495 Heritage Flights

The president of Planes of Fame tells us about the museum, restoring warbirds and historic aircraft, and flying heritage flights. Also, we look at the world’s largest jet engine, restraints on open-door helicopter flights, United Airlines and dogs, facial scanning at airports, the Boeing 737 Max 7 first flight, hacking the aviation industry, and GPS vulnerabilities.

P-51 Mustang, always a crowd-pleaser for heritage flights

Planes of Fame Air Museum P-51 Mustang


Steve Hinton is president of Planes of Fame Air Museum, which opened in 1957 and now has a collection of over 150 aircraft, more than 50 of which are flyable. The mission of the museum is to preserve aviation history, inspire interest in aviation, educate the public, and honor aviation pioneers and veterans. The Museum spans the history of manned flight from the Chanute Hang Glider of 1896 to the Space Age of Apollo, with locations in Chino, California and Valle-Grand Canyon, Arizona.

Planes of Fame Airshow 2018We talk with Steve about the Museum and the annual Planes of Fame Airshow, in 2018 to be held May 5-6 at Chino Airport in California with about 45 flying warbirds.

Steve explains how the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation pairs modern aircraft with fighter aircraft from the WWII, Korea, and Vietnam eras for dramatic heritage flights around the world. This year he flew a P-51 Mustang leading two A-10s and an F-16 in the heritage flight over the Super Bowl LII opening ceremony.

Steve held a world speed record from 1979 to 1989 and won six Unlimited-class air races, including two national championships. He won four consecutive Unlimited races in one year and remains the only pilot ever to do so. He retired from racing in 1990 and was honored in 2016 with the Crystal Eagle Award from the Aero Club of Northern California.

Steve also owns Fighter Rebuilders, a military aircraft restoration company. He was our guest on Episode 386 in January 2016.

Learn more at the Planes of Fame Air Museum website, follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Aviation News

GE starts flight trials for world’s largest jet engine

On March 13, from Victorville, California, GE’s new GE9X engine flew more than four hours mounted to the company’s 747 testbed aircraft. The 100,000-pound thrust-class engine has a 134-inch fan and is intended for the Boeing 777X, scheduled for EIS in 2020.

Video: GE9X engine soars

Chopper flights with open doors, tight restraints grounded

Open-door helicopter flights are popular with tourists and photographers, but recently one of these flights went down in a river, killing all 5 passengers on board. It appears that they were unable to escape from the harnesses that held them in the chopper. The family of one victim has filed a lawsuit and the FAA issued a temporary nationwide ban on open-door flights unless they are equipped with restraint systems that open with one action.

United Airlines Chartered a Private Jet to Send Irgo the Dog Home

Bad press seems to dog United Airlines frequently these days. But they went above and beyond after mistakenly shipping a German Shepherd Dog to Japan. They returned the pooch via a privately chartered jet.

Facial Scanning Now Arriving At U.S. Airports

Customs and Border Protection is testing biometric scanning at some U.S. international airports at boarding points. Cameras at the gate send passenger photographs to CBP where they are checked against photos on file and to make sure that person is booked on the manifest. Some critics point to possible bias and privacy protection issues.

Boeing Says New 737 MAX 7 Aircraft Completes Successful First Flight

The smallest member of the family, the Boeing 737 MAX 7, flew on March 17, 2018, for 3 hours and 5 minutes. The flight test program now begins with certification and delivery expected in 2019. The airplane has a maximum capacity of 172 passengers and a range of 3,850 nautical miles.

Russian Hackers Attacked U.S. Aviation as Part of Breaches

Bloomberg reports that hackers were attempted to penetrate the U.S. civilian aviation industry early in 2017. Details aren’t provided, but Jeff Troy, executive director of the Aviation Information Sharing and Analysis Center (A-ISAC), said the attack had limited impact. Also that the industry has taken steps to prevent a repeat of the intrusion. US-CERT has issued a detailed report.

Keeping NextGen on the air

A task group co-chaired by AOPA looked at GPS interference when certain military activities are conducted. GPS signals are fragile, says AOPA and the FAA needs to ensure that alternate navigation aids and capabilities are available. The March 2018 report contains 25 recommendations:  Operational Impacts of Intentional GPS Interference: A Report of the Tactical Operations Committee in Response to Tasking from the Federal Aviation Administration [PDF].

Airline Story of the Week

Pratt & Whitney showcases the role of women in powering flight

Although not specifically about commercial aircraft, it is a great story about the contribution woman have made to Pratt & Whitney.


Airplane Geeks Reporter-at-Large Launchpad Marzari speaks with Ken VeArd from Pilot Partner about getting paper out of the cockpit. Ken was kind enough to offer a discount code for Airplane Geeks listeners. The interview begins at about 1:28 into the episode.


The Sticks, Stories, Scotch blog by listener Aaron.

Fingertrouble showed us a photo of this Short SC.7 Skyvan operated by Pink-Skyvan in Europe for skydiving activities:

Short SC.7 Skyvan


Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.


494 Flight Training Management

The owner and president of Flight Training Technologies talks about a flight training management application for use by flight instructors, students, and Part 61 flight schools. Also, recent developments in the search for Amelia Earhart, progress toward electric general aviation aircraft, how Air New Zealand is managing their customers in the face of an equipment change, the United Airlines bonus program fiasco, and some comments on the Airbus A350 vs. the Boeing 787.


Amy Labus-Olson, owner and president of flight training management system provider Flight Training Technologies, LLC.

Amy Labus-Olson, owner and president of Flight Training Technologies, LLC.

Amy Labus-Olson is the owner and president of Flight Training Technologies, LLC. which provides an online flight training management application for use by flight instructors, students, and Part 61 flight schools.

As a CFII (Certificated Flight Instructor – Instrument), Amy saw a need in the small business flight training industry for a paperless management system for maintaining students’ flight training records. As a college educator, she used digital solutions to effectively manage her students and wanted that same level of professionalism in management in the flight training environment. She created the Skynotes web app which provides users with a calendar/scheduler, flight and ground curriculum with lesson set up tool, a flight training logbook with IACRA tracking, CFI records logbook, FAR requirement and FAA endorsements checklist, a resource library, and free online ground school through Pilot Training System.

The goal of Skynotes is to keep students and instructors informed and engaged in their flight training program from start to certification, no matter how many instructors the student has throughout their training.

Amy holds a commercial certificate with multi-engine and instrument ratings along with a CFII and remote pilot certificate. Amy has taught for a variety of Part 61 and 141 flight schools and also as an independent CFI.

Learn more about Skynotes at the Flight Training Technologies website, on Facebook, LinkedIn, and on Twitter. Also, see the post in Airscape about Skynotes.

Aviation News

Bones discovered on a Pacific island belong to Amelia Earhart, a new forensic analysis claims

Human bones were found on the Pacific island of Nikumaroro in 1940 and there was speculation they belonged to Amelia Earhart. A 1941 forensic analysis concluded the bones were of a man, but speculation continued because the methods then were crude by today’s standards. Now, University of Tennessee professor Richard L. Jantz has employed a computer program used by forensic anthropologists called Fordisc to revisit the measurements originally taken of the bones. He concluded the measurements match what is known about Earhart’s physical dimensions.

Is Amelia Earhart Found?

This article by Robert Goyer presents is skeptical of the new “evidence.”

2040: A bill to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 621 Kansas Avenue in Atchison, Kansas, as the “Amelia Earhart Post Office Building”

This bill passed in the Senate on March 7, 2018, and goes to the House next for consideration.

Progress made toward electric GA

In the U.S., where LSAs were viewed as the likely entry point for electric, there is a problem. The regulatory language uses the word “reciprocating,” which excludes turbine engines, rocket-power, and electric motors. Nevertheless, Greg Bowles, GAMA’s Vice President for Global Innovation & Policy, expects to see certified electric aircraft in regular use within three to five years. Bowles is also chairman of ASTM Committee F44 on General Aviation Aircraft, which is defining performance standards that work with the 2016 regulation reform that took Part 23 from a prescriptive model to a performance-based model.


Flight Safety Foundation Calls for Sweeping Changes to Pilot Training

Air NZ engine fix another month away

Leaked Memo: Oscar Munoz Tells United Employees Quarterly Bonuses WILL Change


Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.

493 The Flying Tigers and the Forgotten War

The Flying Tigers, the search for MH370 four years after its disappearance, a newly designated national aviation museum, flight training in the F-104 Starfighter, slow acceptance of ADS-B, and the selection of the new FAA administrator.

Flying Tiger Curtiss P-40C Courtesy San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive.

Curtiss P-40C Flying Tiger. Courtesy San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive.


Charlene Fontaine is the founder and executive director of the Flying Tigers 69th DRS Association, Inc. She is an advocate and speaker for veterans, youth, and trauma victims. Charlene speaks at air shows, conferences, schools, and reunions to inspire youth to learn history and to honor our elders and all those who serve our country.

Charlene Fontain, Flying Tigers 69th DRS Association.

Charlene Fontaine

Started in 2005, the nonprofit Flying Tigers 69th DRS Association carries forward the legacy and history of the Depot Repair Squadron as well as all Flying Tigers. We talk about the history of the Flying Tigers, including the clandestine formation of the American Volunteer Group (the “AVG”) – the 100 pilots and almost 300 ground crew who went off to war under a one-year contract. Charlene tells us about the formation of the 14th Air Force after the contract, and we learn about the iconic shark’s teeth and where we find them on other aircraft.

Charlene loves all things that fly, starting with kites and the gyroscope that was given to her at age four by her father. She flew in a plane at 15, and her college years were spent with open cockpit planes, helicopters, and hot air balloons. Charlene developed a deep desire to learn about her father’s adventures designing airplanes, repairing them, and being a crew chief during WWII.  

Flying Tigers DRSHaving consulted internationally for over 30 years, Charlene’s clients include a wide variety of corporate industries ranging from the military to medical, manufacturing, law enforcement, and non-profits. Working with CEO’s and senior management, Charlene developed projects, teams, and programs that align the organization with their customers’ needs and range from customer service, change management, conflict resolution, creativity, productivity, sales and total quality management.

Charlene has authored a number of books, and speaks at schools, military bases, civic organizations, and air shows sharing the history and stories of the Flying Tigers and CBI Veterans as well as representing them in China. She has film industry experience and “The Forgotten War: China, Burma, India” is currently in production. The Forgotten War: CBI Promo.

Visit the Flying Tigers 69th DRS Association website and find them on Facebook.


Malaysia says new search for flight MH370 to end mid-June

March 8, 2018, is the 4-year anniversary of the disappearance of MH370, carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in 2014. The search by Australia, China, and Malaysia ended in January 2017 at a cost of around US$160 million. In January 2018, Malaysia agreed to pay the U.S. firm Ocean Infinity up to US$70 million if it found the plane within 90 search days. The Seabed Constructor vessel started searching on Jan 23.

Triple WWII ace accepts national designation for Colorado Springs aviation museum

The Museum of World War II Aviation in Colorado Springs has been designated by Congress as a national aviation museum. Accepting the designation on behalf of the museum was 96 year old retired Air Force Col. Clarence “Bud” Anderson. Bud flew a P-51 Mustang in World War II, and his plane, “Old Crow,” was flown in as a surprise from the National Warbird Hall of Fame in OshKosh.

Other national aviation museums:

F-104 Flight Training Launches At Florida’s Kennedy Space Center

A new civilian training program for licensed pilots is offered by Starfighters Aerospace with a fleet of Mach 2+ Lockheed F-104 Starfighters at NASA’s Kennedy Shuttle Landing Facility. The training ranges from three to ten days, depending on the pilot, and is authorized by a Letter of Deviation Authority (LODA) issued to Starfighters by the FAA.

FAA Blames Airlines for Lack of Wider ADS-B Use

FAA associate administrator for Aviation Safety Ali Bahrami testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure’s subcommittee on aviation. He told the subcommittee that the ADS-B system is fully operational, but its use is limited because the airlines don’t have the onboard equipment required.

Also testifying were representatives from the NTSB, NASA, ALPA, and the DOT’s Office of Inspector General. They talked about drone regulations, pilot shortages, and privatizing ATC. Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, announced after the hearing that the provision to privatize ATC would be dropped from the reauthorization legislation, HR 2997.

In Pushing HIs Pilot for FAA Administrator, Trump Shows His Disregard for Safety

Writing in Forbes, past guest Christine Negroni writes that President Trump does his [private pilot Capt. John Dunkin] no service by putting him forward as a candidate to lead the Federal Aviation Administration. Find the process for appointing the FAA Administrator in Title 49 U.S. Code § 106 – Federal Aviation Administration.

Airline Story of the Week

United Airlines pilot hand-delivers woman’s lost engagement ring


Airplane Geeks Reporter-at-Large Launchpad Marzari has a little fun with the phonetic alphabet.

Listener Ron took a ride in a gyroplane for his birthday and created a short adventure report for us.


AIN’s The Human Factor: Tales From the Flight Deck podcast

We Can Do It! Women in Aviation and Space


Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.

492 Flying the Boeing 787 Dreamliner

A Boeing 787 Senior First Officer tells us about flying that plane. We discuss the implications of privatizing air traffic control, replacing the T-38C Talon with the Advanced Pilot Trainer, the impact of subsidy claims on Open Skies agreements, and a candidate for the top FAA spot. We also have an interview with the Commander of 302 Squadron of the Dutch Royal Air Force.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Courtesy Boeing.


Senior First Officer Mike currently flies the Boeing 787 for a major for European airline and is based out of London Heathrow. In our wide-ranging conversation, we learn about the transition from the Airbus to the Boeing 787, some of the differences, and training aspects. Mike tells us about the Lithium-Ion batteries used in the aircraft and cabin crew procedures for passenger battery problems.

FO Mike adds his perspectives as we discuss ATC privatization (or is it ATC corporatization?) and U.S. airline claims that Middle Eastern carriers received unfair subsidies. Mike isn’t shy about expressing his views, and along the way, we discover his preference for Boeing over Airbus.

Mike learned to fly in a Cessna 152 at age 17, then moved onto a Piper PA-28.  After completing the obligatory requirements, PPL, ME/IR, CPL and theoretical knowledge exams, FO Mike applied for the Advanced Entry Programme with a major Middle Eastern Airline. Starting with the Airbus A330, Mike progressed to become MFF/CCQ on the A330/A340, before moving over to the Boeing 787 as part of the entry into service crew for the airline.

Mike moved back to Europe in 2016 where he joined his current airline.  He holds a number of ratings: CPL, ME/IR, ATPL and is also Training First Officer and Type Rated Instructor. Altogether, Mike has flown the Airbus A330-200 and -300, the A340-500 and -600, and now the Boeing 787-9. Follow him on Twitter as @FOMike787.

Aviation News

Still Wondering Why GA/Biz Av Think the Airlines Will Run a Privatized ATC System?

One contentious aspect of the proposal to privatize Air Traffic Control in the U.S. is the makeup of the 13-member ATC board. What interests would be represented, in what numbers, and how might that impact general aviation?

T-X to replace T-38 at pilot training bases

The contract to replace the T-38C Talon with the Advanced Pilot Trainer (T-X) is yet to be awarded, but the U.S. Air Force is already planning the first pilot training base to receive the aircraft as early as 2022.

Emirates Airline boss reveals that the nastiest feud in the airline industry could kill his $76 billion Boeing order

Some U.S. airlines have accused Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways of receiving more than $50 billion state subsidies, a violation of Open Skies. Sir Tim Clark, the president of Emirates Airline, believes that Open Skies is at risk and the US aviation industry stands to lose.

Trump’s Pilot for FAA Administrator

We don’t know if the man is qualified, or even if this is a good idea.

Airline Story of the Week

Woman surprises husband with pregnancy announcement on flight from Tampa

An American Airlines crew helps a woman announce her pregnancy to her husband inflight, and catches his reaction on video.

Listener Recording

Thirteen-year-old Will gives us a teaser about his research project and his Airplane Geeks segment to come.


Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari interviews Lt Col Grijspaardt, Commander 302 Squadron, Dutch Royal Air Force.


Robert Poole’s libertarian think-tank Reason Foundation.

Black Lightning: The Legacy of the Lockheed Blackbirds by Jeannette Remak and Joseph Ventolo Jr.

Qantas Group Pilot Academy | Qantas

A pilot lost his daughter in the Parkland shooting and over 100 colleagues came to her funeral


Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.

491 Igor Sikorsky III

Igor Sikorsky III joins us and talks about the history of his grandfather, aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky. Our airplane of the week is the Sikorsky VS-300. We also look at Boeing’s belief that the industry has put its cyclic business nature in the past, new fees proposed for air travelers, and the International Trade Commission report denying Boeing’s claim against Bombardier.

Igor Sikorsky's plane in front of the Bradford Camps lodge.

Igor Sikorsky’s plane in front of the Bradford Camps lodge.


Igor Sikorsky III gassing up at Munsungan Lake.

Igor Sikorsky III gassing up at Munsungan Lake.

Igor Sikorsky III is the grandson of aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky and he conducts the annual “Sikorsky Weekend” at The Bradford Camps in the North Maine woods. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the history of Igor’s grandfather with family memorabilia, stories, and videos.

Igor gives us a few slices of the Sikorsky history, including how his grandfather was inspired at age 12 by a dream he had of flying over an ocean. We talk about the early days in Russia when the family entrusted their savings to him and then his time in Paris. That was the hub of early aviation where designers and other dreamers congregated to try and build flying machines. We learn about Sikorsky’s emigration from Russia to the U.S. where other Russian immigrants worked with him, sometimes without pay, to develop early aircraft.

Igor is a pilot himself and owns a Skyhawk on floats, which he uses regularly to ferry visitors to his camp and to fishing spots in Maine. We talk about the unique aspects of flying in the North Maine woods, and how having an airplane is critical to the life Igor and his wife Karen lead.

Igor tells us how he thinks his grandfather would have felt about the 2015 sale of Sikorsky Aircraft by United Technologies Corporation. We also learn about the Russian Imperial Stout that Two Roads Brewing Company produces each year to honor Sikorsky and Stratford, Connecticut.

Learn more about the annual Sikorsky Weekend at The Bradford Camps website, and be sure to visit the Igor I. Sikorsky Historical Archives.

Igor Sikorsky III plane at Munsungan Lake, Maine.

Does it get any better than this?


Boeing CEO: Aerospace now viewed as an industry with ‘long-term sustained growth’

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg says the industry has gone “from being a high-cycle business in the past” to now becoming “a long-term sustained growth business.”

New Aviation Fees Could Cost Travelers $3 Billion

The proposed 2019 Federal budget released on February 12, 2018, increases Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) fees, which could potentially cost consumers up to an additional $3 billion. Industry trade group Airlines for America (A4A) urged Congress to reject all TSA and CBP fee increases and instead return the billions of dollars now collected by the TSA and CBP and used for non-aviation related purposes.

U.S. ITC details why it rejected CSeries duties, says Boeing not hurt

The International Trade Commission published their 194-page ruling that rejected Boeing’s claim against Bombardier, saying “Boeing lost no sales or revenues.”

The Airplane of the Week

David tells us the history of the Vought Sikorsky VS-300 (Sikorsky S-42), the first practical helicopter in the United States and the model for most helicopters that were to come.

The Sikorsky VS-300. Credit: unknown (Smithsonian Institution)

The Sikorsky VS-300. Credit: unknown (Smithsonian Institution)


New England Air Museum

Xtended Episode 79

The Fighter Pilot Podcast

Imperial notifies Transport Canada of potential aviation fuel quality issue

Accident: Spirit A20N near Fort Lauderdale on Jan 28th 2018, fumes on board, crew feeling increasingly incapacitated

Air Force Special OPS plane carrying US Commandos makes “surprise” landing in Libya

Leaping elk crashes low-flying research helicopter in Utah

North Korea Military Parade 2018: Best Moments – Parada Militar na Coreia do Norte 2018


Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.


490 The Airbus A350

We talk with an Airbus A350 captain who has a long history flying commercial aircraft. In the news, we consider one-person flight crews, U.S. airlines looking to scale back consumer protection regulations, ADS-B vulnerabilities for military aircraft, and largest ever Piper order for training planes, plans for the Air Force bomber fleet, and Southwest runs out of glycol. We also have a conversation about ATIS with the Chief of the Air Traffic Control Division at Robert Gray Army Airfield.

Malaysia Airlines Airbus A350.

Malaysia Airlines A350. Photo by H Gousse, courtesy Airbus.


Airbus A350 Captain Bill Palmer.

Airbus A350 Captain Bill Palmer.

Bill Palmer is an A350 captain and an instructor pilot/check airman. He has been heavily involved in Airbus training since the early 1990’s, and Bill is the author of Understanding Air France 447 and other publications on Airbus flight control laws. Bill also holds a commercial glider rating and flies his Rolladen-Schneider LS-3 for fun in southern California.

Bill describes the transition to the A350 as like going from DOS to Windows. The aircraft shares some commonality with A380, and Bill describes fly-by-wire and the flight control laws. We also hear about other features of the A350, such as the paperless cockpit implementation and the availability airport runway, taxiway, and gate information to pilot. The plane will calculate landing distance and brake to the correct speed for the selected taxiway. Bill also describes the A350 runway overrun protection and the auto-flight system’s automatic TCAS and wind shear recovery.

Bill started flying at the age of 15, soloed on his 16th birthday and completed his private certificate at 17. He attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and holds a BS in Aeronautical Science. He earned his flight instructor certificate in 1978 and has been instructing almost non-stop since then while holding airplane, instrument, multi-engine, and ground instructor certificates. Besides light aircraft he has also taught on the 727, 757, A320, DC-10, and A330, and written manuals for the DC-10, A330, and B-787 fleets. He has also produced numerous training publications and videos for the various fleets as well.

Visit Bill’s webpage Understanding Air France 447 and his Trend Vector blog. His books Understanding Air France 447Airbus A330 Normal Law: Putting fly-by-wire into perspective, and Airbus Flight Control Laws: The Reconfiguration Laws are available on Amazon.com and at other retailers.

Aviation News

Boeing raises prospect of only one pilot in the cockpit of planes

At the Singapore Airshow, Boeing research and technology vice-president Charles Toups said, “We are studying [one pilot operations], and where you will first see that is probably in cargo transport, so the passenger question is off the table.” Also at the Singapore Air Show, ST Aerospace showed the concept for an unmanned freighter piloted by an artificially intelligent computer. ST Aero was optimistic about an unmanned freighter within the next five years.

Airlines seeking to snuff traveler rights?

In the Wall Street Journal, Scott McCartney reports that last October the U.S. Department of Transportation asked airlines to suggest changes or cuts to regulations. Airlines for America filed 222 pages of comments. United Airlines added 50 pages.

Vulnerable To Cyber Attacks, ADS-B May Expose F-22s To Web Based Tracking GAO Warns

A 45-page Government Accountability Office report titled Urgent Need for DOD and FAA to Address Risks and Improve Planning for Technology That Tracks Military Aircraft [PDF] says that neither the Department of Defense nor the FAA has taken significant steps to mitigate security risks associated with openly transmitting flight data from military aircraft.

Piper Receives Largest Trainer Order in Company History

Chinese Fanmei Aviation Technologies has ordered 152 training aircraft from Piper Aircraft. Fanmei is Piper’s dealer in China, and a subsidiary of Sichuan Fan-Mei Education Group Co., which provides aviation education in China. This is reported to be the largest single order for training airplanes in Piper’s history. The seven-year purchase agreement is valued at $74 million and includes 100 Archer TX single-engine trainers, 50 twin-engine Seminoles, one Seneca twin, and one Piper M350.

Air Force outlines future of bomber force

In its Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request, the Air Force outlined plans for its bomber fleet, which include a plan to update the B-52 Stratofortress fleet, continue modifications to the B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit fleets, while continuing to acquire B-21 Raiders.

‘How does one airline run out of de-icer?’: Some gripes at Midway after Southwest’s cancellations

Southwest Airlines had to cancel more than 250 flights from Midway Airport after running out of de-icing fluid. One of the glycol tank pumps wasn’t working properly and some of the de-icing fluid could not be accessed.


Reporter-at-Large Launchpad Marzari talks about ATIS (automatic terminal information service) with Mark N. Vick, Chief, Air Traffic Control Division, Directorate of Aviation Operations at Robert Gray Army Airfield, Fort Hood Texas, a military joint-use airport that operates alongside Killeen–Fort Hood Regional Airport.


Rolls-Royce UltraFan® – The Ultimate Jet Engine and Lego Ultrafan in the flesh! @RollsRoyce, a video on Twitter by Andrew Smyth‏.

Nine Aviation and Space Achievements Compete for the 2017 Collier Trophy [PDF] and GA Companies Among Those Vying for Collier Trophy.

Heavens Above

The 101-year-old woman who flew Spitfires in WW2

MH370: Malaysian military sidelines crash investigators as power play emerges on search team and MH370 conspiracy theory involves Seabed Constructor and chest from shipwreck.


Intro music courtesy Brother Love from his Album Of The Year CD. Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.

489 Airport Planner

We talk with an airport planner who also co-founded an organization for innovation in aviation. In the news, we discuss a very old paper travel voucher and how the airline reacted when it surfaced, a study of bacteria and fungus in the terminal and on aircraft, expensive refrigerators for Air Force One, and a donation by nine airlines to the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. We also look at BA and their latest change to the passenger experience in short-haul flights, the Qantas challenge to Airbus and Boeing, and a conversation with the Chief of the Air Traffic Control Division at Robert Gray Army Airfield about ATIS.


Chris Groh, airport planner, co-founder of Runway.VC

Chris Groh

Chris Groh is an airport planner who works with airports of all sizes across the country, but his specialty is general aviation airports and even more specifically, smaller general aviation airports. As an airport planner, Chris acts as an extension of the airport’s staff, and he helps them think about the future while they focus on the day-to-day operations.

Chris says that GA airports are always fun because the staff is usually smaller, but so are the budgets so projects have to be carefully prioritized and typically require more creative solutions.

Chris co-founded an organization for innovation in aviation called Runway.VC. It attempts to broaden and freely distribute the conversations about aviation technology to a wide audience. It also seeks to facilitate networking and real-time interaction between professionals who are interested in the future of aviation but may not have access to conferences and other channels of discussions about innovation in aviation.  Besides online activities, Runway.VC has plans for local meetups across the country. Chris also hosts his own podcast about the future of aviation.

Visit the Runway.VC and Kutchins & Groh websites, listen to the Runway.VC podcast, and follow @runwayvc and @chrisgroh on Twitter.

Aviation News

A United Airlines Passenger Found a ‘Forever’ Travel Voucher From 1998. Here’s How United Responded

John Walker booked a United Airlines flight from Nashville to Sacramento 20 years ago, but wasn’t able to go. Recently, he discovered the $378 printed ticket voucher, dated December 31, 1998. He read the fine print, which said the ticket could, “forever be applied toward the purchase of another domestic non-refundable ticket, for the customer named on the ticket.”

Germs in airplane cabins are bad, but it’s even worse at the airport terminal

In their “Germs at the Airport” report, Insurancequotes.com says they “conducted 18 tests across six surfaces from three major U.S. airports and airline flights. We sent our swabs to the lab and found the average number of viable bacteria and fungal cells per square inch, or colony-forming units (CFU), to see how clean traveling really is.”

Air Force One’s new refrigerators will cost taxpayers $24 million

The U.S. Air Force has awarded Boeing a contract for $23,657,671 to replace two of the 1990 vintage chiller units on Air Force One. The Air Force says additional cold food storage is needed “to support onboard personnel for an extended period of time, without having to restock while abroad.”

Nine airlines donate $28 million to Air and Space Museum for makeover

Nine commercial airlines have joined to donate $28 million to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum to support the renovation of the “America by Air” exhibition.

Across the Pond

With all the talk about ultra long-haul flights and Brian’s “short trip across to the UK,” Pieter looks at BA and their latest change to the passenger experience in short haul flights. Pieter then reflects on the Qantas challenge to Airbus and Boeing on the “Kangaroo Route.”

Brabazon Named Lecture 2017 – Turnaround, Technology and the Future of Travel Alan JoyceRoyal Aeronautical Society Lecture – Audio Download:

Airlines probed over ‘confusing’ seating policy

Qantas Boeing 787-9.

Qantas Boeing 787-9. Qantas photo.


PaxEx Podcast #54: Catering giant serves up wisdom on compliance with Mark Naylor, Head of Compliance for Gate Gourmet in Oceania. Gate Gourmet is the world’s largest provider of airline catering and onboard products and services.

Snowies and their admirers causing problems at Portland Jetport

Silencing a sonic boom would help a Concorde replacement


Intro music courtesy Brother Love from his Album Of The Year CD. Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.

488 NASA Chief Historian

The NASA Chief Historian helps us look at some events from the past, anniversaries coming up, and what the future holds for NASA. Also, the International Trade Commission rules for Bombardier and against Boeing, more information about the pilot in the fatal Icon A5 crash, Putin wants a supersonic civilian airliner, and a look at big aerospace and defense deals in 2017.


Bill Barry, NASA Chief Historian.

Bill Barry, NASA Chief Historian.

Dr. William P. Barry is the NASA Chief Historian. We talk with Bill about the upcoming 60th anniversary of NASA on October 1, 2018, the 60th anniversary of the first U.S. satellite, and the 50th anniversary of the Apollo missions. Bill gives us some insights into the tragic Apollo 1 accident, known simply as “The Fire.”

Bill also tells us about the Space Launch System, the James Webb Space Telescope, and the emerging role of commercial space companies like Boeing and SpaceX. We touch on the change of the NASA administrator, and even jobs available at NASA through USAjobs.

Bill has been NASA’s Chief Historian since 2010. He began work at NASA in 2001 after retiring from a 22-year career in the US Air Force. Bill worked in NASA’s international relations office for several years, and served as the NASA European Representative at the United States Embassy in Paris before being appointed NASA Chief Historian. A graduate, with honors, of the United States Air Force Academy, Bill also holds a Masters Degree from Stanford University and a Doctorate from Oxford University.

Apollo’s Worst Day: Veterans of NASA’s moon program referred to it simply as “The Fire.” Did it have to happen?

This excellent article by Andy Chaikin appeared in the Dec 2016/Jan 2017 edition of Air&Space Smithsonian. See also Apollo-1 (204) and The Accident, taken from the Report of Apollo 204 Review Board.

Find more at the NASA History Program Office webpage, and follow NASA History on Twitter and Facebook.

Aviation News

100- to 150-Seat Large Civil Aircraft from Canada Do Not Injure U.S. Industry, Says USITC

The United States International Trade Commission is “an independent, quasi-judicial Federal agency with broad investigative responsibilities on matters of trade.” The USITC issued this statement on January 26, 2018:

“The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) today determined that a U.S. industry is not materially injured or threatened with material injury by reason of imports of 100- to 150-seat large civil aircraft from Canada that the U.S. Department of Commerce… has determined are subsidized and sold at less than fair value. As a result of the USITC’s negative determinations, no antidumping or countervailing duty orders will be issued.”

The Commission’s final report will be published by March 2, 2018, can be accessed on the USITC website.

Roy Halladay Autopsy Findings Catch Industry by Surprise

Former baseball star Roy Halladay died following the crash of his Icon A5 in shallow water last November. An autopsy revealed that Halladay did not immediately die of the impact – a contributing cause of death was drowning. He also had “enough mood-altering drugs in his system to confirm he shouldn’t have been driving a car, much less flying an airplane.”

Russia’s Concorde: Putin proposes supersonic civilian aircraft based on its Tu-160 bomber

Vladimir Putin wants to build a civilian version of the Tupolev Tu-160 supersonic nuclear bomber as a supersonic passenger jet for wealthy customers. The United Aircraft Corporation has told Putin that designers already have a supersonic civilian airliner project.

Global aerospace and defense deals insights: Q4 2017

Pricewaterhouse Coopers reports that the global aerospace and defense industry saw $72 billion worth of deals in 2017. This betters the previous record of $67 billion set in 2015, and represents a whopping 79% increase over 2016. Nine deals with announced value greater than $1 billion accounted for 86% of the total value this year. Global Aerospace and Defense Deals Insights Year-End 2017 [PDF].

The largest deals from 2017:

United Technologies’ $30 billion acquisition of Rockwell Collins tops the list, followed by Northrop Grumman’s $9 billion acquisition of Orbital ATK, Safran’s $8 billion acquisition of Zodiac Aerospace, and Thales’ $5 billion acquisition of Gemalto.

Airline Story of the Week

Southwest Airlines rescues 62 stray dogs, cats from Puerto Rico

Sixty-two dogs and cats were rescued from hurricane-battered Puerto Rico, courtesy of Southwest Airlines.


The Aviators Season Seven.

AirSpace Podcast from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

NP Simulations, the UK flight simulator company based in London.

How Three High Schoolers Won EAA’s Founder’s Innovation Prize

See the Remora Systems website to learn more.

EAA’s Founder’s Innovation Prize (presented by Airbus)

Submissions will be accepted through June 1, 2018. Five finalists will be chosen to pitch their ideas in front of a panel of expert judges.

Interjet images by aviation photographer Paul Filmer:

​Interjet at IAH in 2015. Photo by Paul Filmer.

Interjet at IAH in 2015. Photo by Paul Filmer.

​Interjet at Toluca. Mexico. Photo by Paul Filmer.

Interjet at Toluca. Mexico. Photo by Paul Filmer.

Kiwi airline exec breaks record for world circumnavigation on commercial airlines

Andrew Fisher made a 52-hour, 34-minute journey from Shanghai to Auckland to Buenos Aires to Amsterdam and back to Shanghai. The old record was 55 hours.

Your ADS-B Questions Answered: Get the Facts Here

Did the airlines get an exemption from the 2020 ADS-B requirement, or not…

Rocket Lab’s ‘Humanity Star’ is New Zealand first satellite and the Humanity Star website.

No Passport or Ticket: How a Woman Evaded Airport Security and Flew to London


Intro music courtesy Brother Love from his Album Of The Year CD. Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.


487 Build an Airport then Take it Down

Our guest is the president and founder of Flying Eyes, a maker of eyewear for pilots and others, who also happens to be involved in setting up the airport each year at Burning Man, then taking it all down. In the news, we look at the impact of a U.S. Government shutdown on aviation, TSA formally ending the unloved Large Aircraft Security Program, the carrier with the most legroom, Boeing’s overtures to Embraer, the Emirates A380 order, and new support animal rules at Delta. Also, our Main(e) Man Micah looks back at Apollo 1 and how it shaped NASA.


Dean Siracusa

Dean Siracusa

Dean Siracusa is the president and founder of Flying Eyes, and an SEL/IFR rated pilot with more than 2,200 hours. Dean owned and flew a rare Meyers 200, and he operates the Meyers Aircraft Owners Association website.

Dean is involved in building Black Rock City Municipal Airport (88NV) each year for the annual Burning Man event in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. After the temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance is taken down, the airport is likewise removed and the desert returned to its natural state. Burning Man 2018 takes place August 26 – September 3.

In 2012, Dean designed, engineered, patented, and began manufacturing Flying Eyes eyewear. He realized the need for specialty sunglasses that are comfortable with helmets and aviation-style headsets. He also created Eyes That Fly, where you can locate eye doctors near you who are also pilots and thus understand the unique needs of pilots.

Flying Eyes eyewear

Flying Eyes eyewear

Dean is a bit of a serial entrepreneur and founded the Transtock, Inc. stock photo agency that specializes in transportation imagery. He also founded Siracusa Productions to create images and commercials primarily for the automotive industry, including manufacturers such as Toyota, Lexus, Volkswagen, Ford, Mercedes-Benz and many others.

Dean received a bachelor’s degree from the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. While a student, Dean worked at Road & Track Magazine, later becoming the magazine’s sole staff photographer traveling the world shooting prestigious brands.

The Impact of a Government Shutdown on Aviation

We look at the impact on aviation of a U.S. Government shutdown due to the lack of a funding bill. We find the government functions that keep operating and those that shut down:

Aviation News

A Decade Later, TSA Officially Drops LASP

In 2008, the TSA issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) for the Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP). The proposed security program that would have required security threat assessments for aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds.

The Airline with the Most Legroom Is This Little-Known Carrier

The Mexican low-cost carrier Interjet provides 34 inches of seat pitch across all its planes. By contrast, the average economy seat pitch on American, Delta, and United is 30 to 31 inches.

Boeing Seeks Embraer Control, With Defense Safeguards

Exclusive: Boeing willing to preserve Brazil’s ‘golden share’ in Embraer deal

Competition Begins for Production Site of Boeing’s NMA

The Brazilian government does not want to see complete control of Embraer move out of the country, and especially wants to retain it’s “golden share,” which gives the government veto power over certain decisions. Reportedly, Boeing is looking at sourcing engineering work and possibly production in Brazil. For a history of past Boeing interest in Embraer by Dominic Gates, see Boeing’s bid to buy Embraer could see Brazilian engineers work on the 797

Airbus Has Won Its Game of A380 Chicken with Emirates

Last week we commented on a statement from COO John Leahy that if Airbus couldn’t work out a deal with Emirates, the company would have to shut down the A380 program. Well, Airbus and Emirates have done a deal for 20 firm and 16 option superjumbo jets valued at $16B at list price.

British Airways in Talks Over New A380 Order

“Informed sources” have told Bloomberg news that British Airways talking with Airbus about the purchase of new A380-800s to use for high-demand flights at London Heathrow.

Delta reins in emotional support animals with new guidelines

With everything from comfort turkeys and gliding possums known as sugar gliders, to snakes and spiders being used as emotional support animals, Delta is taking a stand with new rules that require additional documentation. Report by Mary Kirby at Runwaygirl Network.

The Fire, or Apollo 1 – The Predicted Disaster

Our Main(e) Man Micah takes a look back at “The Fire” in Apollo 1 and how it shaped NASA.

Apollo 1

Apollo 1


Photo by Max Trescott.

Photo by Max Trescott.

Brian and Carlos offer a short debrief following the celebration of the 200th episode of the Plane Talking UK podcast.

Over the Poles 2018

Anderson Aviation Services Inc.

Canadian Aviator

Sturm Friederike – Grandiose Pilotenleistung am Airport Düsseldorf bei bis zu 110 km/h Seitenwind

After leading electric car adoption, Norway now aims to lead electric flight


Intro music courtesy Brother Love from his Album Of The Year CD. Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.

486 Flying Fast, High, and Far Away

A U.S. company helps develop general aviation in China, Virgin Galactic gets closer to its first customer flight, Boeing reveals a hypersonic successor to the SR-71 Blackbird, Costa Rica’s civil aviation agency suspends a carrier, and the future of the A380 is questioned again.

We have an Across the Pond segment, a clip from GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce’s presentation at the Cirrus conference, interviews from CES 2018 about the Bell Helicopter autonomous air taxi, as well as additive manufacturing for aerospace applications, and the fifth installment from student pilot Nicki on her second solo.


Aviation News

Chino aviation group wins contract to help Chinese develop general aviation industry

Chino, California-based Threshold Aviation Group has partnered with Chinese company YXST Aviation Industry Development Co. LTD. to establish and operate training centers for Chinese pilots and mechanics, and to establish airparks and fixed base operations.

Threshold Aviation Group is based in Chino, California and is an aircraft maintenance, management, service, and support organization with more than 175,000 square feet of hangar and office space. Threshold is located at the Chino Airport (KCNO), adjacent to its 7,000-foot runway.

YXST Aviation Industry Development Co. LTD. “focuses on the full-value chain development,which integrates general aviation services, tourism, aviation education, aircraft sales and maintenance, development of aviation town, aviation medical service, aviation sport, aviation logistics, security service and extension service.”

Mark Dilullo, Threshold CEO and owner said, “This is a huge, literally huge opportunity for Threshold Aviation Group to expand its business with nearly limitless potential. The Chinese aviation market has the potential to eventually be the largest (general) aviation market in the world, and we are in on the ground floor of that providing critical services to help get it off the ground.” This summer, about 10 Chinese pilots and mechanics will come to Threshold for intensive training in general aviation skills

In March 2017, Threshold held a trade show at its Chino Airport hangar as part of the “Inaugural U.S.-China General Aviation Business Conference,” sponsored by Threshold and the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

YXST Aviation holds the exclusive right to develop six airports with the possibility of adding more.

Space tourism in MONTHS: Virgin Galactic completes groundbreaking test flight

Virgin Galactic has completed another successful glide test flight of its VSS Unity plane over the Mojave Desert. VSS Unity, is the second SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane for Virgin Galactic. The first, VSS Enterprise, was destroyed in a crash in October 2014. Unity was taken up to an altitude of 50,000 feet by its from mothership VMS Eve before being released for the descent.

“Son of Blackbird”: Boeing Reveals Hypersonic Concept That Could Replace SR-71

At a recent American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics SciTech forum, Boeing unveiled a reusable Mach 5-plus concept model. The Boeing design is seen as a hypersonic successor to the SR-71 Blackbird. Also, Boeing Unveils Hypersonic ‘Son-Of-Blackbird’ Contender.

Costa Rica Suspends Airline Amid Probe Into Fatal Crash

Nature Air has been suspended by Costa Rica’s civil aviation agency. A Nature Air Caravan crashed recently killing the two Costa Rican pilots and ten US citizens, including a family of five from New York. One of the pilots was the company’s director of training. Nature Air’s operations manager quit this week and its aerial security director has requested a leave of absence.  

Leahy confirms A380 future hinges on Emirates order

On an Airbus 2017 orders and deliveries webinar, COO-customers John Leahy said, “If we can’t work out a deal with Emirates, it is clear we will have to shut down the program.” The A380 program currently has a 95-aircraft backlog.

Airplane of the Week

David brings us Part 2 of the EC-121 Warning Star: more Willy Victor missions, the victories, and the challenges.

Across the Pond

Commander ‘Sharkey’ Ward DFC AFC RN Retired

Commander ‘Sharkey’ Ward DFC AFC RN Retired (Photo Copyright – The Daily Telegraph)

Pieter is back with an update on his 2017. He talks about the Falklands Air War and his journey to get the book on the Fairey Barracuda promoted and how it all started back here on the Airplane Geeks 7 years ago.

The Falklands Air War Series:

Aviation Xtended Episode 73 featuring the Fairey Barracuda and a book on the aircraft by Naval Air Historian, Matt Willis. Also, an interview with PO Anthony Johnson RN, a Telegraphist Air Gunner in the Barracuda who served at the end of WW2.

Photo Copyright - Charles E Brown (Aircraft P9667)

Photo Copyright – Charles E Brown (Aircraft P9667)

CES 2018

Brian Coleman attended CES 2018 in Las Vegas and recorded several interviews:

Bob Hastings, Bell Helicopter executive VP of communications and government affairs talks about the Bell Air Taxi.

BellAirTaxi at CES 2018

Dana from FlashForge and Bill Steele from Polar3D, and their unique partnership with 3D printing and how engineers are getting trained and evaluated with Polar Cloud.

From aluminum to titanium to carbon fiber, Markforged offers a wide range of material capabilities. They can 3D print functional prototypes, lightweight tooling, or fully working replacement parts. Product VP John Rielly talks about their innovative 3D printing technologies.

Markedforge at CES 2018

Oscar Meza, vice president global sales from Shining 3D describes their unique position in the market with their wide-range of 3D digitizing and printing solutions including scanners, printers, material, design and manufacturing services for a complete end-to-end virtual and physical solution.

Shining 3D at CES 2018


We listen to a clip of General Aviation Manufacturers Association president and CEO Pete Bunce’s presentation at the Cirrus CX 2018 conference. He talks about the Export Bank and infrastructure initiatives, including the consolidation of the 21 FAA Centers that manage air traffic control across the U.S. and the Pacific Ocean.


Intro music courtesy Brother Love from his Album Of The Year CD. Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.