AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 44

In 2004, Gregg Fialcowitz was disappointed and frustrated by
the lack of Internet availability during his frequent airline travel.
He thought that sitting on a jetliner for hours on end without
Wi-Fi was an incredible waste of time. Being in the satellite television business and working with Hughes Network Systems and
DIRECTV, he believed that the Hughes satellites could be used to
provide in-flight broadband service. He teamed with John Guidon,
a talented electronics engineer, to develop such a system.
Guidon recalls sitting as a cramped passenger in row 44 of a
Douglas DC-10. He had been jammed into a small seat amid the
crush of other small seats, next to the aft lavatories and directly
beneath the noisy center engine-a mostly unpleasant experience.
He, too, recognized how much more productive and entertained
he could have been had broadband service been available during
that and other flights.
As technology entrepreneurs, Fialcowitz and Guidon believed
that they could do something about that and formed a company
called Row 44. Enter David Cummings, a corporate pilot who
had been flying and maintaining a Howard 500 and had previously restored a Grumman HU-16B Albatross from the ground
up. He had heard that Row 44 needed an airplane to test its satellite Internet system. An airplane such as a Beech King Air wasn't
large enough and something like a Boeing 737 would be prohibitively expensive. Cummings approached Row 44 and suggested
that it consider an Albatross, the amphibious flying boat that had
gained fame in military search-and-rescue operations during the
Korean and Vietnam wars.
The Albatross was relatively inexpensive; it had almost the
same upper-fuselage radius as a Boeing 737 and could accommodate a large pod (radome) containing satellite antennae intended
for use on the Boeing; it could carry the necessary engineers and
research equipment; it wasn't pressurized, so no pressure vessel had to be punctured to mount exterior equipment; and the
piston-powered airplane vibrated in a way that tested equipment like no turbine aircraft could. Finally, the Albatross was an
extraordinarily rugged machine, as were all of the airplanes built
by the "Grumman Ironworks," a nickname give to the Grumman
44  |  AOPA PILOT  December 2013

Aircraft Engineering Corporation because of its reputation for
building tough, durable amphibians such as the Goose, Mallard,
and Widgeon.
Row 44 agreed with Cummings and purchased an Albatross
as its flying testbed. N44HQ had originally been delivered to the
Air Force in 1952 as a search-and-rescue aircraft. It was decommissioned in 1971 and stored at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base
"boneyard" near Tucson, Arizona, until itself being rescued and
restored by Dennis Beuhn of Carson City, Nevada, during the late
1980s. Cummings became Row 44's chief pilot and further modified the airplane.
The Albatross serves Row 44 well by facilitating development
of what is now the world's most widely deployed satellite-based,
in-flight Wi-Fi system. Fialcowitz points out that the company's
Internet system is superior to that provided by ground stations
because it has far more bandwidth and is available when aircraft
are beyond the range of ground transmitters. Row 44's system is
used by Southwest Airlines and a host of other carriers. While
the use of aircraft to develop in-flight Wi-Fi is relatively new,
airplanes have been used for rescue at sea since 1940, when
German and British pilots went down in the English Channel during the Battle of Britain. The Grumman Albatross was introduced
in 1949 as a replacement for the aging Consolidated PBY and was
used by the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard. Servicemen
referred endearingly to the aircraft as Slobbering Albert, the Goat,
Dumbo, and Clipper Duck.
THE OVERHEAD

panel (right)
includes the
throttles, mixture
controls,
propeller-pitch
controls (toggle
switches), fuel-selector
valves, magneto
switches, and (red)
feathering buttons.

THE ALBATROSS is a big airplane, a
slab-sided amphibian with a lengthy
and deep-V hull for open-sea operations. Like most seaplanes, it has high
wings to keep engines and propellers
well above the water. The propeller tips
clear the ground by eight feet, which
means that you can walk beneath
them with the engines running-a
really weird experience. Although



AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013

AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013
Contents
President’s Position
Visual Approach
Letters
Waypoints
Proficient Pilot
Foundation Focus
License to Learn
Pilot Counsel
Fly Well
What Happens in Vegas...
AOPA Sweepstakes
Aviation Jobs
Gift Guide
Pilot Products
Pilot Products
News
People
Yacht of the Air
Around the World in 25 Days
Aviation Legends Walter Extra
Safety Pilot Landmark Accident: Unpredicted, Unadvised, Unaware
Summit 2013: Meeting Mr. Baker
Technique
Proficiency
Wx Watch
Technology
Ownership
Frugal Flier
Never Again
State and Local Action
Member Products
AOPA Foundation
Member Services
Government Affairs
AOPA Insurance Agency
Fly by Wire
Pilots
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - President’s Position
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 5
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 6
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 7
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 8
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 9
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Visual Approach
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 11
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Letters
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 13
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 14
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 15
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Waypoints
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 17
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Proficient Pilot
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 19
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Foundation Focus
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 21
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - License to Learn
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 23
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Pilot Counsel
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 25
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Fly Well
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 27
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - What Happens in Vegas...
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 29
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - AOPA Sweepstakes
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 31
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Aviation Jobs
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 33
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Gift Guide
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Pilot Products
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Pilot Products
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 37
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - News
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 39
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - People
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 41
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Yacht of the Air
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 43
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 44
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 45
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 46
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 47
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 48
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 49
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Around the World in 25 Days
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 51
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 52
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 53
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 54
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 55
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 56
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 57
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 58
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 59
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Aviation Legends Walter Extra
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 61
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 62
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 63
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Safety Pilot Landmark Accident: Unpredicted, Unadvised, Unaware
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 65
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 66
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 67
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Summit 2013: Meeting Mr. Baker
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 69
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 70
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 71
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Technique
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 73
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 74
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 75
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Proficiency
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 77
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 78
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Wx Watch
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 80
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Technology
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 82
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Ownership
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 84
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 85
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Frugal Flier
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 87
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Never Again
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 89
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 90
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 91
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - State and Local Action
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 93
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Member Products
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 95
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - AOPA Foundation
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 97
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Member Services
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 99
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Government Affairs
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 101
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - AOPA Insurance Agency
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 103
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 104
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 105
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 106
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Fly by Wire
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 108
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 109
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 110
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 111
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Pilots
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Cover4
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