N.C. grandfather has won 4 aerobatics competitions this year

High flier: Larry Macon loves to compete in aerobatics

By Salisbury Post

Larry Macon loves to compete — for bragging rights more than anything, but compete he does.

“I told my wife that it is like other guys and their golf,” Macon said as he stood beside his Pitts Special 2B aerobatic plane. “The plane is like NASCAR on wings, with a skin, tubes and a big engine. I was fortunate to find exactly the plane I wanted.”

A mechanical engineer by trade who spent 40 years at what is now Performance Fibers, Macon has already entered five competitions this year and won four of them. He competes in the intermediate division of aerobatics in the northeast region of the U.S., which includes North Carolina. Recent competitions have been in Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with a venture into the Southeast region at Georgia. Upcoming events include New Jersey and the East Coast Aerobatic Championship at Rome, Georgia, in early June.

The United States and international aerobatic competition season runs from April through October.

A soft-spoken grandfather, Macon’s eyes light up when he talks about his rivals.

“Often, they try to get in my head before we fly. Sometimes I have to listen to a lot of bragging before we get in the air, but I save my talk till afterwards,” he said. “Especially if I win.”

Macon fondly remembered his first flight. His dad, who hoped to be a pilot but never realized the dream, was invited to fly with a friend.

“I got to go along and was so excited to see everything from up high, all the miniature houses and farms. I kept running from side to side in the back of the plane till the pilot told me that I had to sit down,” Macon said. Following that flight, his dad offered financial assistance for flight training. Later, with college drawing to a close, Macon decided that his dad’s offer might expire soon and acquired his pilot’s license.

“I probably would have ended up a fighter pilot except for my poor eyesight,” he said.

The Pitts S-2B, a high-powered, extremely maneuverable plane, is the first especially designed for aerobatics. Pitts planes have been built for 70 years.

“I don’t scrimp on anything for the plane,” Macon said. “I wipe it down after every flight. By flying within the limits of the plane, I have never had a close call. My training comes from the best people around.”

The 1996 model Pitts is pristine in appearance and is considered certified because it was factory built, something that Macon prefers. Not a single oil spot marred the floor of Macon’s hangar. He considers the Pitts to be a member of the family and affectionately refers to the plane as “the ride.”

Macon’s Pitts has a wing span of 20 feet, a length of 18 feet, and weighs less than 1,200 pounds. It can climb at a rate of over half a mile a minute and cruises at 175 miles per hour. The plane has a Lycoming 540-cubic-inch engine that provides 260 horsepower.

Prior to the Pitts, which he acquired in 2002, Macon owned a Super Decathlon. When considering that purchase, he told his wife Pat that he wanted a plane. She told him to just put that thought out of his mind, that he did not need a plane. Macon waited till she was on a beach trip with some girlfriends, bought the plane, and then called her to report the purchase while she was in front of the girls.

“It was a good move, she cooled off quite a bit before she got back home,” Macon said of his wife of 32 years. The Macon family also includes son and daughter Meredith and Darren and two grandchildren, Allison and Jason.

International Aerobatic Club competitions include a series of three flights. The first is called the “known” flight, one that the pilot has practiced beforehand. Next up is the “free” flight, one that the pilot can design while meeting specifications but using maneuvers that the plane and pilot fly better or simply look good doing. Last is the “unknown,” a flight that is planned by others and given to the pilot just 12 hours before his actual competition. No practice is allowed.

Macon keeps a sheet of the choreography for his next “known” and “free” flights on the dash of his plane.

“I have to keep in mind how the wind is going to affect my flight, specifically how it will be different on one side of a loop as opposed to the other side,” he said. “Also, it is easy to get disoriented on the flights. I have seen pilots think they have really nailed a competition, only to find out that they were flying in the wrong direction.”

A special waiver for Macon from the FAA allows him to practice in a designated box over the Rowan County Airport. Others may use the 3,400-by-7,000-foot aerobatic box only if Macon approves and the other pilot signs the waiver agreeing to the required conditions. Most of his aerobatic practice is performed between 1,500 and 4,500 feet above the ground.

Macon is also a certified flight instructor and a competition judge himself.

“Aerobatics are not for everyone, but all pilots need to experience it,” he said. Macon served as president of the International Aerobatic Club, North Carolina Chapter 19, from 2004 to 2008. He is currently the treasurer of the Cloud Cappers Flying Club incorporated in Rowan County in 1970.

After his first aerobatic flight in 1980, Macon competed for the first time in 1999 and now has over 2,600 flight hours. All of this happened after starting flight training in 1968 at the Rowan County Airport and eventually getting his private certificate later that same year.

Certainly Macon has a gift of flight and has the credentials to prove it, having bested much more famous rivals along the way. He hopes his grandson will soon join him in his love of aerobatic flying. With no plans to retire anytime soon, expect to see and hear that red and white Pitts Special often during warm weather over the airport.

No doubt, Larry Macon will be enjoying himself.


Tips for Reviving a Worn Out Interior

By Warren Ludlam


 Presented by Carolina Avionics & Aircraft Interiors…Salisbury, NC

 Safe tips for reviving a worn-out interior

The following tips from Carolina Avionics & Aircraft Interiors in Salisbury, NC, may be of help as you consider the refurbishment of your plane’s interior.  These can be particularly effective in helping get top dollar if you are thinking about selling the aircraft, as well as they may speed up the sales process.

Tip # 1…The Leather

Following trends in the automotive industry, two-tone leather designs are starting to make a come-back in GA aircraft seats.  Dual colors, if done right, can add an element of interest to an interior without going overboard.  Plus, contrasting color thread can inject some very nice, subtle pizzazz and provide a classy look.  And scratch the pleated leather idea…which is old school and doesn’t hold up as well as smooth leather surfaces, besides being a magnet for dirt and kids’ crumbs down in the folds.

Recommendation: Go with smooth leather plus French stitching for a stand out effect and let the overall seat design help work with the new materials to give the interior its renewed personality.  Special embroidering of the leather with company logos can also make an interior stand out.

Tip # 2…The Carpet

 The color(s), design, and texture of the carpet selected is a major decision.  Small ‘flecks’ of color blended into the design of the carpet work well to hide lint and smudges.  As with leather, company logos custom stitched into the carpet can also add a unique design twist.

Recommendation: Choose carpet in the medium or slightly darker color range, possibly with design elements woven in, which will help camouflage dirt, ramp oil, etc., tracked into the plane.

Tip # 3…The Cabinetry

 Restoration of the cabinetry in an aircraft can be a major addition to the refurbishment budget.  Restoring the wood components with new, exotic veneers may run as much as twice the cost of pieces covered in new laminate.  Laminate can be easier and much less expensive to replace, but it still doesn’t have the beauty and luster of finished real wood veneer.

Recommendation: If a veneer cabinet is not in too bad of shape, a ‘surface touchup’ of light sanding followed by several new coats of clear can be a relatively inexpensive facelift to provide more years of life.  Should the veneer wood be faded, scratched, gouged, or cracked, the best advice is to just take a deep breath and have a full restoration done – in the end you will thank yourself.  With laminate material, there are furniture touchup pens and other ways to successfully tackle minor scratches and the like that can revive these kinds of cabinet surfaces without the cost of a full restoration.

The bottom line of refinishing either veneer or laminate covered cabinets in a plane comes down to this: what choice do you have other than to get the restorations taken care of correctly by professionals who are experienced in aircraft cabinetry and use the proper burn certified materials?  It ultimately needs to be done right if you own a nice plane that you want to show off or are planning on putting it on the market.  Buyers expect the cabinetry to be in good shape as with everything else – otherwise, it becomes a negotiating point or they may just walk away.  It’s better to get the cabinets taken care of before listing the aircraft and be able to negotiate from a position of strength, rather than get beaten down on the price.


 Carolina Avionics & Aircraft Interiors is based in Salisbury, NC, at Rowan County Regional Airport (KRUQ). The company specializes in custom interior refurbishments and avionics upgrades for owners and operators of business jets, single and multi-engine turboprops, piston singles and twins, helicopters, air ambulance/medevacs, military/government special mission aircraft, classics, and warbirds.  For more information, visit www.CarolinaAvionics.com or call Warren Ludlam at (336) 253-3994.



North Carolina technical college to launch aviation program

By Jill W. Tallman

Asheville-Buncombe Technical College in Asheville, North Carolina, is launching a two-year associate’s degree in applied science that will enable its graduates to be eligible for a restricted airline transport pilot certificate.

The school is partnering with WNC Aviation based at Asheville Regional Airport, according to Richard Corman, chairman of the aviation management and career pilot technology degree program. Enrollment opens July 6, and the program kicks off on Aug. 17, he said.

Students can choose from an aviation management or career pilot technology option.

A restricted ATP certificate (multiengine only) allows pilots who are not age 23 or have fewer than 1,500 hours of flight time to serve as first officer until they obtain 1,500 hours, as required under FAA rules made final in July 2013. Pilots holding an associate’s degree with an aviation major can qualify for the restricted ATP certificate with 1,250 hours.

“Right now I’ve got about 30 students [interested],” Corman said. “I’m anticipating that number will increase to about 50 by the start of the program.” He said strong interest has already been exhibited,

A-B Tech, founded in 1959, is the seventh largest community college in the North Carolina system. About 7,000 people are enrolled in degree programs, with another 14,000 in continuing education programs.

A-B Tech and WNC also will offer a la carte flight training for the private and commercial certificates and instrument rating to those who don’t wish to get an associate degree, Corman said. A-B Tech is in the process of getting Department of Veterans Affairs approval, he said.

Afternoon with a B-17 Pilot in Greensboro

I would like to invite you for a special opportunity to sit down with a good friend, Tom Cochran, and talk with him about his remarkable combat flying experiences during WWII.  The unique attraction is we will watch the 1990 feature movie Memphis Belle with Tom, which centers around the B-17 bomber crews of the war.  He flew the B-17 Flying Fortress as pilot-in-command, completing an incredible 50 missions in heavy air combat against the Germans over Europe in 1943. 
Tom has kindly offered to meet with us on Saturday, May 16th at 2 pm at the Friends Homes West retirement village (6100 W. Friendly Ave.) where he lives…we will be in the Wellness Center activity hall in the very back of the complex.  This will be a very informal Q & A session while we watch the film and have a rare opportunity to hear from Tom about what it was like to be in the left seat of the famed B-17 bomber going up against the Luftwaffe and German heavy artillery on missions.  At the end of the war, he also flew as a pilot and instructor on the B-29 Superfortress. 
Tom has some incredible stories to tell us, and there will be plenty of opportunity for you to ask him questions.  This will be the chance for you to hear firsthand from one of the few remaining WWII heavy bomber pilots about what it was like to fly both of these famous aircraft.


Thanks for your interest.  Please let me know if you would like to attend or just show up.  And feel free to bring other flying friends, if you wish.




Warren Ludlam

Canadian Snowbirds visit Carolina Air and Auto Center Open House – Today 4:30 – 7:30 – FREE

The Carolina Air and Auto Center is proud to announce the historic
first visit to Winston-Salem of the Canadian Snowbirds on Wednesday,
May 13, at Smith Reynolds Airport. Appearing as part of the Carolina
Air and Auto Center Open House, the Snowbirds will arrive at 6pm on
Wednesday and be on static display during the Open House.

The Snowbirds demonstration team (431 Air Demonstration Squadron),
based at 15 Wing Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, is a Canadian icon comprised
of serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Their pilots and
technicians work as a team to bring thrilling performances to the
North American public. Serving as Canadian ambassadors, the Snowbirds
demonstrate the skill, professionalism and teamwork inherent in the
women and men of the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Armed

Also appearing for static display will be the Canadian CF-18 and the
Commemorative Air Force
B-17G “Texas Raiders” which will be available for tours (with
donation) during the Air and Auto Center Open House.  – many other
activities including Antique Auto displays, Meet and Greet with
Letters From Home and Piedmont Airlines Memorabilia Area

4:30-7:30PM – Gates open to public
3:30PM – Snowbirds 10 & 11 arrive in Winston-Salem
4:15PM – B-17G “Texas Raiders” arrives
4:45 –5:00PM – CF-18 Arrives in Winston-Salem  – static display
6:00PM – Snowbirds Arrive in Winston-Salem – land, sign autographs and
visit with guests at Carolina Air and Auto Center Open House

NTSB releases video alert on importance of preflight checks

By General Aviation News

A Video Safety Alert highlighting the extra vigilance that pilots should take in doing preflight inspections prior to a first flight after maintenance work has been released by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The video also addresses the crucial role that mechanics have in ensuring that a plane’s flight control system is rigged correctly after maintenance activities.

It features an airborne close-call – an inflight emergency on a general aviation airplane that occurred near St. Louis in December 2014.

The 14-minute video features interviews with two college-aged pilots struggling to maintain control of a small single-engine airplane on its first flight following maintenance work. The pilot flying the Cessna T-182T talks about how he was able to figure out that the flight control trim system had been reversed, and how he remedied the situation in time to land the plane safely.

In another interview, the highly experienced mechanic who did the work on the Cessna shares his perspectives on how the maintenance error that led to the flight control problem occurred. He also offers advice to other aircraft maintenance professionals on how they can avoid a similar mistake.

“Improving safety in general aviation has been one of our Most Wanted List items for the last several years,” said NTSB Chairman Christopher A Hart. “These safety alerts are important tools to share the lessons learned from our many investigations. In this instance, tragedy was averted. It is our hope that pilots and mechanics will take these lessons and apply them and avert future tragedies.”

This video follows the release of four Safety Alerts that the NTSB issued on April 7, all of them focused on general aviation. Two of those Safety Alerts, “Pilots: Perform Advanced Preflight After Maintenance” and “Mechanics: Prevent Misrigging Mistakes” summarize the key findings presented in the video.

The PDF versions of all the Safety Alerts are available at http://go.usa.gov/3ZYDh.

Marchmont Plantation Airpark Open House


134 Crosswind Drive  Marchmont Plantation Airpark  off Peoples Creek   Advance, NC

A pilot or non pilots dream come true! Family & friends can fly in or drive in to visit. Very popular gated community with a 2800′ lighted grass runway. This home sits on 6.5 acres with runway access. Two car garage plus a 3 car detached garage. Easy 20 min access to Winston. Main level master with fireplace. Very large unfinished basement with full bath (shower). New roof, new deck! Priced to move quickly … under tax value!  

Take the virtual tour:  http://www.visualtour.com/show.asp?t=3562093&prt=10003

Currently priced at $344,900.

Fly or drive to the Open House on Sunday from 2-4pm.


Len Leggette  Keller Williams   336-547-6535

Greensboro Native in World War II-Era Planes to Perform Historic Flyover of National Mall

by Brendan McGarry

World War II-era planes will perform a flyover of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Friday to mark the 70th anniversary of the allied victory in Europe, or V-E Day.

The event, dubbed the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover, will feature some 55 vintage aircraft, including the iconic P-51 Mustang fighter and the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. The 50-minute airshow is set to begin 12:10 p.m. local time and will follow ceremonial events at the World War II memorial.

“We’re flying a huge array of aircraft, all vintage of World War II,” said Nancy Kwiecien, a volunteer with the Commemorative Air Force, a Texas-based nonprofit that owns and operates some of the planes participating in the event. “They will be staged in chronological order according to the war.”

The flyover is being sponsored in part by aerospace and defense companies, including Boeing Co., General Electric Co. and Northrop Grumman Corp., among others.

The formations will kick off with trainers and biplanes representing the period leading up to the war, followed by P-40 Warhawk aircraft marking the attack on Pearl Harbor, B-25 Mitchell bombers representing the raid on Tokyo, and B-17 and B-29 bombers marking the air wars in Europe and the Pacific, Kwiecien said. The flyby will culminate with a P-51 missing man formation, she said.

“It’s going to be stunning,” she said. A detailed lineup of the scheduled formations can be found on the event’s website, http://ww2flyover.org/flyover-formations/.

Reporters, photographers, history buffs and even a few World War II veterans gathered on the tarmac to view a pair of B-17s, as well as a B-24 Liberator and a B-29 Superfortress during a media day Thursday at the Manassas Regional Airport in Virginia about 30 miles southwest of D.C.

Some attendees climbed into the bellies of the planes to tour their musty, cramped confines. Still others got a chance to ride in the loud, four-engine prop planes as they prepared for the following day. A similar event took place at the nearby Culpeper Regional Airport, where fighters and other smaller aircraft were staging for the flyby.

Kevin Michaels, who volunteers for the Commemorative Air Force as a loadmaster for the army green B-17G named Texas Raiders, said more than 12,700 Flying Fortresses were built during the 1940s, yet only about a dozen or so are flying today.

“It’s a labor of love to do this,” he said. “It’s amazing that any of these aircraft are still around today.”

Michaels added, “Texas Raiders is one of the last 20 B-17s ever built. It was built by Douglas under license. It came off the line July 12, 1945, which is right in between V-E Day and V-J Day,” he said, referring to the allied victories in Europe and Japan.

Jed Doggett, a B-17 pilot and maintenance officer with the organization, said he has always had a passion for older planes. He noted that he came from the same hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina, as George Preddy, the leading P-51 ace of the war who was shot down on Christmas Day in 1944 in Belgium.

A commercial pilot for United Airlines for his day job, Doggett said the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and other modern aircraft are much easier to fly than the older planes.

“They’re a piece a cake. There’s nothing to it. I mean, I don’t want to say there’s no skill involved — that’s not true,” he said. “My point of view is that it’s a lot of effort to fly these old airplanes … especially tailwheel airplanes. They don’t want to go straight down the runway. They don’t want to go straight down the taxiway. They want to turn into the wind — anything but what you would really like for them to do.”

Keeping the aging aircraft flying is no small task, Doggett said. Over a two-month period this past winter, for example, maintenance workers and other volunteers with his organization spent more than 3,500 hours on Texas Raiders, he said. Spare parts may be hard to find, but they’re generally available, he said.

“Engines are no problem, parts are no problem, props are no problem,” he said. “When you get down to sheet metal and airplane parts — real airplane parts, not pieces that you can replace — that becomes more difficult. Landing gear are hard to come by. Tires are not as bad as you might think, but they’re $4,000 apiece. And it burns over 200 gallons an hour in gas and oil — it’s burning about three or four gallons an hour, so it’s not cheap.”

Bob Vaucher, a 96-year-old resident of Bridgewater, New Jersey, who retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Army Air Corps, was also on hand to celebrate the anniversary and talk to reporters about his experiences. He flew the B-17, B-24 and the B-29, and received multiple awards, including two Distinguished Services Crosses.

He regaled reporters with some of his war stories, including the time he piloted the first production-model Superfortress the military accepted from Boeing.

“The only reason I was a command pilot on that flight, a captain and myself, a first lieutenant, went to Wichita to pick up this airplane — first B-29,” he said. “He was a captain and I was a lieutenant. He decided that I should fly it because I had 30 minutes more flying time. I had two hours and 15 minutes as a test pilot … and he only had an hour and 45, so the time overruled the captaincy. I was a command pilot on that flight and I never ever was nothing but that.”

Vaucher also flew one of eight B-29s on the longest nonstop combat mission of the war — a nearly 19-hour, 4,030-nautical-mile roundtrip flight from an allied base in India to the Musi River in Sumatra, Indonesia. The waterway led to a high-octane refinery the Japanese depended on to support their aircraft in the South Pacific.

“The mission was to mine the river so freighters, tankers couldn’t go up the river and it was beyond our length that we could fly by a considerable amount,” he said. “Each of us had to sign a will in the briefing in case we didn’t get back. It’s kind of daunting to go on a mission where they don’t expect you to get back. That’s a mind-boggler. That’s quite a way to start out a mission. It doesn’t have anything to do with the enemy. It has to do with your own capability.”

Vaucher said he and his crew dropped their mines at low altitude and turned back. But the excitement wasn’t over. On the return trip, the crew had to extinguish a fire that broke out in engine No. 3 and consider crash-landing the plane into the Indian Ocean to avoid running out of fuel over land. When he came in for a landing on base, he heard the engines shutting down.

“We couldn’t even measure the gas in the tanks,” he said. “Everybody was anxious to see how much gas we had. We came in on fumes.”

Vaucher said he was delighted to see so many vintage planes coming together to celebrate the anniversary.

“It’s fantastic,” he said. “In my wildest dreams, I wouldn’t have thought that at the age of 96 I would see every airplane that the Air Force had in World War II fly over the capital of the United States. That’s a happening to behold in your lifetime.”