Already a member? Please login below for an enhanced experience. Not a member? Join today

May 27, 2011, issue of 'AOPA ePilot' newsletterMay 27, 2011, issue of 'AOPA ePilot' newsletter

AOPA ePilot

In This Issue:

VOLUME 13, ISSUE 21 — May 27, 2011

‘Party time!’ in Fat Albert
Why is density altitude important?
Calif. flight-school bill moves forward
Quiz Me: What is a VDP?


Safety >>

Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect >>


AOPA Live >>

Sponsored by:

Click here to see this week's custom content.


Feature ‘Party time!’ in Fat Albert

With four turboprop engines generating more than 18,000 shaft horsepower, the Blue Angels Fat Albert Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules wrestles to stay planted on the runway until Capt. Ben Blanton and his crew release the brakes. The cargo aircraft quickly accelerates to 125 mph. Blanton lifts off to fly five feet or less above the deck and pitches up 45 degrees to 1,200 feet after reaching 200 mph. With speed quickly bleeding down to 125 mph, Blanton pitches down, giving the crew in the cargo hold six seconds of weightlessness. The Blue Angels are demonstrating the C-130’s capabilities for thousands of spectators at Virginia’s Lynchburg Regional/Preston Glenn Field. The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, formed in 1946 and dubbed the Blue Angels after a New York City nightclub, supports recruiting efforts for the Navy and Marines. But the team also instills the dream and wonder of flight in millions of spectators every year. Read more >>

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 >


Jury: Cirrus not to blame for fatal Lidle accident

The jury in a lawsuit Cory Lidle’s family filed against Cirrus Design issued a verdict May 24 that the aircraft did not cause the baseball player’s fatal Oct. 11, 2006, accident in New York City. The New York Yankees pitcher and his flight instructor Tyler Stanger were flying in the East River corridor and tried a tight 180-degree turn back over the river. The aircraft crashed into an apartment building, killing Lidle and Stanger. One person on the ground was seriously injured; two others received minor injuries, according to the NTSB factual report. The lawsuit claimed that a defect in the aircraft caused the crash. Read more >>

Superior Air Parts engine shipping again

Superior Air Parts has resumed shipping its Experimental XP series of engines. Sales stopped when the company declared bankruptcy years ago. Superior Air Parts is now a subsidiary of Superior Aviation Beijing following its purchase by a Chinese company. The parts are the same formerly used in the company’s FAA-approved 180-horsepower Vantage engine, except for some improvements. Read more >>

John Ninomiya flies his cluster balloon Water bladders away: Cluster balloon lifts off in Maryland

Seven hot air balloons gathered at the Flying H Farm in Union Bridge, Md., May 21 to accompany John Ninomiya and his cluster balloon on a short flight in calm skies. Ninomiya, one of only a few people in the world flying cluster balloons regularly, is on a quest to fly his craft—a cluster of helium-filled balloons attached to a harness—in each of the 50 states. With help from volunteers, Ninomiya inflated the various-sized balloons and hooked them to sandbags until he was ready to strap into the harness and attach the balloons. Read more and watch AOPA Live® >>

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.

NTSB inconclusive on root cause of Ted Stevens crash

“Temporary unresponsiveness” of the 62-year-old, 28,000-hour airline transport pilot probably caused the crash that killed Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens and four other passengers on Aug. 9, 2010, said the National Transportation Safety Board at a public meeting May 24. Why the pilot became unresponsive during the 50-mile flight “could not be established from the available information.” The amphibious-float-equipped turbine de Havilland Otter struck mountainous terrain in a climbing left turn about 10 miles northeast of Aleknagik, Alaska, 15 minutes after departure. Read more >>

Southern Flyer Diner in Brenham, Texas The Southern Flyer Diner: A slice of Americana

Texas pilots know of a place where good old-fashioned hospitality is served up along with a healthy slice of Americana. The rather nondescript exterior of the FBO and Southern Flyer Diner at Brenham, Texas, belies the 1950s atmosphere inside. Upon entering, “poodle girls” clad in classic poodle skirts and bobby socks will escort you to your table, right past the jukebox that might have tunes of Elvis. Learn tips for flying there in this selection from Pilot Getaways magazine, available for a limited time on AOPA Online. Check out more Pilot Getaways destinations and exclusive member discount pricing in this special offer.

Piaggio completing jet design

Here comes another business jet. Piaggio says it will freeze the design of its long-rumored new jet by this summer, but it isn’t discussing details until the aircraft is ready to fly. Much of the manufacturing will be done in Abu Dhabi, where an investment company owns a third of the Piaggio firm, but final assembly will be done at the Piaggio plant in Genoa, Italy. Read more >>

Swift earns unleaded fuel test standard

Swift Enterprises reached a milestone in its quest to bring an unleaded aviation fuel to market when standards body ASTM International approved a specification for testing of its fuel, the company announced May 23. The specification defines the performance and formulation standards Swift must meet for consistent testing. The Indiana-based company expects this to streamline the test process as it works toward a commercial specification. Read more >>

Carbon Cub is now a kit Carbon Cub kit sales get a boost

By far, the more popular light sport model of the CubCrafters Cub is the Carbon Cub, trouncing sales of the company’s Sport Cub S2 by 80 to one. Now, the FAA has listed the Carbon Cub as a kit, requiring the owner to do 51 percent of the work. That formality eases inspections of future completed Cubs. The completed aircraft will cost about $120,000 and require an estimated 900 to 1,500 hours to build. Read more >>

Hawker engine upgrade on schedule

The upgrade for the Hawker 800XPR to Honeywell TFE731-50R engines is expected to be certified this summer. The upgrade was announced last year. Ground runs are in progress. FAA certification could come as early as next month, with certification in Europe by July. Read more >>

Flying the same airplane without incident for 12+ months?

You’re entitled to 10% claims free credits your first year with Avemco—15% your second! Also receive up to 10% off your annual premium with Avemco’s Safety Rewards. Learn more >>

Notam system to be off-line for hours May 28

If you’re planning to fly May 28, don’t forget that the FAA’s notice to airmen (notam) servers will be taken off-line for several hours. Pilots must use alternative procedures to check notams during a relocation of the system’s operations base. From 0600Z to 1030Z, pilots should contact flight service (800/WX-BRIEF). Briefers will have access to all notam information. There will also be two websites that should be checked for a full picture of notams for a flight: One hosted by Lockheed Martin will provide D notams, and an FAA site will provide FDC notams, including temporary flight restrictions.

Sporty's 50th anniversary celebration Sporty’s celebrates 50 years

Fifty years after Sporty’s founder Hal Shevers began selling portable aviation radios from the trunk of his Studebaker, pilots from around the region flocked to the 170-employee company’s headquarters at Clermont County Airport in Batavia, Ohio, to celebrate the milestone. Several thousand people attended the May 21 event under brilliantly sunny skies where they ate hot dogs and cake and honored Hal and Sandy Shevers for their contributions to the aviation community. Read more >>

Citation Ten to fly this year

Cessna Aircraft’s upgrade to the Citation X, called the Citation Ten, is making progress and is expected to fly by the end of 2011, with deliveries in 2013. The upgraded model is designed to make the Ten go higher, faster, and farther than the Citation X. Read more >>

BlogsAOPA Now: Flying with Redbird

AOPA President Craig Fuller is in Austin, Texas, for the Texas Aviation Conference, and he took some time to visit Redbird Flight Simulations’ manufacturing facility. He and King Schools’ John and Martha King received a tour from Redbird founder Jerry Gregoire. This relatively new company is lowering the cost and improving the quality of flight simulation, Fuller said. A flight school can change its full-motion simulator from a Cessna 172 to a Cirrus SR20 simply by turning a few hand screws and swapping out components. Read more >>

BlogsHover Power: Starflex rotor

Several different main rotor system designs are used on modern helicopters. The three basic designs that have traditionally been taught to students are semi-rigid, fully articulated, and rigid. Today there are versions that make extensive use of composite materials and are known as hingeless systems. One helicopter that has a composite hingeless rotor system is the Eurocopter AS350 AStar. Read more >>


Flying Dumbos

We know that Dumbo the elephant could fly, but what about something the weight of 56 elephants? It's the largest U.S.-built aircraft. The Lockheed Martin C-5M Super Galaxy is supporting American troops around the world. The Aviators shows you more. Watch AOPA Live >>

International Learn to Fly Day ‘I didn’t want to come down’: Community gets taste of GA

Clear, blue skies made for a welcoming introduction to general aviation at the bustling Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland May 21 for the second annual International Learn to Fly Day event. More than 350 people from the community flocked to the airport, and volunteer pilots gave free flights to 140 passengers throughout the course of the day. “It was amazing,” Maryland Delegate Kathy Afzali said after her flight. “And I didn’t want to come down. I wanted to spend the day.” Read more and watch AOPA Live >>


For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.

The Limited Commemorative Edition SR22T

We’re celebrating ten years of the history-making SR22 with this tiny, ten aircraft fleet to fly above all we have accomplished in the last decade. If you’d like to own a piece of history, call before the last are claimed—866/380.0887.

Safety & Proficiency

‘Center, Archer 8121 Kilo with request’

You’ve asked, they’ve answered. The Air Safety Institute, in partnership with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), is proud to present “Ask ATC.”  Each month, the institute will ask a new question from a pilot like you to get the definitive answer from a controller. How many VFR flights have you taken without calling for flight following because you thought ATC was too busy?  Listen to Ann Marie Taggio from the Charlotte, N.C., tower address this scenario from the controller end of the radio. Watch now >>

Why is understanding density altitude important?

Just because you can't see it doesn't mean density altitude should be brushed aside. Careful preflight planning is crucial during the summer flying months, and not just at higher-elevation airports, because density altitude can have a real impact on your aircraft's performance regardless of your field elevation. Take the newest quiz from the Air Safety Institute, sponsored by the AOPA Insurance Agency, to find out why. Take the quiz >>

Fly with your family Simple tips for a successful family flight

Flying yourself and your family to that holiday destination can save time and even spark a family member’s interest in aviation—but a bad experience could reduce your flying to infrequent solo trips. It may help to introduce children to aviation gradually, starting with time at the airport and moving on to short flights. For family vacations, have an adult co-pilot or passenger help manage the children and reduce the pilot’s distractions. For more tips on flying with family, from properly securing a child’s seatbelt to dealing with a pet’s motion sickness, read AOPA’s subject report.

Are you up for a chart challenge?

A good understanding of approach charts is one of the fundamentals of safe instrument flying. Most of the time they’re pretty simple—but throw terrain, airspace, and other complicating factors into the mix and things can get downright tricky. So, how high is your approach IQ these days? The Air Safety Institute’s IFR Chart Challenge: ILS Approach gives you the plate (specifically, the ILS or LOC/DME RWY 30R at Bakersfield, Calif.), and then asks you to make the calls. Get started >>

Take the 'Aging Aircraft' course from the Air Safety Institute What’s your aircraft’s true age?

Whether renting or owning, inspecting your aircraft for aging signs is a critical part of preventing structural and component failures. Many items can be inspected visually during a thorough interior and exterior preflight inspection. But what are you looking for? The Air Safety Institute’s Aging Aircraft online course helps you pinpoint the culprits. An interactive schematic of an airplane interior and exterior, including a view under the cowling, and pictures of cracks and corrosion areas point you to the most common problem areas. Take the course and find solutions to prevent major headaches.

BlogsAir Safety eJournal: When the ‘impossible’ happens

It looks as if we’re about to learn the probable cause on the loss of Air France Flight 447, the Airbus 330 that disappeared over the South Atlantic in convective weather about two years ago. As investigators comb through data from the flight data recorders, AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg wonders if the “impossible” happened, with compound system failures and a combination so improbable that there wasn’t a procedure or even a simulator scenario to cover it. Read more >>

BlogsMedical Sense: Exam prep

How do you find a good aviation medical examiner in your area? An AME who “speaks airplane” and is willing to work with a pilot who has a medical certification issue is ideal. Word of mouth can help you find out whom the locals see for their flight physicals, and both AOPA and the FAA provide databases of aviation medical examiners. AOPA Director of Medical Certification Gary Crump offers some tips for finding an AME and preparing for the exam. Read more >>

Aspen’s “Get Your Glass On” Rebate

Versatile and flexible, Evolution Flight Displays are the industry's best value in EFIS technology. Our current rebate will help you get the shiny, new Aspen Evolution Glass panel you've been dreaming of! Click for details…

Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics

Air Safety Institute Safety Seminars

June 4 and 5

Orlando, Fla.

Charlotte, N.C.

Columbus, Ohio

June 11 and 12

San Jose, Calif.

Minneapolis, Minn.

June 25 and 26

Phoenix, Ariz.

Ashburn, Va.

July 9 and 10

Memphis, Tenn.





For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.

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

July 27

Oshkosh, Wis.



July 28

Oshkosh, Wis.

July 29

Oshkosh, Wis.


September 12

Germantown, Tenn.

Wichita, Kan.

Fort Worth, Texas

West Houston, Texas


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

Get to the fun faster

With Alamo at commercial airport locations: Save up to  25%, get one free additional driver, unlimited mileage and additional coupon offers. Book online.


Calif. flight-school bill moves forward Calif. flight-school bill moves forward

With a moratorium that protects California flight schools from costly regulatory burdens set to expire July 1, AOPA and its legislative partners are working to assure a smooth transition to a permanent solution. The California Senate took an important step toward that goal May 23, passing Senate Bill 619, which would exempt flight instructors and flight schools that meet certain criteria from provisions of the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009. Read more >>

Special-use airspace plan opposed for unmanned ops

The FAA should reject a Department of Energy request to establish special-use airspace (SUA) over the Arctic Ocean north of Oliktok Point, Alaska, in which manned and unmanned aircraft would gather data for climate research, AOPA said in a response to the plan. The proposal to establish a warning area is inconsistent with the FAA’s criteria for creating that type of airspace, and could be a step toward the creation of SUA solely for unmanned operations, AOPA said in formal comments. Read more >>

Garmin GTN series

The next generation of touchscreen avionics is here. Introducing the Garmin GTN series, intuitive GPS/NAV/COMM devices with powerful MFD capabilities. The GTN series has received FAA certification and is now being delivered to Garmin authorized dealers! Learn more at

FAA proposes modifying AD on Piper twins

The FAA is seeking comments on a proposal to revise an airworthiness directive (AD) on some Piper twin-engine aircraft by eliminating a nose baggage door compartment interior light inspection, while retaining the AD’s other requirements. The FAA published a notice May 20 in the Federal Register of its proposal to revise a 2009 AD that applies to Piper PA-23, PA-31, and PA-42 twins. The AD establishes life limits for safety-critical nose baggage door components, requires replacement of certain other components, and orders repetitive inspection and lubrication of the nose baggage door latching mechanism and lock assembly. Read more >>


AOPA successfully rallies senators to protect GPS

Thirty-three senators—including 13 Senate General Aviation Caucus members—have asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to rescind wireless network operator LightSquared’s approval to expand until the company can demonstrate that signals from thousands of ground stations won’t interfere with GPS reception.  On the heels of a successful legislative effort by AOPA and others, nearly a third of the U.S. Senate sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski asking him to take all necessary steps to protect GPS “from interference that could cause interruptions” from LightSquared’s wireless network. Read more >>

Inside Cirrus Event in Salt Lake City, Utah Rally GAICE cools off Salt Lake City, energizes pilots

With Cirrus aircraft and Ferraris on display, and fly-bys of the Cirrus Vision Jet under overcast skies, about 60 aviation enthusiasts flocked to Utah’s Salt Lake City International for a May 19 Inside Cirrus Event (ICE). AOPA Vice President of Communications Andrew Broom rallied pilots at the event by bringing them up to date on the association’s advocacy and communications efforts, while giving them tips to get involved in protecting general aviation so that “together we can help GA take off and climb into the flight levels.” Read more >>

BlogsAOPA Now: Texas takes flying seriously

For 29 years, aviation leaders and decision makers from around Texas have been getting together to talk about the issues affecting general aviation at the Texas Aviation Conference. And Texans take their aviation seriously. In a state that’s larger than France and that has major population centers in places like Dallas and Houston as well as vast areas of open ranchland, GA makes a lot of sense. 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

Member Benefits

Medications update Medications update

The FAA doesn’t make available to the flying public a list of acceptable medications for medical certification, but AOPA maintains a fairly comprehensive database of medications that it updates as it is made aware of changes. If you have an interest in a particular medication that isn’t included in the database, call and AOPA’s medical certification specialists can research it for you. Find out about newly approved medications in this selection from a recent issue of the Medical Services Program newsletter. Participants in the program get advice like this and much more.

Get rewarded for summer travel with AOPA Credit Card

Nothing shakes off the winter doldrums quite like planning a summer vacation. Deciding where to go is the fun part; figuring out how to pay for it not so much. Lucky for AOPA Credit Card holders, their summer vacation can earn them rewards points all along the way. Every purchase made with the card earns one point for every dollar spent, which can be used toward cash, gift cards, and other rewards.  Read more >>

AOPA Insurance Agency offers the right coverage at the right price

We work with A-rated underwriters and offer the most coverage options to fit your needs for the aircraft you own or rent. Call 800-622-AOPA or go online for a free quote.

Know before you go: App offers airport info

AOPA members can have quick access to airport information on their Apple iPhone or iPod touch using the AOPA Airports application powered by ForeFlight. You can save your favorite airports for quick reference, and any airport you view is automatically added to your “Recents” list for easy recall. Visit the Apple App Store to download this exclusive member benefit.

BlogsAOPA Sounding Board: Third class medical and AOPA products

Do we really need third class medical certificates? AOPA has closely watched the accident history of sport, balloon, and glider pilots and has found no evidence that a third class medical increases the safety of pilots or passengers in the air, or persons or property on the ground. AOPA Vice President of the Pilot Information Center Woody Cahall discusses the pros and cons of the third-class medical and answers other questions from members in the latest AOPA Sounding Board blog entry. Read more >>

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 an application support engineer, applications engineer, and member services representative. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit 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!


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: Think back to your first cross-country

Share your first cross-country experience in this AOPA Forum thread. What was unexpected? What did you learn? Read more >>

Twitter Follow AOPA Online

Facebook Become a fan

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.

My MembershipMy Membership


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 recently saw a small V-shaped arrow on the profile view of an instrument approach plate. I’ve heard that this is a “VDP.” What is a VDP, and how should I fly the approach?


Answer: The mark in question is, indeed, a VDP icon—indicating a visual descent point on the approach. The Aeronautical Information Manual, section 5-4-5(f), explains that a VDP is a point on the final approach course from which normal descent from the minimum descent altitude (MDA) to the runway touchdown point can be commenced, provided that appropriate visual reference (14 CFR 91.175(c)(3)) is established. VDPs are intended to provide additional guidance where they are implemented; however, if you are not properly equipped to locate the VDP, you should fly the approach as though no VDP exists. The VDP helps the pilot to descend at a reasonable rate to the runway environment. If you cannot establish the required visibility until after the VDP, you can still continue the approach; however, your descent rate may be greater than desired. For an example of a VDP, see the profile view of this approach plate.

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 Share your passion for flight by making a presentation to your local Chamber of Commerce or Rotary club.

AOPA ePilot Team
ePilot Editor: Sarah Brown Contributors: Alyssa Miller
Jill W. Tallman
Warren Morningstar
Alton K. Marsh

Dave Hirschman
Tom Horne
Ian J. Twombly
Dan Namowitz

Production Team: Lezlie Ramsey
Melissa Whitehouse
Mitch Mitchell
William Rockenbaugh

Advertise in ePilot:
East: Mike Vodarsik, 732/946-0130
Central: Brian Curpier, 607/547-2591
Central: Gary Brennan, 607/547-2591
West: Zane Lewis, 214/789-6094

AOPA Advertising website

Member Tools: Send feedback | Update member profile/email | Unsubscribe | ePilot Archive

© 2011 Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association | 421 Aviation Way Frederick, MD 21701 | Phone 800/USA-AOPA | Fax 301/695-2375

Related Articles