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In a speech delivered Jan. 26 on AOPA Live, AOPA President Craig Fuller unveiled a new initiative designed to encourage best practices and recognize flight training providers who put those practices to work every day. The AOPA Flight Training Excellence Awards, brought to you by Flight Training magazine, will be given annually to flight schools and individual flight training professionals. They are based on AOPA’s flight training student retention research that identified 47 distinct elements that contribute to an optimal flight training experience broken down into four main categories: educational quality, customer focus, community, and information sharing. Read more and watch a special message from AOPA President Craig Fuller >>
Sebring LSA expo booms with traffic, sales
Good weather, good attendance, and strong sales gave light sport aircraft manufacturers a lift at the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo Jan. 19 through 22. The eighth annual show in Sebring, Fla., set records for traffic and attendance, according to organizers still working on the final tallies. FAA officials logged 1,256 air operations Jan. 21, the busiest day of the show, including 200 in the first hour—a rate of arrivals and departures that rivaled the nation's busiest airports, and made Sebring Regional Airport the busiest airport in Florida. Read more and view a slideshow >>
Controlling show traffic 'an adrenaline rush'
FAA Operations Manager Boyd Martin said working the air traffic control tower at the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo is a thrill. Martin, part of a staff of 21 FAA technicians, controllers, and managers deployed for the Jan. 19 through 22 event, said serving the busiest airspace in Florida is for controllers "an adrenaline rush," similar to what skydivers or bungee jumpers feel when they take the plunge. Read more >>
Air-conditioned Alto stands out at low speeds
Docile is the word as the Alto 100 slows to a stall. And slows, and slows. At 2,000 feet msl, a few miles southwest of Sebring Regional Airport and the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, Atlanta Sport Flight owner Paul Volle, a consultant for Ohio-based Corbi Air—importers of the Czech Republic-made DirectFly Alto—called attention to the declining airspeed. At 35 KIAS with flaps up, there was still no sign of buffet, and aileron control remained crisp and responsive. The Alto finally began to buffet, a barely perceptible buffet, at 33 KIAS. Read more >>
LSA financing options abound for individuals
For well-qualified individual buyers, financing a light sport aircraft purchase is no different from financing a certified aircraft, provided the aircraft in question is one of the top-selling and established brands. That according to Bank of America Senior Vice President, Aircraft Financing Jennifer Giampietro, who said the 60-percent approval rate on loan applications for LSA purchases is virtually identical to the approval rate for all aircraft loans (62 percent). AOPA has teamed up with Bank of America for more than 15 years to offer members easy access to financing. Read more >>
Gobosh reborn as Aero AT-4
Of the dozens of aircraft that converged on the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo Jan. 19 through 22, the Aero AT-4 may have had the most challenging journey. The Polish-made light sport aircraft was nearly grounded by U.S. Customs inspections, caught in a Catch-22: Inspectors sought an airworthiness certificate that could not be obtained until the aircraft cleared customs. The aircraft arrived in Florida with no time to spare. On a brief demonstration ride on Jan. 22, there was ample shoulder room for a six-foot-tall, 200-pound pilot next to a slightly smaller CFI. The seats are comfortable; forward visibility is, however, surprisingly limited through the forward-tilting bubble canopy. Read more >>
Deaf pilot spreads the word: You can fly
Greg Lawrence's aviation career, logging 3,000 hours over the course of nearly a half century, would be relatively unremarkable by general aviation standards, but for one thing. "I'm deaf," explained Lawrence, 63, whose hearing loss dates to an early childhood illness. Taught to speak by his grandmother, Lawrence retains partial hearing—enough to understand air traffic controllers more often than not. Read more >>
Dogfight: The perfect trainer
What's the best primary trainer? That's easy, writes AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Thomas A. Horne—it's a Cessna 150 or 152. Cessna's decision to give the 150/152 tricycle landing gear makes it tame enough to minimize ego-crushing learning setbacks. Or is the perfect trainer an Aeronca Champ? AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman contends that in a perfect world, every flying student's first 10 hours in a powered aircraft would take place in a Champ at a grass airstrip, with no radios or other distractions; during the presolo phase, a student's sole focus should be learning to fly the airplane. Read more >>
Cessna shows positive revenue in fourth quarter
Cessna finally turned a long-awaited corner in the current economic downturn, but has firmly identified itself as a small- and medium-sized jet manufacturer for the future. Piston-engine aircraft not only survived in the fourth quarter of 2011, but helped lead the way to higher revenues. Read more >>
EAA to expand Young Eagles program
For too many would-be pilots, the path to that first certificate diverts to a dead end. Eagle Flights, a new initiative outlined for light sport aircraft industry leaders by EAA President Rod Hightower on Jan. 19, is designed to address a critical shortcoming of pilot training: As many as eight in 10 pilots who start training never earn a certificate. Eagle Flights is essentially an expansion of the long-running Young Eagles program that has given 1.6 million youngsters their first aviation experience. Read more >>
Tecnam launches 50-state demo, discount program
Tecnam North America CEO Phil Solomon on Jan. 19 took the first $500 deposit on a discounted light sport aircraft, with up to 499 more aircraft available at 20 percent off the base price. Read more >>
FAA issues Super Bowl TFR
With the matchup for Super Bowl XLVI now set, aviators are beginning to make final plans and preparations for the Feb. 5 game in Indianapolis. More than 1,000 general aviation aircraft are expected to converge on the region, with airports up to 70 miles from Lucas Oil Stadium preparing to handle an estimated 3,500 air operations during the week of the game. The FAA issued a notam Jan. 23, establishing a 30-nautical-mile-radius temporary flight restriction around the stadium for the game; the Super Bowl Host Committee has updated its website with new information for pilots, including the previously released notam detailing temporary Class D airspace to be established at three nearby airports.
Reporting Points: Overdue recognition for the Tuskegee Airmen
World War II's Tuskegee Airmen are receiving well-deserved attention this month, following the release of George Lucas' movie Red Tails. Read more >>
CORRECTION: In the Jan. 20 issue of AOPA ePilot, we incorrectly identified the number of aircraft on display at the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo. Close to 150 aircraft were on display.
One mean-looking LSA
This light sport aircraft has some teeth to it: The Renegade P40 Falcon T tailwheel light sport aircraft on display at the Sebring, Fla., U.S. Sport Aviation Expo sported a paint scheme reminiscent of the Flying Tigers' distinctive Curtiss P-40 Warhawks. The Lycoming-powered LSA is expected to climb out at 1,500 fpm at max gross weight and burn just 5 gph in cruise at 65- to 75-percent horsepower, according to Renegade Light Sport Chief Pilot Chas Perkins. Watch AOPA Live® >>
Dynon enhances SkyView
During the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla., Jan. 19 through 22, AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Al Marsh chatted with Robert Hamilton of Dynon Avionics about enhancements to the company’s SkyView. Dynon has made software changes to the product, including enhancing GPS navigation. The company’s goal is to improve its products to “do everything on the panel that the pilot needs.” Watch AOPA Live >>
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Safety & Proficiency
Should student pilots identify themselves as such to ATC?
When teaching new students, some instructors make a point of telling their students to announce themselves as student pilots to ATC, while some don't. Does it matter to the controller? In this segment of Ask ATC, a tower controller explains how ATC handles a request when the pilot on the other end of the radio tells them he or she is a student. Watch the Air Safety Institute's latest Ask ATC video now.
What's the difference between inventiveness and error? Even in the structured world of instrument flying, the answer sometimes boils down to success having many parents, and failure being the orphan. The question arises in the context of how someone flew a procedure turn. Turns out there are multiple ways to do it, making it no simple matter to call a questionable maneuver an outright blunder. Read more >>
'I'm icing up! I'm coming down!'
In the lonely cockpit of a Cirrus SR22 a pilot struggles to escape ice-filled clouds high above the Sierra Nevada. Enter the Air Safety Institute's Accident Case Study: Airframe Icing, and you'll quickly understand the unrelenting power of structural icing—one of the greatest winter flying hazards for GA aircraft. As you get a gripping look at the perils lurking in cold winter clouds, you'll learn an object lesson in the importance of decisive action for pilots who venture into them unprepared. The course qualifies for AOPA Accident Forgiveness and FAA Wings. Take the course >>
Sims: Keep flying when winter weather keeps you inside
Low ceilings and icing conditions don't have to keep you from staying proficient this winter: Simulators, flight training devices, personal computer-based aviation training devices, and personal computer programs offer a chance to practice in a safe, warm environment. These devices also can help you master procedures for flows, checklists, and memory items without the costly tick of the Hobbs—and some can be logged toward required times for a certificate, rating, or to maintain currency. Find out the advantages and limitations of simulators in AOPA's subject report.
Safety quiz: VFR flight planning
It's a beautiful day, so you and a couple of friends decide to venture out for the proverbial $100 hamburger. You've got a briefing through the FAA DUAT System, an Internet-generated route, a sectional chart, a GPS, and a reliable aircraft—what else could you possibly need? Find out what you might be forgetting with the Air Safety Institute's safety quiz on VFR cross-country planning.
Leading Edge: Maritime buzz job
As the details of the accident of the Italian cruise ship the Costa Concordia came out, this mishap began to bear a resemblance to the aeronautical pastime of buzzing. According to the ship's data recorder, the Concordia came within 150 meters of the Giglio coast, much closer than the approved route. Could this serve as a big object lesson for Part 91 pilots? Read more >>
FAA reauthorization bill on the move
Despite 23 short-term FAA reauthorization bills and a brief partial shutdown last summer, House and Senate Transportation members from both parties expressed new optimism that the way has finally been cleared for a long-term authorization package for the agency. Read more >>
Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) have introduced a "Pilot's Bill of Rights" measure to give aviators more protection and access to information during FAA enforcement actions. They are urging their colleagues in a letter to co-sponsor its proposed reforms. A similar bill introduced in 2011 by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) is pending in the Senate. Read more >>
FAA issues notice of policy on new airborne wind energy systems
The FAA is asking for public participation as it integrates an emerging technology known as airborne wind energy systems (AWES) into the National Airspace System. The agency will accept public comments until Feb. 6 on AWES, which it describes in a notice of policy published Dec. 7 as “mechanical devices that are moored to the ground, via a tether, for the purpose of capturing the fluid stream kinetic energy of winds.” Read more >>
Odds are good to quash user fees in 2012, Fuller says
The first question AOPA President Craig Fuller fielded from the audience of about 150 attending his pilot town hall Jan. 20 in Sebring, Fla., was about user fees. What are the chances of stopping the latest push, an attendee wanted to know. The odds are good, Fuller said—this year, at least. AOPA is working, as it has successfully many times before, to mobilize congressional opposition to a burden on GA that could compromise safety by discouraging pilots from utilizing flight following and other air traffic services. Read more >>
Nebraska airport zoning measure nears vote
AOPA is urging members of the Nebraska state Senate to back a pending bill that would enhance aviation safety and promote commonsense land development around airports. LB 352, sponsored by Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh last January, would achieve those goals by defining and providing dimensions of airport hazard areas, including extending approach zones from the current three miles to 10 miles from any IFR runway. Read more >>
AOPA gets member his medical back in ten minutes
When prostate cancer grounded Jim Anderson, the impact was great. He is an aerial photographer, so not only did he lose his privilege to fly, but he also lost the way he earns his living. Once his tests were clean and it was time to get his medical back, he contacted AOPA as a member of the Medical Services Plan. Read more >>
New, improved AD&D insurance plan offers 24/7 coverage
AOPA members who enroll in the AOPA Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance plan will now benefit from new expanded offerings and 24/7 coverage, all available at no additional cost. A favorite among pilots looking for coverage while flying, the AOPA Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance plan has undergone some exciting changes, making it more beneficial than ever before for members to enroll. Read more >>
Fly Well: Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
Who didn't love Superman and his alter ego, Clark Kent? Mere humans can't attain X-ray vision like the superhero, but they may be able to correct vision problems with laser refractive surgery. Dr. Jonathan Sackier discusses the procedure and what it might mean for your medical certificate. Read more >>
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for a chief flight instructor, manager of flight training programs, AOPA Live producer/videojournalist, and associate editor–Web/ ePilot. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.