By Ed Downs
Okay, not an exciting title, but give it chance. There really is a “Flying Season.” Logically, it takes place between May and October, obviously due to improved weather vacation travel. Generally, up to 70 percent of the flying hours flown during a year occur during these months, and the same percentage applies to revenues earned by aviation- related businesses. Regrettably, the NTSB and FAA also have to gear up, as accident rates increase with activity. No magic to those stats, more planes, more pilots, more accidents. So let’s see if there are any lessons from the past or new programs that might reduce this predictable trend.
The FAA came to an interesting conclusion early in this century. New technology airplanes were hitting the market, advanced GPS-based navigation systems came into play, and auto-flight control systems became increasingly sophisticated. This trend has accelerated. Many students learning to fly today begin their experience in planes like the Cirrus and new Cessna, which are fully decked out with advanced, integrated auto-flight and navigation systems.
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.
By Ed Downs
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!