CRI-CRI. The most recent issue of AOPA Pilot, the premiere magazine for general aviation pilots, features an article on the Cri-Cri, the smallest twin-engine aircraft in the world. Designed in France in the 1970s, the tiny Cri-Cri has a wingspan of only 16 feet, is 12.8 feet long, and weighs a mere 180 lb. Yet it is designed and built to aerobatic standards, meaning that it is a stable flight platform which handles well in windy conditions or demanding flight maneuvers, despite its small size and toy-like appearance.
One look at the company's informative website, or a viewing of this performance video, will convince you that this home-built airplane is too small for cargo, too small for passengers, too small for anything but transporting a single (ideally not-too-tall) aviator in a cockpit that one wears, rather than sits in. Yet the view is spectacular -- the dome which covers the pilot's head and torso affords an unparalleled 360 degree scan of the flying environment. Whether for the sheer enjoyment of solo flight, or for the rapid transport of one person to destinations as far as 280 miles away, the high-performance Cri-Cri would make a great second (or first) personal aircraft.
KWANZAA. Today marks the first day of the weeklong celebration known as Kwanzaa, dedicated to honoring universal African American heritage and culture. Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 as the first specifically African American holiday. Karenga's goal was "to give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society." Kwanzaa celebrations and ceremonies, along with the traditions of American Indians, Latinos, and all other ethnic groups, occupy a vital role in our culture, honoring and enjoying the diversity which enrich all our lives. Humanity is a rich and glorious tapestry. Happy Kwanzaa !!