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Every Professional Pilots Dream

This great ad from Lufthansa shows crew being treated like celebrities.  Combine a professional soccer team and airline crew and the outcome is a pilot’s dream come true!

The short video is in German with English subtitles.

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Aviat Husky tows skier up mountain in Alaska

This video combines our two favorite things in the world – skiing and flying. Though we doubt we’d be brave enough to try this.

Towed behind an airplane – now that’s one creative and quick way of getting to the top!

U.S. Ski Team member Reese Hanneman is being towed by an Aviat Husky airplane somewhere in the Alaska range.   Hanneman tweeted the video on from his profile and it got picked up by Alaska Dispatch, citing a number of FAA regulations that were likely broken during this stunt.  He is personally not breaking any laws by agreeing to be towed up the hill. The ‘N’ or registration number of the plane is not visible nor the pilot identified.

Hanneman is the winner of the classic sprint in the 2014 US Cross Country Championships. He is used to going fast!

The Aviat Husky is a popular tail dragger bush plane, very capable in mountain and off airport environments.

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Heavy winds push Westjet Boeing 737 away from the gate at Halifax Airport

After a four hour storm closure at Halifax international airport, the strong winds pushed this 737 away from the gate. The winds hit the vertical stabilizer causing the large aircraft to drift. Luckily no one was trying to board at the time.

This rather long, 11 minute video shows the plane being pushed by the wind, an event which happened earlier this month.  It’s amazing that ground crew are able to stand up straight given the wind is strong enough to move an airplane that weights 110,000 lbs! However, it is because the vertical stabilizer acts as a sail, catching the wind, causing the aircraft to weathervane into the wind. The wind is blowing from the right, from the pilots perspective, which causes the nose also to weathervane to the right.  No doubt the icy runway conditions make it even easier for the wind to slide the aircraft like that.

The jet was being prepared for a flight to Toronto after waiting out a long snowstorm that closed the airport.  Ground crew can be seen trying to push the plane back as it moves to the left.  Great catch, guys!

Here is a statement released by Westjet about the occurrence:

“This is truly a rare occurrence and even more rare to catch it on video. You really were at the right place at the right time! We are very happy with how our ground crew and TechOps AME (Aircraft Maintenance Engineer) handled this situation. Our AME (in the blue vest) was at the aircraft within 10 seconds and our ramp crews (yellow/orange vests) had all ground service equipment away from the aircraft within 40 seconds, which prevented any damage to the aircraft and kept our crews and guests safe while they secured the aircraft with a tug and tow bar. This video is a great reminder of the power of Mother Nature!”

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The Road to Learjet 85 First Flight

Watch the creation of Learjet’s latest jet, the Learjet 85, which was created via partnership with current Learjet owner Bombardier Aerospace.

Ralph Acs, the VPGM for Learjet explains the ‘labour of love’ that allowed them to create the largest, fastest and furthest flying Learjet ever. The Learjet 85 is the first primarily composite aircraft built by Learjet, and it is the largest, fastest and furthest flying aircraft Learjet has ever built.

The jet, registered N851LJ  took it’s first flight on April 9, 2014 at 8:19 CST from Wichita, Kansas and flew to an altitude of 30,000 feet at an airspeed of 250 knots. Flight time was approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Watch the proud moment:

About the Learjet

The aircraft is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW3073 engines.  These engines each produce 6100 pounds of thrust.  The Learjet 85 is a mid size jet which is now larger, and features a more comfortable cabin than those aircraft in the same class. Aircraft in the same class include  the Cessna Citation Sovereign and the Hawker 900XP.

It is the first ‘clean sheet’ aircraft Bombardier has designed in over a decade.  It is the first all-composite business jet to be certified under FAA Part 25 – airworthiness standards.  The 85 features a composite fuselage and composite wing.  Bombardiers new factory located in Queretaro, Mexico, is where the composite components are being manufactured.

Learjet 85 cockpit. Image from the Bombardier website.
Learjet 85 cockpit. Image from the Bombardier website.


As the largest Learjet ever built, the 85 features a stand-up cabin capable of carrying eight passengers, with a maximum cruising speed of Mach 0.82 – that is around 528 knots, or 978 km/h.  Fast!  Range, as measured with four passengers on board is estimated at 3000 nm.  Estimated price is $17.1 million.

Maximum ceiling is 49,000 feet and maximum takeoff weight is 33,500 lbs (15,195 kg) in 1465 meters (under 5000 feet).  The goal was to create a takeoff weight of under 5000 feet because many GA runways in the US are of that length.

The Learjet company was incorporated into Bombardier in 1990.

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Open Airplane website expands service to airplane owners

Open Airplane is the creator of a “zip car” -like rental platform for airplanes, and they have just started offering their network sharing services to aircraft owners. The concept opened initially to FBO (fixed base operators) and flight schools, includes these planes in the rental pool.

How does it work?

Membership requires pilots to one annual checkout and then they are able to rent planes all over the country.  Pilots interested in renting from the pool must go to their closest FBO or flight school that is a part of the program and get their checkride done with an instructor.  It’s a more rigorous evaluation that your bi-annual review, as the Universal Pilot Checkout includes an hour long oral exam followed by an hour plus flight with an instructor where candidates are expected to fly at flight test standards.

Hence, if you are interested in applying for membership, you should be well prepared for your checkride, and should go up with your instructor first to make sure you can perform maneuvers to private pilot flight test standards. Plus, the checkride is pass-fail.

Annual ground and flight check

Once you pass the ground and flight tests, you can rent anywhere from the network. Along from the annual check flight pilots will also have to participate in a local knowledge briefing. The checkride must be done, obviously, in the same aircraft you are renting.  You will also have to obtain your own renters insurance with a minimum of $250,000 in liability coverage.

Free to list your aircraft in the pool

It’s free for FBO’s, flight schools, and even flying clubs to list their airplanes on the network.  Open Airplane earns revenue by charging member’s credit cards and keeping a 10% rental fee, which is based on wet Hobbs time. Some fine print includes that you must pay when you cancel your reservation or show up late with the plane. If you are approved only for VFR flying, you can cancel your flight without penalty if the visibility is less than 6 miles, the ceiling is less than 3000′ and the crosswind greater than 15 knots.

Now available for aircraft owners

Now, Open Airplane also operates the Collaborative Aircraft Network which allows private airplane owners to throw their aircraft into the rental pool.  Posting the aircraft on the rental pool is free, and the owner gets to decide on the rental rate for their aircraft.  This seems to be a happy medium between aircraft ownership and leasing the airplane when you’re not using it.

Insurance in this case has been arranged with Starr Aviation to provide an entirely new kind of insurance policy for owners exclusively who list their airplane on the Open Airplane network.  Owners can also rate the pilots who rent their airplanes and share their reviews with other owners.

Open Airplane Rental locations
Open Airplane Rental locations

The network has grown to over 52 locations in the U.S., with over 180 aircraft available in the rental pool.  Around 6000 pilots have signed up since the service launched in the summer of 2013.

It makes a lot of sense as many owners just want their planes getting flown if they are not able to fly them. And it will help cover some of the costs associated with airplane ownership.

How about Canada?

Open Airplane states that Canadian pilots can use their network while in the U.S. They state to stay tuned for this service to be available in Canada. Great news!

Check out Open Airplane here.


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81 Turn World Record Inverted Flat Spin

This video of a world record breaking inverted flat spin will make you dizzy just watching it.

The Pitts S-2B just drops like a rock! Watch as he plummets, upside down over 21,000 feet.

Air show performer Spencer Suderman makes an 81 turn, three minute long inverted flat spin in his Pitts S-2B that took him from 23,000 feet to less than 2,000 feet over the California desert. You can watch the altimeter spinning as he’s descends, upside down.

Number of spins: 81.7 – now that’s a precise count.

This was his third attempt to beat the previous record, which is 78 turns set by airshow legend Wayne Handley in a Giles 202 in 1999. In his previous attempts at beating that record, he was able to do 64 spins and 77 spins.

Suderman credits ElectroAir, who makes FAA-certified, variable-timing, electronic ignition systems for this success, allowing his engine to operate at that altitude and throughout the spin.  He is helping the company collect engine data for FAA certification in six-cylinder Lycoming engines.

Suderman had to apply for FAA permission to fly the VFR biplane, built in 1984 over the California desert. Over El Centro, in the Salton Sea, he climbed up to 23,000 which took him approximately 30 minutes. He wore gloves, an oxygen mask and several layers of clothing as the outside temperature was 9 degrees F.   The event was recorded with three onboard cameras.


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