Tag Archives: Spirit AeroSystems

789 Scaled Composites

We talk with both the President of Scaled Composites and the VP of Flight Operations. In the news, the FAA tells Boeing to make a plan, Boeing looks at re-acquiring SpiritAerosystems, Skyryse takes deposits for a fly-by-wire helicopter, the V-22 Osprey could be returning to flight, airlines scale back pilot hiring, and the JetBlue – Spirit merger is off.

Guests

Peter Siebold and Greg Norris of Scaled Composites standing on the apron.
Peter Siebold and Greg Morris

Greg Morris is the president of Scaled Composites, and Pete Siebold is the VP of Flight Operations. Scaled Composites is the aerospace company founded by Burt Rutan to develop experimental aircraft. Currently owned by Northrop Grumman and located at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, Scaled focuses on designing and developing concept aircraft that are often unconventional.

Greg and Pete describe the Scaled “secret sauce” and the company culture that keeps employees engaged and operating at their creative best. We hear about the experience of a first flight in a Scaled aircraft and the preparations made before test flights. Also how Scaled helps customers define their requirements and then designs the aircraft technology to meet those requirements. Interestingly, the design for a technology demonstrator can be quite different than the design for manufacturability. The two explain the personal and professional qualities that position an individual for an aviation career such as you might find at a company like Scaled Composites.

Greg Morris

Greg joined Scaled Composites in 2023 from Gauntlet Aerospace where he was President and Chief Test Pilot. He operated a flight school for 7 years and had 10 years of experience in flight test operations, including teaching in the Qualitative Evaluation Program for the United States Air Force Test Pilot School and target and chase support for the 412th Test Wing. Greg is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and serves on the SETP Membership Committee. He is a nationally designated FAA Experimental Examiner and he’s conducted check-rides for a variety of aircraft, both Scaled Composites and others. 

Greg received a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California and a Masters of Science in Flight Test Engineering from the National Test Pilot School.

Peter Siebold

Pete joined Scaled Composites in 1996 as a Design Engineer on the VisionAire Vantage. He worked extensively as a Flight Test Engineer on multiple programs before becoming a Test Pilot for the company. During his time at Scaled, Pete has held multiple leadership positions within engineering and flight operations, including Director of Flight Operations. Pete has flown 4 first flights at Scaled and 11 different Scaled aircraft. He was heavily involved in the development of Scaled’s simulator and avionics capabilities.

Pete obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He became a certified flight instructor while attending the university, a rating he retains to this day. He is an Associate Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and holds an Airline Transport Pilot Rating with seven Experimental Aircraft Authorizations and two Type Ratings. In 2004, Pete was part of the test team that won the Iven C. Kincheloe award for SpaceShipOne. He was bestowed the honor again in 2009 for his work as Project Pilot for WhiteKnightTwo.

Video: Model 401 Sierra First Flight

Video: Proteus: 25 years of Flight

Find Scaled Composites on Twitter/X, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Aviation News

FAA to Boeing: Develop a plan to fix your quality issues within 90 days

At a meeting in FAA headquarters, FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker told Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun that Boeing has 90 days to provide an action plan that addresses its “systemic quality-control issues.” After the meeting, Whitaker said, “Boeing must commit to real and profound improvements. “Making foundational change will require a sustained effort from Boeing’s leadership, and we are going to hold them accountable every step of the way, with mutually understood milestones and expectations.”

The plan must take into account the findings of the expert review panel report and the results of an FAA production-line audit. It will include the steps necessary to mature Boeing’s Safety Management System and integrate this with the company’s Quality Management System, to “ensure the same level of rigor and oversight is applied to the company’s suppliers.”

Justice Department Looking Into Boeing Blowout

The DOJ is examining whether the door panel incident falls under the government’s 2021 deferred-prosecution agreement with Boeing after the two fatal 737 Max crashes. If prosecutors determine that Boeing’s handling of the incident violated the 2021 agreement, they could rescind it and bring criminal charges against the company.

Engineering union and Boeing face off in fraught pilot contract dispute

The labor contract is with 23 flight technical and safety pilots in the flight operations group. These pilots don’t routinely fly production aircraft. The flight technical pilots develop pilot training programs and pilot manuals and liaise with airlines on their flight operations. The safety pilots help develop flight deck systems for new aircraft and support the certification process. The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace union (SPEEA) says its members have “first-hand experience of the kinds of safety-culture problems an expert panel reported on…”

Boeing in Talks to Buy Troubled Supplier Spirit AeroSystems

Spirit AeroSystems has had preliminary discussions with Boeing and has hired bankers to explore strategic options. Spirit is also looking at selling its Ireland unit that makes parts for Airbus. Both companies have confirmed they are having merger discussions. The talks might not result in a deal. In a statement, Boeing said, “We believe that the reintegration of Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems’ manufacturing operations would further strengthen aviation safety, improve quality, and serve the interests of our customers, employees, and shareholders.”

Skyryse Taking Deposits for Fly-by-wire Turbine Single

Skyryse One is a Robinson R66 helicopter that has been retrofitted with the proprietary SkyOS operating system. This features a single-stick control and two touchscreens. It’s an IFR-capable, aircraft-agnostic, triple-redundant fly-by-wire system. Skyryse is taking refundable, non-transferrable $2,500 deposits.

V-22 Osprey Fleet To Return To Flight After 3-Month Worldwide Grounding

The V-22 Osprey fleet received approval from U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for a safe and measured return to operations. The Naval Air Systems Command could lift the grounding and allow the services to resume V-22 flight operations. The cause of the crash has been identified, but the reason for the failure has not. The investigation continues.

Southwest Airlines Scales Back Pilot Hiring In 2024

A Southwest memo says, “Based on expected capacity growth beyond 2024, we’ve made the difficult decision to suspend Initial First Officer Training classes through the remainder of 2024 and defer job offers, beginning with our April classes.” The airline said pilots with conditional job offers would be placed in a “deferred candidate pool.” Once hiring resumes, those pilots would be called up.

JetBlue, Spirit end $3.8 billion merger agreement after losing antitrust suit

Citing regulatory hurdles, the two airlines ended their merger agreement. Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “Today’s decision by JetBlue is yet another victory for the Justice Department’s work on behalf of American consumers.”

Mentioned

Making Like Maverick in an L-39 by Rob Mark in JetWhine.

Bob Heil

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

Tesla Model S and Model 3 vulnerable to GNSS spoofing attacks

Wheel Bearings podcast.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, Max Trescott, and our Main(e) Man Micah.

788 Corporate Flight Attendant

The struggle to mandate corporate flight attendant egress training, the Bombardier Challenger jet crash in Florida, major executive changes at Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems whistleblowers, 737 Max Service Difficulty Reports, FAA’s Enhanced Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative program, FAA safety recommendations for Boeing, and details on Boeing’s “traveled work.”

Guest

Susan C. Friedenberg is the CEO of Corporate Flight Attendant – Tech Training and Consulting. Over the past 25 years, Susan has been committed to continually raising the standards for flight attendants in all aspects of business aviation. Her school teaches students the professional role of a corporate flight attendant. She has dedicated herself to the idea that egress training is critical to ensuring the safety of the passengers and crew in an emergency.

Susan C. Friedenberg, advocate for corporate flight attendant egress training.

Susan started Corporate Flight Attendant – Tech Training in 1999 when she realized there were just two valid egress training companies for business aviation and that neither offered students a chance to learn the professional role of a corporate flight attendant. In her 5-day – 50-hour Zoom training, guests include a senior Pfizer employee explaining cockpit resource management and a major business aviation caterer who discusses what their kitchens need to know to expedite and deliver a perfect catering order.

Starting her aviation career as a flight attendant at American Airlines, Susan eventually moved on to Capitol Air until 1984 when that company went bankrupt. Discovering business aviation, she flew full-time for Coca-Cola’s flight department in Atlanta, Dupont Aviation in Wilmington, Delaware, and American Standard Companies from Teterboro, New Jersey. She’s also flown as a contract flight attendant.  

Susan has been active for decades with the NBAA and served on the association’s Flight Attendant Committee and the Scholarship Committee. Susan was also the Chair of the Contract Flight Attendant Group for two years. 

She’s written numerous articles about the corporate flight attendant’s professional role and created a safety presentation called, “Why You Need a Trained Person in the Back of Your Aircraft.” Her company also provides abridged training for Flight Techs (A&P’s) who act in a dual role aboard a business aviation aircraft as both a mechanic and a flight attendant in the back of the plane.

Aviation News

‘We’ve lost both engines,’ pilot said before private jet crashed onto Florida interstate, killing 2

A Bombardier Challenger 600 series jet carrying five people crashed while attempting to make an emergency landing on Interstate 75 near Naples, Florida. The pilot and co-pilot were killed. A crew member and two passengers escaped.

Boeing removes the Head of 737 Max program in wake of safety incidents

Eighteen-year Boeing veteran Ed Clark has been removed from head of the 737 Max passenger jet program. He had previously held the roles of 737 Max chief engineer and chief 737 mechanic. Katie Ringgold fills Clark’s position as head of the 737 Max program. She had been vice president of 737 Max deliveries. Boeing also announced the creation of a new executive position, Senior Vice President for BCA Quality. Elizabeth Lund fills that position. Lund had been senior vice president and general manager of airplane programs for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Mike Fleming fills Lund’s position. He had been senior vice president of development and customer service.

With Boeing in hot seat, claims against supplier Spirit AeroSystems take shape

Two former Spirit AeroSystems employees have come forward with quality deficiency allegations. The first was a quality auditor at the Wichita plant who was fired in 2022 for allegedly failing to conduct inspections that were his responsibility. Now a second ex-employee who worked alongside the first has corroborated the allegations.

Airlines Filed 1,800 Reports Warning Regulators About Boeing’s 737 Max

More than 1,800 service difficulty reports concerning the 737 Max were filed by operators over the last three years. Alaska Airlines alone filed more than 1,230 737 Max reports over that period. The nonprofit Foundation for Aviation Safety compiled federal safety reports and found 737 Max issues including fuel leaks resulting from misapplied sealant, malfunctioning stabilizing motors, fuel tank FOD, engine stalls, and anti-ice system problems. Under § 121.703, certificate holders must file Service difficulty reports for the occurrence or detection of certain failures, malfunctions, or defects.

FAA panel finds Boeing safety culture wanting, recommends overhaul

The FAA commissioned a panel of independent aviation experts. Their report is critical of Boeing’s safety culture and makes more than 50 recommendations: Section 103 Organizational Designation Authorizations (ODA) for Transport Airplanes, Expert Panel Review Report, Final Report. [PDF]

FAA Moves to Accelerate Air Traffic Controller Hiring by Enhancing College Training Program

FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker says, “Hiring more air traffic controllers is a priority. We need more entry points for controller candidates and this enhanced college controller training program is an additional avenue to get controllers into facilities sooner.” The Enhanced Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) program is designed to increase the number of students who can begin facility training immediately upon graduation. As of May 2023, the FAA lists 31 approved AT-CTI schools. [PDF]

Mentioned

Why a Good Flight Attendant Matters

Gulfstream 550 Evacuation Crewmember Training

G550 Will Require Evac Crewmember

PBS – The American Experience: Come Fly With Me: They Wanted to See the World and Ended Up Changing It

The Biden administration’s bet on sustainable aviation fuel

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, Max Trescott, David Vanderhoof, and our Main(e) Man Micah.

785 The Boeing Company

Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems continue to dominate the news, along with 737 MAX certification, lap babies, the proposed JetBlue and Spirit Airlines merger, route growth at United Airlines and Breeze Airways, and the demise of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. Also, flight tests for the B-21 Raider and more favorite aviation movies.

Aviation News

Boeing, not Spirit, mis-installed piece that blew off Alaska MAX 9 jet, industry source says

Wichita-based Spirit AeroSystems builds the 737 fuselage for Boeing. A person familiar with the situation says the door plug was removed by Boeing, and then reinstalled on the 737.

127 Days: The Anatomy of a Boeing Quality Failure

In The Air Current, Jon Ostrower reconstructs the journey of fuselage 8789 from Spirit AeroSytems to Alaska Airlines. It’s an insightful look at the relationship between Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems.

Opposition grows to Boeing 737 MAX 7 safety exemption

Boeing wants an exemption to certify the 737 MAX 7 and MAX 10, despite problems with the engine anti-ice system.

Video: United Airlines CEO: Boeing’s 737 Max-9 grounding is ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ for us

NTSB Urges Parents Not to Fly With Children on Laps After Alaska Incident 

At a recent press conference, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said “We would urge passengers to put their children under two in their own seat, in an FAA-approved car seat, so they are secure and safe in case something like this happens.” Currently, the FAA allows children under the age of two to be held in an adult’s lap.

Boeing CEO to meet with senators scrutinizing 737 MAX 9 blowout

Dave Calhoun has been meeting with U.S. senators to answer their questions about the 737 MAX 9. After meeting with Calhoun, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth said he “offered no assurance” that Boeing would withdraw its exemption request for the 737MAX 7 jet. 

Boeing Whistleblower: Production Line Has “Enormous Volume Of Defects” Bolts On MAX 9 Weren’t Installed

JetBlue casts doubt on its merger deal with Spirit Airlines after judge rules against merger

JetBlue Airways has informed Spirit Airlines that the merger agreement might be terminated. JetBlue feels some conditions of the merger agreement can not be met while Spirit says there is no basis for terminating the merger agreement.

United Airlines To Launch First-Ever Route From Washington DC To Alaska

Breeze Airways Adds Three Airports, 11 Routes To Network

After Three Years on Mars, NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Mission Ends

On April 19, 2021, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter made history by becoming the first craft to achieve powered, controlled flight on another planet. After sustaining rotor blade damage, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced that the Ingenuity mission had come to an end after  72 flights.

Ingenuity Mars Helicopter sitting on the surface of Mars.
This view of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was generated using data collected by the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard the agency’s Perseverance Mars rover on Aug. 2, 2023, the 871st Martian day, or sol, of the mission.

For more information about Ingenuity, see https://mars.nasa.gov/technology/helicopter.

Mentioned

Do Electric Aircraft Face Lapse Rate Challenges?

B-21 Raider Flight Testing Now Underway

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, Max Trescott, David Vanderhoof, and our Main(e) Man Micah.

783 Favorite Aviation Movies

Our listeners’ favorite aviation movies. In the news, the Alaska Airlines B737 MAX 9 cabin door plug incident and cockpit doors, a British Airways pilot was kidnapped and robbed, Spirit Airlines initiated a sale/leaseback transaction to pay their debt, Netjets instituted a mandatory age 70 retirement for pilots, and Cirrus Aircraft announced a new generation of the SR-22

Listener’s Favorite Aviation Movies

We asked our listeners to tell us their favorite aviation movie, not including Top Gun. (We excluded Top Gun because it would likely overpower the results.) Listeners responded in great numbers. In no particular order, these are our listener’s favorite aviation movies:

The winner of our favorite aviation film random drawing: The Great Waldo Pepper. Theatrical release poster by Gary Meyer.
Theatrical release poster by Gary Meyer

The Great Waldo Pepper (1975) (Paul F.) After WW1, an ex-pilot takes up barn-storming and chance-meets a former German ace fighter pilot with whom he co-stars in Hollywood war movies depicting aerial dogfights. Paul: My grandfather learned to fly in a Jenny and that movie just resonated with me.  I recently found it on Netflix and enjoyed it all over again! Winner of the random drawing.

The Arrow (TV miniseries 1997) (Kevin H.) Starring Dan Aykroyd as Crawford Gordon, an experienced wartime production leader after World War II and president of Avro Canada during its attempt to produce the Avro Arrow supersonic jet interceptor aircraft. The film also stars Michael Ironside and Sara Botsford. Kevin: Ok guys…. so I’m not entirely sure if a TV miniseries would qualify, but if you played the four episodes back to back it would be a 180-minute movie. It was only Canada’s greatest aviation achievement, so of course it has a special place in the hearts of all Canadian avgeeks.

No Highway in the Sky (1951) (James H.) Starring Jimmy Stewart and Jack Hawkins in a supporting role (yes it was made in England), Based on a Neville Shute Novel, Great use of visuals, based on models, As the major plot point identified the issue of metal fatigue long before the Comet disasters, And while a black and white film is a well-told yarn.

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 Hours 11 Minutes (1965) (Holger L. and Thierry B.) Hoping to push Britain to the forefront of aviation, a London publisher organizes an international air race across the English Channel, but must contend with two entrants vying for his daughter, as well as national rivalries and cheating. Holger: It’s funny but it’s also about aviation history.

Airplane vs. Volcano (2014) (Hendrik N.) Not really my favourite aviation movie, but just to enter a really weirdly bad aviation movie. It is incredible how bad a movie can be. But it is so bad that it starts to be funny again.

Devotion (2022) (Greg H. and Dag G.) A biographical war film based on the 2015 book Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice by Adam Makos, which retells the comradeship between naval officers during the Korean War. Dag G: I saw the preview live-streaming theater in the woods on my laptop during AirVenture, and went to see it in the theater with one of my best friends. It has the most beautiful airplane shots and the most moving story.

Airport (1970) (Rick B.) The original featuring Dean Martin, Burt Lancaster, Jean Seberg, Jacqueline Bisset, and George Kennedy as the mechanic everyone aspired to be; Joe Patroni of TWA.

Air America (1990) (John R. and Tom B.) An action comedy film directed by Roger Spottiswoode and starring Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Jr. as Air America pilots flying missions in Laos during the Vietnam War.

The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (1944) (Michael R.) Watching The Memphis Belle as a kid was a contributing factor to my interest in WWII, and especially in the B-17.

Memphis Belle (1990) (Mark C. and Andrew C.) In 1943, the crew of a B-17 based in the UK prepares for its 25th and final bombing mission over Germany before returning home to the USA. I enjoyed the  Memphis Belle movie, about a flying fortress, when it came out in the early 1990s.I think it is time I see it again.

Midway (1976) (Ted P.) My grandfather took me to see it when I was school-age and it ignited my love of airplanes and naval history.  He flew B-24s in WW2 but did not deploy as his father passed when his squadron was sent to Europe. He ended up training flight crews and family lore was he buzzed the family farm in South NJ and the chickens didn’t lay eggs for a week.

American Made (2017) (Pawel M.) The story of Barry Seal, an American pilot who became a drug-runner for the CIA in the 1980s in a clandestine operation that would be exposed as the Iran-Contra Affair.

Fail Safe (1964) (JD) A technical malfunction sends American planes to Moscow to deliver a nuclear attack. Can all-out war be averted?

Strategic Air Command (1955) (Jeffrey L.) It holds a special place since my 20-year Air Force career started at Carswell AFB, Texas when it still was a SAC base, and that’s where many of the B-36 scenes were shot.  The hangar where Frank Lovejoy (yes, related) introduces the B-47 to Jimmy Stewart belonged to the squadron I was in from 1986-1992.  The factory across the runway was where Consolidated was building the B-36s, and later F-16s, and now F-35s.  Lots of history there.

Midway (1976) (Mike S.) I can watch that every week!

The Great Waldo Pepper (1975) (Paul F. and Roland H.) Stars Robert Redford, Bo Svenson, and Bo Brundin. Paul: My grandfather learned to fly in a Jenny and that movie just resonated with me.  I recently found it on Netflix and enjoyed it all over again! Roland: I have seen this many, many times as a kid on a VHS tape recorded from TV. Years ago I tried to find it on DVD and it wasn’t that easy. I did find it eventually. I think I just feel the urge to watch it again 🙂

High Road to China (1983) (Adam H.) Grew up in an aviation family and was always fascinated by WW1 aircraft. When this movie came out in the 80’s starring Tom Selleck and Bess Armstrong I was hooked. An heiress hires a washed-out ace and his mechanic to find her father so he won’t be declared dead by the courts. They fly two Belgian Stampe biplanes filling in for Curtis Jennys from England to China and have plenty of adventures along the way.

The Big Lift (1950) (Gerard O.) Experiences of two Air Force sergeants during the 1948 Berlin Airlift. Starring Paul Douglas and Montgomery Clift.

Miracle Landing (1990) (Sarah J.) A made-for-television drama film based on an in-flight accident aboard Aloha Airlines Flight 243 in April 1988. I watched it as a 9-year-old with my mum and wasn’t allowed to tell anyone that she let me watch it. Oh, the thrill of having a secret! Also, the movie isn’t actually bad for 1990.

Hot Shots! (1991) (Kyle T.) A parody of Top Gun (1986) in which a talented but unstable fighter pilot must overcome the ghosts of his father and save a mission sabotaged by greedy weapons manufacturers.

633 Squadron (1964) (Bill A.) A RAF squadron is assigned to knock out a German rocket fuel factory in Norway. The factory supplies fuel for the Nazi effort to launch rockets on England during D-Day. I definitely love the Mosquito and the scenes of them flying what I think is the Mach Loop in Scotland.

Always (1989) (Andrew F.) The spirit of a recently deceased expert pilot mentors a newer pilot while watching him fall in love with the girlfriend that he left behind. It has a great cast, a great storyline, and really cool flying. Fun fact about this movie: The featured B-26 (and others) was owned by Hawkins and Powers Aviation in Graybull, WY. The owner would fly that airplane over to Sheridan, WY where I was based with Great Lakes Aviation. What I thought was really cool was that there were two different liveries painted on each side of the airplane. That way they could use it in the background of different shots representing more than one airplane.

Dunkirk (2017) (Matt R.) Not an aviation movie, but the aviation scenes haunt me. They made me think about how challenging and potentially frightening it would be to fly in a noisy cockpit with limited visibility, little communication, and no source of information except your eyes through goggles to warn you of an enemy whose goal is to destroy you, all with the ticking clock of fuel consumption constantly on your mind.

The Final Countdown (1980) (RT) A modern aircraft carrier is thrown back in time to 1941 near Hawaii, just hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It has multiple military aircraft (airplanes and helicopters), a dogfighting scene of F-14s and Japanese Zeros (What other movie would have that?), an aircraft carrier, and time travel.

The Rocketeer (1991) (Andy B.) A young pilot stumbles onto a prototype jetpack that allows him to become a high-flying masked hero. I fell in love it: pure fiction yes, but full of waning days of the golden age of aviation context- with just the right dash of historical anachronism to “…really tie the room together!”

Bat*21 (1988) (Mike S.) During the Vietnam War, Colonel Hambleton’s aircraft is shot down over enemy territory and a frantic rescue operation ensues. Starring Gene Hackman, Danny Glover, and Jerry Reed.

Behind Enemy Lines (2001) (Peter T.) A disillusioned pilot shot down over war-torn Bosnia goes on the run from the local military and an assassin, as his commanding officer risks all to save him. There is a good plot and is not necessarily aviation-intensive but the aviation scenes are, in my opinion, well done! I actually bought the DVD from Blockbuster. Starring Gene Hackman, Owen Wilson, and Gabriel Macht.

Iron Eagle (1986) (Quinn M. and Shannon V.) A young pilot plans a rescue mission when his father, an Air Force Colonel, is shot down over enemy territory and captured. The one that makes me smile at so many levels is “Iron Eagle” but not the sequels. One of my favorite features is the credits have a statement to the effect the the USAF had nothing to do with it but thanks so much to the Israeli Air Force for their help in filming… Explaining the camo that USAF planes have never used and the Kfir bad guy planes. I am very amused by the “totally not Libya”  bad guy country that had features of Iran and some of the other Israeli neighbors. Shannon:  Louis Gossett Jr. and the music of Queen, are you kidding me? It doesn’t get any better than that.

The War Lover (1962) (Ed L.) In 1943, while stationed in Britain, arrogant Captain Buzz Rickson is in command of a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, but his recklessness is endangering everyone around him. A great, realistic, black-and-white, B-17 movie. It’s also a great book by John Hersey. Starring Steve McQueen, Robert Wagner, and Shirley Anne Field.

The Blue Max (1966) (Kerry K.) A young pilot in the German air force of 1918, disliked as lower-class and unchivalrous, tries ambitiously to earn the medal offered for 20 kills. Probably a favorite because it was seen at an early age and the details of the movie always stuck with me.  Few movies about WWI and biplanes, especially with the same production value.

Cloud Dancer (1980) (Luke H.) A fictionalized account of a competition acrobatic pilot. They used real aircraft, the actors were also in the seat of the two-seat Pitts.

Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (1944) (Paul A.) A documentary on the 25th bombing mission of the Memphis Belle, a B-17 in the US 8th Air Force. I saw this as a kid and rewatched it recently. The scene that has stuck with me and that I remember as a kid, is the solemn, tense moments depicted when the ground crews wait for the planes returning from the mission. The viewer is on the edge of their seat as we watch real footage of the landing aircraft, the stragglers limping home and arriving one by one…we feel as if we’re on the airfield praying for the safe touchdown of the damaged aircraft.

Flight of the Intruder (1991) (Todd P.) During the air war over Vietnam, a U.S. Navy A-6 Intruder bomber pilot schemes with a hardened veteran to make an unauthorized air strike on Hanoi. “Fighter pukes make movies. Bomber pilots make… history!”

Airplane! (1980) (Markku H., Steve S., Steve L., and Adam W.) After the crew becomes sick with food poisoning, a neurotic ex-fighter pilot must land a commercial airplane full of passengers safely. Harkku: Funny movie, I saw it when I was a little boy. Perhaps not politically correct nowadays with the Air Israel kipa and beard on the plane. Steve S: The best and funniest aviation movie ever. And stop calling me Shirley. Steve L: So many classic one-liners. And don’t call me Shirley! Adam: I saw it many times as a kid and then had the fun of sharing it with my own child.  Even seeing it at a different stage in my life, I laughed at some of the same things while also laughing at some different gags, all having to do with aviation.  No doubt, I’ll watch it again sometime in the near future.

The Spirit of St Louis (1957) (Greg P.) Charles ‘Slim’ Lindbergh struggles to finance and design an airplane that will make his New York to Paris flight the first solo transatlantic crossing. Starring James Stewart, Murray Hamilton, and Patricia Smith.

Twelve O’Clock High (1949) (Rich M. and d12776) A hard-as-nails general takes over a B-17 bomber unit suffering from low morale and whips them into fighting shape. Yes, it is about flying  B-17s in WWII. But it is also one of the best movies about leadership. I was an instructor at the Air Force’s Squadron Officer School in the late 70’s and we built an entire lesson plan on leadership and how Brig Gen Savage changes his leadership style depending on the situation. We taught situational leadership and this movie was a great example. Fantastic movie! Starring Gregory Peck, Hugh Marlowe, and Gary Merrill.

The Final Countdown (1980) (Martin-Guy C.) A modern aircraft carrier is thrown back in time to 1941 near Hawaii, just hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. I love the sequence F-14A v Zero. Sad that VF-84 no longer flies. Another good scene is the A-7E barricade.

American Made (2017) (Chris B. and Job S) The story of Barry Seal, an American pilot who became a drug runner for the CIA in the 1980s in a clandestine operation that would be exposed as the Iran-Contra Affair. Job: Definitely the best aviation movie ever… hands down!

Black Box (2021) (Belinda D.) A young and talented black box analyst is on a mission to solve the reason behind the deadly crash of a brand-new aircraft. A French language aviation thriller. I think it’s a really clever film, particularly in light of recent certification difficulties with Boeing- really really enjoyed it! Original title: Boîte noire.

Things to Come (1936) (Craig L.) The story of a century: a decades-long Second World War leaves plague and anarchy, then a rational state rebuilds civilization and attempts space travel. Starring Raymond Massey. Based on H.G. Wells’ “The Shape of Things to Come.” Check out the Wikipedia synopsis!

Up in The Air (2009) (Brian G.) Ryan Bingham enjoys living out of a suitcase for his job, traveling around the country firing people, but finds that lifestyle threatened by the presence of a potential love interest, and a new hire presenting a new business model. Starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick.

Wings (1927) (Andy D.) Two young men, one rich, one middle class, who are in love with the same woman, become fighter pilots in World War I. The silent film, specifically when accompanied live by Clark Wilson at the console of a Mighty Wurlitzer theater pipe organ.

As Green As It Gets [Original title: Grüner wird’s nicht, sagte der Gärtner und flog davon] (2018) (Peter W.) The German 2018 movie where the protagonist gardener takes off in his beautiful Platzer Kiebitz biplane and travels through the countryside. The cinematography especially of the airplane scenes is fantastic!

The Aviator (2004) (Martin K.) A biopic depicting the early years of legendary director and aviator Howard Hughes’ career from the late 1920s to the mid-1940s. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, and Kate Beckinsale.

Flight (2012) (Max) An airline pilot saves almost all his passengers on his malfunctioning airliner which eventually crashed, but an investigation into the accident reveals something troubling. Starring Denzel Washington, Nadine Velazquez, and Don Cheadle.

Air Force One (1997) (Andre M.) It is a great movie, it has Han Solo in it, airplanes, and it is one I watched over and over when I managed to get my laptop to play those new fandangled DVD movies back when they first came out.

Soul Plane (2004) (E.R.) Things get raucously funny aboard the maiden flight of a black-owned airline, thanks to some last-minute passenger additions. Diversity and culture.

The Terminal (2004) (Dee) An Eastern European tourist unexpectedly finds himself stranded in JFK airport and must take up temporary residence there. It’s a demonstration of someone staying positive despite being presented with so many obstacles and loosely based on an actual event.

Godzilla Minus One (2023) (Bill H.) The movie starts with an airplane scene and there isn’t much more aviation until the last part of the movie. But it’s worth the wait. The story takes place in Japan in the immediate aftermath of WWII. A plan is devised to ambush Godzilla, but he must be lured to the right place. This job falls to our hero flying a specially prepared plane, the J7W Shinden. The Shinden was designed to intercept B-29s and inspired some hope among the Japanese at a time when the war had become hopeless. In the new Godzilla movie, the airplane is recast as a warrior in a non-military struggle, a role that suits it perfectly. Yes, it’s a low-budget monster movie, and all of the flying scenes are done with CGI. But it’s well worth it to see this spectacular airplane at center stage facing a worthy challenge.

One Six Right (2005) (Adam F.) There was just something about hearing so many stories of other pilots who loved flying at a time when I was so new to it myself. There are at least three spots guaranteed to bring on tears every single time I’ve viewed it. One section that’s especially powerful is the retired airline pilot explaining that as he was starting out in DC-3s, if he had been told by the end of his career he would fly near 40,000 feet at 600mph he would have considered that prediction as completely crazy – but with only 34 years between the DC-3 and 747, that’s how aviation grew in his career. On a cinematic level, the transitions between various segments can be a little rough – in a single movie covering everything from the history of a specific airport, emotional remembrance of the first solo, future warnings in the wake of Meigs, air traffic controllers, broader community complaints of noise, etc. But admittedly this roughness didn’t really occur to me until I had seen it more than a few times.

Pan Am (2011-2012) (Sarah M.) ABC TV series. Period drama about the pilots and flight attendants who once made Pan Am the most glamorous way to fly. Not really a movie, but…

The Geek’s Favorite Aviation Movies

The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) (Max Flight) After an oil company plane crashes in the Sahara, the survivors are buoyed with hope by one of the passengers, an airplane designer who plans for them to build a flyable plane from the wreckage.

Sully (2016) (Rob Mark) When pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed his damaged plane on the Hudson River to save the flight’s passengers and crew, some consider him a hero while others think he was reckless.

Flying Tigers (1942) (Brian Coleman) Capt. Jim Gordon’s command of the famed American volunteer fighter group in China is complicated by the recruitment of an old friend who is a reckless hotshot.

The Final Countdown (1980) (Steve Visscher) A modern aircraft carrier is thrown back in time to 1941 near Hawaii, just hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

One Six Right (2005) (Grant McHerron) An exhilarating documentary film that celebrates the unsung hero of aviation – the local airport – by tracing the life, history, and struggles of an airport icon: Southern California’s Van Nuys Airport.

Strategic Air Command (1955) (David Vanderhoof) An ex-pilot and current baseballer is recalled into the U.S. Air Force and assumes an increasingly important role in Cold War deterrence. Starring James Stewart, June Allyson, and Frank Lovejoy.

Sky King (TV series 1951-1962) (Max Trescott) King usually captured criminals and spies and found lost hikers, though he did so with the use of his airplane, the Songbird. Starring Kirby Grant, Gloria Winters, and Ewing Mitchell.

Micah’s Favorite Aviation Movies

Our Main(e) Man Micah struggled to pick just one favorite aviation movie. In his story, he mentions these films:

  1. Top Gun
  2. The Aviator
  3. Iron Eagle
  4. Air Force One
  5. Snakes on a Plane
  6. Pearl Harbor
  7. Flight
  8. Jet Pilot
  9. Flying Leathernecks
  10. Flying Tigers
  11. Islands in the Sky
  12. Fate is the Hunter
  13. The Wings of Eagles
  14. The High and The Mighty
  15. Task Force
  16. Fighter Squadron
  17. Dive Bomber 
  18. Wings
  19. Hell’s Angels
  20. Keep ‘Em Flying
  21. Captains of the Clouds
  22. Air Force
  23. God Is My Co-Pilot
  24. Zero Hour!
  25. Airplane
  26. Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines
  27. The Flight of the Phoenix
  28. Airport 
  29. Tora! Tora! Tora!
  30. The Great Waldo Pepper
  31. Midway (1976)
  32. Midway (2019)
  33. The Final Countdown
  34. Always
  35. A Guy Named Joe
  36. Twelve O’Clock High
  37. Command Decision
  38. The Dawn Patrol (1930)
  39. The Dawn Patrol (1938)

Move Favorite Aviation Movies

These movies were submitted by listeners after the episode posted:

The Right Stuff (1983) (Obiwankenobi8999, Joe) The U.S. space program’s development from the breaking of the sound barrier to the selection of the Mercury 7 astronauts, from a group of test pilots with a seat-of-the-pants approach.

A Gathering of Eagles (1963) (Tom L.) During the Cold War, Air Force Colonel Jim Caldwell shapes up his Strategic Air Command B-52 wing to pass a nuclear war readiness test.

Whisky Romeo Zulu (2004) (JP) The film tells the story prior to the accident LAPA Boeing 737 on 31 August 1999 after hitting an embankment in central Buenos Aires, killing 67 people.

Only Angels Have Wings (1939) (Peter D.) At a remote South American trading port, the manager of an air-freight company is forced to risk his pilots’ lives in order to win an important contract as a traveling American showgirl stops in town.

Aviation News

FAA investigating if Boeing failed to ensure certain aircraft were safe for operation after door blew on Alaska Airlines plane

The FAA is investigating Boeing to determine if the company ensured that “products conformed to its approved design and were in a condition for safe operation in compliance with FAA regulations.” After the B737 MAX 9 grounding, Alaska and United found loose hardware on some planes. According to the FAA, these “circumstances indicate that Boeing may have failed to ensure its completed products conformed to its approved design and were in a condition for safe operation in accordance with quality system inspection and test procedures.”

Alaska flight incident reveals another feature Boeing didn’t inform pilots about

Immediately following the cabin decompression on the Alaska Airlines B737 MAX 9, the cockpit door swung open, to the surprise of the pilots. That’s the design behavior. NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said that Boeing would make this clear in the MAX 9 manual.

British Airways Pilot Kidnapped, Brutally Assaulted and Robbed in Terrifying Ordeal During Layover in Johannesburg

The First Officer was on a 2-day layover, staying in a gated and guarded community. While returning to the community after shopping, a woman asked him for assistance but then he was forced into a vehicle. Taken to a house for four hours, his bank accounts were emptied.

Spirit Sells 25 Aircraft to Reduce Debt 

The airline entered into a sale-leaseback deal. The transaction allowed the airline to repay $465 million in debt payments for the aircraft. The sale also generated $419 million in net cash proceeds. The specific aircraft involved were not specified. Spirit operates an A320-family fleet of over 200 aircraft.

NetJets Implements Mandatory Age-70 Pilot Retirement

NetJets instituted an age-70 limit for its fractional-share (Part 91K) pilots effective January 10, 2024. Fewer than 100 pilots are affected, and they have been removed from NetJet’s schedule.

Notice of the change was issued by NetJets on January 10, 2023. This came after Congress’s omnibus spending bill that was adopted in December 2022. That bill allowed certain Part 91K and 135 operators to implement an age-70 ceiling. Such operators had to have logged at least 75,000 annual jet operations in 2019 or any subsequent year.

The NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP) filed a grievance which NetJets denied. An arbitrator found no violation and also denied the grievance. Eight NetJets pilots filed a lawsuit seeking “a preliminary injunction to keep the age cap from taking effect Jan. 10, 2024.” The U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas Dallas Division rejected their arguments and denied the motion for a preliminary injunction.

See: Congress passes rule raising voluntary pilot age restriction

Cirrus Unveils Generation Seven of the SR-22

The G7 features Cirrus Perspective Touch+™ by Garmin®, advanced safety systems, improved visibility, increased legroom, and enhanced convenience features. The G7 integrates a  touchscreen-controlled flight deck with a comfortable and stylish cabin. This redesigned flight deck reduces pilot workload while offering enhanced situational awareness for both pilot and passenger.

Video: SR Series G7 Features

Mentioned

Video: Van Halen – Dreams 1986 (Blue Angels)

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, Max Trescott, David Vanderhoof, Brian Coleman, and our Main(e) Man Micah.

602 The Life of a Pilot

Chris Manno talks about his 42 years as a professional pilot, first with the U.S. Air Force and then with a major U.S. airline. Chris has written An Airline Pilot’s Life which captures his military and commercial career. In the news, we look at industry first-quarter losses, production cuts, furloughs, and layoffs. Also, airline and airport safety measures, Federal bailout money, a hybrid-electric aircraft, and the Treaty on Open Skies.

Guest

Pilot Chris Manno

Chris Manno

Chris Mano writes the Jethead blog and has recently published a start-to-finish true-life story of his 42 years as a professional pilot, which includes seven years with the USAF and over 34 years with American Airlines. It’s titled An Airline Pilot’s Lifeand the paperback release is May 2020. The first part is currently Amazon Kindle’s #1 new release in commercial aviation. The book tells the stories of Chris’ USAF pilot training and squadron flying for 6 years, and then his airline career through DC-10 engineer to MD-80 FO to DC-10 FO to MD-80 captain, F-100 captain, MD-80 Check Airman, and B-737-800 captain.

The book describes a life-long dedication to aviation, a path that Chris knew he wanted to take even as a youngster. Through this first-hand view, the reader learns what it is like to be an air force pilot or an airline pilot.

An Airline Pilots LifeChris tells us about the difference between military and airline flying, the role of labor unions, and flight and cabin crew relationships. We learn why he likes the 737-800 so much, and what he didn’t like about the MD-80. Chris also provides his thoughts, from a pilot’s perspective, on the loss of confidence in the 737 Max, the process, and the regulator.

Find Chris at the JetHead blog and look for An Airline Pilot’s Lifeon Amazon.com.

Quarterly earnings reports, production cuts, layoffs…

Southwest Airlines Reports First Quarter Loss

Boeing plans to cut airplane production, 10% of its workforce in aircraft market ‘frozen’ by coronavirus crisis

The Non-Bailout: How the Fed Saved Boeing Without Paying a Dime

Warren Buffett & Berkshire Hathaway has completely sold out of its airline stakes.

Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita to lay off 1,450 employees

United Launches Plan To Cut At Least A Third Of Its Pilots

Boeing’s Biggest 737 MAX Customer Slashes Aircraft Delivery Schedule

Airline safety measures…

JetBlue To Require Passenger Face Masks

United Airlines adds safety procedures, ticket changes

Airport safety measures and federal grants…

Paine Field Airport to test passengers for fever before boarding

How did a small coastal airport in Owls Head get an $18 million federal bailout?

Tiny airports rake in big cash after botched stimulus formula

Other aviation news…

Airbus and Rolls-Royce cancel E-Fan X hybrid-electric RJ100 experiment

Air Force Is Down To One Tired Old Jet To Fly Open Skies Surveillance Flights

Mentioned

Airport Ambience, A whole day in 4K