Pilot Briefing

December 1, 2008

Viking updates the Twin Otter

The Twin Otter has come a long way, eh? In British Columbia, Viking has added Pratt & Whitney PT6 turboprop engines to the de Havilland Twin Otter, renamed it the Viking, put it on floats, and added Honeywell Primus Apex avionics.

A recently completed amphibious Twin Otter technology demonstrator took flight for the first time in October, and needed less than 1,000 feet to leave the runway.

Viking is the type certificate holder for several de Havilland aircraft, including the DHC–2 Beaver, DHC–2T Turbo Beaver, DHC–3 Otter, DHC–6 Twin Otter, DHC–4 Caribou, DHC–5 Buffalo, and DHC–7 Dash 7 aircraft. For more information, visit the Web site.

Flying Boxcar heading home

Boosters of the Hagerstown Aviation Museum in Maryland were given a donation of a 1953 Fairchild C–119 Flying Boxcar while it was still sitting in a boneyard at Greybull, Wyoming. There was only one problem—repairs to fly it back to Hagerstown, where the factory was originally located, cost more than expected.

To solve the problem and raise the needed $35,000, museum officials raffled off in October $1,000 in free gas. Actually it was a Visa gift card, but the thought of free auto gas was sure to sell tickets.

The raffle is over by the time you read this. Modifications were necessary in addition to making repairs needed to fly the aircraft 1,380 nm to Maryland. They included removing a small jet engine added to the top of the aircraft by a fire tanker operation to help the Boxcar climb off of short runways. The cockpit, however, is mostly original.

Those who have flown in a Flying Boxcar say it lurches its way through the air—particularly during turns. It seems to shift slightly side to side as it flies. Kurtis Meyers of the Hagerstown Aviation Museum said that is a typical experience reported by many.

The repair facility cut a deal with the museum, agreeing to finish work on the aircraft so it could fly out before snowstorms began but allowing the museum to finance the remainder of the bill. For more information, visit the Web site.

Stardust return capsule comes down from the cold

After a three-billion-mile journey to rendezvous with a comet, the Stardust return capsule has found a home in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The capsule will be prominently displayed in the Milestones of Flight gallery, home to many of the “firsts” of flight—including Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, Chuck Yeager’s Bell X-1, and the Apollo 11 command module.

“The Stardust return capsule successfully brought back actual particles of comet dust for scientists to analyze,” Museum Director Gen. John R. “Jack” Dailey said.

Stardust launched in February 1999 to rendezvous with Comet Wild 2, capture comet and interstellar dust, and return a capsule bearing these primordial solar system “treasures” for analysis on Earth. Seven years later, the journey ended with the capsule streaking across the sky to a successful landing on U.S. soil in January 2006. Since then, the dust samples have gone to laboratories around the world for scientists to study the chemical composition of the comet and its signature of the early solar system.

The Stardust Comet Sample Return Mission team was awarded the National Air and Space Museum Trophy for Current Achievement on April 3, 2008.

Rocket Engineering modifies a Baron

Rocket Engineering Corporation of Spokane, Washington, has flown its newest turbine conversion, the PT6-A P-Baron. The initial 30-minute flight focused on testing of the aerodynamic stability and general handling characteristics of the newly re-engined “Turbine Cougar Baron.”

The pressurized Baron turbine conversion will replace the B58P’s original Lycoming 520 piston engines with 500-shp PT6A-21 turbine engines from Pratt & Whitney Canada.

The P-Baron turbine conversion promises, on paper at least, a 4,500 foot-per-minute initial rate of climb, 300 KTAS, and a 900-nm range with an average fuel burn of 52 gph. Actual performance figures will be determined in further testing.

Engine screaming, a T–6 banks around a pylon at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada. Didn’t make it to the forty-fifth annual event in September? Experience the races from a unique perspective—the base of the pylons that mark turn points on the course— with an audio slideshow produced exclusively for AOPA Online.

No arms, no problem

Tucson-based motivational speaker Jessica Cox, 25, knew once she started flying lessons in a Cessna that she never would be able to finish. The Cessna wasn’t designed for someone born without arms.

Cox had a valid and unrestricted driver’s license, however, and that meant she qualified medically to fly in the light sport aircraft category.

Then arrived her copy of AOPA Pilot in March 2006. On the cover was a rudderless Ercoupe, perfect for someone who does with her feet what other people do with arms and hands. She immediately called AOPA, and we put her in contact with the Ercoupe’s owner, Glen Davis, who previously had instructed a student with spina bifida.

With eight hours of Cessna training behind her, Cox switched to the Ercoupe, and 30 hours later she switched again—to an Ercoupe C that fully met light sport aircraft requirements. She passed her light sport checkride in October. She e-mailed this to AOPA Pilot:

“On the playground in elementary school, I remember being limited to the swings because other equipment like the monkey bars was impossible for me to play on. This frustrated me and I remember envisioning myself flying over the playground like Superwoman while everyone watched in disbelief. In my imagination, I was everyone’s hero and took people up one at a time to experience my super power.

“I never realized how this childlike imagination would affect the years to come. In 2005, I was at a speaking engagement when a fighter pilot named Robin Stoddard, who represented a nonprofit organization called Wright Flight, approached me and asked if I would like to fly an airplane. My gut instinct was disinterest because of a fear of flying commercial airplanes. However, I couldn’t pass it up. Wright Flight started me on my first few hours of flight training. I became addicted.

“Seventy-four hours of flight training later, when I flew over the city of San Manuel for the first time solo, I fulfilled the childhood dream of being Superwoman!”

For more information, visit Cox’s Web site.

Anatomy of a runway incursion

A runway incursion that occurred at Daytona Beach International Airport in 2007, involving a Cessna 182 and a Beech King Air 200, has been made a case study by the FAA and the AOPA Air Safety Foundation (ASF). The ASF Web site offers an animated replay of the actual event, including air traffic control audio tapes.

Runway incursions—where an aircraft, other vehicle, or personnel enters or crosses a runway without permission—continue to be a concern to all segments of aviation.

Replays like this can allow viewers to imagine themselves operating each aircraft as the event unfolds. The pilot of the Cessna seems to hesitate; perhaps this is his first flight into Daytona Beach. A taxi instruction to “maintain the right side on November” could be a distraction. When the airplane turns onto taxiway N5, do the pilots realize how close the aircraft is to the runway?

Watch the replay again from the perspective of the King Air. It’s instructed to taxi for an intersection departure. Approaching Runway 7 Left at intersection P2, the tower clears the flight for takeoff. Did the rolling takeoff diminish the opportunity for one last quick scan of the runway before adding power? Might the pilot have seen the Cessna as it approached the edge of the runway?

After you view the scenario, supplement your knowledge by taking ASF’s online Runway Safety course. —Mike Collins

First Flight restorers win $20,000

The First Flight monument at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, got a boost when its restorers won $20,000 from the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio.

The First Flight Foundation was chosen for the Hall’s Combs Gates Award.

Presenting the award at the recent National Business Aviation Association convention at Orlando, Florida, in October were moon-walking astronaut Gene Cernan, airshow and test pilot Bob Hoover, and record-setting test pilot Joe Kittinger.

In other Hall of Fame news, Russell W. Meyer Jr., former chairman and chief executive officer of Cessna Aircraft Company, will be among those newly inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame. Other names were to be announced this month.

This month in aviation history

Compiled by Katheryn Opalewski

December 10, 1958 | First domestic (New York to Miami) passenger jet service, by a National Airlines Boeing 707.

December 15, 1961 | The U.S. Air Force graduates its first five military space pilots from the Aerospace Research Pilots School.

December 15, 1962 | The FAA authorizes simultaneous instrument approaches and landings on parallel runways at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to relieve traffic backup during peak-activity periods.

December 17, 1963 | Wright Brothers Day occurs for the first time as an annual observance on the sixtieth anniversary of the first powered flight.

December 10, 1964 | The Airman’s Information Manual (AIM) replaces three basic FAA publications: the Airman’s Guide, the Directory of Airports and Seaplane Bases, and the Flight Information Manual. (Today it’s the Aeronautical Information Manual.)

December 14, 1964 | The first FAA-designed and -constructed airport traffic control tower is commissioned at Lake Tahoe Airport in California.

December 31, 1964 | The FAA completes its codification of previous aviation regulatory issuances into a single body of rules, the Federal Aviation Regulations.

December 16, 1965 | The FAA requires pilots flying large aircraft (12,500 pounds or more) to hold a type rating for that aircraft.

December 4, 1967 | The FAA requires pilots of small turbine-powered aircraft to follow the same noise abatement procedures mandated for pilots of large transports.

December 21, 1968 | Apollo 8 is the first manned mission to orbit the moon.

December 1969 | At the end of the decade, AOPA has 141,000 members.

December 18, 1969 | The FAA certifies the first all-plastic aircraft, the Windecker AC-7, a four-place craft made of molded fiberglass and epoxy resins.

December 5, 1970 | A rule takes effect prohibiting any person from acting as a crewmember of a civil aircraft within eight hours after consuming alcohol.

December 21, 1976 | The FAA deems contact lenses permissible for use by civilian pilots.

December 3, 1980 | Janice Brown flies the Solar Challenger, to complete the first long-distance solar-powered flight.

December 31, 1983 | The General Aviation Reservation system, which required general aviation pilots to obtain reservations for IFR flight, comes to an end.

December 4, 1991 | Pan American World Airlines (Pan Am) ceases operations after 64 years.

December 17, 1991 | The FAA publishes a rule to establish six classes of airspace designated by single letters.

December 10, 1992 | Northwest Airlines transports U.S. troops to Somalia in support of Operation Restore Hope.

December 17, 1996 | The FAA unveils a $500,000 public education campaign using the slogan “Turbulence Happens” to promote seatbelt use by airline passengers.

December 16, 1998 | U.S. Navy Lt. Kendra Williams becomes the first American female combat pilot to bomb an enemy target in Operation Desert Fox.

December 2000 | AOPA ends the decade with 357,644 members.

December 10, 2001 | The first Canadian-built DA40-180 Diamond Star flies.

December 9, 2002 | United Airlines files for Chapter 11 reorganization. It is the largest airline bankruptcy in U.S. history.

December 17, 2003 | The 100th birthday of aviation is celebrated.

Al Marsh

Alton K. Marsh | AOPA Pilot Senior Editor, AOPA

AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.