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Monday
Aug122013

From Skies to Stars - August 2013

There is No Such Thing as a “Dumb” Question

By Ed Downs

As pilots, we have all taken folks, both adults and kids, for their first airplane ride.  We aviators hope that our “newbie” will thrill at the wonder of flight.  As a CFI who grew up in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California, the first reaction I saw was almost always, “wow, look at all the swimming pools!”  Not exactly the wonder of flight I was hoping for.

The same can be said of those who take their first look through a telescope. One would expect wonder at the size of the universe, a thrill at seeing planets “first hand,” and amazement when stars are magnified to show magnificent color differentials.  But, the actual observations of “newbies” are often quite different than one might expect. Recent events offered an opportunity to hear unexpected questions first hand. With broad media coverage of the “Super Moon” in late June, a good friend could not resist his passion for astronomy and invited this writer to attend a large family gathering, complete with great food and all the accoutrements.  The catch was, “would I bring my telescope so his family and guests could see this somewhat unusual lunar event.” Pilots and amateur astronomers have a lot of common interest, one of which is food, so it was a deal!

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Thursday
Aug082013

Joseph Flint's Rescue From Innocence

A combination of aviation thrills, ripped from the headlines intrigue and romance make for a satisfactory late summer beach read.

By S. Mark Rhodes

Author Joseph Flint is one of the most experienced flight test engineers in the world. He has tested all variety of aircraft and has now added ‘author’ to his impressive resume. (Courtesy of Joseph Flint)Joseph Flint is one of the most experienced flight test engineers in the world with more than 30 years experience testing and flying experimental aircraft all over the globe.  He has tested all variety of aircraft including the Chinook, Apache, as well as the Boeing 737, 777, 787 and 747.  To this impressive resume Mr. Flint has just added author with the recent publication of Rescue From Innocence (Xlibris Corp.), which was inspired by Mr. Flint’s own experiences working within the realm of global politics more than two decades ago.  The book reads as a satisfying thriller with some welcome romance and soap opera elements (as well as a charismatic protagonist named Walter Judge) thrown in for good measure, Mr. Flint was nice enough to check in with In Flight’s Mark Rhodes about his colorful and accomplished life and his recently published book.

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Thursday
Aug082013

Contrails: An Errant Airman

By Steve Weaver

This shot of the Beechcraft Twin Bonanza was taken at the Aurora, IL airport in 1987. (Glenn E. Chatfield)In my early days in aviation, many of the errant airmen that I happened upon were WWII vets and sometimes ex Army Air Corps flyers; as a young pilot, their age and experience seemed to me to afford them a certain license to be… well, different.

One of those types that come readily to mind would be Richard. Richard B. was the owner of a Beechcraft Twin Bonanza and he and the airplane were memorable to me, since they were the only twin/pilot combo that dared to frequent our 1,600-foot sod strip. He was from Elkins, just a few miles to the east of us and he flew the mighty Twin Bo in pursuit of his business as a lumber broker. He also flew it in pursuit of a covert heart’s interest that happened to reside in our town, hence the frequent visits by the big twin.

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Thursday
Aug082013

Editorial: All We Can Do is Rant?

By Ed Downs

The title of this month’s column is both a statement and a question. Follow along and see if you can decide which interpretation is correct.  With patient understanding from the editors and production team of In Flight USA, this writer has been waiting until the last minute, hoping for good news from AirVenture 2013 regarding the outrageous fees assessed by the FAA to support this year’s EAA program. 

Regrettably, as of the time this is being written (EAA AirVenture 2013 is underway), the fees still apply and even Congressional efforts have had little or no positive effect. 

The FAA tossed in an additional insult by officially announcing that FAA Administrator Michael Huerta was not going to attend the traditional “Meet the Administrator” event at AirVenture 2013.  Virtually all FAA activities at the program were canceled, including Wings course participations and safety seminars.  The official FAA explanation was that budget constraints prevented the FAA from attending and Administrator Huerta had previous plans made months earlier. 

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Thursday
Aug082013

What's For Breakfast?

By Dr. Susan Biegel MD, AME

Everyone has heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this is especially true for pilots. Skipping a nutritious breakfast and having only coffee and a danish is tantamount to putting water in your airplane’s fuel tank.  You depend on your airplane engine to perform well, and you should want your body and mind to be performing at top capacity as well.  After not having had any food all night, it’s time to fill up with quality fuel, not fuel that’s going to give your body a rocket burst of energy and then fizzle out like a used up firework leaving you fatigued, irritated and not thinking sharply.  Your brain and body need to be at peak performance and resilient, able to respond and think quickly.  What are some key nutritional guidelines in your operation manual to getting your day started off right?

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