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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Some good news for Boeing

What’s Up

By LeRoy Cook

Returning to the alternating low clouds and strong winds scenarios, last week saw limited traffic at the Butler airport. It wasn’t much fun to bounce around in 35-knot winds, and about all we could do was regroup to plan flights for another day. Patience is the greatest of virtues, when it comes to staying safe.

 Friday was a rotorwing day. A Eurocopter BK-117 medevac helicopter from Cox Air Care sat in lor a bit, while a pesky mist was falling, and a UH-60 Army Guard Blackhawk came through later on the VOR-A instrument approach. Saturday’s slow-moving front kept SkyDive KC grounded through mid-day Sunday. A few jump runs were made Sunday afternoon, with pilot Chris Hall still nursing his sore back from last month’s fall from a ladder.

 There was good news last week for Boeing Airplane Company, after two years of posturing and pontificating over the 737 Max airliner. The Federal Aviation Administration finally cleared it to fly again, with a lot of mandated retraining for pilots on the redesigned trim system. At this point, it’s probably the safest airplane in the sky, because everybody has known for a long time what went wrong and what to do about it. But every politician around the world had to extract their pound of flesh in order to look good, even if they knew nothing about building airliners.

 Meanwhile, the last of British Airways’ Boeing 747s was flown off to retirement last week, one of the final Jumbo Jets still hauling passengers. I guess I’ll never get to chance to ride in one; I’ve been in Lockheed L-1011 and Boeing 767 widebodies, but somehow my travels never coincided with a 747 trip. I still like to quote the old long-haul captain who said “the only reason I fly four-engine airliners over oceans is because they don’t make five-engine ones.” From my first airline flight in 1963, I always liked to see two motors on each wing.

 It appears that the Fliars Club will not be taking to the air this Saturday morning. It being Thanksgiving weekend, We-Be-Smokin’ at Miami County, our most convenient fly-out, may be closed, and out of concern for the Covid worries it’s probably best to stand down.

 Our weekly question was about the Air Force’s “SAM flight” designation. That call sign is associated with the Special Air Missions Wing’s operations out of Joint Base Andrews in Washington, D.C. While it’s more famous for lofting “Air Force One” to carry the President, SAM flights do a lot of lesser movements, like making sure Speaker Pelosi gets back and forth to California. For next week, tell us what funky airplanes were built in Coffeyville, Kansas. Send your answers to