Thursday, July 29, 2010


Worlds Busiest Tower for 1 week.


Monday and Tuesday were hot, in the high 80’s. With pure sunshine and plenty of humidity. That was not the case for several days preceding the opening of the show. Oshkosh (OSH) had torrential rain storms that flooded and closed the airport. Standing water had to be pumped from the camping areas and plane parking areas that were on the grass. Airplanes were diverted to Fond Du

Lac and Appleton. It wasn’t until Monday afternoon that planes were allowed in to OSH. The larger campers were not allowed into the grass camping lots. Both planes and campers were sinking into the mud. It wasn’t until Tuesday that the classic plane area filled up and the warbird area was still half empty.

This years show is in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the DC3. On Monday at 3PM the DC3’s took off in formation and proceeded to fly single file back into OSH all performing wheel landings. The last three did a break for landing that was both slow and beautiful.I was very fortunate to have access to one of these DC3’s. The people I was with knew one of the owners of a DC3 that flew in from Atlanta. We were given the deluxe tour of this beautiful aircraft. This DC3 was the Candler Field Express. Candler Field was the name of the Atalanta Airport before being renamed Atlanta Hartsfield Airport.

DC3 and Cockpit

When I first attended OSH in 2008, I interviewed a lot of attendees and asked them why they kept returning to OSH. The response was to see friends made over the years. I truly believe that. Of course there was also an unbelievable gathering of airplanes and vendors. On Monday I met a woman from New Orleans whose husband is building an RV7. There is a support group for RV builders on the WEB. This gentleman went to the RV builders group workshop and had an opportunity to meet in person all those he had been emailing over the past year for advise. He just acquired over 100 new friends. Another gentleman I talked to was 95 years old and a retired PanAM pilot. His daughter recently retired from FedEx as a Captain. I could have listened to his stories about his flying adventures for weeks.

Our first day at OSH we went hard from 7AM until 5PM. We were so worn out we skipped the Chicago concert and went back to our Motel and slept until a late dinner. There were several cancellations and our Motel was half empty. We stay in Waupun which is 26 miles south of OSH. On the way to OSH there is a restaurant,Tabberts, in Rosendale that serves the best breakfast I have ever had. The dinners were great too. We all had french toast that cost $2 and coffee for $1.25. I wish we had a place like this in Scottsdale. The people in WI were friendly and great to chat with.

The only negative in 2010 at OSH was the same one I encountered in 2008. There are volunteers everywhere at OSH. However they are not well versed where things are located at the show. They need some better training! What good are they if they don’t know anything.

Our three favorite areas remained the same as 2008. They are the Classics, Warbirds and Sea Plane Port at Lake Winnebago. Below are pictures of each areas.


Beech Staggerwing

This Beech Staggerwing was was purchased as a burned airplane. Two brothers and their Father spent years restoring this airplane. When it was completed their Dad passed away. The Brothers have kept this plane absolutely beautiful.

Cessna 195

Curtis Robbins




Terrafuggia Flying Car


Aviat Husky EAA Raffle Airplane

Monday, July 26, 2010

JULY 26, 2010
Oshkosh suffered tremendous downpours for the past 3 days. OSH
was closed to all but antique and show aircraft. Most planes flew in today and the grass areas are still muddy with plane wheels sinking into the ground.
Temperatures are in the 80's with brilliant sunshine. One needs to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated.
Some 15 DC-3's flew in today and are on the main tarmac. My friends that I am with are friendly with one of the DC-3 owners and we received a nice tour of the fully restored aircraft from Atlanta.
Things are sparse here today due to the airport closing. I expect to see the airport at capacity by tomorrow afternoon.
Thursday I will post pictures and more information.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


This will be rebroadcast on the History Channel July 24th. Be sure not to miss it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Right seat in B-17 B-17


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sunset at FL 360



Wife’s flying tanker fills hubby’s Hornet

By Meg Jones - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via AP

Posted : Tuesday Jul 13, 2010 14:00:31 EDT

As reunions go, it only lasted a few minutes. But Jeff and Christine McLean were thrilled nonetheless to see each other, even though they couldn’t hug, let alone kiss.

Married in May 2009, the couple has spent most of their first year of marriage apart.

Lt. Jeff McLean flies an F/A-18 Super Hornet. Air Force Capt. Christine McLean pilots a KC-135 Stratotanker refueling plane.

After Christine McLean was deployed from England to southwest Asia in May for refueling missions in the skies over Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, she hoped she might hook up — literally — with her husband, who had been flying combat and support missions from the aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower since January.

But it wasn’t until late June, on Jeff McLean’s final flight of his deployment, when he rendezvoused with air refuelers over Pakistan that he saw his wife’s plane.

Jeff McLean wrote in an e-mail to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper that he and his wife had tried to coordinate their flight schedules, but with more than 50 KC-135s taking off daily to refuel both Navy and Air Force planes, it was too difficult to connect in the air.

On his last combat flight, Jeff McLean knew his wife would be flying in the same area at the same time, but because they had never been able to meet on previous flights, he was merely hoping to hear his wife’s voice on the radio.

“After I was done with my last mission in Afghanistan, the sun was just setting, and I changed frequencies to check in with my tanker, and it was Christine!” Jeff McLean wrote.

Although it was dark and turbulent — difficult conditions for aerial refueling — Jeff McLean said it was one of the highlights of the deployment.

“After she gave me about 10,000 pounds of fuel, I flew right up next to her cockpit. She turned on the lights and waved, and I could see her, but it’s pretty dark in my jet, so I’m not sure that she ever saw me waving. ... We were able to fly together all the way out of country and back over the Arabian Sea at 500 knots, then I had to head back and land on the ship and she headed back to her base. As we broke apart, I lit my afterburner, which hopefully looked pretty cool in the dark. It was an absolutely perfect flight.”



Air Force Capt. Christine McLean and Navy Lt. Jeff McLean leave Fox Point Lutheran Church in Fox Point, Wis., after being married May 9, 2009. Until their in-air meeting last month over Pakistan, they hadn't seen each other in six months.

Friday, July 9, 2010

With family at Palo Alto Airport (PAO)



As the AOPA ASN at Phoenix Deer Valley (DVT), the worlds busiest GA airport, I have been hearing stories of repos of high end piston airplanes. Several Cirrus aircraft have been repossessed at DVT. People are overextended and are walking away from their airplanes. It is happening at Scottsdale (SDL) with fan jets and around the country. This is another blow to GA.

More private planes are being repossessed



pastedGraphic_2.pdf Enlarge

By Ken Cage


This 1941 Stearman, worth about $400,000, was repossessed by Ken Cage of International Recovery and Remarketing Group in Orlando.

By Charisse Jones, USA TODAY

The recession isn't just stripping the middle class of their prize possessions. The wealthy are losing out, too.

In the past few weeks, Ken Cage, who specializes in repossessing private planes, says he's recovered two jets worth a combined $7.1 million.

And while business has ebbed a bit compared with last year, it remains four times what Cage saw before the recession.

"I think we picked up 15 (planes) that were $1 million or more, including one $20 million jet," says Cage, president of International Recovery & Remarketing Group in Orlando, reflecting on the past 12 months. "We'd never picked up anything close to that before."

It shouldn't come as a surprise that the nation's steepest economic downturn since the Great Depression has also struck the rich. One indicator has been the number of private planes repossessed from owners who can no longer pay the notes or who are buried under liens stemming from unpaid maintenance and fuel bills.

"The small, single-engine Cessnas and Pipers are being repossessed all the way on up to 747s," says Terence Haglund, founder of the Aviation Law Center in Williamsburg, Va., who represents many lenders. "It's definitely recession-related, and it's been increasing for the last couple of years."

He doesn't see the repossessions dipping significantly any time soon. "I think it'll continue," he says. "It has not slowed down yet."

The beleaguered owners include businesses that have acquired corporate jets, affluent professionals who may choose to cruise the skies in small Pipers, and the fabulously wealthy who once had their pick among all of the above.

"A lot of what we're seeing is ... their aircraft are no longer worth what they were when they paid for them (and), they can no longer afford to operate and maintain them," Haglund says. Some owners, he says, also get into trouble when they lease their planes to charter companies that then fail to pay what they owe for fuel, airport access and other services. That leads to liens on the aircraft.

"Banks can repossess the airplanes because some third party didn't pay the bills," he says. "The owner is stuck with either paying the bills someone else incurred or letting the bank take it back. It's a bad situation."

Cage says he repossessed roughly 350 planes in 2009 and a little more than 100 so far this year. Business Aircraft Sales' Ken Hill, who specializes in general aviation aircraft and whose recent recoveries include a Gulfstream IV, says he worked on nearly 100 cases last year. He's wrapped 45 cases so far in 2010 and has 22 more that are open.

It's impossible to determine how many private planes are at risk of being repossessed, how many owners are delinquent on payments and what effect that's had on values.

But Brian Foley, a general aviation management adviser who follows the market closely, says that of all the business jets flying a year ago this month, 18% were for sale. That's a "phenomenal" percentage, he says, because the norm is 12%.

Currently, 15% are for sale. Repossessed aircraft have been part of the glut, some observers say.

"Part of that bubble ... was both people selling their aircraft, as well as some repossessions," says Ron Gunnarson, vice president of marketing and communications for general aviation aircraft manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft in Wichita.

Generally busier

Some say the tide of repossessions of business aircraft has begun to turn.

Foley says defaults on business jets are traditionally very low, and the rise in repossessions happened a year ago.

"It did go up by a very low level, but it's not anything like home foreclosures," he says. However, for those who specialize in that area, "I'm sure those folks are busier. The repossession business for airplanes probably isn't a very active segment, so I'm sure they've seen an increase."

In the meantime, sales and production of new business aircraft remain down from 2008, a peak year, with a meaningful rebound not expected until 2011 at the earliest, some manufacturers say.

"We really don't see an uptick in significant activity until late 2011, and that's across the board from single-engine pistons, as well as business jets," says Doug Oliver, spokesman for aircraft maker Cessna.

Cessna will deliver roughly 225 business jets in 2010 compared with 489 in 2008. The company had expected to deliver more than 500 business aircraft last year, but because of the recession, delivered 289, Oliver says. "We had a considerable backlog of orders where people had put down non-refundable deposits, and because of the downturn, they ended up just walking away," he says.

Still, the daily use of business jets is on the rise, the charter business is improving, and the number of used aircraft for sale is starting to decline. "We're cautiously optimistic that we're ... here with the worst behind us," says Gunnarson of Hawker Beechcraft.

Higher-end repos

For those who chase aircraft dogged by delinquent payments, it's not just the number that's stood out, but their value.

"In 2007, we picked up a lot of single-engine planes worth $20,000 to $40,000," Cage says. "This year, the average value of the aircraft we've picked up was $400,000."

Cage, who also pursues other high-price items, such as yachts, says that it appears to be the collapse of the real estate bubble that's led many private owners to lose their planes.

"I would say 70% of the people we repossess from ... are in the real estate market," he says, noting that they range from salespeople to those in construction and related businesses. "A lot of people made good money in '04 and '05 and '06. By '08 or '09, things just collapsed around them. It was such a deep hit so quickly after a high point that it caught a lot of people."

But he and Hill say the pace of repossessions has slowed, in part because lenders have become more lenient.

Lenders sometimes wait up to six months before going after the aircraft, often because they don't want to be stuck with a depreciated asset that they now have to resell.

"When we're finally in touch with the aircraft owner, oftentimes the lender will still try to work out a deal with the owner ... because the lenders don't necessarily want the aircraft back," Haglund says. "In too many cases, the aircraft are worth less now than they were when they were financed — or worth less than what's owed on the debt. It's exactly like houses, except we're talking (values of) anywhere from $50,000 to $50 million."

Not a toy, but a tool

General aviation aircraft is the focus of Hill's business, and he balks at the idea that his trade is similar to that of those who reclaim cars or other items, noting that private aircraft play a key function in the nation's economy.

"General aviation is a great part of the economic development of this country," he says. "There's always the person who thinks airplanes are a toy. They're not a toy. (They're) a tool."

Hill says he's spending more time trying to help people figure out a way to keep their planes and maintain them.

"I do see a little bit of improvement in people being able to do that," Hill says. "I see more planes being saved, and more loans being kept current without going into total foreclosure."

But dozens of owners still can't pull out of their financial free fall, and some would rather hide the aircraft than see them seized. They'll stash them in hangars that could be halfway across the globe.

Tracking down an errant plane often requires flight-tracking websites, a network of contacts, a good pilot and plain, old-fashioned shoe leather.

"I've got four or five right now that I'm on the hunt for, but I'll find them," Hill says. "I have two outside the country, and we're tracking them and watching them. Sometimes you have to be patient, and you have to wait until it surfaces."

Rarely do defaulting owners know he's coming. "It's kind of like (the) grim reaper," says Hill, who's come to be known by that moniker. "You don't know he's there until he knocks on your door."

Hill says he's gone 35 to 40 days at a clip on many trips, and he's reclaimed planes from as far as Germany.

A licensed pilot with 12,000 hours under his belt, Hill's the one who usually flies the planes back. "I could fly anything that I repossess," he says.

Finding the aircraft is half the battle. The plane needs to meet certain criteria, such as having logbooks documenting that it's received required annual inspections and maintenance checks before it can be flown. A special ferry permit, allowing it to travel from one location to another, could be obtained if other records aren't available, but only after a mechanic deems the plane airworthy.

"Most of the time the batteries are dead, and things are going wrong," Cage says. "Planes are best when they're run frequently, and if folks are running out of money, they're not using the airplane. They're not paying for maintenance, so that's the biggest issue." Sometimes, he says, getting the plane in shape and back in the air can take months.

Some owners will resort to violence to hold onto their planes.

For cases that look particularly tough, Cage, a licensed private investigator, takes along Randy Craft, a former WWE wrestler, also known as Rockin' Randy.

Once, Cage says, an irate owner hit Craft with a car — though he was only driving at a few miles per hour. He and Craft have also been chased with shovels.

But Cage says that even the rich deserve some sympathy.

"I think that ego is still the biggest part of it, because they were really wealthy a couple years ago, and now the one thing they thought would never happen is staring them right in the face," he says. "A big part of the job is making sure that we treat these people properly. Allow them their dignity. Allow them their pride. Don't try to take that away from them."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Challenge Air Phoenix April 24, 2010
Hannah, my co-pilot



FAA wants 100K for flight path info

By Nick Taborek

July 07, 2010

SMO — The FAA says it plans to charge residents $100,000 to review and release data from its six-month flight path test at Santa Monica Airport.

A group of residents who said the test caused a drastic increase in flights over their homes in Sunset Park and Ocean Park requested the data after the FAA claimed the test had only a minimal effect on residents but helped reduce flight delays at SMO and LAX.

The residents, united as the group Neighbors for a Safe and Healthy Community, requested data for flights at SMO for about a nine-month period under the federal Freedom of Information Act. Skeptical that the FAA could be downplaying the number of flights directed to fly over their neighborhoods, they asked for a record of all flights told to take the test route, known as a "250 degree heading," during the test run.

The group asked for a fee waiver, arguing their request was for a non-commercial purpose, but were denied.

In rejecting the fee waiver request, an FAA official on June 22 stated that "the disclosure of the requested information will not contribute to the understanding of the public at large," but only to the understanding of "a narrow segment of interested persons.”

Lisa Hughes, who helped organize the FOIA request, said she was shocked by the FAA's decision.

"This is the exact type of group that this law was set up to help," she said. There are 1,500 people interested in the FAA's data already, Hughes said, and her group's e-mail list continues to grow.

The group, which has hired attorney Geoff Willis of Sheppard Mullin to assist them, is planning to appeal the FAA's decision this week.

It's important to obtain the data, Hughes said, to prove that far more planes were directed to fly over Santa Monica homes during the flight path test than previously. The group believes the data would help its cause should the FAA attempt to make the test route permanent.

In defending the agency's price tag for the information, FAA Spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said it would take an estimated 1,100 hours of work to compile the requested data.

"It's a tremendous amount of data," she said. "It has to be carefully screened to eliminate that type of data that is not releasable for security reasons."

In its response to the request, the FAA said it was still unclear if all of the data the residents were seeking was available. To compile just 45 days worth of flight data would cost $99,630, the agency said.

To determine how many planes took the 250 degree heading, a professional air traffic controller would have to listen to 24 hours of audio tape from SMO's control tower for each day of the period for which information was requested, Bergen said. The cost to listen to the recordings is $82 per hour, she said.

"It's very unusual that a request would be this expensive," she added.

The flight path test, which required pilots of small piston-powered planes to take a 250 degree heading out of SMO, resulted in thousands of noise complaints from residents before it ended in June.

The FAA said fewer than 10 flights per day were re-directed because of the test route, but residents reported a huge spike in overhead air traffic, with some people recording 20 planes over their homes per hour during the test.

The FAA is expected to release results of the test in August and is yet to determine whether it will seek to make the test route permanent. But the agency stated in an interim report on the test that it had significantly reduced flight delays at both SMO and LAX by diverting smaller planes out of airspace they had shared with jets.

The high cost of the flight path data, Hughes said, doesn't add up, considering the FAA has said it is reviewing data on the test before deciding how to proceed. She said they should review all flight data from the test period and simply turn over the information they're using in their own review to the public.

Bergen, though, said the FAA has to comb through the data to expunge confidential information — such as movements of Air Force One or military air craft — before releasing data to the public, which is a time-consuming process.