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today’s top stories
FAA forecasts dwindling student pilot numbers
The FAA’s 20-year forecast issued last week predicts a decreasing amount of student pilots in the short term, followed by very slow growth in the mid- and long term. It is estimated that slightly more than 72,000 student pilots were registered with the FAA in 2009, down from almost 81,000 a year before. According to the forecast, the number won’t again reach 2009 levels until 2013; next year is expected to be the worst with the forecast bottoming out at roughly 69,000 student certificates. Read more >>
GA Serves America campaign grows by going local
The General Aviation Serves America campaign is getting bigger by going smaller. At an event held at the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, Calif., Feb. 17, AOPA President Craig Fuller joined county leaders to kick off GA Serves San Bernardino County. Fuller reminded the crowd of more than 100 pilots and aviation enthusiasts how rare it is to find community leaders with such a firm grasp of the value of general aviation. Read more >>
FAA issues SAIB for Cessna 336 and 337
A month after a Cessna Skymaster crashed in New Jersey when a six-foot section of the outboard right wing separated from the aircraft, the FAA has issued a special airworthiness information bulletin with some safety recommendations for Cessna 336 and 337 aircraft. The accident aircraft had extended wingtips installed with a supplemental type certificate (STC), and it also had an STC for winglets. The FAA recommends that pilots follow published airspeed and maneuvering limitations for aircraft that are modified and watch for “excessive ‘bowing’ of the tip extensions in flight.” Read more >>
Pilots adjusting to loran’s demise
Pilots who still relied on loran-C for navigation are adjusting to the system’s demise, after it was turned off by the Coast Guard on Feb. 8. The system originally was developed to provide radio navigation service for U.S. coastal waters, and later was expanded to provide coverage of the continental United States as well as most of Alaska. Although loran was approved for aviation use, it was never designated as a civilian backup system for GPS. Several government and independent agencies have recommended using a different system, eLoran (for enhanced loran) as a national backup for GPS. Read more >>
Pilots protest developer’s vision for Oceano Airport
A Los Osos developer who hopes to see the Oceano County Airport closed so that it can be redeveloped met with substantial opposition at a meeting on March 17. And, while he attempted to keep out most of the pilots who showed up, he didn’t succeed in barring AOPA. Developer Jeff Edwards held a “public” meeting in Grover Beach, Calif., to float the idea of closing Oceano County and leasing the property for a variety of commercial uses. San Luis Obispo County, which owns the airport, has said it has no plans to sell or lease the property. Read more >>
TSA, industry groups talk GA security
The Transportation Security Administration consulted general aviation organizations about security initiatives March 9 and 10 in the first meeting of a working group created to increase industry involvement in GA security. Representatives from AOPA and other GA organizations met with TSA staff to discuss the group’s major areas of concern about TSA initiatives: interagency issues, credentials and access to airports, temporary flight restrictions, grants to improve airport security, and incident management. The general aviation security working group, a part of the TSA’s Aviation Security Advisory Committee, was created in September 2009. Read more >>
New site encourages pilots to 'discover, fly, share'
With good weather just around the corner in many parts of the country, pilots are beginning to venture out of the pattern. A new Web site seeks to show them where to go and what to see on one tank of fuel. Kevin Daugherty and Eric Mele, creators of OneTankFlights.com, designed the site to enable users to find new and interesting places to fly based on “one tank” mileage designations that they select. Read more >>
AOPA-Chile helps with relief efforts in wake of earthquake
In response to the damaging earthquake and tsunami that hit Chile in February, AOPA-Chile and general aviation pilots sprung into action to deliver aid. AOPA-Chile President Guillermo Carey (pictured far right) used his helicopter to deliver basic supplies to remote areas. The organization worked in conjunction with the Chilean Air Force and the Chilean equivalent of the FAA. According to a bulletin released by AOPA-Chile, Chile President Michelle Bachelet emphasized the role of general aviation in critical times and the need to support it.
PiReps: Haiti first relief
Days after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, two volunteer pilots flew from Santa Barbara, Calif., to Jacmel, Haiti, to bring medical supplies and food to survivors and transport injured people to a hospital in the Dominican Republic. Elwood Schapansky tells the story of his son’s journey over two grueling—but satisfying—days on PiReps, a pilot community site where AOPA members can submit stories, tips, and experiences. Read his story >>
Haiti relief: How you can help
In the wake of the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, general aviation pilots have moved an astonishing quantity of supplies and aid workers to the ravaged nation. However, the changing situation in Haiti may make it more difficult to fly your own aircraft there to help, and pilots are strongly encouraged to contact a coordinating organization before departing for the island. Find out how >>
PS Engineering headed for space (again)
PS Engineering will provide the intercoms and audio control panels to be used on Scaled Composite’s 60-foot-long rocketship, SpaceShipTwo (now dubbed VSS Enterprise), and its carrier, Virgin Mothership Eve, for commercial flights to space. SpaceShipTwo carries six passengers and two pilots on a ballistic trajectory 65 miles high. VMSEve carries the craft, powered by a hybrid engine that combines a liquid oxidizer with solid fuel, to 50,000 feet for launch. The intercom system allows communication within each aircraft and between the two aircraft prior to launching the rocket. Read more >>
Cirrus says sales stronger than expected
Despite dire warnings about 2010 for most of the industry, Cirrus Design is having a better year than expected. “Other companies would like to be in our shoes,” President and CEO Brent Wouters said. “A number of key business measurements suggest stronger performance in 2010 than previously anticipated,” Wouters recently told employees, customers, and suppliers. He said the company was seeing signs of a strengthening market for aircraft sales. Read more >>
AOPA is getting a head start on the fun in Sun ’n Fun! On April 10, the green flag goes down at Frederick Municipal Airport, and AOPA’s Fun to Fly Sweepstakes Remos and a sporty Smart car will start the three-day Road and Runway Rally from Maryland to Lakeland, Fla. AOPA editor/pilots Alyssa J. Miller and Ian J. Twombly, MotorWeek Associate Producer Stephen Chupnick, and Wired Correspondent Jason Paur will fly/drive the vehicles. Join your fellow pilots at Frederick Municipal at 8 a.m. April 10 for the kickoff. Then be a part of the action as the car and airplane make their way to stops in Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida before arriving in style at Sun ‘n Fun on April 13. Keep watching AOPA Online for route maps, videos, and more.
More GA News:
CORRECTION: In the March 12 edition of AOPA ePilot, we incorrectly stated the number of international airports in Haiti. The airports in Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien both serve as ports of entry.
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
The future of general aviation depends on people getting involved: pilots who exercise their freedom to fly, potential pilots who get inspired by their first flight, industry leaders who explore new possibilities, advocates who speak out for general aviation, and government leaders who shape public policy. AOPA President Craig Fuller spent time in California this week reaching out to people who are engaged in aviation in a variety of ways. At a Shape Up America event in downtown Los Angeles, Fuller met with local officials and brought aviation to a new audience. Later, he spoke with ICON Aircraft founder Kirk Hawkins about what light sport aircraft can do for GA. And at Flabob Airport near Riverside, he found inspiration in the dedicated guardians who want to preserve the airport’s history and ensure that it has a place in the aviation world of tomorrow.
Crash course: Pilots learn from others’ mistakes, pet peeves
While pilots often learn from their own mistakes, it’s best to learn from others’ mistakes in order to avoid potentially dangerous situations. More than 300 pilots attended the Aero Club of New England (ACONE) Crash Course 2010 in Boston March 15 to do just that. ACONE Crash Course Chair Paul Diette reviewed aviation accidents that occurred in the New England area, while AOPA Air Safety Foundation President Bruce Landsberg profiled some common mistakes pilots make in their radio communications, in the traffic pattern, and in aircraft operation. Read more >>
Sitting still for long periods isn’t good for machinery, and it’s particularly tough on aircraft. An amateur-built RV-6 that crashed in August 2009 had sat on the ramp “for about a year” without being flown. About a week before the accident, the pilot got the engine started and flew one circuit around the traffic pattern. On the morning of the accident, he removed the spark plugs and sandblasted them, ran a compression check, and cleaned “goop” from the air filter. A witness saw the RV take off and climb to no more than 200 feet agl before the engine began making “popping” noises. The airplane turned crosswind and then quickly turned downwind; the pitch attitude gradually increased, but the airplane didn’t climb. Read more >>
Fly safely to Sun ‘n Fun
When pilots from all over the country make their spring pilgrimage to Lakeland, Fla., for the Sun ‘n Fun fly-in, Lakeland Linder Regional Airport briefly becomes one of the busiest airports in the world. If you’re flying in for the event April 13 through 18, learn about the special procedures that minimize delays and enhance safety. AOPA Pilot Editor in Chief Tom Haines will lead a panel of air traffic controllers in a discussion of arrival, ground, and departure procedures April 1 at 8 p.m. Eastern time in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation Webinar “Flying to Sun 'n Fun Safely.” Register now >>
Answers for Pilots: Spring Allergies
Trees budding, temperatures rising, sunshine stretching into the evening—it must be spring! It’s great to have the opportunity to be outdoors again, especially when it involves doing some flying after work. Unfortunately, for many of us, along with spring comes a headache, sinus pressure, or other allergic reactions to all the new growth blooming around us. The FAA is definitive as to which allergy medications are allowed and which are not. The good news is that the majority of allergy medications are allowed. Some have a waiting period before flight and others, if reported on the FAA medical application, require a physician’s status report affirming there are no adverse side effects caused by the medication. 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.
AOPA Outreach: What matters?
AOPA Foundation President Karen Gebhart recently found herself at a table with a dozen pilots ranging from a student pilot to an astronaut—all current general aviation pilots as well. Join the discussion >>
Air Safety eJournal: Gone to hell in a handbasket?
In today’s high-workload cockpits, flying without the autopilot has become an abnormal procedure. The automation is more precise and consistent—assuming it’s programmed well—but what about our hand-flying skills? Read more >>
Reporting Points: The chopper pilot pays a call
The pilot featured in the AOPA Pilot article about a Virginia Beach, Va., police helicopter unit paid a visit to AOPA headquarters. David Cook was taking some time off, and flew from his home field in Norfolk to Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland. And no, he didn’t fly the Bell 407 he flies on duty. Instead, he flew his personal Cherokee 140. Read more >>
Hover Power: Need for speed
Flying a rotor system edgewise through the air creates a problem known as dissymmetry of lift. One side of the disc advances into the wind (headwind) while the other side is retreating (tailwind). Read more >>
Webinar answers aircraft-buying questions…
Buying an aircraft may seem like an overwhelming task, but AOPA experts can answer your questions and help explain the process in the interactive Webinar “Purchasing an Aircraft” Thursday, March 25. Plan to attend one of two sessions at either 3 or 9 p.m. Eastern time to find out more about aircraft valuation, costs and financing, insurance, inspections, required paperwork, title and escrow services, aircraft records, taxes, and more. Representatives from AOPA's Aircraft Financing Program, the AOPA Insurance Agency (3 p.m. only), and AIC Title Service also will be available to answer your questions. If you have questions about the Webinar, call AOPA at 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672). Register for the 3 p.m. or 9 p.m. Webinar.
…Online services cut out paperwork
No matter what your paperwork and document needs when you are buying (or selling) an airplane, AOPA’s partner AIC Title Service can help you. What documents are needed and what procedures must be followed can be confusing and frustrating, especially if this is your first airplane purchase. Read more >>
AOPA Life Insurance offers new low rates
Shopping for life insurance can be a chore, and shopping for life insurance as a pilot can be even tougher. That’s why AOPA developed the AOPA Life Insurance Program. The insurance offers low affordable rates with no aviation exclusions. You can choose from a wide variety of options tailored to fit your specific needs. Not sure how much life insurance you should carry? The free seven-point life insurance checklist can help you determine if you have enough to adequately support your loved ones. If you don’t, it can help you determine how much is enough. Call today at 877/432-AOPA or visit online and find out just how easy it is to obtain affordable life insurance.
Wish you had a better understanding of the regulations when talking to your mechanic or the avionics shop? Aircraft Electronics Association Vice President of Government/Industry Affairs Ric Peri answers your frequently asked questions.
Question: Per FAR 91.205(d)(6) for IFR flight, a clock displaying hours, minutes, and seconds with a sweep-second pointer or digital presentation is required. Does the clock have to be installed in the aircraft, or can the pilot meet the requirements of the regulation by wearing a wristwatch?”
Answer: The clock must be installed in the aircraft, and no, a wristwatch does not meet the regulatory requirement. A 1981 legal interpretation from the FAA addresses the use of a wristwatch in lieu of an installed clock. Read more >>
Submit your own question via e-mail.
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 know that the FAA is requiring us to replace our paper pilot certificates with plastic ones. If I don’t receive my new plastic pilot certificate by March 31, may I still fly using my old paper certificate?
Answer: No, under FAR 61.19(h) you are not allowed to exercise your pilot privileges until you have received your plastic certificate from the FAA. However, as a stopgap, you can request temporary authority to exercise your pilot certificate privileges through the FAA’s Airmen Online Services Web site or by calling the FAA’s airmen certification branch at 866/878-2498 (press 1, then 0). The temporary authority is valid for 60 days.
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 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 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].