Tag Archives: the rogueaviator

ALTERNATIVES TO COMMERCIAL AIR TRAVEL

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The latest bad news from the airport is that the TSA folks have now been caught doing, what we all know they have been doing for some time, and that of course, is stealing computers, watches, wallets etc., from the passengers. I have frequently challenged the TSA reps regarding the security of my very important personal items and was invariably was rudely told “not to worry about it.” It is very clear that the opportunity for theft in the chaos at the checkpoint is extremely high, yet there are no firm procedures to prevent this theft.

The first and best solution to this problem, if you don’t already own your own airplane, is the wide-open world of on-demand jet charter. Drive your vehicle directly to the airport, out onto the tarmac, watch the ramp personnel load your bags in the aircraft baggage compartment, enter the aircraft, and be airborne 10 minutes later, while sipping some Dom Perignom champagne and nibbling on lobster tail. There is of course a small caveat that comes with being a jet- setter: It will be many thousands of dollars to go on a relatively short flight. If you fill the airplane up with traveling passengers the cost is still more than a first-class ticket, but in most instances the convenience will justify it.

If you can’t afford the jet, it is possible to charter a smaller propeller driven airplane at perhaps less than half the tariff of the jet. Needless to say there are downsides: It will likely be noisier and you’ll fly lower and slower which usually results in more turbulence; you will be flying with less experienced pilots, thus diminishing the safety factor. The aircraft maintenance is likely to be poorer than airline standards and the pilots are more likely to be fatigued. The rate of fatal accidents in on-demand small airplane charter is extremely high, but, it is infinitely safer than battling the 18-wheel “semis” on the interstate.

Now we will take this transportation equation to a much higher level. There are numerous aviation entrepreneurial people who are designing automobiles that fly, or if you prefer, airplanes that can be driven down the road. Furthermore, the ICON amphibious air machine is getting very close to production (http://www.iconaircraft.com/). This fun little bird allows you to tie it up at your dock, take off down the lake, and land on nearly any hard surface runway, other than the major hub airports, as well as a lake. Of equal importance is the fact that it can burn standard auto gas (nearly half the price of avgas) at an extraordinarily low rate of 4 gallons an hour while you cross the terra firma at 110 miles an hour.

At this year’s EAA Air Adventure extravaganza at Oshkosh, Wisconsin the Terrrafugia was a highlight. It was not just a static display, it actually flew. This aptly named transportation device appears to be the real deal. This roadable airplane is gaining some traction (http://www.terrafugia.com/) The Switchblade (http://goo.gl/HNh6cJ0) is another air/highway machine-in-the-making that has some viability. Two years ago I flew the above-mentioned ICON simulator at the Oshkosh Air Show and became infatuated with the ICON; an amphibious flying critter, it is getting close to production. If you live on the water it is the ultimate “boy-toy.” The Flintstones/Jetson family’s flying car is now out of the realm of fantasy. One can also consider getting from A to B with their jetpack. Hooray for creative, entrepreneurial engineers—and their financiers. Roadable airplanes will soon be as ubiquitous as drones.

This blog is prepared by Allen Morris, aka Ace Abbott, a retired commercial pilot, and aviation author; The Rogue Aviator (www.therogueaviator.com) and Dead Tired (http://www.deadtiredpilots.com/). The “Ace Abbott Aviation Affair” talk show is available at http://webtalkradio.net/

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A SUPER STAR AVIATRIX HAS LEFT US

Marylee at the 727 flight engineer’s panel

Aviation World Mourns Loss of Evelyn Bryan Johnson

‘Mama Bird’ was the highest-time female pilot in history

Evelyn Johnson        Evelyn Bryan Johnson in 2003. (Photo courtesy John Riedel/Women in Aviation International)

May 14, 2012 – Evelyn Bryan Johnson, who had more flight hours logged than any living female pilot in the world, died Thursday, May 10, in Jefferson City, Tennessee. She was 102 years old. According to the National Aviation Hall of Fame, which inducted her in 2007, “Mama Bird” Bryan Johnson had 57,635 flight hours – more flying time than any woman in aviation history and second all-time only to Ed Long’s 64,000. She also taught more than 5,000 pilots how to fly, and as an FAA designated pilot examiner since 1952, conducted more than 9,000 checkrides. Evelyn was a member of EAA from 1979 to 2009, and was a Vintage Aircraft Association member from 1980 to 2008. * (excerpt from the May 14, 2012 EAA electronic newsletter)

Evelyn is one of the many wonderful women in aviation who has contributerd so much to fellow pilots. One of her colleagues stated that she had trained as many as 3,ooo pilots who went on to get their private pilot’s license. During my many air show presentations of my book, The Rogue Aviator, I have been fortunate enough to meet and chat with several of the WASP aviatrix ladies and it was always an enlightening experience. Many of them, now in their 90’s, have the spirit and mental acuity of a teenager. The level of chutzpah that they exhibited by going off to fly airplanes is an example of getting “way out of the box,” especially if you consider that is was only a couple of decades prior when women were finally given the right to vote.

During my 36 year aviation career I was fortunate enough to have trained several lady pilots in my capacity as a check-airman in the Boeing 727. One of those ladies was Marylee Bickford. We flew together at four different airlines and became good friends. For nearly a decade she insisted that I write a book about my radical aviation career. Here goading was the impetus for my book. Yesterday, my wife and I met her for lunch in Sausalito, California and she once again displayed that wonderful personality pizazz that led her to aviation as a young woman. The Powder Puff Derby and the organization, Women In Aviation provide a wonderful platorm for the aviatriz. As the cliche goes, “You go girl!”

This blog is prepared by Ace Abbott, author of The Rogue Aviator: in the back alleys of aviation.  www.therogueaviator.com