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Finding a safe, economical, unleaded aviation fuel to propel the general aviation fleet in the future is one of the most complicated tasks our industry has ever faced—and AOPA is determined to make sure it’s done right. The association is actively working to build consensus and evaluating potential solutions, although no definitive avgas replacement has yet been found. The new fuel must operate safely in high-compression and turbocharged piston engines, and it has to be manufactured, distributed, and sold at a realistic price. “There appear to be some very good options out there,” Fuller said. “I am 100 percent committed to finding a solution that works for our 412,000 members. I’m determined to see this through so that we have a solution that will work for all of the aviation community.” Watch AOPA Live >>
Volunteer pilots provide a ray of hope for many medical patients by providing transportation to much-needed treatment. But good intentions without sound aeronautical decision making can have grave consequences. The NTSB issued recommendations June 9 for improving the safety of charitable medical transportation flights. In response to four fatal accidents in a one-year period involving volunteer pilots on medical transport flights, the board recommends that the Air Care Alliance address concerns about pilot currency, passenger awareness of operating standards, and dissemination of guidance for pilots. Read more >>
After watching the aerial stunts of aerobatic pilots at the OC Air Show in Ocean City, Md., for the past couple of years, two spectators landed the best seat for this year’s show—the left seat. Chelsea Remines, a 23-year-old who earned her private pilot certificate April 2, opened the show June 5 with Ocean Aviation Flight Academy Chief Flight Instructor Mike Freed in one of the school’s Cessna 172s. On June 6, 15-year-old Jessica Galuardi added to her 30 hours of flight instruction by soaring along the shoreline at a few hundred feet with instructor Richard Bartlett. Read more >>
Nestled in a valley between mountain ridges west of Great Falls, Mont., Benchmark Airport serves as a trailhead to the Bob Marshall Wilderness and features a campsite for pilots. But the airport needs regular maintenance and upkeep because of the harsh winters and other weather conditions that wear on the facility. Several aviation groups joined together in June to spray the cracks in the runway and tiedown areas to kill weeds, install new windsocks, re-stain picnic tables, and paint and repair some signs. Read more >>
You could call it a pilot’s weight-loss plan. Heather Woiciechowski and Sandi Terkelsen embarked on a mission to get in shape last year, and they discovered an additional perk to fitness: For every six pounds they lost, they gained a gallon of fuel on board for the 2010 Air Race Classic. The all-women race starts June 22 in Fort Myers, Fla., and ends in Frederick, Md., at the home airport of AOPA headquarters. Teams are given four days, flying day VFR, to reach the terminus, with each aircraft handicapped to its own speed. Read more >>
U.S. Marine Sgt. Michael “Bulldog” Blair successfully passed an FAA checkride June 14 in the AOPA’s Fun to Fly 2010 Sweepstakes Remos GX and is now a sport pilot. “I can’t believe I can finally say I’m a pilot,” Blair said after a checkride with Bill Nelson, a veteran FAA examiner based at Chester County Airport about 35 miles west of Philadelphia, Pa. “This is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time.” AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman was Blair's flight instructor. Read his blog >>
The Solar Impulse team is preparing to tackle one of solar power’s biggest challenges: night. The team has a goal of flying around the globe without using a drop of fossil fuel. That means the solar panels on the aircraft must gather and store enough energy during the day to propel the aircraft through the night. The Solar Impulse prototype, which has a 208-foot wingspan and weighs a little more than 3,500 pounds, made its first flight earlier this Spring. Read more >>
Cirrus begins paying back rent
Cirrus Design has paid the city of Grand Forks, N.D., $507,000 in back rent for manufacturing facilities and has $930,000 left to pay, according to the Grand Forks Herald. The company had stopped paying rent in January 2009. In late May, the Duluth News Tribune reported Cirrus officials converted $187,500 in back rent to a loan for its use of a former Northwest Airlines maintenance facility at the Duluth International Airport. The loan will be forgiven if operations expand significantly. The company was released from a 25-year lease by the city. Grand Forks city officials will meet with Cirrus officials in late July to discuss payment of the remaining back rent, the local newspaper reported. Cirrus lost money in 2008 and 2009. Employment at Grand Forks dropped from 330 in 2006 to 75.
Michael Combs reached the halfway point on the Flight for the Human Spirit June 9, flying from North Carolina to Florida that week and exceeding 11,000 miles. Combs was delayed briefly at First Flight Airport in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., when the Remos GX sustained a flat tire at the scenic airport. He visited the Wright Brothers National Memorial, which is a short walk from the airport, while waiting for a new tire to arrive. The flight resumed the next day. Read more >>
A logbook is like a diary for pilots. It contains a chronicle of some of the highest and lowest points of a pilot’s life in aviation, from the first solo to the last flight, from buying to selling a beloved aircraft. But to anyone else flipping through the hours of flight time written in shorthand, it can be difficult to understand the life described in those pages. Pilots—or their friends and family—can illustrate those entries by creating a documentary, photo book, scrapbook, or personalized calendar to serve as a keepsake for future generations. Read more >>
Why throw away that old jumbo jet when you can live in it? A house constructed from an old Boeing 747 is nearing completion in Malibu, Calif. The Wing House consists of a main residence and six other structures on the 55-acre property. The builders had to register the roof with the FAA so that pilots flying overhead do not mistake it for a downed aircraft. Read more >>
Gulfstream Aerospace has earned Required Navigational Performance-Special Aircraft and Aircrew Authorization (RNP-SAAR) for its large-cabin airplanes to fly new GPS-based RNP approaches to accuracies within 0.1 nautical miles. RNP-SAAR requires both GPS and inertial reference systems to fly approaches that permit navigation near high terrain, and to lower landing minimums. RNP-SAAR requires both GPS and backup inertial reference system guidance, as well as special crew training. Gulfstream airplanes must be equipped with the latest upgrade—dubbed Certification Foxtrot—of the company’s PlaneView avionics. Read more >>
Cessna’s CitationAir jet card and fractional ownership operation has joined with British Airways to create PrivateConnect. PrivateConnect gives British Airways customers access to CitationAir’s entire fleet of Citation airplanes. Customers pay for their Citation time by the hour, and have no contract or long-term commitment. Part of the deal even includes complimentary chauffeured transportation from fixed-base operators to British Airways terminals when flying internationally on British Airways. Similarly, there will be escorted transportation from a British Airways terminal to the CitationAir airplane. Read more >>
Students ages 13 to 18 can get a taste of the lighter side of aviation this summer. The Balloon Federation of America is hosting summer camps in Michigan and Massachusetts. During the camps, students will learn about topics including balloon systems, weather, crew safety, ballooning rules and regulations, and more. The camp also will include hands-on activities for the students like balloon tethers. The camps aren’t just for students; the organization also is accepting volunteer applications.
Gulfstream Aerospace’s flight department has earned FAA approval to use the Future Air Navigation System (FANS) 1/A datalink on its G450 airplanes. FANS is being developed for future enhancements to ATC services, and includes controller-pilot datalink communications (CPDLC) to let pilots and ATC communicate via text messages over oceanic and remote-area airspace. Crews using CPDLC log on to an ATC system computer, then communicate in near-real time with controllers. Read more >>
The EAA Young Eagles program will begin offering a free first flight lesson to interested youth, the program announced June 14. The program offers free introductory flights to young people ages 8 through 17. Now, Young Eagles ages 14 through 19 who take Part I of the Sporty’s Complete online pilot training course are eligible for a voucher that can be redeemed at a local flight school. The lesson includes a preflight inspection, 45 minutes of flight time, and a short post-flight debrief, taking young people one step further toward a pilot certificate. “This program will be instrumental in helping thousands of young people acquire the skills they need to become pilots,” said Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, Young Eagles co-chairman.
Who can turn down a good old-fashioned, take-your-time, and see-the-sights road trip? Tag along with AOPA in this video of highlights from a four-day auto/aircraft trip down the eastern seaboard from AOPA headquarters in Frederick, Md., to the Sun ’n Fun International Fly-In and Expo in Lakeland, Fla., earlier this spring in the Road and Runway Rally, to showcase the fun and utility of two small but mighty vehicles—the Remos GX and Smart fortwo car. AOPA Live >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Safety & Proficiency
Think ATC will keep you out of thunderstorms? Controllers can help, but simple misunderstandings and mistaken assumptions can lure a pilot into the belly of the beast. Learn how to steer clear in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s newly revised Weather Wise: Thunderstorms & ATC online course—which includes a flight simulator re-creation, with actual ATC audio, of a thunderstorm incident over south Florida. The controller sees a line of precipitation, but he can’t tell from radar returns that the pilot is about to fly into convective turbulence strong enough to cause structural damage. Find out even more in a live Webinar, “Thunderstorms & ATC: What You Need To Know” June 30, at 3 and 7 p.m. Eastern time. Register online >>
Failing to take on enough fuel leads to unpleasant surprises, but sometimes immediate trouble results from taking on too much. On July 1, 2009, a Republic RC-3 Seabee hit power lines after failing to sustain its initial climb from Burley, Idaho. Witnesses said that the airplane used most of the 4,067-foot runway to become airborne, climbed slowly to no more than 100 feet agl, and then began to descend. Read more in this special report from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation.
Ron Craig’s Piper Lance had reached 200 feet agl at an airport just outside of Winslow, Ariz., when the newly built engine quit. “Are we going to crash?” his wife asked from the passenger seat. Craig describes what happened next in “ Power loss on takeoff,” one of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Real Pilot Stories. Listen to his first-person account of the decisions he made, the impact in a cloud of red dirt, and the fuel tank ruptures that sent 97 gallons of avgas pouring into the desert floor.
Most of us who have lived a while have gone through some turbulent times—relationships gone sour, a loved one’s illness or death, or a really bad financial break. While thousands of nonpilots have found some help working through their tough times by taking prescribed antidepressants, pilots could not without invalidating their airman medical certificates, since the FAA had not allowed the use of any antidepressants for any condition. But now, it’s a different story. Read more >>
During EAA AirVenture each summer, Oshkosh, Wis., turns into an aviation city where pilots can see and do almost everything related to general aviation. Among watching amazing feats during daily airshows, shopping for products, and camping with fellow aviators, pilots can learn more about their vocation or avocation through safety seminars, maintenance forums, and more. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation will host three safety seminars during AirVenture: “10 Things Other Pilots Do Wrong” at 2:30 p.m. July 28, “Real World IFR” at 8:30 a.m. July 29, and “Mastering Takeoffs & Landings” at 11:30 a.m. July 30.
Airports are as vital to pilots as their aircraft, but these facilities are increasingly coming under attack. “Many pilots think, ‘It can’t happen at my airport,’ but it does,” said AOPA Airport Support Network Director Joey Colleran. “Every week we hear from 20 AOPA members who have concerns about their airport. It’s just a matter of time before ‘it happens’ at your airport.” Read more >>
With security procedures, through-the-fence issues, and a movement to cater to the airlines, general aviation pilots at large and small airports alike are facing more threats to their access to the facilities. In some cases, airport managers are following mandates handed down from the FAA or Transportation Security Administration. In others, they’re intentionally trying to squeeze GA off the airport. Read more >>
One of the top three killers of general aviation airports should be the easiest to cure: pilots who aren’t engaged at their airport. The other two, political pressures and greed, that AOPA identified, political pressures and greed, are harder to remedy but can be thwarted by a group of active, passionate pilots. Read more >>
The public’s impression of business aviation—fat cats flying around in luxurious jets—often deters companies from pursuing the benefits that aircraft can offer. In an effort to help business leaders understand the utility and importance of general aviation, the Florida Aviation Trades Association invited the public to a special panel discussion June 16 during its annual conference in St. Augustine. After just a 90-minute discussion, the community members and business leaders from the Jacksonville and St. Augustine areas walked away from the meeting with a new perspective. Read more >>
The development of six lots adjacent to Taunton Municipal-King Field in Massachusetts was previously off limits because the land had no access to a public street—but a “land swap” negotiated without consulting the airport commission would open the door to development by granting access to the land from a private airport drive. Members of the airport community turned out at a board meeting June 10 to oppose the variance, but the board granted a continuance and will take up the issue again July 15. Read more >>
It could be as simple as following noise abatement procedures or as involved as organizing resistance to a developer who wants to raze the field: You can help protect your airport. The AOPA Airport Advocacy and Airport Support Network team held its first Webinar June 10 to explain common threats to airports and give pilots the tools they need to protect and promote their valuable community resource. Read more >>
The Transportation Security Administration has added Saginaw International Airport in Saginaw, Mich., to the list of gateway airports granting business flights access to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. General aviation has been highly restricted at Washington National since 9/11; and while traveling via a gateway airport is still an arduous process for many operators, the TSA’s GA branch has indicated it is looking for ways to increase GA access to the airport. Read more >>
A rash of break-ins in South Dakota has prompted the Transportation Security Administration to issue an alert to airports, and AOPA is encouraging the general aviation community to follow the Airport Watch Program. On June 14, the Pierre Regional Airport terminal and fire station in Pierre, S.D., were broken into between midnight and 4 a.m., and a set of rental car keys was taken, according to the TSA. The TSA said that local law enforcement officials believe the incident is similar to other break-ins in South Dakota and Montana. 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.
Everything AOPA is hearing from pilots—members and nonmembers alike—is that the recently redesigned AOPA Airports online airport directory is increasingly one of their main sources of airport information. Due to the declining interest in the print edition, and the costs associated with printing, there will be a change to this year's book. The next print edition, which will be available for pre-order near the end of June, will be offered to nonmembers for $39.95, and to members for a discounted price of $19.95. Read more >>
As you start planning summer getaway flights, use AOPA’s online resources to ease your flight planning. AOPA members can log in to the website and gain access to AOPA Internet Flight Planner from any computer, anywhere. The flight planner allows you to plan your route, see the weather through an overlay, obtain airport information, print a navigation log for your kneeboard, and more. You also can take a look at the broader weather picture with AOPA Weather.
This year AOPA is hosting Aviation Summit in sunny Long Beach, Calif. With exciting forums, captivating speakers, and the latest and greatest in aviation technology on display, attending Summit is a natural for any pilot. But it’s not only pilots who should attend. Summit offers a variety of entertaining events that are fun for the whole family, including Airportfest and social events such as a Friday Night Block Party, an AOPA Foundation event aboard the Queen Mary, and exclusive Thursday night dinners with aviation celebrities. Read more >>
We all know that lovely feeling—and it never gets old, unlike us. We wake up and peer out the window, and the blue sky beckons. We check the weather: good to go. We check the notams and so on—no problem. Then we head to the airport to check the airplane. But what about ensuring we are fit to fly? First, we should add ourselves to the preflight checklist. Find out more about how to take preventive action in this selection from the AOPA Medical Services Program newsletter. AOPA members enrolled in the Medical Services Program get tips like these—and more—bimonthly.