Opinion & Commentary (155)

Heading Bug: The Case of the Ride-Sharing Foolishness

October 2014- A contrarian rescued from crotchetiness is still a contrarian. I sometimes think I have a love–hate relationship with General Aviation. Eventually that may turn true about just about anything we feel passionate about—whether it's sailing, baseball, or aviation—and the people we come in contact with from airport to FBO to airshow. After a while, unless we're careful, a sense of "been there, done that, got the T-shirt" jadedness can overcome even the most passionate participant in something that has long given joy.
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AirPooler FAA Interpretation

Dear Ms. MacPherson, This letter responds to your request for legal interpretation sent to my office on May 19, 2014, on behalf of your client, AirPooler, Inc. As set forth in the request for legal interpretation, you have described AirPooler as "a peer-to-peer general aviation flight sharing company that has developed an interest-based discovery platform that allows private pilots to offer available space on flights that they are intending to take."
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Leading Edge: Personal Locator Beacons

September 2014- Five-and-a-half years ago, Search and Rescue Satellite (SARSAT) monitoring of the 121.5 MHz and 243 MHz emergency frequencies ceased. Citing statistics that indicated many more false alarms than actual emergencies, the international consortium that administers the global network of search and rescue programs called for mandatory conversion to a new system operating on 406 MHz beginning Feb. 1, 2009.
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Full Circle: Thunderstorm Teacher

September 2014- I'm writing this at the very beginning of this year's thunderstorm season while I'm conducting a pseudo-class on that very subject for a young pilot acquaintance. Today, we are having our classroom experience at the best possible place for dealing with thunderstorms: on the front porch of my Florida ranch. I have an adult beverage in one hand while I gesture with the other hand toward a line of thunderstorms approaching us from the southwest.
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The Friendly Skies

September 2014- If there is one constant that runs through the souls of all aviators and aviation enthusiasts, it's that we love to talk about flying any chance we get. Of course, much of that talk is out at the airport with others in the aviation family.We all strive to engage the non-flying public and tell them all the great things about flying private airplanes. To get their attention, though, we need to be creative. We have to find innovative ways to stand out so we can have the opportunity to give anyone who will listen our "elevator speech" about our wonderful GA world. If you want to find someone who has created a fun way to engage the non-flying public, look no further than Amber Nolan, a.k.a. the "JetHiking Gypsy."Since July 2012, Nolan, a Florida-based travel writer, has been catching rides in propeller planes and jets—hence the name JetHiking—to see the United States, speak to anyone she meets about aviation, and write about it along the way. Her journey so far has taken Nolan to 42 of the 50 states, and has produced enormous opportunities to advocate on GA's behalf. "I started this project in search of adventure," Nolan…
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Restoration Heaven

August 2014- We see vintage airplanes at airshows and are in love, because nothing else grabs an aviator's soul and refuses to let go quite like these flying museum pieces.But under that perfect skin is evidence that some very skilled masters have poured thousands of hours into their work. On every tiny piece of material used to bring a flying machine back to life, the innovation of today has been married to the workmanship of a bygone era, producing a rare ship that will be around for future generations to cherish and enjoy. The preservation of vintage airplanes is as much an art as it is a skill. These are projects that are made with bare hands by men and women devoted to using modern technology and equipment to craft raw materials into a beautifully finished and flyable machine.As the years elapse and the old timers of the trade go west, we lose our connections with the past. Each time, it means one less person who knows how to craft a Stearman wing from wood, wires and fabric—one who might not have passed knowledge on to the next generation. But in the Pacific Northwest, Addison Pemberton of Spokane, Wash.—one of…
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Heading Bug: Flying into the Future

August 2014- I have lately been thinking about the future. The thoughts arise because my children are suddenly grown-up beings with independent lives of their own—and it is clear that I am not getting any younger, either.My attempts to see into the future involve midnight calculations regarding my health (medium-good, if I watch myself) and the intimations of mortality that come with being 60-something, parsed by hopes of the things I'd like to do while I'm still on the planet.
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Full Circle: Getting Lost

July 2014- While I'm sitting at my desk and writing this, we are currently three weeks into the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 brouhaha. In case you've been in another star system for the past several months, most of us are well aware that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished from the planet on March 8, 2014, while en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing, China.
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