Pilot Briefing

May 1, 2003

Pilot circles the globe for diabetes

British pilot Douglas Cairns recently realized his dream of flying around the world to raise awareness for diabetes and funds for diabetes research. The mission was dubbed "Diabetes World Flight."

Flying his Beechcraft Baron 58, the former Royal Air Force flight instructor departed on September 24 from Omaha, Nebraska, and made a total of 63 flights on his 26,000-mile global jaunt. He landed back in Omaha on February 14. Cairns said he is the first certificated pilot with type 1 diabetes to fly around the world in a small aircraft.

Currently, only the United States and Canada issue medical certificates to people with type 1 diabetes and allow them to exercise full private pilot privileges once medical requirements have been met. Cairns wanted to show that clinical conditions should not limit people's goals or ambitions. But since other countries have stricter regulations for people with diabetes, a safety pilot had to accompany Cairns for flight outside American and Canadian airspace.

So far, the flight has raised $19,000. "Overall, Diabetes World Flight has been a tremendous adventure. The journey had many memorable moments, including flying over Greenland's icecap, spotting humpback whales around Hawaii, and passing through intense rainstorms in Indonesia. It was also fascinating to find out how people cope with diabetes in each of the countries visited," Cairns said. "One major highlight was donating insulin from an Australian charity to the Christmas Island [mid-Pacific Ocean] Health Centre where fast-acting insulin supplies had been exhausted."

For more information about the flight, visit the Web site ( www.diabetesworldflight.com).

NAA names 2002's most memorable aviation records

What were the most memorable aviation records of 2002? The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) has compiled a list of its top six.

Leading off is the 300-person formation skydive over Arizona on December 12. The team of divers, known as Arizona Airspeed, jumped out of 14 airplanes at an altitude of more than 20,000 feet. They linked up and held the spiral pattern together for seven seconds. It was the team's third attempt that day.

The fastest speed over a recognized course was set by a crew of three in a company demonstrator Gulfstream V. Sean Sheldon, Ahmed Ragheb, and John Mullican flew from Tokyo to Los Angeles on November 7, reaching more than 550 knots. They shattered the 1984 record.

Bruce Bohannon beat his own record by climbing to 41,611 feet over California in the Exxon Flyin' Tiger. He also set five other records on the same flight. Steve Fossett's solo around-the-world flight in a helium balloon came in fourth on the list. The NAA also honored Wesley "Lee" Behel Jr. for breaking a 3-km straight-course speed record of 354 mph in a turboprop Lancair IV-P. And in the world of rubber-motor-powered airplanes, James Richmond's model made an astonishing flight of 47 minutes inside the atrium of Indiana's West Baden Springs Hotel. Richmond wound the two-strand rubber motor to 1,960 turns and the airplane flew to a height of 90 feet.

AOPA pilot facility set to open

If you've never made the pilgrimage to First Flight Airport in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, it's about time you did.

Cut in a grove of trees, the 3,000-by-60-foot runway becomes a lot shorter if deer are present. There are no runway lights, so forget landing at night. And there are no services. But, that's about to change.

AOPA is planning to open its 900-square-foot pilot facility at the Wright Brothers National Memorial by about the time you read this. AOPA donated the pilot facility on behalf of its members in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first powered flight. It will be the only new structure to remain at the park after the centennial of flight celebrations this December.

The facility will include a dedicated pilot briefing room complete with telephones, wall-mounted navigation charts, workspace for flight planning, and computerized weather by Meteorlogix. Jeppesen has teamed up with AOPA to provide FliteStar flight-planning software.

If you don't make it to First Flight soon, you can at least experience it virtually. Catch a glimpse of AOPA's facility in Microsoft's updated program Flight Simulator: A Century of Flight.

ePILOT Headliners

Recent news from AOPA's weekly email newsletter

FAA predicts modest GA growth

The FAA has issued its annual 12-year forecast for the aviation industry, this time predicting low to moderate increases in general aviation activity. The agency anticipates an annual 0.7-percent increase in the size of the active GA fleet, with hours flown increasing by 1.5 percent annually. Most of that growth will occur in business and corporate flying, the FAA predicts.

Cessna cuts workforce

Cessna has lowered its estimates of Caravan turboprop and Citation business jet deliveries for 2003, resulting in two workforce actions. Starting on March 31, Cessna was to begin notifying more than 1,200 workers that their jobs had been eliminated. In addition, Cessna said it would furlough 6,000 employees from June 2 through July 18.

GPS nav gets better

The FAA announced that it will add a third geostationary satellite to the two existing satellites that make up the space-based portion of the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS). The system is designed to increase the accuracy of GPS navigation by transmitting additional position and integrity data from ground stations to aircraft.

Honda, Continental team up on engine

Honda and Teledyne Continental have teamed up to study the market for the next generation of piston aircraft engines. Honda has already developed an engine that company officials say is more advanced than current versions in terms of weight, fuel efficiency, power output, and emissions.

Aviat to offer GA airbags

Another general aviation aircraft company has signed up to offer airbags in the cockpit. Aviat Aircraft is working with Amsafe Aviation to provide the Aviation Inflatable Restraint (AIR) in the Husky, Husky Pup, Pitts Special, and Eagle airplane models.

Lancair delivering airplanes again

The Lancair Company has delivered its first Columbia 300 since restarting the production line earlier this year. The airplane will be flown across the Atlantic to its new Dutch owner. The company is back to nearly full staff, said Lancair President Bing Lantis. (See " The Tortoise and the Hare, Round 2," April Pilot.)

Production Ibis Ae270 flies

Ibis Aerospace recently made the maiden flight of its conforming production Ae270 single-engine turboprop airplane, similar to what will be offered to buyers. The latest design is said to incorporate several enhancements over two previously flown prototypes.

Now you can receive a customized version of the free AOPA ePilot e-mail newsletter tailored to your interests. To customize your weekly newsletter, see AOPA Online ( https://www.aopa.org/apps/epilot/).

Hughes H-1B Racer replica on track

"Sometimes you bite the bear; sometimes the bear bites you." Sage words from Jim Wright, leader and pilot for the Hughes Racer replica team, after a right-gear extension failure on January 28 caused the H-1B to exit the runway on landing after a photo flight at Cottage Grove, Oregon.

When AOPA Pilot visited Wright's hangar in mid-March, Wright and his team had figured out the problem. The landing gear, the first hydraulically actuated gear on a landplane, was designed with a fixed piston shrouded by the gear tube, and the piston had stretched the tube's material enough to make the cylinder go out of round, otherwise known as swedging. To date, Wright has put more than 50 hours on the airplane — more time than Hughes put on the original H-1. So Wright's team is forging new territory with the design, and finding bugs that Hughes never discovered.

Yet the "practical airplane" has untapped potential: Wright estimates that the H-1B will fly again soon. Wright set a 3-km closed-course record at the Reno Air Races in September 2002 with a speed of 489.35 kmh, and plans to try to break that record at Reno this fall. For more, see the Web site ( www.wrightools.com/hughes/). — Julie K. Boatman

NTSB releases report on Stratoliner ditching

It's been more than a year since the historic one-of-a-kind Boeing S-307 Stratoliner ditched in Seattle's Elliot Bay, and the NTSB has released its final report on the crash.

Shortly after the accident many indications pointed to one of the simplest yet most common mistakes: fuel exhaustion. And it can happen to a crew of experienced test pilots and flight mechanics.

According to the report, on March 28, 2002, the Stratoliner left Boeing Field, just south of downtown, and flew about 20 minutes north to Paine Field where Boeing currently builds its wide-body aircraft. The crew had planned to practice landings at Paine, then refueling and returning to Boeing Field, where the airplane had been restored. Before departing in the four-engine vintage airliner, the captain asked the chief mechanic about fuel levels. The captain was told there were 425 gallons on board, sufficient, he determined, for the planned flight (the crew used a burn rate of 50 gallons/hour/engine). Arriving at Paine after a trouble-free flight, the captain decided he would perform two more takeoffs and landings, then stop to refuel. On the next takeoff climb, the tachometer indicated a momentary overspeed on the number-three engine. The crew decided to terminate their plans and return to Boeing Field.

On approach to Boeing Field, the left main gear did not indicate it was down, so the crew abandoned the approach and spent several minutes manually lowering the gear. About six miles out, with the gear fully lowered, the fuel pressure lights illuminated for engine three, and then engine four. After engine three lost power the captain instructed the chief mechanic to switch fuel feed to another tank but was told, "There is no other tank. We're out of fuel."

The captain attempted to apply full power to the remaining engines after feathering number three, but the remaining engines also lost power and the crew ditched the immaculately restored Boeing 307 in the water.

The NTSB report indicates the chief mechanic had told the captain that the fuel level was a "little less than half in the main tanks." He determined this from looking at the main fuel gauge in the cockpit; he had not dipped the tanks with a calibrated fuel stick. The chief mechanic along with an observer on board noted that the fuel level was indicated at quarter tanks when they departed Paine Field, but neither told this to the captain. The observer told the NTSB that after they began losing power, the captain asked if the tanks had been dipped and it was determined that they had not.

The good news is that a year later, and after countless volunteer man-hours, the Stratoliner is nearly finished once again. It is expected to fly this summer and be delivered to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's new Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center before its opening in December. — Jason Paur

Group pushes for ATC postage stamp

Pilots may think of them as mysterious voices over the radio while the traveling public forgets they even exist. They operate in an intense environment where there is no margin for error and safety is paramount.

In an effort to bring attention to the important jobs air traffic controllers do, a group is urging the U.S. Postal Service to create a stamp in honor of the profession. "Controllers understand they must do their extraordinary jobs with little recognition or fanfare. However, we believe the U.S. Postal Service can perform a great public service by drawing attention to these unsung professionals," according to the ATC Commemorative Stamp Petition Committee.

Air traffic control, as with most professions, had humble beginnings. Controllers started out by waving different colored flags at visible positions on airports. They then moved up to light guns, radio transmitters, and eventually radar.

The group is asking for your help to make the stamp a reality by writing letters of support. For more information, see the Web site ( www.atcstamp.com).

Squawk Sheet

The FAA has adopted an AD for Hartzell propellers found on Mitsubishi MU-2 aircraft. AD 2003-04-23 requires the replacement of propeller model HC-B3TN-5 with blade parts numbers T10176H (B, K) -5 or T10178 (B) -11 (R). The AD was prompted by a report of in-flight blade separation that caused severe damage to an airplane. The required parts are estimated to cost $10,000 per propeller. The AD was effective April 4.

The FAA has proposed an airworthiness directive for Socata and Rallye aircraft to prevent failure of the seat belt systems. The proposal involves Socata TB models 9, 10, 20, 21, 200, and TBM 700, and Rallye 100S, 150T, 150ST, 235E, and 235C airplanes. The FAA is concerned about potential injuries during landing and turbulence. The proposed AD would affect more than 600 U.S.-registered aircraft.

What if you win the Waco?

A recent survey of AOPA members indicates that more than half of the 517 respondents would sell, or probably sell, the Waco UPF-7 sweepstakes airplane if they were to win it in January 2004. The survey shows 236 members wanting to keep the airplane, 153 selling it shortly after winning it, and 128 who would like to keep it but would probably end up selling it. The $250,000 airplane is quite a prize, either as a flying machine or a cash producer. Even after taxes are paid, an AOPA member could expect to be at least $150,000 better off than before winning. AOPA members are entered automatically when they join or renew. (See " AOPA Centennial of Flight Sweepstakes: What If You Won the Waco?" April Pilot.) — Alton K. Marsh

Members in the news

Sam Lyons, AOPA 1191432, has just released three new limited-edition fine-art prints for people who love aviation. In Golden Times, the artist takes you to a simpler time and place where a Piper Cub sits at a friendly FBO while a Stinson 108 circles above. Back Country depicts a couple taking in the great outdoors beside their Cessna 170. And in Vintage Dreams, a pristine Waco 10 sits by the fuel pumps next to a classic Chevy truck. All of Lyons' work can be viewed on his Web site ( www.lyonsstudio.com).

Ed Friedman, AOPA 1257236, has been selected by the Coast Guard to help improve homeland security with his GPS tracking system. The system, called GPS Wireless WorldNavigator, features a moving map that shows streets, aeronautical charts, and nautical charts on personal digital assistants (PDAs). It evolved from an aviation positioning system Friedman developed in the early 1990s after earning his pilot certificate in Massachusetts. It is manufactured by Teletype Inc. For more information, see the Web site ( www.teletype.com).

Don Treco, AOPA 1246635, was scheduled to lead his 22-member Moonlight Swing Living-History Big Band in a performance for the sixty-first annual reunion of the Jimmy Doolittle Raiders on April 18 in Fairfield, California. The band performs Glenn Miller tunes in authentic World War II uniforms. All proceeds from the show went to the Jimmy Doolittle Air & Space Museum Foundation. For more information on the band and upcoming performances, visit the Web site ( www.moonlightswing.org).

Keith Lamb, AOPA 522030, is the new commander of Glider Flight 400, a unit of the Arizona Civil Air Patrol, in Glendale, Arizona. A commercial pilot and CFI, Lamb has been active in CAP for nearly 33 years. He is a Boeing 777 first officer for Continental Airlines, based in Newark, New Jersey.

Jefferson M. Koonce, AOPA 337258, has published Human Factors in the Training of Pilots, a "bold new approach" to learning to fly more safely, according to the author. The comprehensive 302-page book is written for students, flight instructors, and anyone else interested in human factors. Koonce, a seasoned flight instructor, psychologist, former Air Force pilot, and college professor, explains the "why" behind the "what" that we do and how to apply human-factors principles. Published by Taylor & Francis, the book is available in bookstores.

This month in GA

This fellow Charles Lindbergh will never make it. He's doomed. — Harry Guggenheim, millionaire aviation enthusiast

May 15, 1918. The United States officially establishes airmail service with flights between New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. The pilot on the first airmail route flies in the wrong direction, crash landing in Maryland instead of landing as planned in Philadelphia. As a result, the U.S. airmail pouch has to be delivered by train.

May 9, 1926. Adm. Richard E. Byrd and pilot Floyd Bennett fly over the North Pole. Both men are awarded the Medal of Honor.

May 21, 1927. Charles A. Lindbergh completes the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight in history, flying his Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis 3,610 miles (5,810 kilometers) between Roosevelt Field on Long Island, New York, and Paris, France, in 33 hours, 30 minutes. (See " 75 th Anniversary: The Spirit Flies On," May 2002 Pilot).

May 16, 1929. Wings, a World War I aviation saga starring Clara Bow, wins the Academy Award for Best Picture.

May 15, 1939. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to general aviation, is incorporated.

May 22, 1946. The prototype of the de Havilland DHC-1 Chipmunk flies in Canada. It is the first original design for the firm and is created for the British Royal Air Force and Canadian RAF.

May 24, 1946. The first radar-equipped control tower for civilian aviation is demonstrated at Weir Cook Municipal Airport in Indianapolis.

May 1, 1961. Puerto Rican-born Antuilo Ramierez Ortiz forces at gunpoint a National Airlines plane to fly from Key West, Florida, to Havana, Cuba, where he is given asylum. This is the first hijacking of an airliner to Cuba.

May 21, 1965. Pilots John Conroy and Clay Lacey, with five passengers on board, fly a Learjet 23 on a 5,005-mile round trip from Los Angeles to New York and back in 11 hours, 36 minutes. From May 23 to 26, 1966, the Learjet 24 becomes the first business jet to circumnavigate the globe, traveling 22,993 miles in 50 hours and 20 minutes of flying time, establishing or breaking 18 aviation world records during the flight.

May 1-24, 1994. Marion Jayne and daughter Patricia Jayne Keefer win the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Gold Medal in the French-run Round the World Race, the longest aviation race in history at more than 21,000 nautical miles. Jayne is the only U.S. pilot to have raced twice around the world.


While we cannot list all of the significant aviation events of the past 100 years, we welcome your comments and suggestions. Please send letters to AOPA Pilot, This Month in GA, Attn. Julie Walker, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701.