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today’s top stories
Ford touts GA on Hill
Whether backcountry flying in an Aviat Husky or airlifting supplies to earthquake-ravaged Haitian communities in a Cessna Grand Caravan, Harrison Ford is engaged in aviation. The actor and avid pilot shared his love of flying with members of the congressional general aviation caucuses on Capitol Hill April 27 and discussed the importance of GA to economic development, humanitarian efforts, and medical services. “America has a great legacy of aviation,” Ford said. “We’ve led the world in aviation for much of its hundred-year history.” Watch AOPA Live >>
Aircraft theft thwarted at Pennsylvania airport
Airport employees at Donegal Springs Airpark in Mount Joy/Marietta, Pa., last week prevented a man from stealing a twin-engine Piper Aerostar. The man, who is not a pilot, was able to get in and start the aircraft. According to press reports, employees heard the aircraft running at a higher rpm than usual and checked on the aircraft and noticed a stranger at the controls. “This incident highlights the importance of being vigilant at an airport and reporting any suspicious activity,” said Brittney Miculka, AOPA manager of security and borders. Read more >>
Cluster ballooning was born in chaos on July 2, 1982, when Lawn Chair Larry Walters soared to 16,000 feet in busy Los Angeles airspace. The FAA fined him $1,500 for having an uncertificated Sears lawn chair (that wasn’t the exact wording), and for operating in Long Beach, Calif., airspace without contacting the tower. Today, cluster ballooning has grown to two certificated pilots. Jonathan R. Trappe of Raleigh, N.C., is a private “lighter-than-air free balloon pilot” with the standard limitation requiring a hot-air heater removed. That means he’s legal to fly a gas balloon, or in his case, to herd a bunch of gas balloons through the sky. Read more >>
Military looking for flying car
The best way to avoid roadside bombs in Iraq or Afghanistan is to fly over them. With that in mind, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking for a four-person flying car. Read more >>
American Legend Aircraft Co. has listened to customers who wanted a new light sport Cub with the latest safety features, but couldn’t afford those now on the market. The company’s new Classic J-3 will cost $94,895; it even has a sliding window just like the original Piper Super Cub. The Classic J-3 comes with a 100-horsepower Continental O-200 engine, Sensenich wood propeller, all-metal cowling with exposed cylinders, 25-hour battery with starter, 16-gallon fuel system, disk brakes, die-spring gear, and shoulder harnesses at both seats. Read more >>
Resolution would recognize GA effort in Haiti relief
Co-chairs of the House and Senate General Aviation Caucuses, Reps. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) and Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) and Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), along with co-sponsors introduced a concurrent resolution this week that recognizes GA’s contributions to the Haiti relief effort in the wake of the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake. GA pilots and aircraft owners donated their time and aircraft to fly more than 4,500 relief flights within 30 days of the earthquake, according to the resolution. Read more >>
Used prices fall, across the board
If you had any doubts about the links between the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the recent economic downturn, and the average sales price of a used airplane, then a recent compilation by Vref is a must-see. Vref, an aircraft value reference guide, has put together a series of graphs tracing the ups and downs of the used market. Read more >>
Cleveland airspace proposal addresses GA concerns…
The FAA has responded to input from pilots to mitigate the effects of its planned Cleveland Class B airspace redesign on nearby airports. Early in the redesign process, local users and AOPA identified impacts the initial proposal would have on general aviation operations, citing concerns about the reduction of available airspace for GA aircraft and an impact on nearby glider operations. The FAA incorporated changes in a notice of proposed rulemaking to mitigate the majority of the impacts on GA. Read more >>
…Charlotte Class B redesign must not overlook GA
The FAA’s proposed redesign of the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport Class B airspace to better contain traffic should be amended to mitigate impacts to general aviation, AOPA has pointed out in its formal comments on the proposal. The association has requested a 2-nautical-mile cutout for Chester Catawba Regional Airport in Chester, S.C., located 25 nm southwest of Charlotte. Read more >>
Unmanned airships find new roles
A military contractor will use a $1 million SkySat unmanned airship built by Sanswire Corp. of Aventura, Fla., for defense communications. Read more >>
First CJ4 delivered
The first of Cessna’s Citation CJ4s is now in a lucky (unnamed) customer’s possession. The owner took advantage of a new, proprietary program offered by Cessna—GreenTrak. Read more >>
Scottsdale crowd engages in aviation
A candidate for the open congressional seat in the area, a pro-aviation mayor from a nearby city, and a state representative were among the close to 200 people in attendance at AOPA President Craig Fuller’s pilot town hall meeting at the Hangar One complex in Scottsdale, Ariz., April 23. Fuller spoke about the true value of general aviation for all Americans and answered questions on topics from avgas to the congressional GA caucuses. Gatherings like this, when informed pilots and elected officials come together, are critically important to helping AOPA demonstrate just how engaged and passionate the general aviation community is. Read Fuller’s blog >>
‘Growing the pilot population—one youth at a time’
The American pilot population has been decreasing for years, but a group of pilots at the Peachstate Aerodrome in Williamson, Ga., have launched a program to help reverse the trend—and help young people achieve their dreams of flight. The group formed the Candler Field Flying Club in November 2009 to offer affordable flight instruction for young people and pass on the legacy of flight to the next generation. After only five months, the club already has 23 members, eight of them under the age of 20. Read more >>
Combs sweeps eastern U.S. in Flight for the Human Spirit
Sport pilot Michael Combs has completed several flight days on his months-long Flight for the Human Spirit and as of April 29 was flying in Indiana. Flying a well-equipped Remos GX, Combs has encountered some delays since launching April 8 from Salina, Kan. But there have also been positive moments for Combs, who has undertaken the flight to encourage everyone he meets that “it’s never ever too late to follow your dreams.” Read more >>
Able Flight chooses two for Purdue training program
A New Jersey woman and a California man are the latest recipients of flight training scholarships offered to persons with disabilities through Able Flight. Heather Schultz and Chris Spaur will travel to Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind., where Purdue instructors will teach them to fly in a specially equipped Sky Arrow light sport aircraft. Read more >>
In the flight envelope with Patty Wagstaff
Airshow performer Patty Wagstaff is most comfortable when she’s in the cockpit. “I’m up there, everything’s beautiful, wonderful, … and then I have to land. I’m like, ‘Oh, darn,’” she says in an interview with AOPA Pilot Managing Editor Julie Walker “… Now life is going to get complicated.” Hear Wagstaff talk about aerobatics training, staying in shape to pull 10 Gs, and what it takes to be an airshow pilot. Watch AOPA Live >>
AOPA Airports offers weather widget, enhancements
AOPA Airports, the next generation of the AOPA online airport directory, is the product of a complete rethinking of what an airport directory should be and the services it should provide. Among these services is access to important information wherever it is needed—including on other sites. AOPA Airports reports METARs and TAFs; website managers can embed this exclusive METAR TAF window on their own sites. Read more >>
Bumpy road to jet sales recovery
A new report by Amstat Market Analysis indicates the slight recovery in new and used business jet sales seems to have slowed. “However, even with seasonality taken into account, the data from the first quarter does not signal that we’ll be seeing a return to truly favorable market conditions any time soon,” concluded the report’s author, Tom Benson. Read more >>
Cessna, Bell sales down in first quarter
This was to be the year of bouncing along the bottom of the recession trough, and that has proven to be the case in business jet sales during the first quarter. Cessna Aircraft Co. revenues decreased $336 million because of lower volumes, primarily reflecting the delivery of 31 Citation jets in the first quarter of 2010, compared to 69 jets last year. Cessna backlog at the end of the first quarter was $4.1 billion, a decline of $820 million from the end of last year. Bell Helicopter revenues decreased $124 million in the first quarter because of lower sales volume. Bell backlog at the end of the first quarter was $6.9 billion, down slightly from the end of last year.
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Learn from VFR-into-IMC mistakes
VFR-into-IMC accidents are more consistently lethal than midair collisions, wire strikes, inadvertent stalls, or pilot incapacitation. Since 2002, 189 of 219 fixed-wing VFR-into-IMC accidents were fatal, killing 368 people. And rising terrain is not required: Accident sites include relatively flat terrain in Florida, Wisconsin, and Kansas. Find out where these accidents have occurred in a new interactive map created by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. Just mouse over the marker and then click on the accident number to read the NTSB’s narrative.
More than 80,000 pilots have reported bird strikes in the last 18 years, and many more have gone unreported. Most bird strikes cause only minor damage to the aircraft—they’re much worse for the birds—but many pilots involved in them seem to forget the first and most important rule of flying: Fly the aircraft. Losing control of the aircraft can do far more damage than the bird itself. Find out what you can do to lower the odds of a bird or wildlife strike, and how to prepare yourself for a potential strike, in the AOPA Pilot Information Center subject report Bird and Wildlife Strikes.
Watch out for boomers
Thunderstorm season is upon us. That means it’s time either to expand your thunderstorm knowledge or to brush up on what you likely haven’t used since last fall. Thunderstorms are potentially dangerous to all aircraft, and the AOPA Air Safety Foundation is here to help teach pilots how to avoid them. Take the foundation’s Thunderstorm safety quiz, underwritten by the AOPA Insurance Agency, and test your thunderstorm knowledge today.
Learn to Fly Day event goes beyond with flying car
An invitation to take someone flying May 15 was all the prompting the Fitchburg Pilots Association needed to reach out to its community with a large-scale event that includes everything from a classic Piper Cub to a cutting-edge Terrafugia Transition roadable aircraft. The Experimental Aircraft Association named May 15 “ International Learn to Fly Day” to help grow the pilot population by encouraging pilots to invite a friend or colleague to the airport, take someone flying, or host an event. Charley Valera, president of the Fitchburg Pilots Association in Massachusetts, took the simple concept and went far beyond expectations. Read more >>
Ever talked about your local general aviation airport to someone in the community and heard the reaction, “What airport? I didn’t know we have an airport”? Unfortunately that’s a misperception in many communities with small GA airports. But pilots can help get the word out. During the North Carolina Airports Association annual meeting in Sunset Beach, N.C., April 22, AOPA Vice President of Local Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn participated in a panel, “Does your community know that they have an airport?” Read more >>
To learn more about the Airport Support Network, visit ASN Online.
AOPA Now: GA Serves America spokesman Harrison Ford on Hill
General Aviation Serves America spokesman Harrison Ford was in Washington, D.C., this week to talk about what GA means to him and to America. Honestly, we could have no more passionate or articulate spokesman than Ford. Read more >>
Air Safety eJournal: GA not as safe as the airlines?
Some people go through mental gymnastics in comparing light general aviation aircraft to the airlines. There is plenty more that can be done to improve GA’s safety record, but let’s get real. GA is not a monolithic entity. We are distinguished more by our diversity than commonality and that has an inevitable impact on safety. Read more >>
AOPA Outreach: Things are looking up
They call Sun ‘n Fun “spring break for pilots” and that is exactly what it felt like: a much-needed few days in the sun to remind us all how great it is to be a pilot. Read more >>
Reporting Points: Take 45 seconds to play with G-airmet
The weather guys are very proud of their new airmet graphical weather interface for pilots. Read more >>
Protecting your freedom to fly
AOPA’s Cessna Caravan became an aerial office for AOPA Foundation President Karen Gebhart and foundation staff this year as they traveled the country talking with pilots and aircraft owners about what matters to them. AOPA President Craig Fuller speaks with Gebhart about pilots she’s met along the way and how their contributions—and yours—help protect general aviation and your freedom to fly. Watch AOPA Live >>
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 am dealing with a medical issue and am temporarily unable to exercise the privileges of my pilot certificate. Can I still fly my airplane?
Answer: Yes, as long as you are accompanied by another pilot who is willing and able to act as pilot in command, you may physically fly the airplane. Be sure to clarify that the person acting as PIC is legally responsible for the flight. In fact, you may even log the time during which you are the sole manipulator of the controls as pilot-in-command flight time under 14 CFR 61.51(e)(1). You may want to contact your insurance company to be sure that your acting PIC is covered under your policy.
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 in your region to 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.
May. 22 — Waterloo, Iowa. Fly-in breakfast
Come join AOPA and Waterloo Regional Airport for a fly-in breakfast. View a static aircraft display, eat delicious food, and join fellow pilots and members of the community to hear Sen. Chuck Grassley and AOPA President Craig Fuller.
Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics
The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Pensacola, Fla., and Houston, Texas, May 15 and 16; Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Kansas City, Mo., and Albany, N.Y., May 22 and 23. 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 Smithfield, N.C., and Cohoes, N.Y., May 4; New Bern, N.C., and Rochester, N.Y., May 5; Newton, Mass., and Madison, Wis., May 10; Windsor Locks, Conn., and Milwaukee, Wis., May 11; Manitowoc, Wis., May 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].