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(Cover photo courtesy of Art Nall’s Aviation)

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Editorial: Cherry Picking

By Ed Downs

Did the title of this editorial get your attention? We hope so, as the real issue discussed in this article, the “State of General Aviation,” would probably have sent you into an immediate “ho-hum” status, deciding to skip the read. But hang in there! “Cherry Picking” will come into play as we take a look at what 2016 may have to offer the GA world, and you may even pull out some usable information.

It is customary for In Flight USA to take a look at our industry in the early part of each year to see how we think things are going. This writer decided to take the task seriously and looked for statistics that would give readers a real view as to what is going on in the world we love so much. But statistics are a funny thing. As one political statistician said, “tell me what you want to prove, and I will pull stats together to prove your point.” This philosophy is exactly what I ran into while dutifully looking for dull facts to present.  Regrettably, dull statistics are plentiful, perhaps too much so. But on the fortunate side of the scale, there are four sources that can help one sort through dozens of reports and forecasts.

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Legendary Author, Frederick Forsyth, Revisits His Action-Packed and Aviation- Fueled Life in The Outsider

 By Mark Rhodes

Frederick Forsyth is well known as one of the most accomplished and prolific thriller writers of the 20th century whose works have sold more than 70 million copies and been adapted into films a dozen times. This is only a part of his life’s work; his resume includes stints as a BBC correspondent (where he covered the attempted assassination of Charles de Gaulle––the core plot point of his most famous thriller (The Day of the Jackal); radio broadcaster; MI6 operative; and the youngest ever RAF pilot at 17 and a half. Suffice to say they don’t make ‘em like Mr. Forsyth anymore. 

His recently published memoir, The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue (GP Putnam’s Sons), chronicles Mr. Forsyth’s extraordinary, swashbuckling life. His tone is rakish, self- depreciating but also aware of how his luck, drive, and talents have served him well.  

Mr. Forsyth reports that he was obsessed with the idea of aviation and being an aviator since flying in the seat of a Spitfire at the age of five, and indeed the incessant need to fly consumed much of Mr. Forsyth’s youth. His accounting of his early aviation training and roguish exploits in the cockpit propel the initial chapters of the narrative. His initial success was getting placement in an RAF Flying Scholarship in the mid-50s. The idea here was a novel one; give young men interested in flying the chance to earn a private pilot’s license with the idea that they might get the flying “bug” and join up later. Mr. Forsyth paints a vivid picture of the rough-and-tumble nature of this training, including an episode where he “buzzed” his old school.  

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Skies to Stars: An Exciting Year Ahead

By Ed Downs

The Orion Nebula, photographed by Robert Fields, utilizing his private observatory in Howell Twp, MI ( At 1,400 light years from Earth and some 20 light years wide, the Orion Nebula is an area of star birthing gas and dust illuThe Orion Nebula, photographed by Robert Fields, utilizing his private observatory in Howell Twp, MI ( At 1,400 light years from Earth and some 20 light years wide, the Orion Nebula is an area of star birthing gas and dust illuminated by massive young stars less than 50,000 years old. (Robert Fields)Wow, time has flown, and this writer regrets not keeping readers up to speed in what has been taking place in the world of astronomy, astrophysics, and space travel. To put it mildly, last year, we “sky bound” pilots witnessed incredible events of discovery in our solar system and galaxy. We orbited two asteroids (have you been watching the new Sci-Fi Channel fictional series based upon asteroids Ceres and Vesta?), landed upon a comet, discovered liquid water on Mars (the movie The Martian, stressed the need for water as the key for settling Mars), landed on a comet with the Rosetta mission (looking very different than the asteroid/comet portrayed in the movie, Armageddon) and finally, have come very close to actually seeing the massive black hole at the center of our galaxy. 

The fly-by of Pluto brought new meaning to the term “buzzing,” with new photographs being released, daily, that disclose this demoted dwarf planet is far more complex than ever imagined, complete with a huge, bizarre, moon, atmosphere, and surface conditions that show us that Pluto is far from being a dead rock. In another scientific discipline, astrophysicists applied the principles of gravitational effect developed by Einstein to locate what now appears to be a massive ninth planet orbiting 20 times further from the Sun than the Earth. In years past, we looked to science to catch up with science fiction. It now seems that science is blazing a new trail for fiction writers to follow!

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