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The historic shift of power in Congress following the Nov. 2 midterm elections is resulting in uncertainty for general aviation in Washington, D.C. “There has not been a shift of this size in Congress since 1948,” said Lorraine Howerton, AOPA vice president of legislative affairs. The election leaves rebuilding to be done by AOPA and other aviation organizations. “We worked really hard over the past year and a half to garner additional support for general aviation in Congress, work that led to the formation of GA caucuses in the House and the Senate,” Howerton said. Many new members of Congress are unfamiliar with GA and its contributions to the nation, she noted—the same situation that led to creation of the caucuses in April 2009. Read more >>
Most of Mooney Aviation Company’s remaining 53 employees, down from 500 in 2008, will be laid off by year’s end, the company has told its employees. The company will continue to support present owners and provide a level of spare parts. “We are not shutting down,” said Mooney Chief Financial Officer Barry Hodkin. “However, we cannot continue to subsidize the company at the level we have in the recent past. We have been in discussions with potential investors for more than 18 months and will continue to work with them. If things change, then the scope of this layoff could change.” Read more >>
500-hp diesel tested in Germany
Raikhlin Aircraft Engine Developments (RED), a new venture founded by Wladimir Raikhlin and his associates, has flown a 500-horsepower diesel engine on a modified Yak 52. The propeller for the water-cooled, twelve-cylinder engine called RED A03 is gear driven. The engine generates 500 hp for takeoff at 3,900 rpm. The engine weight at the moment is 705 pounds, according to diesel engine consultant Andre Teissier-duCros. Read more >>
Like many pilots, Ray Costello of Corvallis, Ore., had a number of goals to meet this year: passing his medical exam and getting his homebuilt three-place IFR-equipped short takeoff and landing taildragger, a Murphy Rebel, into the air. There is a milestone celebration also coming up this year. Costello, an Oregon Aviation Hall of Fame inductee who retired in 2001 after 16 years as AOPA’s Northwest regional representative, turns 90 on Nov. 27. After recounting years of flying and aviation advocacy and the joy of receiving his medical, the former Air Force pilot and AOPA member since 1946 said, “You live long enough, certain beautiful things happen.” Read more >>
One the Barefoot Bandit missed
More facts are emerging as the authorities continue to investigate the activities of Colton Harris-Moore, the infamous 19-year-old better known as the “Barefoot Bandit,” who was arraigned Nov. 18 in Seattle on five federal charges. Bill Anders was at Orcas Island Airport in Eastsound, Wash., where he keeps his Cessna Corvalis TT, when a sheriff’s deputy asked him if his hangar had been broken into—then showed Anders the crowbar marks on the hangar’s side door. The fact that Anders didn’t top off the airplane after his previous flight—something he normally does right after landing—might have saved his aircraft. Read more >>
Soloing is a thrill for every student pilot. Soloing in several different airplanes takes that excitement to a new level, as Justin McBurney of Apple Valley, Calif., learned on Nov. 14. He soloed five airplanes on the morning of his sixteenth birthday, the earliest age at which a student pilot can fly a powered aircraft without a flight instructor. McBurney flew three Cessnas (150, 152, and 172), a Piper Warrior, and an Aeronca Champ. Read more >>
Hover Power: Eurocopter’s quest for speed
In the 1980s, Bell and Boeing Helicopters began developing a twin-turboshaft military tiltrotor aircraft called the V22 Osprey. Bell then teamed with AgustaWestland to develop a commercial version known as the BA609 and it achieved its first flight in March 2003. During this time the helicopter industry was excited about vertical takeoff and landing aircraft reaching higher speeds. However, Eurocopter was quiet about its plans, only saying it had no plans to develop a tiltrotor aircraft. On Sept. 6, Eurocopter began test flights of its high-speed, long-range hybrid helicopter concept, which combines VTOL capabilities with cruise speeds of more than 220 knots. Read more >>
Jim Tucker had a promising career ahead of him as a FedEx DC-10 captain. But an attack by a suicidal coworker who attempted to commandeer and crash their FedEx jet in 1994 left him and his fellow crewmembers fighting for their lives. Tucker described their fight to survive—and his dogged recovery from life-threatening injuries—in an interview on the AOPA Live ® stage and a forum, “Cockpit Courage,” at AOPA Aviation Summit. Read more >>
An aerobatic champion’s secrets to success
Patty Wagstaff may be a natural at the controls, but it takes more than just talent to become a U.S. National Aerobatic Champion. It takes discipline and hard work, Wagstaff said in an AOPA Live interview. If you want to fly, put aside all the excuses and work toward your goals, she said. “You’ll find that people are really willing to help you when you’re on a mission.” Watch AOPA Live >>
“You guys are our customers,” Jim Coyne, president of the National Air Transportation Association—the organization that represents FBOs—said to AOPA members. “These private businesses are part of the success of aviation in America,” he said, adding that the freedom to fly in the United States “just wouldn’t exist” without organizations like AOPA to fight for it. Coyne is cautiously optimistic about the shift in leadership of the House. “There is the risk of more gridlock,” he said. “Let me say something to those who weren’t reelected: There is life after Congress, and there are ways they can continue to support general aviation.” Watch AOPA Live >>
What does it take to win the Air Race Classic? “You gotta want it. … You cannot be a timid flyer,” said Terry Carbonell, who won the 2010 competition with her team. The all-women cross-country race spans more than 2,000 nautical miles and pits each team against their aircraft’s capability. Many women walk away from the competitive event with a sense of accomplishment and increased confidence. “I learned that I’m a lot better than I thought I was,” said 2010 racer Mary Wunder “… We’re really good pilots. Women are really good pilots.” Watch AOPA Live >>
The state of GA in the states
Airports were in a perfect position to take advantage of economic stimulus funding because they already had priority lists, said Henry Ogrodzinski, president of the National Association of State Aviation Officials. “When stimulus funds became available they were ready to go,” he said on AOPA Live. Long term, however, the lack of FAA reauthorization is a problem. “You need to plan ahead,” Ogrodzinski said, working many years ahead on projects like runway extensions. FAA funding is important because airports are economic engines that “represent opportunities these communities wouldn’t have without an airport,” said Randy Burdette, NASAO chairman and director of the Virginia Department of Aviation. Watch AOPA Live >>
Kings discuss getting ‘busted by the database’
King Schools owners John and Martha King spoke on AOPA Live Nov. 13 about the day they were detained at gunpoint by Santa Barbara police because federal officials thought the Kings' Cessna 172 was stolen. It wasn't, but it did carry the same N number as a Cessna 150 stolen in 2002 from McKinney, Texas. Watch AOPA Live >>
Pilots’ choice: Top AOPA Live videos
In the year since AOPA Live was unveiled at the 2009 Aviation Summit in Tampa, Fla., viewers from more than 160 countries have watched thousands of hours of video. AOPA President Craig Fuller took a look back at some of the most popular videos—from an aerobatic test of the Garmin G3X to a sport pilot’s inspiring story of learning to fly without arms. Catch up on what you may have missed. Watch AOPA Live >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Safety & Proficiency
Unfortunately there are no “sky signs” to guide us through the airspace we fly in. Yet it is our responsibility to understand and apply the rules that govern the sky. Find your way safely through the airspace maze with the recently updated Air Safety Institute Know Before You Go: Navigating Today’s Airspace interactive online course. From basic chart interpretation to understanding temporary flight restrictions and special flight rule areas, you’ll be armed with important navigation knowledge before takeoff. The course qualifies for AOPA Accident Forgiveness and the FAA Wings program.
Whether you’re over Fargo or Fort Lauderdale, if the temperatures aloft are cold enough and there’s visible moisture ahead, it’s a safe bet you’ll soon be picking up airframe ice. Do you understand the dangers? And do you know how to react? Take the Air Safety Institute’s latest safety quiz and find out.
Studying the various aeronautical charts and airspace regulations can be a daunting task, especially with the looming pressure of an upcoming checkride or flight review. That’s why the Air Safety Institute has developed airspace flash cards to make it practical, even enjoyable, for pilots at any certificate level to absorb critical knowledge. The cards, which easily fit in your flight bag, include a color depiction of the airspace, a description of its characteristics, and a discussion question. Download the cards >>
Whether there are snow-laden evergreens or sun-streaked palm trees outside our windows this month, the holidays beckon us to our homes to enjoy the company of family and friends. As we reflect on our blessings, many pilots decide to give back some time and aviation experience to benefit the needs of others. Participating in charitable flight activities is a rewarding way to get engaged in the community and help a worthwhile cause while doing something we love. Find out what’s involved in organizing charitable or community sightseeing flights. Read more >>
Clarifying the charitable flying exemption
Are you eligible for full reimbursement of your fuel costs when acting as a volunteer pilot on charitable flights? The answer is that only those pilots who fly for three specific organizations that have been granted written exemption, and who have complied with extensive safety and training requirements spelled out in a revised FAA notification letter, are eligible for full reimbursement of fuel costs. Read more >>
Air Safety eJournal: Point of no easy return
Has this happened to anyone else? During a recent IMC flight, a last-minute clearance spiked the cockpit workload. The full instrument approach and transition had been programmed into the glass cockpit. Approach Control advised to expect vectors for the ILS, so the pilot activated “Vectors to Final.” On this particular box that wipes out the transition and intermediate waypoints. The aircraft proceeded on a 45-degree intercept to the final approach course. Later, the controller cleared the aircraft direct to an intermediate fix. But all the intermediate waypoints had been vaporized. Read more >>
What general aviation pilot wouldn’t jump at a chance to infuse the hometown folks with the aviator’s enthusiasm for flight? Help them understand why we invent every excuse to give a first airplane ride, or just head over to the strip? In Greenville, S.C., Lara Kaufmann had some ideas about that. Now she’s doing a pretty fair job of setting her personal world on fire about flying, and she’s found a willing ally in her local airport administrator. Here’s the twist: Kaufmann isn’t a pilot. Read more >>
More time needed to study IA certification change
AOPA has requested an additional 60 days to study and comment on a proposed revision of the policy the FAA uses to qualify aviation mechanics for inspection authority (IA). The FAA proposed modifying the definition “actively engaged” as it is used to evaluate experience of airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanics who apply for IA certification. The FAA announced the planned revision in a notice of proposed rulemaking Nov. 5. Numerous members have contacted AOPA to voice their concerns since AOPA first reported the proposal. Read more >>
Cost, lack of support cited as barriers to women in aviation
A two-year study shows that the low numbers of women pilots may be attributable not only to the cost of learning to fly, but also to factors that are more gender specific. The majority of women who participated in the study cited the cost of training as a barrier to success. But they also mentioned lack of female mentors, instructors who didn’t communicate effectively—a “Mars/Venus” scenario—and a lack of confidence in their ability to handle an airplane. The study suggests steps that flight schools and others could take to help women achieve their pilot certificates. Read more >>
Wolf Aviation Fund accepting grant proposals through Dec. 15
The Wolf Aviation Fund, which has provided funding for research into female pilot training and other initiatives, supports projects that "promote and support general aviation" through aviation education, public service work, airport outreach, and more. The deadline for applications for 2010 grants is Dec. 15. Find out more on the Wolf Aviation Fund website.
Holiday hotel deals
The holiday season is upon us, which means a lot of traveling to gather with your family! Save big during the Orbitz hotel sale. Save up to 40 percent at thousands of hotels around the world. Book by Dec. 15 and receive $200 toward future travel. Plus, a portion of all the revenue generated is returned to AOPA which allows the association to continue its efforts to maintain the freedom, safety, and affordability of general aviation. Book your vacation today >>
Safeguard the financial future of your family
Not all life insurance policies include protection during flight. Make certain your family is financially safeguarded in the event that you're involved in an aviation-related accident with AOPA-sponsored accidental death and dismemberment insurance. This simple and affordable insurance plan is designed to broaden your existing policy coverage to protect you and your family by providing guaranteed coverage while you're flying as a flight instructor, a pilot, or a passenger. Read more >>
Airport info available on iPhone, iPod touch
AOPA members with an iPhone or iPod touch can quickly access airport elevations, frequencies, and more from wherever they are using the AOPA Airports application powered by ForeFlight. Pilots can even save their favorite airports to access them easily. Visit the Apple App Store to download this exclusive member benefit to your iPhone or iPod touch today. All of AOPA’s mobile apps are free to members.