Every flight has ghosts, if you’ll see them. Mine come in those times when I need a little help to get me through a tough spot, or raise my perspective above ground level to reconsider the depth and breadth of the singular, incomparable joy we call flight.
You never know when your skills might be put to the test. For Doug White, who recently had to land a King Air when his pilot suffered a sudden and fatal medical problem, it was a matter of life and death.
Last month, Mike Adams, vice president of underwriting for Avemco Insurance (www.avemco.com), shared fascinating insights drawn from Avemco’s LSA claims data. Avemco’s conclusion: Incomplete dealer transition training for new S-LSA owners was the biggest contributor to accident claims. Avemco responded by requiring new owners to complete five hours dual and a flight review sign-off from a dealer rep to qualify for solo coverage.
You’d normally find her looping and rolling at 250 mph in front of thousands of spectators at the industry’s biggest air shows, but this month, aerobatic champ Patty Wagstaff takes us on a different kind of adventure, low and slow above elephants, rhinos and cheetahs in the remote wilderness of Kenya.
What do three years of a top LSA insurer’s data tell us about sport flight accidents?
Tooling around the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo (check out my blog, Light-Sport Hangar Flyin’), I ran into Mike Adams, vice president of underwriting for Avemco Insurance Company (www.avemco.com). Adams was on scene to present what Avemco has learned, based on three years of data, from S-LSA accidents.
Five years ago, the first special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) received its airworthiness certificate, opening up a new chapter in the regulation of simple personal flight. More than 1,000 of these factory-built aircraft and more than 8,000 former ultralights (experimental light-sport aircraft, E-LSA) are now flying under the sport pilot and LSA category.
There was a time when aviation seemed to be a distant world, out of my reach. I didn’t know any pilots, and as far as I knew, you had to be in the military or have millions of dollars to become one. While my classmates forged ahead on paths to become doctors and lawyers, I stumbled around, sneaking peeks at airplanes passing overhead and memorizing the aviation alphabet. But, one day, everything changed.
The sport pilot rule is clear and easy to understand...except when it isn’t. Let’s dig a little deeper.
The sport pilot rule under which LSA pilots fly was intended to cover a broad array of recreational vehicles and conditions, gently wrapped within a beneficent, safety-minded envelope of permissions and restrictions.
In keeping with the buyer’s guide theme, I got to thinking about the epidemic of choices modern consumers face every day. There was a time when you’d walk into a fast-food place and order a burger, fries and Coke, and if you really felt like living large, you’d get a chocolate, strawberry or vanilla milkshake.
“Spot Check OK. Latitude: 37.7445. Longitude: -97.224,” read a text message on my cell phone, and I knew that contributor Bill Stein had made it safely in his Edge 540 to Wichita, Kans., the final stop on his cross-country flight from Chicago, Ill.
A snapshot compendium of LSA overview, new aircraft and dish-the-dirt scuttlebutt
In a recent attempt to scare myself about how old I’m getting, I calculated the total time I’ve spent at EAA’s annual air show in Oshkosh. It’s more than half a year of my life—27 visits of around a week each! Pass the orthotic, please.
I first met Lina Borozdina at Oshkosh in 2005, when Richard Branson and Burt Rutan announced a joint venture between Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites to manufacture a fleet of suborbital spacecrafts intended for space tourism. Lina, a biochemist who had mortgaged her home to purchase a $200,000 ticket on the suborbital flight, was next to me in line for a helicopter flight over the air show grounds. But as our flight time approached, she looked increasingly worried. She was having second thoughts about going in the air, and it became apparent that this astronaut-to-be was afflicted by a fear of flying. Nonetheless, Lina was determined to travel to space, having dreamed of it since her childhood days in Ukraine.
The more you learn about flying, the more you know there is to learn about flying
With his big rawboned hand almost lovingly cradling a gigantic bag of Skittles candies, Bob Elliott might almost—almost—pass for Professor Dumbledore munching on Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. But the baseball cap and screaming-loud, airplane-festooned print shirt puts the kibosh to that comparison in a hurry. His eyes are mere slits from the bright overcast, or insufficient sleep the night before, or more likely, too many Skittles. Tempting me with the open bag, he explains how he got the nickname “A.D.D. Bob” from his flying buddies because he’s constantly diving out of formation (“A.D.D.”=Aviation Deficit Disorder).