Pilot Briefing

October 1, 2004

Bohannon to try for altitude record in fall

Record-holder Bruce Bohannon plans this fall to flog his Exxon Flyin' Tiger to the altitude record he sought at Oshkosh when mechanical problems literally let him down, but not before reaching 45,500 feet. His goal was 50,100 feet.

Still that's not bad for a highly modified Van's RV-4 homebuilt aircraft. He'll make the new attempt from his home airport in Texas, and because of the lower elevation, he will need to climb only to 49,300 feet to achieve a U.S. altitude record and a new 15,000-meter time-to-climb record. Still that 50,000 number looks tempting, he said. A tiny piece of metal costing no more than 5 cents broke during his record attempt at Oshkosh, allowing the cable to the turbocharger wastegate to flop around loose. Bohannon wasn't able to close the wastegate all the way and lost two to four inches of manifold pressure. He thinks all that pushing and pulling on the wastegate control to wring every possible ounce of power from the engine during his successful world-record flights might have led to metal fatigue.

He faced numerous problems in the days before the attempt, rebuilding the turbocharger and replacing the air box in his cold-air induction system, yet all were conquered by his crew and Mattituck inspectors who checked over his highly modified 380-horsepower Mattituck TMX-555 engine. Bohannon has garnered nearly 30 world records. — Alton K. Marsh

Schweizer cofounder dies

Paul A. Schweizer, a soaring pioneer and cofounder of Schweizer Aircraft, died in Elmira, New York, on August 18. He was 91. Schweizer fell in love with aviation during its golden age in the 1920s. In 1930 he and his two brothers, Ernest and William, designed and built their first glider and taught themselves to fly. Since that humble beginning, Schweizer Aircraft has produced more than 6,000 aircraft, including more than 2,100 sailplanes and gliders. Today, Schweizer Aircraft produces helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, and covert surveillance aircraft. A second generation of Schweizers, Stuart, Paul H., and Les, own and manage the business. Paul Schweizer was known around the world as an aviation pioneer, an avid sailplane pilot, and a lifelong promoter of the sport of soaring. In related news, Sikorsky Aircraft has announced an agreement to acquire Schweizer. The deal is expected to close later this year.

Pilots circumnavigate world, bring spotlight to rare disorder

Two intrepid New Jersey pilots, Ed Galkin and Dick Sollner, successfully circumnavigated the world flying westbound in a Cessna 210 Centurion. Their purpose was to bring attention to fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) and to find families with the genetic disorder to participate in research for a cure.

FOP develops bone masses around muscles, tendons, and ligaments and slowly disables its victims, causing their joints to freeze up and become immobilized. FOP usually shows up in children between the ages of 2 and 5. In 1988, Frederick Kaplan, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, devoted himself to FOP research after he met a child with the disorder. He now has a research laboratory and staff.

The researchers wanted to find eight multigenerational families afflicted with the disorder. Kaplan knows of seven families with FOP but estimates his research will require about 15. To advertise their message at every stop, the pilots dressed the 210 with a "Flight for the Cure" banner on each side. As a result of the publicity, they found three families with the disorder.

In Lima, they met with two girls suffering from FOP. Later the girls and their families were on three TV stations to help spread the word about their rare disorder. When they arrived in Namibia, Sollner made three television appearances.

This was Galkin and Sollner's second trip around the world. Both say they had relatively few problems during the flight.

They did experience a significant drop in rpm on the left magneto at the Cocos (Keeling) Islands off the coast of Sumatra — there was no maintenance, fuel, or other aircraft on the field where they landed. They were the first general aviation aircraft to land at the field in more than two years. After testing, they departed under full power.

Six weeks, hundreds of flight hours, and thousands of miles later, they returned to Central Jersey Regional, to celebrate with children who have FOP. Journal entries from their adventure are available on the Web site ( www.aroundtheworldagain.com). — Jack Elliott

Maze article planned in AOPA Pilot

There are at least 200 commercially designed mazes cut in corn and other crops nationwide during October and many more of independent design. In fact, in Hawaii there is a maze at the Dole Plantation. They are intended for enjoyment on the ground but offer a spectacular sight from the air as well. AOPA Pilot is collecting aerial pictures of mazes this fall for an upcoming feature article. If you have a picture from your area, and nearby airspace or airport traffic patterns allow photography (20 of the designs are under traffic patterns), send it to [email protected]. Look for maps of mazes at these Web sites ( www.cornfieldmaze.com; www.americanmaze.com; www.mazeplay.com; www.cornmaze.com).

Coming in the October issue of AOPA Flight Training

  • Crosswind landings. Many students — and pilots — dread crosswind landings. Focusing on these basics will help to improve your technique.
  • Tying the knot. Do you know how to properly tie down your airplane after a flight? Learn how to do it right — and why you should.
  • Temperature truths. Temperature affects aircraft performance, engine starts, the risk of icing, and cockpit comfort, among other factors. Find out how.

The October issue was mailed on September 1. Current AOPA members can add a 12-month subscription to AOPA Flight Training for $18 per year.

Florida airports take one-two punch

Florida has taken a one-two punch, and at this writing there was a prospect for more literally on the horizon as a new hurricane gained strength in the Atlantic Ocean. Hurricane Charley delivered a big blow to central Florida on August 13, stacking up airplanes and damaging airports. Hurricane Frances came along less than a month later and continued the destruction.

While Charley did his dirty work by cutting across Punta Gorda, Orlando, and Daytona Beach, Frances started from the other side of the state, directing its downgraded but still dangerous rage on Fort Pierce, Vero Beach, Palm Beach, and Melbourne on September 4. For good measure it cruised over Orlando once again and headed for the Florida Panhandle. The most striking picture to emerge from Charley was one of aircraft slammed three deep in Punta Gorda, resembling aircraft piled atop one another in a hangar in Fort Pierce. Charley did a bit of aerial stunt work at Daytona Beach, lifting a Cessna 152 inside a hangar leaving its tire marks on the ceiling before it plunged into a Cessna Citation jet below.

Also damaged by Charley were Kissimmee Municipal in Orlando, where winds reached 117 knots; Lake Wales Municipal, said by local officials to be " obliterated" ; Orlando's Executive, where a Douglas DC-3 flipped over becoming an unguided missile and more than 50 small aircraft were damaged; and Orlando Sanford International, where airplanes were flipped and hangars were destroyed. Damage reports were still arriving from rain-laden Frances at press time.

Charlotte County Airport Authority Executive Director Gary Quill said the Charlotte County Airport at Punta Gorda lost 100 aircraft and more than 100 T-hangars thanks to Charley. Businesses such as Mod Works, Airtrek, and Eastern Avionics were heavily hit. Many of the aircraft were owned by retirees who lacked insurance coverage.

See Mark R. Twombly's personal account in " Pilotage: Charley's Wrath," on page 54 and view additional photos on AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/whatsnew/newsitems/2004/040816charley.html). — AKM

Australian airspace changes reversed

Following a contentious review of Australian airspace changes, the board of Airservices Australia — a government corporation that manages the country's air traffic — on August 27 voted to reverse several of the recent reforms. The changes, implemented in November 2003, sought to introduce a national airspace system similar to that in the United States (see " No Flying T'day, Mate," September Pilot).

Airservices will implement Class C airspace above Class D towers, expand Class C airspace above capital city airports, and create a Class C corridor in en route airspace between Sydney and Melbourne. Some Class E corridors will be reintroduced.

"The decision involves changes to about 10 percent of the current [National Airspace System] airspace but introduces significant enhancements to airspace above towered aerodromes, protecting airliners," said Air Marshal Les Fisher, acting chairman of Airservices Australia. "While there may be some inconvenience placed on general aviation in some E airspace, we can confirm there will be no additional charges associated with these changes."

Dick Smith, an influential Australian pilot who had advocated the airspace reforms, and others believe that a study used by Airservices Australia to justify reversing the airspace changes is flawed.

Airline pilots, air traffic controllers, and Airservices management "have won a great victory," Smith wrote on his Web site. "They have not only been able to reverse most of the reforms [that] gave advantages to general aviation, but they have also been able to keep most of the changes which put extra costs and restrictions on GA." Those changes, including mandatory transponder use, " were only agreed to by GA as they were part of a 'give and take' process in balancing greater freedoms with the requirement to allocate airspace and procedures to better reflect risk.

"All that the general aviation industry wanted was the balance of safety and freedom that U.S. pilots already benefit from," Smith continued. "That is, we wanted the same procedures as used in the United States for radar-covered airspace, and the same procedures as used in the United States for nonradar airspace. Nothing more, nothing less."

"This is a sad, sad day for Australian aviation," read a posting on the Australian General Aviation Community Forum, an online bulletin board.

AOPA-Australia opposes the reversal and will continue to support true reform measures in an effort to increase system efficiency, freedom, and above all, safety, said President Ron Bertram. "We would not encourage our members to use a system that is not safe. As pilots, we always follow the number one rule in aviation — if it's not safe, don't fly." — Michael P. Collins

Hotel mogul shoots for space

When it comes to space exploration, you have to start small, especially if your spacecraft is inflatable.

Seizing on his experience in making people comfortable in faraway quarters, Robert Bigelow, owner of the Budget Suites of America hotel chain, plans to launch a space station late next year. But don't expect room service.

Roughly modeled after NASA's Transit Habitat, the one-third-scale-model test craft will be carried aloft by a Falcon 5 rocket provided by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), reported the Web site Space.com. Dubbed the Genesis Pathfinder, the goal is to make space modules affordable and habitable for corporate clients.

In April 1999, Bigelow started Bigelow Aerospace in North Las Vegas, with a long-range vision of commercializing space flight. The scale model will gather data for a full-size model.


Recent news from AOPA's weekly e-mail newsletter.

A wild air race

In the second round of the 2004 Red Bull Air Race World Series above the Danube River in Hungary, eight of the world's top aerobatic pilots performed aerobatic maneuvers, with American Kirby Chambliss taking top honors.

SMA diesel eyes U.S. market

SMA Diesel, the French company now offering the 230-horsepower SR305-230 engine for Cessna 182 aircraft, was expecting U.S. certification of the installation in September. The jet-fuel-burning engine is certified for the 182 in Europe and is shipping to customers.

Calling all celebrities

The King Air Foundation is restoring the first Beechcraft King Air, serial number LJ-1, so that it can make a 30-leg flight around the world — and the foundation wants celebrities to pilot each 1,000-mile, four-hour leg.

Raytheon expects profit

Recovering from years of losses, Raytheon Aircraft expects a profit this year of more than $30 million.

Mustang engine in flight tests

With the Citation Mustang design firmed up and more than 230 orders in hand, Cessna is on target for the first flight of its very light jet (VLJ) during the latter half of 2005.

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/).

The reality behind astronaut training

Take 11 people — some of who have never flown an airplane before — toss them into a fast-paced training course in the Beechcraft T-34 Mentor, and what do you get? No, it's not the latest reality show. It is part of NASA's astronaut candidate training.

In a five-week program, these candidates learn the basics of flight, aerobatic maneuvers, instrument flying, and water survival, which includes simulated helicopter dunks in an indoor pool. Two weeks are dedicated to intense ground school, but they do not learn the rules and regulations to pass an FAA knowledge exam. The training teaches them the skills of crew resource management, thinking ahead, and multitasking, which will help them during missions. To read the candidates' journal entries and follow them through training, visit NASA's Web site ( www.spaceflight.nasa.gov). — AJM

Members in the news

Greg Brown, AOPA 640529, has published his latest book, You Can Fly!, about why prospective pilots should take up flying. Rather than writing a how-to-fly book, Brown said he wanted to provide a "fun and visually exciting" book to inform and sell people on aviation. Brown is a columnist for AOPA Flight Training magazine and a contributor to AOPA Pilot. The book is coauthored by Laurel Lippert, AOPA 995574, the editor at large for Pilot Getaways magazine, and features photography by Tom Lippert, AOPA 1322762, a longtime freelancer. The 114-page soft-cover book is published by Aviation Supplies and Academics Inc.

Bobby Younkin, AOPA 823526, has received World Airshow News' 2004 Bill Barber Award for Showmanship. Younkin is best known for his aerobatic performances in a Twin Beech, Samson biplane, and Learjet 23. World Airshow News created the award in 1986 to recognize top performers and to honor airshow legend Bill Barber who wrote a popular column for the magazine.

Lt. Craig Neubecker, AOPA 1120087, along with Lt. Shawn Koch, and Avionics Electronics Technician 1st Class William Greer, of the Coast Guard, received the Airborne Law Enforcement Association's 2003-2004 Captain "Gus" Crawford Memorial Air Crew of the Year Award. The crew was honored for its drug interdiction efforts, resulting in the seizure of more than three tons of cocaine. It was the first time that any Coast Guard crew has ever received this particular award. The crew is based in Jacksonville, Florida.

Karen M. Kahn, AOPA 381374, has published the third edition of Flight Guide for Success: Tips and Tactics for the Aspiring Airline Pilot. Kahn, who overcame a mountain of obstacles herself, says she provides the answers, "without sugar coating them," to tough career questions. The book contains more than 70 career advice columns that have appeared in various aviation magazines. The book sells for $19.95, plus shipping. For more information, see the Web site ( www.aviationcareercounseling.com).