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today’s top stories
Pioneering GA advocate John L. Baker dies
John Lee Baker, AOPA’s president from 1977 through 1990, passed away March 11 at his home in Angier, N.C. Baker, a Nebraska native and the son of a pilot, served as a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot in the Korean War, and then earned a law degree from Creighton University. He served on the staff of Sen. Roman Hruska (R-Neb.), and then was appointed assistant administrator in the FAA’s office of general aviation affairs. Baker took the reins at AOPA in May 1977 and immediately became engaged in a series of initiatives aimed at the fair distribution of what was then a $4-plus billion surplus in the Aviation Trust Fund. Because of Baker’s leadership, more than 3,000 general aviation airports eventually received improvements paid from the trust fund. Read more >>
Costello talks FAA funding as bill moves to Senate floor
The long-delayed FAA reauthorization bill made its way to the Senate floor March 11, opening the way for a measure to pass that chamber before the Easter recess. The House passed its own three-year reauthorization in May 2009. Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), chairman of the House aviation subcommittee and a vocal opponent of user fees, spoke with AOPA Pilot Editor in Chief Tom Haines recently about the reauthorization process. Costello discusses the importance of stable funding for the FAA and the need for continued vigilance against user fees. Watch the video >>
With the latest issue of Flight Training magazine, AOPA has launched a totally redesigned publication, aimed at everyone who is interested in becoming a pilot—or becoming a better pilot. The magazine has been completely updated with a clean, fresh new look while still providing all the information readers have come to value. It includes all-new sections and features, such as items on great places to fly, interviews with notable pilots and students, and targeted technique articles. Read more >>
FAA plan charts modernization through 2018
The FAA released its updated implementation plan for the transition to a modernized air transportation system March 8. The plan outlines how the agency will act on recommendations from industry and continue to expand satellite-based navigation and surveillance. The 2010 NextGen Implementation Plan includes increased access to non-radar airspace and small airports, recommendations for which AOPA advocated during its participation in a government-industry NextGen task force. The association has emphasized the importance of providing near-term benefits for general aviation as the FAA builds the foundation for mid-term improvements. Read more >>
‘If you have a daughter, teach her to fly’
“If you have a daughter, teach her to fly,” the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II sang at times to build morale. On March 10, Congress gave the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal, acknowledging these women’s service to their country and the role they played in paving the way for future generations of women pilots. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest award Congress can bestow on a civilian. Read more >>
NTSB studies glass cockpits and safety
The National Transportation Safety Board met March 9 to discuss a new study that looks at the effect of glass cockpits on safety in single-engine piston aircraft. While the staff study found no current safety benefit, comments by board members suggested that as more glass cockpit aircraft enter the fleet and pilots get more experienced, that may change. The study looked at a very particular subset of general aviation aircraft manufactured during the years 2002 through 2006—a period in which newly manufactured aircraft were transitioning from analog instruments to glass. It said that glass cockpit aircraft were involved in fewer total accidents during that time than their proportion of the test group would predict, but a higher number of fatal accidents than would be predicted. Read more >>
GA relief flight activity slows in Haiti
A Pennsylvania pilot who recently returned from a week of flying relief missions in Haiti with his Cessna 177B Cardinal says that general aviation relief flights to the earthquake-ravaged nation are winding down. During the early recovery period, Dennis Pelletier said, Haiti’s smaller airfields were operated as international airports—which meant pilots did not have to clear customs at Port-au-Prince and then fly to the outlying airfields. However, the airports are now returning to normal operations, requiring entry through Port-au-Prince, the country’s only international airport. Volunteer pilots have done a great deal of good in the country, he said, and the need for flights remains in spite of mounting obstacles. Read more >>
Haiti relief flights warrant thorough planning
General aviation is ideally suited to many components of disaster relief, but pilots wishing to get involved should be especially diligent in familiarizing themselves with all available information before a flight. Read More >>
Green flag ready! Join AOPA’s Road and Runway Rally
What’s got seven wheels, two wings, and a whole lot of excitement? Find out on April 10 when AOPA’s 2010 Fun to Fly Remos and a sporty SMART car take off for Florida. The Road and Runway Rally will dash from Frederick Municipal Airport in Frederick, Md., to the Sun ‘n Fun fly-in in Lakeland—about 725 nm. Crews will have to complete a series of treasure-hunt-style tasks before they arrive on the ramp at Lakeland Linder Regional airport. And that’s not all! The Remos and SMART car will swap out their right-seat passengers midway through the rally. Want to be a part of the fun? Keep watching AOPA Online for updates, a map, daily blogs, and other ways you can follow the Road and Runway Rally.
'Live, from Lakeland, it’s Sun ‘n Fun': AOPA to sponsor event
The annual “spring break for pilots,” Sun ‘n Fun, is just around the corner. AOPA is proud to announce its second year as the platinum sponsor of the event, in Lakeland, Fla., April 13 through 18. What does this mean for you? Expect more insights, more seminars, and more chances to see the association at the Big Yellow Tent. If you can’t make it to Florida, make sure to watch coverage of Sun ‘n Fun 2010 on AOPA Live. Keep an eye out for further updates in ePilot and on AOPA Online!
Obama to nominate retired Army general to head TSA
The White House will nominate Robert A. Harding, a retired major general with 33 years of Army experience, as head of the Transportation Security Administration, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced March 8. Harding served in many intelligence positions within the Army during his tenure and served as the director for operations at the Defense Intelligence Agency. He will be President Barack Obama’s second nomination for the top spot at the TSA; Erroll G. Southers withdrew his nomination in January. Read more >>
“Bank robbery at the BB&T on Princess Anne. Suspect on foot. Last seen going between buildings at the rear of the shopping center. Heading toward Challedon. White male, 20 to 25 years old. Black top, camo pants.” Virginia Beach, Va., police helicopter pilot David J. Cook answers, “Air One on the way.” Read More >>
‘Flight for the Human Spirit’ to launch April 5
Michael Combs, the Texas sport pilot who will attempt to fly in or to all 50 states in a Remos GX, has rescheduled the departure date of his Flight for the Human Spirit to Monday, April 5. He said he decided to push back the launch one day after receiving requests from airports where he had been scheduled to stop on that first day. April 4 is Easter Sunday. “I’m going to keep (April 4) as a family day and take off April 5, weather permitting,” Combs said. Read a profile of Combs and The Flight for the Human Spirit in the March AOPA Pilot.
Record-setting pilot receives additional honors
Barrington Irving, who in 2007 became the first African-American to fly around the world, received additional recognition of his achievements in February, which is designated as Black History Month. In 2007 Irving, then age 23, flew a custom-made Cessna Columbia 400 23,000 nm in a trek that lasted three months, departing from Miami’s Opa Locka Airport. He continues to work with inner-city youth through a nonprofit organization, Experience Aviation. Read more >>
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For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Never Again Online: VFR limbo
It was a sunny Florida afternoon with typical weather for the area as the Cessna Caravan pilot flying VFR neared his destination. The good visibility suddenly vanished in a wall of heavy rain. Find out how the pilot missed the warning signs and how he got his airplane safely on the ground in the latest installment of Never Again Online. Enjoy the lessons you learn from these pilots’ first-hand accounts? Listen to more stories in AOPA’s Never Again Podcast directory brought to you by the AOPA Insurance Agency.
The approaching windy days of spring are sure to usher in renewed debate in hangars across the country: crab or slip? Whichever method you choose, crosswind landings demand vigilance and practice; wind is a factor in a large percentage of takeoff and landing accidents. "Spring weather is breezy, so now is a good time to refresh windy flying techniques—especially crosswind takeoffs and landings,” said Woody Cahall, AOPA vice president of the Pilot Information Center. Takeoffs and landings aren’t the only phases of flight affected by wind, so brush up on dealing with the effects of wind from taxi to touchdown, and taxi again, in the windy flight operations subject report. Read more in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation Mastering Takeoffs and Landings Safety Brief.
Know when to do it yourself, when to call an A&P
You can save money by performing certain maintenance tasks on your aircraft yourself. Do you know which tasks you are authorized to perform? You may know that you can change the oil in your aircraft, but can you change the oil in a friend’s aircraft? If you're painting your airplane’s fuselage, can you go ahead and paint the ailerons too? Test your knowledge in the latest quiz from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, underwritten by the AOPA Insurance Agency. AOPA members who are feeling a little rusty can catch up by reading the AOPA Pilot Information Center subject report.
Buying an aircraft? Get tips from pros
Looking to buy an aircraft? Get tips from AOPA experts in the interactive Webinar “Purchasing an Aircraft.” The discussion will cover aircraft valuation, financing, insurance, inspections, paperwork, the title, and more. Get your questions answered by attending one of the two sessions on Thursday, March 25, at either 3 or 9 p.m. Eastern time. Register for the 3 p.m. Webinar or the 9 p.m. Webinar. Questions? Call AOPA at 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672).
Spring forward with daylight-saving time
Daylight-saving time returns Sunday, March 14, so remember to set your clocks forward this weekend. The longer days of springtime translate to extra hours of flying before twilight falls, so take some time after work to brush up on your skills. And remember that the conversion between Zulu and your local time will change.
Improve your safety by learning from others
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.
CORRECTION: In the March 5 edition of AOPA ePilot, we incorrectly stated which pilots are not permitted to fly an approach when the weather is below minimums. This prohibition applies to airline and on-demand charter pilots on revenue flights.
Victory at Vista Field: Unanimous vote keeps airport open
Vista Field in Kennewick, Wash., will remain an airport after the Port of Kennewick Commission voted unanimously to support the embattled facility. The decisive March 8 vote follows three years of dedicated and focused work by AOPA Airport Support Network Volunteer Marjy Leggett, who encouraged pro-airport candidates to seek office and mobilized fellow Washington pilots to come to the aid of the city-owned airport. A standing-room-only crowd of about 175 people turned out, and the vast majority strongly supported the airport. Read more >>
AOPA, California pilots speak up for Oceano airport
AOPA and California pilots are speaking out against a developer’s unsolicited plan to close the Oceano County Airport in Grover Beach so that it could be converted into residential and commercial uses. While the pilot community is understandably alarmed, newspaper editorials and blog posts make it clear that local residents support the continued operation of the airport, said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of local airport advocacy. Among the chorus of voices supporting the airport is a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, the female civilian squadron employed to fly military aircraft under the direction of the Army Air Forces during World War II. Read more >>
To learn more about the Airport Support Network, visit ASN Online.
Air Safety eJournal: Glass cockpits—easy to be hard?
The NTSB presented the results of a study March 9 on glass cockpits and whether they improve the safety of general aviation aircraft. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation conducted its own study on technologically advanced aircraft several years ago and reached a similar conclusion: that glass, or technology alone, does not a safe aircraft make. It all depends on how it is used. Read more >>
Fun to Fly 2010 Sweepstakes: Michael Combs has friends all over
Pilots are, for the most part, friendly people who care about each other—even pilots they’ve never met. Case in point: Michael Combs. Since AOPA Pilot Associate Editor Jill W. Tallman wrote about his plan to fly in or to all 50 states in a Remos GX light sport aircraft, Pilot readers have contacted her with some amazingly generous offers for Combs. Read more >>
Support AOPA, get $50 bonus with new checking account
Now you can show the world you’re a proud member of AOPA when you write a check or use your debit card. Plus, you can support the association at no additional cost to you. That’s the idea behind the AOPA checking account from Bank of America. Developed especially for AOPA members, the checking account gives you benefits that save time, make it easy to do your banking online, and even save money at hundreds of participating online retailers. And every check and debit card prominently displays the AOPA logo. Best of all, Bank of America is offering a $50 bonus after you open a qualifying new checking account by March 31, 2010. Learn more >>
Hertz helps you support GA and gives you one free day
As an AOPA member, renting your next vehicle from Hertz not only gives you up to 25 percent off and free enrollment in the #1 Club Gold Program, but also will grant you one free day. Receive the first day free on a minimum three-day weekend rental when PC# 139554 is included in your reservation of an Economy through Premium vehicle. Vehicle pick-up must be on a Thursday or Friday, now through March 31, 2010. A portion of all revenue generated will be returned to AOPA and reinvested to support the association’s daily efforts to maintain the freedom, safety, and affordability of general aviation. Reserve your car today. Click on the “Quote It” button and your AOPA CDP# 10232 will automatically be applied to your reservation.
When you rent an airplane, what coverage do you need?
The FBO that rents you an aircraft is protecting its interests, not yours. You need your own renters insurance. As an AOPA member, you can buy renters insurance from the AOPA Insurance Agency, and it’s as easy as buying car insurance. What’s more, as an AOPA member, you get a 5-percent discount off the regular premium and a 10-percent discount when you renew if you have maintained a clean flying record. Read more >>
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 was planning an IFR flight to the Bahamas and I noticed what looked like brown-colored airways. I’ve never seen those before; what are they?
Answer: In addition to the normal VOR-based Victor airways (depicted in black), there is still a system of NDB-based low/medium-frequency airways in the Bahamas and Alaska, as well as a short route (G13) in North Carolina. While all are depicted in brown on the IFR enroute chart, they are identified by color name and number, such as “Amber One.” “Green and Red airways are plotted east and west. Amber and Blue airways are plotted north and south,” the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM 5-3-4) explains.
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.
Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics
The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Ontario, Calif., March 20 and 21; Phoenix, Ariz., King of Prussia, Pa., and Virginia Beach, Va., March 27 and 28; San Diego, Calif., Cincinnati, Ohio, and Ashburn, Va., April 10 and 11; Denver, Colo., Boston, Mass., and Salt Lake City, Utah, April 17 and 18; Tampa, Fla., Atlanta, Ga., and Indianapolis, Ind., April 24 and 25. 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 Bedford, Mass., March 15; Ypsilanti, Mich., March 22; Birmingham, Ala., Northbrook, Ill., and Cleveland, Ohio, March 23; Marietta, Ga., Bolingbrook, Ill., Gaithersburg, Md., and Columbus, Ohio, March 24; Rockford, Ill., and Indianapolis, Ind., March 25; Brooklyn Center, Minn., March 29; Clayton, Mo., and Pittsburgh, Pa., April 5; Springfield, Mo., and New Cumberland, Pa., April 6; Allentown, Pa., April 7; King of Prussia, Pa., April 8; Lynchburg, Va., April 13. 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].