March 8, 2012
By Jim Moore
A salvo of five rockets will soon be launched from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va., to help scientists better understand the uppermost reaches of the atmosphere. The interaction of wind and charged electrical particles 60 to 65 miles from the surface has been associated with satellite failures and radio communication interference.
The launch will take place on a clear night between March 14 and April 3, and the rockets will release trimethylaluminium, which creates a soft, white glow when it interacts with oxygen, producing aluminum oxide, water, and carbon dioxide. Cameras in Virginia, North Carolina, and New Jersey will track the movement of the milky white clouds, allowing scientists to model upper-atmosphere winds. NASA has also invited amateur photographers to submit photos of the clouds. The launches will take place between 11 p.m. and 6:30 a.m., marking the first time since the 1970s that NASA has launched so many rockets from Wallops Island at once, officials said. The chemical traces will be visible for about 20 minutes, and may be seen as far north as southern New Hampshire and Vermont, and as far south as the South Carolina border.
Safety and Education
A father and his 14-year-old son were helping another pilot ferry a newly purchased aircraft from California to their home field in Virginia. The three made an overnight stop in Albuquerque before flying on to Illinois for fuel. But shortly after they parked the aircraft in Marion, Ill., they were approached by as many as 18 uniformed and non-uniformed law enforcement officers who came running toward the airplane.
The FAA has alerted AOPA to a spike in airspace penetration and violations of the Washington, D.C., Special Flight Rules Area, particularly stemming from operations at Leesburg Executive Airport (JYO) in Leesburg, Va.
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