For some, lying on the sofa in a counselor’s office is therapy. For Marc Lee, and many pilots, soaring in the sky is therapy—a break from everyday stress and a place where the only thing on one’s mind is the here and now of flying. In this issue, Marc looks at the barriers to learning to fly and what can be done to increase the general aviation pilot population. He weighs the advantages of earning a sport-pilot certificate versus a private pilot license, and gives an update on encouraging new ab initio training programs for airline careers. We also talk with Nadia Marcinko, a fashion model who went from one runway to the other, learning to fly in a Cessna 172 and moving up to right seat in a Gulfstream II. Her fast-track path serves as an inspiration for anyone—especially young girls—interested in aviation.
Millions of people attend air shows each year and are inspired by the skills and showmanship that performers display. This fall, we spent the day with the Patriots, a civilian-owned L-39 jet team, at the MCAS Miramar Air Show. What started as a dream by team owner Randy Howell has grown into a precision formation aerobatic team of the best of the best, with pilots that are former Blue Angels, Thunderbirds and Snowbirds. It’s a team that’s fueled by passion; every pilot and every crew member is a volunteer. The Patriots Jet Team Foundation, a non-profit organization, is also run by volunteers and provides aviation education programs to children.
Over the past 10 years, columnist Patty Wagstaff has volunteered time in Kenya, training pilots from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). The airwing of the KWS patrols national parks to curb elephant and rhino poaching—a type of flying that involves low and slow maneuvers in often challenging conditions. It isn’t uncommon for pilots to encounter zebras crossing runways or lions lounging by the tiedowns—just another flight in the Kenyan bush. Patty shares her adventure above the beautiful and dramatic African landscape for an important and worthy cause.
For this month’s pilot report, James Wynbrandt visits Big South Fork Airpark to fly a new Piper Seneca V. The Oneida, Tenn., residential airpark and equestrian community encompasses 450 acres of an outdoor wilderness adjacent to the Big South Fork National Recreation Area, and offers property owners through-the-fence access to Scott County Airport. Piper’s Bart Jones and James fly over the spectacular wilderness while demoing safety features such as onboard weather radar.
Aspen Avionics has been at the forefront of advanced avionics, revolutionizing GA cockpits with affordable retrofits such as their Evolution EFD1000. Marc Lee visits their Albuquerque, N.M., headquarters to meet with the team and experience firsthand the company’s culture of creativity and entrepreneurship. Test pilot Tom Gray and Marc go flying in the Piper Lance test bed, currently used to refine Connected Panel, an innovative product that allows pilots to prepare flight plans on their iPad and upload the data wirelessly to panel-mounted GPS units.