Risk and Reward in the Thin Air

Photo: Virgin Galactic
Photo: Virgin Galactic

Losing people in a flight program is gut-wrenchingly hard and today I feel for all of the folks at Scaled Composites. None of them set out to lose a friend and injure another when they prepared to launch SpaceShipTwo last Friday. Their goal was the same as every person or team that has ever taken a new flying machine aloft--to test it and return with good data to prove its worth, make it better and move the program forward. Then everyone goes home and has a nice dinner at home with their family.

I have seen that happen countless times. I have also seen the dreadful cases when it does not. Something bad happens, the team is in shock, and the grief can be paralyzing as we think of the family of those lost. We honor their memory by continuing on, but each time we lose a little of ourselves in the process. It is painful. It leaves scars. Eventually, you begin to ask yourself if any of it is worth it.

The truth is, for those who choose to set foot in the arena, it really is. We believed that going in and we have to continue to believe it in order to progress. The history of humanity's  progress in exploration is written in the blood of those who have gone before. Whether that progress was made on the ground, on the sea or in the air. There is a great deal of risk in doing something for the first time and yet more risk in doing something that exposes the human body to forces far beyond what it can tolerate and survive. Aviation is truly risky because of that exposure. Upping the ante to supersonic flight near the edge of space simply makes it exponentially worse. And such are the lessons learned from the space programs, both governmental and commercial and from the SpaceShipTwo accident. Continue reading "Risk and Reward in the Thin Air"

Georg Himmeroeder's Bearhawk

After completing my buddy's F1 EVO we thought about building another airplane. My choice was the Bearhawk. I wanted an airplane with more utility and the Bearhawk with four seats and a huge payload was the right one. Also, the choice of engines available was a point. It took us about 6 years to complete that airplane and except the upholstery we did everything ourselves. With the instrument panel I went a little bit overboard, but after flying it for almost 60 Hrs now I am very happy with it. The airplane is equipped with an IO-540, 260HP, an MT three-blade CS prop and is fully IFR-capable. Here in the New Mexican summers and high elevations you can't have enough power. Although my plane came out on the heavy side (empty weight 1700 lbs) compared to other Bearhawks out there the performance is excellent. At gross weight it climbs at about 1200 ft/min and cruise speed is around 120 KTAS on about 10 Gal/hr. Vx is 55 kt, Vy 72 kt, Vso is 37 kt indicated. With the two AUX tanks I have 72 Gal. fuel capacity.

The Bearhawk is a beautiful roomy cruiser and you can land it almost everywhere. Overall it was a good choice and I am very happy with the result.

Location: Alamogordo, NM

e-mail address: bearhawk@gmx.net

Website: http://www.bearhawk.info

Bearhawk

Bearhawk

Bearhawk panel

Insurance Discounts for Small Airplanes

Aggressive Aviation Insurance offers coverage tailored to small aircraft (up to 12-seat capacity), including Light Sport and Experimental planes with retractable gear, tricycle gear or floats. Now the company is offering premium discounts of up to 15% for those owners and operators of small general aviation aircraft that fly with proven safety equipment.

That equipment can include any or all of the following:
- Enhanced vision systems such as those made by Max-Viz.
- Seat belt airbags, such as those made by AmSafe.
- Airframe parachutes, such as those made by BRS Aerospace.

Aggressive Aviation Insurance products are now available in more than 40 states, through more than 100 independent aviation agencies. The insurance is underwritten by the Stonewall Insurance Company, a member of the A++ rated Berkshire Hathaway Group of Insurance Companies.

For more information, visit www.aggressiveaviation.com or call 866/424-9511.

Whirl Wind Launches New Web Site

Whirl Wind Aviation, manufacturer of a diverse line of high-performance composite constant-speed propeller systems for Experimental aircraft announced a newly formatted and optimized web site that provides greatly expanded information and enhanced presentation, according to Whirl Wind. The new site will act as a portal to current information and specifications for all of the company's propeller systems, and will feature new products, an up-to-date photo gallery, company and industry news, and technical information that has been reformatted for easier access.

Visit the new site at www.whirlwindaviation.com.

FatBoy Throttle Quadrants

FatBoy Throttle Quadrants is a new Nashville, Tennessee, based manufacturing company dedicated to bringing quality throttle quadrant systems to the homebuilt and Experimental aircraft market.

FatBoy throttle quadrants will fit in any airframe and can be used for any mechanical control-based application including engine speed (throttle), propeller speed, engine mixture, cowl flap, cabin air, oil and fuel shutoff and more, the company says. The quadrants can be center or side mounted. Continue reading "FatBoy Throttle Quadrants"