Air Force flight training was arranged around three phases, primary flight in the Cessna T-41 (Cessna 172), the Cessna T-37, and the Northrop T-38 Talon. I survived—actually passed—the first two phases. Six months before graduation, we transitioned to the T-38.The T-38, or “White Rocket” as some called it, was an entirely new flying experience. The T-38 is a tandem two-seat, twin-jet, advanced “fast-jet” (supersonic) trainer with a top speed of 1.3 Mach (speed of sound) and maximum G-load of plus 9.0, i.e., the airframe could withstand load forces equal to nine times the force of gravity.The T-38, or “White Rocket” as some called it, was an entirely new flying experience. The T-38 is a tandem two-seat, twin-jet, advanced “fast-jet” (supersonic) trainer with a top speed of 1.3 Mach (speed of sound) and maximum G-load of plus 9.0, i.e., the airframe could withstand load forces equal to nine times the force of gravity.
As I think back on my career in aviation, some of my fondest memories are from my first job as a line boy at the local airport in South Florida. It was an exciting place to work that was often different day-to-day as new planes and pilots and opportunities presented themselves to me and literally expanded my horizons.Working the line offered lots of challenges and experiences—driving fuel trucks loaded with thousands of gallons of AVGAS and carefully maneuvering them around millions of dollars of airplanes, towing G-II’s and Falcons out of the executive hangar with inches to spare, changing lightbulbs along the runways, and even being the Fire Rescue crew with a “Squad 51” lookalike firetruck. But by far, the best part of the job was meeting pilots and getting unusual opportunities to fly in a variety of airplanes as they would learn that I was building hours and earning licenses.
Let’s face it, being in the aircraft manufacturing business is not always smooth flying! It seems however, Mooney Aircraft has had more than it’s share of ownership changes, bankruptcies, and market downturns to drive away all but the most determined entrepreneurs. Its success is a testament to the aircraft—a design that has captured the imaginations—and pocketbooks—of a special class of aviators. Aviators seeking a fast, comfortable, and distinctive aircraft.
Lancair demonstrates how an aircraft manufacturer can survive—having a good idea and continuous development of that idea. From the original “Lancer 200,” to the third (or fourth) generation Mako and Barracuda, the core Lancair line has continued to develop and improve on the original aircraft design.Lancair founder, Lance Neibauer, a successful graphic artist, had grown up around aviation and had learned to fly at an early age. His uncle founded Meyers Aircraft Company which eventually became part of Rockwell International. The operation that would become Lancair, was established by Neibauer in 1981.
As pilots, we all have memories of certain flights or events in our aviation journeys. Perhaps it was an ILS approach on a low visibility day, or maybe it was a beautiful sunset over the water, or maybe it was an emergency that happened and was handled with ease. For those with many hours in the cockpit, some of these events eventually blend into the memories of a career well flown and, frankly, get kind of jumbled up and mixed together.
And then—there’s those things you will NEVER forget! Things that will forever be there for your recall because they were so monumental in your experience: your first solo, your Private Pilot check ride, carrying your first passenger, or experiencing your first cross country flight to name a few.
And I suspect, if you’re like me, perhaps it was when you failed your first check ride.