Each year, the Collings Foundation flies a selection of rare warbirds around the country, stopping at more than 110 towns. It's a chance for the public to partake in aviation history and for veterans to relive their flying memories. The foundation's 2014 "Wings of Freedom" tour features the only dual-controlled TP-51C Mustang, the only restored flying B-24J Liberator and an iconic B-17G Flying Fortress. We met up with these historic machines and their crew in Southern California for flying, photos and an opportunity to talk to local vets.
For this month's Pilot Report, we go into the backcountry with the Maule M6, a short-field performer. Bill Cox flies with owner Cade Isham, whose family operates the taildragger out of a 1,000-foot dirt strip on their Texas ranch. The aircraft is equipped with a bush package that includes 31-inch bush wheels and extended gear legs that increase prop clearance.
On the light-sport side, James Wynbrandt goes airborne in the new SportCruiser SVAP+ LSA from Czech Sport Aircraft. Its bubble canopy offers super visibility, and the cabin is nearly two inches wider than a Bonanza's. The highly maneuverable and responsive light-sport aircraft is particularly popular with flight schools as a low-cost trainer. Average fuel burn is just 4.6 gph, and the glass panel is modern with a Dynon avionics suite.
Dynon is also featured in our buyer's guide to handheld avionics, with their D1 and D2 pocket panel units. Wynbrandt rounds up new tech from GPS devices and personal safety trackers to radios, weather receivers and more.
Advanced training comes in many forms and is a great way to keep your flying skills sharp. Marc Lee takes a look at varied options such as glass-cockpit simulators and a Cirrus transition course where pilots learn to fly a high-performance aircraft. There are flight schools that offer training in warbirds; others focus on aerobatics. And even if you don't plan to become a professional pilot, ratings such as instrument, multi-engine and CFI will help keep you safer.
Lee recently earned his commercial rating with AFIT, a company that specializes in accelerated flight training. AFIT's instructors will come to you and teach in your airplane or through a network of FBOs. Lee spent five intense days at St. George, Utah, training in high- wind conditions with one of AFIT's top CFIs. He tells the story of his newest rating in this issue.