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Whether they were shedding ice in the flight levels or stumbling on a street festival in the Canary Islands, Bob Jeffrey and David Robinson cherish the memories of flying a newly completed Lancair Evolution turboprop single from Redmond, Ore., to Johannesburg, South Africa, where owner Arnold Pistorius waited to take delivery of his aircraft. You need to redefine the term “cross-country” to convey precisely what the two partners in Elite Pilot Services of Bend and Redmond accomplished between Oct. 23 and Nov. 16. Jeffrey flew the aircraft from Redmond to the East Coast, and then across the Atlantic Ocean, picking up Robinson outside London. The pair flew on to Spain, and then down the African coast, landing 25 times in 18 countries, dodging thunderstorms, fleeing from ice in the flight levels—and sometimes, catching really good tailwinds. Read more >>
Flying high with Aaron Tippin
Michael Bush has been an AOPA member since 2009 and was one of the winners at the AOPA Foundation’s annual “Night for Flight” auction. He bid $2,901 to go on a North American T-6 Texan flight with country music legend Aaron Tippin, but he got much more. Read more >>
Airplane with no fuel to cross US
Solar Impulse, the sun-powered 25-knot airplane from Switzerland with a wingspan greater than 200 feet, will be flown to Los Angeles for a trip across the United States in 2013. The aircraft has already made a lengthy trip from Switzerland to Africa. A second aircraft is preparing for a trip around the world in 2015. Read more >>
SocialFlight software update draws a crowd
SocialFlight, a free mobile app launched this year to brief pilots on aviation events and destinations, has expanded into a social networking tool. Version 2.0 enables users to share photos, chat, and organize events with fellow pilots and enthusiasts with similar interests. Available for both iOS and Android devices, SocialFlight has been downloaded by 10,000 users in the first four months, according to developer Where2 Interactive. Read more >>
NASA announces plan for next Mars rover
Mars rovers Curiosity and Opportunity have company coming in 2020, provided NASA’s budget survives the current federal negotiations. The space agency detailed on Dec. 4 an ambitious plan to continue a series of science missions that may culminate in a human journey to Mars in the 2030s. The space agency plans to launch a new orbiter in 2013 and participate in European missions planned for 2016 and 2018. The new rover to be launched in 2020 will be based on Curiosity, NASA said, and use the same proven landing system to deliver a new set of science instruments. Read more >>
Pratt & Whitney celebrates 50 years of PT6 power
A legendary powerplant is poised to mark 50 years of service, and Pratt & Whitney Canada plans a yearlong celebration of the PT6 in 2013. Read more >>
Boeing 737 lands in Antarctica
The military has landed transport-category cargo airplanes on ice runways in Antarctica for decades—but a citified Boeing 737? That’s what happened in late November when a chartered PrivatAir 737 touched down at Troll research station 146 miles from the Antarctic coast. Read more >>
Swifts take up ‘World Domination’ challenge
More than 100 Globe/Temco Swifts—including one piloted by a veteran of the Royal Canadian Air Force—filled the skies of the United States, Brazil, Canada, and France during an international fly-out on Nov. 4. The event was called “World Domination: The Day of the Swift.” Fort Myers, Fla., Swift owner Perry Sisson thought it would be fun to see how many pilots of the low-wing, retractable-gear airplanes would be interested in flying on a single day. Read more >>
Weight and balance apps
This week AOPA takes a look at apps that help with weight and balance. Those who submitted the apps felt very strongly about their effectiveness. Read more >>
Reporting Points: Strange but true
All 29 passengers on an Embraer Brasilia turboprop were OK when the crew was forced to ditch the aircraft after a reported fuel leak. Get the details in “Strange but true general aviation news.”
Debonair Sweeps: Panel sneak-peek
Take a look at Santa Fe Aero Services’ vision of the Debonair’s panel-to-be. Read more >>
Reporting Points: Want to help the DC-10 tankers survive?
The two former DC-10 airliners modified for use as aerial firefighters by 10 Tanker Air Carrier have seen a good bit of use during this year’s busy wildfire season. However, the company has been unable to secure an exclusive-use contract from the U.S. Forest Service, which it says is required for continued operation of the aircraft. Read more >>
AOPA Live This Week: Fast boats, armed helicopters
Fly along with the Coast Guard’s Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron—better known as HITRON—chasing drug smugglers. And is Washington about to pull a Thelma and Louise, with general aviation in the car? AOPA has expert analysis on the fiscal cliff. Plus, when could we see a replacement for 100LL? And find out about what the future holds from a pilot who crossed the United States in a solar-powered airplane in 1990. Watch AOPA Live This Week, Dec. 6.
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Safety & Proficiency
New Hampshire’s Mount Washington can be, as the observatory there states, “the home of the world’s worst weather.” Keep that in mind when ATC clears you for the approach to Mount Washington Regional Airport in nearby Whitefield, where even a clear-day’s arrival from downwind of the mountain can take you through zero visibility in blowing snow, and amusement-park-grade turbulence. For non-RNAV aircraft, an unusual LOC/NDB procedure is the way down to the airport’s lone 4,002-foot runway, via a transition from one of several VORs located up to 47 nautical miles away. Read more >>
Fly like a fighter: Dogfight's line-of-sight secret
With a thrust-to-weight ratio greater than 1:1, the F-15 performs amazingly in a dogfight. But the pilot needs to learn some secrets of the trade to come out of the dogfight safely. Read more >>
The Hokie approach
The Virginia Tech Hokies are playing a game at home and you would really like to fly in to watch it. The approach in use at Virginia Tech/Montgomery Executive Airport is the LOC/DME approach to Runway 12. With the weather reduced to IMC, your VFR-only buddies will be grounded in their living rooms. What’s your game plan? Take the quiz >>
Night flight over open water or dark terrain can easily become an instrument flight regardless of the ceiling and visibility reported back at the airport … and also make it impossible to tell whether you’re in the clouds. Clear skies still prevailed when a Cessna 182 took off from Glendale, Ariz., on Nov. 6, 2011, but as it flew west the clouds were moving east to meet it. Read more in this special report from the Air Safety Institute.
It is more than just a number …
The average general aviation aircraft is more than 30 years old—at least on a calendar. A number of factors contribute to an aircraft’s true age, which may not be the same as its age in calendar years. Learn how to recognize the signs of aircraft aging, understand its effects, and mitigate the risks by taking the Air Safety Institute’s Aging Aircraft online course.
Fly Well: The man in the mirror
Stress or trauma can impair rational thought and behavior—and we might not realize it. Do you adhere diligently to personal preflight screenings such as “I’M SAFE”? Are you seeing your true self? Read more >>
Leading Edge: A road runs through it?
Mishaps involving aircraft colliding with automobiles are rare. Recently, there were two in the span of a week. At a privately owned airport in Texas, a student pilot soloing clipped the top of an SUV that failed to yield the right of way on a road that runs right off the end of the runway. In Maine, a Cessna 172 on takeoff struck a pickup truck that was crossing the runway. Read more >>
Hover Power: Moral courage and the no-go decision
Moral courage can be thought of as the willingness to make sound safety decisions even when they are difficult or unpopular. Many times the pilot that exercises the courage to turn a flight down is making a tough decision, and in many cases the pilot’s actions go unnoticed. Read more >>
As congressional leaders and the White House work to avoid draconian budget cuts and tax hikes, aviation interests, including AOPA’s Capitol Hill team, are watching closely. A last-minute scramble is under way to hammer out a deal that would avert tax hikes and spending cuts slated to begin on Jan. 1, and aviation supporters are working to make sure user fees—or other cost increases—are not imposed. Read more >>
Fiscal cliff or ramp?
Is it a fiscal cliff or a ramp? A group of AOPA donors heard the debate at an AOPA Aviation Roundtable event in the Smoky Mountain region of Tennessee last weekend. Read more >>
FAA urged to align airspace actions with VFR chart updates
The FAA could reduce the risk of midair collisions by overhauling its practice of implementing military airspace actions on timetables unaligned with VFR chart update cycles, AOPA said. Read more >>
Radar-like technology comes to Colo. airport
Airspace in the vicinity of a regional airport in the mountains of western Colorado is now under the gaze of technology that helps air traffic control track aircraft in the absence of radar coverage. Read more >>
FAA to convene Pearson Field safety panel
AOPA will participate with representatives of local pilots and other stakeholders in discussions with the FAA this month about safety of flight issues at Pearson Field in Vancouver, Wash. The FAA is following up on its agreement in October to delay imposing an airspace procedure on flights using the general aviation airport that is located just northwest of Portland, Ore., International Airport. Read more >>
Trinidad and Tobago group joins AOPA family
The International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA) has approved the Island Aircraft Owners Association—AOPA Trinidad and Tobago—as its seventy-first affiliate. Read more >>
Changes, more public comment asked for Nev. airspace plan
AOPA has requested that the FAA continue to mitigate the impact on general aviation of planned modifications to the Class B airspace in Las Vegas. The association also cited a lack of accurate information on an FAA website about the airspace plan in asking for a 30-day extension of time for public comment, now set to expire Dec. 26. Read more >>
VFR: An airport treasure
Not too long ago, Georgia’s Harris County Airport was in danger of closure. Now, it’s not only open—it’s thriving, notes AOPA Southern Regional Manager Bob Minter. Minter also discusses how Tennessee’s Higher Education Commission is adding another layer of expenses to Part 141 flight schools in the state.
Xarelto now an approved medication for flight
Good news on the medication front: The FAA recently accepted Xarelto as an allowed anticoagulant for use in aviation. Xarelto (rivaroxaban) is a new type of anticoagulation drug that has a much more favorable side effect profile than its pharmaceutical cousin, Pradaxa (dabigatran), which produced disappointing side effects associated with uncontrollable bleeding in some patients who were using it. Read more >>
Understanding the dangers of an understated hull
Hull coverage is the single most expensive part of your aircraft insurance premium. The reason is simple: Hull claims are much more frequent, resulting in insurance carriers paying a lot more in hull claims than liability claims. You may be tempted to undervalue your aircraft to save a few dollars, but resist this temptation as it could cost you your aircraft. Read more >>
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for an events coordinator; AOPA eastern regional manager; .NET applications developer; manager, AOPA Flying Club Network; Web developer (eMedia); and Web graphic designer. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.