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You’ll know when the avalanche probe finds a person: That spongy, soft feeling is like nothing else on the mountain, ski guide Kirk Becker explains to four advanced skiers at the Whistler Municipal Heliport in British Columbia. Becker has armed the skiers with transponders, probes, and shovels in case the powder gives way and they must search for a buried companion. They have about 10 minutes, he says, to search a grid, locate the fallen skier, and shovel him out to give him a 90 percent chance of survival. It’s a standard briefing at Whistler Heli-Skiing, where guests are preparing to take on the challenges of pristine glaciers and remote glades of the Pacific Coast Mountain Range. But alpine winds, low visibility, or clouds could shutter the VFR operation and send them back to crowded lifts. At this point, it depends on the weather—and the decision of the pilot in command. Read more >>
Citation M2 makes first flight
The Cessna Citation M2 prototype made its maiden flight March 9, and Cessna parent Textron hopes the new jet—essentially a Citation CJ1+ with an updated interior and Garmin avionics—will log its first sales in 2013. The Citation M2 will be priced and equipped to compete with the Embraer Phenom 100. Read more >>
Arizona student pilot receives AOPA scholarship
Theresa Farley soloed just after her sixteenth birthday—several years ago. She wasn’t able to continue her training because her mother became ill and there was no more money for flying. Now married and the mother of two teenagers, the Maricopa, Ariz., student pilot soloed again on Feb. 6—and realized all at once the thrill of what she’s been working so hard to accomplish. Farley is the recipient of a $3,000 scholarship from AOPA, presented March 8 during the opening day of the twenty-third annual International Women in Aviation Conference in Dallas. Read more >>
Dreamliner wins Collier Trophy
Boeing took airline fuel efficiency to a new level with the 787 Dreamliner, and earned a Robert J. Collier Trophy for the effort. Since 1911, the award, one of aviation’s most prestigious, has recognized “the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America.” It is given annually by the National Aeronautic Association. Boeing displayed the Dreamliner at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 2011, drawing thousands of visitors with what was then the largest experimental aircraft on the field. Boeing increased fuel efficiency by 20 percent over the similar size 767, with far greater range. Read more >>
Attracting talented workforce will be aviation’s challenge
Over the next 20 years, the aviation industry will need more than 1 million pilots and aircraft technicians to fly and maintain the aircraft needed to support commercial air travel growth, a Boeing representative said March 10 at the International Women in Aviation Conference in Dallas. “Where will we find all of that talent, and how are we going to train them?” said Sherry Carbary, vice president of Boeing Flight Services, a business unit of Commercial Aviation Services, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Read more >>
Favorite Aircraft Challenge: Cessna seeks to be king
Cessna dominated the first round of AOPA's Favorite Aircraft Challenge: None of its aircraft was eliminated from the first three brackets. The winning streak broke with the fourth bracket—in part because two Cessnas were pitted against each other. How are the 64 aircraft competing for the title faring in their brackets? Predictions are in that the P-51 Mustang and F4U Corsair will make it to the finals. The Aerostar wasn’t a rising star, and voters weren’t easy on the Rutan Long-EZ. Piper may want to hold a pity party: The Maule M-5 edged out the Piper Malibu, and the Cessna 310 trumped the Piper Comanche. However, Piper’s iconic J-3 Cub is performing well, passing the first round with flying colors. Read more >>
Fly like a fighter: Which way is up?
An uncontrolled snap roll during a two-verses-two air combat tactics training mission left retired Air Force pilot Larry Brown’s F-15 inverted, 40 degrees nose low, accelerating toward the ground. The good news was that he was quite used to being pointed in all different directions in an airplane. Read more >>
Flying, it’s not a ‘boy thing’
With a 360-degree view of the airport environment, tower tourists could imagine directing a conga line of general aviation aircraft making 10-mile circuits at Maryland’s Frederick Municipal Airport. Others took control of aircraft for the first time in that conga line. The field transformed into a hub of activity on March 10 for Women of Aviation Worldwide Week’s Fly it Forward Day, with 27 aviators and aviatrixes alike volunteering to take 242 girls and women aloft for free 20-minute flights. The day shattered the previous year’s record of 185. Read more >>
Reporting Points: Bucket lists, new adventures
Sometimes, people just need a taste of flying to get hooked. Martine Christensen’s curiosity in aviation was evident from the moment she walked up to the registration table for her flight. Less than a half hour later, Christensen caught the flying bug as she flew a Cessna 172 at 2,500 feet msl. Now, she already has her first logbook entry. Read more >>
EAA works to boost female aviators
Experimental Aircraft Association President Rod Hightower underscored the message of “Bring Your Daughter to the Conference” by bringing three of his four daughters to the International Women in Aviation Conference in Dallas. EAA’s Young Eagles program will celebrate its 20-year anniversary this year, Hightower said. The program has flown 1.6 million young people between the ages of 8 and 17 since its inception, and 30 percent of those have been females. Read more >>
FAA forecasts air travel growth, piston decline
The FAA predicts steady growth in airline travel, but the general aviation piston fleet is expected to shrink, and the pilot population will continue to age with a continued decline in the number of student pilot starts. As airliners get more crowded, the FAA predicts a steady increase in GA hours flown, fueled by increases in corporate profits and travel. Read more >>
Combat veteran solos LSA
Able Flight scholarship winner Adam Kisielewski, a former U.S. Marine sergeant who lost his left arm and part of his right leg in combat in Iraq, made his initial solo flight on March 14. Dean Stickell, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, Vietnam War veteran, and CFI, is preparing Kisielewski to become a sport pilot. Stickell said he wondered when he took on the task of training Kisielewski whether he would be able to perform stall recoveries, go-arounds, and other critical tasks without a left arm and prosthetic right leg. But during about 15 hours of pre-solo flying, Stickell said his questions were answered. Read more >>
Space launch escape rocket tested
Even before man invented flying machines, he invented the backup plan. Early sketches of a proto-parachute predate even the 1485 design by Leonardo da Vinci; in 1793, Jean-Pierre Blanchard used a parachute of his own invention to escape from a ruptured hot air balloon. On Jan. 13, 1942, German test pilot Helmut Schenk became the first person to use an ejection seat to escape a stricken aircraft. As the dawn of commercial manned spaceflight approaches, engineers are designing an escape plan in case something goes wrong on liftoff—or ascent. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, collaborating with Boeing on the development of the CST-100 spacecraft under NASA’s commercial crew program, recently tested a launch abort engine. Producing 40,000 pounds of thrust, the engine is designed to push the crew capsule safely away from the launch vehicle. The companies and NASA pronounced the “hot fire” test a success.
Airline could save $25 in fuel for every mile not flown
The FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System will make the National Airspace System safer and more efficient as aircraft will be traveling fewer miles and burning less fuel, FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta said March 9. Southwest Airlines estimates it will save about $25 in fuel for every mile that is not flown because of a shorter flight track. Read more >>
High school students rise to design challenge
The next generation of aircraft designers—high school students equipped with powerful tools—is already pushing the envelope of aircraft design. High school students from 39 states and U.S. territories have risen to the challenge of designing a light sport aircraft able to fly two people 200 miles in two hours or less at 1,000 feet agl or more. Read more >>
Hauslein named to AOPA Board of Trustees
James N. Hauslein has been named to the AOPA Board of Trustees. Hauslein currently serves as managing director of Hauslein & Company Inc., a private equity firm. From 1991 to 2001, he served as chairman of the board and CEO for Sunglass Hut International Inc., the world’s largest specialty retailer of branded nonprescription sunglasses and lifestyle watches. Read more >>
Flight training management program debuts at WAI
MyFlightTrain, a flight training management package, was unveiled at the twenty-third annual International Women in Aviation Conference in Dallas. Developed by Flying Software Labs, the system features paperless tracking for Part 61 and Part 141 schools as well as billing, scheduling, flight logs, and training logs. Read more >>
Mobile app puts Sun ’n Fun plan in hand
Sporty's Pilot Shop has teamed up with Sun ‘n Fun to develop a free mobile application for Apple and Android devices. Available from Sporty’s, the iTunes Store, or Google Play, the app is packed with information for pilots flying (or driving) to the show, including detailed maps, notams, and exhibit information. The app allows users to purchase advance tickets and create a personalized agenda.
Hover Power: Loss of tail rotor effectiveness
A helicopter approached a construction site on the grounds of Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport with a quartering left tailwind. The helicopter turned right, and then slowed to a hover at 250 feet with a direct tailwind. Once in a hover, it made a rapid right 180-degree pedal turn, stopped momentarily, and then initiated another rapid pedal turn to the right. The helicopter turned at a faster rate than the initial turn and continued into a spinning vertical descent and collided with Alpha taxiway abeam Runway 15 Right. Read more >>
Microsoft Flight a fun game, not a training tool
The new Microsoft Flight PC game lets enthusiasts download a free flight scenario— piloting an Icon A5 over Hawaii. But it’s much different from Microsoft’s previous simulator program called Flight Simulator. “Lots of flight schools and students have used Microsoft Flight Sim as a flight training tool and it can be quite good for that—learning navigation and really everything including takeoffs and landings. Microsoft Flight is a totally different experience,” said Flight Training Editor Ian Twombly during a review of the new product. Twombly says it’s a gaming platform that might not be the best training tool for student pilots. However, he concludes, “It’ll make you want to get to the airport.” Watch AOPA Live® >>
Goodyear Ground School: Tire FAQs
If you wait to replace an aviation tire until you see cords, you’ve waited too long. That’s according to Larry Rapsard, who helped design Goodyear aviation tires for 15 years and is now a product support manager for the company’s general aviation tires. Rapsard answers frequently asked questions ranging from retreading or rotating tires to using compressed air or nitrogen in the tires during this Goodyear Ground School segment produced in cooperation with Goodyear. Watch AOPA Live >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Safety & Proficiency
The course deviation indicator stood perfectly centered as the aircraft neared the vortac inbound. Wham. Station passage. Too bad the pilot didn’t notice. Expecting the customarily bizarre behavior of the VOR receiver that manifests as an aircraft approaches a navaid slightly displaced, it took a few seconds for the pilot to sense that something was different—one of those “OK, what am I forgetting?” moments. The realization was a great thing to behold: Clearly, a new situational awareness was sounding the alarm just below consciousness, saving the approach. Read more >>
No room to maneuver
It’s easy to get into the habit of thinking of thunderstorms chiefly as a hazard of cruise flight. But they can pose even greater threats at low altitudes, where there’s no room to ride out powerful gust fronts or downdrafts. On June 29, 2011, witnesses saw a retractable-gear Cessna R182 maneuvering low over the city of Thornton, Colo. At the moment a sudden strong wind hit the surface, the airplane’s wings began to wobble; then it banked hard to the left, crashed into dry prairie grass near a horse corral, and exploded. Read more in this special report from the Air Safety Institute.
How much do you know about in-flight icing?
General aviation airplanes have become capable of much more than short hops for a hamburger. But that increased utility also increases the potential dangers that long-distance flying brings. In-flight icing is one of those dangers, and it can be deadly. Take this quiz on icing from the Air Safety Institute, underwritten by the AOPA Insurance Agency, and see how much you know about detecting, dealing with, and more importantly, avoiding in-flight icing! Take the quiz >>
Bahamas grants 406 MHz ELT extension
Aviation officials in the Bahamas have extended the deadline for U.S.-registered arrivals to equip themselves with 406 MHz ELTs by one year, until Feb. 1, 2013. Bahamas Civil Aviation will continue to review the matter, having postponed the deadline to replace 121.5 MHz ELTs since 2009.
Keep up with your meds
Blossoming fruit trees and the transition of the landscape from brown to green usher in headaches and congestion for many pilots. And some medications—even those purchased over the counter—have side effects that make them unsafe to take when flying. Search AOPA’s online medication database to find out whether—and under what conditions—the FAA has approved your allergy medication for pilots. Although changes to the FAA’s list of allowed or disallowed medications are infrequent, those that do occur are important. Read more >>
Go beyond ‘direct to’
Satellite navigation is used in numerous applications—in the air and on the ground. But do you know the important stuff that affects its use in flight? How do WAAS or RAIM enter in? When should you create user waypoints? Do you need updated databases to be legal for VFR flight? If you’re using “direct to” instead of activating a flight plan, consider the Air Safety Institute’s GPS for VFR Operations course to extract everything you can from the GPS box on your next flight. Course completion qualifies for AOPA Accident Forgiveness and FAA Wings.
Leading Edge: Pigs in space and noise
NASA is helping the game-maker Rovio develop a sequel to the phenomenally successful Angry Birds. To obliterate pigs with the angry birds, one must understand ballistic trajectory. The agency thought this would be a cool way to introduce those concepts and the physics of space into the classroom. NASA has done much to quiet jet engines in last several decades, so maybe in addition to helping game makers whack pigs in space, it could offer a little help in solving a core issue for light aircraft. Read more >>
Another letter is headed to the White House to tell the president that the administration’s proposed $100-per-flight user fee faces a cold welcome on Capitol Hill. Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), co-chairs of the Senate General Aviation Caucus, spearheaded a letter to President Barack Obama March 9, publicly stating their strong opposition to the administration’s fiscal year 2013 budget proposal to establish a new $100 user fee on certain GA users. Read more >>
Florida legislature approves aviation tax exemption
The business climate looks brighter for general aviation in Florida now that the state House and Senate have agreed on an economic-development package with sales-tax exemptions for aircraft repairs and equipment. House Bill 7087, backed by AOPA and the Florida Aviation Trades Association, makes aircraft with a maximum certificated takeoff weight of more than 2,000 pounds eligible for a tax exemption previously available only to much larger aircraft. Read more >>
Cincinnati reneges on commitment to reconfigure reliever
The city of Cincinnati, which for years has choked off federal aid to its reliever airport in nearby Blue Ash, has notified the FAA of its intention to close the facility later this year. Shuttering Cincinnati-Blue Ash Airport would occur no earlier than June 8, wrote City Manager Milton Dohoney in a March 9 letter to the FAA that characterized the airport as an economic underperformer. Read more >>
Women airport supporters meet in Dallas
A first-ever meeting of women members of the AOPA Airport Support Network had director Joey Colleran upbeat about her program’s future. “This group of volunteers is exciting to be around,” she said. In the March 10 session participants shared their experience organizing their local airport supporters, rallying airports’ neighbors to the cause, and educating their communities about the economic and local public service contributions made by airports and general aviation. Read more >>
Small success for safety
Even in Alaska’s wide open spaces, a badly placed cell tower can create problems for aviators. A cell tower under construction on the Talkeetna Spur Road posed a potential hazard along the busy air route into Talkeetna, Alaska—the premier gateway airport providing access to Denali National Park and Reserve. AOPA Airport Support Network Volunteer Dave Earl’s efforts to have the tower lighted show that even when the law won’t require safety, as an Airport Support Network volunteer or as a concerned pilot, you can educate local decision makers to do the right thing. 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.
A good night’s sleep
Obstructive sleep apnea, where partial blockage of the airway leads to snoring, disturbed sleep, and thereby daytime weariness, leads to potential cockpit problems. Have you checked out the FAR/AIM recently? In Chapter 8, Section 1, the manual points out that obstructive sleep apnea is a factor in aviation accidents. As such, pilots presenting for their aviation physical may be asked about snoring and other symptoms. Read more >>
Emergency Assistance Plus not just for dire emergencies
When you’re away from home, anything that disrupts travel can be an emergency; you don't have to be critically ill to take advantage of the many benefits of Emergency Assistance Plus (EA+). The program comes to the rescue for serious medical situations and death while away from home, but it also helps with minor yet annoying travel disruptions. Read more >>
AOPA Airports offers info on the go
AOPA members can have airport services, FBO information, airport diagrams, and more on certain mobile devices using AOPA Airports apps. Windows Mobile and BlackBerry apps, powered by WingX, are available for download on the AOPA website; apps for Apple devices, powered by ForeFlight, are available in the App Store.
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for a project manager of online products, aviation technical specialist, member services representative, director of new market development, manager of regulatory affairs, associate project 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.