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SAF Heats Up (Figuratively Speaking), Backcountry Pioneer Flies West, And Flock Of Birds Vs. 737

Plus, ATP hits huge milestone, EAA announces 2022 theme, and our Planes of the Year, announced!

CubCrafters founder Jim Richmond passed away at his home in Yakima, Washington, late last month. Richmond, who started up what would become a backcountry aviation powerhouse, guided his company to the creation of seven new models of planes and numerous STCs for improving the performance and durability of existing backcountry planes. Richmond was 67.

Plane & Pilot announced that the winners of its 2021 Planes of the year are the Diamond Aircraft DA50 and the Sling HW (high-wing). Also recognized for their achievements were Garmin International for its SmartGlide safety utility and SkyDisplay for its compact, affordable head-up display.

EAA announced that it would honor the 75th Anniversary of the United States Air Force in this year’s EAA AirVenture Oshkosh Fly-In. The highest-flying branch of the United States military (no offense, Space Force!) got its flying papers in 1947. Previously it was known as the United States Army Air Forces. We’re hoping this means lots of Korea-era jets at this year’s fly-fest.

Think flight training is a hot market? You are right. The aptly named flight training dynamo ATP announced earlier this week that it had graduated its 10,000th Airline Transport Pilot since the program started in 2015,


The NTSB issued its factual report on the tragic crash of an American Champion Decathlon in Wisconsin that killed both occupants, a brother, a CFI, who was at the controls, and his sister, who had been married just weeks before. The plane crashed as the pilot was attempting a low-level loop as family members looked on.

The City of Dayton, Ohio, where the Wright Brothers did most of the development of their early aircraft, has okayed the demolition of the Brothers’ first bicycle shop, which was in disrepair with no one willing to step up and renovate the property. The Wrights didn’t do any actual aircraft development at the location.

There were more announcements about the future potential of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF, a name that has a sales pitch built into it).  A United jet flew a passenger revenue flight with one of its engines running SAF, and besides the faint aroma of fish and chips, which we’re only imagining, the engine ran flawlessly. Pratt & Whitney and Embraer also announced a study looking to gain more insights into the use of 100% SAF fuel. Currently, regulations limit SAF use to 50% when blended with regular Jet A.


Roll-Royce claimed a speed record for its Spirit of Innovation electric-powered small plane. The model, based on Jon Sharpe’s Reno racer Nemesis, hit better than 387 mph, establishing a speed record for all-electric planes that, if validated by the FAI, would better the previous mark of an Extra 300 by around 175 mph.

When an airplane hits a big bird, it’s trouble. When it hits a flock of big birds, look out. A Malta Air 737 descending into Bologna, Italy, ruined the day for an indeterminate number of gray herons, causing one engine to cut out and causing (thankfully) non-catastrophic damage to the windscreen and other components. The crew kept their wits about them and landed the jet safely despite the loss of the engine and greatly diminished forward visibility.

Daher announced that it had delivered the 300th Kodiak utility turboprop single. The French company acquired Sand Point, Idaho-based Kodiak in 2019.


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