Aviation buzz and bold opinions in less than 2 minutes, brought to you by CommAvia.com
Aviation buzz and bold opinions in less than 2 minutes, brought to you by CommAvia.com
A Unique Around-the-World Journey Heads East
A Unique Around-the-World Journey Heads East
As you read this story, Mason Andrews should be winging his way eastward out of Italy toward Croatia while sitting in the left seat of his dad’s Piper Lance (a link to the full podcast is at the bottom of this story).
Andrews was one very lucky young man when he asked his dad to borrow the airplane for a trip and received a thumbs up. OK, that’s not completely accurate unless you understand the context, that the senior Andrews did actually express a few reservations when young Mason mentioned the length of the trip … around the world.
And yes, his dad definitely raised an eyebrow when Mason told him he wanted to make the trip alone. Mason Andrews, a newly minted instrument pilot and Louisiana Tech student just recently turned 18.
When Mason Andrews completes his round-the-world trip, he should become the youngest person to complete a global trip solo. Mason wasn’t making the trip to become famous, although he likely will. The trip was actually designed to raise money for MedCamps of Louisiana to fund summer camp for kids with special needs, a summer event where Andrews also serves as a counselor.
About the Aircraft
The Piper Lance Mason will fly has been modified to carry enough fuel for legs as long as 18 hours. The Lance cruises at about 140 knots burning 13.5 gallons per hour. The first leg of the flight began last week from Republic Field on Long Island NY. The first leg took him from Republic to St. Johns Newfoundland. Mason’s flight plan includes a stop at Paris LeBourget, site of Charles Lindbergh’s arrival following his record-setting solo flight in 1927. Mason Andrews said he believes the flight’s biggest challenge will be “weather.” The Lance is much better equipped to keep him informed of the weather than Lindbergh could have ever imagined.
My EAA Radio co-host Amy Laboda and I managed to convince Mason to join us for an interview last week during our regularly scheduled “Attitude Adjustment,” show at AirVenture 2018.
One of the first things Mason mentioned the day I met him was that he was still celebrating the two-year anniversary of his first solo as a student pilot from Monticello Airport (LLQ) in Arkansas.
I think you’ll find Mason’s story worthy of 10 minutes of your time. Click here to give it a listen. You can also follow Mason’s journey on Facebook.
If you enjoyed Mason Andrews’s story, brought to you by Jetwhine.com, in collaboration with EAA Radio, we invite you to subscribe to Jetwhine.com. It’s free. You can also follow Jetwhine on Twitter @jetwhine and EAA Radio @eaaradio. Enjoy.
Rob Mark, Publisher
Al Bean: An Astronaut of Many Colors
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By Micah Engber
Al Bean. I just liked saying the name when I was a kid. It was a cool name, sounded like he would be a cool guy, what a neat name for an astronaut, for the fourth person to ever set foot on the moon. If it weren’t for that cool name, at least pretty cool to a 13 year old boy, I might not know much about Al Bean. Unlike some other astronaut names I know, that are in the forefront of my brain, Captain Bean didn’t fly a lot of missions, but he sure did save the day on one of them.
Turns out Al Bean was a pretty cool guy, and one of my childhood heroes; it also turns out, that I guess I’m at the age where I’m starting to lose a lot of them. Now the last survivor of Apollo 12 is gone.
Born in 1932 Alan Bean was a Texas boy and a University of Texas graduate with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. He was part of Navy ROTC at UT and after graduating, being commissioned, and getting through flight school, he flew the F9F Cougar and A4D Skyhawk. Eventually he was assigned to the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, where Pete Conrad was his instructor.
Al Bean applied for Astronaut Group Two, and was rejected. That didn’t discourage him though he applied and was accepted to Astronaut Group Three along with Buzz Aldrin, Gene Cernan, Mike Collins and ten other names you may know. He was assigned as backup command pilot for Gemini 10 but never did fly Gemini; in fact he never got assigned an Apollo mission either. He ended up in the Apollo Applications Program where he worked on the Neutral Buoyancy Simulator and was the first astronaut in the tank to try it.
He had resigned himself to not fly Apollo when some luck struck him, both good and bad. You see fellow Astronaut Group Three alum and Apollo 12 Lunar Module Pilot Clifton Williams was lost in the crash of his T-38. Pete Conrad, Apollo 12 Commander remembered training Al Bean at Patuxent River and personally requested that he become Clifton Williams’ replacement. See what I mean, good and bad luck at the same time.
Al Bean was the right man for the job; in fact he saved the day. You see, Apollo 12 was struck by lightning on launch, and it knocked out the telemetry, as you can imagine quite a problem for a rocket on its way to the moon. In trying to restore telemetry the command came from ground, “… try SCE to ‘Aux”, an obscure switch that seemed to stump both Commander Pete Conrad and Command Module Pilot Richard Gordon. But Al Bean knew it! With Pete Conrad’s hand firmly grasping the abort handle Al Bean saved the mission.
Pete Conrad and Al Bean landed Lunar Module Intrepid on the lunar surface and did two EVA’s. Turns out, mixed in with all the hard work, there was also quite a bit of fun on the moon. One of the mission objectives was to collect some material from the Surveyor program, an unmanned two year NASA mission that demonstrated the feasibility of soft landings on the moon pre-Apollo. Al Bean had smuggled a camera timer on board Apollo 12 so he could take a photo of himself and mission Commander Pete Conrad in front of the Surveyor. Something that was done as a practical joke for NASA scientists as they knew nothing about the timer. But when the time came to take the picture, he couldn’t find the timer, and the photo was never taken. When he did find the timer, just before boarding the Lunar Module for departure, he just tossed it away over his shoulder.
The timer isn’t the only thing Al Bean tossed away on the moon. He’d worn a silver astronaut pin for six years. As an astronaut that completed training but had not yet flown a mission he was not entitled to a gold pin. Knowing he would be awarded his gold astronaut pin upon his return to earth Al Bean tossed his silver one into a lunar crater.
There were a few other little ditties that I could retell. Some Playboy Bunny photos att
Favorite Flights I Never Flew
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Favorite Flights I Never Flew, by Micah Engber, contributor
The mid to late 1980’s were the heyday of Frequent Flyer Programs. Since deregulation, the advent of low-cost airlines a-la People Express and Southwest, the mainline carriers were searching for a means to maintain their customer base, or as some said, their “strangle hold” on the industry. Frequent Flyer Programs started with American Airlines and quickly spread to all the others. By coincidence, this was also the time when, while living in Pueblo, Colorado, I was doing a good deal of commercial flying.
Pueblo was only served by Rocky Mountain Airlines (Continental Express) when I started flying from there and that was fine by me. There were three or four daily flights back and forth to the Denver, Stapleton hub, and I always loved climbing on board the de Havilland Dash-7’s or Dash-6 Twin Otters. (Later America West made a daily stop on a 737 flight from Phoenix to Colorado Springs and back. It always seemed like it would have been strange to fly the less than 50 mile leg PUB to COS but I never had the opportunity.)
I joined the Continental One Pass Program early on and was soon an Elite Platinum member. What a wonderful way to fly! In those days most flights were way below capacity which meant I was almost always bumped up to First Class. Although First Class amenities weren’t even near what Business Class is today, it was still pretty spectacular compared to coach. All of the gate agents in Pueblo and some in Denver knew me by name and I was treated like a king.
Many people remember the baggage disaster that took place when the new Denver airport opened, but really it wasn’t very different from the old days back at Stapleton. The Continental Express concourse was located at the other end of the airport from Continental’s mainline terminal and although it seemed my bags always made it outbound with me, they generally never accompanied me home. But the service was still spectacular.
When I would arrive home in Pueblo the gate agent, having already seen my name on the flight manifest and recognizing me as a very frequent flyer, would pull me aside, tell me my bags didn’t make and that they would be delivered right after the next flight was turned around. Who could ask for more?
I kept flying and kept my points banked. At that time, status with Frequent Flyer programs was based on points accumulated, not annual miles flown. I was in great shape as a Platinum One Pass member.
By 1990 I could see that Frequent Flyer programs were changing along with the airline business. People Express had disappeared as had the original Frontier. Eastern Airlines and Pan Am were in trouble. TWA and America West were not far behind. Frequent Flyer programs were changing, and not for the better.
I had moved to Maine and also found that while wealthy with points I was not very liquid in cash. If points were stocks it was time to sell. So I did, both literally and figuratively.
After reserving a few points for something in particular I had in mind; I sold off the remaining points for cash through some specialty travel agents. I must say I did very well. Then I went ahead and used the reserved points for a special flight.
My parents had been talking about another trip to Paris for some time. They had been there together before, and my father had been there on his own many times during World War II. He even studied at The University of Paris post war.
Their 35th wedding anniversary was coming up and it was time to get them back to Paris. Still being within the golden years of Frequent Flyer programs, as a special anniversary present I was able to use my points to get them to Paris, round-trip in First Class. It was not a flight for me to fly, but nonetheless a memorable one that was worth every last point used f
Veterans Day as a Time to Reflect
Veterans Day as a Time to Reflect
Funny how another person can make you think differently about something you thought you already understood. For me it’s my time in the military, the U.S. Air Force in the 1960s to be precise.
When Jetwhine contributor Micah Engber mentioned a Veteran’s Day podcast a few months back, I wondered why. He’d never served. But his idea for telling a unique story kept bugging me until I realized here was a non-vet with something to share and me, a real vet … I had nothing.
It took me awhile to come to grips with my issues. Turned out I’m pretty burned out on all the sloppy love people seem to have for vets these days, tossing around “Thanks you for your service,” and sticking “we support our troops” on the butt end of their cars as if that alone makes a difference. President after president seems not to understand that we all too often forget about these men and women once they come back stateside … the one time when Americans could actually put their money where their mouthes and their stickers are. It’s the insincerity of it all that makes me want to scream at times. Could it be worse, sure. When I left the Air Force in the 70s, people were generally indifferent to service men and women.
But listening to Micah’s stories of his grandfather and dad made me realize the two great wars taught him things in a way I never experienced. My dad wasn’t a vet. I don’t fault him for that since he had a hearing problem from the time he was a kid. But it meant there was no one in my family to hear stories from or ask questions of.
I think Micah grew up listening to those stories, but actually grew up as he listened. He grew when he asked the questions others thought he should have left alone. After this seven minute piece, I realized I was envious of Micah. While I’m glad he had that time with the guys in his family, I wished I’d been able to share the same thoughts with my family and people who wanted to know more. Maybe I will some day. Until then, have a peaceful Veterans Day.
Rob Mark, publisher
Veterans Day (script)
Here in the USA Veteran’s Day used to be called Armistice Day. It celebrated the end of World War I. We celebrate it on November 11 as the treaty between the Allies and Germany was signed at Compiègne, France on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. If I understand it correctly, this same day is celebrated in Britain and the Commonwealth countries as Remembrance Day. A far more dignified and appropriate name. As usual here in the USA we changed the nature of the celebration and have turned it into something else completely, but at least we haven’t changed it to a “Monday Holiday” well, not yet anyway.
I grew up with a great respect for Armistice Day in my house. My grandfather, Grandpa Max, served in the US Navy in World War I, and during the Mexican Campaign before that. Some listeners may remember that he and I shared our first ever flights together in August of 1969, he at the age of 73, me at 13.
My father, Lew, was a World War II veteran of the US Army and was a called back to The US Air Force as a retread for Korea. He was rightfully very proud of his service, and I was, and still am quite proud of him as my Dad. He was part of that group of people called “the greatest generation” by newscaster Tom Brokaw, so were most of my mother and father’s friends and family. I was raised by this generation, as well as the generation before, that fought World War I.
As part of “The Greatest Generation” at the age of 18 he was drafted out of his engineering studies at CCNY and landed in England on his 19’th birthday. He would have been one of the first to land on Omaha Beach during D-Day but looking back on it, I suppose he was fortunate to have been injured during the preparations for that invasion;
The FAA Lost Me at “Innovative Solution”
I was really starting to like the FAA the past few years, what with the Part 23 rewrite and passage if 3rd Class Medical reform. I saw them as more of a kinder, gentler agency … more let’s all work together for the greater good and that sort of thing … until a couple of weekends ago at least. That’s when the FAA performed one of those end runs around everyone, slipping a settlement on Santa Monica airport mess in under everyone’s radar on a Saturday morning.
The FAA’s deal with Santa Monica allows the city to chop up the airport’s single runway as soon as the ink’s dry on the necessary paperwork. That should shrink Runway 03/21 from 4,973 feet to something closer to 3,500, just short enough to make it useless for most jets and even some large chartered turboprops.
I suppose the agency was thinking the good news inside this “innovative solution” as the administrator called it, was that the airport will remain open for business until 2028, if the city hasn’t already driven everyone away by then of course.
But seriously … they see this deal as innovative?
Let me quote Administrator Michael Huerta. “Mutual cooperation between the FAA and the city enabled us to reach this innovative solution, which resolves longstanding legal and regulatory disputes. This is a fair resolution for all concerned because it strikes an appropriate balance between the public’s interest in making local decisions about land use practices and its interests in safe and efficient aviation services.”
A fair resolution? I’m struggling with this one. Sure municipalities ought to have a say in local airport operations, but what about this solution strikes anyone as innovative or fair?
The FAA and the City have been in this skirmish for decades of course and we all knew something had to give sooner or later.
But from this point on, the agency is going to have a tough time convincing anyone of their support for the industry if everyone knows they’re willing to pull another Meigs Field fiasco at the 11th hour. And let’s be serious, this really is a Meigs Field like move.
The City of Chicago closed Meigs Field to create a new park. – Photo courtesy Lee Hogan
The agency says this historic agreement removes the uncertainty of the airport closing at a moment’s notice like Meigs. The FAA says they’ll be on their toes to enforce the Santa Monica agreement. Yeah, right.
But if this agreement is so innovative, so grand, so historic, why sneak it in under the media radar on Saturday morning where PR writers only send the news releases they hope no one will really notice?
Some readers told me they think the settlement was nudged along by the new administration at the last minute, but I doubt it.
The FAA just doesn’t move that fast … unless it’s in their best interests I guess.
Hmmm … now where are those stupid thumbs down emojis you need them? Ah yes …
I’m Rob Mark in Chicago.
Can Airports Help Revive the Aviation Industry?
Can Airports Help Revive the Aviation Industry?
Dear Reader / Listeners – You now have the option to listen to The Aviation Minute podcast or just read the script of the show below. If you receive Jetwhine via e-mail, you can click here to listen as well.
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I knew we had a lot of landing areas here in the United States … but 19,315 according to the FAA? Wow. That number is of course broken down into traditional airports, heliports, seaplane bases.
No matter what you call them or what they look like, they all have one thing in common. They represent a place where airplanes, helicopters and seaplanes come home to roost from time to time.
Some of those airports represent much more of an opportunity to me than simply as landing areas though.
The aviation industry is still suffering from an economic recession of sorts.
In the early 1980s, we produced 15,000 piston aircraft. Last year we produced 1,328. In the 1990s we had over 700,000 pilots on the FAA register. Today that numbers in the high 500,000s.
Student pilot starts are down from the old days too with nearly 7 in 10 students quitting long before they ever earn a pilot certificate. Aircraft maintenance technician numbers have been flat since 1990, which equates to zero growth. Worst of all, 75% of the AMTs today are over the age of 50.
As an industry, our ship has been taking on water for sometime despite a number of conscientious initiatives to increase the pilot, mechanic and airplane supply, most of which haven’t moved the needle much.
If we don’t figure out a way to start bringing new blood into the industry soon, there won’t be enough people to fly the airplanes we build, or fix them, or service them at those thousands of U.S. airports.
The question is how to fix the problem we all know about, but that many people still seem to believe is someone else’s problem?
Rather than another national initiative, what if we focused our triage efforts locally … at our neighborhood airport? When people think of learning to fly, they go to the airport. If they want to buy a plane they often visit the airport first. When they need one fixed, or they want a hangar, they head to the airport.
This is where I think airport managers can help. Traditionally, they focus on keeping the airport alive with solid pavement, newly mown grass and runway lights that work … all very necessary tasks. But marketing the industry is not something airport people normally think about.
But what if airport managers started thinking a bit more about marketing, I think they might just transform their airport into a local industry beacon of sorts, one that encourages people to learn to fly, or become involved in any of a half dozen other careers within the industry?
I’m not asking airport managers to fix the industry’s personnel woes all alone, just help coordinate local efforts with the airport tenants whose companies need the boost as much as the industry. Imagine organizing a couple of career days, or a Young Eagles Rally or two to stimulate interest.
What about an airport Facebook page or a blog to tell the local community about the value of the airport, one that regularly posts photos or stories gathered from airport tenants? Before you know it we might even convince the community around our airports to ignore those 8-foot barbed wire fences and stop in for a visit.
I think airport managers are up to the challenge of coordinating the local marketing efforts for our industry. We’ll talk more about the actual tactics in another episode too.
And for those naysayers who are already saying that will never work … tell me what you’d suggest instead because I haven’t seen much working lately.
If we don’t all start realizin