Countdown of Countries with the Most Airports

Countries with the Most AirportsThere are more than 13,000 airports in the United States, but most passengers only visit a handful of them. In total, the United States CIA says there 41,821 airports in the world, not including older and smaller airports no longer in use or those that have been overgrown from neglect.

In terms of countries with the greatest number of airports, some countries on the list were a little surprising such as Bolivia, a country that has a population roughly the size of Georgia, or Russia, a massive country in terms of land, but with one quarter of the airports of Brazil.

So here is our countdown of the countries with the most airports:


#10 – Indonesia – 673 Airports

Officially, the Republic of Indonesia is an archipelago comprising some 17,000+ islands and more than 238 million people. The country passes through three time zones and covers a distance of more than 3,200 miles.

#9 – Paraguay – 799 Airports

Paraguay, which is somewhere between the size of California and Montana has nearly 800 airports and a population just over 5 million. Many, if not most, of the airfields in Paraguay are small and have a mere dirt patch for a runway.

#8 – Columbia – 836 Airports

Columbia has a rather large population to match its large number of airports. The majority of Columbia’s urban centers are located in the highlands of the Andes Mountains, but the country also encompasses the Amazon rain forest as well as tropical grasslands and both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines. This creates a wide variety of takeoff and landing challenges for pilots.

#7 – Bolivia – 855 Airports

Bolivia, with an estimated 10 million people, is a very diverse country with more than 35 official languages (although most speak Spanish). This diversity has contributed to the array of arts, cuisine and literature spread across this country’s nearly 425,000 square miles.

#6 – Argentina – 1,138 Airports

Argentina is a fairly large country with more than 1 million square miles and is called the country of immigrants, where more than 40 percent of the country speaks English and 1.5 million speak Italian. The country is highly urbanized, yet the rural areas are often far from cities along dusty and often mountainous roads.  There are 35 airports in the Buenos Aries area alone.

#5 – Russia – 1,218 Airports

Russia is a large country with massive swaths of rural country as well as large cities, which are mostly in the Western end of the country. Russia boasts some of the most rural airports in the world, including the recently closed Tiksi Airport or the Khatanga Airport, which is a hub for travelers and expeditions to the North Pole.

#4 – Canada – 1,467 Airports

Canada, with its vast wilderness and rural expanse, not only has nearly 1,500 airports, but many landing areas for planes in the form of thousands of lakes. The country even has a museum dedicated to bush planes called the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Center in Ontario and has developed two films on the topic.

Canada’s 34 million people are spread across nearly 4 million square miles. One of its airports is called the Arctic Bay Airport located far north in the Arctic Bay where the record high temperature is 18 degrees Fahrenheit.

#3 – Mexico – 1,714 Airports

Mexico has a varied climate of deserts, jungles, coastal towns and mountains.

Mexico has an extensive network of modern airports and flying domestically is considered an efficient and safe way of travel. Mexico has the most advanced airport structure in all of Latin America.

#2 – Brazil – 4,093 Airports

Population wise, Brazil is a very large country with a rather antiquated transportation system reliant upon waterways such as the Amazon River and the Paraguay River.  Thus, the need for better transportation has driven Brazil to build a substantial number of airports.

#1 – United States – 13,513 Airports

Many states within the United States have more airports than most countries. Texas, for example, has more than 450 airports for a population of 26 million people.

The U.S. also boasts many of the most highly traveled airports in the world, including Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which serviced more than 95 million passengers in 2012.

Of the 13,513 airports in the United States, only 503 offer commercial airline service.  The rest are utilized by general aviation and military aircraft.

Top Destinations for Charter Flights

Top Destinations for Charter Flights

Private aviation enhances your business and elevates your personal life.  Private jet charter is a safe, convenient and productive way to travel.  But where do people go who book charter flights? Below we’ve listed some of the top places Keystone Aviation takes its customers.

Meetings in New York, Los Angeles, and other Major Cities

Top executives travel constantly and, often, time is of the essence. This is why one of the top destinations of charter flights is to major cities such as New York and Los Angeles where boards of directors, stockholders, and executives meet regularly. These people take private jet charters to be able to get to their destination quickly, on time and as relaxed and comfortable as possible before taking on a high-pressure meeting or presentation.  They also use that travel time to conduct productive meetings with their team, so there’s very little time lost to travel.

Remote Destinations

Just as business people frequently travel to major cities, they also need to go to remote locations, such as rural job sites and hard-to-reach satellite offices.   In order to reach these remote locations, business people are often required to catch commercial airline connections followed by a long, rental car drive.  A private jet charter can land at airports close to these remote destinations, saving time and money.  By getting their people back home more quickly, businesses are enhanced and the personal life of their employees is elevated.

International Business Hubs

International travel is time consuming and logistically difficult.  Booking a private jet charter adds ease and comfort to international travel and allows business people to have an enormous amount of quality time with their colleagues.  This ability to conduct productive, confidential meetings during long international flights as well as being able to work comfortably and privately are all reasons why we frequently take customers to international business destinations, such as Tokyo, Beijing, London and Paris.

Beach and Tropical Destinations

One of the most popular destinations for private charter flights is to beach and tropical destinations. With a private charter, you won’t be starting your trip with the stress and inconvenience of long lines or waiting several hours for delayed flights. By booking private jet charters, you will be able to arrive at summer hotspots such as Hawaii, Florida and the Caribbean without any hassles and in style.

Major Events Around the Country

Who wouldn’t love watching the Superbowl, the NBA Finals, the US Open Golf Tournament or the next big boxing match live and in the stadium?  Unfortunately, traveling to these events via commercial flights can be exhausting.  This is one reason why major events such as those listed above are some of the top destinations for private jet charters.

Are you going to any of these destinations? If so, book a private jet charter and experience the benefits first hand.

Aircraft Maintenance Q & A with Maintenance Director Bill Hoddenbach

Aircraft Maintenance Q & A

Q:  Why did you decide to become an aircraft mechanic?

A:  As a young boy, I had a fascination with airplanes.  My first small airplane ride was in a Cessna and we flew over the Hoover Dam at night.  It was amazing.  Later, I was working as a VW mechanic at a small auto shop and one of my roommates was working at the airport.  He invited me to see where he was working.  That day I saw my first aircraft engine and realized it was very similar to the VW engines I was working on and that moment planted the seed that would eventually grow into reality for me.

Q:  Is a career as an aircraft mechanic something you would recommend for others?  Why?

A:  Yes, Aviation Maintenance is a challenging career; it’s certainly not for the faint of heart.  If you have a desire to do things correctly, are willing to put in the time it takes to become good at it, you enjoy working with your hands, and you like solving technical problems, to then see your hard work fly away, it might be for you.

Q:  How does someone become an aircraft mechanic?

A:  There are different paths you can take to become an aviation mechanic.  One is to attend a formal Aviation Maintenance program at a local community college or private school.  There are several around the country that provide the curriculum needed to obtain your license.  Another way is to apprentice with a licensed mechanic for approximately 3 years and then get signed off to take your A&P license exam.  Yet another option is to go into the military and get your training there.

Q:  How long have you been the Director of Maintenance (DOM) for Keystone Aviation?

A:  I have been the Director of Maintenance here at Keystone for almost 16 years now.

Q:  What other experience did you have before becoming Keystone Aviation’s DOM?

A:  I had been a Director of Maintenance for several other firms prior to my coming to Keystone.  I had been involved in the helicopter industry as well as air freight and general aviation business, all as a DOM.

Aircraft Maintenance Q & A

Q:  What do you like about being a Director of Maintenance?

A:  I like being involved in the planning and execution of logistical challenges.  It is always rewarding to put something together and have it work well and know that you had a part in the success.

Q:  What are some of the challenges of being a Director of Maintenance?

A:  The dynamic nature of the industry can be challenging.  Learning how to adapt the business to new equipment, new regulations, new people.  Also, the pressures that some aircraft owners and operators put on maintenance can become a difficult challenge if not dealt with in the proper way.  Typically, people do not like maintenance, as it is a cost and takes up time.  They would rather be out flying their aircraft as opposed to than having maintenance done to it.

Q:  How has aircraft maintenance changed during your career?

A:  More complex equipment, less latitude to accomplish the job and, of course, more rules.

The maintenance industry has had to become more technical.  With the advent of “digital aircraft,” we have had to adapt to new technical procedures involving more electronics and a better understanding of computers and how to use them.  The internet has also required technicians to sharpen their knowledge base of the aircraft they maintain.  The owners can go on-line and talk to others in the industry and get 2nd and 3rd opinions much more easily now.  Sometimes these “internet mechanics” are not always accurate and we have had to learn how to help the customers navigate through those situations.

Q:  What is it like working with the FAA?

A:  Working with the FAA can be challenging, especially if you don’t try to understand their point of view and have a cooperative attitude.  We all have a part in the aviation industry and we need to be able to work with everyone to help the aircraft owners have a good experience and want to keep their aircraft and use them.  The FAA is part of that equation.  They have mandates that they have to accomplish and we as an industry need to be aware of those.  On the other hand, that does not mean that we should just roll over and accept everything that they give us.  We need to take an active role in the process by participating in the FAA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) process and have dialogue on these issues.  We should know the rules that govern our industry as well as or better than the regulators.

Overall my experience with the FAA has been good.  I have learned a lot from the various inspectors and managers that I have worked with.

Q:  What is the next “big” development for aircraft maintenance?

A:  I see the industry adding more capabilities as a business model, like the larger Maintenance Repair and Overhaul shops (MROs).  This is a shift from the past when there have been more “Mom and Pop” shops specializing in a small segment of the industry.

Q:  What are some of the issues you’ve worked on as Chairman of the National Air Transportation Association Maintenance Committee?

A:  The navigation database update rule and the new NPRMs on repair station rules, among other things.

Q:  Is it true you have traveled to all 50 States?

A:  I had a goal to see all 50 states prior to turning 50.  I accomplished this goal by seeing North and South Dakota 1 month prior to my 50th birthday.  In addition, I have traveled to approximately 30 different countries around the world.

Seven Notable Experimental Aircraft in History

There are a myriad of aircraft designs available today—more than enough to accommodate all of the modern man’s needs. Of course, almost all of today’s planes are an improvement on the experimental designs people dreamed up in the past. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at seven of the most notable experimental aircraft in history.

Bell X-1

Let’s start with what’s considered to be the first ever manned, rocket-powered aircraft to break the sound barrier: the Bell X1.

Originally called the XS-1, the Bell X-1 was a joint, supersonic research project between the NACA-US Army and the US Air Force. It was built by Bell Aircraft in 1945, but the initial designs were conceived about a year earlier. It was first flown in 1946.

The Bell X-1 was the first of what would be a series of secret, experimental aircraft called X-planes. These planes were used by the US to test new technologies.

Boeing Bird of Prey

Developed in the 1990s by McDonnell Douglas and Boeing, the Bird of Prey was a relatively low cost project—with a total funding of just $67 million—meant to develop and test stealth materials and technologies.

The Bird of Prey was actually a “black project” aircraft, which means that it was a classified as a defense/military project and was not publicly acknowledged by the government, defense contractors or even military personnel.

The Bird of Prey was primarily intended to be a technology demonstrator, so there are no known plans for its mass production.

Goodyear Inflatoplane

The Goodyear Aircraft Company came up with what was planned to be an ingenious rescue aircraft in 1956: the Inflatoplane. The project was sponsored by the US Army.

The Inflatoplane can easily be packed into some form of hardened container, dropped behind enemy lines and inflated at the right time. Unfortunately, the US Army eventually decided to terminate the project because while the plane could be easily sneaked in and taken out of enemy territory, it was really just a balloon and, as such, was very easy to take down.

Lockheed Have Blue

First flown in 1977, the Have Blue was designed and built by Lockheed’s Skunk Works division as a proof-of-concept to demonstrate where aircraft stealth technology stood at the time.

The Have Blue was the earliest, fixed-wing aircraft conceived primarily from an electrical engineering viewpoint, instead of the usual aerospace engineering perspective. It was shaped in such a way that it effectively deflected electromagnetic waves, ultimately decreasing its radar signature by a very large margin.

There were only two Have Blue units ever produced and both crashed. However, the project successfully paved the way for the production of the F-11 Nighthawk stealth aircraft.

Northrop Tacit Blue

Here’s another stealth technology demonstrator: the Tacit Blue. This aircraft was developed by Northrop to prove that a stealth aircraft can effectively operate near the front lines of a battle and forward real-time targeting information to a chosen ground command center—and survive.

Although some say that the Tacit Blue is one of the most unstable aircraft ever made, it can still be considered a success with over 130 flights under its belt. In fact, it’s known to have made at least three flights a week in its time—even more than once a day on several occasions.

Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow

The CF-105 Arrow was the culmination of a five-year design study by Avro Aircraft Limited (Canada). It was regarded as one of the most notable technological and design advancements in Canadian aviation history.

The CF-105 Arrow was a delta-winged fighter aircraft that was originally intended to be used by the Royal Canadian Air Force as its primary interceptor from the 1960s onward. Unfortunately, the project was controversially terminated in 1959, which not only forced Avro to fold, but also prevented the CF-105 Arrow from ever seeing action.

Gloster E.28/39

Also known as the Gloster Pioneer, Gloster Whittle or Gloster G.40, the E.28/39 was the earliest British, jet-engine plane to ever fly. It first took to the skies in 1941.

The aircraft was designed primarily as a test aircraft for one of the turbojet designs of Frank Whittle and ultimately led to the creation of the fully operational Gloster Meteor fighter. There were only two prototypes ever made.

There you have it – seven of the planes that paved the way for modern aircraft production.



Infographic: Evolution of the Airplane

We admit we’re a little partial to the open skies, and we have a fondness for the rich history and technological innovation that surrounds the history of airplanes, so we’ve created a evolution of the airplane infographic to show the history of air travel. For example, did you know:

  • The first metal aircraft was a “junker,” so-named after inventor Hugo Junkers.
  • The 787 Dreamliner is longer than the Wright Brothers first flight?
  • The X-15 flew faster than 4500 mph? (It’s only 2790 miles from NYC to L.A.)

Click on the graphic below to see the enlarged graphic.

Evolution of the Airplane Infographic

Would you like to use this infographic on your website or blog? Please feel free to do so as long as you provide attribution by including a text link to and citing Keystone Aviation as the copyright owner of this infographic.

9 Sights Better Seen from an Airplane

A long flight can be stressful and sometimes just plain daunting, but while you are in the air, there are a number of sights better seen from an airplane window that can’t be matched from the ground.

We have included below 9 visual wonders that are better seen from an airplane. Watch for them on your next flight.

Sights Better Seen from an Airplane

Photo by Rich Moffitt

Sunsets – Sunsets are beautiful and are enjoyed by many people on beaches or even against the skyline of a bustling city, but there is nothing like a sunset seen from an airplane.  Only from an airplane does a sunset act as a backdrop to the clouds and a dimming blue sky, making the horizon seem only an arm’s reach away.

Photo by Claumoho

Mountain Tops – Countless people would like to a climb mountain to see the summit. If you don’t have the time or the expertise to climb a mountain, why not take a plane and enjoy the view of beautiful mountain tops from a window seat? You can enjoy the view of numerous peaks and valleys at the same time.

Photo by Global Jet

City Skylines – Anyone can see a city skyline, but you can’t look down at the roads below while driving on a freeway. Next time you approach or take off from your hometown, stop and have a look at the expanse of buildings. The view has a way of making the world feel just a little bit smaller.

Photo Courtesy

Rooftop Advertisements – While you may be tired of seeing advertisements on television or while browsing the internet, you may be surprised to see advertisements on the roof of a building as you start your descent. There are a number of websites that track rooftop advertisements such as, so you can research a few and then look for them on your next flight.

Photo by kalleboo

Unique Cloud Formations – Almost everyone has dreamt of touching the clouds with their fingers. Unfortunately, this is not something that everybody can just do. We think the next best thing is to enjoy the incredible view of unique cloud formations from the comfort of an airplane. If you’re looking for them, you can often see large storms from a distance on flights across the Midwest.

Photo by Osseous

Highway Formations – You may not realize it, but roads and highways often have uniquely beautiful formations that you don’t really get to see unless you view it from above. There are a number of Google images that show the intricacy of U.S. highways, but they are even better to see in person, from above of course.

Photo by Tauress

City Lights at Night –While it can sometimes be tiring to wait at the airport late at night, nighttime flights allow you to enjoy the remarkable view of city lights at night. These amazing views are really breathtaking as the entire landscape seems to come to life with the intricate patterns of bright lights that define communities across the country.

Photo by Alvan Man

Beautiful Islands – Another breathtaking sight to see from an airplane is a series of beautiful islands against the backdrop of the vast ocean. Seeing spots of white and green against the blue hue of the sea certainly makes for a marvelous sight – one you really won’t ever see unless you are in an airplane.

Photo by Markyeg

Landscapes – The fabulous landscapes of farmland or forested areas are certainly a view you can’t see from the ground. Farm fields take on the appearance of a scattered checker board with circles of wheat and alfalfa, while shadows cast from surrounding hills create a view that is unmatched.

The world is really a beautiful place that can be enjoyed more fully from 30,000 feet. The amazing views listed above will give you a new appreciation for Mother Earth. The next time you fly for business or a vacation, take a moment to appreciate these spectacular views and make your trip all the more enjoyable.

Chartering An Aircraft

A Consumer Guide to Help You Fly Smarter

What is charter?

Chartering an aircraft is probably one of the best-kept travel secrets around. In fact, our research shows that only a small percentage of frequent business travelers have considered chartering an airplane. But now, the secret is out.

Each year, thousands of people all over the United States discover the benefits of air charter. And every day, more travelers are discovering just how smart charter can be.

Charter is about saving you time and, often, money on your business trips. Safety, security, convenience and productivity are key reasons why individuals and companies choose charter air travel.

Charter is the convenience of traveling on your schedule rather than the airlines’ schedule and flying to airports closer to your final ground destination. With the ability to fly in and out of more than 5,500 public use airports in the United States, air charter provides convenient access to your final destination. Selecting a charter operator is not difficult, nor does it require a vast knowledge of the industry or federal air carrier regulations.

Best of all, charter is having complete control over your travel environment, while enjoying the comfort, safety and security of a private aircraft. Charter aircraft operators are often referred to as on-demand or air taxi operators. The synonymous terms convey
the key attribute of charter service – we’re there when you call, ready to conform to your unique schedule and needs.

But, to help you form your own opinion of what charter is – and what it can do for you or your business – let’s answer a few of the most common questions asked about charter to help you select an operator that can meet your needs.

Charter is more than just passenger air transportation. Charter aircraft serve many critical niche markets such as just-in-time air cargo delivery, scenic air tours, and emergency medical transportation to name just a few. More information about these industry services is provided at the conclusion of this guide.

When does it make sense to charter?

Charter is smarter only under certain circumstances. The airlines are very competitive

when it comes to carrying a lot of people, for long distances, to a limited number of destinations. So when you are traveling between two very distant, major cities, like Los Angeles and New York, or traveling overseas, it may make sense to travel on the airlines.

But, there are times when charter makes a lot more sense. When you have several places to go but very little time, if there are multiple passengers traveling, if your destination is not a major airline hub, or when the airlines’ schedules just don’t fit into your business schedule, charter is the better choice.

So, before you compare the costs of airline travel to air charter, consider the time and money you’ll save on overnight expenses – motels, meals and car rental – and factor in the inconveniences you often face with the scheduled airlines: lost/delayed baggage, missed connections, cramped seating and oversold flights, to name a few.

Finally, what is it worth to be home with your family at night? When you charter your own aircraft, it’s possible for you to get back home to your family.

Many times it’s smarter to charter.

How much does a charter flight cost?

It will depend on your particular flight and really can’t be determined until you call a charter operator with specific trip plans. But, generally speaking, charter rates will be hourly or by the mile, and will vary according to the size of the aircraft.

What information should I have when calling a charter operator?

You’ve decided to charter an airplane. Good choice. So what’s your next step?
First of all, lay out your travel plans. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What city do I want to depart from and where am I going?
  2. Will there be any intermediate stops?
  3. What is my return date?
  4. How many people will be traveling with me?
  5. Will I need ground transportation arranged?
  6. Will I need any special catering for my flight?

This way, you’ll have the necessary information ready when you call your local charter operator.

Chartering An AircraftWhat Information should I ask the charter operator?

Ask about the fee structure.

Some charter operators will charge by the mile and some will charge by the hour.

Hourly rates are determined based upon the type of aircraft chartered, and normally include the cost of the aircraft, pilot(s), and standard catering.

Operators will sometimes charge by the mile rather than by the hour, and their mileage rate will also include those items mentioned in the hourly rate method.

Because the services offered are customized to fit your specific desires, it is difficult to give general price estimates. Keep in mind that the charter operator may need to adjust the final cost of your charter due to changes in logistics or en route deviations. If there is a potential for variations from a quoted price, this should be clearly noted at the time an agreement is reached with the operator.

Ask about any extra charges to the quoted price.

Extra charges may include landing fees, deicing, hangar storage, and federal and state taxes where applicable.

A common extra fee is the pilot(s) waiting fee and overnight crew charges (if your trip requires an overnight stay for the crew at your destination.)

If your visit is a long one, your pilot(s) may have to drop you off, fly back to base and then come back later to get you. This doubles the flight time and possibly your fare. Ask your charter operator about this before the flight, so you can create a plan that best suits your needs and budget.

If it’s only a short visit, you’ll probably be better off paying the pilot(s) to wait. Typically, the hourly wait fee is based on the number of pilots, with a maximum charge per day. If the crew is to remain overnight, an overnight charge will be imposed to cover the crew’s overnight expenses.

Chartering An AircraftAsk about the aircraft.

Normally, charter operators have a variety of aircraft types in their charter fleet, each designed for different missions. You should ask the charter operator about what aircraft they would recommend for meeting the mission of your flight. Then determine whether that aircraft will meet your needs for speed, comfort, range and price.

Generally, there are four classes of charter aircraft, with different models within each class. These four general classes of aircraft are:

  • Single- and multi-engine piston
  • Single- and multi-engine turboprop
  • Jet (small, medium and large)
  • Helicopter

There are approximately 2,000 air charter operators in the United States that have met the comprehensive criteria required to qualify for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Carrier Operating Certificate.

Are these aircraft safe?

Yes.  Just like the airlines’ passengers, nearly every charter flight passenger who leaves an airport in the United States this year will land at his or her destination safely. The FAA has rules that address crew rest and physical examinations and that mandate a stringent anti-drug/alcohol program for operators. The FAA closely monitors operators to make sure that they conform to the established standards of performance.

The high standards for training, maintenance and operators required by the FAA, and the devotion to safety of the charter operators themselves, assure you of the safest possible flight environment. Couple this attitude towards safety with technology
improvements in the cockpit over recent years and you have the safest mode of transportation available.

Am I secure?

Global security concerns have led to significant security enhancements within the entire aviation industry, and charter operators are no exception. In fact, enhanced security is often one of the primary reasons for chartering, because when you charter an aircraft, you are in control.

You decide who is permitted on your flight. There are no strangers to overhear your confidential business conversations or to threaten your personal security.

When traveling via charter, you dictate the departure time and location as well as the destination. Your flight itinerary is private, not published for the world to see, as is the case with airline schedules.

Recently, the federal government has mandated security programs for most charter operators.

In addition, most charter operators, and several airports, have also instituted security precautions for charter passengers that may include a verification of identification, checks of baggage for dangerous items, screening with a metal detector and other measures, even when not required by federal regulations. Your charter operator is dedicated to ensuring your safety and security and will be willing to answer any of your questions.

What about weather?

Weather can affect your flight plans when chartering just as it can affect airline schedules.

The FAA has many regulations concerning weather, types of aircraft, and pilot capabilities. Some aircraft are equipped with various optional equipment that allow operation in complex weather, such as icing conditions or heavy rain showers.

The operator you select can explain the limitations of the aircraft and the company’s authorizations. The pilot will not fly an aircraft if the weather conditions do not meet safety standards. Always trust the decision of your professional pilot when it comes to weather and flight safety.

Chartering An AircraftHow can I avoid any problems?

Do some checking. Every charter operator must have a certificate from the FAA showing that his or her operation meets or exceeds the agency’s standards for aircraft maintenance, management control and oversight of its crew’s training, flight time and health. Your safety depends on flying with a legally certified air taxi operator; never fly with an operator who does not appear to hold proper FAA certification. You may also wish to ask for verification of the type and limits of insurance coverage carried by the operator.

Your pilot must hold either a Commercial Pilot Certificate or an Air Transport Pilot Certificate issued by the FAA, just as his or her airline counterpart does. Every six months he or she undergoes a mandatory proficiency check-ride with an FAA inspector, who also verifies the pilot’s knowledge of standard operating procedures and the aircraft he or she is flying – just like the airlines.

But before you charter an airplane, you may wish to exercise your right to contact your regional FAA office and request verification that the charter operation is certified for the trip you’re planning. The telephone number is easily found on the FAA’s Web page at  Or, just ask your selected charter operator. Most are pleased to deal with an educated consumer and are proud of their safety record. They can provide you with their certificate number and the phone number of the FAA inspector responsible for overseeing their operations.

If a charter operator is unwilling or reluctant to provide answers to questions about their certificate and authorized operations, or does not want you to contact the FAA for verification, you would be wise to consider another operator to fill your travel requirements.

What about the ground facilities?

They will vary from airport to airport.  The smaller airports will often have many of the accommodations of major airports – waiting areas, restrooms and telephones to name a few. Many of these facilities, known as fixed base operators (FBOs), provide complimentary airport-to-town transportation. Also, it is very likely that your charter operator can prearrange ground transportation to be waiting for you upon your arrival. Charter operators are also excellent resources for obtaining your preferred lodging if your trip necessitates hotel accommodations.

What these smaller facilities may lack in size, they make up for in warm hospitality. With few exceptions, people in aviation are there by choice: They like what they’re doing and their enthusiasm sparks a cordial atmosphere.

There are two primary benefits to choosing a smaller airport: avoiding the delays and hassles so often found at the major airline hubs and landing at an airport close to your ground destination.

Can I make my connections with airlines if necessary?

Occasionally, passengers in towns without airline service decide to charter an aircraft to connect more easily with an airline flight. This is possible. However, due to security, airports and airline service are divided into separate general aviation (including charter) and airline areas. But at most of these airports, courtesy cars are provided to drive you to the airline terminal. Inform your charter operator that you will be making an airline connection, and they can make the necessary arrangements.

How do I find a charter operator?

NATA recommends that you pre-screen charter operators. Ask questions about their experience, safety, security, maintenance and insurance. You should also ask if the operator has undergone an independent third-party safety audit, such as the Air Charter Safety Foundation’s Industry Audit Standard, which sets the standard for the independent evaluation of an air charter operator’s safety and regulatory compliance. You can view the full list of operators that have been audited by the Air Charter Safety Foundation and meet its standards at There are also other companies that provide audits for air charter that may be useful as well.

Take that familiar finger-stroll through your local Yellow Pages, and look for the heading “Aircraft” and the sub-heading “Aircraft Charter, Rental & Leasing Service.” Under this heading, you will find the charter operators servicing your area.

Another popular resource is the Air Charter Guide. This publication is like the Yellow Pages of the air charter industry. Air Charter Guide offers a free search engine available at

It is possible that your local travel agent may be familiar with the charter operators in your area and you can book your trip through him or her.

Keep in mind that you are not limited to only those charter operators in your immediate area. It’s possible that other operators in your region can serve your needs without large cost increases.

So what makes charter smarter?

The advantages:

The advantage of saved time.

You can fly in or leave whenever you like – without having to depend on the airlines’ schedules or without the long hours on the road. You can go where you need to, get your business done and come back when you want. This means saving money on food, lodging and car rental. It could also mean spending more valuable time with your client or your family.

The advantage of convenience.

Over half of all airline flights connect with only the 20 busiest airports in the U.S. With charter, you have direct access to all of these major airports – plus some 5,500 airports in small communities that the airlines don’t reach.

With a chartered aircraft, you can often land whenever and wherever you want – usually much closer to your destination. You can avoid the large, crowded airline hubs. You can even have a car waiting for you when you land.

You can choose your traveling companions. This means converting wasted travel time into useful study or preparation time. Just think of what you could accomplish with everyone together in your own private work area. And, you can take along extra people and equipment – at no extra cost.

Article content courtesy of National Air Transportation Association (NATA).  NATA is the voice of aviation business, representing the legislative, regulatory and business interests of its more than 2,000 members. NATA also provides education, services and benefits to strengthen the economic success of its members.  For more information, visit

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7 Interesting Aircraft Concepts

The aircraft we have today are the result of a continuous process of designing, testing, and tweaking. If it wasn’t for people who saw a need and had the guts to try and come up with an answer, we wouldn’t have any of the technological advancements that we currently enjoy. Let’s honor their efforts as we look back at seven of the most interesting aircraft concepts in history.

1.  Bachem Ba 349 Natter

The Ba 349 was intended to be a point-defense rocket-powered interceptor used against Allied bombers during World War II.

It functioned practically the same way as a regular surface-to-air missile. It took off vertically and flew to its target via autopilot. All the pilot (probably more aptly called a gunner) had to do was point the rocket at its intended target and unleash its armament of rockets.

As soon as the task was finished, the pilot would have simply parachuted out of the rocket. The fuselage that contained the rocket’s motor was also ejected and was kept from crashing to the ground by a separate parachute.

The Ba 349 never got past the testing phase. It’s first and only manned flight in 1945 resulted in the death of test pilot Lothar Sieber.

2.  Blohm & Voss P.194

Designed in 1944, the P.194 was one of the four concepts Blohm & Voss submitted to the German Ministry of Aviation (also known as Reichsluftfahrtministerium or RLM) in response to the latter’s requirement for a tactical bomber and ground attack aircraft that could replace the Junkers Ju 87.

It was designed by Richard Vogt with an asymmetrical layout just like some of his other planes. It was to be loaded with a cluster of powerful guns in its nose and up to 500 kilograms of explosives in its bomb bay.

The project was never to materialize, however, as it was rejected, along with Blohm & Voss’ other three designs, by the RLM.

3.  Bristol Brabazon

Nicknamed “The White Elephant”, this gargantuan plane was designed and produced by the Bristol Aircraft Company to be a commercial airliner that would cross transatlantic routes between the United Kingdom and the United States.

It was produced in line with the British government’s efforts to study the needs of the country’s civil airliner market. The project, along with the only prototype ever built, was scrapped in 1953, however, just four years after its first flight in 1949. Airliners believed that it was too big and costly to be of any use, being able to carry no more than 100 passengers (although it was significantly roomier than any other commercial airliner at the time).

4.  BAC TSR-2

The British Aircraft Corporation’s TSR-2 was expected to be the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) top strike and reconnaissance aircraft from the 1960s onward. It was designed to be fast enough to effectively shoot through a well-guarded battle area and powerful enough to destroy vital targets behind it using conventional or nuclear weapons.

But that’s not all. It was also meant to have high-speed, high-altitude photo reconnaissance capabilities.

No matter how you look at it, it was an ideal combat aircraft at the time. Unfortunately, the entire project was cancelled in 1965 due to rising costs and inter-service arguments regarding the country’s future defense requirements.

5.  Boeing SST 2707

Meant to be the first US-made supersonic transport (i.e., an aircraft designed to transport civilians at speeds above the speed of sound), the SST 2707 was designed and built by Boeing after winning a government-funded contract in a competition.

It would definitely have been a promising aircraft had the project pushed through. However, rising costs, the absence of a clear target market and strong environmentalist opposition ultimately led to its cancellation in 1971. The two prototypes that were in production at the time were never completed.

6.  North American XB-70 Valkyrie

The XB-70 Valkyrie was designed by North American Aviation as a prototype for the proposed B-70 bomber. Its ability to shoot through the skies at speeds beyond mach 3 and at an altitude of 70,000 feet (or 21,000 meters) would have made it untouchable to interceptors—which were the only real weapon against bombers at the time.

Unfortunately, high development costs together with the introduction of high-altitude surface-to-air missiles and intercontinental ballistic missiles ultimately led to the scrapping of the whole project in 1961.

7.  Sukhoi T-4 Sotka

Also known as Project 100 or Aircraft 100, the T-4 Sotka was intended to be a high-speed anti-ship, reconnaissance and strategic bomber. It was designed by Pavel Sukhoi and Naum Chernyakov.

The project faced some serious difficulty along the way and necessitated extensive research for the production the required technologies and materials that would allow the bomber to effectively sustain supersonic speeds.

Unfortunately, despite Sukhoi’s efforts, the project was ultimately considered a very expensive underperformer that also had persistent issues with its fly-by-wire system. The project was officially terminated in 1975.



DISCLAIMER: Statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, editors and publishers. While care has been taken in the compilation of this article to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur. Keystone Aviation will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within this article.

15 Courageous Acts of Aviation

Flying airplanes is rather commonplace in this day and age. However, there are people—pilots and passengers alike—who take things to a whole new level by braving seemingly impossible odds to provide relief or save lives. Let’s look at 15 of the most notable courageous acts of aviation in history.

Courageous Acts of Aviation1.  C-47 Skytrain “Extol Pink” Crew

Captains Donald R. Mack, John R. Ordermann and Warren P. Tomsett, together with Tech Sergeant Edson P. Inlow and Staff Sergeants Jack E. Morgan and Frank C. Barrett, braved enemy fire at night to evacuate wounded US troops from Vietnam in 1963.

Their efforts earned them a Mackay Trophy, which is given by the National Aeronautic Association to any US Air Force personnel or organizations that perform the most meritorious flight of each year.

2.  Captain James A. Yule

Captain Yule was on board a B-52D Stratofortress as an instructor pilot one day when the aircraft developed some unknown problems. While situations like these would rattle most people, he bravely stepped up and took command of the plane. He also willingly put himself in harm’s way to check the plane’s hydraulic open wheel well and diagnose the problem.

After coordinating with crew members and ground agencies, Captain Yule was able to safely land the plane, saving not only the aircraft, but the lives of everyone on board as well.

He was also given a Mackay Trophy for his efforts in 1976.

Courageous Acts of Aviation3.  Captain John J. Walters

Another Mackay Trophy recipient, Captain Walters was the HH3 Jolly Green Giant’s commander during the rescue of 61 people from the burning MS Prinsendam cruise ship in 1981.

Courageous Acts of Aviation

4.  Lenny Skutnik

Born Matin Leonard Skutnik III, Lenny was neither a soldier nor a pilot. He was an ordinary US government employee. He was a common man—but his act of heroism certainly wasn’t.

When Air Florida Flight 90 crashed in 1982, a rescue team was quickly mobilized but Priscilla Tirado, one of the surviving passengers, was too weak to hold on to the line dropped by the rescue helicopter. Over a hundred people looked on, but nobody took action—except Lenny who bravely jumped into the icy water and swam some 30 feet to help Tirado get to shore, ultimately saving her life.

5.  Lieutenant Colonel David E. Faught

Lieutenant Colonel Faught saved the lives of eight crewmembers and the irreplaceable aircraft they were on through his outstanding airmanship and heroism.

His courageous act earned him a Mackay Trophy in 1985.


6.  KC-10 Extender Crew from the 68th Air Refueling Wing

In 1986, Captains Marc D. Felman and Thomas M. Fergusson, along with Master Sergeants Clarence Bridges Jr., Patrick S. Kennedy and Gerald G. Treadwell, braved poor visibility and bad weather to provide emergency fuel to three A-4 Skyhawks and one KC-10 over the Atlantic Ocean.

Tech Sergeants Lester G. Bouler and Gerald M. Lewis, together with Staff Sergeants Samuel S. Flores, Scott A. Helms and Gary L. Smith were also part of the crew. The entire team was also given a Mackay Trophy for their efforts.

7.  Moccasin-05 Crew

This crew was awarded the 1991 Mackay Trophy for its exceptional heroism and act of self-sacrifice in the rescue of a downed US F-14 Tomcat’s pilot in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm.

8.  Air Force Rescue 206 and 208 Crewmembers

The crews of the two rescue teams were given the 1994 Mackay Trophy for braving powerful winds and strong currents to save six stranded sailors from Iceland.

The 206 crew consisted of:

  • Captain John W. Blumentritt
  • Captain Gary W. Henderson
  • Staff Sergeant Matthew A. Wells
  • Senior Airman Jeffrey M. Frembling
  • Senior Airman Jesse W. Goerz

The 208 included:

  • Lieutenant Colonel James A. Sills
  • Lieutenant Colonel Gary L. Copsey
  • Lieutenant Richard E. Assaf
  • Tech Sergeant Gregory M. Reed
  • Senior Airman William R. Payne

9.  Whiskey-05 MC-130H Combat Talon II Crew

The Whiskey-05 crew successfully rescued 56 people from the then escalating civil war in the Republic of the Congo after braving hostile gunfire, completing three heavyweight refuelings and flying for over 13 hours. The crew was made up of:

  • Lieutenant Colonel Frank J. Kisner
  • Major (Dr.) Robert S. Michaelson
  • Captain John C. Baker
  • Captain Reed Foster
  • Captain Mark J. Ramsey
  • Captain Robert P. Toth
  • Master Sergeant Gordon H. Scott
  • Tech Sergeant Tom L. Baker
  • Staff Sergeant John D. Hensdill
  • Staff Sergeant Jeffrey A. Hoyt

They were given a Mackay Trophy in 1997.

10.  Air Force Rescue 470 Crew

This crew received the Mackay Trophy in 1998 for the successful rescue of six survivors that were trapped inside a crashed plane sitting on a glacier on a mountaintop. The close-to-zero visibility and very strong winds were not enough to keep these courageous individuals from completing their mission.

11.  KNIFE 04 20th Special Operations Squadron

The primary mission of this elite group of individuals is to penetrate hostile enemy territory, perform covert infiltration and exfiltration and provide aerial armament support and supplies to special operations forces worldwide.

In 2001, they were able to rescue the crewmembers of a ship that was in the midst of severely dangerous weather conditions in Afghanistan behind enemy lines. Their heroism was rewarded with a Mackay Trophy in the same year.

12.  GRIM 31 16th Special Operations Squadron

Here’s another special ops Mackay Trophy recipient. This 14-man team of elite soldiers successfully rescued a total of 82 US soldiers—28 of whom were wounded—who were cornered by Al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in an Afghanistan valley in 2002.

The two-hour night-time operation involved a series of aerial attacks using an AC-130H Spectre gunship, which gave two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters enough time to get the trapped soldiers out.

13.  Jolly 11 and Jolly 12 Crewmembers

Jolly 11 and Jolly 12 both flew to Iraq to rescue the five crewmembers of a crashed US Army CH-47 Chinook. Both teams found that their infrared and night vision goggles were useless because the Chinook was in the middle of a sandstorm so visibility was close to zero.

The two teams kept searching nonetheless. The Jolly 11 crew eventually found the survivors and headed back home with the Jolly 12 crew. Both crews relied solely on aerial gunners and flight engineers for navigation—and their successful evasion of two enemy-fired surface-to-air missiles—since they couldn’t see anything.

The two crews were the recipient of the 2004 Mackay Trophy.


14.  Captain Scott Markle

Captain Markle was tasked with providing support to the special forces troops in combat along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. He was greeted by heavy gunfire and poor visibility when he arrived so he found it very difficult to locate the team. He couldn’t fire back because there was very little distance between the US troops and the enemies.

He made several very dangerous low passes above the area while shooting self-protection flares, which, fortunately, temporarily halted enemy fire. This gave the team enough time to create more distance, which, in turn, gave Captain Markle the green light to fire back and ultimately allow the team to get out without any casualties.

Captain Markle took home the 2006 Mackay Trophy.

15.  Crew E-21

This crew accomplished what was thought to be an impossible feat when they successfully landed their heavily damaged B-52 Stratofortress. They saved all the people on board and even the aircraft itself in the process.

The team, which took home the 1982 Mackay Trophy, is made up of:

  • Captain Ronald L. Cavendish
  • Captain Ronald D. Nass
  • First Lieutenant James D. Gray
  • First Lieutenant Michael J. Connor
  • First Lieutenant Gerald E. Valentini
  • Second Lieutenant Frank A. Boyle
  • Tech Sergeant Ronald B. Wright



DISCLAIMER: Statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, editors and publishers. While care has been taken in the compilation of this article to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur. Keystone Aviation will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within this article.

10 Interesting Circumnavigation Records

Circumnavigating the globe is one thing. Doing it in style is a whole different story. People throughout history have found different ways to make traveling the world a bit more interesting. Let’s look back at 10 of the most unique circumnavigation records in history.

1.  Giovanni Francesco Gemelli CareriCircumnavigation Records

From 1693 to 1698, Careri made his way around the world via multiple voyages, which he paid for using his own money. He is regarded as the first tourist to successfully complete a global circumnavigation using nothing but public transportation.

Some believe that his journey served as the inspiration for Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days.

Circumnavigation Records

2.  Jeanne Baré/Jean Baret

Aside from being the first woman to circumnavigate the globe, Baré is also known for doing so disguised as a man called Jean Baret. She was part of Louis de Bougainville’s expedition from 1766 to 1769.

Dr. Philibert Commerçon, the expedition’s naturalist, needed Baré, his long-time housekeeper (and suspected mother of his illegitimate child), on board as an assistant because he was in poor health, but the French did not allow women on their navy ships at the time.

Baré’s was later on rewarded with an annual pension of 200 livres for her contributions to the expedition.

3.  Dr. Hugo EckenerCircumnavigation Records

Dr. Eckener is considered to be the most accomplished airship commander in history. He successfully set two circumnavigation records in 1929: one for the fastest aerial circumnavigation and another for the first ever circumnavigation on board an airship.

He completed his journey in just 21 days on board the German-built LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin.

4.  Yuri GagarinCircumnavigation Records

The Soviet pilot and cosmonaut Gagarin was the first person to fly in space and circumnavigate the planet on board the Vostok 3KA spacecraft. The flight launched in 1961 and completed the orbit in only 108 minutes.

He received numerous medals and honors for his participation in the landmark mission.

5.  Donald Taylor

In 1976, Taylor became the first person to ever build his own plane and successfully fly it around the world. It took him two attempts. The first one had to be cancelled due to bad weather so he made sure that his plane Victoria ’76 (named after Magellan’s only ship to complete its mission) was better equipped for the second attempt.

6.  Marvin Creamer

Between 1982 and 1984, Creamer and his crew successfully circumnavigated the world without any nautical aids—not even a watch or a compass! He used winds, occasional signs of life, water currents and stars as guides. He is the only person known to have accomplished such a feat.

7.  James Stephen Fossett

In 2002, Fossett successfully completed the first ever solo global circumnavigation on board a balloon. Fossett also set several other records including five continuous circumnavigations of the world on board an airplane.

8.  Arthur Owen Blessitt

Blessitt is a Christian preacher best known for circling the globe while carrying a 45-pound (20-kilogram) wooden cross. He began his journey in 1971 and completed it in 2008, successfully bringing his cross (and Christian teachings) to every nation on earth.

He was arrested a total of 24 times along the way, but that did not stop him from finishing what he started.

9.  Alan Bate

Bate successfully broke the record for the fastest global circumnavigation on board a bicycle in 2010. It took him a total of 96 days, 10 hours and three minutes, decisively shattering the previous record set by Mark Beaumont who cycled around the world in 194 days and 17 hours.

10.  Laura Dekker

Dekker made her plans of circumnavigating the world alone public in 2009—she was only 15 then. Unfortunately, she was under shared custody of her parents at the time so a Dutch court prevented her plans from materializing. It was not until this custody arrangement was  terminated about a year later that Dekker was finally able to set sail.

She completed her journey in January 2012, successfully breaking the record for the youngest person to complete a solo circumnavigation of the globe.




DISCLAIMER: Statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, editors and publishers. While care has been taken in the compilation of this article to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur. Keystone Aviation will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within this article.