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There was a lot going through Matt Quy’s mind that steamy August morning as he flew his 1944 Boeing PT-13 Stearman down the final approach to Runway 19 Left at Washington Dulles International Airport. His wife, Tina, sat in the front cockpit. To his left, he could see the Washington Monument in the distance. The wind singing in the biplane’s flying wires confirmed his airspeed: Fast. In a relative way, of course. “There was an airliner in front of us and one behind us, so I came screaming in, in a dive with the power on,” Quy said. He wanted this landing to be a good one: It would be his last one in the Stearman he and Tina had bought more than six years earlier; they spent three years rebuilding it, and he had flown it for three years as a tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen. Read more and watch AOPA Live® >>
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt resigned Dec. 6, three days after he was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated in Fairfax, Va. “Today I submitted my resignation to (Transportation) Secretary Ray LaHood and it has been accepted,” he said in a statement released the afternoon of Dec. 6. “Serving as FAA Administrator has been an absolute honor and the highlight of my professional career. But I am unwilling to let anything cast a shadow on the outstanding work done 24 hours a day, seven days a week by my colleagues at the FAA.” Read more >>
Cessna adds inspections for aging aircraft
Cessna Aircraft Co. will add inspection procedures to its service manuals for aircraft built between 1946 and 1986 to detect signs of problems common to aging aircraft. The inspections will focus primarily on signs of corrosion and airframe fatigue. The supplemental inspection procedures affect 100- and 200-series aircraft. Inspections for the 200 series are to be added this month, while supplemental inspections for 100-series aircraft will be added in April 2012. Read more >>
First impressions: Syn viz for the iPad
Fellow pilots may doubt the value of synthetic vision, but such suspicion tends to disappear the first time they find themselves on an unfamiliar approach when the weather is down to minimums and rain is beating against the windshield. At such times, it’s nice to “see” the airport, the landing runway, and the pathway to it—and synthetic vision doubters become believers. Hilton Software is the first to offer synthetic vision for the iPad with its WingX Pro7, which—for $99—adds an extremely limited form of GPS-derived synthetic vision. Read more and watch AOPA Live >>
Used turbine market points to recovery, maybe…
Corporate aviation market analysts at Amstat think that trends in the used business jet and turboprop market may be indicating a change for the better. “When the downturn hit in 2008, the number of used airplanes on the market rose,” said Amstat Executive Vice President Tom Benson. “And by mid-2009 that used inventory hit the high point, with 18 percent of the entire business jet fleet up for sale, and 13 percent of the turboprop fleet.” Read more >>
With certification flights ready to begin, Hawker Beechcraft Chairman and CEO Bill Boisture told workers the market isn’t strong enough yet to welcome a new light jet, and placed the Hawker 200 on hold. It was scheduled to be certified by the end of 2012 and has flown 100 hours since March 2010. Read more >>
Reporting Points: Reason No. 151
He was expecting it to be Reason No. 150, but the rescue group decided to juggle the passenger list, and the Air Safety Institute’s David Kenny wound up with eight dogs and puppies rather than seven. Now 151 rescue dogs have given Kenny a reason to get out and fly. Read more >>
Embraer opens Florida headquarters
Embraer on Dec. 5 opened its new, 150,000-square-foot, $50 million customer center at the Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Fla. The facility will be the location for customers for the entire range of Embraer jets to select the colors, fabrics, paint schemes, and other options for their aircraft. Read more >>
Rally GA: A gift of flight
It’s the holiday season, and you are a pilot with a gift list. Make this the year for giving the gift of aviation to a prospective pilot, or to the person who is eagerly awaiting a ride in your aircraft. For the potential student pilot, setting up an introductory flight lesson can be as easy as purchasing a gift certificate by calling his or her local flight school. Giving a sightseeing flight in your own aircraft as a gift is another sure winner for showing what general aviation is all about—while making your fellow aviator Santa proud!
AOPA Now: Speaking and shopping in Atlanta
It was just about a perfect day: AOPA President Craig Fuller got to fly a little, talk with fellow pilots, and do a little shopping for—what else?—aviation supplies at Aircraft Spruce. Fuller traveled south that morning toward warmer weather and a truly warm welcome from the members of the Atlanta Aero Club at the club’s luncheon. Read more >>
Reporting Points: Light sport prices
Cessna Aircraft can hold down the price of the two-place light sport aircraft (LSA) Skycatcher no longer, and says in 2012 it will be $149,900, although many previous options will now become standard equipment. It started out at $110,000 and had drifted up to $115,000. At those prices, it was below cost. Read more >>
‘Air Capital of the World’
It all began in Wichita. The first general aviation aircraft sold directly to the public was born in this former cow town, and out of it came Cessna, Beechcraft, Stearman, and the whole industry that makes Wichita the “Air Capital of the World.” The Aviators shows us why a flight to Kansas is worth the trip for every pilot. Watch AOPA Live >>
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Safety & Proficiency
You’re in instrument conditions at 6,000 feet enjoying a smooth ride. As your eyes sweep the gauges of the fixed-gear single’s panel, they lock on the airspeed indicator. That indication can’t be right—it’s 10 knots too slow for this cruise power setting. What’s going on? It’s not a climb. A pitot-tube obstruction? Unlikely. When you look up at the outside air temperature gauge, you shiver: The temp sits at 0 degrees Celsius, several degrees lower than forecast for this altitude. Read more and take the poll >>
When should ‘Plan B’ become ‘Plan A’?
As pilots, we know the importance of having an alternate plan, and at no time is that “Plan B” more important than when the weather starts closing you in. VFR flight into instrument meteorological conditions continues to kill pilots each year, and in most cases it’s preventable. Take the Accident Case Study: VFR into IMC online course from the Air Safety Institute as it breaks down the mistakes of one pilot who failed to turn to his “Plan B” until it was too late.
Hamburger hop at night
A night flight with friends to your favorite airport restaurant can be a breathtaking experience for everyone. Your passengers will love the city lights unfolding below them and the thrill of taxiing up to the restaurant on the field. But are your skills and credentials up to the flight? Take the Air Safety Institute’s latest quiz, sponsored by the AOPA Insurance Agency, to find out about night currency requirements and weather considerations before you venture into the night sky.
Never Again: Life and death at 15,000 feet
Losing important pieces of an airplane, while flying, can be fatal. But you know that. Sailplane pilot John Joss carefully preflighted his H301 Libelle at Minden Airport in Nevada, just east of California’s Lake Tahoe, for his anticipated five- to six-hour, 350-mile flight. Up around 15,000 feet, he told his crew by radio that soaring conditions were excellent. Then the canopy detached suddenly, explosively, violent as a gunshot. Read or listen to this latest installment of Never Again.
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 Air Safety Institute'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.
Leading Edge: A tough Thanksgiving (and some hypocrisy)
There were a number of fatal accidents over the Thanksgiving weekend, and the preliminary investigations do not bode well for pilot decision making. In three notable cases, the pilots involved were reasonably experienced and had been flying for some time, according to acquaintances. Nobody sets out to kill themselves, their passengers, or their loved ones, so how do we address GA mishaps like these? Were these systemic or individual failures? Read more >>
Pilots can again protect private data about their aircraft’s movements from being publicly released, the FAA announced Dec. 2, responding to provisions of a recent law. Congress had effectively restored the Block Aircraft Registration Request program by overwhelming vote in November, in a Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development appropriations bill. Privacy advocates had been fighting for the restoration of the program since the announcement that participation would be limited to those who could prove a “valid security concern.” Read more >>
DOT, FAA intervention sought in avgas case
California aviation businesses, sued at the state level and facing possible stiff fines for selling or distributing leaded avgas, want the U.S. Department of Transportation to intervene in the case and assert federal jurisdiction over regulation of the fuel. National Air Transportation Association President James Coyne has asked DOT General Counsel Robert S. Rivkin and the FAA to enter the case brought by the Center for Environmental Health under California’s Proposition 65. Read more >>
Keep flying: Free online course, no AME
Imagine if every time you completed a biennial flight review you also took a free online course about medical self-certification that allowed you to continue flying—using your driver’s license as the baseline of health. That could become a reality if the FAA accepts a request that would allow pilots to use their driver’s license and medical self-certification to fly aircraft of 180 horsepower or less and carry one passenger. Read more >>
LSA industry wary of AOPA/EAA medical proposal
There was anger among many in the light sport aircraft (LSA) industry when AOPA and EAA announced a joint effort for 2012 to get an FAA exemption from the third-class medical for many pilots flying aircraft commonly seen in flight schools. Now, there is an acknowledgement that it could be good for the industry, if approved, but concern remains that it could affect LSA sales. Read more >>
The ‘six year authorization’
If you fly under a special issuance authorization, you may be aware that sometimes there is a delay in the issuance or reissuance of your medical certificate. Processing delays have been a long time chronic pain for pilots, advocacy groups like AOPA that represent pilots, and, yes, even the FAA. The AME-assisted special issuance, or six year authorization, allows an AME to reissue a medical certificate that is granted under a special issuance under certain circumstances. Read more >>
EA+ returns aircraft to home base
In the case of medical emergency away from home, Emergency Assistance Plus (EA+) offers dozens of services to make a frightening and possibly chaotic event a lot less so. For AOPA members who belong to EA+, one particular “plus” is something special: In the event of a medical emergency away from home, EA+ will hire and pay for a qualified pilot to fly your airplane back to its home base if you are unable to fly it yourself. Read more >>
Comprehensive airport info to take with you
As an AOPA member, you can access airport diagrams, information about FBOs, and more from anywhere using your Windows Mobile or BlackBerry device. Developed by Hilton Software, AOPA Airports apps for Windows Mobile and BlackBerry, are free to members. Download one today >>
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for a senior government analyst, director of corporate finance, manager of flight training programs, online product manager, AOPA Live producer/videojournalist, associate editor–Web/ ePilot, and aviation technical specialist. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.