It was late on an autumn night as I swung the car into the rough lane that leads to our house. A few feet beyond the mailbox post, the headlights caught something in the grass. At first it could have been a rabbit standing tall, but closer inspection revealed it to be a magnificent bird, most likely a Peregrine falcon but possibly a gyrfalcon, and it had chosen our lane as a resting place on its migratory route.
News and issues concerning general aviation, specifically airplanes and helicopters powered by piston and alternative engines (i.e., non-turbine powered aircraft). Subjects include aircraft, engines, personnel, acquisitions, accidents, safety, security and training.
The diesel-powered Diamond DA42 TwinStar made its first flight on December 9 from the factory at Wiener Neustadt, Austria. TwinStar’s Thielert Centurion 1.7 engines rated at 135 hp each are designed to operate on both diesel fuel and jet-A1. The composite-construction four-seat aircraft has a single-lever power control for each engine, fuel consumption of 67 pph at 180 kt and an option for an all-glass cockpit.
GECI International is offering its Skylander SK-100 light utility aircraft for sale and intends to fully launch the program in April. The program has been in the works since 2001, and the France-based company hopes to deliver the first aircraft from its factory in Evora, Portugal, in 2011.
Mesa Air Group has cut salaries among its senior management by 23 percent; the company will credit the proceeds to US Airways in support of the major airline’s restructuring efforts. Mesa has also asked its US Airways Express employees to voluntarily agree to defer up to 23 percent of their salaries. US Airways has agreed to repay all the deferrals upon its emergence from bankruptcy protection.
When aerospace designer Burt Rutan rolled out his manned suborbital spaceflight program and its centerpiece, SpaceShipOne (SS1), from its Mojave, Calif., hangar in April last year, reporters asked about his plans for space tourism. Rutan said he himself wasn’t interested in launching a space tourism business, but he hoped others would be able to use his technology “sometime in the future” to begin a new space industry.
In preparation for his solo nonstop around-the-world (ATW) flight tentatively scheduled for January, adventurer and solo ATW balloonist Steve Fossett has begun familiarization flights in the single-engine Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer in Mojave, Calif., following a number of envelope expansion flights by Scaled Composites project engineer and test pilot Jon Karkow.
In the past, turboprop singles used for business flying typically did not offer the speed, load capability or systems redundancy of turboprop twins, though singles have amassed a comparable safety record. But the differences between them are disappearing with the advent of new breed of turboprop singles destined to enter the market in the next two or three years.
During the heyday of small-airplane manufacturing in the mid- to late 1970s, factories in Wichita, Lock Haven and Vero Beach built tens of thousands of airplanes, and every one of them somehow had to find its way from the conclusion of the production flight-test process into the hands of an owner or dealer.
Kevin Laufer, a GIV captain for an international reinsurance company based in Bermuda and the owner of a 1946 Globe Swift, recently established the Tailwheel Pilots Association (TPA). He says that 1,000 taildragger enthusiasts have already joined.
Elling Halvorson, chairman of Papillon Airways, and a team of investors composed of helicopter industry executives have acquired Soloy Corp., an engine mod company. Soloy will operate as a stand-alone company and will remain located in Olympia, Wash., according to Halvorson. Soloy was founded in 1970 by Joe Soloy, who died in February at age 78.