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This Beechcraft Super King Air 300 is a kerosene-burning bloodhound, packed with antennae that sniff voraciously for signals far too weak for typical avionics to ever detect. For more than two decades it has flown from Will Rogers World Airport, running carefully planned tracks around the country, scrupulously scooping and recording the broadcasts of every navaid in sight. Flight crews, composed in large part of military veterans, are tasked with verifying each new instrument procedure is safely clear of obstacles, is flyable; that the obstacles are marked accurately, that lights and localizers alike are functioning within design limits. They are the last link in a long chain of collaborators who create and deploy the procedures and systems that make instrument flight possible. Read more and watch AOPA Live® >>
First look: Free wx, traffic from Garmin
At last, the long-touted benefits of the ADS-B system are beginning to arrive in general aviation cockpits—and Garmin’s new GDL 39 receiver is the first to make us reconsider our earlier advice that pilots should wait until closer to the FAA’s 2020 deadline for ADS-B Out to buy new equipment. Read more >>
Hawker cleared to negotiate with China firm
Hawker Beechcraft has received permission from a federal bankruptcy judge to begin negotiation for the purchase of the company and all of its assets except the defense business with Superior Aviation, the Chinese owner of Superior Air Parts. The clock is ticking on the next two things that must happen. Read more >>
Q2 good to Cessna, Textron hints at Hawker
Cessna Aircraft turned in a great second quarter, with revenues increasing $111 million and delivery of Citation jets up to 49, compared to 38 for the second quarter of last year. Bell Helicopter revenues increased $184 million over the second quarter a year ago. During a call with stock analysts, Textron Chairman and CEO Scott Donnelly touched on exclusive negotiations between Hawker Beechcraft and Superior Aviation Beijing. “We’ll see how it plays out,” Donnelly said. He called the asking price of $1.79 billion a “pretty high number” and added that if assets “in which we have an interest” are reasonably priced, “…we’re interested.” Read more >>
Cub sim: Redbird Flight Simulations goes low tech
In honor of the Piper J-3 Cub's seventy-fifth anniversary this year, Redbird Flight Simulations has come up with—you guessed it—a realistic, full-motion, Cub simulator. The sophisticated, computer-controlled, electronic box with a 180-degree wrap-around view mimics the low-tech Cub’s flight characteristics, and some of its ground mannerisms, too. To start the simulation, for example, someone needs to spin the propeller manually on the outside of the box. Contact! Read more >>
Electric Long-EZ flies at 202 mph
Chip Yates of the Flight of the Century project took a battery-powered Long-EZ on only its second flight at Inyokern Airport, California, 120 miles northeast of Los Angeles, on July 19, reaching 202 mph and ending the flight with an emergency landing. Read more >>
FAA official worries pilot shortage could impact safety
Boeing continues to predict a worldwide pilot shortage becoming acute in years to come, and one FAA official told The Associated Press that there is a concern that airlines may be forced to hire pilots who lack the “right stuff.” An industry representative hastened to point out that safeguards are in place, and safety remains a top priority. Read more >>
Prop control now available for Cirrus models
When the first Cirrus was introduced, the lack of a propeller control was seen as an evolutionary step on the way to full authority digital engine control (FADEC). But now Tamarack Aerospace Group thinks there’s a market for a step back to classic control configuration. Read more >>
Hollywood's precision pilot shares tips at Summit
If you've seen a movie with aerial footage or an aircraft in flight, chances are Craig Hosking was involved. One of Hollywood's most experienced precision pilots, Hosking has served as a pilot or aerial coordinator in more than 100 titles, and as an actor—playing who else but a pilot, sometimes starring as himself—in 29 movies and TV series since 1988, according to the IMDb. He'll bring the excitement of Hollywood flying to life during AOPA Aviation Summit. Read more >>
Mars rover may have trouble closing flight plan
While there is no pay phone on Mars, Curiosity might end up needing one, at least for a little while. With less than three weeks left in a journey of 352 million miles from Earth to Mars, the Mars Science Laboratory rover built to help answer fundamental questions about life in our universe is lined up for an always-risky landing, one that predecessors have failed more often than not. Tense moments will go by in mission control on Aug. 5 (Aug. 6 in the Eastern time zone) while the first messages are beamed back, and they may arrive later than hoped—regardless of the mission’s outcome. Read more >>
NASA reporting progress on return to manned spaceflight
A nation of space enthusiasts still smarting from the end of the space shuttle program may look forward to 2014, when NASA plans the first orbital test of the Orion space capsule, designed to carry astronauts to asteroids, Mars, and elsewhere in the solar system. The space agency is eager to highlight steps toward that goal, announcing this week the completion of a second successful parachute test and posting video of the capsule dropped from 25,000 feet to a safe landing in the desert. Read more >>
Nominate the best flight training school or CFI
In flight training, one size does not fit all. The market for flight training is small, and schools have to try and be all things to all students. As a result, some students fall through the cracks. The good news is that the guts of what makes a great school are consistent. AOPA launched the AOPA Flight Training Excellence Awards to honor those who exemplify what it means to be a great flight school or instructor. Nominate the school or instructor you believe embodies the best in flight training by Aug. 24. Read more >>
Hover Power: Ground resonance
A certificated flight instructor and student pilot were conducting a hover taxi in a Schweizer 269C helicopter from the hangar area to a fuel pump, according to the NTSB. The instructor took the controls upon reaching the fuel pump, after the student stated he was uncomfortable landing on a raised platform in the confined area. The flight instructor landed the helicopter on the platform, where it then entered into ground resonance. Read more >>
Reporting Points: Solar quest, crop duster in peril
The AOPA Pilot editors give their perspective on recent general aviation news: A quest to circle the globe on solar power alone met with a setback on one hand and achieved a milestone on the other; the creators of a graphic novel about a WWII-era crop duster in peril sought support online; and Hawker Beechcraft had a big week.
AOPA Live This Week: China rising, farmer flying
With Hawker Beechcraft now cleared to negotiate with a Chinese industrialist seeking to buy the Wichita, Kan. aviation giant, AOPA Live sits down with "China Airborne" author Jim Fallows for his take on whether—or when—the giant of the Far East will overtake American aerospace. Executive Producer Warren Morningstar attempts to check out in AOPA's Tougher Than a Tornado Sweepstakes Husky, with a bounce or two along the way. (The Husky is fine.) AOPA videographer Paul Harrop returns to the Flying Circus for a close look at how much skill it takes to fly like a "farmer," and AOPA takes you on a ride with FAA Flight Inspection crews. Watch AOPA Live This Week, July 19 >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Terrafugia begins new phase of Transition flight testing
After a splashy debut at the New York International Auto Show this year, Terrafugia has opted to work on flight testing during EAA AirVenture and will send a team of company representatives to the event without the Transition “street-legal aircraft.” Read more >>
Get real-world IMC advice at AirVenture
The demands of flying in instrument meteorological conditions require instrument-rated pilots to maintain not only their currency but their proficiency as well. The IMC Club International will be hosting its IFR Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture for instrument-rated pilots of all levels. Read more >>
Oshkosh trip could land you prize
Flying to Oshkosh, Wis., for EAA AirVenture? Your trip could help qualify you for AOPA’s Keep ’em Flying Challenge, a time-bound contest to get you in the air this summer. If you register online and complete the criteria for the challenge, you’ll be eligible for a grand prize of $2,499 and other cash awards—but hurry, as the challenge ends July 31.
Log support for AOPA/EAA medical petition at Oshkosh
Attendees at EAA AirVenture can stop by the AOPA Tent to express support for a request by AOPA and the Experimental Aircraft Association that would reduce the burden of the third class medical. Pilots will be able to submit comments to the FAA about the request, which would allow pilots to fly recreationally under certain conditions by completing an online medical awareness course, doing a self-assessment before every flight, and using their driver’s license in lieu of a third class medical. The tent also will offer activities, advice, and prizes. Read more >>
Plan your visit: AirVenture resources
Safety & Proficiency
When the inertial navigation system of his F-15 told him he was 40 miles north of his actual location, an Air Force pilot had to revert to the old standby of navigation: He had to look out the window. Read more >>
Overweight and off balance
Challenging flights warrant attention to every detail when loading the aircraft. That includes making sure things won't start moving around the cabin at inconvenient times. Early in the morning of Nov. 25, 2010, two Mooney M20s, equipped with ferry tanks for a planned 11-hour flight to Honolulu, took off from Hollister Municipal Airport in northern California. The first pilot heard his friend announce his departure over Hollister's common traffic advisory frequency, and then switched to NorCal Approach. After the other pilot failed to check in, he went back to look for him. He found the wreckage in a field about four miles west of the airport. Read more in this special report from the Air Safety Institute.
Movin’ on up
If you’ve been longing to unlock a new kind of flying—whether exploring the backcountry in a classic taildragger or zipping to your destination in a high-performance aircraft—an endorsement by an authorized instructor could be just the ticket. AOPA’s Ratings and Endorsements subject report aims to help simplify and put into plain language what exactly the FAA requires of you to add an additional category, class, or operating privilege to your credentials.
Pre-flight flight for passengers
Many of the fundamentals of flying come naturally to you, especially if you've been flying for more than a few years. But passengers may have a different view. If they are new to general aviation, they may be a bit nervous, or even anxious about how those "small planes" work. Help ease their fears a bit by showing them the Pinch Hitter online course from the Air Safety Institute. They’ll learn everything from aerodynamics to navigation and emergency procedures. And it could provide the spark they need to begin their own training.
IFR Fix: ‘Would you like a lower altitude?’
Many pilots fly at their highest altitudes under IFR, necessitated by minimum en route altitudes delivering at least 1,000 feet of obstacle clearance (2,000 feet in designated mountainous areas), or motivated by the desire to top clouds or catch tailwinds. You can look up your aircraft's service ceiling in the pilot’s operating handbook. What about the pilot’s “service ceiling”? Read more and take the poll >>
Going beyond the usual preflight inspection
As pilots we diligently preflight our aircraft, but what exactly are we looking for when inspecting rivets, hinges, landing gear assembly, and so on? Specifically with older aircraft would we recognize signs of aging critical to safe operations? Whether you rent or own, or are in the market to purchase, the Air Safety Institute’s Aging Aircraft online course helps you pinpoint the culprits. An interactive airplane schematic includes views of the interior, exterior, and under the cowling. And pictures of cracks and corrosion examples help you get acquainted with the most common problem areas. Take the course >>
Leading Edge: Interference from Row 9
Skeptical about electronic device interference with avionics? A recent ASRS (NASA report) involving a CRJ shows there may be some credibility to at least securing cellphones while airborne. Read more >>
Flight schools shouldn't be scapegoat for foreign student vetting
A Government Accountability Office report released July 18 indicates that foreign students in the United States received flight training—and earned their pilot certificate—even though some had entered the country illegally or had overstayed their authorized period. The breakdown in oversight occurred from a lack of communication among governmental agencies, not a lack of compliance from flight training providers, AOPA says. Read more >>
Congress should support one of the FAA’s most effective public-private partnerships by fully funding the program that operates 250 contract control towers in 46 states, AOPA said in testimony before a House subcommittee. The Contract Tower Program enhances safety, and helps drive the economies of the communities its airports serve, said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs, in testimony before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s subcommittee on aviation. Read more >>
Save Death Valley’s Chicken Strip
Pilots have an opportunity to help the Recreational Aviation Foundation keep a valuable California airstrip open to the public. The National Park Service has begun the process to develop a new management plan for the Saline Valley Warm Springs area of Death Valley National Park that includes the Chicken Strip, an uncharted 1,350-foot dirt strip that provides fly-in access to the warm springs. Read more >>
AOPA puts GA on the table at GOP, Democratic conventions
Politicians, delegates, and a host of interest groups will converge this summer on the Republican and Democratic national conventions, and while nominations and speeches will dominate the headlines, the discussions will range to topics including GA. AOPA will have a presence at both conventions, and urges all parties with an interest in aviation who plan to attend to drop us a line to ensure every voice is included in the conversation. Read more >>
High-tech search and rescue adds safety
From cellphones to personal locator beacons, emerging technology is giving pilots new ways to shorten the search and speed the rescue in the event of an accident or incident away from the airport, said AOPA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Melissa Rudinger at a National Transportation Safety Board forum in Washington, D.C. 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.
Seatbelts: Remember the rule of three
As pilot in command of an aircraft, you have a lot of responsibility, especially when you have passengers aboard. Not only must you make sure you are buckled, but the regulations require that you must also assure that your passengers are briefed and told when to buckle. AOPA’s Pilot Protection Services Aviation Attorney Kathy Yodice finds that the requirements are easiest to remember as a “Rule of Three”: briefing, notification, and use. Add the items to your checklists, and, don’t presume the knowledge of your passengers. It’s always better to be safe (and compliant) than sorry, she explains. Read more >>
Aircraft, pilot products added to AOPA Lifestyles program
Three new companies have joined the AOPA Lifestyles Member Discounts Program, offering deals and discounts on aviation and nonaviation-related products: AeroLEDs, Great Lakes Aero Products, Inc., and HME Watch. Read more >>
Additional benefits for AOPA Plus members
With AOPA Plus, a new category of membership, you can take advantage of a host of additional benefits. AOPA Plus members get special invitations to social events with AOPA leadership as well as advance notice of upcoming AOPA educational seminars. Find out more benefits of this new membership option.
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for an aviation technical generalist, Web graphic designer, and enewsletter and social media editor. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.