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Pilot Briefing

Aviat to offer Huskys with night vision Sure, you can get tundra tires, skis, and floats on a Husky. But what about night vision gear? Aviat Aircraft aims to be the first small aircraft manufacturer to help pilots peer through fog, smoke, and darkness.

Aviat to offer Huskys with night vision

Sure, you can get tundra tires, skis, and floats on a Husky. But what about night vision gear? Aviat Aircraft aims to be the first small aircraft manufacturer to help pilots peer through fog, smoke, and darkness. Aviat intends to offer Forward.Vision's EVS-100 enhanced vision system as optional equipment. Up until now, such certified systems were available only on high-end business jets. The EVS-100 can extend forward vision by eight times what the naked eye can see. This capability is particularly helpful during engine-out landings at night or in bad weather. Pilots can also use it to spot animals or obstructions on the runway in dark conditions. An infrared sensor weighing 1.2 pounds is mounted on top of the airplane and connected to a display in the cockpit. Aviat will offer the system as a $22,000 option on new aircraft or as a retrofit on earlier models for the same price.

AOPA Pilot 2007 General Aviation Photography Contest

Lazy afternoon photo wins July contest

Flying over a river one beautiful Sunday afternoon just north of Greenwood, Mississippi, can have its rewards. Just ask Gary Woody, who snapped this photo that became the July Photo of the Month in the AOPA Pilot General Aviation Photography Contest. His picture received more than 1,100 votes from fellow AOPA members. To take the photo, Woody held a digital camera out of the Cub's door and snapped the boat passing below the airplane. See a full-size version of the shot on AOPA Online.


Airline pilot Frank Braden has had a string of misfortunes. He and his wife lose their money in a stock market crash, his airliner has a decompression explosion, and the FBI thinks he's suicidal. Meanwhile, some mysterious people are out to get the couple. Dangerous Past weaves this together in A.F. Ebbers's debut hardcover novel. The book lists for $24.95 and is available from or the publisher's Web site.

Everything Explained for the Professional Pilot, by Richie Lengel, is now in its fourth edition and updated for 2007. Like the title indicates, the book pretty much covers it all in 394 large-format pages.

It uses words, drawings, charts, and caricatures.

The book's subtitle is "Excruciatingly Detailed Plain English Explanations of Everything Essential for Every Pilot."

It sells for $59.95 and is available from the publisher.

Alaska high school kids to build their own airplane

Children in Alaska's remote villages know the value of aviation. And now they will learn firsthand how all the parts go together.

Students at Hooper Bay High School, located 500 miles from the nearest major road in western Alaska, are the first to take part in a series of efforts to establish aircraft construction programs in remote Alaskan villages.

"You can't imagine what a dream come true this is for us," said teacher and flight instructor Grant Funk. Once the airplane is built and tested, Funk plans to teach students to fly it.

The first five boxes containing components of a Thorp T-211 were picked up by FedEx in Bangalore, India, and flown to Anchorage. The parts were flown the rest of the way by Lynden Inc. and Arctic Transportation Services. The Build A Plane ( program, which was started in 2003 to give young people a chance to build real airplanes, picked up the freight charges.

The airplane was donated by Ram Pattisapu, founder and chief executive of IndUS Aviation. The project resulted from a partnership inked last year between Build A Plane and the FAA's Aviation and Space Education program.

Yeager looks back on supersonic flight

It may come as a bit of a surprise, but arguably the world's most famous pilot has always flown somebody else's airplane.

Gen. Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager has piloted more than 300 types of military aircraft in his career and has a celebrated history as a fighter ace in World War II. This month he's celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of his historic flight in the Bell X-1 when he broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947.

But Yeager has never flown his own airplane. "I could never afford one," he says of his Air Force days. He adds with a chuckle, "If you're willing to bleed a little bit, Uncle Sam will give you all the airplanes you want."

Today at the age of 84, more than 30 years after retiring from the Air Force, and after ending his "dollar per year" test pilot consulting job at Edwards Air Force Base, Yeager still spends plenty of time in general aviation cockpits. "Basically I have no reason to fly, but it's fun," he says, comparing it to the military years. "I never did fly for the fun of it. It was always duty. I flew because it was my job."

Yeager says he logs around 15 hours a month, mostly in an Aviat Husky that belongs to a friend near his home in California. "I just check in with Bart. 'You flying the airplane today?'" he asks.

If not, he'll head up into the Sierra Nevada or up to Lake Tahoe, shooting touch and goes and enjoying the skies in the same way any other pilot would. "I really, really have a lot of fun with that airplane," he says. He points out that he's also fortunate with his health, still maintaining better than 20/20 vision, and has no limitations on his second class medical certificate.

Yeager frequently goes on fishing trips with another friend. "I fly a Citation V for Barron Hilton quite a bit," Yeager says, as if he were one of the hotel magnate's corporate pilots. And one of his favorite fishing locations often leads to more flying in the form of floatplanes in Alaska.

Yeager enjoys a different kind of flying duty these days. Every year at Oshkosh he takes groups of kids up in a Ford Tri-Motor thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. "We put the kids in the right seat and let them fly the airplane. They're just [as] happy as can be," he says.

Whether he's helping out with the Make-A-Wish Foundation or his own General Chuck Yeager Foundation, he often mentions that flying with kids is a priority for him. It's apparent that after all the years of combat and test flying, helping kids discover the joy of flight is just as important now as pushing the edge of the envelope was 60 years ago. - Jason Paur

Dept. of R&D

What it takes to fly like a swift

The swift is recognized as one of nature's most efficient fliers. That's why a team of aerospace engineering students decided to use it as a model for its micro-airplane concept called the RoboSwift. Somewhat like an F-14, the wings will move forward and back, but it will be able to sweep one wing more than the other in order to make sharp turns. The wings will be made of four "feathers" that can fold over each other to reduce the surface area. RoboSwift will be powered by an electric motor and carry three small cameras for surveillance duties. It will also be able to follow real swifts in flight. It was designed by nine Dutch engineering students at Delft University together with the Department of Experimental Zoology at Wageningen University. The team plans to build three RoboSwifts and make the maiden flight in January 2008.

AOPA ePilot Headlines

Recent news from AOPA's weekly e-mail newsletter

LSA wins NASA contest

A Slovenia-built Pipistrel Virus light sport aircraft took $150,000 of the NASA-sponsored first-year prize money in the 2007 NASA Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) Centennial Challenge after coming closest to the goal of a futuristic vehicle.

No paper, no problem?

Thanks to modern technology you can go paperless in the cockpit, but beware of some caveats. The responsibility falls on the pilot to decide what is needed to maintain safe flight operations.

Columbia 400 owners like to go fast

Columbia 400 owners aren't wasting any time. Six of them have joined Columbia Aircraft's inaugural 300 Knot (groundspeed) Club.

Never too old

For his ninety-sixth birthday, Frank Hartmaier wanted to loop an airplane. With the help of his co-pilot, Donald "Beetle" Bailey, his birthday wish came true.

Tiger to roar skyward again

Georgia businessman J. Kevin Lancaster, 40, has purchased the type certificate, tooling, engineering drawings, parts, and metal-working tools used by Tiger Aircraft from the bankruptcy trustee in West Virginia.

To customize your weekly newsletter to your interests, see AOPA Online.


Phenom comes to life

Expanding the Brazilian VLJ's envelope

By Thomas A. Horne

The Phenom 100, Embraer's first offering in the very light jet category, is a program on the move. A recent visit to the Brazilian manufacturer gave Pilot a first-ever look at the Phenom assembly line, plus a chance to see the first prototype during flight tests.

Final assembly of the first two Phenom 100s is currently taking place at Embraer's São José dos Campos headquarter facilities. Wings and fuselage sections are built separately at Embraer's Botucatu manufacturing site. With the third Phenom 100, final assembly will move to a new factory at yet another Embraer manufacturing site at Gavião Peixoto, Brazil. That's also where flight testing of the first Phenom prototype is now taking place.

There will be four aircraft in the flight test program - one of which will be used in a 600-hour "maturity" program designed to subject the airplane to real-world customer abuse. The airplane features all-composite (carbon fiber) vertical and horizontal stabilizers, elevators, and rudder. By weight, 20 percent of the Phenom 100 is expected to consist of composites.

The day Pilot was there, the first Phenom 100 prototype, PP-XPH - serial number 99801 - finished its eighth flight and its fifteenth flight hour. Test pilots captain Eduardo Alves Menini and co-pilot Marcio Brisolla Jordao, along with an avionics technician tasked by Garmin, flew a sortie to determine the proper length of a tether for a drogue cone. The cone carries instruments for measuring airspeed and other air data parameters. "So far, we have flown to 20,000 feet and as fast as 230 knots, indicated," said Menini. "Next week [the week of August 13] we'll do stalls, plus checks for lateral and directional stability. Then we'll go to 41,000 feet."

Menini reported only good surprises during his seven flights in the left seat of PP-XPH. Takeoffs have been performed using a rotation speed of 108 KIAS and 10 degrees of flaps. Short final approach speeds have been conducted at 85 KIAS with full flaps. Menini said that there was no pitch change with gear or flap extension.

The prototype Phenom is fitted out with Embraer's Prodigy avionics suite, which is based heavily on the Garmin G1000 platform but includes graphic pages displaying aircraft systems. Embraer calls the Phenom 100 the biggest of the VLJs, with a cabin that's 4 feet 8 inches wide and 4 feet 11 inches high. "The Phenom 100's cabin size and range are essentially the same as those of the Cessna Citation CJ1," said Luis Carlos Affonso, Embraer's Executive Vice President of Executive Aviation. "But at $2.98 million it's priced much lower than the $4.61 million CJ1." The Phenom 100 cabin is longer than that of the Cessna Mustang, the Adam A700, and the Eclipse 500. "We don't see the Eclipse as a competitor for the Phenom 100," said Affonso.

Embraer reports 450 firm orders for both the Phenom 100 and its larger stablemate, the Phenom 300. The Phenom 100 is projected as having a maximum cruise speed of 380 KTAS/0.70 Mach, an NBAA IFR range of 1,160 nm, and an internal cabin volume of 282 cubic feet. The airplane is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW617F engines rated at 1,615 pounds static thrust (lbst) each. Embraer says the airplane is ruggedly designed for extended life and as many as 35,000 cycles. A network of 45 service centers will support the Phenom 100, which is expected to enter into service in mid-2008. Phenom 300 deliveries are set for 2009.

E-mail the author at [email protected].

What's in AOPA Flight Training this month?

  • Counting Your Options. If a flight doesn't go as planned, these options can be your best friends.
  • The Dark Side. Training at night can pack more punch to a busy schedule.
  • The Ideal Training Airplane. Is there such a thing? And what is the key to flying them all?

The September issue mailed August 28. Current AOPA members can add a subscription to AOPA Flight Training for $18 per year. For more information, call 800/872-2672.

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