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Why We Fly!

by on Jan.11, 2011, under Articles, Aviation, Aviation News, Green Aviation, Soaring

Note: The following article by Andrew Walter is a great account of what the experience of soaring and flying is all about. If you are new to aviation and soaring, read the footnotes and definitions at the bottom of this article before going on.

WHY WE FLY by Andrew Walter

Many people wonder why I spend most of my time looking up into the sky. I don’t really look for anything particular; I just like to look up into the vibrant blue sky and its liquid mountains that make such a beautiful scene. I always dream and think about flying above the clouds, for far above in the sky, it’s not the same world as it is on the surface of Earth. To be honest, the beauty of flying cannot be fully put into words.

The beauty of flying is unimaginable, the clouds right in your face, if not below you, and the ground far below you. I look down and see the bustling city, all the cars in a traffic jam, and yet here I am just floating past high above. I love looking down on the farm land and all of the rivers and streams as they start to turn golden from the evening sun. There are just so many things that make flying beautiful. From flying high above the clouds where it is absolutely stunningly beautiful, or flying low to the tree line in out in the middle of nowhere chasing the deer. There is simply too much about the beauty of flying that it really cannot be put into words.

People have always asked me why I love flying so much. People always ask me what is it about flying that makes me so addicted to it. To this day, I haven’t been able to find answer to that. There are just simply too many things that words cannot describe, too many things that one has to just experience in order to be able to understand. A lot of times I was picked on for flying, although I think part of it was jealousy. I guess people for some reason always seem to want to poke fun at something they simply cannot understand.

I always think about that time when I was able to fly on the Friday when we had our homecoming football game. I remember walking through the halls of my school hearing everyone so excited about the game. I remember the jocks getting all cocky, the cheerleaders getting all pepped up, everyone just excited about the game. I remember when that final bell rang, everyone headed to the parking lot and off to McDonald’s or some other place to eat before the game that night. I was probably the only car that left that went the opposite way to the airport.

As I arrived at Botsford Airfield I remember seeing the Grob 103 sailplane sitting in the staging area and I figured I might as well take her up for a flight. There weren’t many club members around, none of which anyway wanting to fly, so I headed out to the Grob to do a pre-flight*. I could hear car horns in the parking lot of the stadium which was only about one or two city blocks away.

After I finished the pre-flight I was ready to be towed to the launching area. As I was being towed out I was walking the wing down the runway, looking into the sky for any signs of lift, which luckily seemed to be all over the place. We reached the end of the runway and I pulled the release handle to hook up the towing rope and with a little help got the glider pointed down the runway. Aaron was there to launch me and as I was opening the canopy of the glider I remember him joking saying “There’s a lot of lift up there. I was up for about an hour and a half today, just be back before sunset”.

As I got myself seated in the glider I could hear the announcer at the game start to speak, but I didn’t bother listening in, for I had started the checklist. Aaron had signaled the tow plane to start up. I heard the crowd at the game start to get wild and cheer. With a sputter and bang that Piper Pawnee* came to life and started taxiing* over, while not far away a football was being placed on the field. I felt the tension in the towrope as the slack was being taken out for takeoff when I was hooked up. I looked over at Aaron and gave him the thumbs up and waggled my rudder*, I was ready to go.

Image result for piper pawnee and glider on ground

The tow plane throttled up and we shot down the runway. I lifted off shortly, but still flying close to the ground as the tow plane build up more airspeed. Two city blocks away, our team was running on formation for kickoff. The ball was kicked high into the air as the tow plane and me lifted off and climbed out together.

It didn’t take too long to climb to 3,000 feet which was my planned release altitude. I pulled the release and felt the rope snap out. Following standard procedure I turned to the right as the tow plane did his thing. I was now flying free.

I looked down and saw the game, and realized that everyone from my school was there, only 3,000 feet below me. But yet here I was, the only one, who was flying above. The only one of all those kids who escaped gravity and climbed above which gave me a sense of satisfaction. In my head I heard kids voices say “shut up Andrew and just go fly your plane or glider whatever you call it”. But at his point in time, it didn’t matter, because I was flying, and it’s something that few get to do.

That flight was maybe the first time I realized how special flying really is. There are not too many people who will ever get a pilot’s license, or let alone even get their hands on the controls, which to me is a shame. I think that everyone should at least get a chance to at least fly a plane, even if only for 20 minutes. Ever since that game I had taken many of my fellow classmates flying, all of which loved the experience.

Every person I have taken up into the sky has seemed to have gotten a better understanding of why so many people, yet so few of us love flying. And those who I have asked me what it is like to fly, who I have taken flying, understood why I can’t describe its beauty, for flying is not something that can be put into words. Not to mention that of all the people I have taken flying, seven of those people have looked into getting a pilot’s license, or getting a glider rating.

I think that just by letting people know what it is like to fly, and give people that experience and taste of flight, we could save aviation as it is. Airports are closed every year, and to me it seems fewer and fewer planes are pulled out of the hangars to fly every year. If only people were able to taste flight, I think everyone would be shocked at how many people actually would fall in love with flying. So let this be a message to all pilots, the next time you want to fly, take someone with you who has never flown, and help them understand why we fly.

Definitions:

Pre-flight: To check an aircraft for airworthiness and safety before flight.

Piper Pawnee – a type of powered aircraft, which is commonly used for dust cropping and for towing sailplanes.

Taxi: To move slowly on the ground or on the surface of the water before takeoff or after landing, i.e. “an airplane taxiing down the runway”.

WHAT IS SOARING:

Image result for soaring planes

Soaring can be defined as the act of flying through the air without the aid of an engine and by using updrafts in the air to get up higher. You can see birds doing this all the time. A Glider or a Sailplane is a type of aircraft that achieves this type of flying. Sailplanes ordinarily get off the ground with the help of a tow plane, which is a powered airplane that pulls it up with a long rope.

There is also another type of launch whereby a winch on the ground gets used to help the aircraft gain the initial altitude.

Once up to altitude the sailplane releases from the rope and then flies freely. Finding thermals (rising warm air columns) or other types of updrafts is part of the challenge and fun of flying sailplanes, but by doing this the pilot gains altitude and prolongs his flight.

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The Recreational Aviation Foundation

by on Dec.28, 2010, under Articles, Aviation, Green Aviation, Video of the day

In Friends of Aviation, we are working with a lot of different aviation organizations, both nationwide and worldwide. What we seek  is an increased cooperation between the different parts of the aviation community to push forward our common purpose; to keep the dream of flight alive and to enable the maximum number of people to experience what the freedom of flight is all about.

The Recreational Aviation Foundation, “RAF” was established with the purpose of keeping backcountry airports around the US open. These airstrips are vital for access by air, dispersing recreational access, fire management and search and rescue in areas that are otherwise not very accessible. If you read the great magazine “Pilot Getaways“, you have undoubtely seen some of these airstrips featured.

If you click here or on the video above, you will be able to watch a great 10 minutes presentation of what the RAF does. I encourage you to support their cause, which you can do through their website www.theraf.org.

The article below has also been written for Friends of Aviation by Carmine Mowbray from the Recreational Aviation Foundation, and describes what they do;

THE RECREATIONAL AVIATION FOUNDATION

“Keeping the legacy of recreational aviation strong

by preserving, maintaining and creating

public use recreational

and backcountry airstrips nationwide”

Established around a campfire in the backcountry of Montana in 2003 to respond to continued threats of airstrip closures, the RAF’s mission has struck a chord with pilots throughout the nation. The RAF is a credible voice for backcountry aviation. It advocates that recreational aviation benefits the nation’s economy, fire-fighting, search and rescue operations and that aviation is a legitimate means of public access.

Congress passed a formal House Resolution in September, 2010, concluding:

“The House of Representatives recognizes the value of recreational aviation and backcountry airstrips located on the Nation’s public lands and commends aviators and the various private organizations that maintain these airstrips for public use.”

The RAF builds partnerships with public lands managers such as US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, other conservation organizations and private landowners. The RAF published “Recreational Aviation Issues and Opportunities” addressing all aspects of backcountry aviation for state, regional and national policy makers.

“It surprises public lands managers who get pressure from extreme environmentalists, that aviation is a very low-impact way to access the backcountry”,said RAF vice president Dan Prill. “They appreciate that we advocate the ‘leave no trace’ approach to land use”, he added.

How does the RAF help you? A recent success was the creation of a new 4,000 foot airstrip in Montana’s Lewis & Clark National Forest. The project came to fruition because the Montana Pilots Association partnered with RAF, working closely with the USFS.

On private land, the RAF obtained majority ownership from landowners Ben and Agnes Ryan, for a recreational airstrip adjacent to Glacier National Park – now open to public use, upon confirmed receipt of a current safety briefing.

The RAF is guiding efforts in several states to add language to recreational use laws to limit liability for private landowners with non-commercial airstrips.

“I look forward to partnering to strengthen the voice of recreational aviation which benefits us all”, RAF President John McKenna stated, adding “none of us can do it alone, so we look forward to reinforcing aviation opportunities available for the long run.”

Headquartered in Bozeman, Montana, the RAF is a non-profit public charity with 501 (c) 3 status. All donations are tax-deductible. Officers, directors, liaisons and committee persons are unpaid volunteers. See: www.theraf.org

AOPA president Craig Fuller visits Russian Flat, the new recreational airstrip on USFS land; left to right: Fuller, RAF president John McKenna; RAF director/treasurer Jerry Cain

 

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Aviation Going Green

by on Sep.03, 2010, under Articles, Aviation, Aviation News, General, Green Aviation, Video of the day

CriCri

Electrical Cri Cri

The first electric Cri-Cri airplane was airborne Thursday – for all of seven minutes. The all electric aircraft, jointly developed by EADS Innovation Works, Aero Composites Saintonge and the Green Cri-Cri Association, made its official maiden flight at Le Bourget airport near Paris on Thursday, Sept. 1.Â

“This aircraft flies very smoothly, much more quietly than a plane with conventional propulsion”, said Didier Esteyne, who piloted the all-electric Cri-Cri. “But we are still at the beginning and have a lot to learn.”Â

Click here or on the picture above see a video if its maiden voyage flight. (The narration is in French, but even if you don’t speak the language, it is still worth watching.)Â

The Cri-Cri was originally designed in the early 1970’s by a French aeronautical engineer, Michael Colomban, as the smallest twin-engine airplane in the world.

His goal was to build a very small and economical plane powered by two engines, that would be capable of flying even some aerobatic maneuvers. He also wanted not to exceed his budget over 1000 USD, including two engines, which was quite hard to believe even in early 70s.

At only 4.9 m (16.1 ft) wingspan and 3.9 m (12.8 ft) length, it has become a well known airplane around the world. It is a single-seater, which can even be transported on top of a car. It sort of reminds you of a model airplane on steroids.

Construction time took around 1500 hours for the first airplane and it became a reality in 1973, when it was given the name “Cri-Cri” after Michel Colomban’s daughter, who was often called “Cri-Cri”.Â

The airplane has now been modified and expanded into a 4-engine aircraft with electrical and environmental friendly motors!  The plane has lithium batteries and four electric prop motors that don’t emit carbon dioxide like standard aircraft.

 The Cri-Cri is made relatively lightweight to compensate for the weight of the batteries, the company said. It is CriCri2capable of 30 minutes of cruising and will fly at about 68 mph.Â

There is currently a lot of effort being put into making aviation environmentally friendly. Besides the Cri-Cri, there are also larger projects in the works.

The photo below shows a project currently being worked on by MIT, for an airplane which is estimated to use 70 % less fuel than a conventional aircraft and is designed to carry 180 passengers. The aircraft is referred to as the “double-bubble”. The design uses long, skinny wings, a small tail and – hence the name – replaces the traditional cylindrical fuselage with a two partial cylinders placed side-by-side.

For more information on this project, you can visit MIT’s website http://web.mit.edu/press/2010/green-airplanes.html

 

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