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Pitts biplanes dominated U.S. and international aerobatic competition in the 1960s and 1970s before eventually being eclipsed by bigger, faster, more powerful monoplanes in the late 1980s and beyond. Now that their glory days are over, however, stubby Pitts single-seaters are being discovered by sport flying enthusiasts who prize their lively handling, mechanical simplicity, unique place in aviation history, and affordability. Specialized instruction helps pilots transitioning to these diminutive, demanding aircraft to become accustomed to the Pitts hallmarks of rapid acceleration and deceleration, short coupling, light control forces, and a near total lack of forward visibility in the landing attitude. Tailwheel proficiency is a must, and it should come in airplanes that are similarly blind on the ground. Read more >>
A federal judge could rule as early as Jan. 11 on a bid by Hawker Beechcraft to halt a U.S. Air Force light attack and reconnaissance contract recently awarded to Brazilian manufacturer Embraer. The Air Force announced Jan. 4 that the contract is on hold pending resolution of the litigation, though the Pentagon is eager to proceed with the $355 million deal awarded in December to provide 20 single-engine turboprop aircraft with light air support, reconnaissance, and advanced training capabilities to Afghan security forces. Read more >>
Reno event to return in 2012 despite deadly crash
The National Championship Air Races will return to Nevada's Reno-Stead Airfield this year after a deadly accident cut the 2011 races short, the Reno Air Racing Association announced Jan. 4. The association said in a press conference that it had formed a Blue Ribbon Review Panel to examine possible changes to enhance safety at the annual event, but confirmed that it planned to hold the races as scheduled Sept. 12 through 16. Read more >>
Tributes to Tuskegee Airmen debut in January
A pair of film tributes will debut in January paying homage to aviators who risked everything for a country that refused to let them eat at the same lunch counters or ride at the front of a bus. In Their Own Words: The Tuskegee Airmen will be released on DVD and distributed at Walmart stores around the country in time for the Jan. 20 premiere of Red Tails, George Lucas’ cinematic tribute to the pioneering fighter pilots who distinguished themselves in combat over Europe in World War II, escorting bombers in P-51 Mustangs with red-painted tails. Read more >>
AvWeek’s person of 2011 drove bold moves at UTC
Big gains and bold moves in the aerospace industry earned United Technologies Corp. Chairman and CEO Louis Chênevert the title of Aviation Week and Space Technology’s Person of 2011. Chênevert saw technological gambles pay off in 2011 when orders for Pratt & Whitney’s geared turbofan began to take off and Sikorsky’s X2 high-speed technology demonstrator helicopter received the Collier Trophy. He also brokered an $18.4 billion deal to buy Goodrich Corp.—UTC’s first major aerospace acquisition since 1999, according to Aviation Week. Read more >>
Tecnam introduces amphibious LSA
Italian aircraft manufacturer Tecnam has added amphibious floats to its light sport aircraft, and company officials say this week’s announcement has stirred plenty of interest in advance of the first U.S. deliveries. Phil Solomon, CEO of Tecnam North America, said the P92 Sea-Sky Hydroplane amphibious LSA will make U.S. landfall in time for Sun ’n Fun in March, with special pricing offered to early adopters on first-come, first-served basis. The company also will offer retrofit kits for the P92 Eaglet and Echo Classic models. Read more >>
FBO freebies: Mooching your way across the USA
Pilots are good at emergencies because they live them—eating out of vending machines, driving beater cars, and wearing, as in the Johnny Cash song, their cleanest dirty shirt. It doesn’t have to be like that. Just point that airplane at the right FBO and you’ll eat sirloin instead of Ramen, be offered a bottle of wine instead of a Coke (or use the wine to barter for more Coke), and snack on toffee instead of days-old cake in the back room. Survey the goodies you can find—free or otherwise—at FBOs across America. Then, share your own tips.
Fuller to speak at Sebring on AOPA Day
AOPA members will get a 20-percent discount off admission to the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Florida for AOPA Day, Jan. 20, when they show their card. Attendees can join AOPA President Craig Fuller for a Pilot Town Hall that afternoon to find out about the state of general aviation and discuss critical issues on the horizon for 2012. The meeting will take place in the Alan Jay Hangar at 1:30 p.m. The Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo runs from Jan. 19 through 22. For details, see AOPA’s online calendar of events.
Continental offers baffle kit with Bonanza/Baron upgrade
From Jan. 2 to Feb. 28, Beechcraft Baron and Bonanza owners who purchase a factory engine upgrade from Continental Motors Inc. will receive a free D'Shannon Baffle Kit, the company announced. Certain upgrades of 470- and 520-model engines are eligible for the offer, which requires the purchase of a D'Shannon engine supplemental type certificate. Details and restrictions are available by phone at 800/326-0089.
Hover Power: Special VFR
On a sectional map, many large airports have “NO SVFR” printed near the airport information. When giving flight reviews to helicopter pilots, aviation blogger Tim McAdams asks what that means. Occasionally, he is told that Special VFR is not permitted at that airport. The correct answer is that SVFR is not permitted for fixed-wing aircraft. Many of the requirements for SVFR are different for helicopters. Read more >>
Tour the Strip, fight a friend
Four companies at Henderson Executive Airport in south Las Vegas represent the dream of Richard “Tex” Coe. Want some great vacation ideas for Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon? Coe has a company for that—Vegas 500 Air Tours. Need a flight school or a place to rent an aircraft? Try the second company—Monarch Sky. How about an air combat Top Gun experience? That would be Sky Combat Ace. Need maintenance work? Ask for Mojave Aviation, just one building over. This general aviation conglomeration is bursting at the seams. Read more and watch AOPA Live® >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Safety & Proficiency
Near escapes offer vital lessons in how to avoid trouble, and long-term success—living to fly another day—depends on making the most of each opportunity to absorb them. Sadly, not everyone learns from those experiences. On Oct. 26, 2010, barely half an hour after taking off from the Olive Branch Airport in Mississippi, a turbocharged Beech Bonanza broke up 14,500 feet above the ground. It wasn’t the pilot’s first brush with violent weather—far from it. Read more in this special report from the Air Safety Institute.
How important are good radio communication skills?
Pilots have heard the commands “aviate, navigate, communicate” for years, and when it comes to flying safely, we know we should execute them in that order. But good communication can make the first two actions a lot easier. Proper radio communication—with ATC and other pilots—allows you to focus more on the “aviate” and “navigate” portion of flying. Take the Air Safety Institute’s Say It Right: Mastering Radio Communication online course, sponsored by Lightspeed Aviation, and brush up on your radio skills today.
Nothing makes for a fun practice session like shooting the home-field instrument approach. The headings, frequencies, and minimums all are as comfortable as the proverbial old shoe. Too comfortable to be truly useful—and certainly not registering very high on the variety meter—but there’s no way you’ll gripe about that during today’s instrument proficiency check. Read more >>
Are you IFR proficient?
As you climb through the last layers of rain and clouds, a sunny sky unfolds ahead and you congratulate yourself on staying IFR current. But, are you proficient? For an extra safety boost, let the Air Safety Institute’s IFR Flight Safety Spotlight prime you with critical weather considerations before your next flight into IMC. You’ll learn what’s behind air masses and frontal boundaries and get a better understanding of where you may encounter the worst icing in clouds. Take this one-stop IFR safety briefing now >>
AOPA tracks medications allowed by FAA
German drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim is pushing Pradaxa, a blood thinner approved by the FDA in 2010, but pilots beware: The FAA takes a different view. Pradaxa is an alternative to drugs like Coumadin, also an anti-coagulant. Pilots who consult the AOPA Medical Certification Center database will learn a critical difference: Coumadin is allowed by the FAA, but the FDA has identified some serious bleeding complications with Pradaxa, so it won’t be allowed for use by pilots anytime soon.
Leading Edge: Ice—’tis the season
A reminder regarding ice seems appropriate for the season. AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg looks at the NTSB preliminary report on a fatal TBM 700 accident that happened just before Christmas. On Dec. 20, a Socata TBM 700 collided with terrain following an in-flight loss of aircraft control near Morristown, N.J. While flying at 17,000 feet mean sea level, the pilot reported that he was in icing conditions. Read more >>
The new crew is ready for takeoff. The mission: build strong local general aviation communities and strengthen AOPA’s relationships with state and local governments across the country. AOPA’s new team of regional managers has deep roots in aviation, and their arrival marks the first overhaul of AOPA regional advocacy and representation in decades. “We are pleased and fortunate that many of our ‘new’ regional managers are familiar faces, having served very capably as AOPA regional representatives,” AOPA President Craig Fuller said. Read more >>
Pilot groups defend backcountry aviation
Pilots who value backcountry aviation have an opportunity to support continued access to two airstrips on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property in Colorado, and advocate for backcountry aviation nationwide, by commenting on a draft resource management plan. The BLM’s Colorado River Valley field office has drafted a revised Resource Management Plan for the bureau's Colorado River Valley holdings in northwestern Colorado, between Rifle and Vail. Read more >>
Thielert AD revisions proposed
The FAA has proposed airworthiness directive revisions for Thielert Aircraft Engine models AE 125-01 and TAE 125-02-99. Comments will be accepted through Jan. 23 on a proposed extension from 100 to 600 hours of the replacement requirement for the rail pressure control valve. The agency recently proposed a revised AD pertaining to propeller control valves on the same engines.
FAA drops plan to modify Beechcraft spar web ADs
The FAA, responding to an effort led by the American Bonanza Society and supported by AOPA, has shelved plans to modify two existing airworthiness directives (ADs) that require inspections of carry-through spars for cracks on many Beech Debonair, Bonanza, Travel Air, and Baron aircraft. The decision is seen cumulatively saving aircraft owners $2.1 million to $3.5 million in immediate repair costs. Read more >>
Two more discounts for AOPA members
The AOPA Lifestyles Member Discounts Program now includes special offers from Sony Creative Software and Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate. AOPA members can check out all 19 discounts now available as a free, core membership benefit online.
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for a director of corporate finance, manager of flight training programs, online product manager, AOPA Live producer/videojournalist, associate editor–Web/ ePilot, and aviation technical specialist. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.