Today, I walked in the clouds, flew 50 feet above the ground and discovered much to my delight that I enjoyed both sensations. Manfred Leuthard's Experimental Gyro N71ML provided the transport, and the pilot himself was an excellent host, a splendid pilot of the Magni two-seater auto-gyro, and a subject matter expert where flying is concerned.
From the Sante Fe Municipal Airport, I experienced an approximately 15 minute flight, beginning with a 300-foot takeoff, and finishing with a 100-foot landing. Skimming the earth at about 50 feet high is a fantastic feeling, and having ridden in many helicopters from my 26 plus years of U.S. military experience, the Rotax Turbo engine is extemely quiet in comparison.
I have touched the sky today and am extremely grateful to Manfred Leuthard and Lilo Steffen for patiently answering all my questions and giving me the opportunity to walk on air.
In your article, you state:
"The CAGW claims upgrading the existing fleet of 127 707-based KC-135s would cost $3.8 billion ..."
The KC-135 is not exactly based on the 707. Both the KC-135 and the production 707 aircraft were based on the original one-of-a-kind Model 367-80 aircraft.
While obviously very similar, the fuselages are different and not many parts are interchangeable. Adding to the confusion are the facts that the original 367-80's tail number was N70700 and "707" was painted on the tail.
To anyone who has not flown over water in haze -- it's IMC! I have been working on my IFR for a while now and will have it soon, but ...
Saturday I flew a round trip from Fredericksburg (EZF) to Annapolis (ANP) then back. I filed VFR flight plans through Leesburg Flight Services for both ways. I received a standard briefing with a planned departure time of 12:00 local. Flight services was calling for convective activity early in the afternoon, so I spoke with my passenger and we left one hour early so I could be back on the ground before the storms rolled in. I called up Potomac TRACON to get my clearance into the ADIZ and told them I was a bit early. The controller found my flight plan and quickly released me. My route was EZF - BRV - OTT - ANP. Weather was normal for summer in Virginia: hazy, hot and humid, with visibility five to six miles in haze.
After dropping off my passenger in Annapolis, I called up Potomac TRACON again to pick up the return leg of my trip. I got my ADIZ clearance out of ANP: heading 120, then Patuxent (PXT), to Brook, to EZF; climb 3000 for radar identification, expect 4000 in 10. Well, I learned when I was a young'en, you don't argue with the guy with the gun. So, made my departure and proceeded to chat with Potomac Approach. When I got 4000, I found myself over the Chesapeake Bay and the haze made it difficult -- if not impossible -- to see the horizon. After a few minutes I heard my engine start to scream a little louder then normal, glanced down and noticed I was descending. Pulled the power, leveled the wings and told Patuxent Approach that I was not able to maintain VFR; I was going to head west to get over land and then follow the shore line to Patuxent. Patuxent tells me I'm on an IFR flight plan and they would correct that and to stay out over the bay until clear of their Class D. Gee, thanks guys. I requested lower to make out a horizon and that still did not work. I creeped over to the shoreline to keep that in sight, giving me some type of horizon. A few minutes later, called up Patuxtent Approach and requested due west to head home. Well, they were working on it, and my blood pressure was starting to go up. A while later, I get the due west and headed on home.
I walked away from this, a little shaken, no metal bent and a bit wiser. After chatting with a number of pilots I learned a few things. I should have been a little more forceful, told them unable or declared an emergency. Everyone concurs with that, but in the back of my head was: a) The Black Hawks out there with no sense of humor; b) A few of my friends have had their tickets pulled for violating the ADIZ; and c) What would be waiting for me if I turned west without permission. In short, I was more worried about confronting the Secret Service, Black Hawks and other types of Washington Bureaucrats then crashing into the bay. If you ask me, there is something very wrong with the system when I fear the system.