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At 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 26, 2011, a pilot, his two college-age daughters, and the younger daughter’s boyfriend climbed into a Cirrus SR20 and took off from Marion, Ind. The mission: return the older daughter to her college near Chicago. Two hours later and 200 miles northwest, the aircraft exited a low overcast in a near-vertical dive and disintegrated on impact with the ground. The events leading up to that tragedy are the subject of the Air Safety Institute’s latest Accident Case Study. Using actual audio of the pilot’s discussions with air traffic control and factual information from the NTSB report, we piece together the story of the flight and look at some of the reasons why such accidents are all too common in general aviation. View the video >>
FreeFlight Systems ADS-B approved for Cessnas
FreeFlight Systems has gained FAA approval to install its Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast system in most Cessna single-engine aircraft including 152s, 172s, and 182s, the company announced Dec. 18. Read more >>
Business aircraft activity down in November
A “robust” October 2012 for business aircraft activity was followed by a 6.3-percent decrease in November, said specialized aviation services company Argus International. Read more >>
Diamond to offer auto landing in 2016
GPS moving maps made navigation easier by requiring pilots only to keep an aircraft icon on a little pink line. After that pilots wanted a way to fly an approach automatically, and soon the glass cockpit systems were doing that. An automatic landing was next on the list. Diamond Aircraft CEO Christian Dries says he will offer that as an option in three years. Read more >>
Flying clubs newsletter debuts
The AOPA Flying Club Network has published the first issue of its new monthly e-newsletter, Club Connector . AOPA’s research has shown that flying club leaders are hungry to learn more about the practical experiences of other clubs. So this e-newsletter will keep subscribers connected with useful news, information, and good ideas from flying clubs around the nation. It also will keep readers informed about AOPA’s Flying Clubs Initiative, a big part of the new Center to Advance the Pilot Community. Subscribe to the Club Connector.
Air Force to modify Caravans for airdrop duty
The U.S. Air Force has a job for a contractor experienced in Cessna Caravan modifications, and a long-endurance mission for a pair of civilian pilots. A request for information (RFI) has been issued seeking replies from companies with the capacity to create and install a roll-up cargo door and associated equipment for air drops. The RFI also stipulates that the contractor will provide a pair of FAA-certificated civilian pilots to ferry Caravans from Afghanistan to Florida for testing. Read more >>
AOPA Legacy Society assures GA’s future
Here’s a good reason to act on the decision to make a long-term commitment to support general aviation: GA pilots are helping science improve the health of our planet. If that sounds over the top, let a research scientist who flies a kitbuilt twin on critical data-gathering missions help you decide. Read more >>
10 aircraft milestones from 2012
A "flying car" flew, a storied aircraft went diesel, and manufacturers in Austria and Brazil celebrated first flights of new airplanes. A number of milestones distinguished 2012 for general aviation as manufacturers strove to bring new products to market. Take a look back at some of the aircraft-related news from the year. Read more >>
NORAD prepares for Santa tracking
The North American Aerospace Defense Command ( NORAD) is starting its fifty-seventh year tracking Santa Claus for children around the world. The tradition began in 1955, when Sears misprinted a Christmas ad encouraging children to call Santa. The phone number was actually an operations hotline to a predecessor organization of NORAD. After receiving calls, Operations Director Col. Harry Shoup had his staff track the radar for Santa’s location and any child from then on who called the number was given an update. Since then, NORAD employees and friends have volunteered to answer phone calls and email from children worldwide on Santa’s location. Children can also track Santa via the Internet.
Top 10 AOPA announcements of 2012
Launches of a television-style webcast, free memberships for youth, and a network of flying clubs are among AOPA’s top announcements of 2012. Read more >>
Helicopter tows ‘world’s largest aerial banner’
When the United Arab Emirates celebrated 41 years of independence on Dec. 2, a Bell 412 helicopter towed a more than 50,000-square-foot banner featuring the national flag above the waterfront of the Abu Dhabi Corniche. “The limitation above this size isn’t really about flying it or the helicopter itself, it is about controlling the banner when on the ground during the launch and recovery phase,” A.J. Baker, Falcon Aviation Services vice president of commercial business, wrote in an email to AOPA. “Imagine trying to control a football-field-size piece of parachute silk with a total weight of almost 300kgs.” Read more >>
Plus One Flyers: ‘Premier flying club’ of SoCal
The flying club Plus One Flyers Inc., based in San Diego, averages 1,050 members and operates 60-plus aircraft out of four airports. For those considering forming a flying club, Plus One Flyers President Lawrence Massaro said the foundation for a successful enterprise is a business plan that is followed closely. Read more >>
Hover Power: Flapping
In the early 1900s, Juan de la Cierva, a Spanish aviator who built airplanes and gliders, unknowingly helped with the development of the helicopter. When one of his airplane prototypes crashed on its second flight during a low-speed stall, he decided to try to find a way to allow airplanes to fly slower. Windmills got him thinking that a rotating wing could produce lift without the need for forward airspeed. Read more >>
Reporting Points: Strange but true
The Naval Aviation Museum Foundation paid to have a World War II FM-2 “Wildcat” fighter aircraft brought up out of Lake Michigan. Find out about this and more strange but true general aviation news.
Members of the AOPA Flying Club Network Facebook group offered their recommendations for logbook apps. Read more >>
Reporting Points: Top Christmas items from AOPA store
AOPA e-Newsletter and Social Media Editor Benét Wilson takes a last-minute look at items from the AOPA Online Store that she’d like for Christmas. Read more >>
Former Cessna chair, Tuskegee CFI to join hall of fame
A former Cessna chairman who used money from air racing prizes to meet payroll during the Depression is among the inductees to the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the board of trustees announced Dec. 17. The late Dwane L. Wallace, former Cessna Aircraft Co. chairman, will join retired Navy Capt. Robert L. “Hoot” Gibson, an astronaut and air racer; late Tuskegee Airmen mentor Charles Alfred Anderson; and retired Army Maj. Gen. Patrick H. Brady, a Medal of Honor helicopter pilot, as inductees in 2013. Read more >>
Reporting Points: Aspen restaurants just for pilots
While in Aspen doing a story on the “most challenging airports,” AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton K. Marsh discovered pilot-approved places to eat. Read more >>
Top 10 hits from 2012
AOPA Live This Week: Alps landing challenge, V-Twin
Go-arounds are not an option at the L’Alpe d’Huez altiport in the French Alps. With mountains dead ahead, fly your approach carefully: If you don’t land in the first 100 feet or so, you’ll have to steer off the runway and accept the damage. AOPA Live® puts you in the cockpit for the challenging approach in one of the videos selected for AOPA Live This Week, the Directors' Cut 2012. AOPA Live This Week's next show will air Jan. 10, so catch up now on what you missed in 2012.
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Safety & Proficiency
Flying home from holiday visiting in post-snowstorm squalls, you tune in the automated terminal information—and hear some surprising news. Radar is out for the destination. That explains an oddity in your clearance. Today’s routing takes you all the way to KLUTZ intersection, the initial approach fix for the LOC RWY 7 approach to the Westerly, R.I., airport. The clearance reminds you that you’d better review the instrument approach procedure, because now it will be necessary to fly the full approach. Read more >>
A matter of inches
A high-speed pass over the runway, sometimes called an “airshow pass,” demands a set of specialized piloting skills—and close attention to weight and balance. Investigators think the pilot of a Piper PA-46-350P Malibu was attempting such a pass when the aircraft crashed at Custer Airport in Monroe, Mich., on March 29, 2011, killing all three on board. Read more in this special report from the Air Safety Institute.
Fly like a fighter: ‘To pee or not to pee’
The use of “piddle packs” in the cockpit has led to some entertaining mishaps in the F-16. In general aviation, it might just drive your passengers away. Read more >>
Tips for cold-weather operations
Many special aircraft operating procedures should be observed when flying in cold conditions. AOPA has outlined procedures that will help to increase safety, reliability, and performance, and best of all, help decrease engine wear. Read more >>
What’s the cost of not calling?
Too often, pilots wait until it is too late to radio an air traffic controller for assistance for fear of “paperwork.” But that misperception can have dire results. The plain truth is most controllers would rather have you contact them. Learn why and how to make the call. Read the Air Safety Institute’s Say Intentions: When you need ATC’s help Safety Advisor. Read more >>
Leading Edge: ’Twas the night before … hey, wait a minute!
The Air Safety Institute is well known for post-accident “armchair piloting,” looking for the lesson in each incident or tragedy. Santa Claus, however, has the armchair pilots flummoxed. He has a perfect piloting record: no ASRS reports, no violations, and nothing in the NTSB database that the institute has discovered. His Air Safety Institute transcript reveals that perhaps his perfect record is related to ongoing safety education, writes AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg. Read more >>
If you used GPS for navigation this year, you may be an unwitting beneficiary of efforts by AOPA and other aviation advocates to preserve your freedom to fly. Staff at AOPA work continuously to protect pilots from proposals that could detract from the utility and fun of general aviation—and to advance policies that will help pilots fly more, and with confidence. Read more >>
Denver’s new STARs showcase NextGen potential
New RNAV arrival procedures at Denver International Airport are benefiting from the efficiencies of performance-based navigation without curtailing general aviation’s access to the airspace or satellite airports. The modernization effort is an example of solutions made possible by the next generation of air traffic control technology, AOPA said. 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, close to 2,500 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.
VFR: GA in New Zealand
General aviation is the only way to get in and out of certain areas in New Zealand. The township of Milford is 73 miles, or one and a half hours by car, from the nearest town. A stretch of the road that connects the two often closes when the area experiences a lot of rain. Sometimes this road remains closed for several days at a time. Read more >>
New Year’s ‘fly well’ resolutions
Most resolutions fade by Jan. 2, but getting healthy keeps you flying longer, so give it a shot. Dr. Jonathan M. Sackier looks at a few corollaries to benefit your health, inside and outside the cockpit. Read more >>
Flight planning info at your fingertips
AOPA members have free access to airport directory information, aviation weather, and flight planning with auto-routing capabilities on iPhone or Android smartphones with AOPA FlyQ Pocket, part of the association’s suite of mobile applications. Members with Windows Mobile or BlackBerry devices can access airport information with AOPA Airports apps powered by WingX. For powerful flight planning and electronic flight bag features on your iPad, check out AOPA FlyQ EFB.