the end of the outbound flight, the remaining coach would often invite the pilot to attend a press party and on Saturday there was usually a press-box ticket for us. When the game was over, we would reverse the route, pick up the other coaches and return to Columbus, whereupon the pilot went home for a good night's sleep -- but not the coaches, who would report to Woody Hayes' office and analyze game films until the wee hours.

The ATS also had two DC-3s, a Howard 250 and -- for a short time -- a Douglas B-23 converted from a bomber to an executive transport. Those were all hand-me-downs because corporations with aviation departments were making the shift to turboprop and jet aircraft during the '60s and '70s and the elderly recips were relatively worthless. But one should never look a gift horse in the mouth, and the university welcomed these contributions with open arms. It was several years before I got my hands on the Douglas racers due to an overabundance of qualified pilots on the aviation department staff. (The Howard 250 -- a beautiful airplane -- was wrecked on a training flight and the B-23 was sold).

For the balance of 1966 and all of 1967 the Aviation Department's schedule consumed most of my time: Regular teaching in the classroom, frequent ATS flights and a smattering of individual flight instruction. I also flew the C-54 often enough to remain current in the airplane; and if that wasn't enough aviation activity, I became involved in the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) weekend Flight Training Clinics that were offered at airports all over the country. This required leaving Columbus on Thursday to provide refresher training for general aviation pilots I had never met, in a wide variety of airplanes (some of which were "first-timers" for me), and returning late on Sunday. These were busy, challenging and fatiguing weekends ... but I became familiar with a segment of the flying public I would not have encountered otherwise.

For fun -- and a few extra bucks -- during that same period of time, I flew a Helio Courier a couple of times a week for a local radio station's airborne traffic reports. The Courier was a most remarkable airplane. It was equipped with slow-flight features including leading-edge slats that deployed automatically at about 46 knots, 3/4-span slotted flaps that effectively increased the wing area by 30 percent (you had to crank the flaps down but it was worth the effort) and spoilers for roll control at very low airspeeds. The castering main gear took most of the sting out of crosswind takeoffs and landing. The Helio could take off in about 300 feet, land easily in the same distance and fly under complete control at 26 knots.

There were times when the onboard traffic reporter wanted to get a good look at an accident site or a traffic tie-up, so I would turn into the wind, deploy all the slow-flight stuff and -- for all practical purposes -- reduce the groundspeed to zero. In short, flying this airplane was nothing but fun.

[Continued next month.]



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More articles, stories and fiction about the joy of aviation are found in AVweb's Skywritings section.
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FBO of the Week: Maverick Air Center (FSB, Sioux Falls, South Dakota)

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AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" is Maverick Air Center at Sioux Falls Regional Air Center (FSB) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

AVweb reader Lynn Erickson recommended the FBO:

My wife and I were traveling from Madison, Wisconsin to Sioux Falls for our godson's confirmation and had decided on Maverick because of the rental car avialablility. The weather was a challenge, and after dodging around a line of storms and landing ahead of another, we were greeted by a very accomodating, experienced line crew who hustled our 182 into their brand-new hangar. The entire facility is new, with obvious attention to what makes a full-service FBO without the pretense. The people working there are an outstanding compliment to the surroundings. Bruce and his crew kept our airplane in for two nights, charged us for one, and gave us a very good price on fuel. This is definitely a GA-of-all-sizes-friendly stop.

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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 
 

Short Final

Flying an Army OH58 in the early '80s, we determined that we would not have the fuel to make our planned destination. Passing Kessler Air Force Base, we called the tower for landing instructions.

Kessler Tower:
"Do you have PPR?" [PPR = "prior permission"]

OH58 (not knowing what "PPR" stood for) :
"No. [pause] All we have is a transponder and an ADF."

Kessler Tower:
"Clear to land."


Mike Friel
via e-mail

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