Pilot Briefing

January 1, 2005

Exxon Flyin' Tiger goes higher than ever

Bruce Bohannon flogged his turbocharged Exxon Flyin' Tiger higher than ever before on November 13 to 47,500 feet, setting two new 12,000-meter time-to-climb world records in the process, but fell short of the intended goal of 50,000 feet. The Tiger now has a total of 30 records.

"I got to 46,300 feet just like you would get into a Cessna 172 and go to 3,500 feet," Bohannon said. (He had been to that altitude before.) "I spent another 30 to 40 minutes to get another thousand feet." His unpressurized Van RV-4 aircraft includes part of an RV-8 model plus part of a Harmon Rocket conversion.

Prior to reaching 12,000 meters (39,600 feet), Bohannon switched fuel tanks and the engine briefly quit, but he quickly descended to "perform CPR" for a restart, got it going, and still reached 12,000 meters in 20 minutes and 36 seconds, minutes ahead of the old record — which he also held. Bohannon vowed to try again next year. The records — one for the aircraft's weight class and one for propeller aircraft of any weight class — must still be verified.

Now it will be up to Ralph Benway of Kelly Aerospace, which heavily modified the RAM turbocharger and an intercooler with an oil cooler added on, and Phil Haponic of Teledyne Mattituck Services to give Bohannon more power. Haponic modified a 260-horsepower Lycoming IO-540 to generate more than 350 horsepower. The engine sported a newly designed camshaft for the attempt. The key now is "more cubic inches, more power," Haponic said.

Crew chief Gary Hunter said flight to such altitudes takes a physiological toll on the pilot: It becomes impossible to swallow because of swelling in the throat, pressure is felt in the eyes, and the abdomen swells.

Bohannon's group of 50 to 100 well-wishers included some highly capable aeronautical talent. Former astronaut Hoot Gibson, now a Southwest Airlines captain, was on hand and had done calculations for Bohannon on the G forces the modified airplane could withstand following the extension of each wing by 18 inches. David Wolf, currently chief of NASA's extra-vehicular activity office, an astronaut with rides on three space shuttles, visits to two space stations (MIR and the International Space Station), four space walks, and 158 days total in space to his credit, was also present. Seated quietly in the hangar was former NASA engineer John Kiker, who contributed heavily to nearly every step of America's race to the moon, and was credited by those present for coming up with the idea to transport the shuttle on the back of a Boeing 747. He built models to prove the piggybacking could be done. — Alton K. Marsh

Sporty's sweepstakes winner solos

Two months after taking delivery of a brand-new Cessna Skyhawk that he won in the 2004 Sporty's Sweepstakes, student pilot A.C. Douglass soloed. With his wife and instructor watching from the ground at Tallahassee Regional Airport, Douglass completed three takeoffs and landings on October 27 in what he described as an "uneventful" flight. "Even though he was not in the airplane, I could hear Scott [O'Brien, Douglass' CFI] giving me instructions as I flew the pattern," Douglass said. — Jill W. Tallman

FAA to discontinue printed safety information

Budget concerns have prompted the FAA's Aviation Safety Program to phase out the practice of sending printed safety meeting announcements to pilots via U.S. mail. Eventually, all information will be delivered via the program's Web site ( www.faasafety.gov). Kathleen O'Brien, safety program manager for the Long Beach Flight Standards District Office in California, said printing costs for the program's paper newsletter jumped 100 percent between July and August 2004. Pilots are urged to register an e-mail address at the Web site, where they can choose notification services for safety seminars and other events. You do not need to register to search the events database. The FAA says it will not share its database of e-mail addresses with anyone. — JWT


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

Renaissance to vacate factory

Renaissance Aircraft officials are continuing with production plans for the Luscombe 8F, but it won't happen at the present site in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Renaissance President John Dearden said he was unable to make bond and lease payments of more than $61,000 to the city. However, his attorney said that the company will announce plans to continue with production at a new location.

GA recovery strong in third quarter

The number of piston-powered airplanes manufactured worldwide during the first three quarters of 2004 increased 5.5 percent, from 1,272 in 2003 to 1,342 so far for 2004, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

Flight schools welcome glass

Dowling College in New York is the first to offer training in the New Piper Warrior III equipped with the Avidyne FlightMax Entegra system. The New Piper Aircraft Inc. has added the option on all of its entry-level aircraft.

Garmin discontinues older GPS models

Garmin International has discontinued two older handheld GPS units in favor of the line of 96 models. The GPS III Pilot and the GPSMap 295 are now discontinued. Handhelds replacing the older models are the GPSMap 96, 96C (color), 196, and 296.

Diamond delays Twin Star deliveries

Diamond Aircraft has decided to delay North American deliveries of its diesel-powered DA42 Twin Star until there is a support network for the TAE Centurion 1.7 engine that can handle the advanced technology. As an alternative to the diesel engine, Diamond said it has accelerated the development and certification program for the twin 180-horsepower Lycoming version.

Daniel Webster president to retire

Daniel Webster College President Hannah McCarthy has announced that she will retire this June after 25 years. Under her leadership, the Nashua, New Hampshire, college acquired its own instructors and aircraft, and its two-year aviation program obtained national accreditation in 2001. A search committee has begun looking for a successor.

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/).

Space zone: Do not enter

Airports form a chain down the eastern coast of Florida, but there's at least one airport you can't use: the Eastern Range Space Launch Center, which includes Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS). The United States has launched rockets from Cape Canaveral since 1950; for example, every one of the satellites used in the global positioning system has been launched on the Delta II rocket from Pad 17 at CCAFS. Bet you'd hate to get in the way of one of those.

To help keep midair headaches to a minimum, the Cape is surrounded by special-use airspace, including restricted areas R-2932, R-2933, R-2934, and R-2935 and warning areas W-497A and W-497B, and is covered by Space Operations Area FAR 91.143. R-2932, R-2933, and R-2934 are active 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year as indicated on the sectional chart and by notam. The rest of the airspace is activated by notam during launch operations, manned or unmanned. R-2935 is only activated for manned space launches, along with a temporary flight restriction (TFR) around Cape Canaveral.

All of the special-use airspace protects both civilian aircraft and the space vehicles. "Even when a launch goes perfectly, it is dangerous. By design, pieces fall off the launch vehicle when it climbs into space," said Art Ladd, airspace manager for the Air Force's 45th Space Wing. In addition to airspace closures, large areas of the Atlantic Ocean are cleared of boat traffic prior to and during a launch. "A delay in launching a rocket can translate into costly recycle procedures, as well as lost operations," said Ladd. "If an aircraft flies into launch airspace and delays the launch of a space vehicle, the cost to recycle [restart] the scrubbed or delayed mission ranges from $200,000 to several million dollars. Additionally, some launches are time critical, and a one-second intrusion could cause the delay of a vehicle launch by two years or more."

The military and the FAA monitor Cape Canaveral airspace continuously. "With no exceptions, deviation reports are filed with the flight standards district office whenever an aircraft flies into the airspace," Ladd said. So how do you avoid the danger (not to mention the violation)? Get notams during your preflight briefing (ask for those filed under Melbourne International Airport) and file a flight plan. Identify landmarks on the sectional that will help you stay clear of the airspace. Ask for flight following from Daytona or Orlando Approach. And as tempting as it is, flying VFR along the beach won't keep you legal — the airspace extends three nautical miles out into the Atlantic. — Julie K. Boatman

Squawk sheet

The FAA has adopted a new airworthiness directive to supersede AD 91-03-15, which applies to certain Mooney Airplane Company M20M airplanes. The old AD required the replacement of the tailpipe coupling with an improved part, but since the AD was issued, a fire erupted in the lower-left cockpit area on one of the affected airplanes. The V-clamp that attaches the exhaust tailpipe to the turbocharger fell off, which allowed the exhaust tailpipe to detach from the turbocharger. Hot exhaust gases from the turbocharger outlet blasted the lower-left firewall, according to the FAA. The new AD, 2004-23-17, requires the replacement of the existing radiant heat shield with an improved design and deflector kit; replacement of the existing exhaust tailpipe-to-turbocharger V-clamp with a new design; and modification to the hydraulic brake fluid poly line. The AD's effective date was December 1, 2004.

Members in the news

Lee Hansen, AOPA 1247023, and Michael McMaster, AOPA 1237651, have completed a documentary titled The Barnstormers, Pioneers of the Skies. The 50-minute program includes archive film footage and interviews with old-time barnstormers. It also follows present-day barnstormers who continue in the tradition. The DVD sells for $19.95. To buy a copy, contact Up In The Air Pictures, 712 North Piedra Road, Sanger, California 93657; telephone 559/289-0887.

James E. Ellis, AOPA 507108, has published the third edition of Buying and Owning Your Own Airplane. The book has been updated and includes a survey of the most common new and used airplanes on the market, details of different forms of ownership, insurance coverage, and a projection of long-term trends in the industry. Published by Blackwell Publishing, the soft-cover book sells for $29.99. For more information or to order, see the publisher's Web site ( www.blackwellprofessional.com).

Bruce McAllister, AOPA 469693, has published his latest book featuring vivid photography of general aviation. In Wings Over Denali: A Photographic History of Aviation in Denali National Park, McAllister chronicles the history of glacier pilots flying in Alaska, often on rescue missions to save mountain climbers on Mount McKinley. With more than 100 photos, the book begins with the 1920s and moves forward to the present day. Published by Roundup Press, the soft-cover book sells for $29.95. For more information, see the Web site ( www.wingsalcan.com).

Scott Dittamo, AOPA 1334230, has been honored for not making the news. Dittamo is a tower controller at Newark Liberty International Airport and may have prevented a gear-up landing. When a Boeing 747 with 409 passengers aboard was on short final, Dittamo, who is also a pilot, noticed that the gear did not appear to be down. Without hesitation, Dittamo advised the pilots to "check gear down." The pilots lowered the gear and landed safely. Radar data later showed that the jet was at an altitude of 600 feet and moving at 160 knots when the controller issued the warning. Dittamo was formally recognized by air traffic officials for his efforts.

James Platz, AOPA 674992, has received the prestigious WCSH 6 Who Care Award for his work for Angel Flight Northeast. The award was presented by Maine's WCSH-TV and the United Way of Greater Portland. Platz flies several Angel Flight missions a week in his Cessna 414.

Coming up in the January issue of AOPA Flight Training

  • Power off, no flaps. Enliven your pattern routine by practicing a no-flaps/no-power landing, but be sure not to "unmake" a made runway.
  • Ignorance is not bliss. A flight instructor doesn't know what you don't know unless you tell him. If it doesn't compute, speak up!
  • Time on your side. Converting local time to Zulu is important to aviation, but not hard to understand.

The January issue mailed on December 1. Current AOPA members can add a subscription to AOPA Flight Training for $18 per year. For more information, call 800/827-2672.