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today's top stories
FAA maintains standard instrument currency requirements
Instrument-rated pilots won’t need to perform more tasks to maintain their currency. In its final rule of an overhaul of FAR Part 61, 91, and 141, the FAA decided to maintain the existing instrument currency requirements. The FAA also extended the duration of student pilot certificates and changed the definition of cross-country. In 2007, the agency had proposed to add requirements that would have dramatically increased the amount of time and, consequently, cost required to stay instrument current. It would have required pilots to perform precision and nonprecision approaches; fly a missed approach; hold at a “radio station,” intersection, or waypoint; and conduct a one-hour cross-country flight, in addition to the current requirements. Read more >>
Eclipse Aerospace, an Eclipse aircraft owner group that made a $40 million offer for the bankrupt company, made the only bid and, as of AOPA ePilot deadline, was expected to be declared the new owner by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. Read the latest information about the sale on AOPA Online >>
FAA working group reviews procedures after Hudson accident
The FAA has convened a New York Airspace Working Group to review current operating procedures in the Hudson River Class B exclusion zone and recommend safety improvements to FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. Acting in the wake of the fatal midair collision over the Hudson River Aug. 8, the FAA convened the working group and tasked it with providing recommendations to improve safety of flight while enabling access in and around New York, focusing on the airspace commonly used by VFR aircraft. AOPA and EAA have urged the FAA in a letter not to rush to regulatory action before a full investigation has been conducted. Read more >>
For more than five years, Swift Enterprises, a small start-up firm founded by Purdue University professor John Rusek and largely staffed by grads, has been designing and producing its own form of renewable fuel meant as an unleaded replacement for 100LL. Independent laboratories including the FAA’s fuel and engine center have tested Swift fuel and determined it performs as well as—and, in some areas, better than—100LL, in a variety of piston aircraft engines. Read more >>
Goulian victorious over Danube
How would you feel if you had worked four years to win an air race made difficult because it requires low-level aerobatics and flying at altitudes as low as 20 feet? You’d feel like Mike Goulian. Selected earlier this year as the top airshow pilot in the United States, Goulian on Aug. 20 won the latest in a series of Red Bull pylon races conducted throughout the world, this one barely above the Danube River in front of 650,000 people. Read more >>
Charity flight modified in wake of tragic loss
The Advanced Helicopter for Youth Foundation is scaling back its Heli-Flights for Hope 2009 charity flight, which was scheduled to meander through six states starting Sept. 23, after four people who were helping prepare for the event were killed in a helicopter accident late last month. The flight will still take place Sept. 23, but the group of helicopters that were planned to make stops in several states to raise awareness for Advent Home Learning Center in Tennessee and Teen Challenge USA will only fly from Frederick, Md., to Bridgewater, Va. The helicopters will perform a missing-man flyover at both locations in memorial to the four who lost their lives. Read more >>
Exhibitors saw positive signs at AirVenture
Companies exhibiting at EAA AirVenture 2009 found reasons to be optimistic about the economy, with a few reporting record-setting results. Others said that while there were more people than last year, they spent less. Read more >>
Politicians & Planes: Connecting with constituents in a Cub
It’s a good thing when lawmakers who shape aviation policy are familiar with flying—and even better when they are pilots themselves. U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) is an instrument-rated commercial pilot with a multiengine rating, and he’s got a pair of airplanes under construction: a Van’s RV-8 and a Skybolt biplane. He also flies a BT-13, a World War II-era trainer, and other vintage airplanes including a Stearman and Piper Cub. “I washed airplanes as a kid and mooched as many rides as I could,” said Graves, 45, of rural Tarkio, Mo. Graves has served in the House of Representatives since 2001 and said that he is focused on issues of concern to general aviation pilots. Read more >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
ga serves america
Residents of Tangier Island don’t need a written schedule to know when the doctor is available. They know it by heart. Dr. David Nichols has been flying to the remote Chesapeake Bay island every Thursday for 30 years to provide much-needed medical care. But, if they should forget that it’s Thursday, they can always hear him coming. “I heard his helicopter come in. I want to see him,” one patient says, calling the island’s Tangier Health Clinic to schedule an appointment even before Nichols lands his Robinson R44 Raven II at Tangier Island Airport (TGI). The residents have grown so attached to him, and the convenience of his regular visits, that some have waited with broken bones, pneumonia, and chest pains until he arrived instead of catching the ferry/mail boat to the mainland for more immediate treatment. Read more >>
Luscombe is newspaper’s eye in the sky
A 1940s-era taildragger has been pressed into service as a photo platform by one of its owners, who works for a Maryland newspaper. Edmond B. Gregory of Frederick, Md., is chief financial officer of The Frederick News-Post, a family-owned newspaper that is published six days a week. Gregory is also part-owner of a 1946 Luscombe 8E. He learned to fly in the two-place, all-metal 8E and earned his private pilot certificate in 2005. He saw an opportunity to reduce the amount of money spent to hire aircraft used for aerial photography, and now he carries a News-Post photographer aloft in the 8E, which he has rigged so that the side window remains open while the photographer aims his camera outside. Read more >>
Lethal lesson: Buzzing spree ends badly
On Sept. 2, 2007, after spending an hour performing solo maneuvers in the local practice area, the student pilot of a Cessna 172 Skyhawk was spotted flying low over his hometown of Union Star, Mo. The pilot circled and climbed and dove, "buzzing" the homes of family and friends. A witness also saw the student pilot throw an object attached to a parachute—just before the Skyhawk stalled in a steep climbing turn and plunged into terrain. Watch a video re-creation of the accident in this special report from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation.
Palm Beach Helicopters introduces new passenger course
Palm Beach Helicopters designed the Heli-Pal course for helicopter passengers to better understand and participate in the flight with minor tasks. Although pilot incapacitation is rare, the student will be better equipped to react in an emergency situation by utilizing specific maneuvers covered in the course to get the aircraft safely on the ground. The course is primarily geared toward private owners and passengers; however, aviation crewmembers can benefit as well. Read more >>
Answers for Pilots: Flying—A class act
Pilots who actively fly make regular pilgrimages to the aviation medical examiner’s office. Each class of medical certification comes with a strict set of compliance guidelines—and there’s no glory in holding a higher certificate level than you need. In fact, doing so often bites in the end. Read more >>
Join the Airport Support Network today
Ensuring the health and vitality of your airport is up to you—incompatible development and economic and political pressures can restrict your flying. Every day, more than 2,000 Airport Support Network (ASN) volunteers work with AOPA headquarters to help save their airports, but we need more. Below is a link to a list of the airports where an ASN volunteer could make a difference.
To nominate yourself or an associate to be a volunteer, visit AOPA Online.
To learn more about the Airport Support Network, visit ASN Online.
PEAK EXPERIENCE: AOPA AVIATION SUMMIT
Making your final approach to Peter O. Knight Airport, the broad panorama of Tampa Bay comes into full view with the turquoise water, city skyline, and convention center spread before you. AOPA’s Aviation Summit takes place at a spectacular flying location with amazing exhibits and attractions the whole family can enjoy. It also provides AOPA members an unmatched opportunity to exchange ideas with the key industry and government leaders whose decisions are shaping general aviation’s future at a pivotal time in our history. AOPA members will have a rare chance to influence the debate on vital topics such as user fees, airport security, and the future air traffic control system—all of which directly affect our freedom to fly. Read more >>
Reporting Points: G500 keeps it simple
While in Canada at the Diamond Aircraft factory, AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Al Marsh took a short flight in a two-seater DA20 equipped with the Garmin G500 glass cockpit. Read more >>
Let’s Go Flying: Hearts, minds … and lunch
When’s the last time you waded into the fray, plucked a nonpilot from the masses, and opened the world of aviation to him or her? It can be as simple as lunch. Read more >>
Get the most from your AOPA WorldPoints credit card
If you already have an AOPA WorldPoints credit card from Bank of America, you know you’re automatically earning points for every dollar you spend. But are you getting the most from your card? Using your card for routine purchases such as groceries, gasoline, and even monthly utility bills can help maximize your rewards. You’ll also earn double points for purchases at more than 4,600 FBOs and select aviation retailers—and when you renew your AOPA membership, buy tickets to AOPA Aviation Summit, or sign up for the Legal Services Plan. Read more >>
Attorney/pilot relies on AOPA Legal Services Plan
Christopher Piety, an attorney and pilot from San Carlos, Calif., recognized that he needed assistance in navigating the complexity of the U.S. Code and its application to pilots. He enrolled in the AOPA Legal Services Plan, which makes aviation legal assistance and representation available to him as an AOPA member. “As an insurance claims professional, I purchase specialty legal services at wholesale prices, and the AOPA program still beats that hands down,” he said. Read more >>
Wish you had a better understanding of the regulations when talking to your mechanic or the avionics shop? Aircraft Electronics Association Vice President of Government/Industry Affairs Ric Peri answers your frequently asked questions.
Question: What are the requirements for installing avionics in a light sport aircraft (LSA)?
Answer: Although LSAs are still in their infancy, I raised this question to the FAA’s Light Sport Aviation Office (AFS-610) and the chair of ASTM F-37 committee, which developed the LSA standard. According to the FAA, there are differing criteria depending on whether the aircraft is factory built or amateur built. Read more >>
Submit your own question via e-mail.
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: My flight school is considering working with a company doing traffic surveys around a metropolitan area. We would be providing our instructors as pilots. Are we authorized to do this?
Answer: Maybe. Passenger-carrying (sightseeing) flights for compensation or hire are covered under FAR 91.147 and must meet certain requirements. The operator must apply for and receive a letter of authorization from the local flight standards district office, and must register for and implement a drug and alcohol testing program in accordance with Part 121, Appendices I and J. The flight itself must be nonstop and begin and end within a 25-statute-mile radius of the original point of departure. If the flight is conducted outside of this radius, the operator would need to hold a Part 135 certificate and the pilots be qualified by FAR 135 regulations.
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].
AOPA's 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? Planning an aviation getaway? See your personalized 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. You can also bookmark the personalized calendar page to check it as often as you want. 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 Fort Worth, Texas, Aug. 29 and 30; Phoenix, Ariz., and Sacramento, Calif., Sept. 12 and 13; Baltimore, Md., and Richmond, Va., Sept. 19 and 20; Colorado Springs, Colo., and Seattle, Wash., Sept. 26 and 27. 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 Germantown, Tenn., Aug. 31; Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 1; Maryville, Tenn., Sept. 3; Wichita, Kan., and Morristown, N.J., Sept. 14; East Hartford, Conn., and Oklahoma City, Okla, Sept. 15; Rogers, Ark., and Newton, Mass., Sept. 16; Little Rock, Ark., and Manchester, N.H., Sept. 17. 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].
Editorial Team : ePilot Editor: Alyssa Miller