Cradle of Aviation Needs Your Help

cradle.jpg "Long Island, NY is justly proud of its aviation heritage" says Aero-News Network. "It is the place from where Charles Lindbergh took off in the Spirit of St. Louis, and the Long Island-built lunar excursion module, Eagle, landed Neil Armstrong on the moon. Grumman Corporation (called the ‘iron works’ because of their rugged heavy-duty designs) built well-loved fighters for the Navy from the Wildcat to the Tomcat. So it seemed perfectly reasonable to open a full-sized flight museum called the Cradle of Aviation."

In development for 33 yeras, the museum has been in operation since 2002. It is now considered by many aviation enthusiasts to be one of the finest aviation museums in the nation.

However, visits to the museum have not been what they hoped, and financing is now a problem. But local politician Thomas Suozzi has taken on the case. He’s looking for 10 donors to serve on the museum board and contribute a hundred-thousand dollars each, and for other "super donors "that wouldn’t serve, but would contribute another million combined. Hes already lined up five board members, two of whom have agreed to donate their hundred thousand immediately to keep the museum’s doors open in the short term.

For more information, visit the Cradle of Aviation Website.

Restrictions Lifted for Commercial Travel

In what is sure to be a relief to commercial travelers, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will be easing the ban on carrying liquids and gels in carry-on bags into airline flights.

EARTHtimes.org reports that, "The Transportation Security Administration said that as of now they would be allowing passengers to carry travel-size toiletries with a maximum capacity of 3 ounces (90 ml) and in a small clear-plastic bag. Passengers can also carry drinks bottles and other items that have been purchased from the airport."

For an audio report, listen to Air Travel Restrictions on Liquids Set to Ease at NPR.org.

Understanding Human Error Key to Crash Probes

The Associated Press reports in "Experts study human errors in air crashes" that "experts who study airplane accidents say the errors that lead to crashes are similar to the everyday mistakes people make, akin to locking keys in the car or forgetting an item on a grocery list."

Jim Hall, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, believes the recent Comair crash is an example. "There are just so many basic things that appear, on the surface, not to have been properly followed," Hall said. "Almost every safety net that was in place was blown through."

The article reports that to figure out what went wrong, human-factors investigators will want to know the basics, such as what the pilots were talking about in the cockpit, along with when the pilots went to bed, how they slept, what they ate and drank and if they were having difficulties at home.

New York to LA in Two Hours

NewSunset.jpgA new generation of supersonic private jets is upon us, as reported in Wired News’ New York to L.A. in Two Hours

These sleek new jets are aimed at business executives and diplomats. Known as QSST (Quiet Super Sonic Travel), the jets will fly at nearly twice the speed of conventional business jets and have a range of 4,600 miles nonstop — Los Angeles to New York in just over two hours.

Using modern computer-aided design software to model quieter "boom reshaping" techniques pioneered by military test fighters, Supersonic Aerospace Internation, LLC, hopes to use the smaller craft to fill a gap left by the collapse of the Concorde‘s service following a fatal 2003 crash in Paris.

New Hangars Being Built Across U.S.

In what is surely a good sign for the aviation business, newspapers around the country are reporting improvements in local airports, including the addition of new hangars for private and commercial aircraft.

Cited as reasons for the expansion in these articles are: demand for charter and corporate flights, ease of access at smaller airports, increased demand for aircraft storage, and the desire to improve local economies.

All with the result that there will be more options than ever for private aviators to travel throughout the U.S.  

Fractional Ownership Hits Hollywood

ny_jets480.jpg

Even the highest rollers in Hollywood don’t always want to own and maintain their own jets. But they still need to get where they want to go when they want to go there.

Enter Blue Star Jets, with the motto, "Any Jet. Any Time. Any Place."

"When called upon, Blue Star agents work the phones to find available jets at the best prices — all the while boasting a four-hour response time. Blue Star members pay for flight time in advance using a debit-card setup, and infrequent travelers may pay per excursion," says The Hollywood Reporter in a recent report.

The Quickest Way to the Clouds: Sport Pilot

"Whether you’re completely new to aviation or have flown aircraft before, Sport Pilot is the new way to fly that is easier, more affordable, safe, and loads of FUN! Sport Pilot enables enthusiasts to learn to fly and gain access to aircraft in half the time and for half the cost of previous alternatives. So, climb aboard, take the controls, and launch new adventures in recreational aviation today!" (from the Sport Pilot website.)

For the fastest way to get up in the air, check out Sport Pilot from EAA. Aero-News.Net reporter Annette Kurman tried one out, and gives her thumbs up in a two-part report. 

 

NexRad Pleasures

from guest blogger Thomas Hoving

I am seventy-five years of age and got my private in 1985 when I was fifty four. I have single engine land instrument and commercial ratings and have logged over 5700 hours since 1985 with 2500 in actual IFR. For the past twelve years I have owned a 1979 Cessna 182 RG Turbo with Robertson STOL. I built a Falcon XP kit plane and flew it for 16 years and have also owned a Piper cub and a Husky.

I fly an average of 300 hours a year all over the nation and to places like Belize, Anguilla, the Caymans and the Bahamas. I am a writer and travel across the country plugging my books. Since 9-11 I have never taken a domestic commercial carrier.

I wouldn’t fly without NexRad. I shake my head wondering how I managed through all that scag and around those enveloping t-storms or avoiding Convective Sigmets before the happy advent of NexRad. I remember vividly trying to draw where some Convective Sigmet was out near Dubuque with the plane bucking five hundred feet up and down while the 122.00 recording intoned, "From 40 miles south of BAR to thirty-five miles northwest of GRD, to . . . " Having no idea where those VORs were – being weather stations. Fearful, too, of blundering into the core of the Sigmet. Sure, I had one of those primitive 3M Storm Scopes, but I never knew if the storms were sneaking up behind me.

I started with Low Earth Orbiting weather when the system was first introduced six years or so ago. I switched out of that slow-as-molasses rig as soon as Airgator-Navair advertised a turn-key PDA operation. I flew for two years using Airgator-Navair’s iPaq PDA and navigated my way around plenty of dangerous cells. Once the controllers heard I wanted an amendment to this or that intersection and must be doing it to avoid cells, they’d ask me what I had. When they found out, they’d ask me if it was okay to vector me to a certain area to check out a clear route for commercial jets. I could tell them the width of the hole and the speed and direction of the cells. I got a kick when I heard one Continental heavy growl to the controller, "You mean I’m getting this from a Cessna?" I kept quiet.

A couple of summers ago in Iowa I asked Center to let me go left and then more left and then right and then left again as I wended my way twenty-five miles from several red-purplish cells (meaning possible tornados.) When I was clear, the controller said, "We just had a vote here in Center." I was confused – was this some nutty Iowa political caucus and, if so, what did it have to do with me? He clarified the statement by saying, "A vote, that is, on what weather equipment you have." When I told him, he said, "We figured."

I have tried several larger Navair-Airgator computers after the PDA, which I still keep as a complete back-up with current approach plates and enroute data. One was a Motion tablet with Windows XP. I would not recommend it because above 10,000 feet it turns off – the air is too thin for the cooling motors.

I now have a solid state NavPad computer which is not affected by altitude. It has a 5" by 6" screen and comes loaded with Windows XP.

The internal hard disk is only 4 Gigs but the machine takes a standard flash disk and I find that a 2 Gig disk handles everything I need (even a 450-page book I’m now writing.) Sandisk now offers a 8 Gig flashdisk.

Navair-Airgator supplies me the following: the NavPad computer with a keyboard, an XM satellite receiver, a GPS (which is so sensitive it will get seven satellites if you put it under the plane’s seat – or almost), a power source for 12 or 28 volts which runs everything on the plane from the cigarette lighter (Bluetooth is also there and the GPS has an 8-hour battery) and a nifty 4-hour battery for the XM satellite receiver. The latter is key, for you can receive all weather data while you’re packing the plane and doing the pre-fight. The NavPad comes loaded with a small-footprint virus detector which is free, has frequent automatic updates and which has never been hacked since it covers such a tiny segment of the market.

I subscribe to the top XM pilot weather, the full USA approach plate up-dates and Navair software package which comes every 28 days.

Navair AirgatorNavair-Airgator has a website from which I download all updates. You won’t forget because they send you an email reminder a day or two before the new data. That web site, which shows all the gear and prices, is: www.flynavair.com and the phone number is 914-666-5656. Amir Tirosch is the boss and he knows everything. Technical assistance is excellent and Matt Leonard will straighten out most glitches.

I use my NavPad as my kneeboard flight director. It has PhatPad (so I can use the stylus to write my clearances,) approach plates and a moving map with full weather programs. The XM weather is superior, including frontal systems and something called SCITS which shows the location, direction and speed of impending bad weather. Radar-Clouds and Cloud-Tops are useful. I find the METARS exceptionally valuable. I get the METARS on the back side of a frontal system I’m flying through to be sure of the conditions.

Recently I flew a Cessna 172 from East Hampton to Myrtle Beach, SC and we had my NavPad and a Garmin 396 on board. We had to navigate around several tough cells and then land long before our destination because of a Convective Sigmet. The pilot in command prefers the Garmin 396 because its small and portable and he can take it into a hotel and see what gives before taking off.

But on our flight he asked me several times if I could show him the NavPad weather closing in on us because of the large screen and the ability to scroll rapidly with the stylus. To me the NavPad was clearly the better system. Plus, I can’t write the next chapter of my new book – or these comments – on a Garmin 396. As for using the Garmen 396, in a hotel, I far prefer my AOPA Real-Time Flight Planner with weather overlay. I get it on my NavPad and can see all weather en route, all fixes and airports in Jeppeson charts and I can file, too.

NexRad got me into, not OUT of trouble once. I was flying from Chicago to Poughkeepsie and had to divert to Maryland and then proceed north because of a fast-moving West-East killer front with tornados inside it. I was some hundred miles from my destination at 11 thousand when I saw the symbol on NexRad that I thought meant an old lightning strike within light rain. I asked for 7,000 and when I got to the old strike, BLAMMO! I was hit by lightning. Blinded. Totally. A "Snow storm" of everything not tied down in the cockpit and back seat – more freaking kids’ water bottles than I knew existed. Then, SLAM! straight up for a good five hundred feet.

I groped for the Nearest button on my Garmin 430 and manufactured my voice into a casual, fear-free heavy-jockey’s drawl, and asked for an amendment to East Stroudsberg. Landed. Searched for the strike scar. Nothing. A few days later we found the needle-point pin prick on top of the cockpit. Oddly, I lost no avionics.

When I got home I read the NexRad manual and learned that what I thought was an old strike was one likely to happen.

Moral: read the manual, dummy.

Thomas Hoving

Introducing Our Guest Blogger – Thomas Hoving

Thomas Hoving has joined the SkyGeek blog. Tom is well known as the former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City from 1967 to 1977. During his tenure, he renovated more than 50 galleries, created the museum’s architectural master plan, and doubled the size of the museum from seven to 14 acres, constructing five wings and the monumental 5th Avenue stairs, parks, and fountains.

What’s more important, Tom is a passionate pilot with lot’s of personal knowledge and experience. Tom will be providing his reports and insights on an irregular basis to the SkyGeek community.

Continue reading

New Aviation Harness for Youngsters

cares.jpg Tired of lugging that child seat onto the plane?

AP reports (as republished on courant.com) that the FAA has approved the first harness-type child safety device for sale to consumers for use on commercial airline flights.

CARES, or Child Aviation REStraint system, is the world’s first alternative to a car seat certified for use in airplanes for children between 20-44 lbs. The belt-and=buckle device is specifically designed for aviation use. It weighs one pound and fits into a 6” stuff sack, making it portable, simple to install, adjustable to virtually any size airplane seat, and usable in any seat in an airplane except for exit rows. The child sits in the airplane seat while CARES is being installed. 

CARES has been in the works for about seven years, which included the last four spent navigating the FAA’s approval process, said Louise Stoll, the product’s founder and an assistant secretary of the Department of Transportation during the Clinton Administration.