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Jim Lawson of Afton, Wyo., was descending through the clouds when the second tank ran dry. The instrument-rated—but not current—pilot had departed for Ellensburg, Wash., in beautiful weather, but ground fog moved in at his destination, he said. So he headed toward his alternate, where ceilings were broken and he heard pilots on the frequency taking off and landing. When he got there, the clouds had closed in: He was low on fuel and trapped above the cloud layer. He needed help. Three controllers at Seattle Tracon who helped Lawson look for an opening and then descend through the cloud layer for an emergency landing at Renton Municipal Airport were among those honored Feb. 1 with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association's Archie League Medal of Safety Awards. Read more and listen to dramatic saves >>
Direct to: Talk to your airplane
The plucky startup VoiceFlight Systems is pushing voice recognition technology into the cockpit, supporting one-step Victor airway programming of a Garmin GNS 430W or 530W that would otherwise require an upgrade to a GTN 600/700 unit. And as if programming an IFR flight plan with the sound of your voice wasn't easy enough, the company has shaved yet another step for Apple iPad users. It sounds like a robot reading your flight plan at just more than one waypoint—up to five phonetic letters each—per second. Read more and watch AOPA Live® >>
Judge: Barefoot Bandit needs 'new life flight plan'
Colton Harris-Moore, the 20-year-old known as the Barefoot Bandit, was sentenced Jan. 27 to six-and-a-half years in prison and three years of supervised release for the seven felony charges he pleaded guilty to on June 17, which included two counts of interstate transportation of a stolen aircraft and piloting an aircraft without a valid pilot certificate. U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones said the prison term would be served concurrently with the seven-year sentence handed down by the Island County Superior Court on Dec. 16. Read more >>
Things you never want to see in DC
The F-16 suddenly appeared off the left wing of the GippsAero G-8 Airvan. It wagged its wings, and its engine, in afterburner, shook the sky like an aerial earthquake. AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman came along with the Civil Air Patrol in the 120-knot airplane on an aerial exercise that gives the U.S. Air Force F-16 pilots based at Andrews Air Force Base some practice at identifying and tracking relatively slow-moving general aviation aircraft near the Washington, D.C., area. This particular exercise, called Fertile Keynote, took place over Maryland's Eastern Shore. Read more and watch clips from the intercept >>
Flight school victimized by renter’s smuggling arrest
A Southern California flight school owner faces the loss of his two-year-old business, along with the Cessna 172 he rented to a well-known customer. The Jan. 20 seizure of N5283E and arrest of Lino Rodriguez-Chavez by border patrol agents marked the fourth arrest and seizure of a light aircraft involved in the smuggling of people, rather than drugs, since 2010. Read more >>
Super Bowl mania: All hands on deck at Indy airports
As Super Bowl XLVI approaches, local airports around Indianapolis are gearing up for the big game and the increase in air traffic. Some airports are open and fully operational 24 hours a day, adding volunteers to handle the extra load or adjusting staff schedules. Customer Service Manager Erin Lawson of IndyJet at Indianapolis Regional Airport said the fixed-base operator will be adding up to 30 to 40 volunteers per shift plus the 25 full- and part-time staffers. Read more >>
‘Academy Awards’ of aviation conferred
It's Academy Awards season, both in the aviation world and in Hollywood. On Jan. 24, a star-studded group of the industry's luminaries, visionaries, and lifelong devotees received recognition from the Living Legends of Aviation organization at a Beverly Hills, Calif., event sometimes referred to as the Academy Awards of Aviation. A Living Legend of Aviation Award was presented to Jeppesen CEO and President Mark Van Tine in recognition of his leadership role in the industry, and AOPA Pilot columnist Barry Schiff joined eight other inductees as 2012 Living Legends. Read more >>
Deadline approaches for AOPA scholarships
Know an aspiring aviator looking to fund the dream? The deadline is approaching for three $5,000 flight training scholarships to be awarded at the Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In and Expo. Applicants must submit the application and two recommendations online by Feb. 10.
NASA games designed to spark aviation interest
NASA has launched two free games aimed at inspiring the next generation of engineers and aviators—an air traffic control game adapted for Apple iPhone and iPad devices, and a multi-player space and technology trivia game hosted on Facebook. Read more >>
No changes to IFR currency rules
Any instrument-rated pilot who knew how to maintain instrument currency before the FAA made technical revisions to the applicable regulation still does. That's the news that AOPA reported in the Jan. 6 article "Doubts aside, IFR currency rule unchanged" and what the FAA Safety Team is explaining in this notice.
Reporting Points: Today's Red Tails see 'Red Tails' film
One of the first military units in Afghanistan to see the Red Tails movie was the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, the unit that today carries the heritage of the 332nd Fighter Group known as the Tuskegee Airmen. Read more >>
Hover Power: Gyroscopic precession
When reading about helicopter aerodynamics you will see the term gyroscopic precession. When a force is applied to a spinning object, the maximum reaction occurs approximately 90 degrees later in the direction of rotation. Since a helicopter's main rotor acts like a gyroscope, this principle applies to the rotor disc. Read more >>
Reporting Points: Light sport aircraft fly to Bahamas
When you think of small, two-seat, 1,320-pound light sport aircraft, you think of something best suited for short trips. The owner of Kitfox Aircraft, John McBean, and the owner of an Idaho flight school that trains Kitfox customers, Paul Leadabrand, might just change your mind. They flew their two Kitfox airplanes first from Idaho to Sebring, Fla., for the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, and then on to the Bahamas. The airplane started as a kit, with thousands now sold, but also is offered as a factory-built LSA. You'll see a report on it in AOPA Pilot in coming months.
Goodyear Ground School: Tire inflation
Will changing your aircraft's tire pressure help prevent hydroplaning? What's better in a tire, nitrogen or air? How much pressure can a tire lose in a day and still meet FAA standards? In this first installment of the Goodyear Ground School, produced in cooperation with Goodyear, find out answers to these questions and get tips on how to better care for your tires. Watch AOPA Live >>
State of the industry: LSAs ‘ready to move’
The light sport aircraft industry is surviving the poor economy, and aircraft are ready to move when conditions improve, Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association President Dan Johnson told AOPA Live in an exclusive interview from the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla. Watch AOPA Live >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Safety & Proficiency
Fly like a fighter: Where'd my maps go?
A negative-G guns jink sprays maps, charts, and approach plates onto the top of retired Air Force pilot Larry Brown's F-15 canopy, teaching him a valuable lesson he adheres to today in his Cessna P210—even though he won't be doing any negative-G pushovers. Read more >>
Pilots, don't throw away your automatic direction finders just yet. As many readers of the Jan. 20 "IFR Fix: Take a left, then a right" who took up a proofreading challenge discovered, there was a typographical error in the notes to this instrument approach procedure. Instead of "ADF Required," it says "AFD Required." Tricky because an AFD exists—actually abbreviated A/FD. Readers pounced. Some sportingly mused a requirement to have a "little green book" handy while shooting an ILS. Others lavished new contempt on ADFs. Peruse the responses >>
Most meteorological hazards are transient. The conditions that consistently lead to the most accidents, low ceilings and poor visibility, are followed by clearing skies; large areas of foul weather rarely ground light aircraft for days. About 1 p.m. on March 27, 2011, a landowner near Dickens, Texas, found the charred wreckage of an airplane in one of his fields. It appeared to have hit the ground and slid through a barbed-wire fence before being consumed by fire. Waiting out the weather might have made a difference. Read more in this special report from the Air Safety Institute.
Get up to speed on pistons and props
Ever wished you knew more about what was going on beneath your aircraft's cowling? A good understanding of engine and propeller operation can help you keep operating expenses low, avoid costly repairs, and prevent damage that could lead to an accident. The Air Safety Institute's free Engine and Propeller online course is a great way to pick up all the need-to-know facts without wading through a textbook. Get started >>
Frosty weather flying tips, now on AOPA Live
There hasn't been much snow this winter (so far, anyway), but for most of us there's still plenty of frigid weather in store. If you're planning to fly in it, be sure to check out the recorded version of the Air Safety Institute's Cold Weather Ops Webinar on AOPA Live. AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg, Flying Wild Alaska's John Ponts, and air traffic controller Andy Marosvari take a practical look at coping with frigid engines, frosted wings, snowy taxiways, and ice-filled clouds. Watch it here >>
The business of aviation
What does it take to turn an aviation hobby into a profitable business? AOPA offers advice for aircraft owners who have, or want to start, an aviation-related business with their aircraft in the recorded Webinar "Aviation Enterprises." Listen to AOPA Senior Aviation Technical Specialist Andy Sable and Raymond C. Speciale of Yodice Associates as they discuss aerial survey and pipeline patrol, leasing an aircraft, sightseeing flights, flight instructing in your own airplane, banner towing, and other kinds of enterprises commercial pilots engage in under Part 91. Watch AOPA Live >>
Leading Edge: User fees—the safety angle
When it comes to user fees, what sends cold chills down AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg's back is the very real possibility that some pilots will try to save a buck. The potential safety ramifications are real and should not be left out of the calculus. On short flights—say, to reposition—some jet operators could easily decide that they should fly lower and under VFR to avoid the fee. Read more >>
West Coast sanctuary overflight now a dangerous gamble
Pilots could face stiff fines—up to six figures—for violating new overflight regulations that place the National Airspace System on a slippery slope. The FAA has ceded to another federal agency—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—authority to enforce what amount to new airspace restrictions. This precedent-setting regulation takes effect Feb. 27—months, at minimum, before the overflight regulations could appear on any aeronautical chart, leaving pilots virtually in the dark. Read more >>
No user fees. No increase in avgas or jet fuel taxes. General aviation pilots can celebrate what wasn't included in the long-term FAA reauthorization bill. The House and Senate ironed out details on a four-year FAA reauthorization bill Jan. 31, paving the way for a full vote in both houses before the latest short-term funding extension expires Feb. 17. Highlights of the bill indicate that GA fared well. Read more >>
‘Driver’s license medical’ request on track
AOPA and the Experimental Aircraft Association are on track to submit their request for an exemption allowing pilots flying recreationally to use the driver's license medical standard in the coming weeks—but there's still time to sign up online to receive email alerts on the progress of the request and when you can submit comments. Read more >>
LightSquared tests offer 'no practical solution'
AOPA is calling for the Federal Communications Commission to revoke LightSquared's conditional approval to develop a mobile-satellite network. A technical committee that analyzed test data has concluded that the transmissions pose intractable interference problems for aviation navigation and other uses of GPS. Read more >>
FAA announces end of paper medical certificate applications
The good news is, medical certificate applications submitted online should be processed more efficiently, medical certification processing errors should be reduced, and taxpayers should get a break on federal spending. However, the transition away from paper applications for medical certificates presents AOPA with some concerns for pilots who don't currently use computers, and the FAA is about to make it mandatory: As of Oct. 1, 2012, aviation medical examiners will no longer accept paper applications. Read more >>
South Dakota pilots seek relief from double taxation
South Dakota pilots are rallying with AOPA to protect homebuilders from double taxation. In lieu of the state's 4 percent sales and use tax, South Dakota currently collects a registration tax, 4 percent of aircraft total value, from owners of homebuilt and factory aircraft alike. Owners pay in subsequent years a fee based on aircraft weight and age. Recently, the South Dakota Department of Revenue has presented homebuilders with an additional bill: back taxes due on the installed components and parts that would be exempt from further taxation when installed in a factory. Read more >>
Power project raises aviation safety concerns
A careful study of aviation safety concerns is "imperative" when the Oregon Department of Energy reviews a proposed gas-fired power plant to be built near the Portland-Troutdale Airport, AOPA said in a Jan. 31 letter to the state agency. Troutdale Energy Center LLC said it will seek a site certificate to construct the power plant on industrial land adjacent to the airport. Read more >>
FAA opts not to ground thousands of Beechcraft
With no evidence of control cable problems affecting Beechcraft Bonanzas (and other models) in the United States, the FAA has opted not to force thousands of aircraft to be grounded pending inspection. The agency, working with Hawker-Beechcraft and the American Bonanza Society, arrived at the decision following review of orders issued Jan. 13 by the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority. Read more >>
Bank of America helps member buy LSA
When a good friend of Carl Houghton's was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2010 and died several months later, it was a wakeup call for Houghton that he better get on with his own life's goals. That included learning to fly. Once he passed his sport pilot checkride, he decided to buy the same model airplane that he learned to fly in, a Gobosh 700 Polish-built light sport aircraft, also designated the Aero AT-4. His next step was to investigate financing so he made some inquiries into AOPA's Aircraft Financing Program. Read more >>
AOPA 2012 Tougher than a Tornado Sweepstakes
Tornado Husky's first annual inspection
Your 2012 AOPA Tougher than a Tornado Sweepstakes Husky breezed through its first annual inspection. The bill for new parts came to just $20, and most of that was a replacement air filter. The fact that the airplane is in top mechanical condition shouldn't come as a surprise since it's just one year old and has only 130 hours on the Hobbs meter. Read more >>
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for an aviation education program developer, accounting manager, chief flight instructor, manager of flight training programs, and associate editor–Web/ ePilot. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.