July 2, 2008

Shared Passion-The Things We Do

By Ambats, Jessica

There was a time in each of our lives when we weren't yet pilots. Bom as aviators, perhaps, but not licensed pilots. We jumped at any opportunity to get closer to the sky, and more often than not, passion overruled reason. Countless childhood hours have been spent polishing aluminum in exchange for 10-minute rides around the patch. At age 15, Senior Editor Bill Cox even endured frostbite in minus- 40 degree temperatures at Ladd Air Force Base in Alaska, but he got to fly in a Northrop F-89D Scorpion-so never mind that his fingertips nearly fell off. I forged up New York City's treacherous East River on a Jet Ski to a pier in Flushing Bay that doubles as the departure end of LaGuardia Airport's runway 4, just to experience the earth-shattering roar of airliners 100 feet above. While we've all gone out of our way to realize freedom, achievement and adventure, some of us have traveled farther than others. Software entrepreneur John McAfee covered 17,000 miles of the Southwest's off-road wilderness over 17 weeks, scouting suitable routes for the sport of aerotrekking. Read on page 72 how his labor of love has brought new meaning to the art of low and slow flight.

Backcountry expert Galen Hanselman spent a year surveying 71 remote airstrips to document their runway elevation profiles in his newest guide, Fly Utah! Pilots will benefit from his diligence and efforts to promote backcountry aviation through increased safety and informed decision making. Check out his list of essentials in our story on page 56.

When Stu Horn left a successful career as a real-estate developer to purchase Aviat Aircraft, he had little to no aviation experience. It was a gamble backed by passion. Our review of the Husky A-IC, a rugged bush plane, is testament that he made the right move. With the new option of Forward. Vision's EVS-100 infrared system, he has taken his product to the next level of safety. On page 42, we fly in the darkness turned to light, spotting "invisible" highways, fields and wildlife.

Safety-related products are continually evolving, and every once in a while, there's a development that revolutionizes general aviation. Intercoms and headsets transformed communications; GPS changed navigation forever. The latest giant step in new technology, glass-panel cockpits, offers another paradigm shift that will soon be ubiquitous: synthetic vision. Three-dimensional depictions of terrain, obstacles and traffic provide general aviation pilots with unprecedented situational awareness.

We fly Garmin's Synthetic Vision Technology on a G1000 in a Diamond DA40, and on a brand-new, cutting-edge avionics system that we like to think of as a "G10,000"-otherwise known as Cirrus Perspective. Designed jointly by Cirrus and Garmin, it features bigger screens, fewer buttons and a center console for remote data entry. There's a go-around button on the throttle, and even a "what's it doing now?" button called LVL that will level the wings and hold altitude should a pilot become disoriented.

As glass panels become standard on most new airplanes, flight schools are adding more of these state-of-the-art aircraft to their fleets. In light of the current pilot shortage, training academies are transforming zero-time students into first officers in record times of less than one year. We offer advice for prospective airline pilots on page 36, and if you've logged time flying glass, you're way ahead of the game.

Just ask Max Trescott, 2008 National CFI of the Year, who recommends having up to 20 hours of glass time before going on an interview. Sharing flight with others is his passion. It's a collective passion, and it's the reason we learned to fly and are motivated to fly well, whether we're weekend pilots or professionals. What a student pilot has in common with a 10,000- hour pilot is an enthusiasm that keeps him or her striving for excellence.

Maybe you walked 10 miles, barefoot, in the snow, uphill both ways, to achieve your aviation dream. Log on to plane andpilotmag.blogspot.com and let us know what adventures have brought you that much closer to our shared passion.

Copyright Werner Publishing Corporation Jul 2008

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