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Volume 25, Number 27c
July 6, 2018
 
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Boeing And Embraer Announce Strategic Partnership
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

Aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Embraer announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a strategic partnership on Thursday. According to the announcement, the joint venture will align Brazil-based Embraer’s commercial aircraft and services business with Boeing’s commercial development, production, marketing and lifecycle services operations.

“By forging this strategic partnership, we will be ideally positioned to generate significant value for both companies’ customers, employees and shareholders – and for Brazil and the United States,” said Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg. Boeing will own 80 percent of the $4.75 billion venture and Embraer the remaining 20 percent. Boeing says the commercial venture will be led by Brazil-based management, although Boeing will have operational and management control.

A second joint venture is planned “to promote and develop new markets and applications for defense products and services, especially the KC-390 multi-mission aircraft.” At this point, the agreement is non-binding and still has to go through shareholder and regulatory approvals. Based on the timing of those approvals, the companies say they expect to close on the deal by the end of 2019. A similar partnership between Bombardier and Airbus went into effect on July 1.

FAA Decides Not To Regulate Airline Seat Size
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

The FAA is sticking to its decision that there is no safety reason for the agency to regulate airline seat size, according to a letter published by the agency on Monday. The letter comes in response to a 2017 court order that called for the FAA to reconsider its decision to deny a petition from passenger advocacy group Flyers Rights. The petition claimed that some airlines’ use of increasingly narrow seats with less space between them (lower pitch) to fit more passengers on an aircraft was a matter for the FAA to regulate due to the practice’s potential to cause safety concerns in the event of an evacuation.

The 2017 court order (PDF), which called the FAA’s evidence “off-point studies and undisclosed tests using unknown parameters,” only required the agency to reconsider its position. It did not require any regulation of seat size. In its recently issued response (PDF), the FAA said that after re-examining the matter it can find no safety issues with the current seat sizes. “The key,” said the agency, “is that the time it takes to stand up from one’s seat, even if the seat is relatively narrow and installed at a 28-inch pitch, and even if the passenger is relatively large, is less than the time it will take to get the emergency exits opened and functional and for the line that begins forming in the aisle to clear.”

Although information from aircraft manufacturers regarding the performance of their aircraft in evacuation testing is considered proprietary, the FAA received permission from Airbus, Boeing and Embraer to share several videos showing evacuations tests with smaller seats. Flyers Rights raised concerns that the testing shown in the videos appears to have been done with only slim, fit participants and did not include anyone who was elderly, had a disability or had a child or infant with them. The FAA responded that testing with those groups might prove dangerous to the individuals involved and that although it cannot simulate every variable present in emergency situations, it believes the tests are still valid.

Transatlantic Homebuilt
 
Mark Albery
 
 

Flying an RV-8 from Los Angeles, California to Oxfordshire, England in 19 days may strike many as an adventure of a lifetime. For me, the 7,000-n.m. trip was my way to return home after working four years in the Tesla Motors Design Studio in Hawthorne, California. Airfields along the Crimson Route, partially developed in WW-II as a way from North America across Greenland and Iceland to Britain and the European theater, would provide the critical fuel stops to complete my journey. These WW-II fields are now civilian airports and provide a route for shorter-range aircraft crossing the northern Atlantic while avoiding a high-frequency radio requirement. With this trip in mind for a couple of years, I bought a more versatile RV-8 to replace my previous RV-4.

Planning the Trip

Pre-trip planning largely focused on two concerns: fuel planning and preparing to deal with arctic weather. Historically, bad weather and poor fuel planning claim many more victims than mechanical failures across this route.

The crossing of Greenland from west to east over the icecap presented the biggest challenge and most critical leg for fuel planning purposes. There was only one usable airfield on my planned 380-n.m. route across eastern Greenland, and a diversion to the next-closest field would add another 350 n.m. to the trip. Adding contingencies for winds and IFR reserves, I settled on a planned minimum endurance of 7 hours at 150 KTAS to give me a comfortable safety margin. In principle, the 42-gallon standard fuel capacity of the RV-8 would be okay, but to build in my “comfort factor,” I added a 10-gallon fuel cell in the front locker. I discussed this approach with Jon Johanson (noted for his world-rounding RV-4 trips), and he agreed with my plan to plumb the cell directly into the spare inlet of the Van’s fuel valve and vent it at the bottom of the firewall.

The most valuable planning came by reading reports and talking with several people who had been that way before. The overwhelming emphasis? Don’t take chances with the weather, carry sufficient fuel for all contingencies, and make sure everything is working properly before heading for the Arctic! Obviously, avoiding known icing conditions is a big part of weather planning for a small aircraft.

Prelude—Crossing the USA

The journey started for real on Mon-day, April 8, 2013. My apartment was empty and the keys handed back to the landlord. The aircraft was loaded and car delivered. Fellow RV pilot, Scott Chestnut, picked me up and delivered me to the Hawthorne airport. Reports of strong, gusty conditions (common over the Southwest’s desert in spring) populated the METARs. Checking the PIREPs, I abandoned my plan for lunch at Sedona, Arizona, and re-filed for Carlsbad, New Mexico. The extended distance (720 n.m.) provided a good checkout of all systems, including the full auxiliary tank. After climbing to 15,000 feet, an amazing 85-kt tailwind from the west pushed my groundspeeds up to 240 knots. Arriving in Carlsbad, the winds were still strong and confirmed the wisdom of selecting this airport with four wide, WW-II-era runways providing six potential landing directions. Thanks to the tailwinds, I arrived in about 3.7 hours and only used 26 gallons.

The original WW-II Crimson Route followed a great-circle path out of Los Angeles and up into northern Canada. I, however, planned my transcontinental travel to put me in Florida for Sun ’n Fun, then up the east coast into Canada. Therefore, I continued from Carlsbad to Denton, Texas. The first day covered over 1,000 n.m. and ended with a hangar for the plane and a room offered by fellow RV pilot, Russ Madden, through Vansairforce.net’s “RV Hotel” list. It was a good start to the journey. I made my next overnight stop with Mike and Judy Ballard in Lanett, Alabama. Two years earlier, I had persuaded the Ballards to sell their beautiful RV-8, N713MB, to me so the stop was a homecoming for the plane. During the stop, we also sorted out a Bluetooth connection issue with the brand-new Delorme InReach satellite tracker. After confirming that tracking, email, and text messages through my iPad worked in flight, we spent much time talking about the trip. I knew they would be tracking my progress on the Delorme web site all the way home.

A relatively short run in good weather, with a quiet Lake Parker arrival the next morning, brought me to Sun ’n Fun. Mary Jane Smith greeted me with a big hug once I shut down the engine. Regulars at Homebuilt Camping will know what I mean. It’s like coming home when you arrive—a great bunch of people gather each year in HBC.

Sun ’n Fun provided a nice break and good opportunity to catch up with old friends. News of my trip preceded me and regularly popped up as a topic of conversation. My aircraft had been featured on this year’s SNF poster, and their photographer took photos of the poster, me, and the plane, adding them to their Facebook feed. I also was asked to sign several copies of the poster. I guess this is what it’s like to be famous!

A good opening between a series of frontal systems along the East Coast presented itself on Sunday, nicely coinciding with my planned departure. I had a good run up to St. Simons Island, Georgia. With weather catching up, I made a quick refuel and continued up to First Flight Airport at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, for the obligatory photo with the Wright Brothers National Memorial behind. After a quick tour of the site and museum, and a late lunch, I made a short hop to Williamsburg, Virginia for the night stop and a visit to Colonial Williamsburg.

The next leg took me to Bangor, Maine. Passing through New York City, I dropped down to 1,200 feet and routed into the Hudson River Corridor by the Verrazano Bridge. Aimed for the east bank, I kept busy taking photos, making reports, and swivelling my head for traffic. Assorted alerts for obstacles, terrain, and traffic flowed from the Garmin 695 and GTX330 transponder’s Traffic Information Service (TIS) through the intercom, while I shouted, “I know, I know!” which didn’t help much.

I passed Boston just after the dreadful marathon bombing, unaware of the events unfolding on the ground. Then, with Bangor less than 100 miles away, a change in exhaust tone, followed shortly by a CO alarm, grabbed my attention. Closing the heater and opening the cabin vent, I alerted Center to the situation and picked Sanford, Maine as a close and promising diversion. Exhaust backfiring accompanying the power reduction seemed to confirm a likely exhaust leak.

The next morning, it became apparent that the #2 exhaust stack had failed just below the pipe-to-flange weld. Discussing this failure and the impending trip with a local mechanic, we decided to overnight the stack to Clint Busenitz at Vetterman Exhaust in South Dakota for repair and reinforcement with extra gussets. Southern Maine Aviation couldn’t have been more helpful, letting me use the crew car for three days. The Maine coast wasn’t the worst place in the world to be stranded, and the lobster was delicious. Kennebunk and Ogunquit were rather quiet this early in the season, but it was a pleasant area to pass some time. The repaired stack arrived back on Friday and was quickly replaced, allowing me to finally continue to Bangor.

I stopped overnight at Bangor to get the paperwork sorted with the brokers for exporting the RV. My next planned stop was to be Sept-Īles, Quebec, but the delay meant that CANPASS (Canada Border Services Agency’s program for clearing border crossings) wouldn’t be available there on the weekends. So, I re-planned for Moncton, New Brunswick, filed with Canada’s Electronic Advance Passenger Information System, and secured a smooth clearance through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection folks. A weather front had just cleared Bangor, so I delayed my departure to avoid catching up. I didn’t quite time it right, arriving at Moncton with 1,000-foot ceilings and rain, forcing the first instrument approach of the trip. When nobody from customs came out to me, I secured my CANPASS clearance by phone. By then, the weather was starting to clear, so I departed to the north for a refuel and night stop at Sept-Īles, on the north bank of the St. Lawrence River.

Into Canada

Temperatures steadily dropped and the terrain became wild and unpopulated as I flew toward Schefferville in Northern Quebec during the next day. Passing Labrador City and the Wabush Airport brought signs of civilization. Another hour in the wilderness and some mine workings signaled the arrival at Schefferville. There, both local fuel suppliers indicated that avgas was unavailable, contrary to their entries in the Canada Flight Supplement. Enacting Plan B, a helpful local pilot ferried me to the gas station and I loaded 10 gallons of unleaded mogas into the plane to give a safe reserve for the next leg. As I was about to leave, I learned avgas was available, but only in 50-gallon drums.

The time came to don the immersion suit and lifejacket for the 100-mile leg crossing the Hudson Strait to Baffin Island in the territory of Nunavut. The strait was still 99% frozen, making a potential ditching an interesting proposition. Weather was generally good with the Iqaluit Airport reporting a broken cloud layer at 2,500 feet AGL and light snow. An easy visual descent across the solidly-frozen Frobisher Bay led to a comfortable landing at the Iqaluit Airport. Temperatures en route at 9,500 feet had been around -18° C, which was beyond the capacity of the RV-8’s heating system, and made reaching the ground a welcomed event.

Fourteen days into the trip and this was the true Arctic—the start of the real adventure!

Across the Atlantic

I checked the onward weather the next morning to see forecasts of IFR conditions at my next planned stop and the alternates in western Greenland. The weather at Iqaluit, though, was cold and clear and provided a good excuse for a rest day to prepare for the next leg. Avgas at Iqaluit is sold by the 50-gallon drum. I bought the whole drum for $310 Canadian, filling all of the airplane’s tanks, plus two 5-gallon jugs to use for emergency fueling, and left about 10 gallons to support the local economy.

The RV attracted a fair bit of attention as I ventured north, and a chap came over to see me as I was going over the aircraft at Iqaluit. Wes Alldridge, the chief pilot of Air Nunavut, turned out to be enthusiastic about my trip and had lots of good advice based on his 30,000 hours flying in the Arctic. He affirmed that mid-Spring, before the sea warms with the threat of rapid fog formation, is a good time for clear weather. He also offered the use of their hangar to de-ice, if needed, before departure—something usually prohibitively expensive. Fortunately, I only had a dusting of dry snow and that assistance wasn’t needed. Wes also asked one of his King Air pilots to give me a guided tour of Iqaluit. Calvin Le Sueur is a keen young pilot, really interested in the RV and spending a few years in the Arctic developing his career skills. He loves the kind of flying they do.

The next day came with much better forecasts, so I filed for Ilulissat in Greenland, a place I was very keen to visit. Set in the beautiful Disko Bay next to the World Heritage Site, Ilulissat Icefjord, is a glacier above the fjord that moves over 60 feet a day and calves an incredible number of vast icebergs. Crystal-clear conditions greeted my arrival in Disko Bay after a 3-hour flight over a solidly-frozen Davis Strait. The Bay itself was open to the local fishing fleet and not icebound. However, the approach plates warn of possible icebergs as high as 750 feet MSL on the approach!

My taxi driver from the airport sorted me with a private apartment at about a quarter the cost of a hotel—very welcomed with the high arctic prices for everything. I spent the remainder of the day exploring and enjoying the fabulous scenery. A walk around the town didn’t take long, seeing fields full of sled dogs basking in the sun despite the -12° C air temperature. A walk across the frozen inner harbor, followed by a hike on the trail to the nearby Ilulissat Icefjord, brought me to signs warning against going down to the beach due to potential tsunamis (commonly—and incorrectly—called tidal waves) caused by giant calving icebergs. It was a spectacular sight and a real highlight of the trip.

The next day, Thursday, seemed a good day to leave before the national holiday on Friday when the airport would be closed. I filed VFR at 11,500 feet over the icecap to Kulusuk, the only airport in eastern Greenland, which provided an opportunity to fly up the Icefjord, then climb above the largest ice field in the Northern Hemisphere. The largely featureless landscape and the veil of haze that often covers the area gave no distinct horizon, so the autopilot provided a great help. There are old Cold War early-warning stations on the icecap. While I fluttered with the idea of detouring to see DYE2, one of 58 Distant Early Warning Line radar stations, I held steady on my course east.

Eventually, the mountains of eastern Greenland came into view. METARs from Kulusuk were reporting a few clouds at 1,500 feet and scattered clouds at 3,000 feet, but there was a clear view of the sea and islands that allowed a VFR arrival. Despite light blowing snow at the airfield, arrival on their gravel strip proceeded uneventfully. I topped off with $18/gallon avgas, warmed up from the -18° C en route temperatures, checked the weather towards Iceland, and filed again for Reykjavik.

This leg stayed over the Atlantic Ocean for 380 n.m. and below cloud bases at 2,000–5,000 feet MSL. With temperatures just below the freezing point, the cockpit once again felt toasty warm. Radio coverage was remarkably good picking up Iceland radio about 100 miles out. Iceland controllers vectored me to the bay north of Keflavik, where I made a very pleasant approach to Reykjavik’s north/south runway. I had arrived in Europe, geographically at least. After the Arctic, it all seemed remarkably civilized and normal again. A big conference was going on in Reykjavik, and that meant the adjacent Hotel Loftleidir was full, so I found a place at the Radisson not far away. The taxi driver was also a Cessna 140 owner, making for a good chat over the short ride to the hotel. There was a fine, clear sunset over the Atlantic from my hotel room.

The next day dawned equally clear and fine. Scotland, however, was not so good, with cumulonimbus clouds (CBs), occasional heavy rain, and severe ice warnings at lower levels. I opted to enjoy a scenic tour around southern Iceland and reposition to Egilsstašir in eastern Iceland. The move put me closer to Scotland and away from the worsening conditions approaching Reykjavik from the west. This proved to be a good choice, as the situation in the north of Scotland was steadily improving and Egilsstašir remained in good, clear weather.

I filed IFR at 11,000 feet MSL to Wick, Scotland, where I had arranged to do the paperwork for importing the RV to the UK. That route brought me above a scattered layer of cumulus clouds in excellent flying conditions. I flew past the Faroe Islands, a self-governing territory of the Kingdom of Denmark. Its single airport, Vįgar, holds a notorious reputation for turbulence on the approach.

Arriving Home in the United Kingdom

Approaching Scotland, the remnants of the weather system could be seen with the tops of embedded CBs up to around my level, but easily avoided. Scottish information picked me up and handed me over to Wick approach at about 50 miles out, where I started my descent amongst the clouds and weather. Initially clear flying, I started to pick up very light icing at 5,500 feet as I flew in and out of clouds. At 25 miles, I could descend to 2,500 feet, which immediately melted the remaining ice. About 10 miles out, I emerged into the clear and could see the town of Wick and the airport beyond. Not wishing to make an unnecessary VOR approach, I cancelled IFR and landed at Wick with a 20-knot crosswind and rain, but glad to be on the ground with no more ocean to cross. The Far North Aviation crew marshalled me in and took me straight to the hotel, still wearing my immersion suit and life jacket. Paperwork could wait till tomorrow!

The next day, with paperwork sorted and weather improved, it was a pleasant 2.5-hour flight over now-familiar landscapes, stopping at Rolls-Royce Hucknall Aerodrome near Nottingham to see some old friends and then, finally, Enstone in Oxfordshire.

I’d arrived! It felt great...but it was now time to relax!


Mark Albery studied aeronautical engineering at Kingston University on the former site of both the Sopwith and Hawker aircraft factories. While working for Rolls-Royce on the acoustic design of aircraft engines, he earned his private pilot’s license at the RR Merlin Flying Club. He now holds commercial and flight instructor ratings and has owned a Taylor Monoplane, Cessna 120, Jodels 1050 and DR200, DH Chipmunk, two RV-4s and the RV-8.


This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Kitplanes magazine.

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Envoy Announces Partnership With ATP Flight School
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

American Airlines subsidiary Envoy Air has announced the signing of an agreement with ATP Flight School to make ATP an official Envoy Cadet partner. The Envoy Cadet Program is designed to funnel qualified graduates of partner schools into pilot positions with Envoy and later American Airlines. “This is a great opportunity for students that want to quickly pursue a career as a pilot and for Envoy, as we gain access to some of the nation's top aviation talent,” said Envoy Vice President of Crew Planning John Dixon.

As part of the program, ATP flight instructors will be able to work for Envoy and have access to travel benefits, health insurance, retirement and profit sharing plans through the airline. ATP guarantees its students a flight instructor position, and now access to the opportunities with Envoy, after nine months of training. Once Airline Transport Pilot flight experience requirements are met, interested ATP graduates are placed into an Envoy-sponsored FAA-approved ATP Certification Training Program. After that course has been successfully completed, they move on to a new hire class with the airline.

According to Envoy, its first officers typically upgrade in about two years with “flow-through in just over six years which provides a direct path to a flying career with American Airlines.” Since 2013, the company says that nearly 60 percent of American’s new hires have come from Envoy. ATP reports that it owns around 300 aircraft that fly 253,000 hours annually. The school says its students earn more than 6,600 FAA pilot certificates each year.

CAFE Symposium To Highlight Innovation
 
Mary Grady
 
 

Registration is now open for the CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium 2018, which returns to the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, July 21 and 22. This event, scheduled for the weekend before AirVenture, is not affiliated with EAA, but many of the speakers there are well-known in the aviation world, including Greg Bowles of GAMA, Boris Popov of BRS Aerospace and former NASA engineer Bruce Holmes. Speakers will explore current and pending technology for electric aviation. Adam Warmoth, vehicle requirements lead for Uber Elevate, is also on the roster, as well as Tom Gunnarson of Kitty Hawk, and more.

The symposium runs on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The registration fee is $175 until July 6, and includes a reception on Saturday night and breakfast and lunch on Sunday. The nonprofit CAFE Foundation, based in California, aims to advance the technologies of personal aircraft through research, analysis and education.

Not Doing The Lindy Hop
 
Paul Berge
 
 

The fly (Musca domestica) appeared inside the Citabria’s cockpit ten minutes into what would be a 25-hour round-trip from Iowa to New York. I greeted the visitor the way Jimmy Stewart, as Charles Lindbergh, did in the 1953 film Spirit of St. Louis. And there the analogy to Lindy flying 3000 miles non-stop from a future shopping mall site on Long Island to Paris where he’d become the last person to make the trip without sitting between two 300-pounders who hog the arm rests, ended. Still I was flying a taildragger, solo, across … well, some of the safest terrain on earth.

I had Aera GPS, Foreflight, a radio and paper charts. Lindbergh navigated with little more than compass, stars and a cheese sandwich. He found Paris after crossing the North Atlantic at night. I got lost over the Finger Lakes by day. I stopped every 200 miles to pee and ask directions, details not included in Stewart’s film. Lindbergh stayed awake—mostly—for 33+ hours. I overnighted in a Youngstown, Ohio, motel, so I guess I had one on him when it comes to gutting it out.

The mission was to attend my daughter’s wedding in upstate New York. My wife drove her hybrid. I flew my 7ECA 115-HP Citabria. You know who arrived first … and spent way less on fuel. But we don’t fly old VFR taildraggers merely to get somewhere. In fact, too often we don’t get there, and it’s that almost making it that keeps us returning in hopes of better results. There is nothing worth seeing along the soul-sucking interstate highways, whereas following Eisenhower’s ribbons from a thousand feet up and offset as whimsy demands, unleashes the inner whatever that makes pilots such lousy wedding guests. We always want to talk about the flight, but in a banquet hall filled with groundlings, I’m worse than the guy who insists on showing pictures of his kid’s stinkin’ dance recital. No one cares.

This wasn’t my first aerial trip from America’s corndog-on-a-stick heartland to its Shecky Greene belt in the Catskills. Before my daughter was born I’d made a similar trip in my 1946 Aeronca Champ. Resembling its Champ progenitor, the Citabria sits with her tail on the ground, nose pointed skyward and offers room for tandem two and a few bags. I still own the 65-HP Champ but forsook her for the younger sister, because I actually wanted to get there in time for the ceremony. The Citabria isn’t much faster than the Champ, but it did have modern upgrades, including a starter, eliminating the need to hand-prop the engine, alone, as I had on the previous trip. GPS and a radio added to that high-tech thrill, but flying tailwheel into unfamiliar airports enhanced the arrival factor and elicited pilot lounge commentary:

“Nice airplane. Always wanted to fly a Decathlon.”

“Me, too. This is a Citabria.”

“You should get a Decathlon.”

“OK.”

It’s nearly impossible to fly a taildragger in a straight line, especially the Citabria, which has less interest in seeing what’s over the horizon than what that line between earth and heaven looks like on its side. We could not fly a straight line or hold an altitude on any leg, because over such expanses of the American Midwest and Eastern hills there’s just so much to see that anyone confined to pavement never experiences. But I already knew that before liftoff. Plus, there’s always weather to skirt and never climb above.

Tropical storm Alberto had played out its entrance across the Gulf Coast the week before I’d departed Iowa, and like an actor who can’t hear the audience sighing, “Enough,” he pushed north, reaching for the Great Lakes. No hurricane winds but enough moisture to set pieces on the Midwest chessboard. First, the cumulus pawns appeared, so adorable you just want to snuggle a wingtip into them, and, then, as afternoon stretched to sunset, towering rooks lunged above all in impenetrable lines, their castellated tops sweeping airliners from the sky while shooting Zeus bolts and thunder just because they could … and should, lest they disappoint their merciless embedded King and Queen who only wanted to kill little flies like me. So, a night in Youngstown, famous for something, but hell if I know what, certainly not the Perkins where I had breakfast the next day.

Dawn, and the chessboard was behind. We crawled over the rumpled mountains of western Pennsylvania and inched north toward Lake Erie to avoid low clouds and the fact that I couldn’t see a respectable place to land anywhere in the vast expanse of tree-coated hills if the engine failed. My destination was Cooperstown, New York, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame and an inviting grass strip (K23). Uninviting clouds, though, pointed us to Sidney, New York (N23), 30 miles short but as often happens when flying old airplanes, a great alternate.

“What’s Sidney known for?” I asked airport manager, Klindt, Jr.

“Look at your mags."

I did and saw nothing unusual beyond the oil drips, until he pointed to the data plate, which included: “Made in Sidney, NY.” I’d landed at the motherland of Bendix Scintilla magnetos. The plant, closed since the 1980s in a slick business move that threw many Sidney residents out of work, still stood along the Susquehanna River … the one that flooded a few times, making it difficult to keep all those points and condensers dry. Forget the Baseball Hall of Fame, Sidney housed the Magneto Hall of, I don’t know … impulse couplers.

Sidney, New York, has one of those little airports that exceeds all expectations, especially since my hopes are simple—avgas, rest room, friendly locals willing to give me a lift into town. Gary was better than Uber and drove me the 30 miles to the wedding venue, which happened to be on his way home and included a side trip to the Klindt Family Airport in Downsville, New York. Gary’s grandfather opened the field in 1947 and until it closed in 2016, three generations of Klindts learned to fly there, Gary being the last.

America is dotted with the unmarked graves of dead air fields. Many, like Roosevelt Field on Long Island, where Lindbergh blew the world’s mind in 1927, are long dead, perhaps a plaque in a parking lot to note the murder. Klindt Field was dead but as yet unburied. Its grass runway was overgrown and staked with survey flags where solar panels would soon be installed in an effort to harvest the sun and tax credits.

We stepped from Gary’s pickup truck and walked through the tall grass, in the company of summer wind and red-wing black birds (Agelaius phoeniceus). A good mower could easily bring back the runway, and a can of LPS-3 on the hangar door hinges would have this old air field back on the sectional, where it would ... Would what? Yeah, grass runways are the backyard of my soul, but in the National Airspace scheme, it’s tough to sell romance to customers breathing kerosene and Wi-Fi. I want neither.

This dead airport was little different from hundreds of other memories I’ve explored. A few empty hangars and a lone administration building little bigger than an outhouse were the only clues that for 70 years this had been a place where humans left the planet with arrogant impunity. How I hate to see that arrogance die. Sure, there are thousands of airports with miles of paved runways, launching ambitions to heights above the tallest clouds. But, these vanishing air fields with their weathered shacks and grass-stained lore draw me like that house fly to my Citabria. Pointless but irresistible.

And about that fly? When I’d arrived at Sidney, shut down the engine and popped the door, my passenger seemed to know this was the destination in his hero’s journey. He lit through the opening with 900 miles of aviation adventure inside his flyspeck brain … and flew directly into the open beak of a passing red-winged blackbird. I only hope the irony wasn’t lost on him. Face it, had it not been for our brief ride together, I’d have been scrubbing him off my windshield.

Picture of the Week, July 5, 2018
 
 
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels fly in formation. Photo by U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Schumaker.

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More Oshkosh Events Announced
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

With EAA AirVenture around the corner, more events have been announced for this year’s get-together in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. For the first time since 2009, a Colomban Cri-Cri, the smallest twin-engine manned aircraft in the world, will be doing several performances at the OSH airshows. Team Cri-Cri’s routine involves a takeoff from the top of a moving Ford Explorer. In addition, a drone light show will be part of the night airshow, a first in North America.

EAA also says that several flying car concepts will be in attendance, including the Terrafugia Transition and the kit-built Switchblade from Samson Sky. On the vintage side, a restored 1928 Lincoln-Page LP-3—complete with its original engine and instruments—will be on display, along with a 1918 Dayton-Wright DH.4 Liberty biplane, which is expected to join EAA’s World War I commemoration.

Finally, the NTSB has announced that it will be hosting a panel discussion on causes, strategies and solutions for inflight loss of control accidents on July 24 beginning at 8:30 a.m. in Forum Building 6. The panel will include participants from the FAA, EAA, AOPA, University of North Dakota and NTSB. Accident case studies will be presented by NTSB air safety investigators and medical officers. The keynote speaker for the event will be aerobatic champion Patty Wagstaff. Attendees will be eligible for FAA WINGS credit.

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