Jean Ross Howard Phelan, a pioneering airplane and helicopter pilot, died early last month at the age of 87. During World War II she helped aviation legend Jackie Cochran run a base for the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). She learned to fly under the Civilian Pilot Training program (which later banned women from its ranks) and, in 1954, became only the eighth woman in the U.S. to get her helicopter rating.
The winter storm that stranded thousands of travelers throughout the Northeast in the middle of February didn’t put a damper on this year’s annual Women in Aviation International (WAI) conference. In fact, a record 3,200 people attended the event, held February 15 to 17 at the Walt Disney World Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Fla. Conference organizers say they received just 127 cancellations.
For many years, companies such as Space Expeditions, Space Adventures and even some airlines have been seriously talking about lofting paying passengers into space on privately operated (non-governmental) vehicles. When Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne won the X-Prize on Oct. 5, 2004, it dawned on people that this idea was a real near-term probability.
Although the FAA has finally acquiesced to allowing commercial pilots to fly past their 60th birthday, a group of legislators has introduced a bill that would move the process along at what passes for “warp speed” in Congress.
The four largest fractional operators–NetJets, Flight Options, Flexjet and CitationShares–hired 11 pilots in March, compared with none during the same month last year, according to figures compiled by AIR Inc. of Atlanta. The March figure brings to 56 the number of fractional pilots hired in the first quarter, versus 47 in the same period last year.
The “right stuff” might be your answer, particularly if you liked what author Tom Wolfe had to say in his recounting of America’s efforts to send a man to space. Was Wolfe referring to what it takes to be the first man on the moon, or was he addressing high-performance vehicles in general?
To borrow the term “caveat emptor” (Latin for “let the buyer beware”) and mangle it only a bit, flight crews of aircraft that require two pilots should be aware that in some countries both of those pilots need to be type rated in that particular airplane.
Sixty-three percent of the more than 300 pilots responding to a survey on the NBAA Web site said there should be no maximum pilot age limit for operating turbine aircraft under Part 121 in U.S. airspace.
The helicopter industry as a whole is as healthy as it has ever been, at a time when the retirements of Vietnam-era pilots and mechanics are causing a shortage of qualified personnel.
HAI president Matt Zuccaro said the situation has not reached the crisis level yet, but he added that the shortage is being felt by operators who are having trouble filling the seats of their helicopters with qualified pilots.
After a decades-long battle, the FAA capitulated to the court of international opinion in late January, announcing that it will propose a new rule to permit Part 121 pilots over age 60 to fly as part of a two-pilot crew when the other crewmember is under age 60.