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Maintenance myths miff mechanics. If you have ever heard a pilot say that he only puts 10 quarts of oil into an airplane built for 12 “because it will blow out two quarts,” that pilot is ignoring the real issue. “You’ve got a blow-by problem,” said David Delcourt of Delcourt Aviation in Fairbanks, Alaska. “It didn’t do that from the factory.” Delcourt and other mechanics from around the country shared with AOPA common lapses and oversights that get pilots—and their wallets—into trouble. No surprise: It’s overlooking the little things that brings big headaches. Check your tire pressure before you go, so you won’t taxi out on a flat. Clean off your boots before climbing aboard your floatplane—really! Above all, get out there this spring. Your aircraft needs it as much as you do. Read more >>
Red Bull Stratos capsule ready
A test flight of the Red Bull Stratos balloon and capsule that will carry parachutist Felix Baumgartner to a record-setting high-altitude jump could occur in Roswell, N.M., as early as next week. Weather does not appear to be cooperating, since a storm is coming through this weekend and winds for the flight must be less than four knots. The test flight, whenever it occurs, will reach 90,000 feet, just 30,000 feet short of the intended record attempt. Read more >>
Epic turboprop to be certified by Russian owner
Up to this point, the only way to get an Epic turboprop was to buy a kit and build it yourself. That will change if current plans are successful. Epic Aircraft has fresh financing from a new owner, Engineering LLC in Russia. Company officials say that in “two to four years” you’ll be able to buy a certified, factory-built Epic. If you can’t wait, kits are still available. Read more >>
Favorite GA aircraft ever? Madness!
In the spirit of the NCAA's March Madness, AOPA is running the “Favorite Aircraft Challenge,” a bracket contest that lets you pick pilots' favorite general aviation aircraft. Sixty-four iconic aircraft have been selected to compete—did yours make the cut? Starting March 12, head-to-head matchups will open for voting on AOPA Online, with a new slate of brackets becoming available for voting each day until the fleet narrows to the champion. Check out the brackets and sign up for a reminder email. Come on Bonanza fans—make sure those Piper Cubbies don’t get the better of you.
NASA rockets will spread a ghostly glow
A salvo of five rockets will soon be launched from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va., to help scientists better understand the uppermost reaches of the atmosphere. The interaction of wind and charged electrical particles 60 to 65 miles from the surface has been associated with satellite failures and radio communication interference. On a clear night between March 14 and April 3, the rockets will release a chemical compound that creates a soft, white glow when it interacts with oxygen. Read more >>
Coyne announces NATA departure
Honored for a lifetime of aviation achievement in November, National Air Transportation Association President Jim Coyne announced March 5 his plan to depart the organization representing FBOs, flight schools, repair stations, and charter operators in 2013. Coyne, a 6,000-hour pilot, author, and former congressman, assumed the NATA post in 1994 and has since worked closely with AOPA and other industry groups to promote and protect aviation. Read more >>
Gulfstream 280 gets provisional type certificate
The Gulfstream G280, a derivative from the smaller G200 that was based on the Israel Aircraft Industries Galaxy, now has a provisional type certificate from the FAA. Original plans called for it to be certified in 2011. The aircraft’s name was changed from the Gulfstream G250 last year after it was discovered that in Mandarin the number 250 is an insult applied to a stupid person. The aircraft first flew at Israel Aircraft Industries in Israel. It received a provisional type certificate from Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority at the end of December 2011. Read more >>
Will Whiteside shatters time-to-climb records
Veteran racing pilot and world record holder Will Whiteside, flying a Russian Yakovlev 3U dubbed SteadFast, has added four new records to his collection, pending expected certification and ratification by national and international organizations. Read more >>
New fuel-sipping Rotax on the market
Sporting an electronic engine control system designed to optimize mixture at any altitude, the Rotax 912iS was unveiled March 8 in Austria. Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP)—the Austrian maker of Rotax engines—already dominates the light sport aircraft market, and engineered a more fuel-efficient version of the popular 912 engine in response to market demand, according to President and CEO José Boisjoli. The engine will power the new Flight Design CTLSi. Read more >>
Tornado Husky returns to where it all began
At Sun ’n Fun 2011, the brand-new Aviat Husky A-1C N40WY tore loose from its tiedowns and sustained damage when a tornado ripped through the show grounds. This year, the Husky returns in mint condition as AOPA’s 2012 Tougher than a Tornado Sweepstakes aircraft. Visitors can stop by the AOPA Tent to learn how they might become its new owner in October. While at the tent, members can renew their membership, learn about new member benefits, test their aviation knowledge, win prizes, talk with aviation experts, and enter the daily drawing. Read more >>
Deadline nears for electric aircraft standards workshop
Pilots interested in the future of electric aircraft certification may register online by March 16 for the International Workshop for Electric Aircraft Standardization, to take place during Sun ’n Fun. Billed as “a first-of-its-kind forum focused on discussing the technical, standards, and conformity assessment issues designed to help facilitate routine certification in support of electric flight,” the workshop will take place at the Hilton Garden Inn in Lakeland, Fla., from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. March 28.
Terrafugia skips Sun 'n Fun for auto show
Terrafugia, the Woburn, Mass., company working to deliver the world’s first roadable production aircraft, or street legal airplane, is striking out into new territory with a debut at the New York International Auto Show April 6 through 15. Read more >>
Dream of driving airplanes is alive
From Massachusetts to the Mojave Desert, and around the world, corporations and backyard builders are fine-tuning designs, hopeful of being the first to deliver a useful roadable aircraft, in numbers, to home garages built for cars. Some believe the tipping point is at hand, and technology could usher in a new golden age for general aviation. Read more >>
AOPA Now: A new country joins IAOPA
At the Abu Dhabi Air Expo, AOPA President Craig Fuller recognized the newly formed AOPA group for the United Arab Emirates. The show provides attendees with a look at a full range of aircraft from light sport to a Boeing 737 and everything in between. Local officials are saying that private aviation in the Middle East is expected to experience a 20-percent growth rate. Read more >>
Reporting Points: World-flight craft has structural damage
Matevž Lenarčič of Slovenia has landed safely at Ayers Rock Connellan Airport in central Australia after suffering in-flight structural damage on his quest to fly around the world in a Pipistrel, detouring for ecological surveys along the way. Serious vibrations alerted him to problems while he was photographing Ayers Rock. Read more and check out images from the flight.
Tornado slams one of America’s newest airports
It was less than two years ago that Blake Swafford was opening the Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport near the town of Dallas, Ga. Now, he’s picking up the pieces after the field was devastated by a tornado March 2. Swafford, bleary-eyed and obviously exhausted, was forced to abandon the airport about 1 a.m. March 3 because of several fuel spills emanating from damaged aircraft and the airport’s fuel farm. Read more and watch AOPA Live® >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Safety & Proficiency
Any pilot who has ever dropped a pen into the abyss beneath the seats while copying a complicated clearance immediately learns one of aviation’s overarching lessons: Carry more pens. Pen failure ranks right up there as an aggravating aviation systems malfunction. Fortunately it has the same remedy as many others: redundancy. Redundancy also can save your life if a flight instrument grinds to a halt, as partial-panel training on interpretation of primary and secondary sources of attitude information teaches. Read more >>
Is your aircraft airworthy?
The condition of the aircraft is important but not the only factor in determining airworthiness. Do you check for proper endorsements after maintenance or inspections? Is your registration valid? Read up on the applicable regulations in AOPA’s subject report on airworthiness. Remember: As pilot in command, you are responsible for determining whether the aircraft is in a condition for safe flight.
How well do you remember those paper charts?
GPS has made instrument flying significantly easier, but that’s no reason to forget about those paper charts. Low-altitude en route charts contain all the information you need at your fingertips to get you where you’re going, but only if you know how to read them. Need to divert? How do you know which nearby airport has an approach? At what altitude should you fly a certain route based upon the equipment you have? Find the answers to these and other questions with a safety quiz from the Air Safety Institute, sponsored by the AOPA Insurance Agency. Take the quiz > >
Daylight saving time returns
Daylight saving time returns Sunday, March 11, so remember to set your clocks forward this weekend. And when it comes time to file a flight plan, don't forget that the conversion between Zulu and your local time will change. Enjoy! Longer spring days mean more daylight hours for flying, so dust off your skills with an after-work proficiency flight.
A wing is a wing is a wing
Regardless of how technologically advanced your aircraft is, the tenets of aerodynamics haven’t changed. Whether you’re using analog gauges or digital displays, both tell you the same information: what your airplane is doing in relation to time and space. But understanding aerodynamics means understanding why your airplane is doing what it’s doing. Refresh your knowledge on the fundamentals of flight with the Air Safety Institute’s free Essential Aerodynamics online course, and delve a little deeper into lift and drag, stalls and spins, and more.
Improve your safety by learning from others
Gain valuable knowledge about flying safely by learning from the mistakes of others. Using your ePilot personalization preferences, like “piston single-engine” or “turbine,” the Air Safety Institute’s Accident Database generates a list of accidents that have been added to the database in the past 30 days. If you haven’t personalized your newsletter, select your aircraft preferences from the “types of aircraft” section on the ePilot personalization page.
Leading Edge: Eyes in the back of your head?
While predictions that electronic flight instruments would revolutionize general aviation safety haven’t panned out, in some cases glass is extremely helpful. Flying with a friend on a great VFR day, AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg glanced at the multifunction display and noticed that a target had popped up at their six o’clock, about one mile behind and within 100 feet of their altitude. Just about the same time, the controller advised an Aerostar that he had traffic at 12 o’clock, less than a mile at 4,500 feet msl. Prudence dictated a change in plan. Read more >>
A groundswell of opposition awaits the Obama administration’s proposal for a $100 aviation user fee if it ever reaches the House floor—but it won’t, said House aviation subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri (R-Wis.). Petri on March 1 fired off a letter bearing 195 congressional signatures to President Barack Obama, reminding him that user fees have been proposed by presidents of both parties but were overwhelmingly defeated each time. A user-fee proposal appears in the White House's 2013 budget package. Read more >>
AOPA supports WAAS for NextGen navigation
The FAA has presented a broad outline of a future national airspace with half of the current VOR network decommissioned by 2020, and AOPA is urging the agency to make sure GA pilots—and current equipment—have a place there. AOPA has long supported the concept of satellite (performance-based) navigation that will allow safe, point-to-point navigation even in instrument meteorological conditions. The FAA must also plan a backup system that is able to function in case of satellite outages. Read more >>
100LL suit charges inaction; GA groups point to progress
The environmental group Friends of the Earth made good on a May 2011 threat March 7, when it announced it had filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over piston aircraft's use of leaded avgas. The lawsuit alleges that the EPA unreasonably delayed responding to a 2006 petition asking it to make an “endangerment” finding and propose emissions standards for lead emissions from aircraft. If successful, the lawsuit would force the EPA's process for a potential endangerment finding onto a court-ordered timeline. Read more >>
Paper medical applications to end
The FAA issued official notice March 8 of the end of paper medical certificate applications, effective Oct. 1. Pilots seeking to renew a medical certificate will be required to complete the application online, prior to the examination, using the MedXpress system. AOPA has expressed concerns about maintaining privacy.
FAA to create test sites for unmanned aircraft
In a continued effort to integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the National Airspace System, the FAA is seeking input on the location of six test sites for the vehicles. Pilots are encouraged to comment on the geographic and climate factors that should be considered when selecting a site, whether the sites should be managed by public or private entities, what research activities would take place at the facilities, and more. Read more >>
Cincinnati reliever airport’s future in focus
The future of Ohio’s Cincinnati-Blue Ash Airport remains uncertain, but Blue Ash municipal officials who met with AOPA have expressed willingness to consider proposals that could keep the general aviation facility operating despite a closure threat from Cincinnati. With the airport no longer obligated by federal improvement grant agreements, Cincinnati was reported in late 2011 to be eyeing an airport sale, and using proceeds to fund nonaviation purposes. Read more >>
Bank of America finances Marine's first aircraft
Marine Capt. Gabriel Glinsky started looking for an airplane to buy when he was deployed to Afghanistan. The V-22 Osprey pilot was looking for a general aviation airplane to use for pleasure flights when he returned home. Although he is an experienced pilot, he had never bought an airplane before, and didn't know what to expect when it came to financing. "I filled out the form for Bank of America financing online," he said. "Actually there was very little paperwork." Glinsky selected a 1967 Cherokee 180, a favorite airplane from his flight instructing days. Read more >>
Advice on flying to Bahamas, Mexico, Central America
Thinking about flying to the Bahamas, Mexico, or Central America? AOPA’s authorized representative for these regions, Rick Gardner, works with the governments of foreign countries and answers AOPA members’ questions on matters ranging from general flying procedures to complex regulatory issues. Read more >>
Get a head start on summer vacation plans
Taking a vacation this summer? When you’re ready to start planning, help yourself and AOPA by making your travel plans through Orbitz. Orbitz will help you get the best deals on cruises, airfare, and hotels. To benefit AOPA, visit the Orbitz site via AOPA; you can then navigate the Orbitz site as normal. A portion of what you spend on Orbitz will be returned to AOPA to help continue the fight on behalf of general aviation. Bookmark the page, and use it for any travel plans. Don’t forget that car rental discounts from Alamo, Avis, Enterprise, and Hertz are yours as an AOPA member.
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for a director of new market development, manager of regulatory affairs, 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.