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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 >>
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 >>
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® >>
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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
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.
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 >>
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 >>
Hover 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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
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Safety & Proficiency
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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
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.
Air 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 >>
Medical 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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
AOPA 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 >>
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 >>
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.
AOPA 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 >>
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.