All posts tagged 'Aircraft' - Page 2

Nellie and Abe, and the Grace They Provide

On September 21, I dropped by the Grace on Wings Family Aviation Festival and Hog Roast at the Indianapolis International Airport. Coming from the south end of the airport (which is mostly under construction and fenced off), I begin to wonder if I was lost – soon there were signs that guided me in. I found a hangar full of life and activity!

Bidders gather for the final moments of the silent auction.

The star attraction of the day seemed to be the Silent Auction. Tables and tables full of items up for grabs! Most of the hangar was filled with patrons of the hog roast – picnic tables with pulled pork and all the trim. The can’t miss vendor table near the entrance was packed with figurines of all sizes carved from olive wood grown in Bethlehem. Plus bouncy castles for the kids in the background let you know this truly was for the whole family.

The festival was to raise funds for Grace on Wings, the nation’s only charity air ambulance service. I spoke with Hal Blank, CEO and Chief Pilot, about this festival; with a turnout of over 1,100 over the course of the day, he was very pleased. "We always pray to at least break even. We’ve been doing this for seven years, and this event was one of our best! We served over 600 meals (at $10/adult, $5/child), plus the silent auction was huge. We also gave 71 free flights to kids as part of EAA Young Eagles program. But the largest success is always getting the word out about ourselves and telling about the opportunities we've had to be able to help families in need. In fact, many of our patients were there to celebrate with us Saturday!"

This little piggie was pretty much decimated by the crowd!

Grace on Wings was inspired by the need of two young Indianapolis girls who suffered from a genetic bone disorder that required regular visits to a Baltimore specialist -- more than 11 hours away by car. With the support of charitable funding, they provide transport to patients who are needing to go long distances for important treatment throughout the United States. Their two air ambulances, "Nellie" and "Abe", two customized Mitsubishi MU-2B Turboprops, were on hand outside the hangar for all to see. Both are equipped with oxygen, oxygen saturation monitors, portable ventilator, cardiac monitors, baby pods, defibrillators and more.

Blank shared the stories behind each aircraft’s name. "Nellie is named after Nell Wood, a missionary nurse who travelled the world. She was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, and they funded the original $10,000 seed money for Grace on Wings to purchase the aircraft, so it was named in her honor."

"Nellie" sitting outside the hanger for all to see.

"When Nellie needed to undergo routine maintenance, we needed to purchase a second aircraft since she was going to unable to make runs during that time. We went to Farmer’s Bank (who financed the purchase of Nellie) for additional funds, and they stepped up for us again. Since the registration of this one was 777LP, we took the LP to mean the "Lord’s Promise", so Abraham was the obvious choice. Abe served five families while Nellie was down."

How a patient would be transported in "Abe" .

Blank also explained that with the two different models come different advantages. "Nellie is a J-model, which sits lower to the ground. So loading is easier – we can use a 400-pound loading system with her. Abe, the 36A-model, is the best choice for long distance flights.

For more information on Grace on Wings and the services they provide, plus how you can participate, check them out here

A Feast for the Eyes: EAA Sport Aviation Weekend, Part 2

This is a continuation of my article on the 39th annual Kentucky EAA Sport Aviation Weekend. To see Part 1, click here.

We moved over to a beautiful little Cessna 172L Skyhawk, and chatted with its owner Keith Mountain. Keith, a native Australian, stateside for 35 years now, still has a strong hint of an accent that sets him apart from the Kentucky twangers (like myself at times). He explained that he has owned this Skyhawk for about three years – he sought it out for the 180hp constant speed prop conversion, plus the fact that both windows open. The latter was important for him since he does a lot of aerial photography.

Keith grew up with flying, as the farms where he worked frequently used cropdusters in the fields. When we joined the Australian army, he worked with C130s, Bell 212s and Caribous. He got all his ratings 25 years ago when he was considering a career in aviation.

Finally, we chatted with Jerry Depew from Knoxville, and his son Jeremy Hunt. They flew in with their Bonanza 35 C-model V-tail – Jerry joked that they were both "built in the same year – 1951". His Bonanza still has the original 185/205 hp engine, and has only replaced the glass and cylinders – other than a major overhaul, it’s a stock airplane. He’s owned it the same amount of time he’s been married – 17 years. "I asked her permission and she waivered. I thought about it, but kept her anyway!"

When I asked about what got him interested in flying, it was a family affair for him as well. "My father had an airplane, so when I was first flying I couldn’t see out of the windows! I could only see the ground when he turned left base or left for final."

Jerry also shared how he got his first job in aviation. "I just got my driver’s license – since I loved aviation, my first drive was to the airport. The pilots that hung out there asked if I was there to apply for the job. ‘What job?’ was my reply. They needed a lineman, and I asked what they do. So I spoke with the man in charge and got the job. I wound up endorsing my paychecks over to a flight instructor and got my license that year."

Jerry, the editor of the Knoxville EAA newletter, also enjoys collecting aviation stories like me, and shared a gem he heard from Peter Koza in Louisville. "Flying is NOT expensive. The cost of therapy and anti-depressants ARE expensive! Besides, if you take anti-depressants, you have no medical to fly, no libido, no sex, and then you are REALLY depressed!"

Enjoy these additional photos from the 39th annual Kentucky EAA Sport Aviation Weekend!

A Feast for the Eyes: EAA Sport Aviation Weekend, Part 1

The weather was perfect this weekend for a countryside drive from Louisville to the Falls of Rough. There, at Rough River State Park’s airport (2I3) was the 39th annual Kentucky EAA Sport Aviation Weekend, where pilots and aviation enthusiasts from Kentucky and surrounding areas to get together for the weekend. Activities, beyond the typical aircraft sightseeing and meeting old friends (or making new ones), included a poker run, spot landing contest, a Friday night hospitality room, and a Saturday evening banquet.

When my wife and I arrived, the poker run was underway, so many pilots were in the air. But there was still about 30 aircraft of many varieties hanging around, with their pilots grabbing from brats, burgers and potato salad, and sharing their experiences. We wondered around, snapping photos and talking to a few until the batteries on my camera faded away.

Nathan Robertson was minding his parent’s 1950 Cessna 195 when I wondered over – they were off chatting with some friends. His wife was changing their baby’s diaper in the back seat, which made me wonder if a car seat in an aircraft is still called a "carseat".

While his parents, Phillip and Tia, are career commercial pilots, Nathan only recently got his license. "Growing up around aviation, I took it for granted – if I wanted to go flying, I’d just ask them to take me up. When my friends wanted to go flying, and mentioned that they wanted to be adopted by my parents so they could be taken up like that, I began to realize this was something I wanted as well. I got my license in January, plan to get all my ratings, and possibly make a career out of it myself."

We also discussed the difficulty the younger generation faces when pursuing their licenses – Nathan had an approach to consider to fast-track it. "Get books and DVDs, study and get the written exam out of the way first. That way you can just do 20-25 hours flying to save expenses. Most people, like myself, focus on flying first because it’s more fun, but that can stretch out your training time and cost. However, if you decide to make a career out of it, in the grand scheme of things it’s really not that expensive!"

Part 2 of this article can be found here. In the meantime, enjoy these additional photos!

The Importance of WAAS/LPV

Don’t Let Less Than Ideal Conditions Ruin Your Approach
John Crabtree of Elliott Aviation, Avionics Manager
www.elliottaviation.com

Sometimes, one experience can change your entire perspective on flying. A few years ago, a Hawker 800 pilot relayed a story to me about WAAS LPV. The pilot had been requesting WAAS/LPV in their aircraft but had been denied his request because the aircraft owner saw it as a high cost with very little value. One business trip from Nashville to St. Louis changed the value seen in LPV.

The aircraft owners were flying in for a very important business meeting and planned to land at Lambert Field but the ILS was down and there was a very low ceiling. This forced the aircraft to divert to an airport many miles away. Meanwhile, the owner witnessed a Cirrus land right after their missed approach.

Because it was an unplanned arrival at a very small FBO, they had to wait for a car to become available and drive nearly an hour out of their way, missing their meeting. Needless to say, the owner was very upset that his mid-sized jet could not get into an airport while he witnessed a small piston aircraft land with ease. The owner scheduled a WAAS LPV system installation the following day.

WAAS (wide area augmentation system) and LPV (localizer performance with vertical guidance) is a system that uses satellites and ground-based radio systems to enhance GPS signals for the entire flight path of the aircraft, including approaches that can get you down to 200 feet. From an approach standpoint, the FAA’s most recent update (November 15, 2012) shows LPV approaches at 1,519 airports including 1,307 LPV’s to non-ILS airports. This flexibility can get you closer where you want to go.

Other benefits include cutting distances between airports, saving time and fuel because the aircraft does not have to follow routes based on ground based systems alone. It also allows safer flight at low altitudes because older system equipment is often blocked by terrain or elevation changes. Simply put, WAAS will get you to where you want to go faster, safer, and often times with less fuel.

John Crabtree oversees over 30 avionics technicians at Elliott Aviation’s headquarters in Moline, IL. Crabtree has 28 years of avionics experience that started in the US Navy where he was an Avionics Technician. He has worked on avionics systems with Gulfstream, Standard Aero and Hawker Beechcraft Services. As part of John’s current duties, he is leading one of the most successful avionics retrofit programs in history, Elliott Aviation’s industry-leading King Air Garmin G1000 retrofit program.

Elliott Aviation is a second-generation, family-owned business aviation company offering a complete menu of high quality products and services including aircraft sales, avionics service & installations, aircraft maintenance, accessory repair & overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management. Serving the business aviation industry nationally and internationally, they have facilities in Moline, IL, Des Moines, IA, and Minneapolis, MN. The company is a member of the Pinnacle Air Network, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA).

Metrics - Measuring What’s Important

Metrics are a simply set of measurements that we use to quantify results. In business, they are commonly used to measure important, limited resources. A metric can be used as a measurement of success — how well we are using what is being measured.

If you are operating an aircraft for business, you should have some metrics that show the value of the aircraft to your organization. Some measurements are easy: hours flown and passengers carried. Many metrics involve costs to operate the aircraft, whether that is done via a budget or by other means. Those measurements are all important, especially costs are I’ve discussed before. But, which of those help establish the value of the aircraft to your organization?

Seth Godin writes a blog that deals with being productive and creating value in your work. He comes from a tech background, but the topics he covers apply to all sorts of skilled work. In a recent blog post, Seth brings up two important things about measurements:

  1. The thing that you measure should be something that you want to improve.
  2. Many organizations measure what is easy, not what is important.

He makes the point that many organizations pick an easy metric and then that becomes their focus. Be wary that the easy metric may have the unintended consequence of improving something that has little value to the organization.

The use of an aircraft for business most often involves a finite resource: time. The richest person in the world and the poorest all have only 24 hours in their day. The value to the organization of the individual’s time is in relation to the impact they have within the organization. The business aircraft can help reduce the low value use of time spent traveling and allow for the high value time spent being with important customers or in creating things that add value to the business.

So time could be a good metric. But is hours flown the metric you want to measure? If we are focusing on “improving” this metric, would a decrease in hours flown represent an improvement? Maybe, but maybe not. If you are a commercial operator who is being payed a fixed price to deliver something, reducing the time needed is one good metric. 

In aviation, we have to measure the hours flown. But the use of those hours flown may not be a good measure of how well your operation is accomplishing its mission. If you are involved in the transportation of senior executives, more valuable but harder to measure metrics might include:

  • Time avoided traveling by less productive means (airlines for example).
  • The value of that time (based on the executive’s salary and worth to the company).
  • The number of high value trips that the aircraft enables.


These are not easy measurements, but they can be used to clearly show the value of the aircraft. Then the cost metrics of how much this service costs can be placed into its proper perspective. The improvement focus can be in increasing the use of the aircraft in flying those most valued trips in a cost effective manner. 

The value of the executives’ time is a difficult measure and one that the aviation department has no authority to declare. But, successful companies do value their employees’ time and should be making efforts to increase their productivity. This is where the business aircraft has no equal.

There are many more metrics that can be used (dispatch reliability, aircraft availability to throw out but two). What metrics do you report and how many are being used to generate improvements in your services?  Click reply and let us know.



 

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