After having experienced the Reno Air Races once in 2003, I was thrilled to return to the show this year. The weather forecast for the races looked good and the lineup of race airplanes was as exciting as ever. I took off IFR into a 1,200-foot ceiling on Thursday morning in a 172RG that I rented from the local flight school at Santa Monica Airport. It was great getting some actual time, but the clouds were not thick and I continued my flight into smooth clear skies, enjoying the views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Watch for “corporate jets” to emerge as a hot-button campaign issue in the coming months as Democrats seize on a change in the tax code proposed in President Obama’s Jobs Act to paint their Republican rivals as supporting tax-cheating corporations.
It’s happening already. In an ad created for the Congressional campaign of Democrat David Weprin, a business jet is shown flying across the screen as a voiceover warns viewers: “Corporate executive Bob Turner lives the high life. While you struggle to pay the bills, Turner supports tax loopholes for corporations.”
A team headed by an award-winning professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, John Hansman, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems at the school as well as a 5,600-hour pilot, has come up with a really cool idea: mining data from flight data recorders to identify anomalies. Check out our news story on the subject here.
When I called up the pictures of Morristown Municipal Airport (KMMU) drowning in muddy-brown water wrought by Hurricane Irene’s torrential rains late last month, I was a bit taken aback by how widespread the flooding appeared to be. I just didn't expect that much of my home airport to be underwater.
And yet I was also heartened by something else I saw in the photos – or, rather, by the airplanes I didn’t see.
Though it was sometimes hard to tell while reading the article, Wednesday's New York Times piece by Christopher Drew addressed an interesting topic: the Air Force's King Air program that uses GA airplanes as a launching point and then installs sophisticated electronic gadgets to create a spy platform that gets the job done when other options aren't available. It's a surprisingly entrepreneurial approach to battlefield needs.
On Friday the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security warned us all to be on the alert for terrorists trying to use small airplanes as weapons of mass destruction in the days leading up to the solemn 10-year anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, 2001.
That horrific day almost 10 years ago now wasn't the first terrorist attack against the United States on our own soil, not even the first in recent memory.
A recent Associated Press story by Joan Lowy entitled "Automation in the Air Dulls Pilot Skill" looked to highlight what must have seemed to the author like a critical safety concern that people in high places were missing, namely that technology is causing many airline accidents and that nobody's paying attention to this glaring problem.
Lowy's piece, however, managed to entirely miss what should have been the main point of the story: airline accidents today are almost non-existent, and like it or not, that is a result of the emergence of technology.
As I was reading the latest issue of Wired the other day, a tidbit updating the remote air traffic management system being developed by Saab and Sweden’s LFV air traffic control service piqued my curiosity enough for me to delve into the topic deeper. My first thought was simple: leave it to the Swedes to maximize practicality and efficiency (oh, how I miss my Saab 9.3 hatchback and its utilitarian design and its turbo, pre-GM!).
That was the humorous yet apt assessment by my seatmate after we touched down last Friday at Rio’s downtown airport in an Embraer Legacy 600. It was a colorful comparison to airline travel from a fellow journalist who had never before experienced flight on a private jet. And while I probably wouldn’t use the hard-drug metaphor to describe what it’s like to travel as a passenger aboard a business jet compared with just about any other form of transportation, I also had to admit that he was exactly right.
News came down from the feds the other day that the FAA was forming an aviation rulemaking committee to look into overhauling the standards contained within Part 23 of the regs that govern certification of most light airplanes. This is a great thing. These rules are too complex and complying with them is extremely costly.