February 28, 2005
The Virgin GlobalFlyer is preparing to circumnavigate the globe without stopping. It would be the first jet to fly non-stop around the globe without in air refueling. The flight which has been delayed several times is set to take off this afternoon from Salina, Kansas. The plane will be piloted by Millionaire and adventurer Steve Fossett.
In order to make this flight without a fuel stop the plane needs to carry four times its weight in fuel. The plane has never flown at its full fuel capacity like it is expected to today. The takeoff and initial climb will be the most dangerous due to the overloading of fuel. Mr. Fossett told the BBC "Turbulence is worse at the lower altitudes, so I've got to make my climb to the cruising altitude without encountering any significant turbulence.". The aircraft will cruise around the globe at 49,000 feet.
The GlobalFlyer was built by Scaled Composites the same company that built the first private space craft - SpaceShipOne.
You can learn more about the GlobalFlyer and track progress on the GlobalFlyer website.
February 27, 2005
Over the past few months while flying out of Blue Ash Airport I have encountered a fun looking plane called the Diamond Katana. I have always wondered what it would be like to fly it. I decided to find out first hand. For the past two weeks I have been planning to fly the plane but have been hampered by the weather. Saturday, the weather was hazy but clear enough to allow me to fly.
The plane is owned and rented by Blue Ash Aviation. It is the neighboring fixed based operator to the one I normally fly with. Before I could get out to the plane I had to fill out a few forms and have them review my logbook. But, that was only about a 15 minute set back. Then I met with Tom, a nice flight instructor, who would walk me through the pre-flight and accompany me on my flight and help familiarize me with the plane and its characteristics.
This plane is drastically different to the Cessna's I am used to flying. Here are some key differences:
- The Katana is a low wing plane
- The Katana uses a control stick rather than a yoke
- The are no doors only a sliding canopy
- The plane is built from plastic not aluminum
- Fuel is not gravity fed but requires a fuel pump
We spent 10 minutes reviewing the cockpit features then did a thorough walk around pre-flight check of the plane. After the pre-flight review was completed we climbed in, started her up and headed out to the runway. On our way out to the runway we reviewed the flight performance information. The Pilot Operating Handbook for this plane recommends the use of flaps for takeoff and has a specific takeoff setting for flaps. With the use of flaps the plane begins its takeoff rotation at just 44 knots. Initial climb is at 57 KIAS and then after flaps are raised the final climb is conducted at 78 KIAS.
I could not believe how quickly the plane jumped off the runway as soon as I pulled back on the control stick. This plane wants to fly! One of my biggest concerns for this flight was going to be flying by control stick versus the yoke I am accustomed to. Getting used to the control stick took about 10 seconds if that. It is really and easy way to fly.
We flew direct to the practice area. On the way I enjoyed the enjoyed the great view from the Katana's great canopy window. Once at the practice area I performed some 45 degree bank turns. It was at this point that I realized this was a sports car compared to the Cessna 152 which is a dependable plane but not built for performance. The plane maneuvered through tight 45 degree banks effortlessly. Next we performed a variety of stalls: Power off, Power on, Takeoff configuration, etc. Although the plane would stall it took barely any effort from me to recover from the stall. The plane naturally wanted to rotate back into a safe flying attitude. This plane just wants to fly!
We then returned to the airport to work on landings. Landings were my other concern coming into this flight. I wondered if landing a low wing plane would be much difficult from a raised wing plane. It really was not. I made four really nice smooth landings.
After the final landing the instructor said he was signing me off on the aircraft so I am free to fly it on my own. I am sure I will soon as it was a joy to fly!
February 26, 2005
Every year the Expiremental Aircraft Association (EAA) host the World's Greatest Aviation Celebration, AirVenture, at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This year the show will have a special exhibit SpacehipOne & its carrier White Knight. SpaceShipOne was the first succesfull civilian-built spaceship that won this summers $10 million Ansari X Prize.
According to AVWeb "EAA AirVenture 2005 will offer all attendees the opportunity to see the aircraft that accomplished that goal and hear from the main participants exactly how it occurred." In a release on the AirVenture site EAA President and AirVenture Chairman stated �SpaceShipOne and White Knight show where the dreams of flight can lead us, to a place where not even the sky is the limit. We are very proud that those who led this achievement received inspiration through EAA and want to share their accomplishment in Oshkosh, where the whole world gathers to celebrate flight.�
AirVenture is slated for July 25 - July 31. I plan to make my second visit to AirVenture sometime during that week.
February 25, 2005
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is reporting that General Aviation (GA) has never been safer. They back that statement up with statistics that show 2004 was the safest year in GA since record keeping began in 1938.
For those interested in learning to fly you will be glad to hear instructional accidents were down by 11.7% and fatal instructional accidents were down by 50%. Please keep in mind too that instructional accidents that result in fatalities are normally infrequent, there were only 17 last year.
I know these statistics would have made my family more comfortable while I was learning to fly.
February 21, 2005
I had a Diamond Katana reserved today for my first flight in about a month. Sadly, the weather has interfered with the flight. I awoke today to low ceilings and the conditions have not changed all day. So, I had to cancel the flight. I am going to try to reschedule for next weekend and hope for better weather.
February 20, 2005
Earlier this year I posted about AOPA sponsored Tsunami relief efforts. In a recent AOPA ePilot Newsletter they announced that member have donated more than $115,000 to Air Serv International. Air Serv is a non-governmental humanitarian organization that used GA Aircraft to provide logistical support to other non-governmental humanitarian organizations.
According to the AOPA Newsletter "Air Serv's C-208B Grand Caravan is being used to transport humanitarian staff, emergency medical supplies, and rabies and tetanus vaccines to Banda Aceh, one of the hardest hit towns in Sumatra. The material is then transferred to helicopters for transport to displaced person clinics along the west coast of Sumatra."
Stu Willcuts of Air Serv said "All of us express our deep appreciation to our AOPA partners for this significant response."
February 18, 2005
This weekend I plan to take my first flight in the Diamond line of aircraft, flying a Diamond Katana rented from Blue Ash Aviation. This will be my first flight in over a month and I am itching to go. As a private pilot you can only rent planes you have been checked out in by the renter. So when I fly the Katana the instructor will familiarize me with the plane and ensure I understand how to fly it safely. After this flight or a subsequent flight I will be "checked out" on that plane and be able to rent it on my own.
To date I have only flown Cessna 152 and 172s. The Cessnas I have flown have been raised wing aircraft with a traditional yoke control. The Katana is a conventional low wing aircraft that is controlled by a control stick between the legs rather than a yoke. I always love new experiences so I am looking forward to flying a plane by stick and rudder. It will also be cool to have a new perspective from the air that will allow we to look up through the Katanas clear canopy.
I read a brief review of the Katana on AVWeb that makes it out to be a fun plane that is excellent for training flights. I will post a review after my flight with my review.