Catalina Air Show, October 2016

How cool! Another air show at Catalina Island!  Check out www.catalinaairshow.com for details and some great pics of the 2014 event.

This is an interesting show because there is no admission charge. They rely completely on company sponsorship.  Arrive in your boat or plane, or take the water taxi to Avalon.  If you really want to get there quick, take a Helicopter from Long Beach!  Long Beach has several boat launch ramps and they charge only $12/day.

P51 Mustang flying over Avalon harbor

Grumman Albatross at Avalon Harbor

A Grumman Albatross bobbing in the waves at Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island. (image via Catalina Air Show)

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Solar Impulse – flying around the world on solar power only

This is very cool.  It’s an aviation first and hopefully will pave the way for more electric powered flight.  The flight started from Abu Dhabi and will circumnavigate the globe, ending in Abu Dhabi once again. As I write this, this leg of the flight is a very long stretch over open water, so very little margin for error.  Takeoff was June 20th in Japan (after being stuck there for weeks due to weather) and will land in Hawaii 5 days later.  The aircraft uses 26kw of power during the day, with 25kw additional power being used to charge the batteries.  At night, the aircraft cruises on batteries until the sun comes up again.

You can watch this LIVE – click here.  The cockpit video is really neat, and the “widgets” on the right hand side let you take a close (and live) look at everything from the state of the battery charge, to the state of the pilot’s “emotional charge” 🙂

Here is what the “energy” widget shows right now:

image

Real life hoverboard

Catalin Alexandru Duru has set a Guinness World Record for farthest flight by hoverboard!

Catalin needed to travel a minimum of 164 feet airborne to break the record — and in the end, he smashed it easily, travelling 905 feet and two inches at a height of around 16 feet at Lake Ouareau in Quebec, Canada.  The hoverboard was built over a one year period and is apparently very stable to ride.

Biplane with a Jet engine strapped on? YEA!!

Acrobatics pilot Jeff Boerboon flys a modified Waco biplane for Jack Link’s flying team (Jack Link’s of the always ready-to-eat beef jerky).  What makes this particular plane so unique is the addition of a Learjet engine attached below the traditional engine and propeller.

A replica of a 1929 Taperwing biplane, the Jack Link’s Screamin’ Sasquatch was built from the ground up by pilot and mechanic Dell Coller for stunt flying.

Jeff Boerboon

Coller says that when they first fired up the Sasquatch’s jet engine while the plane was on the tarmac, it burned a hole right in the pavement. “We’ve since learned to start it up only on concrete,” said Coller. They can also take off with just the prop engine and turn on the jet while in flight.

That engine, by the way, doesn’t just look cool, it literally supercharges the biplane. Without the jet engine, the plane’s propeller has about 1,500 lbs. of thrust. With the jet engine, it has 4,000 lbs. On prop power, the plane can fly roughly 110 miles per hour. With the jet on, it can do 250 mph.

That extra equipment gives the Screamin’ Sasquatch special capabilities. For example, it can fly up and then use the jet engine to almost hover in the air (with the nose pointed up) and then, jet off even higher. Coller told me. It’s a feat “the rest of them wish they could do,” he said.

Plane over Jones Beach

Tank’s Eye View – RCAF Snowbirds air demonstration team

The Royal Canadian Air Force’s Snowbirds air demonstration team has taken remote camera video to a new level with their “Tank Cam.” The team, officially 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, has mounted a gimbaled, remote-controlled Plexiglas protected camera to the back of the small external centerline fuel tank on the team lead’s aircraft. This provides some really cool shots of formation flying.

Textron Aviation – new logo

Now that Beechcraft, Cessna and Hawker are firmly part of the Textron Aviation family, Textron has a new logo, and a new motto; “Gaining altitude together”

In the 1920s, Cessna and Beach worked together as the Travel Air Manufacturing Company in Wichita, KS.  The third partner that time was Stearman.  10 years later, the companies split again.  It will be interesting to see how this new trio does under the Textron umbrella.

Charlie Victor Romeo – crash recorder dramatizations of Pilot & crew’s last words

In 1999 a novel play was created dramatizing the last minutes of airplane flights which resulted in a crash.  This has now been re-imagined as a 3D movie.  I’m not sure why you would want 3D for this, as it’s not exactly a lush cinematic event, but perhaps it helps sell DVDs.  As a pilot myself, there is a particular fascination reviewing the events and things that were said in the cockpit prior to a disaster.  We like to hope that WE wouldn’t have made the key decisions which lead to a bad result, but in the heat of the moment, would we or not?

Charlie Victor Romeo Theatrical Poster

The movie is called “Charlie Victor Romeo” because CVT is the industry acronym for the famous “black box”, or “Cockpit Voice Recorder” – the source for the dialog re-enacted by the actors.

This has also been used as material for “Cockpit Resource Management” training which airline pilots must periodically undergo.  But even to a lay person who doesn’t necessarily understand all of the pilot jargon, it’s still a morbidly fascinating look at what happened and why.

This is now in the Netflix database, but it not available for streaming at the date of this writing.  The film is currently screening in New York and Los Angeles.

This is probably not a movie for everybody, but if you find it hard to look away from a train wreck, or car crash on the freeway, this might be right up your alley!

Here is an official trailer:

FAA really doesn’t like aviation – sleep apnea testing

I have come to the conclusion the the FAA really doesn’t like aviation and is working on good ways to cripple it, mainly by making it even more expensive than it is today.  With rising fuel prices, maintenance prices, equipment prices, and instruction prices, we really don’t need the FAA “helping” in this way.

Their latest idea is to introduce a rule that pilots with over 40% “body mass index” would be subject to mandatory Sleep Apnea testing.  This testing is not cheap!  This would impact approximately 5,000 pilots.  If this is successful, it’s entirely likely that the scope would be expanded to include more pilots.

It’s all in the name of safety!  Or is it?  According to Aviation Week, The agency also cites National Transportation Safety Board data that shows 34 accidents, including 32 fatal accidents, involved pilots who had sleep apnea. However, sleep apnea was not listed as the cause of those accidents.

Interesting logic the FAA is using.  I’d be willing to wager that most (if not all) of the pilots cited above also had 5 fingers on their left hand.  It seems logical then that the FAA could reasonably propose “preventative surgery” to have one of those fingers removed, thus making the skies safer for all.  I’d also be willing to bet that a large percentage of those pilots drank coffee the very same day that they had their fatal accident.  Perhaps the FAA could ban coffee for pilots (no, wait, that would actually SAVE money, they wouldn’t do that).

So I just have to wonder… what problem are we solving here?  To randomly pick a medical condition which has not been proven to be a contributing factor to any fatal accidents seems irresponsible and foolish at best.  Why does the FAA want to burden pilots with yet another hefty expense just so that they can continue to utilize their hard-earned pilot’s license?  Perhaps my initial conclusion is correct: the FAA really doesn’t like aviation and would like it to go away.

Not only is the FAA proceeding with this questionable program, they are side-stepping rulemaking channels and are classing this as a “process enhancement” which does not require any of the formal rigor that new rulemaking requires (such as evaluating the rule for sanity, asking for comments from industry professionals and pilots themselves, etc).  Why are they doing this? What do they have to gain?

Inane FAA/Airline rule to be removed – electronic devices

According to the Wall Street Journal: An FAA advisory committee has concluded passengers can safely use hand-held electronic devices, including those connected to onboard Wi-Fi systems, during all portions of flights on nearly all U.S. airliners, according to one of the group’s leaders.

Well, in my humble opinion, it’s about time!  There has been testing, of course, but nobody ever proved that electronic devices can or do cause interference with Jetliner avionics systems.  For years, the quaking “ohhh, you MUST turn off all electronic devices” has been heard, and for no good reason other than paranoia.  I’m very glad that Amazon helped push through some proper analysis on this.  Hopefully, this inane rule will be off the books by the end of the year.

Airlines are also working on providing WiFi access during all flight phases, including below 10,000 feet.  That’ll be fun too!