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Sat, Jan 03, 2004

2003 Aero-News-Makers and Heartbreakers (Part Dos)

The Folks Who Made This Year So.... "Interesting" (Part Two, of Four)

Each year ANN selects the person(s) who, for good or bad reasons, made the most tangible impact on the aviation world in the past year.

Once again, we tackle this task with a mixture of enthusiasm and trepidation.

Presented in alphabetical order we present twelve of the most prominent newsmakers (presented in alphabetical order) we covered over the past year and why we think so…

 

The Federal Aviation Administration

It's been an interesting and disappointing year for the FAA.

Decisions seemed to be long in coming, but ultimately ineffectual, as they actually went into practice. The long awaited Sport Pilot NPRM remained nothing more than 'long awaited.' TFRs popped up with little warning - making little sense, while the FAA still seemed more than willing to abdicate its responsibilities as the agency responsible for all things aeronautical to any security goon with a badge (or a flashy title). RVSM issues are looking like a major mess. You get the idea...

There are so many ways that the FAA could have stepped up to the plate this year and lived up to its role as the Federal AVIATION Administration… instead of cowering in supplication to political and special interests.

It could have stood up far better to the Meigs situation and taken Chicago to task for the ILLEGAL destruction of an airport, without notice, and the endangerment of pilots who could have been trying to use it even as the bull-dozers rolled. It could have worked far better in enforcing Grant Assurance provisions and making sure that airport protections and agreements were adhered to and ENFORCED. It could have gotten the Sport Pilot rule off the dime and helped an industry desperately in need of financial CPR get a start on recovery. It could have worked closer with industry to make sure that regs and decisions were being made in a way that truly enhanced safety, and offered a REALISTIC opportunity for the industry to come into compliance (such ELTs, ADs and the like).

Heck… it could have done a lot of things that could have furthered the cause of aviation… but it didn't. It meandered along, doing what little it had to, and playing supplicant to the great God of Security while an industry buckled under the weight of regs that harmed us all and protected us little. It was not a good year for the FAA, who seems to have taken on a gutless persona… but it was an even worse year for aviation… who is desperately hoping that the FAA gets some guts and seeks to SERVE aviation interests in the coming year. It could have done so much.

It didn't.

We'll keep our fingers crossed for 2004…

FMI: www.faa.gov



Ken Hyde

While the much ballyhooed Wright Flight recreation was, ultimately, NOT aviation's greatest moment; it was not so for lack of effort or commitment. The amazing trials of The Wright Experience's Ken Hyde were a joy to all those who came to understand how incredibly difficult (and miraculous, after a fashion) the first Wright flights truly were… and by "failing" on December 17th, 2003, I doubt that anyone could ever take for granted the genius of the brothers Wright, again.

Some 10+ years ago, the Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker, Alabama commissioned Ken Hyde to build a reproduction of the 1911 Wright Model B that came to serve as the Army's "first practical airplane." Over the course of the project, Hyde learned that the Wrights put very little of their work on paper and a new career was begun. This led to his fascination (some say obsession) and desire to fully document what the Wrights did and to recreate/celebrate history in their image.

He worked, he researched, he flew, he crashed, he did things much in the same way as did the brothers themselves, but ultimately what Ken Hyde did was educate an entire world to what a few men of infinite potential can do in a world of infinite possibilities. Ken's greatest contribution was not aerodynamic or historic… it was educational and inspirational… and no one who has truly studied what Ken Hyde reproduced can possibly take the Wright's achievements for granted, again-or but help to admire those who are so committed to the dream and reality of flight.

Well done. Bravo. Damned good try…

FMI: http://www.wrightexperience.com



Alan Klapmeier

Even just a few years ago, it would be hard to imagine any company jumping to the level of prominence and prosperity as that demonstrated by Cirrus Design. Taking a strong leadership role in the GA manufacturing sweepstakes, the number two (for now...) producer of light single engine aircraft in these United States is easily and verifiably the true leader in technological development and innovation.

NO GA manufacturer yet offers a product line-up as capable and as advanced as does Cirrus Design… and the best part of this is that their efforts are spurring on others to even greater efforts of their own… making the whole GA world the winner in oh-so-many ways.

Alan's company, built with his brother Dale (to Alan's left in the pic below), have more than exceeded the potential many would have forecast for them… and continue to show strong signs of going on farther than most would have dared to imagine. They have literally set the bar for high-performance single engine GA airplanes, they have built a dynamic new company, and they have defined what the second century of general aviation needs to do to measure up. General Aviation will never be the same because of what Alan and Cirrus has done... and damned if that isn't a really great thing, in and of itself.

Some one needed to shake the dust out of GA and they did just that. It's been an extraordinary effort and we couldn't be more pleased or proud of an old friend who never 'boasted' about what he was about to do, but simply set a course, invited us all to contribute what we might to the process, and then followed his dream to the letter.

Extraordinary... really.

FMI: www.cirrusdesign.com

To Be Continued...


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