Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 25, 2010

From The Editor: Contrails & Cubs, Gear & Gators

The last time we visited with John and Martha King, they were flying the new Cessna Skycatcher for a series of light-sport instructional DVDs. Recently, we caught up with them in something on the other end of the speed spectrum—their Dassault Falcon 10 jet. Marc Lee and I joined the King Schools team on a round-trip adventure from San Diego, Calif., to Sun ’n Fun in Lakeland, Fla. Click on Video Gallery under the Aircraft menu on for an in-cockpit look at our coast-to-coast flight, where we climb out at over 4,000 fpm and pass airliners at Mach 0.85 at FL400!

At Sun ’n Fun, Senior Editor Bill Cox flew a number of new aircraft. One that really excited him, and the rest of us, was the piston version of the Lancair Evolution. The four-seat, pressurized homebuilt, which is intended to follow the path to certification, is powered by a new Lycoming iE2 computer-controlled engine that’s rated for an impressive max 400 hp for climb and is expected to reach 270 knots at FL280. As a testament to the aircraft’s docile handling characteristics, on Bill’s first flight, he performed a formation takeoff, flying wing on a 110-knot photoship that Jim Lawrence was shooting from.

When not in shutterbug mode, Jim flew as many new LSA as he could (look for his pilot reports in upcoming months), and roamed the show grounds in search of the best new gear and products. He came across some pretty cool stuff. For inside the cockpit, there’s the HD video camcorder from Contour HD, and Lightspeed announced a new mid-range headset, the Sierra, complete with one of our favorite features, Bluetooth connectivity for your cell phone. In this issue, Jim shares his 10 top finds.

Not too far away, Marc Lee was getting his feet wet at Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base. Based in Winter Haven, the school boasts a fleet of classic J-3 Cubs in an idyllic setting—well, except perhaps for the occasional alligator—right in the middle of what they like to call their “land of 1,000 lakes.” After logging 4.9 hours of “pure freedom and fun!” with instructor Nick Veltre and a 0.8-hour checkride with flight-school owner and designated examiner Jon Brown, Marc earned his seaplane rating in just two days! Even if you don’t have access to floats back home, the training hones your stick-and-rudder skills and counts as a BFR. As I was writing this, I received an e-mail from Marc that speaks for itself: “I loved the seaplane flying so much that I’m going to try and go back to Jack Brown’s every year and do a few hours of recurrent training…just because it’s a blast!”

Recurrent training is a crucial way to remain a safe and sharp pilot, and earning new ratings is a rewarding way to do so. Marc breaks down what each rating entails—requirements, timeframe, costs—from instrument and multi-engine to commercial and certificated flight instructor. Deciding what gear you’ll use also is an important consideration in the training process, so we asked several pros for a glimpse into their flight bags. We found some creative solutions, from a headset case that doubles as a flight bag to a custom-made vest that’s worn in flight for added safety in the backcountry. What’s in your flight bag? Drop us a line at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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