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Today's Top Stories
AOPA Sweepstakes winners have taken home many exciting airplanes over the years—but none can match the stunning performance, safety features, or panache of the association’s 2009 Sweepstakes Let’s Go Flying Cirrus SR22. The technologically advanced, composite, glass-cockpit airplane can cover more than 1,000 nautical miles at a stretch, achieve speeds of more than 180 knots true airspeed, and reach an altitude of 17,500 feet. Like every Cirrus, it has an airframe parachute, and this particular SR22 also carries a built-in TKS anti-icing system for an extra level of safety. Its deluxe leather interior makes riding in the Let’s Go Flying SR22 feel like a luxury sports car. Read more >>
Aviation groups should work with DOT secretary designate
Incoming AOPA President Craig Fuller congratulated Secretary of Transportation Designate Rep. Ray LaHood on Dec. 19 after his official nomination from President-elect Barak Obama. Fuller told LaHood, “Your background in Congress as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and its aviation subcommittee gives you a special insight into the aviation industry and many of the issues we face. Your understanding of the importance of the economic impact of aviation is especially important as you take on this leadership role.”
FAA certifies Garmin transponders for ADS-B
The deadline is still a little more than 11 years away, but Garmin has received FAA certification for making its GTX 330 and GTX 33 transponders ADS-B compatible. ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast) is the satellite-based technology backbone of the coming post-radar air traffic control system. The Garmin transponders will be equipped with 1090 MHz extended squitter (ES) capability that allows them to send aircraft speed, altitude, heading, and identity messages to ADS-B-equipped aircraft and ground stations. The company based in Olathe, Kan., is the first to receive FAA certification for ADS-B transponders designed for the general aviation market. Read more >>
Goodbye to one tough year
Looking back over 2008 you might think it’s mostly bad news. But there are bits of good news among the torrent of terrible. While it was a tough year for the very light jet market, avionics and some piston-single manufacturers weathered the storm. Read AOPA Pilot Editor-in-Chief Thomas B. Haines' review of the general aviation industry.
The ups and downs of 2008 proved a challenge to general aviation, with some incidents dividing pilots and others uniting them. The year saw the first U.S. pilot to be jailed for a fatal accident; general aviation saved the life of another; and pilots prevented a TV crew from flying GA aircraft into a major airport for a so-called story. See the Top 10 stories, ranked by readership, that captivated pilots in 2008.
Boyer predicts strong GA future in final public speech
It was particularly fitting that Phil Boyer’s final public presentation as AOPA president was on the anniversary of the Wright Brothers first powered flight—Dec. 17—before an audience in their home town, Dayton, Ohio. “The Wright Brothers were the first general aviation pilots and innovators,” said Boyer, “and even today, aviation advances frequently come through GA first.” Boyer was the keynote speaker at Aviation Trail Inc.’s annual First Flight Anniversary dinner in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. Read more >>
Registration open for online passenger information system
Beginning in May, pilots who fly internationally will have to provide passenger information to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) using a new electronic reporting system. But CBP’s Electronic Advance Passenger Information System, better known as eAPIS, is available now, and pilots may begin using it on a voluntary basis to file passenger manifests before launching on any international flight. In order to use the system, pilots must register for an online account. Read more >>
FAA Tech Center evaluates future fuels
When it comes to the future of aviation fuels, there’s one place to turn for definitive analysis—the FAA’s Alternative Aviation Fuel and Engine Test Facility, part of the WJH Technical Center, located in New Jersey. Engineers at the facility are dedicated to working with the aviation industry to evaluate fuel options, including possible successors to 100LL avgas. Read more >>
Airshow star Patty Wagstaff pleads guilty, pays fine
Airshow performer and aerobatic champion Patty Wagstaff paid $500 in fines Dec. 19 and had her driver’s license suspended in Wisconsin for eight months for an incident on July 31 on the grounds of the Oshkosh airport. The suspension is retroactive to the incident, and all but three of the months have expired. Wagstaff took a wrong turn on the way home from a party and ended up on a closed runway. Stopped by security personnel after skidding off the end of the runway, Wagstaff almost immediately became uncooperative to responding officers. Read more >>
World-record flight raises money for Lou Gehrig’s disease
Eighteen months of planning paid off for CarolAnn Garratt Dec. 11 after she and copilot Carol Foy completed their seven-day, 160-hour round-the-world flight in a Mooney to raise money and awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.The National Aeronautic Association is reviewing the record attempt and will then send the information to the the Federation Aeronautique Internationale. Read more >>
White Knight Two makes first flight
Scaled Composites conducted the first test flight of White Knight Two, also known as Eve, Dec. 21 over California’s Mojave Desert. The aircraft will be the “mother ship” for SpaceShipTwo, which is designed to carry passengers into space and will be operated by Virgin Galactic. In a brief release, Virgin Galactic said the aircraft had a “flawless maiden flight.” Scaled Composites said the one-hour flight explored the aircraft’s handling qualities at altitudes of up to 16,000 feet. Its predecessor, White Knight, launched SpaceShipOne on its X Prize-winning flight. The $10 million Ansari X Prize was awarded Oct. 4, 2004 to Scaled Composites as the first private team to build and launch a spacecraft capable of carrying three people 100 kilometers above the Earth’s surface twice within two weeks.
Texas jury rejects lawsuit against aircraft owner
The jury for a lawsuit against the owner of an aircraft involved in a fatal 2005 accident rejected a request by the parents of one of the victims for $23.2 million plus punitive damages. The Turbine Design TD–2 is believed to have attempted a go-around while arriving for a fuel stop at George R. Carr Memorial Air Field near Bogalusa, La. Both Terry Willis, riding in the front seat of the tandem-seat aircraft (the only cockpit with a throttle), and David Duff were killed. Details are in dispute as to what happened, but the turboprop single-engine aircraft went from an idle-power, nose-down attitude to a full power, nose-up attitude prior to the aircraft hitting the ground. Read more >>
HondaJet headquarters complete
Honda Aircraft says it is still on track to deliver its innovative HondaJets to customers by the end of 2010. To support that effort, the Greensboro, N.C., company has completed its research and development facility and corporate headquarters. Work on the twinjet’s production facility is set to begin early next year. Ultimately, the Honda campus will include 400,000 square feet of space. Read more >>
Sheriff takes oath of office in helicopter
Dave Doak was sworn in as the sheriff of Portage County, Ohio, on Dec. 18 from a helicopter. The Record-Courier quoted Doak as saying, “‘From the time I was a boy there were two things I wanted to do in life, be a pilot and a policeman,’ he said.” According to the newspaper, he achieved both goals. Read more >>
Biplane Expo to end in 2009
Next year’s Biplane Expo in Bartlesville, Okla., will be the last of the annual fly-ins that began in 1987, organizers announced. The National Biplane Association said increasing costs and staffing requirements convinced the board to end the event. The final Biplane Expo is scheduled for June 4 through 6, 2009. During the past 23 years, nearly 2,500 biplanes have attended the Biplane Expo, along with more than 7,000 regular general aviation aircraft and 75,000 people.
A magical night
Underneath a thin cloud layer were what seemed to be millions of Christmas tree lights spread out as far as the eye could see. And millions of people were settling into their beds, unaware of the grand spectacle over their heads. Read more in the latest installment of the Joy of Flight. For more stories, see the Joy of Flight archives. And, submit your adventures to AOPA.
NTSB warns of icing danger, urges immediate action
A new safety alert issued by the National Transportation Safety Board points out the many hazards of icing and urges pilots to take counter measures immediately. As little as one-quarter inch of ice on the leading edge of the wing can be deadly and can increase stall speeds by as much as 40 knots, the safety alert warns. To help identify potential control problems as soon as possible, pilots are urged to limit the use of the autopilot in icing conditions. Read more >>
I was flying amidst broken, cumulus clouds at about 7,000 feet, being vectored here and there by Potomac Approach, when a clear patch of sky revealed an amazing sight below: the Washington National Mall, Capitol, and White House, all spread out like ivory treasures beside the broad Potomac River. It was the summer of 2001, and I was alone, ferrying an airplane from Atlanta up the East Coast. Obviously, much has changed since then. But I wanted to experience that sort of pride and witness the wondrous sights of Washington from the air again. Read more in AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman’s first-hand account of going through the security process to fly in the Washington, D.C., Flight Restricted Zone.
Finish your safety training during holiday down time
With the hectic holiday rush behind, pilots are apt to have a little year-end down time. It's the perfect opportunity to check out your AOPA Air Safety Foundation transcript and finish any incomplete courses. Your transcript provides a detailed account of the courses you’ve viewed, including whether you’ve earned a completion certificate. Because your progress is automatically saved, you can pick up right where you stopped. And while you're finishing your safety training, don't forget to take the FAA's ADIZ training course. Pilots who fly near the Washington, D.C., area must take it before Feb. 9, 2009, or before flying in the area after that date.
Make family flying fun
When you’re traveling by general aviation for the holidays, you probably aren’t making the trip alone. Carrying children and relatives along can add a whole new dimension to your flight. Read more >>
Airport Support Network
ASN volunteer sets the record straight at Connecticut airport
After more than a decade as an AOPA Airport Support Network (ASN) volunteer, David Faile knows how to defend his airport from attack. So when he read a letter to the editor full of misinformation in his local newspaper, he got to work setting the record straight. Faile, who is the ASN volunteer for Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Connecticut, answered the charges of anti-airport activists point-by-point in his own letter to the editor of the Connecticut Post, published Dec. 10. Read more >>
To learn more about the Airport Support Network, visit the ASN web site.
It's not something that happens often in general aviation. On average, about half a dozen pilot incapacitation accidents happen every year in GA. The following comes from the soon-to-be-released 2008 Joseph T. Nall Report that will examine GA's 2007 accident picture: "Of the six incapacitation accidents that occurred in 2007, one was the result of a heart attack, and one a probable stroke. Both were fatal. Two others, one fatal, were attributed to spatial disorientation. The remaining two were an apparent murder-suicide that killed two, and a loss of consciousness on short final that the pilot speculated might have been caused by dehydration. He suffered only minor injuries after a hard landing." Read more >>
What makes a good flight school?
A conversation over lunch turned to flight schools as a fellow pilot talked about the poor customer service he experienced on his vacation while checking out in an airplane. Although we all may have similar stories to tell, I challenged those around the table to think about some of the good experiences they’ve had at flight schools—beyond the basic thrill of slipping the surly bonds of Earth. Share your thoughts in AOPA Flight Training Editor Mike Collin’s latest blog entry.
End 2008 with a gift to general aviation
All AOPA members are encouraged to make a tax-deductible donation to the new AOPA Foundation in the spirit of holiday giving. Your gift, small or large, will help us address many broad needs facing GA: We can improve the image of GA with the public; preserve our unique system of airports; bring more people into flying; and continue to offer excellent safety education to pilots. Your donation helps pilots today and as well as the pilots of tomorrow. To donate, see the foundation’s Web page.
Are your insurance policies overdue for their annual inspection?
As another year comes to a close it’s the perfect time to review your insurance policies because your coverage needs may have changed. AOPA offers great rates on term life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment, aircraft insurance, and even auto insurance. These programs offer special aviation enhancements as an added benefit for our members. Take time to do an annual inspection on your insurance needs. When you take your first flight of 2009 you can relax knowing that you’re covered by AOPA’s Insurance Services.
Here's a question asked by an AOPA member who contacted our aviation services staff through the AOPA Pilot Information Center. Test your knowledge.
Question: I have my instrument rating, but I am not instrument current. Can I still operate under IFR as long as the weather remains VMC along my entire route of flight?
Answer: FAR 61.57(c) states that you cannot act as pilot in command under instrument flight rules (IFR) unless you meet the recent experience requirements. Even if you know you will not encounter instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), this regulation still prohibits you from operating under IFR.
Got a question for our aviation services staff? The AOPA Pilot Information Center is a service available to all members as part of the annual dues. Call 800/872-2672, or e-mail to [email protected]. Send comments on our Quiz Me! questions to [email protected].
Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Update
Waiting for a winner
It's the end of December. Winter is upon us, and the year is coming to a close. But most important, it's almost time to give away the 2008 Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Piper Archer. The Archer is undergoing its annual inspection as we speak. But before we close the book on another sweepstakes, see this week's update for a look back at a year's worth of upgrades. Make sure you are entered to win the Get Your Glass Archer by joining AOPA or renewing your membership by Dec. 31.
AOPA's new online photo gallery allows you to upload your own aviation photography as well as view, rate, and comment on others' photos. Your favorite aviation images from AOPA Pilot are still available online through this new gallery. Take a look, and submit your own photos!
Aviation Events & Weather
Want something to do this weekend? Wanting to plan an aviation getaway? See our online calendar of events. We've enhanced our calendar so that with one click, you can see all of the events listed in the calendar regions you selected when personalizing ePilot. Now you can browse events listed two weeks to a few months out to make your planning easier. Before you take off on an adventure, make sure you check our current aviation weather provided by Jeppesen.
Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics
The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in San Antonio, Portland, Ore., and Rochester, N.Y., Jan. 3 and 4; Long Beach, Calif., Sevierville, Tenn., and Seattle, Jan. 10 and 11; and Detroit, Jackson, Miss., and Charlotte, N.C., Jan. 17 and 18. For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
Can't make it in person? Sign up for the CFI Refresher Online.
AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Seminars
AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Seminars are scheduled in Mesa, Ariz., and Reno, Nev., Jan. 12. Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
Got news? Contact ePilot. Having difficulty using this service? Visit the ePilot Frequently Asked Questions now at AOPA Online or write to [email protected].
This issue of ePilot was created for &fname; &lname; at &*TO;
Editorial Team : ePilot Editor: Alyssa Miller | Contributors: Warren Morningstar, Alton Marsh