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The airport in Simsbury, Conn., is home to about 50 pilots who share the cost of maintaining their home field. There is strong support here for the petition about to be filed by AOPA and the Experimental Aircraft Association that will seek to extend to all pilots the ability to fly four-seat aircraft—with single engines up to 180 horsepower—without a third-class medical certificate. For this airport, in the long term, it may be a question of survival. Simsbury Airport is rented from investors, and the tiedown fees and membership dues paid by pilots account for much of the operating budget. Losing even one pilot can make a difference; losing several would be a disaster. More than one pilot here has had to struggle to retain a medical certificate. Read more and watch AOPA Live >>
Officials confident industry ready for rebound
In announcing another year of declining aircraft shipments in 2011, general aviation manufacturing officials on Feb. 22 made it clear that the industry’s stagnant performance won't turn around without supportive policies from the federal government. Pete Bunce, president and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, said a robust GA industry—which already registers a positive trade balance—can help President Barack Obama achieve his goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years, but the fragile industry needs onerous regulations, the threat of user fees, and penalizing tax policies removed from discussion in Washington. Read more and watch AOPA Live >>
GA market flat, but faces change
A generation ago, the top piston-aircraft producers were as predictable as the top auto manufacturers. Cessna, Piper, Beechcraft, and Mooney were the GM, Ford, Chrysler, and everybody else of the auto world. Today, the world looks quite different. As has happened in the auto market in the past 20 years, foreign aircraft manufacturers have made great inroads into the U.S. markets. Read more and watch AOPA live >>
Flying the Pacific on 93 gallons of fuel
Matevž Lenarčič completed the longest overwater leg of his around-the-world journey on Feb. 22, landing on Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean after more than 15 hours in the air, crossing 1,984 nautical miles of trackless ocean in a single-engine motor glider. Launched Jan. 8 from his native Slovenia, Lenarčič is piloting a specially modified Pipistrel. The Virus SW 914 is powered by a turbocharged Rotax engine that will allow Lenarčič to reach altitudes of 30,000 feet msl. On Feb. 16, Lenarčič became the first Pipistrel pilot to land on Antarctica, landing at Teniente R. Marsh Airport at the northern edge of the icy continent. Read more >>
AOPA launches student pilot support tool
Students have a powerful new tool available to help them track the progress of their flight training with AOPA’s new MyFlightTraining website. MyFlightTraining takes the content of Flight Training magazine and personalizes it for students anywhere in the flight training curriculum. The site is based on the feedback AOPA received in its research about the ideal flight training experience. Read more >>
Carburetor AD affects an estimated 10,700 U.S. aircraft
The FAA has issued an airworthiness directive (AD) requiring inspection, and possible maintenance, of HA-6 carburetors installed in an estimated 10,700 Lycoming engines. A loose mixture control sleeve on certain "machined from billet" versions of the HA-6 can dislodge in flight, obstructing fuel flow and potentially causing the engine to shut down. The AD is effective March 27.
iPads talk to GPS
An Apple iPad application allowing pilots to program a Garmin 430W/530W directly from an iPad is now available from VoiceFlight Systems. The program, available free from iTunes, translates text flight plans into speech, programming complex flight plans in seconds—with no twisting of knobs. VoiceFlight President J. Scott Merritt gave AOPA Online a sneak peek in advance of the new application's Feb. 22 release. The Connected Talker program requires an audio cord to connect the iPad to the VoiceFlight unit; the cord is available for $25 from VoiceFlight.
iPhone border crossings
Pilots with iPhones can use the ubiquitous devices to file eAPIS notifications on international flights thanks to a free application from FlashPass.net. The company that developed a more streamlined system for storing information and filing passenger manifests with the U.S. Customs' Electronic Advance Passenger Information System has done the same thing for the iPhone. The software firm is also working on a version for the iPad. "It's all about making eAPIS filing easier, quicker, and less prone to errors," said Arturo Guerra Perez, a principal at Lobo Labs, which developed FlashPass in 2009. "Computers with Internet access aren't always available when and where pilots need them. Now, they can use the iPhones that so many in the aviation community already carry."
NASA finds space winds to brag about
New Hampshire may still be smarting from the 2010 loss of a long-held wind record, when an anemometer in Australia clocked a 253 mph gust during a cyclone, eclipsing the previous terrestrial record of 231 mph recorded in 1934. NASA announced Feb. 21 that another record has been shattered: The Chandra X-Ray Observatory clocked a wind blowing at 20 million mph, about 3 percent of the speed of light, around a "stellar mass black hole," a type of black hole created by the collapse of a massive star. Researchers called it the cosmic equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, a wind that ranks among the fastest in the cosmos. Future generations of space travelers might expect a sigmet on that: intense winds, inescapable gravitational field.
A big no-show: The mild whimper of 2011-2012
In December, Weather Services International’s prediction was for a colder-than-normal January and February in all regions of the country except the Southeast and South-Central areas. That didn’t materialize. Now, WSI said it “expects the upcoming period (March-May) to average colder than normal across much of the western U.S. and parts of the Northeast, with above-normal temperatures elsewhere.” Whatever your take on the news—and whether or not you ever needed a preheat before flying this winter—start planning your spring aviating, because if spring hasn’t reached your area yet, it’s now safe to predict that it’s just around the corner. Read more >>
Reporting Points: Could you fly for three days and nights?
Swiss pilot André Borschberg is in training for a nonstop around-the-world flight in the Solar Impulse. This week, he spent three days in a simulator preparing for the challenge scheduled to take place in 2014. Read more >>
With its rounded lines and roly-poly looks, the Ercoupe looks like it would be right at home with a smiley face painted on its nose. And why not? The Ercoupe is one of the simplest, easiest, safest, and most fun airplanes you could want. It's also among the least expensive to buy and fly on the used market today and, despite its age, has a robust parts and owner support network. Some 2,400 Ercoupes are on the FAA registry, and some of them will sell for as low as $10,000 to $18,000. That's quite a bargain, especially when you consider that earlier Ercoupes qualify for operation under light sport aircraft rules. Read more and watch AOPA Live® >>
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Safety & Proficiency
IFR Fix: A show of hands
You attend an aviation safety meeting at the local fixed-base operator. The moderator thanks everyone for coming and states that showing up places you in a pilot-population subset considered statistically less likely to have an accident. Aren't you glad that you dragged your low-flying, scud-running buddy along? Next the moderator presents a flight scenario, asking for a show of hands from the audience on what course of action to take. In the ensuing discussion, pilots dive in with opinions and tales. IFR Fix readers also dive in. What does the emerging portrait reveal? Perhaps a syllabus for recurrency training. Read more >>
Of VFR flight plans and flight following
When you file a VFR flight plan and request flight following, can you automatically assume air traffic controllers know your destination and route of flight? VFR flight plans serve a different purpose than IFR flight plans, and understanding the difference between the two when it comes to what information ATC knows can help avoid misunderstanding and frustration. Listen as air traffic controllers address the issue of VFR flight plans and routing on the latest segment of the Air Safety Institute’s Ask ATC. Watch AOPA Live >>
Departure to arrival, IFR charts tell all you need to know
The first time you look at an IFR chart, it's not hard to get overwhelmed. But once you understand what you're looking at, you'll see they are simply graphical representations of procedures. Let the Air Safety Institute help you understand what you're seeing when all you see appears as a jumble of lines and numbers. With the IFR Insights: Charts online course, you’ll get an in-depth look at deciphering IFR chart symbols from departure procedures to arrival procedures and everything in between.
Imagine a noninstrument-rated pilot on a cross-country flight through mountainous terrain. Conditions are fine at first, but then ATC and flight service warn of nasty weather ahead. Confident he can make it, the pilot stubbornly pushes on. Soon, he’s flying at 100 feet agl surrounded by high terrain, and struggling to follow a highway through a blinding snowstorm. The Air Safety Institute’s Accident Case Study: VFR into IMC takes a gripping look at one pilot’s choices and the devastating results. Learn how each choice links this tragic accident chain >>
Webinar offers tips for buying and owning an aircraft
If you are considering buying an aircraft, don’t miss AOPA’s “Tips on Buying and Owning Aircraft” Webinar on Wednesday, Feb. 29. AOPA senior aviation technical specialists will discuss the aircraft buying process from searching for the right aircraft to holding the keys in your hand. Plus, you’ll hear the first-hand purchasing experience of an aircraft owner and learn some ownership tips. Representatives from the AOPA Aircraft Financing Program, AOPA Insurance Agency, AIC Title Service, and AOPA Aircraft Partnership Program also will be on hand to answer questions. Register for the 3 p.m. Eastern or 9 p.m. Eastern session.
Slated to take effect Feb. 27, a new regulation would enable the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to impose fines of up to $100,000 for flying below 1,000 to 2,000 feet msl over sanctuaries in the Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine sanctuaries in California and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary in the state of Washington. AOPA and the Experimental Aircraft Association have joined forces seeking to at least delay implementation of a new rule that could bring six-figure fines to pilots who traverse airspace that federal officials have yet to chart. Read more >>
Proposed FAA budget cuts grants, tax incentives
Industry leaders are preparing for another fight over user fees, but the president's proposed budget is also drawing criticism on other fronts. The latest White House push to impose fees on turbine general aviation and commercial flights was not unexpected, and members of Congress are working to rally opposition to the $100-per-flight fee. President Barack Obama's FAA budget proposal for fiscal 2013 also would slash airport improvement grants by $926 million for large and medium hub airports; the administration proposes to offset this cut by asking Congress to grant these airports the authority to increase passenger facility charges to pay for new airport projects. Read more >>
User-fee resistance on the move, again
General aviation’s supporters in Congress are moving again to resist the Obama Administration’s latest effort to impose fees on users of the air traffic system. Four key House members are urging colleagues to sign a letter to the president, urging him to drop a $100-per-flight fee proposed in the White House’s 2013 budget package. “This fee would have a devastating impact on commercial and general aviation, as well as the aviation manufacturing industry,” they said in a letter inviting fellow lawmakers to join the fight. Read more >>
GAO report focuses on NextGen costs, scheduling
Costs that exceed estimates by $4.2 billion and widespread scheduling setbacks highlight a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to Congress evaluating FAA acquisition programs to implement the transition to the Next Generation Air Transportation System. The GAO report faulted the FAA for its cost estimating methods, and for failing to adopt "best practices" that the GAO had previously recommended for managing FAA programs. Read more >>
Wind farm could be hazard to VFR flights
AOPA is urging the FAA to find that 130 wind turbines proposed for Nantucket Sound near Cotuit, Mass., would pose a hazard to the many low-altitude VFR flights between three area airports. The turbines could also disrupt local radar service, AOPA said. AOPA reiterated its position on the proposed Cape Wind turbine project during a public comment period the FAA has opened as part of a new aeronautical study of the turbines. Read more >>
Kidneys filter 400 pints of body fluid per day, discarding 1 percent as urine. Waste products are removed while important elements such as sodium and potassium are balanced, and water concentrations kept correct. Diseases damaging kidney filtration cause predictable signs, as failure to filter properly allows goop accumulation, impairing human function—sounds like an aircraft fuel system. Kidney disease may be prevented by staying fit, thereby lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes risk. Read more >>
Medication update: FAA changes Nyquil-use guidelines
The FAA’s guidelines for use of Nyquil have changed, and now require a wait time of 60 hours after the last use before flying. This is pretty conservative, even for the FAA. Read more >>
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for an associate project manager, online product manager, marketing specialist–products, aviation education program developer, accounting manager, and associate editor–Web/ ePilot. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.