Aviation

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As part of a celebration of aviation, Yves ‘Jetman’ Rossy takes to the skies with fellow ‘Breitling Flyer’ pilot, Nigel Lamb in the renowned Spitfire MH434. In this unique close‐formation flight, the British iconic aircraft offered a stark contrast to the futuristic Jetwing.

[videogallery id=”jetman”]

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The X3. I know, it sounds like something out of a James Bond movie, and it is, sort of. The Eurocopter X3 is a three-rotored experimental helicopter, designed to go FAST. It can fly faster than 220 knots (250 mph), whereas a standard helicopter tops out at around 150 knots. The X3 uses the additional two rotors to face forward and help propel the helicopter forward. Eurocopter says the X3 is designed for military use—but it won’t be long before other manufacturers catch on and begin implementing some of these design cues.

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More than 100,000 passengers (roughly equivalent to the population of Berkeley, Calif.) arrive at or depart from Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport via the facility’s three runways on a daily basis—heading to or coming from Europe to the east, Canada to the north, Mexico to the south, the Pacific area to the west and all points in between. That’s nearly 40 million per year. Each day, there are more than 1,200 take-offs and landings, including commercial, cargo, general aviation and military flights—adding up to more than 400,000 flights per year. And, despite an unstable global aviation market, Sky Harbor is continuing to show sustained passenger and cargo growth.

“This is the twelfth straight month of increased passenger activity at Sky Harbor,” said Airport Director Danny Murphy early last October. “In these incredibly volatile times, we’ve continued to grow.”

At that time, the airport released its monthly numbers and showed almost a 9 percent growth in passengers for August 2011, a particularly active month for the Phoenix airport. This leap paralleled July’s jump of 9.2 percent more passengers and June’s increase of 6.3 percent more passengers. Between January and August of 2011, Sky Harbor welcomed 27 million passengers, an increase of 6.1 percent relative to the same period in 2010.

It’s not generally known, but the Phoenix airport system is the largest economic engine in the state of Arizona. As a major component of the metropolitan Phoenix economy, the system creates jobs, income and revenues both on and off the airport. In 2007, for example, the system’s total economic impact was $33 billion. It supported 305,136 jobs in Arizona, with a payroll of $11.9 billion.

Sky Harbor is also a source of employment and payroll for airline employees, food service, security and air traffic control personnel. Currently, more than 33,500 people are employed at the airport, generating an annual payroll of $1.7 billion.

An interesting factor: No local taxpayer dollars are utilized for the airport’s administration. Revenue is primarily generated through terminal rentals and fees, aircraft landing fees, retail sales, parking and federal/state grants.

SOME NOTABLE SKY HARBOR FACTS: 17 commercial airlines serve the airport, including AeroMexico, Air Canada, British Airways, Continental, American, Delta and US Airways. It is one of the 10 busiest airports in the United States.

The airport services approximately 85 domestic and 17 international cities with daily flights, including: Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Calgary, Cancun, London, Mexico City, Toronto and Vancouver. Many of the flights are nonstop.

Direct and connecting service is available to and from almost anywhere in the world. There are also a number of international cities with nonstop service one or more times per week.

The airport is intense in its desire to be a good neighbor to those living close by. It has provided sound mitigation services to more than 1,700 residences in adjacent neighborhoods in Phoenix and Tempe and offers similar services to nearby churches, schools and community centers.

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Flying around like Superman has been a dream for many of us, and now the brilliant minds at NASA have brought us a little bit closer to that dream. Sort of. The Puffin personal flying suit is the creation of a NASA scientist working on his doctoral dissertation. The Puffin is an all-electric, 12-foot-long personal flying vehicle with a 14-foot wingspan. It takes off and lands on its tail using a propeller on each wing. Too bad for us this thing is still just a concept. Let’s hope someone decides to make this a reality. Soon.


Published in the fall 2011 issue of MyLIFE magazine


PHOTOGRAPHY BY GARTH MILAN/RED BULL CONTENT POOL

OK … LET’S GO!

The rows and rows of pylons fly by as he floats above the water, the sun reflecting brightly off the red and blue fuselage, wings extended out as if they were his own arms. A little boy in a grown man’s body, one who wants it all, makes a living in the shadow of lost seconds between aerobatic twists and turns.

Faster … faster … faster!

Kirby Chambliss, like so many others involved in motorsports, loves to go fast. He lives for those little moments in which the sound of his Zivko Edge 540‘s 265-horsepower engine is drowned out by the sound of his racing heartbeat. Chambliss has been a part of the international Red Bull Air Race World Championships since 2003, but his love for airplanes and motorsports goes back much further.

Bank left … bank right … nose down!

Chambliss’ father, a skydiving jumpmaster, introduced him to the wonders of airplanes when Kirby Chambliss was only a kid. Trips into the sky became routine in his father’s Aircoupe, and shortly after, accompanying his father to assist skydiving students became the young Chambliss’ thrill. At the age of 24, he became the youngest pilot for Southwest Airlines, and he attained the rank of captain by age 28, all the while continuing to pursue his passion for pushing the limit.

Level out … checkered flag!

In the time it took you to read this far, Chambliss has completed the race—a blistering, 260 mph, death-defying, 5-6 kilometer, 12 G-inducing, 20-feet-above-the-water blast of adrenaline. And he loved every second of it.

“I consider myself really lucky,” Chambliss confided. ”Unlike a lot of people I knew early on, what I wanted to do, I just had to figure out a way to do it.”

When he’s not racing in his plane, you can usually find Chambliss pushing the limit on his motocross bikes in southern Arizona. “I like aerobatics, I like speed, I like being low to the ground, I like competition. So, it was a perfect thing, a perfect matchup of all the things I love to do.”

But behind the winning smile, the love for anything with an engine and the two Red Bull Air Race championships is a humble man who recognizes his own mortality and the danger of what he does, and he translates that into being the best father he can be to his 6-year-old daughter. “I really enjoy spending time with my daughter. She loves flying,” Chambliss said proudly. “She’s been flying with us since she was six weeks old. She’s probably got 800 hours of flying time. She can make turns, climb, descend and fly the airplane okay, even at 6.”

So how does Chambliss mix his love for his family and his passion for the occupation? Serious injuries are an occupational hazard in his life. You don’t have a “brush” with death at those speeds—death can hit you full force, like a prizefighter’s first-round knockout punch. Watching motorsport events like Formula 1 and Moto GP gives him something to do with his family, along with giving him a deeper respect and admiration for those who risk life and limb, as he does. “I like extreme athletes, guys who put it on the line. Guys like Travis Pastrana—when Travis makes a mistake, he takes a chance at breaking his back or his legs. Someone like Tiger Woods makes a mistake, he puts one in the rough,” he said jokingly.

As he laughed at his remark, I began to gain an appreciation not only for what Chambliss does, but also for why he does it. Growing up at a time in which a young boy from Corpus Christi, Texas, could walk up to a pilot who was washing his airplane, and—if the boy was nice and maybe helped clean the plane—the pilot might take the boy up in the air for a little while, Chambliss recognizes that in today’s world of increasing air security, young aviation enthusiasts have few opportunities to fall in love with flying the way he did.

“The Red Bull Air Race gives kids access to the pits. They can come in, look at the planes, touch the planes, talk to the pilots … and then they have that energy level towards it [flying]. They end up with a passion for aviation, and they’ll become the new pilots, later on buying airplanes and making general aviation happen. So, we have to bring in young people like that.”

Chambliss will continue his pursuit for another championship while traveling across the world, pushing his body and his machine to the breaking point. He hopes the future brings him his own racing team, along with the opportunity to watch the next generation of aviators take the joystick and give us a show like none we’ve ever seen before.


Normally a friendly and jovial American, Chambliss turns into an intense warrior when he climbs into his cockpit. His flying style is smooth, yet often aggressive, as he goes all out for the wins. He loathes second place, regularly disparaging it the “first loser.”

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