Monday, March 18, 2024

LeRoy Cook What's Up

 What’s Up




Suggested Banner: Lots Things Going On


Spring officially came in last Tuesday, thanks to Leap Year shaving off a day, accompanied by the usual March breezes we’ve had for the last month. Pilots hunkered down for the blows, flying early and late when things settled  a bit. As shown by the contrails in the sky left by airliners crossing over the Butler VORTAC station, there was moisture upstairs, which led to instability in the atmosphere, hence the frontal storms we had late last week. Pilot reports like “turbulence at 39,000 feet” were being left by the big planes.


A few visitors were in last week, including a Cirrus SR22, a half-dozen Piper Archers, a visiting Grumman and a Cessna Skyhawk. Locally, Jay McClintock’s Piper Tomahawk, now based at Butler while Harrisonville airport is closed, took one of Jay’s students to Boonville on Monday to complete their Private Pilot checkride. Les Gorden’s Piper Twin Comanche was out, Jon Laughlin’s Piper Cherokee 180 flew and I took the Cessna 172 on a trip to Cuba—Missouri, that is. I stopped in at Lincoln for lunch on the way back, walking over to Estes Dinner on 65 Highway, home of fried green beans.


It's sometimes hard to keep up with the mergers and acquisitions in our aviation industry. The PSA Testing Centers that sell knowledge testing services for students training for their license have been bought by a bigger outfit diversifying from medical testing. Hartzell Propeller has bought out Whirl Wind Propeller, its composite-prop compeditor, McFarlane Aviation over in Baldwin, Kansas has purchased Massachusetts-based PMA, a smaller manufacturer of aftermarket airplane parts, and Flying Magazine Group continues to buy various media outlets, renaming itself Firecrown.


The impressive new hangar at Butler airport, to be the home of Burns Spraying, is nearing completion, after months of delays and details. It’s 125 by 125 feet in size with 16 feet of door height clearance for the huge swing-up hatch on the airside. State of the art containment and reclaimation will keep products from leaving the property and there’s ample room for working on the firm’s equipment and aircraft.


Meanwhile, SkyDive KC is preparing to resume parachuting operations at Butler in April. Reportedly, They’ve secured a turbine-converted Cessna 206 to provide lift for the jumpers, which should offer a faster climb than the old piston-engine 182s.


Nationally, a new report on trends in student pilot license issuances shows that the average age of persons learning to fly keeps increasing, now 35.2 years. The increase in numbers of student licenses issued, 19% over last year, is showing great interest in starting flying. The student total number is probably skewed by unaccounted for dropouts that keep the total piling up, since there’s no expiration date on the student permit. Female pilots now make up about 7% of the total pilot population, twice the traditional rate over past decades. All in all, there’s a healthy trend of new blood coming into the industry.



Our question from last week wanted to know the meaning of “GR” in in the visibility section of airport weather reports. It’s for “graupel”, a term we inherited from Europe when we internationalized weather terms. It’s rain that has frozen as it fell, kind of a light hail or sleet. For next week’s puzzler, tell us when the first airmail letter was sent up. You can send your answers to [email protected].