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SkyCatcher changes to be small The crash of the prototype SkyCatcher in September during flight testing will result in only small modifications where appropriate, a Cessna Aircraft Company spokeswoman said. There was no information at press time on whether there might be program delays for the two-seat aircraft, which will become Cessna’s entry into the light sport aircraft market.

SkyCatcher changes to be small

The crash of the prototype SkyCatcher in September during flight testing will result in only small modifications where appropriate, a Cessna Aircraft Company spokeswoman said.

There was no information at press time on whether there might be program delays for the two-seat aircraft, which will become Cessna’s entry into the light sport aircraft market.

Despite early reports from Cessna officials that there may have been a flat spin involved, a spokesman said the project engineer reports the aircraft entered a nose-down, normal spin. At the time the spin was entered the test pilot had performed a power-on, cross-controlled “spin test.”

The maneuver began at 10,000 feet. The pilot at first tried to deploy the BRS ballistic airframe parachute. Witnesses reported hearing a “pop” and seeing sparks, which may have come from the rocket that is supposed to pull the parachute from its canister. The entire aircraft is then lowered to the ground. However, it appears the parachute deployed improperly, and a Cessna spokeswoman said she saw no parachute at the crash site. It may still have been in its canister.

The aircraft was destroyed. Now, the aircraft that was intended to be the first production aircraft will instead become the new test aircraft. Test equipment will be mounted so that test flights can continue. There is a third SkyCatcher available, but it is a static test article. Interestingly, portions of the testing Cessna is doing are not required under ASTM standards used to self-certify the aircraft. LSA manufacturers simply confirm to the FAA that agreed-upon standards were met.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which does not usually investigate flight-test accidents, has in this case not only assigned an investigator but sent him to the Cessna factory. NTSB started a 15-month investigation of LSA certification in October that ends in January 2009. NTSB has had “concerns” about the new and largely self-certified LSAs because they are “not certified by the FAA,” a spokesman said. The FAA is visiting 29 light sport dealers and manufacturers to assess compliance with ASTM standards and help companies follow the correct procedures.

PiperJet performs for the public

Piper Aircraft provided the public with its first official look at the unusual PiperJet. The company’s first jet product features a single tail-mounted Williams FJ44-3AP engine, a slender 44-foot-long wing with winglets, and a large cabin with lavatory.

The prototype, flying since July 30, utilizes a straight main landing gear system. The three conforming flight test airplanes and production models will include a trailing link system with an optional anti-skid brake system.

The flight test airplanes will be built starting late next year. Certification and first deliveries are now scheduled for late 2011 or early 2012—about a year later than the company predicted when the PiperJet was first announced two years ago.

The $2.2 million airplane (in 2006 dollars) is expected to have a maximum cruise of 360 knots and max altitude of 35,000 feet, burning 77 gph. At max cruise, it can fly for about 1,000 nm with IFR reserves. At 320 knots it can fly 1,300 nm with reserves on just 64 gph.— Thomas B. Haines

CAF clashes with Air Force over F-82

The Commemorative Air Force, based in Midland, Texas, is appealing a court decision giving ownership of a rare North American F-82—sometimes called the Twin Mustang but actually a new design—to the U.S. Air Force.

The CAF claimed that the U.S. Air Force first donated the aircraft in 1966 with provisions for its eventual return, then in 1968 gave permission to fly the airplane and referred to it as an official donation to the CAF, with no provisions for its return. The USAF issued a “transfer certificate” to the CAF as well.

The National Museum of the USAF has refused to comment since the matter is under appeal in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. However, Stephan D. Brown, president and CEO of the Commemorative Air Force, said the Air Force has changed donation and transfer rules since the 1970s and feels the change in rules is retroactive to the F-82. The museum is located in Dayton, Ohio, and is headed by retired Maj. Gen. Charles Metcalf.

The CAF flew the aircraft at airshows until 1986 when it was damaged in an accident. It has been restored to display status, and donations of up to $1 million have been located to restore the aircraft to flight status. The Air Force museum wants the airplane transported to Dayton immediately at a cost to the CAF of $28,000 without waiting for the year-long appeal process.

“What is to be gained by this?” asked Brown. “What is the noble purpose? More people will see it if we fly it than will see it if it is put in a museum.” But the Air Force museum already has an F-82 on display, one just a few serial numbers older than the one at the CAF hangar.

The F-82 saw action in Korea (it was delivered too late for World War II) and featured twin cockpits, one for a pilot and the other for a copilot-navigator.

In early 2007 the U.S. Air Force reclaimed a painstakingly and expensively restored Lockheed A-12 (SR-71 Blackbird) that was mounted on a pedestal at the Minnesota Air Guard Museum in Minneapolis. It was sent to the CIA as a lawn ornament, although other A-12s in less perfect condition were available around the country.

Santa Paula gets a museum

Normally this would be a story local to Santa Paula, California, but the airport there has a national reputation for its eclectic mix of antique and modern aircraft. Now there is a new reason to visit Santa Paula; it is getting a museum.

The Aviation Museum of Santa Paula ( is under construction. No opening date has been announced. The airport is less than an hour north of Los Angeles. Santa Paula Airport has been an active private airport for more than 80 years, despite the efforts of the Santa Clara River that runs near it to chew away at its ramp area. Many of the original structures and hangars from the 1930s are still intact and functioning. The museum has been a dream of the community for decades, since the days when actor Steve McQueen based his aircraft there.

“The airport is known among flyers as unique because of its rich aviation history and small-town, community feel,” said Robert Banman, a local pilot for 45 years.

Renters slow to accept glass cockpits

An informal, unscientific survey of renters nationwide shows reluctance to pay for the extra cost and training required to rent aircraft with glass cockpits.

That is the reaction to a question asked on AOPA Online that brought 30 responses from around the nation. Out of 30 responses sent directly to AOPA Pilot, only four said they are renting only glass-cockpit airplanes.

In some cases glass cockpits are simply not available, according to responders from Nebraska, Iowa, and surprisingly, even the New York City area.

Renters said they recognize the greater situational awareness glass cockpits provide, and thus, the greater safety. First, here are two renters who fly nothing but glass.

“I switched to glass two years ago and it’s all I rent, now,” said Scott Hauert of Phoenix. “The cost difference is insignificant at the place I rent from the most. The glass rental planes are much newer and without exception, are in better condition both aesthetically and non-safety-mechanically. I am a computer person and the button-pushing logic of glass makes perfect sense to me.”

Thorpe Facer of Urbana, Illinois, said he needed to carry four people, and the only plane available for that was a four-place Diamond DA40 that happened to have a glass cockpit. “...very important to me was the coolness factor. I love the G1000 and the DA40. Since being checked out, I have never piloted a steam-gauge airplane.”

Others were concerned about the cost of glass-cockpit rental and even the reliability of software in general.

Brian Knoblauch of Toledo, Ohio, said, “It costs more to rent glass. Steam gauges looked like they’d suit my mission just fine. I trust several individual mechanical gauges a lot more than a computerized setup (I’m a computer guy, I know how horribly fragile hardware and especially software can be).”

A few potential aircraft owners responded to our question, too. Several indicated that they want to buy an older aircraft they can afford, and then want to retrofit it with a glass cockpit system. But while they are renting, they will remain with less expensive traditional cockpits, they said.

Wright Flyer III replica wins monthly photo contest

You can’t go wrong with the Wright Flyer III replica, built by Mark Dusenberry of Dover, Ohio. That is exactly what John Lane thought when he took this captivating photo at daybreak on October 5, 2005, during the 100-year celebration of the Wright brothers’ first practical flight at Huffman Prairie, Dayton, Ohio. Lane started the Lebanon Warren County Airport in the early 1950s and received the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic and Wright Brothers Master Pilot Awards. See a large image and the other monthly winners on AOPA Online.— Machteld A. Smith

This month in aviation history

Compiled by Kathryn Opalewski

November 17, 1962 | Ceremonies mark the opening of Dulles International Airport.

November 1, 1965 | The FAA announces that it has recovered the entire cost of developing a low-cost, lightweight transponder for general aviation use.

November 17, 1965 | A Boeing 707 becomes the first aircraft to girdle the globe going north to south, covering 26,230 miles and both poles in 62 hours 28 minutes.

November 4, 1966 | The United States and the Soviet Union sign an agreement authorizing commercial airline service between New York and Moscow.

November 13, 1968 | President-elect Richard M. Nixon announces “a first priority of my administration will be to strengthen our air-controller force, improve their working conditions and provide them with new equipment they need to keep our airways safe.”

November 22, 1969 | Effective this date, the FAA increases minimum flight-time requirements for an airline transport pilot certificate from 1,200 to 1,500 hours.

November 30, 1970 | The FAA inaugurates a GA accident prevention program on a national level after a two-year test in FAA’s Central and Southwest regions.

November 18, 1971 | Public Law 92-159 prohibits airborne hunting of animals.

November 24, 1971 | D. B. Cooper parachutes from the Northwest Orient Airlines Boeing 727 he hijacked, with $200,000 in ransom money.

November 22, 1972 | President Nixon lifts a 22-year-old restriction on travel of U.S. airliners to the People’s Republic of China as part of a general rapprochement between the two countries.

November 16, 1973 | Friendship International Airport is renamed Baltimore Washington International.

November 20, 1973 | A seven-point jet fuel conservation plan designed to save up to 20,000 barrels (840,000) gallons of jet fuel per day goes into effect.

November 1, 1974 | New certification and operating standards for FAA-approved flight schools go into effect.

November 13, 1974 | In an action to reduce the bird hazard to aviation, the FAA announces guidelines aimed at banning garbage dumps or sanitary landfills within 10,000 feet of runways used by turbojets and 5,000 feet of those used by piston-engine aircraft.

November 9, 1977 | President Jimmy Carter signs legislation that deregulates the air cargo industry.

November 2, 1981 | The FAA requires 12-inch N numbers on fixed-wing aircraft.

November 5, 1982 | The FAA begins accepting applications for new air traffic controllers to replace those fired during the PATCO strike.

November 13, 1985 | The FAA publishes a rule requiring shoulder harnesses for all seats in new airplanes with fewer than 10 passenger seats manufactured after December 12, 1986.

November 18, 1985 | General Dynamics purchases Cessna.

November 16, 1986 | A Department of Transportation order ends air service between the United States and South Africa, as required by the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986.

November 16, 1990 | President George Bush signs the Aviation Security Improvement Act.

November 18, 1993 | American Airlines flight attendants strike.

November 25, 1996 | Officials at John F. Kennedy International Airport unveiled a new aircraft arresting system, made of foam blocks, to bring aircraft to a safe stop if they overrun a runway.

November 24, 1997 | Bombardier Aerospace delivers its 400th aircraft, a Challenger 604 widebody business jet.

November 10, 2001 | Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University celebrates its 75th anniversary.

November 16, 2004 | NASA’s X-43 reaches a record speed of Mach 10 (7,000 mph, 11,200 km/hour).

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