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The Big Four: the aircraft that shaped private jet travel

Business jets have created a world of opportunity for businesses and high wealth individuals around the world, allowing them the ability to fly themselves or send predominant staff to places that commercial flights can’t reach. They allowed these executives to attend imperative meetings and be home for dinner. The social status of owners increased as well, showcasing to others that they were long on financial resources and short on time. 

The following are four aircraft that changed the world in regards to time efficiency, business productivity, and social status.  What is most interesting is that all four originated from military contracts with the intent of being quicker and more efficient than predecessors.

 

Lockheed JetStar – L329
Deliveries: 202 (1961-1980)

 

Lockheed created the L-329 as a private venture to meet a United States Air Force (USAF) requirement, which ultimately shaped it into the world’s first business jet design.

The JetStar was one of the largest aircraft in its class, seating ten plus two crew. It was the first corporate aircraft allow a person to walk upright in the cabin.  It can be distinguished from other small jets by its four engines, which are mounted at the tail and the “slipper” style fuel tanks fixed to the wings to accommodate the increased fuel consumption from two extra engines. 

Although it was not the primary Air Force One aircraft, VC-140B’s did carry Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan while they were in office and used the Air Force One call sign while aboard.

Elvis Presley owned two JetStars at different times, the second being known as Hound Dog II. Reportedly he paid $899,702.60 for the aircraft on September 2, 1975.

 

North American Sabreliner 40
Deliveries: 137 (1959 – 1974)

 

The Sabreliner was developed in the mid-1950s by Los Angeles-based North American Aviation as an in-house project. North American offered a military version to the USAF in response to the Utility Trainer Experimental (UTX) program.  Because no other companies competed for the UTX, North American Aviation won the contract by default. 

This was the world’s first executive aircraft to run on a twin-jet system. It was named Sabreliner due to its similarity of supercritical and swept wings and tail to the North American F-86 Sabre jet fighter. It also included innovational slats.

Over 800 Sabreliners were produced, 200 of which were T-39s, military variants used by the USAF, United States Navy, and United States Marine Corps. Deriving itself from the F-86 Sabre, the Sabreliner is the only business jet authorized for aerobatics. The cockpit windows had topside “eyebrows” that provided a distinctive recognition feature for the aircraft.

Sabreliner was sold to Rockwell International and renamed as the Rockwell Sabreliner. In 1981, Sabreliner production came to a close.  In 1982, Rockwell sold the Sabreliner division to a private equity firm which later formed Sabreliner Corporation.

 

Learjet 23
Deliveries: 101 (1964-1966)

 

Among the first, and best known, private jets was the Lear Jet 23 (later renamed Learjet). This jet’s small size and economically fast operation made it a staple in the fleet of captains of industry, celebrities, and other wealthy members of society across the world.

The Lockheed JetStar and North American Sabreliner had been on the market before the Learjet 23 was produced, but its ability to climb higher and faster than its competitors made it the first civilian, jet-powered light aircraft.

The aircraft was beyond its time in terms of performance: 518 MPH cruising speed, 562 MPH (488 knots) maximum speed, 6,900 feet-per-minute rate of climb, 1,830-mile range, and 45,000-foot ceiling. According to the Smithsonian Institution, the Model 23 could out-climb an F-100 Super Sabre to 10,000 ft.

The man behind the Learjet was William “Bill” Powell Lear, Sr., who was inspired by the Swiss P-16 fighter jet prototype. Lear established the Swiss American Aviation Corporation (SAAC) to produce the passenger version: the SAAC-23 ExecuJet. After moving the company to Wichita, Kansas, he renamed it the Lear Jet Corporation. 

Essentially, Bill Lear wanted a small aircraft that could perform like a jet airliner and carry its five passengers and two pilots at 500 MPH for distances of 1,500 miles or more. While the aircraft performed like a fighter, it also had the accident record of one. The Model 23 was demanding to fly, even for experienced pilots. It was unrelenting of pilot errors, leading to 23 Learjet crashes in only three years with four of those resulting in fatalities.  The fleet was only made of 104 aircraft, meaning you had a 22% chance of crashing each time you flew in one.

Lear recognized the problem and introduced the Model 24 in 1966, with improved two-speed handling qualities. The accident rates improved as new models continued to be put on the market, but these rates were still much higher than other corporate jets of the time.

 

Dassault Falcon 20
Deliveries: 512 (1965-1991) including 20C, 20D, 20E and 20F

 

In December of 1961, French aircraft designer and head of Dassault Aviation, Marcel Dassault, provided the approval to work towards the production of an eight to ten seat executive jet/military liaison aircraft that could fly 500 mph+, which was initially named the Dassault-Breguet Mystère 20.

This low-wing monoplane drew upon the aerodynamics of the transonic Dassault Mystère IV fighter-bomber and was equipped with a pair of rear-mounted Pratt & Whitney JT12A-8 turbojet engines. Later upgrades to the airframe include Garrett TFE-731 engines.

Directly selling the aircraft wasn’t a viable option, so they settled on Pan American World Airways as the US distributor. The aircraft were distributed in America under the name Fan Jet Falcon, later becoming popularly known as the Falcon 20.  In total, Pan American placed orders for a combined total of 160 Falcon 20s. Other major orders were soon placed by several operators, both civil and military; amongst these included the French Navy, the United States Coast Guard, and Federal Express.

During the late 1960s and early 70s, aviation businessman Frederick W. Smith was seeking an ideal aircraft with which to launch his new business, Federal Express, commonly known today as FedEx. The Falcon 20 had a strong fuselage, making it the ideal aircraft for cargo operations.  The first packages to be carried by FedEx were in a Falcon 20 on April 17, 1973. Within a decade, the company was using 33 of the twinjets in its air express network.

Dassault went on to sell more than 500 Falcon series aircraft until 1991. The French company continues to be a major player in the market today with its lineup of twin- and three-engined designs.

 

These private jets began as ideas on a crumpled piece of paper in the corner of a desk. No one could have known just how impactful they would become. Across the world, they represent wealth and power to socialites and business owners alike. It is because of these aircraft that the private jet industry is stronger today than ever before.

4 Tips for Mastering Power-Off Landings

                       

You’ve got to do it on your private license and you get to do it again on commercial, the wonderful power-off landings. Whether it’s practicing power-off 180’s to land on a point of the runway or encountering a real-life scenario of being in the traffic pattern without an engine, here’s some tips for making it safely and efficiently.

1) First step in any engine-out scenario: pitch for glide speed and HOLD IT. Trim for it so good (while multitasking the other items too) that you can forget about it and look back and it’d still be fine.

You want the most distance as possible to give yourself time to think and make the runway. On check rides and in a real emergency scenario, it’s better to land past your desired point than short.

2) Never lose sight of your landing point.

Depending on your altitude in the pattern, you may need to turn straight towards your landing point or extend one of your legs slightly. Either way, keep an eye on your target the entire time.

In these scenarios you’re nervous, the pressure can be high, and if you turn away from it without making note to keep a constant scan of its distance then you can easily forget about it. When you do remember to look back, you can be too low and now it’s too late to save the landing.

3) To help with number 2, in a lot of scenarios it helps to keep the landing point on the tip of your wing. This is because in most cases, you’re likely no more than 1,000 feet above the ground (this is how typical traffic patterns for both controlled and uncontrolled airports are designed for general aviation aircraft).

Don't get this confused with keeping it perfectly rounded like turns around a point.

Instead, you should still keep a fairly squared off pattern with just a shorter downwind and base than usual. Keeping it off your wing helps you maintain distance so you avoid getting too low, and as previously stated helps you maintain where you are in reference to it. The more you keep an eye on the point, the better you can judge if you’re too high or too low and your chances increase of landing “right on the money.”

4) Know how to efficiently conduct slips, use flaps, and apply crosswind techniques.

These are so important, it can make or break a safe power-off landing.

Slips of course are to help you get down in a short distance. Apply full rudder and opposite aileron and pitch for something slightly higher than glide speed.

Ex. if glide speed is 72 knots, a good slip is about 80 knots.

While it’s safer and best to land beyond your landing reference than short of it, you can only land beyond it to an extent. For a commercial check ride, it’s 200 feet. For a real engine out scenario, you need to be able to touchdown and smoothly apply breaking power before reaching the end of the runway.

Flaps help control airspeed and increase your descent rate if you’re high too, but don’t add them in early or you could fall too short.

And of course, crosswind techniques. Even without an engine, you should dip the aileron into the wind. Imagine landing right at your desired area, but strong wind pushed you off runway centerline and now you’re in the grass next to the runway. Not a fun day…

Power-off landings can be tricky and take time to get down, and are easily one of the toughest maneuvers, but they can be very fun. These help you understand your plane better and adjust where you are in reference to something without messing with the throttle.

Need some help working on these and don’t know where to go? Use the GlobalAir Aviation Training tool located under the Aviation Directory tab.

Whether you want to impress your instructor, pass a check ride, or make a safe landing be sure to try out these tips on your next power-off landings. Stay tuned and keep an eye out on the GlobalAir.com website for all things aviation!

10+ Gift Ideas for Pilots and Aviation Enthusiasts

Pilots and aviators get to do what many of us can only dream of; fly. So what do you get the people who have the ability to soar above the clouds on a weekly basis? A gift for a pilot should be practical... but it must also maintain a level of sentimentality. 

Lucky for you, we have compiled a list of gift ideas that are aviator approved! 

 

Pilot Wings Hat - $15.95

If you've ever worn a baseball cap while flying, you'll immediately understand how much of a pain (literally) it can be to wear a headset and fight with the little button on top.  Not with this stylish hat! This company had the factory leave off the button that is traditionally found on the top of a baseball cap! Perfect for a sunny afternoon flying or spending the day with friends in the hangar.

 

Leather Pilot Log - $62

You've got to make every trip count. Track each flight with our pilot log, handmade from top-grain leather. This product includes either a standard (ASA-SP-30) or master (ASA-SP-6) pilot log. 

If the special pilot in your life prefers maintaining a digital logbook, send them to Globalair.com! Ours is free, easy to use, and is fully downloadable as a text file or CSV file. And the best part is the ability to add as many aircraft profiles as you need!

 

Flight Gear HP iPad Kneeboard - $34.95

The Flight Gear HP iPad Kneeboard holds the iPad right where you need it - secure on your leg but easily within reach. An integrated kickstand means you can tilt the iPad towards you, which helps to reduce glare. A simple hook-and-loop rotation mechanism allows for portrait or landscape viewing. 

 

Personalized Bobblehead in Flight Suit - $65

Personalize a bobblehead to look just like your favorite aviator. Simply send in images of the person you want the bobblehead to be crafted after and you will receive a custom look-alike. This bobblehead will come in an Air Force uniform. 

 

Set of 5 Aircraft Posters - $21.99

These patent art prints are printed on acid-free matte paper with high-quality archival inks. The prints are shipped in a durable shipping tube and rolled to ensure they don't crease. Perfect for wall decor in a home, bedroom, or college dorm. 

 

Aviator Engraved Whiskey Set - $69.95

This personalized gift for pilots is a unique way to thank the favorite aviator in your life. Each box is made from American Maplewood with sturdy metal hinges. Inside are two custom whiskey glasses and 9 whiskey stones. Includes personalization of the engraved box and glasses with the name and year for an unforgettable gift. The Maplewood box measures 11.25” x 5.5” x 4”. Each whiskey glass is 4” tall and can hold up to 10 ounces. (Liquor not included).

 

Airplane Propeller Replica 47" - $170+

This personalized wood airplane propeller wall hanging is custom designed with hand-engraved personalization and custom colors.  Wooden airplane propellers are the perfect gift for a retiring pilot, new pilot, or for travel themed weddings.

 

Airplane Keychain - $16.99

This key chain is an awesome gift for a pilot, airman, flight attendant, anyone in the air force or for anyone who loves to travel. It features a 1-inch 20 gauge stainless steel round disc stamped with "Have a safe flight I love you Love, (Name of your choice)” and a 1 3/4 inch x 2-inch antique silver-plated metal airplane charm on a 1-inch key ring. 

 

Red Canoe Cessna Stow Bag - $79.99

The Cessna Stow fits a headset, navigational tools and your pilot operating handbook as easily as your gym gear. It is the perfect gift for the pilot who spends more time on his plane than he does at home.

 

Vintage Instrument Coasters - $21.95

These vintage instrument coasters would look great on any pilot's coffee table. They are made with scratch resistant acrylic and have non-skid rubber feet. Designed to look like vintage aviation instruments and comes in a set of 6.

 

Pilot Humor Mug - $16.85

This is the perfect gift for your aviater pilot to use for pre-flight coffee. It will surely put a smile on their face as they try to remember the correct way to spell 'aviator'. 

 

Principles of Flight Tie - $28

Fly into your next business meeting or night on the town with this silk tie that sports the graphic principles of flight. This tie is the perfect accessory for an aviator, science teacher, or anyone with his head in the clouds. 100% silk; fully lined.

 

Spark Plug Plane Paperweight - $35

Recycled spark plugs, butter knives, and nuts and bolts are welded together into the shape of an airplane, giving this mini-sculpture the power to take off with the conversation as it taxis around your desk, workshop or tool shed. It can be used as a paperweight or a simple desk ornament.

 

Pilot Humor T-Shirt - $20

Show the world how much you love aircraft with this funny t-shirt. Available in multiple sizes and colors.

 

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how much you spend on the gift. All that matters is celebrating the love you have for that person... and for aviation. Don't stress wondering if the gift is perfect. If it is coming from you, it surely will be!

Do you have a favorite aviation-themed gift that you’ve received or a gift that you were proud to have found for someone else? Let us know in the comments below!

All prices are current at the time of posting. 
 

97-year-old WWII Naval Intelligence Officer takes first flight in a B-25J Mitchell

B-25 Mitchell - Show MeWorld War II era B-25J Mitchell lands on the runways of Bowman Field (KLOU) to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion. World War II veterans are being treated to honor flights during WWII Operation Gratitude.

The B-25J Mitchell, affectionately nicknamed “Show Me”, is best known for its role during the raid on Tokyo on April 18, 1942. This raid, led by Col. Jimmy Doolittle, is often cited for boosting America’s morale after the attack on Pearl Harbor just months before.

“Show Me” flew from the Missouri Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, which is located in St. Charles County Smartt Airport (KSET), to Louisville’s own Bowman Field Airport (KLOU) specifically for the celebration. 

WWII era B-25J Mitchell, Bowman Field, June 2019

 

Twenty veterans from all branches of the military were carried five at a time in “Show Me” across the rolling hills of the Bluegrass State.

 One of those passengers, Norma Lewis, admits she spent most of the flight with her hands clenched. Not in fear, however, but exhilaration.

“The engine is like a thousand violins in my ears,” she said before pausing. “The feeling of being in the air is just… wow.” Norma smiled, recounting the flight in “Show Me”.

At 97 years-young, as she will be sure to remind you, Norma has lived an altruistic life.

In 1943, at the age of 21, she joined the Navy. She was stationed in Charleston, South Carolina as part of a mission of tracking German submarines.

After three and a half years as a Naval Intelligence Officer, Norma retired from the Navy.

She came to Louisville in the 1960s as a sign language interpreter, something she picked up around the age of 10 after having been raised by her deaf aunt and uncle in Connecticut.

In 1977, “Mass of the Air”, a televised weekly mass on local news station WHAS, began to air. Norma volunteered for the program as an interpreter and has since been with the station for 40 years. 

WWII Operation of Gratitude is presented by Honor Flight Bluegrass Chapter during the week of June 3-7 to recognize the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.

Jeff Thoke, chairman of the board of Honor Flight Bluegrass, said: “I am thankful to be able to put on such a truly special event for these veterans.”

From left: Norma Lewis, Jeff Thoke, and Ernie Micka pose
in front of the B-25J Mitchell, Bowman Field, June 2019

 

Honor Flight Bluegrass was selected as a recipient of a $75,000 grant from the Kentucky Veterans Program Trust Fund, administered by the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs to fully sponsor the honor flight.

For more information, visit www.honorflightbluegrass.org

B-25J Mitchell lands at Bowman Field to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, June 2019

 

FIRST SOLO FLYING

The moment a student pilot soars into the air alone for the first time is a leap of faith – for both the student and the instructor.

The date was July 31, 1997.

It was the date of my first solo. I was 21 years old. And I was petrified.

Okay, maybe not petrified. But my palms were sweating. My heart was pounding.

Flying Solo for the first timeSee, we aviation enthusiasts like to imagine ourselves as those old pilot stereotypes:  the barnstorming stick jockeys who are afraid of nothing – who duel it out with the Red Baron, defending our homeland. Then, when our plane gets shot up, we bail out, and ride our parachute down to where we happen to land just outside our favorite diner. Just in time for breakfast, we pack up our parachute, trudge into the diner – to the awe of everyone inside – and order bacon, eggs and grits.

“Coffee’s cold again,” we would grumble. “Heck, this wasn’t even worth getting shot down for! And I don’t even eat grits!”

That wasn’t me. I put my first solo off.

I was a fair weather pilot. I was the guy who was constantly checking the winds – and if they weren’t straight down the runway, there was no way I was going alone.  What? There’s another plane in the pattern? Better wait till he’s gone. Don’t wanna go while it’s crazy up there!

ME:  And look! See that little cumulous cloud off in the distance? Looks grim! Probably means a storm’s coming!

INSTRUCTOR:  That’s a smokestack.

ME: Who cares? They both have lifting motion!

Okay, again, I exaggerate. But no matter how many touch-and-go’s I did, the thought of me taking off without my instructor in the right seat set me on edge.

But that week I decided that, come what may, I was going to do it. I was going to fly my first solo.

Part of it was a girl. The girl I liked at the time was dating someone else – but she would have found out if I chickened out, and I wasn’t about to let THAT happen.

But mostly, it was because I wanted to fly. My aviation career had hit a wall – and there was no way I was ever going to get over that wall and get my license if I wouldn’t solo an airplane.

So two days earlier, I went to see a wise old doctor to get my third-class medical. Like countless student pilots before me, I walked up to a kind receptionist who basically handed me a plastic cup, pointed to the restroom and said, “You know what to do.” 

Unlike student pilots nowadays, I walked out of the doctor’s office that day with my medical in my hand. It was a pre-9/11 world. We didn’t have to wait weeks for our paperwork.

That Thursday evening, when I walked into the Devonair Flight School on historic Bowman Field (KLOU), I had butterflies in my stomach. I told the folks there that I hoped tonight would be the night that I would solo.

“Your flight instructor called,” one of the guys said. “He said he’s sorry, but something came up and he won’t be able to make it tonight.”

At first I felt relief. I had an excuse. God obviously didn’t want me to fly today. Well, better luck next time.

But deep down, I also felt disappointment. I was ready. I had spent all day psyching myself up for this.

“I will solo you!”

The voice came from the chief pilot, a Norwegian, who had subbed in as my instructor on a couple of occasions. I’ll call him Dan.

“I dunno, Dan,” I stumbled. “I should probably wait until—“

“No!” Dan replied. “I will solo you tonight. Go pre-flight the plane.”

Dan and I went up and did a few touch and go’s in N9105, a Cessna 172 trainer. It was a hot summer evening, and Runway 6 – a 4,300 foot runway – was the active. I did the touch-and-go’s one after the other, and to my growing irritation, Dan wasn’t paying any attention. As I glided in for touchdown, he didn’t seem to even be looking out the window.

I wanted to yell, “If you’re going to sign me off to fly this thing alone, will you at least pay attention to see if I can land properly????”

(He was of course. Paying attention, I mean. I hadn’t yet caught on to that old instructor trick of feigned distraction and faking indifference during the most critical moments of flight, in order to build the confidence of the student.)

Finally, he had me taxi back to the hold short line, where he grabbed my logbook and signed it.

“You will solo now,” he said.

“What?” I said. “I don’t think so. You haven’t even been paying attention. I should probably wait for—“

“You are ready,” Dan replied. “You should solo right now.”

“I dunno Dan,” I said.

Dan sighed. Then he opened the door of the airplane, turned, and to my surprise, hit the transmit button.

“Bowman Tower, Cessna November Niner-One-Zero-Five is ready at Six.”

Then he smiled.

“Bye!”

In a moment, he shut the door and was gone.

I was shocked, half nervous, half grinning at the audacity and hilariousness of my situation. Then the controller answered back in my headset:

“Cessna November Niner-One-Zero-Five, Bowman Tower, cleared for takeoff, left turn approved.”

I had two choices at that point. I could decline the clearance and taxi back to the flight school in shame and defeat, or I could say a prayer, taxi onto the runway centerline, throttle up and come-what-may.

I chose the latter. And as soon as the wheels left  the pavement, my hours of training kicked in. On my first landing, I was dumbfounded – I had just landed an airplane by myself! By the second landing, I had a big, stupid grin on my face. On the third landing, I was Luke Skywalker tearing my X-wing through the trenches, getting ready to blow up the Death Star.

When it was over, I taxied back to the flight school in triumph. A few minutes later, I learned that my Dad had shown up at the school on an errand. He didn’t know for sure that I would be soloing that evening, but when he heard my voice crackling over the flight school’s handheld radio, he sat down on one of the airport benches to watch me land. He told me later that my wheels “kissed the ground.”

My dad passed away a few years later. That night will always be one of my favorite memories of him.

My first time - Flying SoloOvercoming my fear of soloing was a huge accomplishment for me. I would go on to make more solo flights, eventually to the practice area, then on to do several long solo cross-countries, before getting my license.

Like me, there may be lots of other students standing on the edge of the abyss, wondering whether you’re ready for your solo. Here is my advice:

  • Make sure you meet the legal requirements for soloing student pilots, outlined in 14 CFR § 61.87.
  • Trust your instructor. He or she knows what they’re doing. If they think you’re ready, you’re ready.
  • Trust yourself. You have the training and the ability, or your instructor wouldn’t have signed that logbook endorsement.
  • Fun. Take time to look out the window. Enjoy the view. Notice the seat empty seat next to you. And when you land, be sure to take plenty of pictures (but NOT UNTIL YOU LAND!)

 

Study hard. Learn the procedures. Then when you’re instructor says you’re ready, take the plunge.

If I can do it, you can do it.

How about your first Solo, tell us about it?  Help a new pilot understand it happens to all of us:) 

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