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Dec. 23, 2011, issue of 'AOPA ePilot' newsletterDec. 23, 2011, issue of 'AOPA ePilot' newsletter

AOPA ePilot

In This Issue:

VOLUME 13, ISSUE 51 — December 23, 2011

Rescue gone wrong
IFR Fix: A loss for words
Contract towers targeted for cuts
Quiz Me: Flying to the Bahamas


Safety >>

Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect >>


AOPA Live >>

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New Accident Case Study: Rescue gone wrong

Feature For most of us, the world of helicopter search and rescue is a far cry from everyday flying. We don’t go on missions. We don’t have to be ready to launch at a moment’s notice. No lives will be lost if we decide not to fly. But the fundamentals of aeronautical decision making remain the same, and even seasoned professional aviators can fall prey to common errors of judgment. In short, there are lessons for all pilots in the tragic 2009 crash of a New Mexico State Police helicopter in the mountains near Santa Fe. Come along as the Air Safety Institute re-creates the pilot’s final mission, and seek to understand the circumstances that led him down a path to disaster. Take the mini-course >>

Introducing, the best pilot headset ever from Bose.

NEW Bose A20™ Aviation Headset
The A20® Aviation Headset provides significantly greater noise reduction than currently available. It also features an improved level of comfort, clear audio, Bluetooth® connectivity, auxiliary audio input and priority switching. Learn more >

GA News

‘Barefoot Bandit’ sentence not enough for some

A seven-year state prison sentence handed to the man who stole and wrecked Pat Gardiner’s 2005 Cessna Turbo 182, among others, does not sit well with the Idaho rancher. “It’s horrible,” Gardiner said of the punishment imposed Dec. 16 by Judge Vicki I. Churchill in Coupeville, Wash., on Colton Harris-Moore, 20, whose notorious international crime spree included the theft—and wrecking—of five aircraft. Attorneys cited childhood neglect in their defense of the “Barefoot Bandit,” who admitted in federal court to causing at least $1.4 million in property damage. Read more >>

Third conforming HondaJet enters flight testing

Honda Aircraft Co. announced that the third conforming HondaJet—conforming to the HondaJet’s FAA-approved design, that is—has made its first flight. The airplane, known as “F2” within Honda, is a flight-test airplane that first flew on Nov. 18. F2, based at Honda Aircraft’s world headquarters at the Greensboro, N.C., Piedmont Triad International Airport, performed several checks on the first flight. Read more >>

Weather batters, strengthens GA

Weather batters, strengthens GA Earthquakes. Tornados. Floods. Hurricanes. Wildfires. Forces of nature wreaked havoc on many parts of the United States and other areas of the world in 2011. In many cases, general aviation airports and aircraft were dealt a particularly hard blow, but in each instance, pilots rallied together to support one another, their neighbors, and strangers. Take a look back at how the GA community pulled together and pulled through during tough times. Read more and access slideshows and videos >>

Spring training: Applications open for 2012 scholarships

AOPA is accepting applications for three $5,000 flight training scholarships to be awarded in the spring at the Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In and Expo. Student pilots working toward a sport, recreational, or private pilot certificate may apply online for the AOPA Flight Training Scholarship, Erral Lea Plymate Memorial Scholarship, and Jeppesen Flight Training Scholarship through Feb. 10. Read more >>

Your IFR rating in 10 days at your location … IFR finish-up in as little as 3 days!

Professional teachers, specialized curriculum. IFR specialists for 30+ years. Whether flying G1000, Avidyne Entegra, Aspen, Cirrus Perspective or analog instruments, our instructors have the experience. Put “Instrument Rated” on your calendar NOW. 800-435-9437. Already Rated, but rusty? Our IFR Safety Course will get you current and make you a safer pilot.

National Aviation Hall of Fame announces 2012 enshrinees

The National Aviation Hall of Fame Dec. 17 unveiled the four people who will be enshrined in 2012 in recognition of their aviation achievements. Geraldyn “Jerrie” Cobb, a flight instructor and air race champion; aviation artist, historian, lecturer, and inventor Keith Ferris; the late Lt. Gen. Elwood R. “Pete” Quesada, who helped to develop and successfully demonstrate air-to-air refueling; and the late Richard T. Whitcomb, an aeronautical engineer, will be inducted. Read more>>

GA community spreads holiday cheer

GA community spreads hoilday cheer Children craned their necks skyward as a flight of four Van's RVs passed overhead in formation, but the main attraction at Tangier Island Airport on Dec. 3 was certainly Santa. From Virginia to California, pilots have volunteered to help spread holiday cheer by flying Santa Claus and delivering holly and toys. More than 500 pounds of Christmas cheer—everything from stuffed animals to soccer balls—were scheduled to be delivered from Miami International Airport to Haiti on Dec. 22. Read more and view a slideshow >>

Santa tracking in the digital age

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been tracking Santa Claus’ annual flight for close to 60 years, and what started as a phone hotline has become a high-tech affair. Kids can now track the jolly elf’s excursion online using Google Maps or Google Earth, as well as on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. NORAD even offers iPhone and Android apps allowing users to “(w)atch the days countdown to Santa's flight, follow Santa’s progress on December 24, play ‘Elf Toss’ to help Santa’s elves deliver presents, and learn about NORAD and its mission.”

CNN highlights charitable GA flying

CNN will shine the national spotlight on two general aviation volunteer organizations Dec. 23 and 25. A story about the Veterans Airlift Command is expected to air multiple times on Dec. 23 between 6 a.m. and noon Eastern during HLN’s Morning Express with Robin Meade and again at 5 p.m. Eastern on HLN Special Report. Veterans Airlift Command provides free air transportation to wounded veterans and their families. An expanded version of the story will air on President’s Day. On Dec. 25, CNN’s Giving in Focus will feature Pilots N Paws at 4:30 p.m. Eastern. Pilots N Paws connects animal shelters and pet rescue groups with volunteer pilots who take animals to facilities in areas where their chances of adoption are high.

Airline pilot publishes book about canine wingman

Randy Plante is a pilot who has a wingman, but the wingman isn’t a pilot. For that matter, he isn’t a person. Plante’s wingman is Oliver, a 75-pound German shepherd/Lab mix with ears that stick out to the sides. When Plante isn’t flying MD-80s for American Airlines, he spends time with Oliver at their home in Alexandria, Va. Read more >>

Arctic adventure

Arctic adventure On a remote island village at the northern rim of Hudson Bay, fuel is a prized commodity. So when Mark Schoening and Doug DeVries landed at Coral Harbour with two fuel-hungry de Havilland Beavers and 16 five-gallon jerry cans, they were in for some competition. Fueling already was a challenge that often involved shuttling on one’s hands and knees out on a wing pitching up and down three feet on the icy water. But for this stop, the pilots faced the additional effects of economics: It was the last day of the month, Schoening explained, and fuel prices were about to go up. Read more >>

BlogsHover Power: Photo flights

Many helicopter photo flights are performed in small helicopters like the Robinson R22 or Schweizer 300. As a result, pilots tend to be less experienced. Coupled with the need to perform some demanding maneuvers, this can make photo flights dangerous. In fact, Robinson Helicopter issued Safety Notice SN-34 in March 1999, titled “Photo Flights—Very High Risk.” The safety notice recommends photo flights only be conducted by well-trained, experienced pilots. A 2005 accident supports Robinson’s recommendation. Read more >>

A year of calamity, inspiration, and ‘Flying Wild’

The death of wing walker Amanda Franklin in May and a tornado strike at Sun ‘n Fun in March captured the attention of AOPA Online readers, but 2011 was also a year for high-flying innovation. Burt Rutan’s latest hybrid offered a fresh take on the future, and Jetman took readers for a turbine-powered thrill ride. Catch up on the 10 most popular AOPA Online stories from 2011.

Violent storm temporarily shuts down Sun 'n Fun

Jetman completes Grand Canyon overflight

Wing walker Amanda Franklin dies

Garmin's iPad killer

Could FanWing go from LSA to heavy lifter?

Impossible turn: Practice makes possible?

SBD glider

Rutan unveils BiPod hybrid

Gulfstream G650 aircraft crashes

Discovery Channel’s ‘Flying Wild Alaska’ to premiere Jan. 14


Heading off icing challenges

Heading off icing challenges While it’s unclear yet whether icing played a role in the crash of a Socata TBM 700 in New Jersey on Dec. 20, it is clear that moderate to severe icing was in the area near the single-engine turboprop as it departed Teterboro for Atlanta. Five people onboard were killed as the airplane crashed onto I-287 just 14 minutes after takeoff. No one on the ground was injured. The presence of ice in that area is a good reminder that we are coming into the worst icing time of year, according to Kevin Hawley, head of business development for CAV Ice Protection. Watch AOPA Live® >>

AOPA Aviation Summit 2011 seminar videos now online

Physicians give a detailed briefing on what not to do when visiting the aviation medical examiner in one of three AOPA Aviation Summit 2011 videos now available online. Also covered: cutting the cost of aircraft ownership, and a buying guide for first-timers. Knowledge Vision made the videos possible.


10 Stupid Things Pilots Do to Sabotage Their Aviation Medical

Cutting the Cost of Aircraft Ownership

Buying Your First Airplane

For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.

Serious Savings on Garmin Avionics Upgrades

There’s never been a better time to overhaul your plane’s avionics. Get up to $6,500 cash back by purchasing select flight displays, traffic systems and GTN avionics by January 31. Visit our promotions page to learn more.

Safety & Proficiency

IFR Fix: A loss for words

Gosh, what a lucky break. Here you are in the stuff, flying cleared-as-filed most of the way. Unusual in this busy airspace corridor. Must be because traffic is light today; in fact, it’s been quite a while since anybody has spoken on the frequency. “Center, radio check?” Then you see the popped circuit breaker. Well, it’s only lost com, not a real emergency. You’ll just squawk that special code—7600, or is it 7700?—and proceed from there. Read more >>

How to communicate with ATC isn’t always spelled out

ATC Procedures quiz from Air Safety Institute Working well with ATC means that pilots and controllers are on the same page when it comes to communication. While the FARs and the Aeronautical Information Manual provide a lot of guidance on how to fly legally and safely in today’s airspace, some of the more nuanced techniques of communicating effectively with ATC aren’t mentioned. Take the safety quiz on ATC procedures from the Air Safety Institute and see how well you match up with what the person on the other end of the microphone expects.


ForeFlight Mobile for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch

Introducing version 4.3: Measure, Manage, Log, and Share
The latest update adds a dynamic map ruler, online account management, logbook exporting, and flight sharing via Twitter or email. Available for download from iTunes App Store.

Answers for Pilots: Color vision

About 8 percent of men and 0.5 percent of women in the United States have problems with color perception, which can present some hurdles for pilots. The medical standards in FAR Part 67 specify that applicants for all classes of medical certification have “the ability to perceive those colors necessary for the safe performance of airman duties.” Every visit to an AME for renewal of an airman medical certificate involves taking a color vision test. Read more >>

IFR chart challenge—from MSA to DA

IFR chart challenge An ILS approach can be pretty straightforward once you master the procedure. But what happens when an approach component is OTS, or onboard equipment malfunctions? Do you know how to interpret the chart’s instructions correctly? The Air Safety Institute’s IFR Chart Challenge: ILS Approach is one in a series of mini-courses that have you brief an approach and test your knowledge of how to fly it. Get started with the KBFL ILS Runway 30R approach and practice your skills.

Aspen Glass 2K Savings.

Instantly save more than $2000 on Evolution 1500 or 2000 system purchases made before Dec 31. Aspen glass increases situational awareness and reduces pilot workload. Features include: built-in system redundancy, SV, traffic/weather, and seamless integration with your existing radio, nav, and autopilot. Click for details >>

How old is your airplane?

As the fleet of general aviation aircraft continues to age, it’s important to look at its "true" age in addition to its "chronological age." Many factors—some of them manufacturer-specific—can contribute to an aircraft performing like it’s older than it should. Take the Aging Aircraft interactive course from the Air Safety Institute and go beyond a preflight inspection when determining how well your aircraft is holding up, as well as learn a few tips on getting the most out of your aeronautical investment. Take the course >>

BlogsLeading Edge: Savoring flight and a reminder

It’s sometimes too easy to be casual about the gift of flight. AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg recently took a young man, age 15, flying with his dad in the back seat. He was understandably a bit apprehensive but it was great fun to watch his expression as the ground fell away on takeoff. Upon landing, he was in the usual “bubble over” mode. Read more >>

Buy A New Diamond Aircraft Now ... 2012�s @ 2011 Prices!

PRICE ROLLBACK! Now is the time to get the best deal on a new Diamond aircraft. Buy a 2012 model at 2011 prices. There are a limited number of Diamonds available at 2011 prices, so act now! Realize 100% bonus depreciation before December 31, 2011 on a new aircraft purchase or new interior and performance enhancements that will make your aircraft safer and ensure greater resale value. Click for details.

Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics

Air Safety Institute Safety Seminars

Jan. 7 and 8

Baltimore, Md.

Ypsilanti, Mich.

Portland, Ore.

San Antonio, Texas

Jan. 14 and 15

Long Beach, Calif.

Jackson, Miss.

Charlotte, N.C.


Jan. 21 and 22

San Jose, Calif.

Bellevue, Wash.

Jan. 28 and 29

Sevierville, Tenn.


For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.

Can’t make it in person? Sign up for the CFI Refresher Online.

Jan. 9

Mesa, Ariz.

Reno, Nev.



Jan. 10

Tucson, Ariz.

Sacramento, Calif.

Jan. 11

Milpitas, Calif.

El Paso, Texas

Jan. 12

Santa Rosa, Calif.

Albuquerque, N.M.


Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.

The FAA medical certification process can be a minefield for the unprepared—Don’t go it alone

The AOPA Medical Services Program can provide you with personalized, in-depth assistance from experts who understand pilots, paperwork, and the FAA. Plus, receive access to important tools that can help keep you flying. Enroll today!


Maine tax repeal quickly reaps rewards

Maine tax repeal quickly reaps rewards Word has gotten around that pilots flying to Maine need no longer fear the taxman, and aviation business is booming. This year’s repeal of a notorious aircraft use tax that once targeted out-of-state visitors, along with adoption of full exemptions to taxes on aircraft parts and service, has begun to change lives. In November, New Mexico A&P mechanic Lee Bitsilly’s 13-month drought of aviation employment ended with a call from Oxford Aviation President Jim Horowitz. “I wanted to get back to work so bad that when Jim offered to bring me up … I packed my work clothes and other things and just took off,” Bitsilly recalled. Read more >>

Contract control towers targeted for cuts

AOPA has learned from several sources that that the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is pressuring the FAA to eliminate funding for contract control towers serving GA-only airports under across-the-board cuts to federal agencies to be included in President Barack Obama’s Fiscal 2013 budget request. If adopted, the OMB recommendation would eliminate roughly half of the 248 contract towers now operating; this move is viewed as a repercussion of the failure of a congressional “super committee” to agree on a compromise deficit-cutting plan last month. Read more >>

AOPA Aircraft Financing Program offers NEW lower rates

Our goal is to get pilots into the aircraft of their dreams. To help make aircraft ownership more attainable we just lowered our rates to make monthly payments more affordable. For more information, or to have a representative call you to discuss financing, go to

GA Caucus hits all-time high

Membership in the House General Aviation Caucus leapt to 169 in December, representing well more than a third of the House. Lawmakers in both houses are joining the Congressional GA Caucuses to better understand GA and its importance to the national economy and to educate their colleagues; the Senate GA Caucus has grown to 36 members. Is your senator or representative a member of the caucus? Find out >>

Wins for GA in appropriations bill

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 contains two hard-fought provisions for general aviation: language that helps protect the GPS system from interference by a proposed wireless network, and language that provides funding for veterans’ readjustment benefits to include flight training. Read more >>

FAA resumes N number blocking

More than 1,000 aircraft owners have asked the FAA to block public dissemination of registration data since the agency announced restoration of the program Dec. 2. All requests made under the former Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program remain in effect, and the FAA is directly accepting—and honoring—new requests from aircraft owners and operators who wish to maintain the privacy of their movements while operating under IFR, officials said. Read more >>

AOPA Life Insurance—low rates, exclusively for pilots.

Finding quality, affordable insurance to meet your personal needs can be challenging. That’s why AOPA has done the legwork for you and developed a comprehensive offering of products with low rates and great benefits. Call today! 888-785-8376 ext. 8559.

Louisiana airport to get added encroachment protection

A 1,500-foot runway expansion and a 48-unit residential development that is in the works near Natchitoches Regional Airport in Natchitoches, La., could pit airport neighbors against airport users. But AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Sam Parker is working with city officials to develop a compatible land-use ordinance that would protect the airport from such problems in the future. Read more>>

FAA urged to expand data-update rule

AOPA has urged the FAA to go beyond a proposal to allow pilots operating under Parts 121 and 135 of the regulations to update certain navigation and terrain-awareness databases by freeing all pilots—including those operating under Part 91—of a record-keeping burden associated with maintaining the databases. Read more >>

Certification rule correction published

The FAA has issued a technical amendment correcting and clarifying three areas of a final rule published on Aug. 21, 2009, pertaining to pilot, flight instructor, and pilot school certification. One correction revises medical requirements for examiners who administer a practical test for the issuance of a sport pilot certificate in a light sport aircraft other than a glider or balloon. Read more >>

Member Benefits

Big savings with Hertz of up to $50 at the airport

Save $10 per day, up to $50 on a daily, weekly, or weekend rental on your reservation of an economy through full-size car, or small SUV with Hertz. This offer is valid for vehicle pickup from Dec. 10 through Feb. 11 at the airport. Save on your next car rental and support general aviation.

AOPA offers iPhone, iPod touch app

AOPA members with an iPhone or iPod touch can access information about more than 5,300 public-use landing facilities, 7,000 FBOs and aviation-related businesses, and more than 55,000 restaurants, hotels, and transportation services with AOPA Airports, powered by ForeFlight. Visit Apple’s App Store to download this exclusive member benefit.

FREE Video Tip! — Courses for Beginner to Pro!

Click for a Free Video Training Tip and find a course to achieve your next goal, or to make your flying safer and more rewarding. Not sure? Call us at 800-854-1001 and talk to one of our pilot training advisors.

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.


Picture Perfect

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!

Picture Perfect

Forums: Winter morning prep

A pilot from sunny, warm Southern California will soon fly while in Ohio, facing his “rented 172R, sitting outside at a tie-down overnight in 10-20 degree temperatures.” Share tips for winter flying at the AOPA Forums.



Twitter Follow AOPA Online

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RSS feed Subscribe to the RSS feed

Rally GA

Check out user-submitted events from your region. To include an event or to search all events in the calendar, visit AOPA Online. AOPA does not endorse the events listed below, nor have ePilot editors edited the submissions. AOPA assumes no responsibility for events listed.


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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 have never flown internationally before, and an opportunity has just come up to fly my airplane to the Bahamas. However, I have to leave in two days to make it happen. What is required of me to fly internationally, and is there enough time to meet all the requirements for this trip?


Answer: A few requirements may take more than two days to accomplish. For one, you will need a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) annual user fee decal. Typically, this takes more than a week to arrive in the mail. However, you can call the CBP office that will process you back into the United States, and ask if a receipt to show that you purchased a decal would be sufficient. It is possible the office may actually allow you to buy the decal from it when you return to the United States. Just don’t hinge your plans on this, as specific permission must be obtained or you could face a stiff fine.

Also, when flying internationally, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) rules have established the need for a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) permit for both the airplane (radio station license), and the pilot (radiotelephone operator’s permit). This is loosely enforced, but it is still a requirement under ICAO rules and you could be asked to show these FCC permits. AOPA highly recommends getting these permits before making an international trip.

The Department of Homeland Security also requires you to file two separate passenger manifests online. This system is called eAPIS (Electronic Advance Passenger Information System); it requires you to register an account, and then file a manifest both for departing the United States and arriving back into the country. In addition to these requirements, you also may need to verify international insurance coverage for your aircraft with liability coverage.

For a full briefing on this topic, read AOPA’s International Flying subject report for the Bahamas, which includes a helpful tutorial for the eAPIS system.


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/USA-AOPA (800/872-2672), or email to [email protected].

Rally GA Refresh your safety knowledge. Online safety courses, which can take 45 to 90 minutes to complete, offer a comprehensive look at engine and propeller operation, IFR operations, GPS, and more.

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