Sunday, December 29, 2013

Aircraft Manufacturing comes to Newport

Tom Peghiny (left), president of Flight Design USA, has sold his light aircraft manufacturing company to Jay Peak co-owner Ariel Quiros (right). A newly created Flight Design Americas LLC will establish manufacturing and sales operations at the Newport State Airport, also managed in part by Quiros. Photo by Hilary Niles/VTDigger.

By Manfried Rieder Starhemberg

After many months of speculation and much press coverage it is now final: There will be a new aircraft manufacturing facility at the Newport State Airport and it will be owned by Jay Peak partner Ariel Quiros. The company has stated that its goal is to hire up to 100 personnel to facilitate the assembly and sales of a light sport aircraft, namely the flagship model of the company, the CTLS, a high wing monoplane which has been in production for years and some 1,800 of which are currently in use world wide.
Flight design expects to sell approximately 200 of its current models which come in various levels of sophistication in the coming year. The planes retail from $ 150,000.- to $ 180,000 depending on avionics choices and other available options.
So - aside from rejoicing that there will be new life injected into the NEK economy, how good is this airplane? We spoke to Karl Heinz Maier, a German sports photographer who owns a CTLS and uses it extensively for his work:
"I have owned four aircraft previously, first a Piper 180, then two Cessna 172s and before the CTLS flew a Mooney. The CTLS is the best aerial platform for photography by a long shot and it is far easier to insure, maintain and service than anything else I have owned" states Karl Heinz. "The economy of operation alone justifies the price and this little flying machine has a level of visibility and safety that is exceptional".
One of the fascinating features of the CTLS is an emergency automatic parachute system that will deploy when there is structural failure in airframe or wings and will let the craft descend in relative safety and the unavoidable hard "landing" impact is lessened by an excellent restraint system and a cockpit safetly cell which will be able to make even a catastrophic incident highly survivable, a first in the sport aviation industry.
When we mention "Sport Aviation" we must explain that this a new category of pilot licensing which falls between the largely unregulated "ultra light" category and the private pilot's license. Obtaining a sport pilot license takes approximately 20 hours of flight training as opposed to the minimum of about 40 for the private license. Ground school is also abbreviated and the cost of this new form of license is less than half of that of the conventional airman's certificate.
There are restrictions of course, a sport pilot will typically only be able to fly in good weather when the visual flight regulations apply as opposed to the available instrument rating obtainable by private pilots. However, as many of the CLTS owners are already licensed under the conventional regulations, they will be able to fly in IFR (instrument flight) conditions and may bring their craft into airports which are not permitted to sports pilots.
The new Vermont company expects to attract customers for the new sports pilot license to Newport as it will be operating a flight training center here. The Jay Peak partners envision the Northeast Kingdom to eventually be able to attract pilots to Newport as an aviation vacation center which could also have an impact on the tourism industry in Orleans county and the neighboring regions of Vermont.
Flight design states that 60% of the aircraft components will be manufactured in the United States. Currently, pieces come from Germany and the Ukraine and many avionics packages are made in the US. The interestingly designed airframe with its ventral fin and external winglets for short take offs and landings, is made mostly from carbon fibre, there is extensive lightweight honeycomb construction, the tanks are in the wings, safely away from the passengers and the cockpit layout is quite sensational: The control panel resembles something that is more familiar to jet jockeys than the common man yet it is straight forward with easy to read panels, superb visual presentation of all needed flight data, couples with pinpoint accuracy GPS. This is not your grandfather's Piper or Cessna. Gone are the confusing analog dials and even the old bubble compass. Radio systems are finely integrated and easy to understand and use and the all-round visibility is spectacular.
At the other side of all this electronic wonderland is the flight controls and pedals which still emulate the old Tiger Moth: A stick for pilot and co-pilot, aluminum rudder and brake bars and fixed landing gear still give the feeling of "seat-of-the-pants" aviation. Just don't forget the goggles, a leather bomber jacket and a scarf!
The loud part of the machine is a Rotax engine, the engine of choice for aviators from powered gliders to sophisticated ultralights and experimental aircraft. This engine has been around for decades and even powers drones! The newest versions are of course fuel injected and have been developed through so many iterations that it could be considered as about as bullet-proof as any motor in modern aircraft
Flight Design is currently developing a four seat version of this versatile craft and another variant for the current model is available as a float plane which should make it highly attractive to hunters, fishermen or anyone else who enjoys the open spaces still available in the North East or neighboring Canada.
The 100 horsepower engine is so fuel economical that it burns about five gallons an hour at approximately 13 mph and this gives the little machine a range of 800 to 1,000 miles depending on engine speed, weather and altitude.
As a life long pilot I am really looking forward to seeing this operation coming to Newport. Combined with the recently opened Parker Pye restaurant which has great view over the happenings at the flight line it will make a visit to the regional airport an outing for the whole family.

Modern looks and functionality make this plane stand out

Mixture of traditional and Space Shuttle make up the cockpit

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

No Power? Heat your home cheaply:

I tried this out in my work shop and it works amazingly well:

I used tea candled from the Family Dollar and they do not burn quite as long as the IKEA ones mentioned but the result is the same - good steady heat for almost nothing. Now I am using two of those and the shop which is normally unheated, is comfortable enough to keep working even with all that snow and ice outside.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Beware of Scam Artists on Craigslist!


By Manfried Rieder Starhemberg

Nancy and I recently put up a vintage car for sale on Craigslist. The price was $ 3,500.- and within a few days we were contacted by a buyer from Massachussets who asked us to open a Paypal account so that he may send us the money immediately. We did so and sent him an invoice. Within a few hours we received a Paypal confirmation that the money had been deposited in our account. When I checked my Paypal balance, there was so such deposit. The "buyer" had faked a whole list of Paypal notices and what initially alerted us what that the language was grammatically somewhat questionable, something that never happens on Paypal. So I contacted Paypal and they told me that the guy was a fraud artist. The clincher was that he had "overpaid" us and wanted us to send him the amount of the over payment immediately via Western Union money transfer. Not this old guy!
Anyhow - this was the first one.
Last week another "buyer" wrote to us and told us that he would send a check immediately but would make it out to a larger amount (see check above) so that I could send a cash-withdrawal to his "Shipping Company" after I had deposited the check. The shipping company is a woman with the name Shauna Rogers in Topeka, Kansas, no other information given.
When I got the check this morning I called Maida International and they told me that - as I had assumed, this is a fake check and that they had about 20 inquiries of the same nature within the last week alone but that the police claims to be powerless to do anything until someone is actually dumb enough to send those people money. Sadly, there are probably people out there gullible enough to do so and when the fake check bounces, they are screwed and could possibly even be prosecuted for tendering a forged check if they already spent the money and have no way to repay the bank. The bank does not give a hoot about the fraud perpetrated on you - CAVEAT!
So watch out when dealing with people on Craigslist - this seems to be a very common kind of internet fraud these days.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Vintage curling

We should do this in Vermont - Free-style curling

By Manfried Rieder Starhemberg

Eisstockschiessen, an ancient folk-sport with historical roots in Scandinavia, is one of the most popular winter sports in Central Europe. The first "real" proof of the popularity of the sport can be found in a 1601 painting by Pieter Breughel, who depicts ice stock shooters in "Winter Landscape With Bird Trap." However, clubs in Austria and Bavaria own old stocks which are dated before this time.
In my native Austria there are right now more than 120 organized clubs and tens of thousands of active participants, even in the smallest villages. The same applies to Bavaria, Hungary, Switzerland, the northern part of Italy, and to some extent the Czech Republic. The venue might be a frozen pond, lake, river, or man-made ice surface in an inn's rear yard. Thousands of country restaurants, hotels, and bars have ice stock areas and many ski centers groom them every year to provide an alternate activity to skiing.
The stock used to be a lovingly hand- or machine-turned piece of beech wood, alder, or pear wood. In its top center was attached a stick, mostly of oak. The stock had a wrought iron ring at its bottom to give it heft and also to push snow and debris out of the way. The stock bottoms were waxed with ski wax and every shooter had a special formula to use in specific ice conditions. Generally, for regulation play, the surface must be a rectangle of 40 meters in length, but for informal play any ice can be used.
The target is called the "Daube," a 10 cm by 10 cm piece of wood with canted edges, and, as in curling, the object of the play is to land as close to the Daube as possible, whereafter the opposing player will try to knock your stock to kingdom come. Just like curling but without sweepers.
I recall many evenings at my grandfather's favorite hangout, a local beer garden, where the men built the ice in a meadow behind the establishment much in the manner Canadians make their temporary hockey rinks. And then the first glorious days or nights when 20 or 30 men would get on with serious play, mostly after a few steins of Pilsner lager or Goesser Urquell bitter. Usually at night the ice was illuminated by light bulbs strung over the playing surface, and night Schiessen was magical. I still remember the hissing of the stock as it slid over the ice and the sharp rap as iron met iron, or the dull thump if it impacted the Daube.
Many times those weekend plays would go on till midnight or later. In my area we had women's nights where the men groomed the ice and it was the girls' time to play. Currently, club membership is evenly divided between men and women, and in the international championships the women play to the same rules as the men.
Today the sport has become so popular that it even has its own world championship. It was also an exhibition sport in the 1936 and 1961 winter Olympics, but eventually the I.O.C. chose curling because of its global acceptance. The big change in the sport came when new stocks of heavy lead-lined plastic, or even today's carbon fiber stocks, were introduced. Just the old-timers in the farm country or the Alps still hold on to their wooden stocks, but competitors in serious events avail themselves of the most modern technology. There are four weight classes for the stocks ranging from 2.75 to 3.8 kilograms.
There are also two kinds of sticks, the straight stick which is the traditional stock and the curved stick which was introduced in central Europe in the mid 1920's. Even the modern stocks of today offer the two stick options, which affords me a lovely anecdote:
In the Austria of the 1950's a great schism developed between straight stick shooters and the "curvies," whom of course could not be trusted. I had the privilege of listening to many hours of heated pro and con discussions about the relative merits of either stick form. It went so far that parents forbade their respective offspring from dating a kid from the opposing side. So if your dad was a straight you better not bring a curvie girl home. For us Roman Catholics it was almost as bad or possibly equally unacceptable as a Lutheran girl in a Roman household.

Those biases died of course with our elders, but sometimes when I go on some stock club websites and see the photo albums, I still cannot totally reconcile in my mind the fact that a lot of the good-looking young women with their event trophies are curvies. This might have something to do with the fact that I am married to a straight stick...
I wish we had a club here - we have the ponds and the lakes and this would make an inexpensive and fun winter outdoors activity for many, and possibly an added attraction to any town or village in Vermont. We used to have the best times just doing it informally: gather some friends, find a piece of ice, have a picnic and a beer or bottle of wine, and shoot for fun.
Manfried can be contacted at:

An Icy Evening Walk in Newport City

Took another walkabout through our iced in city. Enjoy the photos:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Surrealism - a new show at Gallery 99

Chris Hudson ceramic

Mary Alice Brenner painting

A cheerful gallery

Surreal all right...

By Manfried Rieder Starhemberg

A new exhibition in Diane Peel's Gallery 99 across from the Family Dollar is a captivating collection of pieces by twelve local artists. Called "Surreal" it is a bit of that all right as different styles, mediums and levels of professionalism make for an enchanting show in this tastefully decorated and easily accessible space.
Mrs Peel, a local nurse who self finances this gallery and community center originally wanted a place to store and perhaps showcase her later father, the noted Seattle painter Donald Peel's remaining work. He is of course represented as well in this exhibit and would possibly have himself a great time being among the local talent some of whose work complement his own whimsical style and others who clash to starkly that it makes for an amusing counterpoint to his disciplined brush work.
The show will be on through the end of January and it is well worth seeing even by people who are not great art connoisseurs but simply because there are a bunch of good fun pieces, mostly quite affordable but all thought provoking and done by local artists

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Great Fun at the Santa Parade

Nancy and I had a lovely time taking our 29 year old Fifth Avenue Chrysler into the Santa Claus Parade in Newport. Cold hands but warm hearts everywhere...We will have to do this again.

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Living Near an International Border

By Manfried Rieder Starhemberg

For more than two thirds of my adult life I have managed to live near an international border and as a former pilot had the dubious pleasure to deal with hundreds of customs officials on three continents, While this makes me no expert on the mostly historically arbitrary lines which divide the globe, it has shown me one thing: Wherever you go across a border, even in today's unified Europe, you are "in a foreign country". There is an initially almost imperceptible aura which strengthens with every step you take into that "other" country and it does not matter if you cross from Austria to Germany or from Italy into Slovenia. You instantly are a foreign intruder not always as welcome as their tourism officials make you believe you are.
I feel this every time I go back to my old home in Sutton, Quebec or over to Knowlton which we are supposed to call Lac Brome. From the French speaking border officials to the road signage, you now are "abroad". It matters little that I know most people on the Quebec side by first name, having been there for more than 18 years. While before I was a displaced Austrian, now my old friends are amused that I have turned Yankee in my old age and suddenly there is a subtle change in my relationship with them. It is no longer acceptable for me to voice an opinion on local politics even though the current franchise of town management is held by some of my best friends. You have to be a Quebeccer to speak about Quebec affairs.
Coming back through Highwater into Vermont its the same. Nobody here speaks French or at lest very few do and I must admit that the people in the Eastern Townships at least make every effort to speak English to American visitors, My friend, former Mayor Bourque of Montreal paraphrased this well when he told me that "every well bred person in Quebec is bilingual". While applauding my efforts to speak his beloved French, he often chided me in not making more of an effort at being good at it. He is right - I had 18 years and did not apply myself as well as I should have.
My first international border was not a border at all but a demarcation line. My town, Linz, Austria, was divided into the American occupational zone south of the Danube and the Russians held the northern part of Upper Austria. My school was in the Russian zone and every morning, together with a few dozen other kids we had to cross into "enemy territory". On our side, the US Army had built temporary shelters so we could stay warm until the Russians deigned to open the gates at the other side of the bridge. Coming back, the Soviet soldiers made us stand in un-plowed snow, sometimes for more than an hour before they grudgingly let us through. I am sure that in some of us certain resentments were formed that possibly influenced our later choices and opinions in life.
Our southern border was with Italy and my family owned a house there in what originally was called Suedtirol, South Tyrolia, until it was given to Italy after the Great War. Most people in what became known as the Italian province of Alto Adige were German speaking and huge resentment built over the years and in the 60's it blew. Austrians flocked to an association that was known as the "Berg Isel Bund", the "Mount Isel Society", determined to re-take the province. Border stations were blown up and bridges spanning the Austria-Italy line. The Italians retaliated and suddenly we had to have visas to enter our own property which lies just a few kilometers south of the border. Well, it all worked out in the end and the Italians granted autonomy to the region and now it looks a little bit like Quebec with signs in both languages, bilingual schools and municipal administrations. The removal of all European borders makes all this hoopla now look like a bad play but the old people still remember and there are families living across the street from one another who may never speak one word to each other in either language.
Vermont also has a separatist group whose great idea would be to secede from the Union. They have been around for a long time and thankfully are not as boorish as their Quebec separatist counterparts. In Vermont they are considered an amusing bunch of patriots who actually sometimes manage to be heard by the state's legislators when they offer sound advise on regional issues. And they are not at all militant or try to repeatedly hit you over the head with single minded asinine proposals. If there were any, Vermont Muslims could wear whatever they want as long as they hold a valid hunting or fishing license.
Here along lake Memphremagog the border is subtle. If you own a boat in Newport and wish to take it into Canada, a friendly customs official will actually come to the marina or the East Side restaurant docks and the city pier to check your papers and give you permission to sail forth. It cannot get any friendlier than that. In my experience, this courtesy extends all along the Eastern Townships border stations. Unless you have a criminal record and are not allowed to cross into Canada, you will never have a problem. Just don't try it - their computer systems are quite up-to-date. There are issues of course that could be ironed out. A friend of mine owns a restaurant in Newport and recently sent an employee across the great divide to buy some Poutine sauce as her chef wanted to experiment with this Quebec staple and add it to the menu for her many Canadian visitors. Big mistake! They held the poor woman for almost an hour because she was smuggling food stuffs across the border or some such nonsense. She could have had three immigrants with Uzis in the trunk and a kilo  or two of cocaine in the glove compartment - nobody asked about that. But to illegally take poutine into the United States? Unheard of! The way I feel about poutine I might actually have some sympathy with the sentiments of our Homeland Security. There is the remote possibility that poutine could be used as a weapon of mass destruction...
Back to the border. Living in Sutton since 1994, I used to be able to cross the border most of the time without stopping. A friendly wave from the guards in Richford and I was through. I used to deliver bread throughout the Townships and sometimes, Claybank road or the evil old road from Abercorn to Frelighsburg was impassable and, even loaded with a truck full of bread, the friendly border guys who knew me for years never bothered me and the old truck. I did occasionally deliver pizza or croissants on my way.This is all gone now, as are the days where we took a pickup truck complete with pipe organ and a diverse group of revelers across the Valley Missisquios border in Glen Sutton to Richford to supply more beer for the annual Glen Sutton Pig roast. Bummer. I blame it all on BinLaden.
Then it was all over. America wanted passports, Canada retaliated in like and now we have this well defended computer and drone controlled line between our two beautiful countries and I sit on my back porch and look over the lake where I can see the distant hills behind which my old house still sits in Sutton, but now, as a newly minted American immigrant, I need a visa, a passport, my special enhanced driving license and possibly a note from my wife that I am allowed to venture forth into a foreign nation for breakfast with my friend Eddie.
However, for all of us living along this beautiful lake with our hills and vistas and the easy access to points north and south it does not matter very much. We are historically and geographically linked, we eat fish that spawn in Vermont or in Canadian waters and do so without government approval, we do lunch in either country or shop there, from Derby Line to Sherbrooke or from Magog to Cowansville, and to no small degree do we, on both sides of the border, enjoy the subtle differences in our environs that enhance the visit even if it is only a few kilometers for Canadians or miles for us Yankees.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cheerful Downtown Welcomes New Boutique

By Manfried Rieder Starhemberg

It is almost as if someone has waved a magic wand over Newport's downtown in the past week. Walking along main street at 7PM there are Christmas lights aglow, there are people walking and through the well lit windows you can see at dinner with friends. Merchants tell that they are busy and there is even a brand new boutique, "Boutique Unique" next to Brenda's Restaurant.

Owner Azela Tanguay has relocated from her previous location on Route 417 because she feels that downtown will see a renewal soon and when the storefront formerly occupied by a kitchen store became vacant, she grabbed the location. The transformation is well done, subtle lighting and discreet mirrors highlight a superb collection of woman's clothing with a distinctly international flair.

"I buy from sources in New York, Montreal and Europe" explains Mrs. Tanguay. "I did buy from China one time and actually found the quality quite good but the clothe sizes are too small so I now focus on the traditional quality lines you see here".
Azela used to manage clothing and jewelry venues in Canada but luckily for Newport, she married a local businessman and is now in a business all her own.
At first sight, the place looks expensive and some of the dresses, blouses and jewelry "too rich for Newport". Look again. Woman can  get a fine outfit which will highlight her at any party or restaurant for about $ 50.-, bottom blouse and belt included in some examples shown. Dresses start at $ 40.- and even exquisite Koucla outfits are on the hangers for about $ 60.- At these prices almost anybody can afford that special cosmopolitan look at the next candlelight dinner or the night out with hubby.

Business has already been good and interestingly enough, Boutique Unique has attracted Canadian shoppers. Mrs Tanguay finds that more and more shoppers from across the border are attracted to Newport because of the leisurely shopping experience and quality found here.
"The important thing is to make woman understand that these are not just clothes for supermodels but for regular woman who appreciate some chic and color which is why I showcase a variety of garments which are from subtle to dramatic", sums up Azela.

As for this chronicler - I would actually like to see my Nancy in some of those outfits sometime soon. Did I hear Christmas bells ringing around my ears?

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Newport Pipe Dreams or the "Pot O'Gold"?


By Manfried Rieder 

In a recent Newport Daily Express issue Marcia Horne of Derby posed a number of questions and objections regarding the planned EB-5 developments for the greater Newport area. She has a great grasp of the issues involved but my question is:
Cui bono /kwˈbn/ "to whose benefit?", literally "as a benefit to whom?" The answer has to be Mr. Stenger and his investors and in my opinion it will not be, cannot be if critically examined, the towns of Newport or Burke or surroundings.
Let me begin with the Renaissance block downtown: This is possibly needed as the area is seedy and run-down. But if it is not done with taste and in an architectural style which enhances the Newport heritage, we would be better of reconstructing the existing buildings as they at least have some historical value and could be reconstructed to blend with the existing motif of our downtown district. In a recent article I voiced the opinion that the new development will not bring the promised new jobs because all the good jobs will be had by people re-locating here with the proposed tenant companies and the available jobs will be secretarial, maintenance and other low level positions and will pay no more than existing jobs in the area which our current pool of almost 11% unemployment should be able to absorb if people were willing to work in the first place.
The proposed waterfront development will not succeed for the simple reason that there is not enough money to be made from the rental of dockage space and hotel rooms. We do not have enough attractions here to bring the amount of people into town to fill the hotel and to make the marina prosper in the short summer season we have. Consider the cost of razing the existing structures, the cost of construction and labor to staff and maintain those great visions and you will easily find that the debt load necessary to build all this holy grail can not be supported by income. I have spoken to hotel owners across the state, from Burlington to Stowe, Stratton mountain and the other highly taunted tourist areas and they are lucky to have a 62% occupancy throughout the year. Simple arythmatic allows us to extrapolate that this new hotel complex in Newport with nothing to offer than a handful of restaurants, a fine lake with more than enough underused mooring facilities and no planning to make it any more attractive will not be able to last.
Let's face it folks - this is a pipe-dream. The only way Newport will make itself more prosperous is if me start doing things the old fashioned way: We have to offer people reasons to come to us. I see absolutely no effort being made in bringing attractions here or to engage the local talent to be more than mediocre. We could have a huge outdoor art festival in the park (I organized one in Montreal for many years and it brought thousands to an otherwise unused park in Notre Dame de Grace and made tons of money for the community). We could have a Jazz festival, a Shakespeare-in-the-park event, we could have a huge city wide sale where all the businesses would put stuff outside at reduced prices and get the people in and if we have some great street musicians to support that and a good hot dog stand, we'll be in business. These are all stand-byes that work for neighboring Sutton, Quebec or Knowlton. But they work. Our downtown is a wasteland but it could be a jewel but as long as our local idiots only listen to million dollar pipe dreams, the small things, the building blocks of a tourist industry, will not ever come to fruition.
Newport is beautiful and it actually has the potential to be the crown jewel; of Vermont but it will not happen by enriching some Chinese guys (or taking their money with the prospect of eventual riches). It can only happen if there is a civic understanding of what we can do with available resources, showcasing the existing businesses instead of undermining them and only if there is an administrative body in place which is not bedazzled by the glorious vision of Futurama but has an old fashioned Vermont grasp of reality, of values received and repaid, of things that can be done without a jet airport or helicopters or Governor Shumlin grovelling in Asia.
My vision of Newport would be that of a town of artists, of music festivals which can be brought to town, of a vibrant street culture, of bright boutiques in the downtrodden downtown which could easily be reconstructed, of an international film festival, new exiting bike paths which could be advertised internationally, like I did for the town of Sutton, which now has almost as many bikers in Summer that it has skiers in winter.
And on the lake we could have an annual opera festival like Bregenz, Austria. We already have the boardwalk, the Gateway etc. All we need is a barge and a willing opera company and we would be in business and the area would be recognized for all those easily accomplished things that only take vision and no big international investments.

I am game to help with any or all of the above and anyone willing to make this Our Newport is encouraged to contact me anytime either at:
or by letter or telephone to:


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Newport on a Snowy Night

By Manfried Rieder Starhemberg

I just took a little walk through our sleepy downtown but it was lovely with a light snow falling down and not many people around but the first Christmas lights are on and in the quiet and peace of the place I felt very much at home. The last but one picture is my rear stairway - I like to see the way up in the dark.
Enjoy the walk with me:

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