You may have noticed something physically and visually different about this issue! Starting this year, Plane & Pilot will feature higher-quality paper, with a larger overall size than ever before. We’re excited to enter 2009 with this new format, which includes heavier, brighter and whiter paper for the covers and inside pages, plus an increase approaching 10% in the trim size of the magazine for greater impact when viewing articles and photography, especially across two-page spreads. This is also the launch of our annual buyer’s guide, which highlights new airplanes and products to get you ready for the skies at the beginning of each year. We’ve got specs, prices and comparisons, but we take it to the next level, guiding you through the decision-making process by highlighting important features to consider when choosing what’s best for you.
In this issue, we cover everything from handheld devices, such as Garmin’s new GPSMAP 696, and the latest flight-training and flight-planning software to hangar doors and airplane tugs. We compare more than 30 headsets, and Marc Lee offers an in-depth look at passive versus active technology, noise attenuation, microphone quality and headset design. Having been a musician for more than 30 years—and nobody understands sound better than musicians—he knows what to look for. When he met Jerry Harvey, founder of JH Audio and a former touring sound engineer, at AOPA Expo, they bonded instantly.
“Musicians need accurate sound because their performance depends on it,” Marc told me as he was fitted for custom ear molds for the Aerous VX3, an in-ear lightweight headset. “JH Audio is coming at the aviation headset game with a stage musician’s approach. Jerry’s attention to sound detail and his musical approach to aviation communication allow pilots to experience what I call the ‘complex sound’ of music production.”
Barron Thomas gives us the rundown on new six-seat aircraft, with comparison charts and advice on what to consider, including useful load, runway requirements and insurance requirements, and Budd Davisson reviews some of the best new adventure aircraft, be it for backcountry flying or aerobatics. We cover more than 25 new light-sport aircraft, and LSA Editor At Large Jim Lawrence provides tips on how to choose from the myriad of options.
Thanks to everyone who responded to our aircraft owner survey; we learned about what you do with your airplane, what you like about it, and what you’d change if you could. It also helps us understand more about you, your aviation experience and future plans. The results are reported in Bill Cox’s guide to four-seat singles, in which he analyzes the factors that should go into your decision-making process: not just speed, but also payload, climb rate and resale value.
Bill reaches a milestone with this issue: his 300th X-Country Log column. He has logged more than 15,000 hours in over 300 types (from an F-15 and the Goodyear Blimp to an Antonov Colt and an Aeronca Champ) and he has flown more than 200 international ferry flights, yet this month he writes of a simple flight in his friend, “Mooney.” It’s in his 1969 Executive that he has been able to share the joy of aviation with others. “Some pilots say I have one of the world’s best jobs,” he smiles. “I write about airplanes, flying around the world and sometimes even getting paid for it. Most of the time, I’m convinced they’re right, and I plan to keep doing it as long as people continue to trust me with the keys!”—Jessica Ambats