Schlagwort-Archive: Plane

Crossing Europe in a Super Cub

Source: ‚Garrett Fisher / AOPA‚.

Two planned trips fused into one when a long streak of unusually favourable weather appeared in the forecast, resulting in over 24 hours in the air, flying a Piper Super Cub from the bottom of Spain to Norway. The marathon of the flight was driven in the first instance by a plan to spend a little over two months in Norway, flying around glaciers in the summer. The Super Cub was in southern Andalusia, Spain, not far from Africa, after spending a few weeks during the spring holidays wandering around the coast. I had planned to fly the aircraft to Switzerland and then deal with getting it to Norway a month or so afterwards.

I have this image of Scandinavia, particularly the west coast of Norway, where the airplane ultimately would be headed. It was a visual of nonstop lashing rain, low clouds, intense winds, and generally vile weather, with sun three or four times a year. It is not that unfounded of a notion, as Bergen, Norway, is one of Europe’s rainiest cities, receiving almost double the precipitation of Portland, Oregon.

A heat wave was brewing in Spain, so I decided it was time to leave. What was curious was the weather forecast. It showed pleasant weather (naturally) in Spain, with VFR in France the next day. For days three and four, a strong high-pressure zone was forecast to form over Denmark, resulting in sunny skies from Belgium through the Netherlands, northern Germany, Sweden, and southern Norway. To get VFR stretching from 36 degrees to 59 degrees north latitude in Europe for four consecutive days is not something I deem common, so I was inspired to go direct to Norway.

A few fortuitous events made the trip appear to make more sense. The sellers of the Super Cub, from whom I bought it six months prior in Norway, are happy to lend hangar space while the airplane sat for a month. A mechanic I knew would be in Halmstad, Sweden, while I was passing through. It was one of my planned overnight stops, and I needed to discuss some modifications and plan the renewal of the airworthiness certificate, which must be done alongside an annual inspection. With a dose of tossing caution to the wind, I decided to make a run for it. It would be four days in the air and my longest European cross-country.

After departing Trebujena, Spain, over Seville’s control zone, the flight ventured into something visually like the American West. It is a semi-arid region with dry summers, like California. The resulting terrain looks something like one would find in southwest Montana, albeit with lower undulating mountains, many scrub pine forests, and intermittent farming. This goes on for three hours until approaching Madrid, for the first fuel stop at Casarrubios del Monte. It is worth noting that the lower airport density in Europe causes some element of anxiety. There are more airports in southwest Montana than in this stretch of Europe, though Spain is more densely populated. None of the reasonable alternates had fuel, so it required 75 per cent of my fuel capacity to get to the first refuelling point.

I visited Casarrubios in 2018 when crossing the PA–­11 Cub Special from the Pyrenees to the Portuguese coast. It is a friendly, nontowered airport with aerobatics, fuel, and good general aviation resources. After some hassle with a nonfunctional fuel pump, I was off again for my next destination: Biarritz, France.

Madrid’s control zone is not very flexible, so I had to largely go around it, heading southeast, then due east, then eventually to the northeast half an hour later, once free of airliner traffic. Temperatures at this point were in the mid-90 degrees Fahrenheit. I was closer to the ground owing to the cake overhead, though I saw some thundershowers developing in the mountains to the northeast of Madrid. Uncomfortably hot, I aimed for some precipitation, rinsing the airplane off and dropping cabin temperatures. By this point, I had climbed to 4,500 feet due to terrain while still within 1,000 feet AGL, as temps had calmed down.

Semi-arid terrain gave way to thick pine forests, which were giving off small clouds of pollen, a phenomenon I had experienced when I lived in the Pyrenees. I could smell it in the cooler and fresh air. Agriculture featured canola fields in full bloom, a display of bright yellow that I would see in great abundance along the German coast approaching Denmark two days later.

There was a concern about precipitation, as what appeared to be orographic thunderstorms started to show more alignment with a small front coming through. The showers I sought to cool me off became unavoidable as I found myself flying in the rain, wedging around them to stay VFR northeast of Soria, Spain, before crossing the ridge into the Ebro Valley.

Further south of this point, the Monegros Desert begins. I experienced a similar event in June 2018, flying east from Madrid to the Pyrenees. I went from broken clouds, humidity, and cold to summer temperatures, sunshine, and a desert within 20 minutes. While it wasn’t quite a desert, once I left the terrain between Soria and Pamplona, the sun came out, and things were clear.

I stayed at 5,000 feet as the 30-minute crossing of the lower plains featured the hills of Basque Country on the other side. There was no point descending, only to climb back up again, particularly as I was on another long leg, which would use most of my fuel. As I approached the hills north of Pamplona, the vegetation turned lusciously green. Over the first ridge, in the direction of the Bay of Biscay, it looked like East Tennessee: rolling steep Appalachian-style hills with rich, green deciduous forests.

Within 20 minutes, I was handed off to Biarritz Tower and made my approach toward the Atlantic Coast near the border. From there, the circuit calls for following the coastline for five minutes, then a one-minute final into the airport. I had landed here two months earlier on the way down to Spain. At the time, the fees were agreeable, though apparently, things changed from winter to summer, so I was handed an almost $50 landing fee invoice. While I was fine with paying it, I took issue with the fact that the FBO claims that there is no bathroom, requiring pilots to walk half a kilometre, leave the airport, clear „security,“ and walk back. Pressing the matter, I asked if the customers that come in on private jets to this FBO have to walk the same distance. The „VIP“ package includes the use of a toilet. „How much if I do not want the VIP package to urinate in the bathroom?“ „Fifty-four euros“ ($65 at the time). No amount of French I spoke, or huffing indignation, changed their minds, so I got my exercise to use the bathroom elsewhere.

Though it was approaching dinnertime, I decided to go 75 miles north, along the coast to La Teste-de-Buch, France, as Biarritz had instrument conditions the previous morning, whereas points north did not. The following morning, my supposition was correct. Biarritz had IFR, whereas it was hazy and overcast over northern Bordeaux. While I would have liked to follow the coast, it would have lengthened an already very long trip. Even still, I could not fathom drawing a line from Bordeaux to Denmark, as it would have been 1,000 miles of repetitive scenery: fields, forests, towns, and some modest hills. Call me a curmudgeon if you must, though I grew up in upstate New York, which looks somewhat similar, absent French châteaux and whatnot. I plotted a course direct northeast of Calais, France, on the English Channel.

The slog through France was uneventful. It was almost three hours to Blois for fuel due to a headwind, passing over the Loire River before landing. I landed on the grass strip, a first for this aircraft, where the Baby Bushwheel felt right at home. Another struggle with a broken fuel pump, then shy of another three hours to Calais, with a flight over the Seine and Giverny, where impressionist painter Claude Monet lived. While it sounds like a fairy tale, I prefer the coast and mountains over farmland.

Calais was an amusing experience. I had read a web of pilot reviews raving about excellent English advertised in the official Aeronautical Information Publication and somehow confused myself. Controllers speak English during the week, but the frequencies revert to French on the weekend, and also with air-to-air uncontrolled communications. French flight following handed me off to the frequency, noting it was „French only.“ I could have diverted elsewhere, though it would have been quite stressful reading AIPs and reviews to see if other airports had fuel, so I decided to dive in with my limited French. Once in the air, confirming that fuel exists at an airport and is open is rather tricky in Europe, which is very different from markings right on the sectional map, or concisely noted in the AF/D in the United States.

The first problem with Calais was figuring out which field was in use. It is a field with lots of parachute activity, so flying overhead to find out is unsafe. I asked in French about the frequency and got no reply. Since I had been facing a northeast headwind all day, I decided to land to the east and announced as such in what was ultimately poor French. The result was a quartering tailwind landing, but so be it. There was plenty of room. After taxiing off the runway, I saw three airplanes lined up to take off to the west, whose pilots all opted not to speak at all (not even in French). I later snarled to a French pilot about French rudeness, and he pointed out: „They were being quite considerate in French terms by waiting for you. Normally they would have just taken off anyway.“

The day’s last flight was along the French, Belgian, and Dutch coasts to Texel, Netherlands. I had been invited by a fellow Super Cub pilot, who is also an aerial photographer. He kindly offered lodging and to hangar the airplane for the night. It was an open question if I could make it before closing, though I was able to with an extension from the information service folks, who stayed a bit later than normal. The flight was pretty along the coasts, and exceptionally so once I got to the Dutch islands northeast of Amsterdam, which reminded me of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Dinner with the Dutch pilot was illuminating. He told me a story about photographing as a passenger in a Cessna when they were impacted into the North Sea in the fog, in controlled flight but unable to discern the water visibly. The story reads as though out of a movie: gaining consciousness seconds before submerging underwater, the seat belt not wanting to release, his life jacket getting stuck to the sinking airplane, and finally getting free. He is only alive because he was wearing the life jacket, and he had a 406-Mhz personal locator beacon around his neck before the crash. I purchased both after talking to him and began wearing them if I went anywhere near the water.

The next day was an air-to-air photography session with our respective Super Cubs, lunch after landing on the island of Ameland, Netherlands, and a leg from Ameland to Lolland-Falster, Denmark. I cruised at 2,000 feet over the German barrier islands owing to a protected area. However, I overflew what seemed like an airport on each island (where being below 2,000 feet is acceptable for takeoff and landing). That beckons a return someday to land at each one.

I crossed the top of Germany in Schleswig-Holstein, where approaching the Baltic Sea coast, I was greeted with a sea of yellow canola flowers. It was a 12-mile crossing over water, thinking about the life jacket I was not yet wearing, and then fuel at Lolland-Falster. At this point, I was tracing, in the other direction, the path I had taken out of Norway the prior autumn. There was one last two-hour leg west of Copenhagen, over the Øresund Strait, into Sweden, and along the coast, before landing at the odd closing time of 7:35 p.m.

I booked a hotel for two nights in Halmstad. By midday the next day, the fact that the mechanic was 600 miles to the north left me pondering the philosophical question of what I was doing there. He was not reliable. The weather was perfect, daylight hours long, and it was only 1 p.m. I checked out of the hotel, filed a flight plan (with waypoints every 30 minutes and more than one hour before, a lesson I learned on a previous trip, and took off for Norway).

While it was less than three hours and featured sun instead of half of it being VFR on top like last time, I found myself rather tired. It was the last three hours of a 24.4-hour adventure from the bottom of Europe to Scandinavia. I could enjoy the coast with less fear of death than when I was going the other way. This time, I understood the airplane better and had fantastic weather with beautiful scenery.

I crossed into Norway, then over the Oslofjord, which I could see this time. Last time, it was nothing but solid overcast below. Before landing at TORP Sandefjord Airport for customs, I had to hold over the stunningly beautiful coastline. That featured some waiting and then a phone call to the customs office, who said I could be on my way. I find it ironic as I was examined thoroughly on the outbound leg, where I confessed to buying the airplane and exporting cheese.

The hop to Skien was only 20 minutes. I tucked the airplane into the exact spot where I had bought it six and a half months ago. It would sit for 45 days before I would return to Norway to begin the glacier attack. While I had a sense of accomplishment due to the length of the flight, I also knew that more intense flying lay ahead than behind.

The flight covered eight countries and went from 36 to 59 degrees north latitude, the same as going from Monterey, California, to Skagway, Alaska.

Rolls-Royce tests its first hydrogen-powered plane engine

A modern plane engine has been powered by hydrogen fuel for the first time — putting the aviation industry a step closer to its goal of going green. The challenge: Aviation is responsible for 1.9% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. When you compare that to, say, ground transportation, which is responsible for 11.9%, the industry doesn’t seem like a major part of our climate crisis. However, there is a straightforward way to decarbonize ground transportation: transition to electric vehicles, while decarbonizing the electric grid. We don’t have a comparable plan for aviation.

Aviation is responsible for 1.9% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The use of sustainable aviation fuel, made from biomass, can reduce an aircraft’s emissions by as much as 80%, but it doesn’t eliminate them. Today’s batteries, meanwhile, can power small planes on short flights, but they’re too heavy for large jets or longer trips. We need to figure out some way to do better than that, though, as UN experts predict emissions from aviation could triple by 2050, due to the steady increase of passenger and freight air transport.

The idea: Hydrogen fuel is a promising alternative for the aviation industry. It provides much more power by weight than batteries, and unlike other jet fuels, it doesn’t produce any lasting greenhouse emissions when burned — the only byproduct is water. If the fuel can be made to work with existing engines, it would also avoid the need to replace aircraft or engines to mitigate emissions.

What’s new? Now, British engineering firm Rolls-Royce and the airline easyJet have demonstrated for the first time that a modern plane engine can be safely powered by hydrogen fuel. The companies’ ground test took place at the UK’s Boscombe Down military aircraft testing site, and the engine was a converted Rolls-Royce AE 2100-A turboprop, which is used to power regional aircraft. If additional tests go well, the next step will be ground testing of hydrogen fuel in a Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 jet engine, designed for business jets, before moving on to flight tests. 

The cold H2O: Hydrogen is abundant on Earth, but most of it is tied up with other elements, and the most common technique for producing pure hydrogen pulls it out of methane, releasing carbon dioxide in the process.

Alternatively, an electric current can be used to extract hydrogen from water, leaving behind only oxygen, but the process is expensive, and if the electricity is produced by fossil fuels, the climate benefits of the hydrogen fuel are minimized. Looking ahead: The electricity used to create Rolls-Royce’s hydrogen fuel came from wind and tidal power, but “green hydrogen” like that is scarce. For green hydrogen to play a significant role in aviation, we’ll need to dramatically increase the supply. Thankfully, while Rolls Royce works out the kinks of converting jet engines to run on hydrogen, others are looking for ways to scale up production, such as by using clean geothermal energy sourced from abandoned oil wells to power the process or by extracting hydrogen from saltwater at massive offshore wind farms. Source: ‚freethink.com‚.

2 Extra LX’s for Recovery Training

Oxford Saudi Flight Academy is taking Upset Prevention and Recovery Training to a whole new level with their latest acquisitions, two new Extra LXs! We look forward to seeing the next generation of pilots enjoying their training in these beautiful liveried machines! Source: ‚Walter Extra / facebook‚.

Solarstratos: Flirt with the edge of space

A plane for science
Exploring the upper atmosphere we wish to contribute primarily to the protection of our climate, this requires a better understanding of what is happening. The SolarStratos Mission will fly at an altitude little frequented in a fragile environment, propelled solely by solar energy without any pollutant emissions and will give us the possibility to make new measurements, rarely done before. The airplane has been designed by Calin Gologan and the German company Elektra Solar GmbH.

Promoting renewable energies to protect our planet’s climate
of greenhouse gases, demonstrating that concepts and projects that seemed inconceivable a short time ago are now possible with the technologies available today, which are still in their infancy, particularly in terms of solar electric aviation. SolarStratos also aims to demonstrate that with today’s technologies it is possible to achieve feats beyond the potential of fossil fuels: electric and solar vehicles are among the great challenges of the 21st century. Our aircraft, which will be able to fly in the stratosphere, opens a door to this aviation and to the mobility of tomorrow.

This journey will be possible thanks to the power of the sun
In order to limit the weight of the aircraft and make this feat possible, the aircraft will not be pressurised, forcing its pilot, Raphaël Domjan, to wear a pressurised astronaut suit, powered only by solar energy, also a world first.

A technical and human challenge
The mission will last about six hours (3 hours of ascent to get close to space, 15 minutes head in the stars, then 3 hours to come back down to earth). The aircraft and its pilot will be subjected to extreme temperatures, in the region of -70°C. Source: ‚Solarstratos‚.

The First Plane to Fly on Carbon-Free Liquid Hydrogen?

Everyone agrees that liquid hydrogen is the jet fuel of the future, at least for long-distance flights. With almost three times more energy than conventional jet fuel, a liquid hydrogen-powered aircraft can travel much longer with the same fuel—and without greenhouse gases. Longer range and zero carbon emissions are worth the tradeoff of an extra storage tank’s weight.

But actually building an aircraft that can handle those tanks has proven to be a technical challenge. One German company is pushing ahead. H2Fly has been flying a four-seat aircraft called the HY4 on a fuel cell powered by hydrogen gas since 2016. In April, the aircraft set a record for the highest zero emission flight, at 7,230 feet. H2Fly announced recently that it would be installing tanks that can handle liquid hydrogen. The switch from pressurized gas should at least double the odd-looking twin-prop’s range, from 450 to 900 miles.

“Liquid hydrogen has huge advantages over the alternative pressurized hydrogen gas, not least because it becomes possible to carry a far greater quantity on board an aircraft,” Dr. Josef Kallo, H2Fly’s co-founder and CEO, told Robb Report. “The result is significantly longer ranges.” H2Fly’s current fuel-cell system was developed in 2012, though Kallo says the components have been updated over the last 10 years. “We’re currently producing 120kW, but we’re updating the stack and with the new technology we should get to a 300kW system.”

Kallo wouldn’t share performance projections, but it’s a safe bet the new system will improve on the current version of the HY4, which has a maximum speed of 125 mph with a 90-mph cruise. Those numbers are possible thanks to an efficient twin-fuselage design that provides optimal spacing of the propellers and electric motors, which are powered by the cells and a small battery bank that offers additional power during peak loads.

“If we really want to change energy use on a global scale, we have to go with the fuel that provides the most efficient way of creating power, and that is definitely hydrogen,” Kallo said. “No other process comes close.” The company has entered into a partnership with Deutsche Aircraft to develop a fuel-cell powered aircraft that will hold up to 40 passengers, with a range of 1,200 miles. Like the HY4, it will tap into liquid hydrogen. H2Fly isn’t the only manufacturer working on an experimental liquid hydrogen aircraft.

In 2020, Airbus presented three ZEROe hydrogen-fueled concepts that it says will go into commercial service by 2035. Cranfield Aerospace Solutions announced that its Project Fresson was switching from batteries to hydrogen gas power. It will have a nine-passenger aircraft that is scheduled for a demo flight next month. ZeroAvia said it’s developing an aircraft with a fuel-cell powertrain that will fly 20 passengers 350 nautical miles. Tests could begin next year, with entry into commercial service as early as 2027. Last March, FlyZero also detailed three concept aircraft that will fly on hydrogen. Testing on the liquid-hydrogen-powered HY4 is expected to begin early next year. Source: ‚RobReport.com‚.

Crossing the country solo, but not alone

“I need someone to fly my Super Cub from Frederick to Bozeman. Will you do it?” AOPA Air Safety Institute Senior Vice President Richard McSpadden’s question seemed too good to be true. You’re asking me to fly your pristine and beautiful airplane almost all the way across the country? Sign me up. On a calm June morning a few months later, McSpadden handed me the keys to N517WC and a tote of snacks his wife, Judy, had thoughtfully packed, wished me well, and I departed Frederick to the west. My plan was to fly to Wisconsin on day one if the weather cooperated and say hello to some of my favourite aviators at Middleton Municipal Airport (C29), then fly on to Mitchell, South Dakota, to join the annual Ladies Love Taildraggers fly-out. From there I’d fly to Rapid City, South Dakota, with the group, then alone to Bozeman, Montana. The more than 1,500-nautical-mile trip would take 20-plus hours at an ambitiously planned 100 mph.

On my way
The air was smooth and cool over the bemisted Blue Ridge Mountains, and I watched morning fog laze through the valleys and burn off as I approached the rolling hills of eastern Ohio. I crossed tortilla-flat farmland into Indiana and made my first fuel stop. I’d expected headwinds but was gifted a tailwind. Jeff Russell, genuine Piper Super Cub pilot extraordinaire and one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, had offered to let me keep 7WC in his hangar at Middleton. I let him know I’d be earlier than expected, and he texted me his hangar number and told me I was welcome to anything in his fridge.

After fuel stop number two, I modified my route to fly east of Chicago instead of skirting the Class Bravo to the west as planned. I’d always wanted to do the skyline flight, and with the help of that tailwind, I had daylight to burn. A CFI friend in Chicago gave me the lowdown on altitudes, and I reviewed Editor Kollin Stagnito’s account of flying the Chicago skyline (“City with a View,” March 2021 AOPA Pilot) and set off.

Folks typically fly the route from north to south. You can do it without talking to anyone, but since it was new to me and against the known flow of traffic (and a good idea), I opted to call up Chicago for flight following. I’d fly a little higher than the southbound traffic, and farther offshore. It was just gorgeous. The visibility, which had been hazy over most of Indiana, cleared up. Lake Michigan turned Caribbean-colored blues, and the skyscrapers bloomed out from the parkland greens along the lakeshore.

Once north of the city, I turned direct to Middleton. After a long day on an unfamiliar route, with only new airports and unfamiliar faces, I had a feeling of coming home once I had Morey Field insight. I’d visited in summer 2019 before heading up to OSH, missed out on summer 2020 after the cancellation of AirVenture, and was thrilled to be back at C29. I landed in the grass (as a Super Cub should), taxied in, and turned the corner to Russell’s row, only to find the door already open and Russell waiting for me. Russell and another C29 local, Gary, helped me push the airplane in. Turns out he’d been tracking my N number and knew right when I’d arrive. While washing off a day of bugs, I told Russell about my planned route, and he gave me words of flying wisdom. “You can’t fly direct in a Super Cub,” Russell told me. “That’s not what they’re made for. Fly high enough to be respectful and safe, but low enough to see the folks waving up at you. And have fun!”

Flight of six
Since I’d made such a good time on day one, I was able to stay in Middleton for a few extra nights before I needed to be in Mitchell for the fly-out. On one evening, the weather was far too perfect to stay earthbound. With a few texts, we assembled a small fleet—Jim Stevenson and his Cessna 170B, Ross Wilke and his Husky A1–B, Joe McDonough with his Mackey Backcountry Super Cub Rev 3, Joel Wyttenbach and his Cessna 172, and Russell and his Super Cub. We visited a few beginner side-country strips—two charted and one that was not. The charted strips weren’t particularly challenging, but it was all new to me, and I was grateful for the careful coaching from the group. The uncharted strip was Mike Kindschi’s, and that landing was a real full-circle moment; it’s where my love for the area started back when the Air Safety Institute’s Kurt Sensenbrenner and I visited Wisconsin in July 2019 to film Beyond Proficient: STOL Goal. Running out of daylight, we departed Kindschi’s strip as the sun set, the nearby Wisconsin River a glassy mirror of the flame-bright sky. So this, I thought, is what it feels like to own an airplane.

Into the West
The morning I intended to depart, I woke to unforecast rain. Headwinds of more than 35 knots, wind shear, and haze are not ideal conditions. There would be no flying that day. One sunrise later was a marginal, yet good enough, improvement in the weather, and a significant improvement in the company. With a new departure day on Saturday, Wilke had offered to escort me to my fuel stop, Blue Earth Municipal Airport (SBU). With a long day ahead and thankful for summer light, we were wheels up by 6 a.m. We let the river guide us to the mighty Mississippi River and passed over the farm fields of Iowa. Near Waukon, Iowa, Wilke said, “Oh hey I’ve actually been here.” I looked down to see a figure in a bright red shirt in a lush garden waving emphatically up at us. I waved my wings and couldn’t stop smiling—I had wondered if I’d actually see anyone waving at me, but Russell was right.

Ladies Love Taildraggers
I crossed into the South Dakota plains alone. The wind wasn’t finished with me yet, battled headwinds and midday turbulence to the fly-in at Mitchell. I taxied to Wright Brothers Aviation where an impressive array of taildraggers was already on the line—a Cessna 170, a Cessna 195, and a Decathlon to name a few—all securely tied down to contend with the South Dakota wind. All the airplanes were worth drooling over and most had a pair of stilettos in front of them, the Ladies Love Taildraggers (LLT) calling card. The folks at the FBO whisked 7WC away and I had just a few minutes inside to make introductions and proudly confirm that yes, I had flown that beautiful Super Cub in before we loaded up into two vans on our way to explore Mitchell. It had already been a long day of six-plus hours of bumpy, hot, gusty flying and I felt a little behind the curve while I lined up for a van. It seemed I was the only one who had come solo. I eyed the groups of old friends choosing seats together and was grateful when a pilot about my age came up and introduced herself. Laura Doornbos of Bloomington, Illinois, had flown in with her father, Keith, in the gorgeous 170 I’d admired earlier. She made sure I had a seat in the van with her and her dad, and we set off, chatting about our journeys so far.

We were taken to an archaeological site, and then to the one-of-a-kind icon of South Dakota—the World’s Only Corn Palace. That evening over dinner, and in between getting-to-know-you conversations and hangar flying stories, we discussed tomorrow’s forecast—winds gusting well into the forties almost all day. Even if you’ve never flown a taildragger before, you probably know that the wind is typically a greater factor in a go/no-go decision than with nosewheels. Judy Birchler, the organizer of the event and founder of LLT, stressed that there was no pressure to push our limits and reminded us that we were each our own pilot in command. When the sun rose, the wind was already howling. We shuttled over to the airport and began the long, somewhat frustrating process of waiting out the weather. Not only was the wind hellacious at Mitchell, it was also severe at our destination, Rapid City. I was unwilling to launch until the wind was better in both spots. As the day progressed and the winds lessened slightly, some felt comfortable to depart. But Keith made a good point: “It isn’t an emergency, is it? I’m perfectly happy to stay in Mitchell another night if we have to.” There was no need to push it. At long last, the weather improved, and we finally launched to the west. The three-hour leg felt easy compared to other days, and I made it to Rapid City as the last rays of light slipped behind the Black Hills.

Exploring
The Ladies Love Taildraggers squad spent the following morning driving the winding roads of Badlands National Park. Lunch was a feast of fry bread and ended with souvenir shopping before a stop at Wall Drug on our way back to Rapid City. Wall Drug—which I had somehow managed to live my whole life without hearing about—is a historic wonderland of kitsch, much more than just a roadside drug store (though it does still have a small pharmacy). That night in town, a group of us went to the old fire station for dinner. The others planned for the next day’s trip to Spearfish, and I said my goodbyes—tomorrow, I’d fly on to Bozeman solo, or as far as I could make it. Keith and Laura offered to help push the airplane out of its sloped, grassy parking spot. They made my morning a whole lot easier. Since I’d miss out on the drive the ladies would take the following day to Mount Rushmore, I decided to fly by on my way to my fuel stop, Sheridan, Wyoming. Helicopter pilots chattered to each other on the charted frequency. I could tell by their quick back and forth that they did this all day every day. I gave a basic position report, adding that if my altitude interfered with tours to let me know. One of the tour pilots let me know my altitude was just fine and thanked me for calling—most transient traffic, he said, didn’t call. As I departed toward Spearfish and Sturgis, waypoints on my way around the Black Hills, I marvelled at the terrain. These western hills would’ve been eastern mountains. Spearfish looked like an aviator’s haven, with multiple grass runways tucked away in the hills. Sturgis was surprisingly tiny and I wondered where all those motorcycles park every summer.

Last legs
On my way to Sheridan, the true Rocky West began. From miles out, I could see the towering, snowcapped Bighorn Mountains. I landed and checked the weather. The forecast had changed, and the radar now showed a thin but growing line of convection directly between me and Bozeman. I was only two hours away from my destination, but the risk wasn’t worth it. Thankfully, the weather the following morning was just as perfect as forecast. The familiarity of the route, plus the comfort and affection I’d grown for the airplane over the many hours of our trip, made that final leg even sweeter. These were my old stomping grounds, and where I’d earned my instrument, commercial, multi, and CFI certificates. I said hello to my old friend the Bighorn Canyon and climbed abeam the deep green Pryor Mountains. I kept climbing to give myself some more security near the mountains and headed directly toward Livingston and the Bozeman Pass. Mountain passes can present a bit of an X factor. On a calm day similar to this one during training, my instructor and I had approached the pass only to be met with a textbook downdraft. With full power at VY and still descending, we turned around and headed back toward Billings. Remembering that, I approached the pass, hypervigilant of any changes in the wind and ready to turn around if needed. Before I knew it, Bozeman tower cleared me to land, I touched down in the grass and taxied in for a post-trip oil change. Minutes after shutdown, I handed the keys over to McSpadden, and my little companion was whisked away into the hangar at its new summer home. My job was done.

Time to spare
The next day, feeling grateful after 24.7 hours and a couple of thousand photos, I flew home to Los Angeles via the airlines. I learned so much from this trip. I do, I confirmed, want to own my own airplane one day. I want adventures like this to be part of my normal life. I learned for myself something I’d already suspected and been told—flying with friends is better than flying alone. Last, I was reminded on every leg just how fortunate we are to live in a place where a trip like this is possible. From one coast through the heartland, across the Mississippi, to the mountains, this country is extraordinarily diverse. So, what are you waiting for? Take the long and winding road. Go fly. Source: ‚Alicia Herron on the AOPA website‚.

Flight Shame in Great Barrington

Thirty years ago I was living on the Red Sea coast on the Egypt-Sudan border in an area where there were no roads. Nomadic tribesmen went down to the sea to fish and sometimes found the shore covered with plastic that drifted in on the waves. Plastic bags filled with air and skittered away over the landscape making circles in the desert wind. I think of those plastic bags when I see the small planes coming over the wooded ridges around the old farmhouse where I live in rural New York state. Since the pandemic began, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people going up in small planes. These are coming from an airfield in Great Barrington, Mass., where the newspapers reports town hall meetings packed with local residents shouting at the owners of the Barrington airfield about the squalid atmosphere of noise pollution and intrusion — the general degradation of conditions of life they impose on the people below.

Small planes fly low above the ground. They are the only vehicles in the United States that still use leaded gasoline. Studies from the Harvard Medical School and elsewhere link air traffic noise to the onset of heart disease and stroke. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the airfield has come up with a noise mitigation strategy: Tell the pilots to fly across the border into New York state. The damage done to daily life by an airfield of this kind stands in sharp contrast to the trivial nature of who the pilots are and what they are doing. A glance at FlightAware shows that in Barrington these people, who teach or have taken up aviation as a hobby, fly around in circles pouring noise and toxic emissions on the landscape and the people who live there. The Massachusetts pilots use local New York state farms for practice, circling the fields with the farmhouse as the target in the middle. The supervisor of the Town of Austerlitz sums up the situation: “This is obviously deliberate harassment, but the pilots tell me they can do whatever they want.”

Small planes are unmonitored. They do not need to use tracking devices. They can “request invisibility.” The pilots of small planes are not supposed to fly below 500 feet, but as their transponders are easily turned off, the FAA cannot track their altitude. If an amateur pilot plays at flying “below the radar” low above the ground, who can stop them? At least Jetskis are confined to shorelines and motorcycles by roadways. They cannot circle houses revving their engines. But small planes buzz houses for fun. Last summer careening small planes killed a woman on a riding mower and hit a woman in a kayak. In recent years an 87-year-old man crashed not far from here in Ghent, a 17-year-old girl crashed in Millbrook, and an amateur pilot flew into a house in Lagrangeville, setting it on fire and killing the residents inside.

It is time for the FAA to draft new regulations that prioritize the health and safety of people on the ground. The FAA needs to insist that recreational planes fly at an altitude high enough to muffle the engine noise, that they are tracked and monitored, and that they are not used in a manner that endangers public welfare, whether by dangerous proximity to people and houses, or noise pollution that poses a threat to health and well-being. Currently, the FAA seems to restrict its focus solely to the pilots and their machines. There needs to be broader attention paid to the effect that small planes have on the environment, and on the people who live in it. Small planes are not harmless. And experience has taught those who live near private airfields that we cannot rely on the manners, skill, or sense of responsibility of the pilots. Scaling back commercial aviation has long been a primary topic in the discussion of mitigating climate change. The Flight Shame movement already considers flights under 200 miles unnecessary and environmentally indefensible. Last year, France moved to ban short-haul domestic flights.

Small planes need to be part of this discussion. They have a particularly disproportionate effect as polluters of the environment, and while they are an amusement and convenience to pilots passing through—or over—that comes the expense of people who have given their lives to the place they live in. The romance of Lindbergh’s solo flight gave way in a mere few decades to Lindbergh’s recognition that aviation would become a blight on the world. Though other aspects of his career remain problematic, he spent the last years of his life fighting for conservation. The answer to climate change does not lie in pursuing escapist fantasies in the air, but in taking responsibility for where you are, for the ground under your feet. Source: ‚Susan Brind Morrow in The Nation‚.

Flight Design F2 EASA CS-23 certified

Flight Design general aviation announced December 8th, that the F2 is an EASA CS-23 certified aircraft. The F2-CS23 is a modern 2-seat aircraft featuring many completely new design concepts. With high performance, unmatched efficiency and comfort, the F2 CS23 brings a familiar automotive feel and simplified operation to private owners and flight schools. “We couldn’t be happier to see this important step for the F2 program which ultimately will lead to the F4 four-seat version and the all-electric F2e,” said Matthias Betsch, Head of the FLIGHT DESIGN, Design Organization, creator of the F Series and many of its advanced concepts.

The F2-CS23 is the next step in FLIGHT DESIGN’s ‘Vision Zero’ concept which incorporates all commercially available safety features appropriate for this type of aircraft. These features include a passive stall and spin resistant airframe design, airframe emergency parachute system, AMSAFE airbags and inertial reel harnesses, Garmin ESP (electronic stability and envelope protection), a strong occupant-protective enclosure for the pilot and passengers, automatic fuel management, simplified controls such as a combined throttle and brake lever and a more modern, car-like atmosphere and operation.

“We are very pleased to see the F2 EASA CS-23 certified said FLIGHT DESIGN general aviation CEO Daniel Guenther, this is an important milestone for our business and a tribute to the hard work by the F2 design team and our different businesses within FLIGHT DESIGN general aviation.” The F2-CS23 comes with an impressive list of standard features such as an all Garmin G3X avionics suite, 2 axis autopilot, Rotax 912iS fuel-injected 100HP engine with a DUC certified propeller, Beringer wheels and brakes, perforated leather seats, heat exchanger heating system and Whelen lighting.

“The EASA CS-23 category is an internationally recognized certification standard which will allow the new F2-CS23 to be easily accepted in all markets worldwide,” said Dieter Koehler, Head of Design for F2 and F4 projects. “The international design team of the F2-CS23 brought a tremendous amount of talent into this program and the EASA Type Certificate is well deserved.” FLIGHT DESIGN sees the F2-CS23 as an excellent choice for Flight schools with its wide and easy-to-enter cockpit, fuel efficiency, unique safety features and state-of-the-art avionics suite. All new FLIGHT DESIGN aircraft come with carbon compensation up to TBO under FLIGHT DESIGN’s pro-climate plan. The F2-CS23 follows the F2-LSA which began deliveries earlier this year.

Wingwalker plane crashes in Poole Harbour

Eyewitnesses say it was a „miracle“ no one was seriously injured after a wing walker biplane crashed in Poole Harbour, just feet from numerous pleasure craft. The aircraft, part of the Aerosuperbatics display team, had been thrilling the crowds at the Bournemouth Air Festival just minutes earlier. Both of the people on board, the pilot and the wing walker, were rescued safely. Source: ‚BournemouthEcho.co.uk‚.

Promo video of the Pipistrel Panthera

A video that tells the story of the flying beauty of the Pipistrel Panthera from her birth at the Pipistrel production facility all the way to her sunlit cruise flights over the Bay of Piran – and wider, all over the world. Source: ‚Pipistrel‚.

DA62 SurveyStar exceeds all expectations

Expectations were high and so was the pressure, after the glorious roll-out of the new DA62 SurveyStar. The entire Aerial Survey Industry was having an eye on the first steps of the DA62 SurveyStar.

Meanwhile the first aircraft has accomplished well over 100 mission hours with GeoFly and has already proven its efficiency and versatility. In fact, the aircraft is outperforming all expectations and has marked a couple of cornerstones worth to highlight:

  • Endurance: Equipped in the multi-sensor setup including the Riegl VQ-780i and the Vexcel Ultra cam Eagle M3, an endurance of 7:17 hours was achieved with fuel remaining for almost two more hours, resulting in a max total endurance of 8:20 hours + 0:45 hours of reserve.
  • Autonomy: With the help of the three-axis digital autopilot and a special procedure (see below) the aircraft is able to fly survey missions almost fully autonomously; thus even ultra-long missions become less exhausting for the crew.
  • Efficiency: Due to the extremely low fuel burn of the jet-fuel engines, efficiency is that good, that the aircraft can even compete with turbine-powered aircraft in high and fast missions, assuming your acquisition window (weather/atc, etc.) big enough. However, the flight takes longer due to lower speeds, the cost below the line are way cheaper when compared with classical turbo-prop aircraft.
  • Versatility: In light of the above, GeoFly already ordered the integration of its Vexcel Ultra cam Osprey series, including the new 4.1 on the DA62 SurveyStar, which is usually used on turbo-prop aircraft.

Garmin G1000 flight line loading:
Loading the photo-mission flight lines into the Garmin G1000 is done by converting latitude and longitude points of project-specific files and constructed them into a Garmin „.fpl“ file. The information is gathered from the Aerial Flight Management software used by GeoFly, and thereafter converted to a „.fpl“ file after setting the parameters required by the equipment or higher (e.g., such as starting line number, turn bearing offset, and offset distance). The „.fpl“ file is thereafter loaded into the MFD via Bluetooth using Garmin Flight Stream, or through an SD card and loaded in as any other flight plan.

The IGI CCNS5 used on this particular flight uses a 1 nautical mile extension of the line for the establishment and to enable recording and mount movement prior to line start. Therefore, in this particular project, the waypoints „A“ (Start of the line) to point „B“ (End of the line) were calculated with 1 additional nautical mile. For turns, the same principle is used with an estimated spacing distance and bearing offset to allow the aircraft to make the turn on its own. Due to unknown actual head-, tail- or crosswind, some manual overrides were required in the turns. Source: ‚Diamond website‚.

Small plane stolen and flown away

The FBI and local police are investigating after a small plane belonging to the chairman of the Nashville Airport Authority was stolen. CSB affiliate WTVF reports the Cessna 172 was taken and flown away from John C. Tune Airport in Nashville. The incident unfolded over the weekend at the airport, the station reported. The plane belongs to Bobby Joslin, chairman of the Metro-Nashville Authority Airport Board of Commissioners. According to a statement form the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority, „Joslin reported that when he arrived at JWN [John C. Tune Airport] on Sunday morning to take his plane out of its hanger, he discovered the plane was missing and notified JWN management. The incident was then reported to Nashville International Airport’s Department of Public Safety, which arrived on the scene to begin the investigation.“ The airport said Metro Police, the FBI, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have also been notified. Joslin told WTVF he believes someone moved the plane to the tarmac, started the engine and then took off. The thief escaped undetected by flying under 400 feet to avoid radar, WTVF’s Nick Beres reported. Metro Nashville police and the FBI are on the case. Quelle: ‚CBSnews.com‚.