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Rutan, four others stranded at North Pole
Glasair builders seek answers from troubled company
World aerobatic veteran switches to CAP 232
AOPA files suit to protect airports nationwide
Volume 2, Issue 20
May 19, 2000
GA News
Dick Rutan--who, with Jeanna Yeager, circled the world nonstop aboard "Voyager" in 1986--was stranded at the North Pole with four other men when their Polish-built PZL Mielec AN-2 sank beneath the ice after landing. The men were traveling with a Cessna 185 flown by Lee Wareham of Anchorage, Alaska. Wareham had a passenger as well. The group had stopped at the North Pole last week on the way to Spitsbergen, Norway. Retracing the route Monday on the return trip to Alaska, Wareham landed first, his wife said. He quickly took measurements of the ice thickness, and tried to signal a warning to Anchorage pilot Ron Sheardown. The 11,000-pound biplane landed and the group got out to take photos. After they were done taking pictures, the AN-2 began sinking through the ice as it was taxiing for takeoff, said Canadian Coast Guard Capt. Barry Tolmie. Sheardown, Rutan, a friend from Norway, and two men from Anchorage had time to remove survival gear before the plane sank. Wareham then took off seeking help, and quickly reached an amateur radio operator in Fairbanks. The five were rescued by a commercial DeHavilland Twin Otter summoned by the Canadian Coast Guard. There were no injuries. At this writing, Wareham was in Deadhorse, Canada, the group's planned stop after leaving the North Pole, and the rescued fliers were in Eureka, Canada. The Arctic Ocean is 13,000 feet deep at the North Pole.

Glasair and GlaStar builders around the world have been clamoring to get information after they learned recently that the kits' manufacturer was in a financial spiral dive, had to lay off employees, and closed its doors. Stoddard-Hamilton Aircraft Inc. officials are not commenting beyond what they have posted on the company's Web site. A previous statement mentioned "liquidation" and "termination" of the business, but an updated version is more upbeat. It states that company officials are looking for investors and capital in order to continue the supply of parts and services to customers, and to fill current orders as part of a "reorganization" process. The move, nonetheless, caught many builders and competitors by surprise. Mike Shrader, North American director of sales and marketing for Lancair's Columbia, said some of Stoddard-Hamilton's problems may have stemmed from a lack of new products on the market. The highly acclaimed Glasair II and III lines trace their lineage back to 1980, when the company introduced the world's first premolded composite kitplane. There are currently 2,000 kits in the field and 800 of them are flying, according to Stoddard-Hamilton. But the high-wing GlaStar is the only new kitplane to come out of the Arlington, Washington, factory in recent years, and Shrader said it's in a highly competitive market. Lancair, meanwhile, developed quick-build kits and went through the certification process with its Columbia 300. In the absence of solid information, builders have been speculating about Stoddard-Hamilton's financial woes. Some are flying completed aircraft while others have just begun the long building process. There is talk among the builders of forming their own association to help each other out, according to an e-mail survey of builders conducted by ePilot. "I was always happy to tell the controllers what type of plane was streaking though their screen. This may change that. I have friends that are well into their project and I suspect this may cause some very ill feelings about the homebuilt movement," said Glasair builder John Anderson.

U.S. Aerobatic Team veteran Debby Rihn-Harvey has decided to switch aircraft from her one-of-a-kind Texas Hurricane to a French-built Cap 232. Rhin-Harvey, a Southwest Airlines captain, said she will use the airplane in world competition August 8 to 19 in Muret, France, when she will help represent the United States against competitors from 20 other countries. It will be her ninth season of competition at the world level. The Texas Hurricane is a hybrid of several aircraft and has been extensively modified since it was built nine years ago. Rihn-Harvey said the Cap rolls faster--420 degrees per second--yet does the maneuvers with fewer Gs. It is stressed for plus or minus 10 Gs. The Texas Hurricane will be rebuilt and used by Rihn-Harvey in airshows. She is also a designated examiner and runs an aerobatic training school in LaPorte, Texas. "The Cap 232 is more favored internationally," she said. "It's the only one that beat me in a major contest. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.

Inside AOPA
AOPA has filed a precedent-setting suit in federal appeals court, challenging the FAA's authority to "release" an airport sponsor from a grant assurance and close the airport. AOPA says Congress never gave FAA that power. The suit relates specifically to Richards-Gebaur Memorial Airport in Kansas City, Missouri, which the FAA released from its grant obligations. The airport closed last December. But AOPA told the court that if the decision is allowed to stand, it could lead to the closure of other general aviation and reliever airports that help to alleviate congestion at the nation's busiest airports. Many airports have received land and funds from the federal government. In exchange, the airport sponsor signs a contract, pledging to keep the airport open to the public. AOPA presented arguments to the court showing that while Congress gave the FAA authority to make airport grants, it did not give the FAA authority to release an airport from its obligation to stay open after having accepted the grant. AOPA will present oral arguments to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on June 13.


AOPA is asking the San Diego Planning Commission to withhold approval for a plan to privatize Brown Field Municipal Airport and turn it into a major air cargo facility. "The development plan continues to ignore the needs of general aviation," said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president for regional affairs. "We've made repeated requests to the city and the developers for corrective action, but we haven't received an adequate response." In a May 15 letter to the planning commission, AOPA said that the developer (Brown Field Aviation Partners Inc.) was avoiding its responsibility to maintain, improve, and modernize GA facilities. The developer also refused to set aside land for future GA needs at the airport. AOPA reiterated its request for a detailed airspace study, noting that the substantial increase in cargo operations would affect all airports in the area. "It's premature for this development project to move forward without first having an adequate plan to ensure the safety of all aircraft operating in the vicinity of Brown Field," said Dunn. "AOPA can not support the proposed development project. We urge the planning commission to withhold its approval of this project." The commission is scheduled to consider the privatization plan on May 25.

AOPA will co-chair the FAA/Industry Runway Incursion Joint Safety Implementation Team (JSIT). Dennis Roberts, executive vice president of AOPA's Government and Technical Affairs division, was recently selected by members of the General Aviation Joint Safety Committee to represent general aviation in this crucial capacity. Operating under the umbrella of the FAA administrator's Safer Skies initiative, Roberts will serve jointly with his counterpart from the Air Line Pilots Association, along with John Mayrhofer, the FAA's runway safety czar. The JSIT will be responsible for evaluating and prioritizing intervention measures identified by the Runway Incursion Joint Safety Advisory Team (JSAT). Among the key factors for general aviation will be the cost/benefit analysis of any recommendations affecting AOPA members. Like many such programs, AOPA must assure that any new regulations or equipment requirements are economically justified and improve general aviation safety. AOPA's role will also be to assure that the group's recommendations do not preclude access to airspace or airports for general aviation. This activity is but one more of AOPA's efforts on runway incursions. Previously, Bruce Landsberg, executive director of AOPA's Air Safety Foundation, chaired the FAA's Research, Engineering, and Development (RE&D) Runway Incursion Task Force. Additionally, AOPA President Phil Boyer is the sole industry representative on the FAA administrator's Runway Safety Management Team. Recommendations from the JSIT will be used by the FAA to prioritize and justify expenditures on runway incursion intervention strategies.

In an unusual move, the FAA's associate administrator for airports, Woody Woodward, and several members of her staff traveled to AOPA headquarters recently for a listening session and to brief AOPA's regional representatives on the implementation of the Airport Improvement and Reform Act, known as AIR-21. Woodward was interested in hearing how the reps and staff interact with various regional airport district offices. And she was particularly interested in whether her airports department staff in Washington, D.C., and at the regional levels are responsive to requests from AOPA. AOPA has 12 aviation advocates in its regional representative program. Regional reps provide advocacy at the state and regional levels on behalf of AOPA members. To find out what is happening in your area, click on the Web site.

On Capitol Hill
On Tuesday the House Appropriations Committee gave final approval for the fiscal year 2001 transportation funding bill. This key piece of legislation will provide funding for the FAA for the coming year. AOPA budget analysts have determined that the bill is expected to have a positive impact on general aviation. Most importantly, the bill does not contain the $1 billion in new user fees proposed by the Clinton administration. Key programs to AOPA are set to receive funding at the administration's request or above. These include OASIS--the program designed to modernize flight service stations--and the loran navigation system. The final version of the bill is expected to reach the full House next week.

Airport Support Network
When ASN volunteer Ben Arnold of Porterville Municipal Airport (PTV), California, learned of a proposal to build a sports complex off the end of the runway, he began investigating. Arnold has been on the case for several months, but information has not been forthcoming from the city of Porterville or airport officials. After reviewing documentation that Arnold provided, AOPA realized that the proposal intends to use a portion of airport property for sports complex parking. Because of Arnold's persistence and determination, AOPA has been given the opportunity to weigh in against the project, which would use a federally funded airport property for nonaviation activities.

Click here to learn more about the Airport Support Network.

Quiz me!
Here’s a question asked by an AOPA member last week of our AOPA technical specialists. Test your knowledge.

Question: Does the transponder code "0000" have any significance?
Answer: According to the FAA, the transponder code "0000" is still valid and in use. It is used for military operations by North American Air Defense and should never be used by civilian pilots.

Got a technical question? Call our technical specialists at 800/872-2672 or e-mail to [email protected]. Send comments on our Quiz Me! questions to [email protected].

Picture of the day
Jump to the AOPA Online Gallery to see the featured airplane of the day. Click on the link for details on how to capture wallpaper for your work area. Visit the AOPA Online Gallery.

ePilot Calendar
Huntsville, Alabama. An old-fashioned grass field fly-in takes place May 20 and 21 at Moontown Airport (3M5). Vintage aircraft and biplanes are featured. Huntsville International Airport (HSV), 256/772-9395, is an alternative. Call 256/721-9286 for event information.

Culbertson, Montana. Fly into Big Sky Field (S85) for Culbertson's annual Frontier Days celebration June 2 and 3. Rodeos, a barn dance, and Western hospitality. Big Sky Field is located one mile northeast of the city, 406/787-6620. Call 406/787-5821 for event information.

Grants Pass, Oregon. A celebration of boat racing on the Rogue River takes place May 25 through 29. Grants Pass Airport (3S8), 541/955-4535, serves the area. Call 541/474-2361 for event information.

Frederick, Maryland. Join AOPA for the Mid-Atlantic's premier fly-in June 3 at Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK). The 10th Annual AOPA Fly-In and Open House features more than 90 exhibitors, static aircraft displays, free seminars, and good food. Visit the Web site.

AOPA Expo 2000
takes place in Long Beach, California, October 20 through 22. Visit the Web site.

For more airport details, see AOPA’s Airport Directory Online. For more events, see the Aviation Calendar of Events.

(All clinics start at 7:30 a.m.)
The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Baltimore, Maryland; Irvine, California; Kansas City, Missouri; and Pensacola, Florida, May 20 and 21. Clinics are scheduled In Orlando, Florida, and San Jose, California, June 3 and 4. Safety Seminars are scheduled in New Orleans, Louisiana, May 22; Birmingham, Alabama, May 23; Jackson, Mississippi, May 25; and Little Rock, Arkansas, May 25. For complete details, visit the Flight Instructor Refresher Clinic schedule.

(Pinch Hitter courses start at 9:30 a.m.)
The next Pinch-Hitter� Ground School will take place June 18 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. For details and a complete schedule, see the Pinch Hitter Ground School Schedule.

Featuring AOPA President Phil Boyer
(7:30 p.m.; admission is free)
The next Pilot Town Meetings are in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 12; Waukesha, Wisconsin, June 13; Chicago, Illinois, June 14; and Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 15. Click for more information on Pilot Town Meetings.

Contacting ePilot
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