Twenty years ago
We are now in the full colour era, with a new name flight-testing the Max
Holste Broussard: Peter Underhill — a controversial figure who had done sterling work in raising the game of the Popular Flying Association (now LAA). ‘Not being an opinionated person’, James Gilbert had left Darrol Stinton to write the leading op-ed piece in this issue: a very politely worded attack on the way the CAA had hijacked the Historic Aircraft Association’s display pilot evaluation system and rules, imposed new regulation following the P-38 Lightning crash at
Duxford and were now considering charging for work freely undertaken by the HAA. Plus ça change… you might think. Ten years on from that ‘worst ever’ year, US GA aircraft sales were up 16.5 per cent on the previous year. In the first half of ’97 Cessna had delivered 194 aircraft, 93 of which were pistonsingles, followed by Raytheon (145 fomer BAE bizjets and Beech aircraft) and New Piper (104). Two decades ahead of the European game, the FAA approved single-engined commercial
IFR operations and the Smiths, father Mike and son ‘Q’, set different around the world helicopter records. Q accompanied Jennifer Murray on the first round-the-world helicopter
flight by a woman pilot, and the first in a piston-engined helicopter. Mike Smith set the speed record for a single-engined turbine helicopter. Elsewhere flexwing microlights were becoming more mainstream, as noted by veteran glider pilot Ann Welch’s piece on ‘Trikes as tugs’.
Towards the back of the book appears ‘Old-timers’ (clearly hyphens were in good supply in 1997) co-authored by Peter R March and Mike Jerram, and James Allan brings the editorial content to a close with his ‘Air-brained’ quiz.
Finally, occupying the familiar back-cover slot is long-term advertiser Harry Mendelssohn, offering a range of GPS units from Garmin, Skyforce and Magellan. Colour had arrived with Skyforce’s offering, albeit at an eye-watering £2,499 (£4,200-odd today) — and in this respect things really have changed!