Click here to view this week’s custom content online.
Two jets of flame leap high into the predawn darkness, and a roar rolls across the high desert north of downtown Albuquerque. This happens again and again. Each brief, intense glow illuminates a sea of people, many turning up collars against the morning chill. This frequently repeated ritual is preflight at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. This year’s Fiesta, to be held Oct. 2 through 10, features 500 registered hot air and gas balloons and 650 pilots. Albuquerque is an ideal gathering place for balloonists in part because of a combination of upper- and lower-level winds known as the “box”: Cool air from the north moves balloons southward while winds at slightly higher altitudes often move in the opposite direction, making it possible for a balloon to return to its starting point. Watch footage from last year’s event and experience the festival in vibrant color in this photo essay from AOPA Pilot. Read more >>
Two university aviation programs could close
Aviation degree programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn., face the possibility of closure. Robert Easter, interim chancellor at the University of Illinois, outlined plans to discontinue or transfer all academic curricula in the university’s Institute of Aviation in a Sept. 28 letter also signed by Richard Wheeler, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs. “After careful evaluation of the complex, and sometimes competing interest of our students, faculty, and the public, we have concluded that some significant changes should occur,” he wrote. Read more >>
Search continues for missing American balloonists
The search intensified Sept. 30 for a gas balloon missing in the Gordon Bennett 2010 International Gas Balloon Race and its American pilots, Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer-Davis. Twenty teams representing 11 countries launched Sept. 25 from Bristol, England, west of London, and 19 balloons have landed safely. The Swiss team of Kurt Frieden and Pascal Witpraechtiger covered the greatest distance—1,314 nm—landing in eastern Romania on Sept. 28. The control center received its last signal from the missing American team, flying a gas balloon registered as N801NM, at 0558Z on Sept. 29. Read more >>
Bombardier hints at expanded Global family
Bombardier Aerospace announced that its board of directors has given the go-ahead to expand the company’s family of Global aircraft—which now includes its Global 5000 and Global Express XLS, large-cabin, long-range business jets. Details of the expansion will be announced on Oct. 18 at this year’s National Business Aviation Association annual conference in Atlanta, which runs from Oct. 19 to 21. Read more >>
Eurocopter enters high-speed cruise arena
Helicopter manufacturers are feeling the need for speed, and Eurocopter has challenged Sikorsky’s 250-knot X2 Technology demonstrator with its own 220-knot demonstrator. The Eurocopter X3 demonstrator hopes to reach that speed in 2011. The X3 demonstrator’s first flight occurred Sept. 6 in southern France at a flight test center. Initial testing will continue through December with reduced power, progressively opening the flight envelope to speeds of approximately 180 knots. After a three-month upgrade, X3 flights will resume in March 2011 with the goal of reaching sustained cruise speeds in excess of 220 knots. Read more >>
Hawker Beechcraft cuts 350 workers
Less than a week after Cessna Aircraft Co. reduced its workforce by 700 workers, Hawker Beechcraft announced a workforce reduction of 350 workers. Both reductions came in the same week that a presidential economic advisory group ruled that the current recession ended in June 2009. The aircraft manufacturing industry lags behind any economic recovery, Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft officials have said in the past, waiting for customers to return to profitability, for the supply of used aircraft to dry up, and for banks to resume financing. Read more >>
LSAs light up the skies in Illinois
Dozens of light sport aircraft descended on Mount Vernon-Outland Airport in Mount Vernon, Ill., last weekend for the second annual Midwest LSA Expo. AOPA’s Fun to Fly Remos GX was part of the static display at the event, which counted 50 makes and models plus a variety of vendors. American Legend, Cubcrafters, Evektor, Flight Design, Gobosh, Jabiru, Just, Piper, Remos, Tecnam, X-Air, and Zenith brought airplanes to the show. Making its U.S. debut was the KR-030 Topaz from Niu Group in Poland. The high-wing aircraft has a composite empennage and flaps; ailerons are carbon laminate. Read more >>
'Bonus depreciation' tax breaks extended through 2010
A tax provision seen boosting sales of general aviation aircraft became law on Sept. 27 with President Barack Obama’s signing of the Small Business Jobs Act. Passage of the so-called bonus depreciation provision extends through 2010 a business’s ability to write off 50 percent of the cost of a capital asset, such as machinery or equipment, the year the purchase is made. Under bonus depreciation, general aviation aircraft and major components such as engines and avionics could qualify for the advantageous tax treatment when used for business purposes, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. Read more >>
Aircraft re-registration rule in effect
The FAA has switched from the current non-expiring aircraft registration to one with a three-year expiration date printed on the certificate effective Oct. 1. All aircraft registered before that date must be re-registered. If your aircraft registration was issued in March of any year, you’ll need to re-register between Nov. 1 and Jan. 31, 2011. Do you know when you need to re-register? Find out in AOPA’s Aircraft Registration and Re-registration subject report.
Aviation school shows improving test scores
Public education has been in the national spotlight recently with the Obama administration’s Race to the Top and various other debates. A school in California shows that aviation plays its own part in the conversation. The Flabob Airport Preparatory Academy is a small charter school located on Flabob Airport in Riverside, Calif. The academy is open to students in grades seven through 12, and focuses on aviation as a way to motivate students in science, math, engineering, and technology. Read more >>
Harrison Ford to receive Wright trophy
Actor, pilot, aviation spokesman, and aircraft owner Harrison Ford will receive the 2010 Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy at a dinner Dec. 17 in Washington, D.C., for his support and defense of aviation. The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) will present the award. The citation will read: “For engaging our nation’s youth in aviation and inspiring tomorrow’s leaders, innovators and enthusiasts to secure a strong future for all of aviation.” NAA established this award in 1948 to honor the memory of Orville and Wilbur Wright. Read more >>
Philip Handleman to receive award
Aviation author and photographer Philip Handleman will receive the $20,000 Combs Gates Award during the upcoming National Business Aviation Association convention in Atlanta Oct. 19. The award was announced by the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio. “I am extremely honored to have been selected to receive the Combs Gates Award,” Handleman said. “My work has been invigorated by fellow pilots, flight crews, mechanics, designers, engineers, and all those in related disciplines who quietly pursue flight’s high calling and thereby link aviation’s rich past with its promising future.” Read more >>
Mike McConnell, formerly with Eclipse Aviation, Mooney Aircraft Corp., and Dell Computer Corp., has joined Raisbeck Engineering as president. The firm provides wing and fuselage modifications to improve performance for Learjet, King Air, Boeing and Airbus airliners, and Twin Otter aircraft. McConnell most recently was president of the customer division for Eclipse Aviation. “Mike is a proven aerospace industry veteran who has helped companies realize their full potential through his leadership of sales, marketing, and customer relationships,” said James Raisbeck, CEO of Raisbeck Engineering. Read more >>
P–51 legend Bullock dies
Frederick “Ted” Bullock, honored several years ago as one of the North American P–51 Mustang “legends,” died this past summer. He was honored at The Gathering of Mustangs and Legends in Columbus, Ohio, in 2007. Bullock flew the British Spitfire in North Africa and flew the P–51 in North Africa as well as Sicily, Corsica, and Italy. He flew 70 missions and shot down three enemy fighters. He provided fighter cover for bombers during the Ploesti oil field raids. Read more >>
A team at the University of Toronto has filed a world record claim for the first sustained flight of a human-powered ornithopter—an aircraft that achieves thrust from the flapping of its wings. The Human-Powered Ornithopter Project announced this month that its aircraft, the Snowbird, completed several sustained flights July 31 and Aug. 2, the longest of which lasted 19.3 seconds on Aug. 2. The record claim has been submitted to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale for approval. Read more >>
AOPA Now: Getting up close with unmanned aircraft
AOPA President Craig Fuller was among a group of policymakers and aviation officials invited to Nevada’s Creech Air Force Base to get up close to some amazing technology and the pilots who fly it. Creech is home to Predators and Reapers, two varieties of unmanned aircraft at work in Iraq and Afghanistan. Inside the “cockpit” at Creech, the topography one sees is actually halfway around the world. Col. Peter “Gunz” Gersten is responsible for the operation and maintenance of more than 150 remotely piloted aircraft. In his spare time, he flies a Cirrus. Read more >>
Van’s Aircraft founder Dick Van Grunsven has cracked the code on designing sturdy, uncomplicated airframes that combine speed, efficiency, economy, and responsiveness—and the new RV-12 light sport aircraft fits that pattern. Using metal construction and a 100-horsepower Rotax 912ULS engine, the low-wing, tricycle-gear aircraft has much in common with others in the crowded LSA marketplace. Fly along with Mitch Lock, Van’s East Coast sales representative and builder of the first RV-12 made entirely from a production kit, as he describes what sets the aircraft apart. Watch AOPA Live >>
Piper exec talks to AOPA about recent layoffs
While Piper Aircraft’s deliveries for 2010 will increase by 40 percent compared to 2009, sales are still not meeting projections, necessitating thelayoff of 60 employees, according to Randy Groom, Piper executive vice president. Groom stopped by AOPA on Sept. 29 to discuss the status of the company and sat down with AOPA Live ®. Piper plans to deliver more than 150 airplanes this year compared to just 94 last year. However, the 2010 production plan called for even more aggressive growth, which has not materialized. Watch AOPA Live >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Safety & Proficiency
Low-altitude aerobatics kills two
Aerobatic instruction can benefit pilots who have no desire to fly competitive aerobatics. But teaching yourself is a good deal more problematic. Attempting those maneuvers at low altitudes with passengers on board is irresponsible. On Nov. 8, 2009, a Skybolt aerobatic biplane crashed into an open field shortly after takeoff from the Quartz Mountain Airport in Altus, Okla. The pilot and his 17-year-old passenger were killed and the airplane was completely consumed by fire. The passenger’s father saw the Skybolt climb to about 50 feet above the runway, pull up to a pitch angle of at least 45 degrees, and bank hard to the right, still climbing. Read more in this special report from the Air Safety Institute.
Meteorology degree not required
Your online weather briefing spews a paper ream of area and terminal forecasts, pressure systems, and frontal boundaries. But how do you become a weather expert to interpret these reports? Hop aboard the Air Safety Institute’s award-winning course WeatherWise: Air Masses and Fronts to lift the ceiling on forces that drive weather systems and how weather may affect your flight. Interactive scenes and visual cues help put official terminology and what to expect outside the cockpit into clear perspective. Complete the course to qualify for AOPA Accident Forgiveness and the FAA Wings program.
Low altitude, low airspeed, no options
We all know it can happen, but the possibility of losing an engine just after takeoff is one of those things nobody really likes to dwell upon. As Dr. Ron Craig can attest, however, a little forethought on the topic might just come in handy one day. Listen as he recounts the dramatic tale of his own particularly ill-timed engine failure in the Air Safety Institute’s Real Pilot Story: Power Loss on Takeoff .
Although we spend a lot of time training for them, real-world emergencies are rare enough that it’s hardly surprising pilots sometimes get complacent. But emergencies don’t always happen to “other pilots,” and a little preparation can make a big difference when things start to go downhill. Don’t take the head-in-the-sand approach: Get advice on handling those “up here, wishing you were down there” scenarios in the Air Safety Institute’s Emergency Procedures Safety Advisor.
Air Safety eJournal: The passenger conundrum
How does a passenger know that you’re any good? This conundrum plagues general aviation’s image. Last week we looked at a horrendous crash involving an overloaded Piper Seneca on a “mission” to buy an aircraft. Five passengers accepted a ride to disaster reasoning that a 2,000-hour-plus pilot must be OK. “One problem is Part 91 passengers are unprotected by the regulations,” wrote one reader, a retired professional pilot. Read more >>
If you’re flying south, know before you go
Thinking of flying south this winter to enjoy the warmth and sunshine of Mexico? There’s a lot involved in planning a trip across the border—flight planning, filing manifests through the Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS), and getting the necessary paperwork in order, including insurance coverage for flight in Mexico—but don’t get overwhelmed. AOPA can show you how to streamline the effort in a Webinar on flying in Mexico Tuesday, Oct. 12 at 3 and 9 p.m. Eastern time. Sign up for either 3 p.m. or 9 p.m.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sept. 24 vetoed Assembly Bill 1889, which would have imposed a moratorium on costly new flight training regulations in the state. The governor objected to parts of the bill unrelated to the flight school provision. AOPA was undaunted by the veto: The bill was just one of several legislative vehicles the association has been pursuing to address controversial new flight school regulations from the California Private Postsecondary Act of 2009. AOPA continues to pursue other legislation that could achieve the same end. Read more >>
Chicago Class B changes reflected in Oct. 21 charting cycle
The FAA has published its final rule modifying Chicago’s Class B airspace, to go into effect at 0901 UTC on Oct. 21. The changes will be incorporated into the new terminal area charts and sectional charts that go into effect at the same time. The modification mirrors the design presented during the FAA’s informal airspace meetings, held to solicit user input. Overall, the changes are relatively minor and include additional Class B airspace areas to the east and west of Chicago, along with minor adjustments to sector boundaries around Chicago Executive Airport. Read more >>
Waste-transfer station would pose bird hazard at Arizona airport
AOPA is urging officials in Wickenburg, Ariz., not to establish a waste transfer station adjacent to the runway at the Wickenburg Municipal Airport. Locating the transfer station next to the airport’s lone 6,100-foot runway would create a “significant hazard” because uncovered transfer stations such as the one proposed would attract birds to the vicinity. Facilities that could draw birds, presenting a collision hazard for aircraft, must be located at least 5,000 feet from an active runway serving piston aircraft, and at least 10,000 feet from an active runway on which turbine aircraft operate. Read more >>
‘Tin Goose’ a highlight of Sedona airport day
AOPA joined the Sedona Airport community Sept. 25 in welcoming the public to a day at the airport—complete with rides in a Ford Tri-Motor. The “Tin Goose” sold out flights throughout the day at the Airport Day and Car Show, an event that featured classic, military, and state-of-the art aircraft as well as more than 100 classic cars. AOPA Senior Vice President of Advocacy Melissa Rudinger participated in a press flight on the Tri-Motor and showed support for the airport’s community outreach. Read more >>
Congress clears short-term FAA bill
The House and Senate have passed a measure that would extend FAA programs through the end of 2010. This is the sixteenth short-term extension since the last FAA reauthorization expired in 2007. The House passed an FAA bill in 2009, and the Senate passed its version of the bill in March 2010. Since then, the House and Senate have been working out the differences between their two bills. AOPA and other aviation-related organizations urged the Senate to move forward on the measure in a joint letter in September. Read more >>
Balloon festival introduces community to GA
A mass of bright, multicolored hot air balloons ascending just after dawn is sure to garner lots of attention. That’s just what the Adirondack Balloon Festival in Queensbury, N.Y., did last weekend, attracting pilots and local residents to the Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport. Daily “big balloon breakfasts,” music, classic cars, a military aircraft display, and a climbing wall provided entertainment for spectators of all ages, and, more importantly, got them out to the airport. AOPA President Craig Fuller used the opportunity to explain the value of general aviation. Read more >>
Woerth to represent U.S. in international aviation
The Senate has confirmed the nomination of former Air Line Pilots Association President Duane Woerth as the U.S. permanent representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). A dozen aviation organizations called on the Senate Sept. 21 to ensure that U.S. aviation has a strong voice on the international stage by approving his nomination as soon as possible. AOPA and other associations asked Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to appoint Woerth in time for the ICAO triennial General Assembly, which convened Sept. 28 in Montreal. Read more >>
Unmanned aircraft, NextGen top of mind for GA
Two senior AOPA executives advocated general aviation’s positions on the impact of a changing National Airspace System at an industry symposium on Sept. 22. Participating in the RTCA Inc. fall symposium in Washington, D.C., Thomas B. Haines, AOPA senior vice president and editor in chief, moderated a panel discussion on “Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS): What’s in a Name?” Melissa Rudinger, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs, took part in a panel updating attendees on the implementation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). Read more >>
Why use an AOPA credit card?
Deciding which credit card to use for various purchases can get confusing. Are you trying to earn points? Support a cause? Redeem rewards? Why not do all three with an AOPA credit card? The WorldPoints rewards program allows you to earn one point for every dollar you spend, which you can redeem for cash, gift cards, and other rewards. Plus, you will earn two points for every dollar you spend at select FBOs, for certain AOPA products and services, and at merchants like Sporty's Pilot Shop, Aircraft Spruce & Specialty, Gulf Coast Avionics, King Schools, and Pacific Coast Avionics. Read more >>
Would you know what to do if you faced an FAA action?
It’s a scary thought, but every time you fly you’re responsible for complying with at least 700 relevant federal aviation regulations. No matter how good a pilot you are, incidents can happen. Even minor infractions can result in serious penalties. Find out online about some of the most common FAA enforcement actions and the resulting fines and/or suspensions. Enjoy peace of mind every time you fly knowing that if a federal enforcement action comes your way, you’ll have the best legal advice and support available. Join the thousands of AOPA members who won’t fly without the protection of the AOPA Legal Services Plan.
Fly Well: Physiological formation flying
Place your hands on your chest, inhale, and experience the physiological equivalent of formation flying. Rib muscles, diaphragm, blood flow, and expanding lungs, all in glorious synchrony. Unless something fails. Which is bad news in formation flying—and breathing. The lungs contain numerous alveoli, tiny bags surrounded by microscopic blood vessels where inhaled oxygen is transferred into the blood and carbon dioxide moves out. Lung problems are especially germane to pilots. Read more >>
Fun to Fly 2010 Sweepstakes: A great day in a great state
AOPA’s Fun to Fly 2010 Sweepstakes Remos got its first tailwind on its journey to California Sept. 28. Launching out of Wichita, the aircraft saw 87 knots indicated airspeed, 119 knots over the ground, and true airspeeds of 101 knots at 7,500 feet. (The Dynon avionics display all those for you, plus your winds-aloft speeds and the direction of the wind.) Catch up on the Remos’ journey to AOPA Aviation Summit, where the association will hand over the keys to the new owner. Read more >>
Peak experience: AOPA aviation summit
AOPA Foundation auction to conclude at a Night for Flight benefit
The AOPA Foundation is holding an online auction to support its key initiatives of preserving and improving community airports, improving general aviation’s safety record through increased pilot education, growing the pilot population to ensure GA’s future, and educating the public on the benefits of GA. Items up for bid include a day of aerobatic flight training with Sean D. Tucker, a VIP experience with Mike Goulian at the Rhode Island ANG Air Show, a ride in the Goodyear Blimp, a made-to-order Waco YMF-5D, and much more. Read more >>
Tune in live online
AOPA Aviation Summit is the place to be Nov. 11 through 13 in Long Beach, Calif., with more high-profile aviation officials, performers, and safety experts in attendance than ever. But if you can’t make it, don’t miss it! Watch live from home (or perhaps even work) right from your computer. AOPA Live will be streaming the events in real time so that you can be part of the action. Fly low and fast with the Reno Air racers; learn from John King the events that led to him and his wife, Martha, being held at gunpoint at the airport; find out how the iPad could revolutionize the cockpit, and more! See the latest schedule of AOPA Live events >>
Stick and rudder tricks to avoid accidents
Takeoffs and landings. Night flight. Rudder coordination. Sound basic? These skills acquired early in the flight training process need regular practice if you intend to stay safe in the air. Just take a look at the statistics: Every year, takeoffs and landings account for more than half of all pilot-related accidents, according to the Air Safety Institute’s Joseph T. Nall Report. Brush up on your stick and rudder skills to improve your safety during AOPA Aviation Summit Nov. 11 through 13 in Long Beach, Calif. Read more >>
Aviation personalities pick must-see Summit events
Where will you find Air Safety Institute President Bruce Landsberg, AOPA Pilot Editor in Chief Thomas B. Haines, aviation humorist Rod Machado, and Flight Training Deputy Editor Ian J. Twombly this November? From tracking the links in an accident chain to exploring the lighter side of flight training, some of the more recognizable names at AOPA this week shared the events they’re most looking forward to at AOPA Aviation Summit in Long Beach, Calif., Nov. 11 through 13. Read more >>
Reserve the Summit meetup area for your group
Want your organization or club to have a voice at AOPA Aviation Summit? Schedule a meetup. Once again, this year’s Summit festivities will include a meetup area. Meetups will be held during Summit, from Thursday, Nov. 11, to Saturday, Nov. 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pacific time. The meetup area is a 20-by-30 space where clubs and organizations can conduct a 20-minute presentation. The topic of the presentation is up to the group, but will require approval from AOPA. Read more >>