Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, February 26, 2013

From The Editor: Panhandle Backcountry


Northern Idaho is an adventure pilot's dreamland, with dozens of backcountry strips, stunning mountain flying and sizeable lakes perfect for seaplanes. It was there that we spent the day with Quest Aircraft, flying their Kodiak utility plane—loaded with two dirt bikes, camping gear and five adults—into Magee Airport, a 2,400-foot dirt strip near Coeur d'Alene. Quest test pilot Ken Stidham demonstrated the heavy hauler's short-field abilities, and factory employees Amber Phillips and Jon Barksdale joined in to enjoy the fruits of their labor in its true element. Back at Sandpoint Airport, we toured Quest's manufacturing facility, an 84,000-square-foot building, where 13 aircraft were being worked on that day.

This month's light-sport Pilot Report is the Aero AT-4, formerly known as the Gobosh G-700S. LSA Editor James Lawrence flies the Poland-built low-wing LSA out of Northampton, Mass., with demo pilot Greg Trzaska of Aero AT-USA, and compares it to the Gobosh version that he had previously flown.

This winter, it's likely your area saw some bad weather, be it benign turbulence or severe thunderstorms. Contributor John Ruley gives an overview of sophisticated weather avoidance equipment, such as on-board radar and lightning detection. For each type of equipment, he reviews its capabilities and, equally important for safety, its limitations.

Even when it's severe clear, there are always techniques to improve our flying. Throughout Senior Editor Bill Cox's remarkable flying career, he has met many inspiring and highly experienced pilots. For this issue, Bill assembles flying tips from 10 notable pilots, from test pilot Bob Hoover to aircraft designer Roy LoPresti. These are common-sense tips that you can apply to your regular flying: Some seem obvious but in reality are often overlooked (keeping the windshield clean) and others are practical for the long term (treating your engine well).

If you've ever wondered about flying around a foreign country but got deterred by high costs, there may be an affordable solution that you haven't considered. Piper Arrow owner Mark Harrison had always dreamed of circumnavigating Australia by air and finally decided to pursue his idea of a plane swap. After sending out inquiries to PA-28 owners, he connected with several willing participants. Mark writes about his success story, exchanging a Down Under flying adventure in an Arrow for a U.S. trip in his California-based Arrow.

A bit closer to home, it's entirely feasible to fly your own plane to the Bahamas. Fresh from the Sebring Sport Aviation Expo, James Lawrence joined a four-day LSA fly-out from Florida, led by Mike Zidziunas, who has organized similar events in past years. Accompanied by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, nine airplanes traveled to Grand Bahama and Bimini, enjoying the slower pace of the islands. James lists the requirements to fly to the Bahamas and back to the U.S.—it's straightforward and simple!



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