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You’ve been landing on long, paved runways all year. Now it is summer—time to head for the backcountry. Are you up to the piloting tasks ahead? The time to get some specialized practice is before attempting that first landing of the year on a narrow gravel bar, or that first takeoff from that short, rough surface with a heavy load of camping supplies and freshly caught fish. Even if your flight review and recency-of-experience obligations are met, a mission-specific workout is a good decision. The Alaska aviation community knows the importance of staying sharp on max-performance takeoffs and landings. Aviation groups there have teamed up with the FAA to provide an experimental program at two airports where pilots can practice off-airport landings on simulated short gravel surfaces that offer an unbeatable safety margin: They are marked-off portions of longer gravel runways. The program started June 7 at Fairbanks International Airport and Palmer Municipal Airport. “Pilots are welcome to make takeoffs and landings to see if they can get down and stopped before running off the end of the marked area,” the GA Association at Fairbanks said in a media release. “Given that the markings are in the middle of a larger conventional runway surface, the consequences of not getting it right the first time are more to the ego than to the airplane, with the opportunity to try, try again.” Read more >>
Diamond Aircraft, turned down by the Canadian government in May for a $35 million loan deemed critical to its D-Jet program, has received “a significant investment” dedicated exclusively to the jet’s development, the company said. In a news release posted on the company website, Diamond said the financing marked a turning point for the firm. No details of the financing were disclosed. Read more >>
Goodyear blimp crashes in Germany
A Goodyear-branded blimp crashed at an airfield in Reichelsheim, Germany, June 12, killing the pilot. According to The Associated Press, three passengers were on board and leaped to safety at the pilot’s warning. The German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation is investigating the accident. The airship, owned and operated by Lightship Europe Limited, had been on a media flight carrying photographers over a festival, according to Goodyear spokesman Scott Baughman. Read more >>
Terrafugia, the Woburn, Mass., company building a roadable aircraft, has indicated the first test flight of its production prototype called Transition should not be expected prior to March 2012. The earliest delivery date is now late 2012. Terrafugia’s highly anticipated proposed flight demonstration at EAA AirVenture 2011 has been postponed, but the company hopes to have the vehicle on static display. It also will provide information on progress. Read more >>
Babbitt to give FAA’s take on GA, look to future at Summit
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt will discuss his agency’s plans for general aviation as the keynote speaker during the opening session of AOPA Aviation Summit on Sept. 23 in Hartford, Conn. A longtime pilot and the sixteenth administrator in the FAA’s 53-year history, Babbitt will give an update on the state of GA from the FAA’s perspective, a recap of its accomplishments related to GA, and the agency’s focus for 2012 and beyond. Read more >>
Radio owner drops in at Narco, finds door locked
When Keaton Surratt learned in April that Narco Avionics of Fort Washington, Pa., had declared bankruptcy, he wondered if he would ever get back his Narco Nav 121 VOR receiver, now locked up in the defunct company’s factory. With no one answering the phone, there was only one sure way for Surratt to find out what was going on at Narco: Go knock on the door. But the door is in Pennsylvania—and Surratt lives in western Montana. Read more >>
Model airplane legend Maynard Hill dies at 85
Maynard Hill, a pioneer in unmanned and model aircraft who sent an 11-pound airplane across the Atlantic in 2003, died June 7 at his home in Silver Spring, Md., The Washington Post has reported. He was 85. Hill, a member of the Academy of Model Aeronautics Hall of Fame and former president of the academy, earned 25 world records for speed, distance, and altitude over a long career of modeling. He led a team that flew a balsa-wood model airplane from Newfoundland to Ireland. Read more >>
Bunsen burners might bore some high school students, but when 18 million Btu per hour is rushing from what looks like two giant Bunsen burners, that will capture any teen’s attention—that along with the sound and radiant heat from the 10-foot-tall plume of fire it produces. Three members of the Aviation Explorers Post 320 recently learned how to prepare a hot air balloon for flight. AOPA hosts the Aviation Explorers at its headquarters in central Maryland every other week to help the teens further their interest in aviation. Read more and view the slideshow >>
Quest Aircraft announces exec shake-up
Quest Aircraft, manufacturer of the Kodiak, a 10-place single-engine turboprop, announced that CEO Paul Schaller will leave the position and serve as a consultant. The Sandpoint, Idaho-based firm also announced new executive posts in a news release on the Quest website. Two Wichita, Kan.-based executives will join Quest. The executive-level changes come at a time when the recapitalized Quest describes itself as moving forward on several fronts, including stepped-up production of the Kodiak and global expansion of its markets in response to improving economic conditions. Read more >>
WSI upgrades Pilotbrief online
Weather provider WSI has launched an improved version of its Pilotbrief online weather services. Pilots can order WSI’s new, expanded Optima series of weather products. The Optima service should be extended to FBO kiosk subscribers by mid-July. Optima’s default Web page will feature WSI’s interactive weather displays, which will let pilots overlay satellite and radar imagery, sigmets, airmets, surface conditions, and other weather data on a single map. Users can zoom in to scrutinize areas of interest. Read more >>
Teachers Day set for AirVenture 2011
Any teacher who has searched for ways to blend the fun and excitement of aviation with its unmatched ability to educate young learners in science, history, and mathematics may soon have an opportunity to get the ball rolling. On July 26, the nonprofit aviation education organization Build A Plane will hold its third annual Teachers Day at AirVenture 2011 in Oshkosh, Wis. Read more >>
SimCom upgrades Eclipse simulators
SimCom Training Centers announced that its Orlando training facility will modify one of its two Eclipse 500 simulators by this fall. The upgrade will add the Avio Integrated Flight Management System, making the simulator correspond with the latest avionics suite available in the Eclipse. The Avio IFMS includes a moving-map display, along with XM WX weather integration, electronic charts, flight plan overlays, and WAAS precision approach capability. Read more >>
Last week, The Aviators answered the question, "Can a private pilot land an airliner?" This week, let's up the ante. We'll put someone with absolutely no piloting experience in the left seat and see what happens. Watch AOPA Live® >>
Elvis is in the house
Scores of general aviation aircraft are an integral part of the attack on the Wallow Fire in eastern Arizona. The blaze covers more than 760 square miles of rugged terrain and is only partially contained. Among the firefighting aerial fleet are Erickson S-64 Aircrane Helitankers. One S-64, nicknamed Elvis, visited EAA AirVenture in 2009, where AOPA Live caught a demonstration of a 2,650-gallon water drop. Watch AOPA Live >>
Meet, vote for Lightspeed Aviation Foundation finalists
The Lightspeed Aviation Foundation has selected 11 aviation charities as finalists for grants in 2011. This week we profile The Ninety-Nines’ Amelia Earhart Memorial Scholarship, Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum, Mission Aviation Fellowship, and Angel Flight Soars. Remember, your vote will help determine which of these worthy charities will get a grant of at least $10,000.
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Safety & Proficiency
Few things in aviation are linear; performance beyond the range of the charts in a pilot’s operating handbook is best determined by a professional test pilot. A Piper PA32R-300 Lance departed the Springerville Municipal Airport in Arizona a little before 2 p.m. on June 11, 2010. Less than two minutes later, it crashed into a high school in a neighboring town. The post-crash fire consumed almost the entire airplane and caused extensive damage to the school; all four on board were killed. It took firefighters the better part of twelve hours to extinguish the blaze. They weren’t helped by the boxes of ammunition on board that discharged during the fire. Read more in this special report from the Air Safety Institute.
Aerodynamics: The alpha factor
Venture beyond Bernoulli and Newton in a live Air Safety Institute Webinar, “Aerodynamics: The alpha factor,” at 3 and 8 p.m. Eastern time, June 20. Join AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg and panelists Rich Stowell, master aerobatic instructor, and Brian E. Smith of NASA’s Ames Research Center in an energetic review of aerodynamic principles beyond the four forces of flight. As Landsberg leads a fast-paced discussion with amazing video clips you’ll discover the true meaning of power and pitch and what flying angle of attack is all about. This Webinar, sponsored by the AOPA Insurance Agency, qualifies for AOPA Accident Forgiveness and the FAA Wings program. Register online >>
Air Safety eJournal: Next Monday
Pitch and power: Which controls airspeed and which controls altitude? Why is using power in stall recovery not always a good idea? AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg gives a preview of the aerodynamics topics he’ll cover in an upcoming Webinar. Read more >>
Ask ATC: Don’t be afraid to deviate
Is your current assigned heading and altitude putting you in a situation you’d rather avoid? Deviating from an assigned course may be your best option. ATC can help, but you need to tell them. Hear from a controller on the topic of deviating due to weather—or any other reason—on the newest segment of Ask ATC. Watch AOPA Live >>
From the Citadel in Quebec City to Victoria’s Inner Harbour, from the humpback whales of Brier Island to Jasper National Park’s great fishing, Canada calls to pilots to visit. History buffs, adventurers, nature lovers, and cultural aficionados will be delighted with the variety of sights and experiences Canada offers. Learn what’s required to fly to Canada in the latest installment of Answers for Pilots.
Do you know what’s happening under your cowling?
Your airplane’s engine shouldn’t be a mystery. Knowing the basics of how your engine and propeller work can help prevent costly repairs and assist you in troubleshooting a potential problem before it becomes an emergency. Learn what you can do to keep your powerplant running as efficiently as possible with the Engine and Propeller online course from the Air Safety Institute.
More than a decade after the rapid closure of two of the area’s main general aviation airports scattered them to the wind, Austin-area pilots are coming home. Robert Mueller Field and Austin Executive Airpark closed within 60 days of each other in 1999, leaving the city without a reliever airport and hundreds of aircraft owners hunting for a nearby place to base their aircraft. Now dozens of T-hangars and sunshades, a 6,025-foot runway, and an expansive terminal building are enticing pilots to the new Austin Executive Airport, 12 miles northeast of the city. Read more >>
Flying into Maine could go from a costly tax gamble to an enticing proposition under a bipartisan budget up for vote in the state legislature. Both houses gave preliminary approval June 15 to a budget that would repeal a use tax that can slap out-of-state owners of new aircraft with bills for up to 5 percent of the aircraft’s value. The budget also would add a sales tax exemption on aircraft sales and parts. It’s a dramatic shift for Maine, which notoriously hit one aircraft owner with a nearly $26,000 bill for visiting the state in his Cirrus SR22. Read more >>
Groups to NPS: Modify Grand Canyon noise control plan
A National Park Service (NPS) proposal that includes raising the upper boundary of flight-free zones over the Grand Canyon National Park would not reduce noise or provide other environmental benefits, but would “degrade” general aviation access and safety, AOPA and the National Business Aviation Association said in a joint response to the plan. The two associations filed joint comments June 14 on its draft environmental impact statement that offers four alternatives—including an NPS preferred alternative—for managing aircraft overflight activity and restoring natural quiet to the park. Read more >>
AOPA, House GA Caucus work to protect GPS
LightSquared’s proposed communication band network “may jam GPS receivers, disrupt GPS signals, and create ‘dead spots’ across our country,” 36 concerned members of the House General Aviation Caucus wrote to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) June 10. The FCC had granted a waiver to LightSquared “allowing it to repurpose the satellite spectrum immediately neighboring that of GPS,” as AOPA previously reported. But testing has uncovered problematic interference with GPS. Read more >>
Final push seeks to fix Calif. flight training threat
With the moratorium on enforcing the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 on flight instruction set to expire July 1, AOPA is working with industry groups and the state legislature to ensure that a bill to permanently exempt instructors is signed into law. State Sen. Jean Fuller introduced Senate Bill 619 in February, and the California Senate passed the bill on May 23. AOPA is working to get the bill through the Assembly and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown before the state takes its scheduled summer recess July 15. Read more >>
Learn how to protect your airport by promoting it
Tired of explaining over and over that your local airport isn't a playground for the rich boys or that local government supporting transportation infrastructure is not a “subsidy”? Join AOPA in the Webinar “Protecting Your Airport by Promoting It” for tips and techniques to get your community positively engaged at your local airport, deal with local government officials, and ensure the airport’s story is resonating with your neighbors. AOPA Manager of Airport Policy John Collins will moderate a discussion with general aviation airport advocates during two sessions June 29 at 3 and 9 p.m. Eastern time. Register online for the 3 p.m. or 9 p.m. session.
Oregon airport resists inquiries on new fees
AOPA has sent two letters to the operator of the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport in an effort to determine whether a new set of use and overnight charges was developed in compliance with FAA policy. The association also has made the FAA aware that the initial faxed response of the airport’s management to a June 7 letter from Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airport advocacy, failed to provide “answers to the very specific questions which we posed to the Coos County Airport District.” Read more >>
Colorado aviation groups, state legislators, and aviation officials celebrated how aviation helps save lives, jobs, economies, and communities during the second annual Colorado Aviation Business Association “Aviation Saves” conference June 10 and 11 at Centennial Airport in Denver. AOPA President Craig Fuller spoke June 10 and discussed the many ways aviation saves as highlighted in the association’s GA Serves America campaign. GA creates jobs, generates $1.2 billion in economic activity, provides personal and business transportation, and makes humanitarian, medical, firefighting, police, and media flights possible. Read more >>
FAA makes commonsense revision to Piper twin AD
AOPA submitted comments supporting the FAA’s proposed revision of an airworthiness directive (AD) on some Piper twins to eliminate a required inspection of the nose baggage door compartment interior light from the AD’s provisions. Members can submit their own comments until July 5 on the proposed revision of an AD related to safety-critical nose baggage door components. The FAA had proposed eliminating inspection of the baggage door compartment interior light because the light did not “impact the unsafe condition” for which the AD was issued. 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.
To nominate yourself or an associate to be a volunteer, visit AOPA Online.
To learn more about the Airport Support Network, visit ASN Online.
Get maximum coverage with AOPA Legal Services Plus level
AOPA works hard to protect the rights of pilots, and as a way of helping pilots on an individual basis, the association created the AOPA Legal Services Plan. The plan was designed to help protect pilots from FAA enforcement actions and to provide aviation legal assistance should the need arise. Now the association is announcing the enhanced coverages of the new Legal Services Plus level. Read more >>
AOPA offers membership in Emergency Assistance Plus
Emergency Assistance Plus (EA+), available to members, is a worldwide service that provides 24-hour medical assistance and emergency evacuation for travelers. When an accident or illness strikes while you’re traveling throughout the United States or anywhere in the world, a wide range of services is available to help you, including air and ground evacuation. If you travel at all, even just within the United States, the services EA+ offers are crucial. No one knows when an emergency will happen far away from home. Read more >>
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for an application support engineer and electronic advertising manager. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.