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Either Felix Baumgartner will break the sound barrier, or the sound barrier will break him. The outcome is not assured. The Red Bull Stratos project aims to find out. According to Red Bull publicists, sometime in 2010 Baumgartner will step out of a capsule beneath a helium-filled balloon at 120,000 feet. According to unofficial sources, it will happen this summer above New Mexico. Baumgartner will try to break the sound barrier wearing a fully pressurized space suit. “We still have an unknown, which is what happens to my body when I break the speed of sound; but at least we’re going to know that I’m able to handle the step-off,” he said. He’s practiced stepping off with the capsule suspended a few feet above the ground. Read more >>
The Commemorative Air Force has received FAA clearance to resume flying the world’s only airworthy B-29 Superfortress bomber, CAF officials said. The historical four-engine aircraft known as “FIFI” is expected to fly on July 9 after a multi-year restoration in which the airplane received four new engines. If initial test flights and post-flight inspections go as planned, the CAF will begin crew training flights at Midland International Airport in western Texas on July 12 that will be open to the public. Read more >>
Cincinnati-based Aviation Research Group/U.S. (ARGUS) has released a report comparing June 2010 to May 2010 IFR flight activity. In the aggregate, flying activity was up 1.2 percent for June. ARGUS further dices up its activity levels by type of operation and aircraft category. For Part 91 operations, the picture was a tad rosier, with June flights up by 2.8 percent over May. Within the Part 91 group, turboprops took the lead, with a respectable increase of 5.7 percent. Read more >>
The Red Bull Air Race series will have only two more contests this year, one in Germany and a final one in Hungary, before determining a world champion pylon racer. Negotiations for the final race in Portugal were too slow to allow adequate preparation time, race organizers said. The race series has sparked interest among the world’s youth, who are able to follow the races live on the Internet. Two years were spent negotiating and preparing for the New York race in June . Read more >>
Mooney Aircraft is riding out the economic downturn through customer service and warranty support work, a spokeswoman said. Once an employer of 400 workers, the Kerrville, Texas, company now has 55. Customer support remains fully staffed at the factory. The Mooney inventory sold out last December. There are no new aircraft at the factory or at dealers. Read more >>
Hawker Beechcraft to lay off 130
Hawker Beechcraft personnel officials have filed so-called “warn” notices with the state of Kansas of 130 layoffs to take effect as soon as the end of August. The notices involve hourly employees, and serve as a 60-day warning of potential layoffs. Last year Hawker Beechcraft, like every major and minor aircraft manufacturer, had massive layoffs. Those layoffs continued at Hawker Beechcraft through January. The layoffs triggered a worker protest last September.
Police in the Bahamas are searching for the 19-year-old accused of a rash of aircraft thefts and other crimes in the Pacific Northwest. Colton Harris-Moore is now suspected in at least five airplane thefts and hundreds of other crimes including burglary, theft, and credit-card fraud. The theft of a Cessna 400 Corvalis from an Indiana airport and its discovery in shallow waters in the Bahamas July 4 fit the pattern of crimes attributed to Harris-Moore. Read more >>
The battery-powered Solar Impulse has done it, flying through the night on batteries recharged by solar panels during the day. Future plans call for spanning oceans and circling the globe on batteries recharged by the sun. The four-motor aircraft took off from Switzerland, staying close to home for 26 hours and nine minutes before a safe landing. Weather conditions were perfect. The airplane reached an altitude of 28,000 feet on battery power, and then glided down to 5,000 feet where it remained on the power from recharged batteries until the sun rose again. Read more >>
Gene Wolstenholme and son, Bob, have assumed leadership roles with Lancair International after increasing holdings from 40 percent to 80 percent through new investment. The two also operate companies in Pennsylvania. Wolstenholme Machine located in Colmar, Pa., specializes in precision parts for the medical, aerospace, and telecommunication industries. Subsidiary WM Robots designs and builds robots for bomb disposal and mine detectors for the U.S. and Canadian markets. Wolstenholme is now the Lancair International chairman while his son is president and CEO. Tom Bowen continues to head company operations. Read more >>
Gretchen Jahn, who briefly was chief of Mooney Aircraft five years ago, is now the chief operating officer for Remos Aircraft. She has 30 years of experience as a consultant in aviation and manufacturing. “Gretchen Jahn brings a level of understanding to our business that will have a direct positive effect on our customers,” said Remos CEO Edward Roberto. Read more >>
The Flying Musicians, a nonprofit group that strives to bring music and aviation together, will play at EAA AirVenture this year. Among those slated to perform is motivational speaker Ravi, a sport pilot who has written for Flight Training. Ravi also appeared on AOPA Live at Sun ’n Fun 2010, where he talked about drawing the outside public into aviation. Musicians will perform in front of the Sennheiser tent during the week at 11 a.m., noon, and 1 p.m. local. A complete schedule is available on the website.
Unsettled weather in the form of high winds and rain is keeping Michael Combs and the Flight for the Human Spirit on the ground in Texas this week for at least a few more days. But while he awaits a good weather window, Combs is planning an upcoming appearance at AirVenture 2010 in Oshkosh, Wis. He’ll speak not only about the Flight for the Human Spirit, but also about how he has utilized technology in the cockpit of the Remos GX he is flying, as well as how to plan a cross-country trip. Read more >>
Courtney Anne Diacont never got the chance to fulfill her goal of earning her private pilot certificate, but her love of aviation lives on in a scholarship that gives another young person a chance to further his flight training. The Courtney Anne Diacont Memorial Foundation has awarded a $2,500 scholarship to 20-year-old Steven Henry, a private pilot who took his first flight through the Young Eagles Program, to work toward his instrument rating. Read more >>
It’s been a tough year for American Champion, with sales cut in half, but international sales are improving. The company manufactures tandem-seat tailwheel models. Last year sales were only two a month, but that has increased to four. Sales in Europe once totaled 10 to 12 per year but there have been only two this year. However, sales are improving in Brazil, Canada, and India. The Scout and Decathlon tailwheel models account for most of the sales. Read more >>
In response to reports of “uncommanded changes to the communications radio frequency, altitude preselect, and/or transponder codes” in certain Eclipse Aerospace Inc. Model EA500 aircraft, the FAA is proposing an airworthiness directive (AD). Proposed changes focus on the electronic flight information system and the airplane flight manuals. The action is intended to help prevent “loss of communication with air traffic control due to improper communications frequency, autopilot level off at the incorrect altitude, or air traffic control loss of proper tracking of the aircraft.” Download the proposed AD >>
The Flying Physicians Association installed Felix Tormes as its new president during the nonprofit organization’s recent annual conference in Kansas City, Mo. According to the organization, Tormes is an orthopedic surgeon, an active duty naval flight surgeon, an aviation medical examiner, and an instrument-rated commercial pilot with more than 3,500 hours as pilot in command. The association was founded in 1955 as an organization for physician pilots.
Flight Training Associate Editor Jill W. Tallman’s friend Dan took note of a date last week. “It occurred to me this morning that 25 years ago today I took my private pilot checkride.” With only nine years under her belt, she was curious about the changes he has seen in a quarter-century of flying. He didn’t hesitate. “Technology, of course. Cost increases. Complicated new layers of certification and regulation—most of it intended to make things simpler.” Read more >>
The air-to-air photo and video shoots AOPA conducts for the magazines require precision formation flying. There are several accomplished formation pilots on staff, and Flight Training Associate Editor Jill W. Tallman can act as a safety pilot, flying right seat on the photo ship. Her primary duties are to watch for traffic and communicate the photographer’s requests to the subject airplane. The Fun to Fly Remos and the photo ship, an A36 Bonanza flown by Flight Training Deputy Editor Ian Twombly, traveled to Cambridge, Md., June 29 to get in some air-to-air footage. Read more >>
Externally, little about the elegant, handcrafted biplanes that Waco Classic Aircraft builds in Battle Creek, Mich., seems to have changed since 1930 when the original YMF took shape. But the “D model” is equipped with a new MT wood propeller, a 300-horsepower Jacobs engine (up from 275), LED lights, a more robust electrical system, and a full IFR glass cockpit that would make this airplane seem like a fantasy to those who knew the originals. Settling into the rear cockpit is like dropping into a leather-lined well. The Waco’s engine starts without complaint, and the deep, rumbling sounds and sensations of the warming radial are at once calming, invigorating, and full of anticipation. Read more and watch AOPA Live >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Safety & Proficiency
The federal aviation regulations may be black and white, but instrument flight is a world of grays. Learn how the rules intersect with the real world of IFR operations and what it takes to stay safe in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation online course IFR Insights: Regulations . The course will test your knowledge of pilot and aircraft currency, flight planning, working with ATC, en route operations, and instrument approaches. Take the challenge >>
FA, UA, TAF, METAR—it can be difficult enough learning the types of textual weather that are available to pilots, but trying to decode them can seem like deciphering a foreign language. See if you can get a clear picture of what’s going on outside from the acronyms and abbreviations in textual weather reports. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation puts your skills to the test in this safety quiz brought to you by the AOPA Insurance Agency.
For pilots who have health concerns such as diabetes, heart issues, cancer, or others, special issuance medical certification may be an option to keep you flying. Learn about the 15 disqualifying illnesses and what is required to get your medical certification back in a Webinar July 20 at 9 p.m. Eastern time. Join AOPA Director of Medical Certification Gary Crump and Dr. Warren Silberman, FAA manager of the Aerospace Medical Certification Division, for an hour of detailed coverage of medical issues as they relate to flying, with a special emphasis on heart-related conditions. Register online >>
Gain valuable knowledge about flying safely by learning from the mistakes of others. Using your ePilot personalization preferences, like “piston single-engine” or “turbine,” the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Accident Database generates a list of accidents that have been added to the database in the past 30 days. If you haven't personalized your newsletter, select your aircraft preferences from the “types of aircraft” section on the ePilot personalization page.
The glass cockpit Cub: Is it amusing, ludicrous, irritating, absolutely what’s expected, a safety enhancement, or no big deal? AOPA Air Safety Foundation President Bruce Landsberg’s initial reaction was amusement, followed by “no big deal.” It seems like something of an oxymoron to equip such an aircraft with glass, but then many folks do upgrade log cabins with indoor plumbing. It improves the convenience and utility, albeit at some expense. Read more >>
AOPA President Craig Fuller and senior members of the association’s government affairs staff traveled to Ada, Okla., July 7 for a demonstration of one of the possible solutions in the search for an unleaded aviation gasoline. Joining them at General Aviation Modifications, Inc. (GAMI) was Cessna Aircraft Company President and CEO Jack Pelton. “The dilemma of how to remove lead from avgas without affecting safety of flight has vexed our industry for years,” said Fuller. “So it is important that AOPA, as part of a general aviation avgas coalition, look at all potential solutions. That’s why we’re at GAMI again—to get an update on how their work on a fuel alternative is progressing.” Read more >>
For 19 hours, general aviation pilots were banned from flying into three major Las Vegas airports July 8 and 9. McCarran International, Henderson Executive, and North Las Vegas were off limits because of a presidential temporary flight restriction. Aerial tour operators at the airports, including those providing overflights of the Grand Canyon, also were shut down. AOPA President Craig Fuller reached out to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, stating that the TFR imposed “unnecessary economic hardships” on the seventh busiest region in the United States. He reiterated that GA stakeholders need to be a part of the TFR planning process. Read more >>
Cook Airfield Inc., in Derby, Kan., has grown from 21 based aircraft nearly seven years ago to 54 now. Airport owners and tenants want to continue to expand the airport, and AOPA is working with them to prevent a roadblock. Aviation service providers interested in coming to the airport have indicated that the airport needs to lengthen its 2,507-foot-long runway to support their operations. In order to meet that need, the airport owners are acquiring property and getting the permission necessary to expand. The problem is that a county road would need to be closed. Read more >>
While finding sources of green energy is a national focus, building wind turbine farms near airports creates an undue hazard. A mayor in Indiana recently protected his town’s airport from a request by a local farmer to close the airport so that he could build a wind turbine farm on his property. Kentland Mayor David Smart stuck up for Kentland Municipal Airport, stating that the airport is necessary for the economic health of the town. Read more >>
St. Charles Airport had 59 based aircraft and nearly 37,000 flight operations a year. But the airport closed June 29, forcing local and transient pilots to use other nearby fields, including St. Charles Smartt Field and likely Lambert-St. Louis International. AOPA had worked with the Airport Support Network volunteer and talked to the state and local fixed-base operator, St. Charles Flying Service, to try to save the field. However, the privately owned, public-use airport had no federal or state grants that would have obligated it to remain open. Read more >>
The FAA is soliciting user comments regarding the notice of proposed rulemaking for the redesign of Chicago Class B airspace. The proposal would contain the majority of the Chicago Class B airspace within the current 25-nautical-mile footprint and establish two new airspace extensions to contain aircraft arriving and departing from O’Hare International Airport. It incorporates several recommendations from area pilots, and AOPA suggested another improvement in comments on the proposal. Read more >>
Law provides window for use-tax-free move to Indiana
A new law in Indiana gives aircraft based just outside of the state an incentive to relocate to Indiana. The law, passed in March, creates a three-month window for owners to move aircraft into Indiana without being subject to a use tax under certain circumstances: if an aircraft was registered in another state as of Jan. 1, 2010, sales or use tax was paid in the other state, and ownership has not changed after Dec. 31, 2009; there is no outstanding tax liability in the state of registration; and a registration application is filed after June 30, 2010, and prior to Sept. 30, 2010, and the registration fee and aircraft excise tax are paid.
All AOPA members who do not own an aircraft and have no renters insurance now have $100 coverage toward aircraft damage available to them at no charge. This $100 may be used toward the deductible in case of an accident. “We have found that AOPA members who rent aircraft are often unaware of their insurance needs, so this $100 is a way to call their attention to the financial risk of being uninsured when they rent an aircraft,” said AOPA Insurance Agency President Janet Bressler. Read more >>
A relaxing island getaway, a luxurious ocean liner, family fun at Disneyland, and the home of historic aircraft: It’s all within reach from Long Beach, Calif. Bordered by five and a half miles of sandy beaches, Long Beach is centrally located in the heart of Southern California. With beautiful weather and access to one-of-a-kind attractions, it’s a perfect setting for AOPA Aviation Summit, Nov. 11 through 13. Read more >>
During your stay at EAA AirVenture July 26 through Aug. 1, be sure to swing by AOPA’s Big Yellow Tent. At the tent, you can take care of all your membership needs, pledge how you will engage in aviation this year, and get a glimpse of the AOPA Fun to Fly 2010 Sweepstakes Remos GX. Stop by the filming of AOPA Live Wednesday through Friday to hear about the latest general aviation news, get a close-up look at airshow stars, and find out more about the issues that matter to pilots. If you can’t be there in person, watch the day’s broadcast online.
Dr. Jonathan M. Sackier’s medical school friend, a dour Yorkshireman, was deep. Really deep, man, in 1970s speak! Strong and silent, slow to comment, but when he spoke his wisdom knocked people out. But don’t aspire to another “deep,” which has a lot in common with his old friend; silent and knocking people out come to mind. This “deep” is “deep venous thrombosis” or DVT to its enemies. Sit up and take notice, because DVT loves finding pilots to toy with, and when DVT plays, it plays rough. Read more >>