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Like the nation as a whole, the pilot population is getting older. It’s a fact that raises a number of questions, not only about the future of general aviation, but about more practical, here-and-now issues: What effects does aging have on piloting performance? How can we keep flying as safely as possible? And how, as individuals, do we know when it’s time to say “when”? The Air Safety Institute’s new online course, Aging Gracefully, Flying Safely, is part of the institute’s effort to address such questions. Built around a positive but honest discussion with five older pilots, the free course aims to increase awareness of common changes associated with aging, as well as practical ways to adjust. Get started >>
For the first time since it announced it would start charging for its digital chart products, the FAA’s AeroNav Services branch brought together major stakeholders Dec. 13 to float ideas and field suggestions. The FAA said it must recover $5 million of operating costs in the first year of digital charges, and proposed options for reaching that number. Some, it was clear, were nonstarters. But input from AOPA and dozens of vendors will help the agency draft a proposal that it has committed to releasing for public comment in early 2012. Read more >>
‘AOPA Pilot’ comes to Apple’s iPad
Would aviation be the same without AOPA Pilot and the iPad? Now the two indispensable pilot accessories are together in a new way thanks to the AOPA Mags app. The application delivers both AOPA Pilot and Flight Training magazines in an iPad-optimized format. Digital-edition-only subscribers now have the option of reading their magazines on the iPad, computers, or any number of electronic devices, while digital-edition-add-on readers have the ultimate choice of print, digital, or tablet. Read more >>
1954 Aerocar offered for sale
There are only six Aerocars left from the 1950s and `60s when inventor Molt Taylor hoped to put airplanes both on the highway and on the airport. One of them is for sale for $1.25 million. Courtesy Aircraft located in Rockford, Ill., is brokering the sale of Aerocar N101D most recently owned by Greg Herrick’s Yellowstone Aviation and on display at the Golden Wings Flying Museum at Anoka County/Blaine Airport 10 miles north of Minneapolis. The aircraft was serial No. 3 and won a United States type certificate. Read more >>
Czech Sport Aircraft offers lower-cost trainer
Flight schools are the targeted market for the SportCruiser Classic, a Czech-built model that is equipped with an analog instrument panel to bring the introductory price down to $119,500, including transportation and document charges. It is offered through U.S. Sport Aircraft in Fort Pierce, Fla. Other than a different paint scheme, it is identical to the SportCruiser, the flagship model that can reach prices of $150,000 to $160,000 with avionics options that include a glass cockpit. Read more >>
Private space race gets new entrant
Tired of getting into orbit the same old way? Relief may be coming from Stratolaunch Systems, a collaboration between Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Burt Rutan, in a project that will merge a Rutan-inspired design with certain hardware and engines from Boeing 747s to create a huge airplane that will launch rockets into orbit during high-altitude flight. The mobile launch system will include the carrier under development at Rutan’s Scaled Composites; a multi-stage booster manufactured by Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX); and a mating and integration system built by aerospace engineering firm Dynetics. Read more >>
Sun 'n Fun preps grounds for drier 2012 show
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds as airshow headliners for the Sun ’n Fun International Fly-In and Expo is not all that will be new in 2012. There will also be plenty of new dirt, gravel, and other enhancements to better manage whatever weather phenomena that may decide to descend on the Lakeland, Fla., event in 2012. A tornado swept over the fly-in in 2011, causing significant damage to a number of airplanes and flooding parking lots and some other facilities. Read more >>
Goulian wins top airshow performer award
Airshow performer and past national aerobatic Unlimited Class champion Michael Goulian has won the airshow industry’s top award given for making the greatest contributions over the past year. With receipt of the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) Sword of Excellence, Goulian becomes only the seventh airshow professional to be awarded all three of the airshow industry’s top honors: the ICAS Sword of Excellence, the Art Scholl Memorial Showmanship Award, and the Bill Barber Award for Showmanship. Read more >>
Where the love-light gleams
Call it a rite of passage, or an occupational hazard, or just one of those things that come with the territory: If you work in the aviation industry, there’s always a chance that you may find yourself far from home during those special times when other families are gathering to share the joy of the season. That’s when the camaraderie that’s so natural in the aviation community—and a few special touches from others who care—can help make the loneliness vanish, replaced by the joys of giving and sharing. Read more >>
A video contest promises to send one American woman to the United Kingdom for a general aviation flight across the English Channel in celebration of an aviatrix’s historic flight 100 years earlier. The organizers of Women of Aviation Worldwide Week events, which celebrate milestones of women in aviation and aim to get more women flying, are holding the “Across the Channel: Women Unifying Nations” video contest to mark the 100th anniversary of Harriet Quimby’s flight across the channel. Read more >>
Reagan-era FAA chief dies at 86
J. Lynn Helms, who served as president and chief executive at Piper Aircraft in the 1970s and FAA administrator during the Reagan administration, died Dec. 10 at his home, according to reports. He was 86. Read more >>
Piper issues M-series landing gear SB
The landing gear of some Piper M-series airplanes may not remain in the down and locked position when the aircraft are parked for extended periods of time, Piper notified owners in a service bulletin. Read the bulletin for affected serial numbers and instructions on moving or towing the aircraft.
AOPA Now: One hundred years of transcontinental flight
Situated right on the water, Long Beach, Calif., is a major port as well as a great place to fly. AOPA President Craig Fuller traveled across the country to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first transcontinental flight. Could Cal Rodgers and the Long Beach leaders who helped him complete his dream have imagined where we would be today, 100 years later? Read more >>
Medical Sense: Reflections and connections
There are plenty of tough jobs in the federal government, and overseeing the operation of the FAA Aerospace Medical Certification Division may be one of the most challenging, writes AOPA Director of Medical Certification Gary Crump. Dr. Warren Silberman has handled the pressure with patience, resilience, and professionalism. On Dec. 31, he will retire from the FAA. Read more >>
Hover Power: H-V curve
Helicopter manufactures publish a chart in the flight manual that depicts combinations of airspeed and altitude that should be avoided. The chart shows shaded areas that should be avoided because in the event of a power failure the helicopter might not be able to perform a successful autorotation. Read more >>
Rotary-wing flying for less
Affordable helicopters? It may sound like a contradiction, but this week The Aviators highlights some rotorcraft you could snag for between $30,000 and $125,000—if you’re willing to put in the legwork. From ultralight gyroplanes to 180-horsepower two-seat helicopters, these amateur-built creations can get in and out of some tight spots. Watch AOPA Live® >>
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Safety & Proficiency
Turning final as the No. 2 ship in an F-15 formation, pilot Larry Brown realized they had a big problem: The setting sun was aligned directly with the end of the runway, making it nearly impossible to see straight ahead for landing. Read more >>
IFR Fix: The comfort factor
The big holiday flight with the family aboard is tomorrow. Weather’s only looking so-so—but you’re IFR current, proficient, and eager to fly the FBO’s familiar trainer. Phone call for you from the FBO: The aircraft is down for maintenance. But, good news! The new bird we’ve been expecting is in. Wait until you see the panel on this aircraft. You can fly it without a checkout because it’s the same make and model as the aircraft you’ve been renting. Is this a go, or a no-go? Read more and take the poll >>
It only takes one
Perhaps the most baffling of all aviation accidents are the ones in which a skilled pilot flies a highly capable aircraft into a hillside. On the morning of Dec. 20, 2010, the pilot of a piston-engine Commander 680FL on a short hop from Palm Springs to Chino, Calif., died when his airplane hit a hilltop at an elevation of just more than 2,500 feet msl. The solo pilot was a 33,000-hour air transport pilot, type-rated in no fewer than seven transport-category aircraft, who also held a multiengine and instrument instructor’s certificate. Read more in this special report from the Air Safety Institute.
Air Safety Institute exposes the chilling truth
Ice is anything but nice as it disrupts the smooth airflow over your aircraft. A chilly scenario: As you add power to compensate for the ice-induced increase in drag, you raise the aircraft’s nose to maintain altitude, which also increases the aircraft’s angle of attack. You’ve now exposed the underside of the wings and fuselage to additional ice buildup where no heat or deicing boots can reach it. Avoid icing problems with the Air Safety Institute’s Aircraft Icing Safety Advisor’s life-saving tips and solid advice. Download it today >>
Miss it live? Recorded Webinar offers buying advice
There is a lot to consider when deciding whether to buy an aircraft. How much is the aircraft really worth? Are there hidden costs and what are they? What financing is available? What about insurance? Is a prepurchase inspection a good idea, and how is one arranged? AOPA's aviation technical specialists answer these questions and more in a recorded Webinar discussing the aircraft purchasing process. Watch AOPA Live >>
Take the guesswork out of risk assessment
As pilots, we make decisions about risk all the time. Most are pretty clear-cut, but there will always be “gray areas” to contend with—which is why the Air Safety Institute developed an innovative application to help out. The ASI Flight Risk Evaluator is a two-part online course that covers the basics of risk management, and then lets you input the details of an upcoming flight and get an assessment of the potential risks. Give it a try >>
Leading Edge: Realistic expectations?
How do we prevent tragedies like the accidents that claimed several lives over the Thanksgiving holiday? Members shared strong opinions on the subject, and a combination of solutions may yield the best results. As we work on improving flight instruction, the whole business of teaching risk management is worthwhile, writes AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg. Explain and study the high risk areas. Communicate clearly and know that a few will ignore or forget the hard lessons of another pilot’s mistakes. Read more >>
Executives of the hedge fund that has invested heavily in LightSquared were notified Dec.8 that they may be investigated for possible civil securities-law violations, said published reports. The Wall Street Journal reported that Harbinger Capital Partners, the major financier of LightSquared and its GPS-jamming mobile satellite network, had disclosed that Philip Falcone and two other HCP board members received so-called Wells notices. Read more >>
Cincinnati warned against closing Blue Ash Airport
News reports that the city of Cincinnati may abandon its support of Blue Ash Airport—and possibly defy FAA warnings about use of funds from a sale—are meeting a strong response from AOPA and local pilots. “This is just wrong. Cincinnati made commitments, and now they’re backpedaling,” said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airport advocacy. “The aviation community is going to fight this.” Read more >>
Seaplane access to continue at Ross Lake
Seaplanes, historically one of the few means of access to a spectacular national recreation area “ringed by mountains and glaciers” in Washington state, will keep flying under a National Park Service plan for the Ross Lake National Recreation Area near Seattle. On Dec. 1, the National Park Service released its final general management plan and environmental impact statement for the recreation area, which is part of the North Cascades National Park Service Complex. Read more >>
Aircraft ‘luxury’ tax resurfaces in Washington State
As Washington State lawmakers grapple in a special session with another huge budget shortfall, numerous revenue ideas have surfaced from various groups and organizations to bring the budget into balance—including a “luxury tax” on aircraft. Two plans to tax aircraft have failed in the last two years in Washington state, where aircraft ownership is already among the costliest in the nation, and AOPA remained cautiously optimistic that lawmakers would not move forward with any new aviation taxes. 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.
Bank of America helps member’s dream come true
As a first-time airplane buyer, AOPA member Tom Johnson had many questions and needed guidance. Debbie Edwards at Bank of America made the whole buying process easier. “I had no clue, didn’t know what steps to take, or where to begin. … I can’t tell you enough how Debbie made this purchase easy for me,” said Johnson. Of all the help Edwards gave, the thing that stuck out in Johnson’s memory is that she always called when she said she would and always did what she promised. Read more >>
Waco ornament celebrates holiday, aviation spirit
Get into the holiday spirit this year with a new limited-edition AOPA Holiday Ornament. The second in AOPA’s line of commemorative ornaments features an aircraft that embodies the spirit of aviation, a beautiful 1940 Waco. The Waco, offering its nostalgic glimpse of aviation times gone by, is certain to inspire you to share your most cherished aviation memories. Sure to add charm to any tree, the AOPA Holiday Ornament is now available at the AOPA Online Store. Remember, every purchase made at the AOPA Store benefits AOPA’s work preserving and protecting your freedom to fly.
AOPA 2012 Sweepstakes Husky
The Tornado has a factory-installed float kit that makes it relatively easy for the AOPA 2012 Sweepstakes winner to install straight or amphibious floats. To get an idea of the adventures open to the pilot of a float-equipped Husky, AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman recently went to Ryan Aviation at Flagler County Airport in central Florida. Read more >>
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.