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Monday, December 28, 2020

Here's to a better New Year...

What’s Up
By LeRoy Cook

The week’s activity over the Christmas holiday broken open only after a windy frontal-weather pattern moved on, leaving Christmas Day nicely flyable. The rest of the weekend saw a lot of pent-up demand for flying.

Among the aircraft we saw going in and out were a Bellanca Scout, an RV-8 homebuilt, a Cessna 172 and a Cirrus SR-22 G3. Several Cessnas flew down the RNAV instrument approach path and a Piper Cherokee made some leisurely touch-and-goes on the runway. Of the local based birds, Jim Ferguson took his Cessna Skylane aloft, a Piper TriPacer was out, a couple of Cessna 150s were flown by students, and Will Cook had the Cessna Skyhawk up for some exercise. I provided some Christmas-present intro flights in the Nifty 150.

As we take stock of 2020’s record of accomplishments, we’re just glad to still be here as it flips over to 2021. There were some good flying trips made, an excellent alternative to airlining and driving as we tried to limit our virus exposure. A lot of aviation businesses are hurting, just like their counterparts in other industries. On the one hand, some airports saw increased traffic from private flights dodging public transportation, while other places were sitting idle, waiting on anybody to come by. We noted reduced staffing at airport facilities, perhaps from sickened workers or maybe just lack of need.

We enjoyed lunch with former student Mark Schulenberg, who was here last week. Mark has left the Air Force for a seat in a United Parcel Service Boeing 757, helping Santa Claus get the packages delivered on time for the holidays. In his spare time, he flies with an AF Reserve squadron in a T-38 Talon.

I recently had a panic call from a pilot who said he needed to make an appointment for a Flight Review right away, because his biennial ride with an instructor was due at the end of December. I said I’d accommodate him right after the holiday, but then I looked up his record and found that he wasn’t due until March, 2021. “But my logbook says 12/31/20,” he insisted. I pointed out that that was the date my CFI designation expired, not his endorsement. “Oh.”

Our question from last week was about the paint color used on fire-fighting aircraft, used for dropping water and borate retardant on forest fires. While the converted airliners are exceptions, most of the smaller hot-shot water bombers are high-visibility yellow, which shows up better in the smoke. For next week, tell us what kind of plane was first used for parachuting smoke-jumper firefighters into forest fires, in the 1940s. Send your answer to