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Today's Top Stories
General aviation stands at a defining moment. If enacted, proposed new fees in President Barack Obama’s budget will be devastating to GA and to the tens of millions of Americans who depend on it every day. To prevail, we need to let policy-makers hear real Americans tell their stories about the important economic benefits of GA. But getting our message out in the media requires resources. That’s why we’ve created the GA Serves America Fund. Read more and see a special video message from AOPA President Craig Fuller.
‘Nall Report’ reveals highs, lows in GA safety record
The number of accidents increased in 2007, which is worrisome, but the number of fatalities declined—as did the rate of fatal accidents, which fell more than would be anticipated by a declining number of flight hours, indicating a real reduction, according to the nineteenth annual AOPA Air Safety Foundation Joseph T. Nall Report released March 27. “While any fatality is one too many, the declines indicate that industry-wide efforts to improve safety are bearing fruit,” said Bruce Landsberg, president of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. “But the increase in the overall number of accidents indicates that there is still work to be done to improve safety. The Nall Report helps us determine where to focus our efforts.” Read More >>
Pilot pulls Cirrus chute, shares lessons learned
On Sunday, March 15, Verle Wiita, 64, an instrument-rated private pilot with about 320 total hours flying experience, became disoriented in instrument meteorological conditions soon after leaving Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg, Md. He deployed the airframe parachute on his Cirrus SR22 at the base of the clouds, and the airplane came down less than a half-mile from the airport. Here are some of Wiita’s observations and recollections about the flight. Read more >>
At airports around country, good news for hard times
The general aviation apron at Charlotte County Airport in Punta Gorda, Fla., is 67 years old. Even though the pavement is cracked and worn, the apron never seemed to rank quite high enough on the list of priorities to warrant federal funding for rehabilitation. But the airport authority worked quickly when Congress began considering an economic stimulus package, and Charlotte County secured a grant for $2.5 million. As the stimulus plan was first being developed by the administration and congressional leaders late last year, AOPA sprang to action, urging state and local officials across the country to organize and present GA airport projects that would qualify for infrastructure funding. Read more >>
SkyCatcher was in spin at time of loss
A preliminary report by the NTSB indicates the SkyCatcher was spinning out of control prior to a March 19 accident near El Dorado, Kan. The light sport aircraft was the first and only test model to receive a larger tail area in an effort to correct a spin problem seen prior to a crash in September 2008. It was 50 minutes into a spin-test flight when the two-seat aircraft entered a “rapid and disorienting spin,” the report indicates. The information is from the test pilot who was uninjured. Read more >>
AOPA asks Congress to keep modernization moving
Air traffic control modernization is needed, and AOPA President Craig Fuller offered a series of short-term recommendations to keep the process moving in a statement submitted to the House Aviation subcommittee for a March 18 hearing on NextGen. “AOPA members have a vested interest and will be affected by the FAA actions on air traffic control modernization; whether it is the ground system or equipment installed in our members’ aircraft,” Fuller said. Read more >>
Effort to repeal Florida use tax clears first hurdle
Bills aimed at removing the use tax on visiting out-of-state aircraft in Florida sailed through committee with unanimous support in the state legislature March 25. “Passing this exemption could transform the message Florida is sending to the aviation community,” said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy. “Now, pilots who might otherwise come to Florida for maintenance, business, and tourism are avoiding the state altogether. Removing the threat of a hefty tax on visitors will welcome pilots—and revenue—back into the state.” Read more >>
AOPA Let's Go Flying SR22 supports Robertson Field
Children stood on the wings and peered inside the open doors for their first close look at a general aviation aircraft on March 21 at Connecticut’s Robertson Field open house. Veteran fliers took note of the modern avionics, leather seats, and airframe parachute of AOPA’s Let’s Go Flying Cirrus SR22 Sweepstakes airplane. Voters in Plainville, Conn., will decide March 31 whether the state’s oldest airport, Robertson Field (established in 1911), will remain an active airport or be sold for real estate development. The Let’s Go Flying SR22 made the trip from its home base in Frederick, Md., to Robertson Field (4B8) on March 21, where it took center stage at an open house designed to show Plainville residents the types of aircraft and future economic benefits they can expect by preserving the airport. Read more >>
Don't jump to conclusions in Montana PC-12 tragedy
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation on March 24 warned that it’s too soon to be making guesses about the cause of the March 22 accident in Montana, saying that accident investigators are still in the data collection phase, which is only the first in a long series of steps toward determining a cause. “It’s important to remember that except for the extremely rare single-point catastrophic failure, aviation accidents are almost invariably the result of a chain of events and decisions,” said AOPA Air Safety Foundation President Bruce Landsberg. “The National Transportation Safety Board is extremely good at accident reconstruction, but it will take investigators months to find and then unravel all the links in this accident’s chain.” Read more >>
Robert Gannon made one of his frequent stops on his around-the-world flight March 18 to deliver toys and a financial contribution for a children’s hospital specializing in cancer treatment in Basrah, Iraq. The trip was coordinated by Project Hope. The gifts from a contractors’ association in Iowa, where Gannon was once a member, were to a hospital under construction financed by a worldwide effort. Read more >>
Indiana may open lakes to public seaplane access
After a decade of advocacy, and with support from pilots and nonpilots alike, Indiana is showing signs it may open five lakes to public seaplane access. Support for making the lakes public-use was unanimous at public meetings held by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources in February. The move would more than double the number of public seaplane bases in the state, which has unusually stringent rules for seaplane landing spots. While many states have a policy of “open unless prohibited” for seaplanes, Indiana regulations classify waters as “closed unless permitted.” Read more >>
Wind turbines represent potential hazard to pilots
Wind turbines have the potential to be a hazard to air navigation, according to two new letters AOPA issued recently. While AOPA recognizes the role wind turbines play in green power generation, it is concerned that their tall construction could lead to potential collisions with aircraft and impact the reliability of radar. AOPA made the comments in opposition to a bill in the Washington State legislature and on a request for comments to a wind farm proposed in Nantucket Sound off the coast of Massachusetts. Read more >>
Hawker Beechcraft selects new chief
Bill Boisture Jr., former president of NetJets, Gulfstream Aerospace, and British Aerospace Corporate Jets (a forerunner to Hawker), is the new chairman and chief executive officer of Hawker Beechcraft. He takes over from current President Jim Schuster. Read more >>
Quest Kodiak keeps a promise
Twenty-four years ago a pilot with the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), David L. Voetmann, sat down with Glasair and GlaStar designer Tom Hamilton to describe an airplane needed in the bush country of Africa. That aircraft, now called the Quest Kodiak, was delivered this month. MAF and 15 additional missionary organizations have expressed interest or have become partners in the aircraft. Read more >>
Helicopter demonstrates automated sandstorm landing
How do you land a helicopter in a sandstorm? Soon the answer may be, “Push a button.” Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. recently demonstrated such a system to the U.S. Army. Participating were its teammates, Honeywell International and Sierra Nevada Corp. The pilot presses a single button to engage the automated flight controls developed by Sikorsky. These controls bring the aircraft from en route flight to a low hover over a pre-programmed landing point. Read more >>
Fixes for S-92 fleet nearly completed
Operators of 50 of the 91 Sikorsky S-92 helicopters in the world fleet have now complied with a company notice to replace gearbox mounting studs following a fatal crash off the coast of Newfoundland on March 20. Operators quickly complied with a request to retrofit the aircraft’s gearbox oil bowl with steel mounting studs. It is expected there will be full compliance by the end of this week. Read more >>
Where are you flying this weekend?
Are you a golfer ready to enjoy spring? Check out our listing of golf courses around the country that are located just steps from a general aviation airport! It's on our newest destination portal on AOPA Online—it's just Plane Fun. Read more >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Engine explodes at night in new Real Pilot Story
Imagine you're flying your Cessna 400 at night when the engine suddenly sputters and explodes—10,000 feet above the dark Pennsylvania countryside. Manny Kanal doesn't have to imagine. That's exactly what happened to him one night last August, and he lived to tell the tale in Real Pilot Stories: Engine Failure at Night , the latest installment in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's popular series of good flights gone bad. The 10-minute multimedia presentation includes actual ATC communications, dramatic images of the burst engine, and three tips that might save you in a similar situation.
Grasp spring's fickle weather with new safety quiz
Lions and lambs. Winds and showers that bring sun-drenched flowers. When euphemisms are used to describe spring weather, one thing is constant: change. No other season has such wide meteorological mood swings, and these fickle weather patterns can turn a perfectly good flight into a wet, windy mess. Test your knowledge of spring weather with the latest Flash-based safety quiz from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. With interactive exercises and challenges, the quiz will get you ready for anything Mother Nature throws your way this season.
Free safety DVDs included in the April issues of AOPA Pilot and Flight Training magazines are kicking off a partnership with the FAA designed to enhance runway safety. The instructional videos— Heads Up, Hold Short, Fly Right; Was That For Us?; Listen Up, Read Back, Fly Right; and Face to Face, Eye to Eye—are included in an FAA-produced DVD aimed at helping pilots improve their safety skills on the runway. AOPA worked with the FAA’s Runway Safety Program to include the videos and a brochure, “A Pilot’s Guide to Safe Surface Operations,” in the magazines as part of an effort to reduce runway incursions. The effort will continue with the FAA working with the AOPA Air Safety Foundation to update and enhance the foundation’s already popular Runway Safety online course and produce two new Pilot Safety Announcements dealing with runway safety. The new course and PSAs are set to release later this spring.
Has your aircraft spent a long winter in hibernation? This could be a good time to closely inspect it for telltale signs of corrosion and perform preventive maintenance items before the busy flying season. To help make sure your airplane is in top mechanical condition after weeks or months of inactivity, take a look at the AOPA Air Safety Foundation interactive course on keeping aging aircraft in flying shape. The average age of the general aviation piston aircraft fleet is more than 30 years. But new and old planes can be flown safely and reliably by following guidelines in the corrosion subject report from AOPA’s Pilot Information Center.
An important budget story from Washington
Our current user fee threat comes from the budget proposals made by the Obama Administration. The summary documents suggest the new administration wants to, as a matter of policy, reduce the general fund contribution for aviation and increase the reliance on user charges in future years. The revenue number suggested is over $7 billion a year! Read more >>
The idea of a human-powered helicopter has intrigued many engineers and pilots. Although a practical application really does not exist, it is a good exercise in the development of highly efficient airfoils and light weight structures. Read more >>
Save money by getting Sun ’n Fun weekly admission tickets online
Purchase a Sun ’n Fun admission “Weekly Package” online by March 31 for the special rate of $120 per person. The package includes one weekly ticket, a Sun ’n Fun T-shirt, and free weekly parking. Customize your package by adding golf, Fantasy of Flight tickets, and Bok Tower Gardens tickets. The Sun ’n Fun Fly-In will take place from April 21 through 26 in Lakeland, Fla. See the Sun ’n Fun Web site for more information and to purchase tickets. Visit AOPA Online for a schedule of events sponsored by your association.
Financial products designed for pilots
Being a pilot comes with its own set of financial challenges. AOPA understands and offers you a variety of financial products to help you every step of the way. Read more >>
Turning good deals into great deals
Introducing Add It Up, a new free benefit to AOPA members who carry an AOPA Bank of America credit or check card and are enrolled in Bank of America’s online banking. With Add It Up, you can turn your good deals into great deals by earning up to 20 percent cash back from online purchases. Read more >>
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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: How does a Hobbs meter differ from a tach-based hour meter? The two values never seem to match up after a flight.
Answer: The Hobbs meter in most airplanes is triggered by a set oil pressure (i.e. 10 psi) and runs only when the engine does. The Hobbs meter counts the same no matter how fast the engine is running and is difficult to fool. Tach time, on the other hand, is designed to count accurately only at a certain engine speed, usually a high cruise (i.e. 2500 rpm). So with the tach, time ticks by slower when you are on the ground waiting for takeoff compared to in the air at cruise. For more information read “ Form and function: The Hobbs meter.”
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 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 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 Atlanta, Ga., Northbrook, Ill., Salt Lake City, Utah, and, Ashburn, Va., April 4 and 5; Denver, Colo., Indianapolis, Ind., and, Cincinnati, Ohio, April 18 and 19; San Diego, Calif., Tampa, Fla., and, Boston, Mass., April 25 and 26; Pensacola, Fla., and Houston,Texas, May 2 and 3; Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Albany, N.Y., May 16 and 17. 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 Pittsburgh, Pa., March 30; New Cumberland, Pa., March 31; Bethlehem, Pa., April 1; Plymouth Meeting, Pa., April 2; Blacksburg, Va., April 13; Clayton, Mo., and Danville, Va., April 14; Warrensburg, Mo., and Richmond, Va., April 15; Springfield, Mo., and Hampton, Va., April 16; Concord, Calif., April 20; Fresno, Calif., April 21; Palmdale, Calif., April 22. 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