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Still seeking answers to what caused an aircraft to lose control at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nev., Sept. 16, the NTSB shared its investigation details April 10 and offered recommendations to improve safety at this year’s event. In the seconds before the deadly crash of Jimmy Leeward’s modified P-51D Galloping Ghost, the aircraft experienced rapid, unanticipated G forces that exceeded the limits of its 9-G accelerometer and normal human consciousness, NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman explained. Hersman recommended increasing oversight of aircraft airworthiness after modifications, providing G-force training for pilots, evaluating the feasibility of requiring pilots to wear G suits, and reevaluating the race course. The board traced the start of the accident sequence to a roll upset after the aircraft rounded Pylon 8 in the third lap of the Unlimited Class qualifying round. Read more >>
Veteran airshow, race pilot killed in crash
The aviation community is mourning the loss of Howard Pardue, a veteran racing and airshow pilot, who died April 4 in a crash just after takeoff from his home airport in Breckenridge, Texas. He was 77. Pardue was flying the airplane he loved best, a vintage Grumman F8F Bearcat, which burst into flames after impact. A pilot witness told NTSB investigators Pardue performed an aerobatic maneuver after takeoff. Read more >>
Flight Design seeing influx of new pilots
Flight Design USA officials report that 80 percent of its new aircraft customers are new pilots, rather than existing pilots, a trend that, if it develops, could mean the light sport movement is attracting new pilots. Flight Design has led light sport sales in the United States since the category was created, although Cessna Aircraft is catching up rapidly. The news was tempered somewhat by a quick call to other large light sport manufacturers. Read more >>
Joyce’s first flight
For the past 30 years Joyce Kline has served the membership of AOPA. As a senior representative of the Member Services division of the organization, Kline knows almost everything about AOPA that a valued representative could—except one thing. She had never been in an airplane—any airplane. But the morning of April 6, a brilliant, blue-sky day at Frederick, Md., headquarters, Kline told a coworker that she’d peered inside an open door to the cockpit of one of AOPA’s aircraft and thought maybe she wouldn’t mind a ride. Read more and watch AOPA Live® >>
Texas school flies into the future
Aviators of the future are learning to fly at two Texas airports where for-sale signs once hung in the windows of struggling businesses. Mike Sykes, president of U.S. Aviation Academy of Denton and Hondo, Texas, said he didn’t have designs on becoming a flight training entrepreneur. Six years later, business is booming at U.S. Aviation, where airline pilots of the future make up 90 percent of the student body, and where the training fleet is on track to log 60,000 student flying hours based on first-quarter performance, Sykes said. That would be a 15.3-percent increase from the 52,000 hours flown in 2011. Read more >>
NC's Sugar Valley Airport to dedicate fire circle
Sugar Valley Airport in Mocksville, N.C., will dedicate a friendship fire circle at its spring fly-in/drive-in on April 21. One of the first of dozens of fire circles to be created at small airports around the nation, Sugar Valley’s is intended to become a focal point for fellowship and recreational activities for visitors and residents. Read more >>
Sheehan: World AOPAs ‘coming of age’
Looking back on 15 years as secretary general of the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations, John Sheehan stands in admiration at how much ground the pilot organizations in 69 countries have covered over time. On May 1, Sheehan, for 40 years a prominent aviation figure and advocate as an association executive, consultant, pilot, flight instructor, and ambassador, will retire from the IAOPA position that he has held since 1997. Read more >>
‘Model Code of Conduct’ update released
The permanent editorial board of the Aviators Model Code of Conduct released its first major update to its flagship product April 6. The Aviators Model Code of Conduct “offers recommendations to advance flight safety, airmanship, and professionalism.” Version 2.0 includes a new emphasis on professionalism, enhanced focus on safety culture, and an emphasis on flight training and simulation devices, according to Michael Baum, a member of the board. Read more >>
Fly like a fighter: Crosswind controls
Many hours in the F-15 had lulled former Air Force instructor Larry Brown into not worrying about crosswinds so much—but one particular student sortie in a T-38 drove home the importance of using crosswind techniques. The student did an excellent landing in a steady 14-knot crosswind, but then the unexpected happened. In the blink of an eye, the T-38’s right wing rapidly rose, placing the training aircraft on its left main wheel and putting the left wingtip dangerously close to the ground. Read more >>
Ohio makes way for gathering of B-25s
Leading up to the seventieth Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Reunion at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton, Ohio, April 17 through 20, about 20 B-25 Bombers are scheduled to gather at nearby Grimes Field in Urbana from April 14 through 16. Some of the B-25s will sell rides at the airport. AOPA will be on hand to bring you updates of the event.
Hover Power: Autorotation training
On April 10, 2003, in Auburn, Calif., a Hughes 269B helicopter was destroyed when it collided with terrain while on an instructional flight. Prior to the accident, a witness on a farm about three miles away heard and observed the helicopter performing maneuvers consistent with multiple practice autorotations to a power recovery. The NTSB determined the probable cause of the accident as the misjudged flare maneuver by an unknown crewmember during a likely practice autorotation that resulted in an in-flight collision with terrain. Read more >>
Flying a ‘real’ jet
An early scene in An Officer and a Gentleman, the 1982 movie about U.S. Navy recruits slogging their way through officer candidate school, has granite-tough Marine Gunnery Sgt. Foley (actor Lou Gossett Jr.) confronting candidate Zack Mayo (actor Richard Gere) nose to nose. “Now why would a slick little hustler like you sign up for the Navy?” asks Foley. Mayo’s response grabbed corporate pilot Robert Mark. “Because I want to fly jets, sir!” Mark flies jets, “but not real jets,” he writes. When opportunity knocked with an offer to fly an Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros (one “s” in the Czech spelling), he jumped at the chance. Read more and watch AOPA Live >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Safety & Proficiency
Looking for a challenge that will tax your IFR knowledge to the limit and hone your skills, leaving you dry-mouthed and drained? Forget about flying partial-panel NDB approaches in gusting crosswinds. Here’s something better: Try explaining what it means to be an instrument pilot to someone who knows nothing about aviation. If you can explain instrument flying to somebody who asks what’s so special about spatial disorientation, you must really know your stuff. Do you think nonpilots appreciate your IFR flying skills? Read more and take the poll >>
If you ‘took the active,’ please bring it back
We've all heard improper radio communication from pilots on the ground and in the air. Pilots who "take the active" as they are rolling out, or who "check in" with ATC after a handoff are getting their message across, but maybe not in the most informative way. Learn the right way to say what needs to be said in the Air Safety Institute's online course, Say It Right: Mastering Radio Communication, underwritten by Lightspeed Aviation.
Budget brush-up: Sims aid in proficiency, training
Whether you just want to brush up on some maneuvers or plan to log time toward an instrument rating, ground-based aviation training devices offer a way to hone your skills without breaking the bank. Find out about the different kinds of devices, advantages and disadvantages of using simulators for proficiency and training, and logging time in AOPA’s subject report on flight training devices and desktop simulators.
Can your flying companion take control in a pinch?
Recent news brimmed with a story about a pilot who lost consciousness while flying his Cessna 414. His wife took over the controls, but not being a pilot, she needed help to fly and land the twin-engine airplane. A local pilot and family friend coached her through the traumatic event—and even after one engine ran out of fuel, she landed safely. What about your flying companions? Are they prepared to take over in a pinch? Give them a safety briefing with the Air Safety Institute’s Pinch-Hitter® course. They quickly learn about fundamentals of aircraft control, instruments, and radio communication—and review basic but necessary emergency procedures in the event of pilot incapacitation.
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.
Leading Edge: It seemed like a good idea
In the “It’s never too early to speculate” file, but based upon what reliable witnesses observed, the only fatal accident near Oshkosh, Wis., during EAA AirVenture 2011 appears to have been the result of some really bad decision making, according to AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg. Read more >>
Flying and buying: Medical petition could make the difference
Larry Stencel would love to celebrate his 40-plus years as a pilot by buying himself a brand-new general aviation airplane—but he won’t do it on the two-year plan. When the retired aeronautical engineer who flies “continuously” but worries about passing third-class medical exams learned that AOPA and the Experimental Aircraft Association had come up with a better way to keep pilots who fly recreationally aloft, his hopes soared. Every pilot frets some when the calendar says it is time to visit the aviation medical examiner to renew a medical certificate. But after his last go-round, when he had a certification scare, Stencel, 64, wondered where to go from there. Read more >>
In a move that had been in the works for years, the European Aviation Safety Agency took a major step in revamping its flight crew licensing regulations. The new rules, which went into effect April 8, officially end the reciprocity agreements that have existed for decades between Europe and the United States. Where once a non-European-certificated pilot could fly to Europe, have the authorities quickly recognize the validity of a U.S.-issued pilot certificate, and fly general aviation airplanes with minimal hassle, he or she must now face the end of such privileges. Read more >>
Fairer enforcement sought in NTSB rules
The FAA should be required to disclose its evidence to a respondent when seeking a suspension or revocation of a pilot certificate—and if it fails to do so, the NTSB should be empowered to dismiss or delay the FAA’s action before the pilot’s livelihood or reputation is harmed, AOPA said in a regulatory filing. It is a matter of fairness that an airman knows what evidence the FAA is using to take action, AOPA said. Read more >>
AOPA Close to Home
AOPA Wallet: The easy way to comply with FAA regulations
If you know your federal aviation regulations, you know that FAR 61.3 mandates that a pilot carry a form of photo ID when flying. AOPA has made compliance easy with the AOPA ID Wallet, which features an insert to hold a driver’s license, pilot certificate, and medical. These documents fit into a three-pocket insert with a convenient side-entry pocket, which can be instantly removed from the wallet so that your critical documents are with you in the airplane. Read more >>
Become an AOPA Plus member
An exciting new category has been added to AOPA’s suite of membership options: AOPA Plus. Developed in response to member requests for additional services, AOPA Plus allows the association to offer these services to those who need them without raising costs for all AOPA members. Bringing with it enhanced access and extra-personal service, AOPA Plus is the perfect choice for members looking to get even more from their membership. Read more >>
Options for term life insurance
No single insurance program is best for all of AOPA’s diverse membership. That’s why AOPA offers three distinct options when it comes to securing term life insurance. Whether you want a more affordable option for your active aviation lifestyle, prefer to lock in a rate, or need coverage for members between the ages of 50 and 75, you can find an AOPA-sponsored product with no aviation exclusions. Read more >>
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for a vice president–Center to Advance the Pilot Community, aviation technical writer, vice president of strategy and philanthropic operations, director of accounting, program manager–products, project manager of online products, director of new market development, associate project manager, and associate editor–Web/ ePilot. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.