The annual Helicopter Association International Heli-Expo show is one of the most enjoyable shows that I attend each year. It’s not because the show is all about helicopters, but more about the unique nature of those who have dedicated their lives to the whirlybird industry. Helicopter people are not only intensely committed to all things rotary-winged but at the same time they’re a fun-loving bunch, and this is such a small segment of the aviation industry that there are few degrees of separation between all of the participants.
Some of my favorite new and old television series are available on disc, which means they can be watched in flight. This alphabetical list of 15 recommended DVD and Blu-ray sets includes something for everyone—comedies, dramas, cop shows, even a couple of documentaries. What they have in common is quality.
I often get the feeling that general aviation is the red-headed stepchild in government’s view of the aerospace industry. With apologies to the late Rodney Dangerfield, GA seems to get no respect from the federal government. There have been three comprehensive studies on aviation in the past quarter century, and a few others on narrower topics.
I have to admit that my interest in drones–or unmanned aircraft systems, as the FAA prefers to call them–has been re-energized by my students at Vaughn College of Aeronautics. Sure, like most aviation enthusiasts, I’m interested in anything that flies and have been a model airplane fan from childhood.
There may be but a handful of vintage airport terminals left in the United States, and the very fact that some exist at all depends on some specific circumstances. Typically they are found at airports that for whatever reason could not, or did not, expand at a rate to justify destroying their original terminal and replacing it with a larger, more functional structure.
The job of an FAA inspector must be incredibly boring. I imagine them sitting at their desks all day facing down gigantic piles of paper: letters of authorization, certification compliance packages, applications for operating certificates, enforcement actions, ad infinitum. And when the poor beleaguered inspector gets one pile stamped, signed and delivered, an FAA factotum appears with a new stack and thumps it onto whatever clear space remains in the office. Every day, looking up blearily from the stacks, our overworked inspector looks fondly out the window and wonders whether she can take a few minutes away from the office to visit the airport and see if her charges are playing nice or need some friendly nudging.
Some private fliers seem to want to remain “under the radar.” They like that they can avoid interaction with the general public by leaving and arriving via inconspicuous FBOs, and they travel on unmarked jets, sometimes with the protection of NBAA’s Block Aircraft Registration Request program. The less of an impression they make on the masses the better.
Reports that the captain of the Asiana Airlines Boeing 777-200ER that crashed at San Francisco International Airport was stressed about landing at the airport without a glideslope left many of us shaking our heads.
While my primary job was to be an observer at the Avantair bankruptcy auction–which was held in a warehouse just a mile from the company’s former Clearwater (Fla.) Airport on Friday, January 10–I was also a participating bidder. Bidder number 156 to be exact.
Look, it could happen to any of us. Landing at the wrong airport is not that hard.
It happened again Sunday evening, when a Southwest Airlines 737-700 made a relatively short landing at M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport (KPLK) in Branson, Mo. (actually one mile south of downtown Branson), six miles north of the destination airport, Branson Airport (KBBG). This is the second recent wrong-airport landing by a large commercial airplane. A Boeing Dreamlifter cargo carrier operated by Atlas Air landed at the wrong airport in Wichita in November. They were headed for McConnell Air Force Base (KIAB) but landed at smaller Jabara Airport (KAAO), nine miles northeast of the intended destination.
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