Posts with the tag ‘general aviation’


Australian Adventurer Illustrates Flying’s Glorious Contradictions

September 12, 2014

I spend so much time writing about the safety and economics of aviation every now and then its good to go back and remember that flying was pioneered by risk takers who were motivated by many things, convention and common sense not among them. The role of adventurers in aviation was very much on my mind while reading Dick Smith’s thrill-a-page book, The Earth Beneath Me, the story of his solo helicopter flight from Fort Worth, Texas to Sydney, Australia in 1982.   I met Smith this past June and flew with him for a not-to-be-forgotten hour. An Enya tune filled our headsets as we… Read More…


A Flying Club With Storied Past and an Uncertain Future

April 14, 2014

Everywhere you go there are Malaysian airliners, on the makeshift sympathy signs dotting the town, on a magnificent mosaic hidden in a highway underpass, on the back of (some) 20 ringgit notes. I’ve already written how the tragic mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has engaged the people who live here. Now that I’ve finished reading the history of the Royal Selangor Flying Club, I understand that a little better. The airline and the club grew up together and can even be considered products of the same parents. But as aviation soars, especially in this part of the world, the once formidable 85 year old… Read More…


Aston Martin Test Drive Whets Appetite for Flying

January 11, 2014

Through the rain splattered window of the Aston Martin I was driving on 12th Avenue in Manhattan, I could see my bicycle parked forlornly outside the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. A plastic grocery bag protected the seat from the storm. At 4:30 on a Monday night, traffic on the approach to the Lincoln Tunnel was at a crawl. These were not the ideal conditions for test  driving a V12 DB9 Vanquish Volante, a car with a price tag of $200,400. But then again, I was hardly the company’s target customer. The really serious potential Aston Martin owners would get their chance to drive this car in a few hours… Read More…


What a 10 Thousand Foot View Can Reveal

December 16, 2013

It was going to be a disappointing ride; two and a half hours on a bus traveling between Klagenfurt, Austria to the Alpine ski community of Kals. The bus would take me through spectacular scenery but I would not be able to appreciate it either way because both drives would be made in the dark. Such is what happens when late evening and early morning flights are booked. As the airport bus dropped us at the boarding stairs for Austrian Flight 934, the tarmac was wet from the mist and fog that had settled over tiny Klagenfurt Airport. Prospects for a view from the air… Read More…


Boeing Can Hope Ethiopian Flight Will End Its Annus Horribilis

December 13, 2013

The Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 that caught fire in London this summer will soon fly back to Addis Ababa, a flight both companies surely hope will take them closer to the end of 2013, an “annus horribilis” if there ever was one. Boeing’s not talking but Tweolde Gebremariam, Ethiopian’s chief executive officer said that repairs to the plane’s aft fuselage and tail section are nearing completion. This comes less than six months after the July 12th event in which a blaze above the ceiling of the back passenger section burned through to the exterior of the plane. At the time, ET-AOP was parked away from the gate at… Read More…


Marriage of the Minds At Anniversary Airport Getaway

November 15, 2013

Lacinda and Spud Homfeld at the Hangar Hotel When an aviation geek says, “Let’s go somewhere where we can watch airplanes take off all day”, and the non aviation geek partner says, “Yeah, let’s do that”, the couple is probably headed to the Hangar Hotel at Gillespie County Airport in Fredricksburg, Texas. Earlier this week, Lacinda and Spud Homfeld chose to celebrate their 36 years of togetherness by pursuing their separate interests with a two night stay at the aviation-themed hotel.  For a few hours each day, Spud and Lacinda could sit in the sun on the hotel’s outdoor balcony overlooking runway 14/32 and watch… Read More…


Sea Plane Flight Is Medicine for Modern Air Travel

August 29, 2013

Capt. Grant Tamminga, 42, a sea plane pilot for Vancouver’s Harbour Air, probably does not make the kind of money other airline captains make, nor does he stride through the airport on his way to work while travelers sneak surreptitious looks, imagining his glamorous life. Many are the times, though, that a jetliner pilot traveling as Grant’s passenger will admit to jealousy. It may come after the single engine deHavilland TurboOtter begins its short takeoff run across the water and the boat effortlessly turns into a plane. It may not be said until the little 14-seater is one thousand feet above the magnificent Georgia Strait, forests below, mountains to… Read More…


Pre Flight Walk Around Prompts List of Fave Airports

May 30, 2013

As much as I like to fly, the prospect of being on a 12 hour flight during the daytime (when I probably won’t sleep much) makes me a little apprehensive. I have ants-in-the-pants-syndrome; it is very difficult for me to remain seated for extended periods of time. So Wednesday morning, before I boarded Ethiopian Flight 501 from Dulles International to Addis Ababa, I decided to tire myself out with a good, long strenuous power walk. I have the perfect playlist for this, assembled by my music-loving sister Lee. Setting out from the Dulles Airport Marriott, I was thrilled to discover I could go all the… Read More…


Cars or Planes? Movie Might Instigate a Dogfight at My Home

May 21, 2013

Disney may not have intended to instigate domestic strife with the release of the trailer for its new animated feature, Planes, but I can tell that the sparks are going to fly around my house.  There they are, all those pretty little airplanes, soaring in time with the swelling chords of the music while cars and trucks with their anthropomorphized windshield-framed eyes remain solidly earth-bound. My son, Sam, writes about (ho hum) cars.  My husband Jim and middle son Sam, are auto writers, gear heads through and through. As I have complained in a previous post, neither one of them can hold a conversation outdoors without stopping mid sentence to… Read More…


Patty Wagstaff Sky High But Down to Earth Air Show Star

March 28, 2013

Patty Wagstaff provided photo  When she wows crowds on the air show circuit, pilot Patty Wagstaff often pulls her airplane nose high. But when it comes to her personal interactions, she is a down-to-earth, everywoman. The 61 year-old, air acrobat’s appearance at New York’s Wings Club was one of the more glamorous events held by this group of international aviation executives – even without the black tie and spangly dresses that are required for the annual gala in the fall. On Wednesday night, Wagstaff was dressed in low-key white button down blouse and (waaay less low-key) black leather pants to accept the Outstanding Aviator Award given by… Read More…


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