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A single light flickered on and off in a wildlife preserve where there is no electricity. It was spotted by a Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) pilot overhead wearing night vision goggles. He alerted an officer on the ground, who approached the scene without headlights, switching instead to “sneak lights.” About 20 minutes later the ground officer reported that a suspect was under arrest: a man recently released from prison who had hidden in the forest to smoke crack cocaine. The light came from the flame that flickered each time the rock was lit, lighting the car interior faintly, but easily spotted at 7,500 feet from the FWC's twin-engine Vulcanair. Powered by a pair of 200-horsepower Lycoming IO-360 engines and sporting a clear acrylic nose, the aircraft is suited to search-and-rescue missions and spotting poachers. FWC pilots are all law enforcement officers, and nearly all the suspects they apprehend are armed. Read more >>
The 230-hp SMA SR305-230E diesel engine received certification in Europe from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), and is guaranteed for a 2,000-hour time between overhaul. The certification was granted in January and clears the way for certification by the FAA—expected in weeks. Read more >>
Lockheed Martin accepts anonymous feedback
Recent changes to the Lockheed Martin Flight Services website now allow pilots to provide anonymous feedback. In fulfilling its performance measurements with the FAA, Lockheed Martin previously required pilots to be registered users on the website to provide feedback, whether compliments, complaints, or suggestions. The company made the change as a result of feedback from AOPA members and a monthly dialogue between the association and Lockheed. Read more >>
The first time Farnborough Aircraft brought its Kestrel single-engine turboprop to then-Cirrus Aircraft CEO Alan Klapmeier, he was a no-show. “I don’t remember where I was that day, but it wasn’t at Cirrus headquarters because I didn’t see the Kestrel at all,” he said. “Not that my being there would have changed anything because, at the time, I really wasn’t interested in a single-engine turboprop.” Times and situations change, however, and when the Cirrus board unceremoniously booted Klapmeier in early 2009 from the start-up he had helped build into an industry leader, Klapmeier began searching for his next act. Read more >>
General aviation has been nominated for the 2010 Robert J. Collier Trophy for its role in saving thousands of lives in Haiti. Small aircraft carried relief supplies to outlying airstrips and remote roads after an earthquake devastated the island nation in January 2010. The life-saving nature of those flights has been recognized by a joint resolution in Congress and other honors. The Collier Trophy, awarded by the National Aeronautic Association, is given annually “for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America.” Read more >>
Traffic systems offer impressive benefits
Traffic alert and collision avoidance systems (TCAS) used to be confined to airline cockpits, cost a fortune, and perform identically. Today, however, that’s changing as a variety of collision avoidance tools (though not necessarily TCAS) have made their way into thousands of general aviation cockpits. And instead of being one size, and fitting one FAA specification, the new equipment ranges widely in cost, capability, information collection methods, and how it is displayed. Cockpit traffic warning equipment is sure to continue evolving rapidly. Read more >>
Biofuel-powered speed record confirmed
Richard "Smokey" Young set a world closed-course speed record in September flying an airplane powered by biomass-derived SwiftFuel, the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale has confirmed. The record flight took place in Thermal, Calif., using Young’s Western Air Racing Special Formula One racer. Flying from the Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport to the Salton Sea and back at an average speed of 389.57 kilometers/hour (242.7 mph), Young broke the previous record over a closed circuit of 100 km, set in 2004. Young said he is convinced general aviation needs to move in the direction of “green” fuel. Read more >>
During the recent U.S. Sport Aviation Expo AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Al Marsh had the opportunity to be one of the first to fly the recently certified Flight Design floatplane. The floatplane is a light sport aircraft based on the Flight Design CTLS Lite model. To purchase, buyers will need to buy a CTLS Lite at a base price of $119,980 from Airtime Aviation in Tulsa, Okla., and add the $40,000 float conversion option. When fully fueled, the payload is about 250 pounds. Read more >>
Regional 2011 GA award winners announced
The National General Aviation Awards Committee has announced this year’s regional award winners. The winners become finalists for the national awards, which will be announced by March 1. Read more >>
Women in Aviation, International’s (WAI’s) annual conference will give pilots, controllers, mechanics, and other aviation professionals and enthusiasts an opportunity to connect with other women in the industry Feb. 24 to 26 in Reno, Nev. With the theme of "Inspire, Enthuse, Innovate," the conference will immerse participants in the tactics and strategies necessary for successful aviation careers. The conference includes an exhibit hall, seminars, and networking events. And for the second year, AOPA will have an expanded presence at the show. Read more >>
Extreme airplane makeover to be chronicled on ABC
ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is going a step further on Feb. 13. Not only will the show build a new home for a deserving Florida family, but it also will refurbish the family’s 1970 Cessna Skymaster thanks to some help from Garmin dealer and maintenance shop Orlando Aircraft Services. Joe Hurston, president of Air Mobile Ministries, and his family have flown the Skymaster around the world delivering water purification supplies to those in need for more than 25 years. After their home was destroyed by a burst water pipe, they had to live in their house and depend on the water purification systems they had been delivering. The show airs on ABC Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. Eastern, 7 p.m. Central.
Fla. flight school helps Angel Flight transport
An Angel Flight medical mission received assistance from a Florida flight school while in the midst of transporting a patient. The Angel Flight mission pilot was attempting to transport a patient in need of a lung transplant from Fort Lauderdale to Gainesville, and had to land at Kissimmee Gateway Airport because of a malfunctioning alternator. An instrument student and a CFII with SunState Aviation Flight School who had planned to fly a cross-country to Gainesville agreed to take the patient, amended their flight plan, and got her to her destination for surgery.
Hover Power: Instrument flying
When aviation blogger Tim McAdams got his flight instructor certificate in 1981, instrument flying in helicopters was very rare. In fact, back then very few companies required it for employment as a commercial helicopter pilot. Today it is much different. An instrument rating is required for most jobs and all professional training programs include the rating. Moreover, any pilot who begins his or her career instructing (as most do) will need a CFII. Read more >>
Fuller talks priorities at hearing on FAA reauthorization
The House this week took up the issue of FAA funding. AOPA President Craig Fuller testified before the aviation subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, stating in his prepared remarks that the FAA needs a stable four-year funding plan that considers the needs of all sectors of aviation. Fuller called on the subcommittee members to provide the FAA with long-range financial certainty. Read more and watch AOPA Live® >>
The creation of the light sport aircraft (LSA) category opened a world of possibility for manufacturers, who began producing everything from new old standards—such as variations on a Cub—to something completely different. AOPA Live Executive Producer Warren Morningstar explored the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla., documenting some of the industry’s more creative entries. One of the most intriguing was the Storch, an LSA that Morningstar describes as “a grasshopper on steroids.” Watch AOPA Live >>
Enthusiasm, training practices can ensure GA growth
One of AOPA President Craig Fuller’s top concerns is the declining pilot population: The number of American pilots dropped from its peak of more than 800,000 with current medicals to about 600,000 in 20 years, and many who start flight training stop before achieving their certificate. That’s why AOPA launched a flight training student retention initiative to increase student pilots’ chances of success. Fuller talks about the initiative and how pilots can rally general aviation in Part 2 of this exclusive interview. Watch AOPA Live >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Safety & Proficiency
Test your weather knowledge
You’ve read plenty about weather in textbooks, but how well does the theory translate to the real world? Find out with the latest Air Safety Institute safety quiz, an assortment of questions meant to test the more practical side of your weather flying knowledge. Get started >>
Thinking about purchasing a Piper Cherokee, and wondering how it measures up? Curious about the performance of a Pitts S-2B? The AOPA Pilot Information Center's Aircraft Fact Sheets contain information for nearly 100 aircraft. Each short report includes an overview of the aircraft, a table of specifications, and a list of additional resources—whether you want information on the small, fun American Champion 7EC Champ or the hefty, utilitarian Cessna 208B Grand Caravan.
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.
Air Safety eJournal: What was he thinking?
Given the size and diversity of the general aviation pilot population, we should expect to see some really dumb decisions periodically. One incident that occurred near Las Vegas got AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg thinking about how little some people think. A Piper Cherokee buzzed a car on a country road, but the pilot misjudged the altitude and hit the roof of the car. The left main gear broke out the car’s front and rear windows before separating from the aircraft. Read more >>
Flight training with a sport pilot instructor should be allowed to count toward the aeronautical experience requirements of higher certificates, AOPA told the FAA in a petition for a change to the regulations. The creation of the sport pilot certificate was intended in part as a less expensive entrée into the world of general aviation, and for some pilots as a stepping-stone to higher certificates. But a 2009 letter of interpretation suggests that flight training given by a sport pilot instructor could not be credited toward the hour requirements for future certificates and ratings, such as the private or recreational certificates. Read more >>
GA leaders look ahead to growth, development
Economic conditions over the past two years took their toll on general aviation. But amidst uncertainty, GA celebrated some important successes. Groups banded together against user fees and saw the proposal disappear from the president’s budget. GA caucuses in the House and Senate grew swiftly. And now, with positive economic indicators signaling an upturn, GA groups are looking ahead with hope. “We’re beginning this year with more optimism than the last two,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller in a panel discussion Feb. 7 at the National Air Transportation Association FBO Leadership Conference. Read more >>
Senate Finance Committee moves FAA reauthorization bill
The Senate Finance Committee reported out an FAA reauthorization bill Feb. 8, with Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) describing the action as a “solid step” toward a return to long-term authorization of the agency, its modernization programs, and the Airport and Airways Trust Fund that pays for them. “As we work to modernize our airways, the fund’s reauthorization is long overdue,” Baucus said in a statement at the opening of the committee session. Read more >>
Members rally to oppose proposed Washington state aircraft tax
AOPA is calling on members in the state of Washington to help defeat a proposed excise tax on aircraft that is similar to a taxation plan dropped by lawmakers last year after a vigorous informational effort by the aviation community. House Bill 1847, which would impose an annual half-percent levy “for the privilege of using any aircraft in the state,” was introduced Feb. 4. It seeks to raise revenue from aircraft taxes “to provide funding to maintain enrollment in the basic state health care plan.” Read more >>
Hundreds of local pilots joined AOPA President Craig Fuller for a pilot town hall meeting at Van Nuys Airport in California Feb. 5 to find out more about the state of general aviation. The visit had a special significance for Fuller, who grew up in California and earned his instrument rating at Van Nuys. “I always enjoy these gatherings, but this one was different!” he said after the event. Read more >>
AOPA requests further study of tethered balloon hazard
AOPA is requesting that the FAA evaluate hazards to visual flight operations and solicit input from the public during its analysis of the aeronautical impact of a tethered balloon proposed by a defense contractor for installation at Camp Verde, Ariz. The contractor, Stara Technologies, has asked to establish the helium-filled balloon—about the size of a tractor-trailer—aloft at 2,500 feet above ground level, as a platform for advanced camera technology. Two private general aviation airports are located within a few miles of the community of Camp Verde. Read more >>
AOPA is encouraging members to study and submit comments on the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) released by the National Park Service that proposes four alternatives for addressing aircraft noise above Grand Canyon National Park. While the intent of the law that led to the draft was primarily to address air tour noise over the canyon, there are some proposed changes for all operations over the canyon. The draft EIS puts forth the National Park Service’s preferred alternative and three other remedies considered for addressing noise. Read more >>
The AOPA Store is chock-full of items that any pilot or aircraft owner would want. These are products that have been screened by pilots, tested by pilots, and approved by pilots to assure that the AOPA logo is placed only on the highest quality merchandise. Stroll the virtual aisles of the AOPA Store and you’ll find shirts, jackets, hats, wallets, watches, books, DVDs, training materials, and much more. The best thing, though, is that all of the items for sale in the AOPA Store are designed with the general aviation pilot in mind. Read more >>
Looking forward to your tax return? So are identity thieves
Tax time is just around the corner and identity thieves couldn’t be happier. Using your stolen Social Security number, identity thieves can file fraudulent tax returns and receive refunds before you even file. Protect yourself this tax season with these simple steps from AOPA and LifeLock, the trusted leader in proactive identity theft protection. First, never respond to unsolicited e-mails from the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS never initiates communication with taxpayers through e-mail. Read more >>
February is American Heart Month, so use this occasion to focus on your cardiovascular health: Exercise and a healthy diet can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and keep you flying. And if you’re one of more than 81 million Americans with some form of cardiovascular disease, the FAA may require you to provide documentation that your condition is stable or your blood pressure controlled before you may renew your medical. AOPA explains what the FAA will require for a variety of heart-related conditions in its Medical Certification—Heart and Circulatory System subject reports.
AOPA 2011 Crossover Classic Sweepstakes
Sorry, no STOL kit
The 2011 Crossover Classic is the third sweepstakes project AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has managed, plus he’s had a front-row seat on several others. And every full-restoration project posed its own set of challenges. With the Crossover Classic, AOPA wanted the airplane to be the very best restoration project yet. That’s a worthy goal, but there are risks. There is always the compulsion to add more and more features and equipment. And time is of critical importance in the Crossover Classic’s situation. Read more >>
Advantage Avionics, of Chino, Calif., has finished its massive installation. Garmin’s G500 is quite intuitive, and running the dual Garmin GNS 430Ws (which feed nav data to the G500) was a no-brainer since AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne was already familiar with their operating logic. The tests were anticlimactic, save for some minor tweaks: turning down the autopilot-disconnect warning tone’s volume, and adding command bars to the PFD among them. Read more >>
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for an aviation technical specialist, aviation education program developer, business analyst, financial analyst, IT project architect, program specialist—communications, and vice president of new product development and interactive marketing. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.