Thursday, September 27, 2012

General Aviation Pilots Set Off on Cross-Country Flight to Promote the Wonders of Aviation

By Carmelo Turdo
(Matt Ziemann photo)
Two general aviation pilots have begun a flight that most of us only dream about - a cross-country tour of major U.S. landmarks in homebuilt Rans RVs.  Matt Ziemann and his brother, Mike, set off to Kitty Hawk, NC earlier this week where the Wright Brothers began their conquest of the air in the first practical powered aircraft.  Matt and Mike then continued on to Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield, west St. Louis County.  The flight is a personal journey, one whose destination is the journey itself.     

"I wanted to use this trip to show just how amazing general aviation is and just how many opportunities aviation can provide," Matt Ziemann told The Aero Experience.  "The
idea that two private pilots can take off in two homebuilt airplanes, fly coast to coast, in formation, covering 23 states, seeing our national treasures, and flying into anything from a major metropolitan airport to a back country Idaho STOL strip, all in 14 days, is something that only general aviation can allow you to do."  It's about freedom, but also about the spirit of adventure and the sheer enjoyment of flight in a country that offers so many journeys.      

Joining Matt on the remainder of the trip is Paul Franzon, whom Matt calls "Aussie," (you'll know why by his accent).  Paul and Matt, along with other local pilots, fly formation together in their home base of Raleigh, NC  - often just for fun, but also flybys for events.

(Matt Ziemann photo)
Paul landed at St. Louis Downtown Airport (CPS) Tuesday in anticipation of meeting up with Matt and continuing the journey westward.  However, weather and minor mechanical issues with his aircraft kept Matt at Spirit of St. Louis Airport overnight, so Paul took off later that day to meet up with him and get some protection from another round of thunderstorms. The flight resumed on Wednesday.  Paul was already planning a flight to AZ, and suggested that Matt join him "and it sort of grew."  Although Paul has made cross-country flights in the past, some of the destinations on this trip are new to him.  Flying is always a serious endeavor, but Paul described the upcoming journey as "Fun!" That says it all.

Paul Franzon took a few minutes with The Aero Experience during his short stop at CPS, so here are a few video clips describing the flight in his own words:

Matt Ziemann reiterated the purpose of the flight with his friend Paul, "I had been planning this trip in my mind for years, and finally decided it was now or never. I approached Paul, thinking he might want to do one leg, like just make it to Colorado or the west coast, but when I showed him the whole route he said 'I’m in!'  I want to get the message out to help inspire not only kids to fly, but adults as well who might otherwise get too wrapped up in the cost of flight training and lose sight of the big picture about why we learn to fly.  Even existing pilots need a reminder of why we fell in love with flying in the first place, and I want to motivate them to do things like this."
Travel Log Update from Matt on Friday:
"We’ve had two very long days...but we left on Wednesday morning and made it to Colorado Springs. Yesterday we hit Leadville, CO (highest airport); Durango, CO; Monument Valley; Lake Powell; the Grand Canyon; Meteor Crater; and Sedona, AZ.  The Flight to St. Louis was was beautiful.  Other than headwinds, it was smooth with beautiful skies and a sunset arrival into St. Louis..."
Also from Matt: The points of interest along our route include:

Kicking off the trip at First Flight with my brother who is also a
pilot (the Ziemann brothers at the site of the Wright brothers; the
first flight with the first leg of the journey)
St. Louis (our hometown, the Gateway to the West, and Lewis and
Clark’s starting point for their westward journey)

Colorado (fly over the Air Force Academy (our alma mater), Pikes Peak, and Leadville to hit the highest airport in the US)

Monument Valley, UT (as well as Bryce Canyon and Lake Powell if time permit)

Grand Canyon and Sedona, AZ
Las Vegas (Hoover Dam and Nellis Air Force Base)
Furnace Creek/Death Valley
Edwards AFB dry lakebed
LA basin (we’ll hit Flabob in time for the annual Aerial Cavalcade),
Chino (visit Planes of Fame), Van Nuys (“One Six Right” is a favorite
movie of mine, and captures the same joy of flight)
Catalina Island, Yosemite, Golden Gate bridge

Redwood National Forest
Aurora, Oregon (visit Vans Aircraft and see the birthplace of our planes)

Copalis beach runway in Washington
Seattle (Boeing Field and Flying Heritage Collection)
McCall, Idaho (as well as Johnson Creek and Big Creek backcountry strips)
Driggs, Idaho, Jackson Hole/Yellowstone

Devil’s Tower, WY
Mount Rushmore
Ottumwa, Iowa (the first stop on my solo student cross country in 1997)
Dayton, Ohio (Wright Brother’s home and Air Force Museum)
Return to North Carolina
To follow the progress of the flight, please visit their travel log on the Vans Air Force site:
Special thanks to pilots Matt Ziemann and Paul Franzon, and journalist Jeff Wilson for assistance with this story.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Falcon on the Ramp: Morning Clouds Make Great Backdrop for Photos

By Carmelo Turdo
After a bout of overnight showers, the skies over St. Louis remain changeable - that term that weather forecasters use when they don't know when the front will depart the area.  Sometimes these eerie cloud formations make for interesting photo opportunities, and this morning was one of those times.  Here is a sequence of photos taken as the sun tried its best to penetrate the cloud layers over a visiting Falcon 2000EX on the ramp, getting a few rays through over the jet. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tecnam P2008 Brings a Taste of Italy to the Midwest LSA Expo

By Carmelo Turdo
The presence of Tecnam North America at the recent Midwest LSA Expo brought a taste of Italy to the already international field of LSA manufacturers at the event.  Tecnam North America is the importer and distributor of Tecnam aircraft to the U.S. and Canada and a division of the Heart of Virginia Aviation, a chain of FBOs operating in Virginia and Florida.  Tecnam Italy, the parent company, is the manufacturer of light aircraft and components of transport aircraft.  The P2008 is one in a line of light 2-4 seat aircraft produced at the final assembly plant in Castelvoltumo, also where flight tests are completed.  The fuselage is made of carbon fiber and the wings of metal with single-slot flaps and tapered ailerons for better roll performance.  The all-moving stabilator is a company standard design, and the 100hp Rotax engine gives the maximum 120kt. speed for LSAs.  The aircraft is priced between $155,000 and $170,000 depending on equipment packages.  Here are some photos of the P2008 at Mount Vernon recently:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Creve Coeur Airport Is Midwest Flying Haven

By Carmelo Turdo
Creve Coeur Airport, a private field located in west St. Louis County, is a haven for local fliers.  The airport has a great small-town feel, while at the same time serving as a home to aircraft ranging from home-builts, antiques, warbirds, and other light aircraft.  There's a project in progress in almost every hangar, and a collection of other vehicles can also be found around the airport - bicycles, motorcycles, antique cars, carts, tugs and scooters - handy for a quick ride to a neighbor's hangar.  The airport is also home to a world-class aircraft restoration shop, Old Style Aircraft, and the Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum with over 50 restored antique aircraft.  One can be transported back in time during such events as the Waco and Monocoupe Fly-Ins, and just about any Sunday you can drop by for lunch and find a wide variety of aircraft in the pattern.  For more about Creve Coeur Airport, please visit are some of the aircraft seen today on the ramp and in the air:


Cape Girardeau Regional Airport Fly-In Is High-Flying Family Fun

By Leo Cachat
It was a beautiful day for the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport fly-in and fun day. The weather was very pleasant, although windy at times, which held down the number of fly-in aircraft.  There were enough there to be enjoyed by the good number of people who attended this free event. A variety of aircraft attended the fly-in, including: a PT-17 Stearman, WACO biplane, Pitts S-1, Cessna Citation, MO State Patrol Helicopter, U.S. Army UH-60 Blackawk helicopter, Bell 412 helicopter, 2 Southern Illinois University Cessna 172's, Ercoupes, Cessna 320C, Radial Rocket, Air Tractor, Aeronca 7BCM, Piper Cirrus 5000, a couple J-3 Cubs, Air Evac Life Team, Twin Rivers emergency air lift helicopter, DC-3, MD-500 helicopter, King Air, Robinson R-22 & R-44 helicopters providing rides and two Autogyros who were also providing rides for a fee.

A flour drop was held, and three aircraft performed drops: a Cessna 172, SIU's Cessna 172 and an Ercoupe. The pilots showed great skill as they had to fight the wind to stay in line for the drops, which were all very close to the target on the ground.

The Scott County Fire District and Scott County Ambulance District performed a mock accident extraction and airlift from a vehicle on site for the demonstration. They explained the use of the jaws of life and used them to enter the vehicle, extract the victim, stabilize him and load him into the helicopter for the flight to the hospital. This was followed by a K-9 demo by the MO Highway Patrol.

Drawings were also held throughout the day for attendance prizes, capped off by the giveaway of a 32" flat screen TV.   

All things considered this was a very successful, family friendly event.  Special thanks to Cape Girardeau Regional Airport management for a job well done!