From The South Ramp --Hank Bruckner
A few years ago, the X-Prize was created to promote the civilian push into space by rewarding the first entity to fly three people in a reusable craft to an altitude of at least 100 km (62.5 miles), twice in two weeks. Several ventures waded in and the race was on. After the initial rush faded from the public eye (the media, really), the serious contenders continued to work. Over the last few days, Scaled Composites revealed their program, dubbed Tier One, to the world: an air-launched rocket vehicle that will be carried aloft to 50,000’ by a purpose-built jet. The space vehicle, dubbed “SpaceShipOne” will be suspended beneath the White Knight, a twin-boom, twin-jet aircraft reminiscent of the Proteus (that some of you may have seen when it stopped here in Honolulu last year). Both are made largely of composites – carbon fiber and epoxy mostly. Predictably, the concept is brilliant (at least to my very limited mind).
The long, angled wings, the elegant, scalloped twin booms and rudders, the array of small, circular windows on the bulbous yet sleek fuselage that make up the White Knight, and the little space ship that it will carry and launch, could have come only from the incredibly prolific mind of Burt Rutan. Like virtually everything of his that I have seen, the White Knight and SpaceShipOne are designed to purpose, with utmost efficiency in mind.
White Knight will carry SpaceShipOne to about 50,000’. The space-bound pilot in the latter will then drop free, pitch up, ignite the hybrid rocket and climb near vertically to somewhere around 330,000’ and experience just under 4 minutes of weightlessness before reentry. Because of its lower speed than orbital craft like the Space Shuttle, it will encounter far lower thermal stress upon reentry, after which it will glide to a landing.
Burt Rutan, of course, is looking far beyond the X-Prize. His stated intent is to demonstrate that people can fly to space for very low cost (relatively speaking, naturally). Rutan has long maintained that government has become a major impediment to aeronautical progress and there will be no government funding involved in Tier One. Rutan will be at AirVenture this year, as usual, and I anticipate even more than his normal standing-room-only crowd when he speaks. I’m going to try my best to be there for that one! (Click on the image to go to Space Composites web site).
Ed’s in Space
As scheduled, Ed Lu and Yuri Malenchenko launched on April 26th to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft. Ed set a milestone by being the first U.S. astronaut to qualify as Flight Engineer aboard a Soyuz. Ed and Yuri will keep the ISS going for some six months and will then either return aboard a Soyuz as did the Expedition Six crew, or on the Shuttle, if it is flying by that time. Expedition Seven will be short one member, due to the inability to keep three residents on the ISS without the Shuttle.
One of the cool things is that you can keep track of how he’s doing by visiting the NASA site: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/station/. One of the other cool things is to get on NASA TV (helps if you have broadband and not dial-up). Periodically you’ll get to see and/or hear Ed. I lucked out and watched the Expedition Six crew’s departure from the ISS and reentry to Khazakstan in real time. I also watched the press conference on the Columbia investigation in its entirety, and it reinforced my conviction that the folks working to identify what went wrong are doing a thorough, meticulous and excellent job, and that the Shuttle will fly again. I guess it is a good thing that we don’t have NASA TV on Oceanic Cable on a daily basis. I’d probably not get anything else done. This summer, I hope to set up an interactive program with Ed so that folks here can share some of his experiences with him in real time. Stay tuned…
Youth In Aviation
On April 25th and 26th,the first annual Youth In Aviation open house at Kalaeloa got a lot of Young Eagles into the air—110! It was sponsored by the HCC/UND, and was the largest general aviation event on O’ahu in recent memory, with over 2,000 people attending. John Callahan helped greatly since his Chieftain can hold nine at a time. Eagles were also flown by Rob Zitz Eliot Merk in his gorgeous Mooney, Howard Word in the pristine Luscombe, Willy Schauer in the RV-4, and even me, in the CAP-10. Jon Murakami, Matthew Lefebre, Scott Yamamoto, David Huddle, and David Lohmann, flew UND aircraft, all CFI's donating their time on their day off. The Army and National Guard had aircraft on display, as did the Civil Air Patrol and Brad Hayes’ A-4s. The HPD and HFD had their helicopters on display, and the Fire Department put on an excellent rescue demo. The event had a festive quality to it, aided no doubt by the availability of hot dogs and pizza. Look for bigger and better next year.
The Hilo and Kona EAA chapters are hosting a joint Young Eagles event at the Waimea airport on May 24th, at Randy Douglas’ hangar. There will be plenty of kids to be flown, and more pilots and aircraft would be very welcome. The EAA’ers are planning for food, prizes, and a fuel credit will be available for participants.
The EAA Young Eagles program is an investment in the future of aviation, by tapping into and directing some of that youthful enthusiasm and exuberance into the wonders and beauty of flight.
For info, call Wes Brown 325-7477; Merle Martin, 323-2221 or 939-7069; Eliot Merk, 961-4755.
Jeff Weller has been helping people for many, many years, as member of the Flight Standards District Office, and sadly, for us here in Hawai'i, he is finally moving to the Mainland. I first ran into him through Jim Kincaid, over a decade ago, when he was coaching Jim in his Pitts S-2A. Jeff has extensive experience throughout general aviation, including aerobatics, and has always been more than willing to share his wisdom and knowledge. Never one to sugar coat anything, his answers have always been clear and to the point. Personally, I am going to miss his counsel and friendship. Professionally, we are all going to miss his willingness to help and the depth of his knowledge. Blue skies, Jeff.
I guess we’ll take any movement forward as a good sign. Mr. Jon Sakamoto, Maui Airports District Manager, announced that a brand-new cipher lock has been installed at the pedestrian gate near the OGG transient ramp late last month. You can contact him at (808) 872-3808 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re still slogging along with the development of Kalaeloa. Progress is excruciatingly slow, and property rates seem to be a moving target. Recognizing that nothing is ever as simple as one might wish, I’m still frustrated by the glacial pace. I was hoping that at some point we would actually see encouragement for aviation businesses in Hawai’i. Oh well. At least we’re not in Chicago.
Saddam Daley and the Midnight Hit
Chicago’s Mayor Daley took the aviation community and the good people of Chicago by surprise with a midnight strike at historic Meigs Field. Under armed escort, he sent in bulldozers to carve up the runway, leaving only enough taxiway for the trapped Meigs-based aircraft to leave after permission was secured. Initially claiming it was done for security, he later readily admitted that security was not the issue. He just wanted to proceed with his plans to build another park It was really about power—his power, and his ability to wield it. Long frustrated in his prior attempts to close down Meigs, he seized an opportunity and did it, trampling on the whole notion of due process. He is facing court battles now, and the tide of public opinion is also against him. We owe it to ourselves to follow this drama closely, lest a similar debacle happen closer to home. Again, if you are not a member of AOPA and EAA, you should be.
Temporary Flight Restrictions
AOPA has requested the government review all TFRs enacted after 9/11, with the idea of ridding us of those that are truly unnecessary. In our case, the one over Pearl Harbor is more than unnecessary. It is a flight hazard and a danger to the underlying community. When the Navy addressed the issue to us last month, we were told that the real reason the Navy doesn’t want us to overfly Pearl Harbor to protect us from getting shot down by a ship crew by mistake. So, the TFR exists to prevent violators from getting shot down, and not to protect assets within it. Scary. Our case wasn’t helped much in the public’s eye by the announced Al Quaeda plot to obtain a small aircraft and load it with explosives and fly it into a U.S. Consulate office or even a gray hull. The fate of our TFR resides somewhere in Washington. It is important for us to educate folks about GA and the fact that we are a positive force and not something to be feared and squashed.
Don’t forget the annual GACH Hana Fly-In on Saturday, June 14th, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. As is tradition, we’ll have an accuracy landing event, complete with trophies. Bring your own food and drink and share Heavenly Hana with your friends.
Be careful out there.
Clinton Ng - CFI Spins
Carl Graham – CFI Spins