Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 21, 2013

From The Editor: Extreme Flying

It's a story of deserted beaches, do-it-yourself runways, a wildebeest migration, fee negotiations, active volcanoes and two highly modified Super Cubs. Loni Habersetzer, a veteran bush pilot from Alaska, Alexis Peltier, a pilot-photographer from France and Alec Wildenstein, a wildlife conservationist in Kenya, embarked on a journey spanning four African countries in search of adventure, freedom and a new perspective. In this issue, Alec shares their special kind of flying—from slow flight in deep gorges to waterskiing on bush wheels and around boulders.

That kind of backcountry escapade would suit the Just Aircraft SuperStol just fine. A bit closer to home at the recent Sun 'n Fun Expo in Lakeland, Fla., the new LSA demonstrated its short-field prowess at Paradise City's small grass strip. LSA Editor James Lawrence and aircraft designer Troy Woodland launched the taildragger—that features leading edge slats and rugged bush wheels—in under four seconds and in less than 100 feet of takeoff roll.

James also explored Sun 'n Fun hangars and displays to bring us the newest pilot gear, cockpit tech and more. FlyCool's 10,000 BTU/hour air-conditioner is tailored to fit the light-sport aircraft it's going on; the inReach SE from DeLorme is a portable tracking device that's connected to search-and-rescue services, and also allows you to transmit text messages.

We all know from experience that if you aren't able to fly on a regular basis, your skills will get rusty. But, even if you can fly daily, your skills may not improve unless you test yourself on each flight. Contributor Budd Davisson takes a new look at proficiency: how we define it, and how to get it back after it starts to slip away. He challenges us to fly to higher performance standards than are listed in the FAA's Practical Test Standards, and provides a checklist for 10 phases of flight to do just that.

Another great way to further your proficiency is to undergo advanced training. This can take the form of an instrument or multi-engine rating, or it can be a fun solution to a BFR such as earning a tailwheel endorsement. Regardless of where you are in your flying career, recurrent training is critical for safety. In this issue, contributor Marc Lee reviews different types of training and discusses why regular instruction is imperative.

Formation flying is another great way to sharpen your skills. Whether it's a two-ship photo mission or a six-ship military jet demonstration, formation flying is built on trust, skill, training and focus. At air shows, Patty Wagstaff will use her formation skills for photo flights and flying with other performers. In this month's Let It Roll, she shares her experiences learning formation flying, and the risks and rewards of this type of flying that's part art, part science.


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