Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, October 23, 2012

From The Editor: Fly Low, Go Fast, Turn Left

The crowds at Stead Airport this year proved that the tradition of the Reno Air Races lives on strong, moving forward after last year's accident. In six classes of aircraft, 108 racers participated in the 49th National Championship Air Races this September in the Nevada desert. This month, we feature a photo essay from father-son team Moose and Jake Peterson, who captured the excitement of fans in the grandstands, the hardworking race teams in the pits, and the low and fast airplanes, whipping wing tip-to-wing tip around the pylons.

On display at Reno was the Epic LT, an appropriately fast GA airplane that reaches a max speed of 325 knots. In this issue, contributor John Hayes flies the turboprop with flight-test pilot Rich Finley on a cross-country trip from Bend, Ore., where Epic Aircraft is based, to Sun Valley, Idaho. John's pilot report on the futuristic-looking airplane covers its features, flight characteristics and the aircraft's promising future.

At the other end of the spectrum is the Alpha LSA, a trainer that cruises at 108 knots on less than 4 gph. The all-carbon-fiber LSA trainer from Slovenia was designed by a team of engineers at Pipistrel, known for their high-quality composite aircraft, and LSA Editor James Lawrence flies with demo pilot Sean Looloian. In Light-Sport Chronicles, James interviews Michael Coates, the distributor for Pipistrel USA.

Another cross-country flight is in contributor Joe Shelton's Columbia 400. He flew from California to Pennsylvania and back, encountering challenging weather along the way. Joe offers tactical methods for IFR flying in convective weather, and comparing the dynamics of flying on top of weather versus scud running underneath. He also provides tips on how to best work with ATC when you need a deviation for weather.

We travel abroad with contributor George Moore to Austria, where he tours Diamond Aircraft's factory and Austro Engine's facilities with Michael Feining, Diamond's Managing Director. George shares up an up-close look at the MPP Guardian, a special-mission aircraft used for patrol and surveillance tasks that features high-end sensor packages with search radars, FLIR and more.

With this year's fire season in California drawing to a close, columnist Patty Wagstaff reflects on her work at CAL FIRE and the logistics of tanker and air attack pilots. Often, Patty will circle a fire for hours in an OV-10 Bronco, a perspective that she says is "a little Zen." Each fire, which is given a name, has its own character and challenges, and requires a different attack strategy. The rewarding work makes a huge difference in the lives of those affected below.

Lightspeed's new FlightLink app makes it so you'll never have to say, "Say again?" again. Contributor John Ruley reviews the new app, which works with the Zulu.2 headset and allows you to record cockpit audio on your iPad or iPhone for instant playback, and you can also store recordings to listen to later.

If you have any questions for any of our experts in this issue, send them to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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