Click here for this week's custom content.
AOPA and EAA on March 20 filed a petition for exemption asking the FAA to extend to all pilots flying recreationally the freedom to fly, in certain circumstances, utilizing the knowledge gained by taking an annual education course to assist them with making an assessment of their fitness to fly in lieu of requiring a medical certificate. The petition for exemption, developed in close coordination between the organizations and the hundreds of thousands of pilots they represent, asks the FAA to allow pilots to operate noncommercial flights under day VFR in single-engine aircraft with 180 horsepower or less, four seats or fewer, fixed gear, and with a maximum of one passenger (among other parameters laid out in the request). Read more and watch AOPA Live® >>
Search homing in on Earhart’s airplane
Seventy-five years after Amelia Earhart’s disappearance in the Pacific, a nonprofit group has announced it will launch the most intensive effort yet to find pieces of her wrecked airplane and solve the mystery of where her flight ended. The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) says new evidence has given them reason to believe Earhart's Lockheed Electra may be in deep water off an uninhabited atoll called Nikumaroro. TIGHAR has spent 24 years and carried out 10 archeological missions to investigate Earhart’s disappearance so far. Read more and watch AOPA Live >>
Baumgartner takes plunge from FL710
At 71,580 feet msl, the air is so thin that liquids vaporize, and the temperature drops to minus 75 degrees Fahrenheit. From that height, Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner stepped out of the Red Bull Stratos Capsule March 15 over Roswell, N.M., and resisted the temptation to pull the ripcord too soon. “I wanted to open the parachute after descending for a while, but I noticed that I was still at an altitude of 50,000 feet,” Baumgartner said in a news release from Red Bull. Read more >>
Hawker Beechcraft reverses Wichita plant closing
Union workers celebrated news that Hawker Beechcraft has opted not to close one of its Wichita, Kan., factories as previously planned, a decision that will save 300 jobs, according to local media. The company employs about 4,700 workers in Wichita, and has been working to cut costs since the economy collapsed—and the business jet market with it—in 2008. Read more >>
Resuming the journey: A pilot's return to flight
A journey that began with backcountry flights in Alaska took twists and turns for one woman to become a pilot, only to have to put those dreams aside as life events interfered. Now, an opportunity to return to Alaska for some summer flights has once again ignited the desire to get back in the left seat. Kathy Dondzila, manager of technical communications for AOPA’s Pilot Information Center, recounts the path that led her back into the air. Read more >>
Ascension Air offers fractional Cirrus ownership, financing
Ascension Air has joined the fractional ownership market, offering a fleet of three new Cirrus SR22T aircraft based in Atlanta—with hopes to expand to other airports by year’s end. The aircraft—a matched set—are equipped for travel, with a glass cockpit, CAV Aerospace icing protection, and seating for up to five (provided at least two are children) with the 60-40 fold-down rear seat Cirrus introduced for 2012. Read more >>
Kodiak turboprop eyed for special missions
Quest Aircraft, maker of the single-engine Kodiak turboprop, said it has entered the special-mission aircraft market under a product development agreement with Northrop Grumman. Sandpoint, Idaho-based Quest announced that the companies will develop and market a special-mission demonstration aircraft to be called the Air Claw, based on the Kodiak. Quest said the Air Claw would be suitable for missions in aircraft market segments including aerial intelligence, aerial observation, law enforcement, search and rescue, and aeromedical. Read more >>
Hawker Beechcraft ponders spy plane mission for Baron
The venerable Baron 58, Hawker Beechcraft's last and arguably the greatest of the light piston twins, a general aviation mainstay, may get a new mission as a spy plane, according to Hawker Beechcraft officials. First introduced in 1969, the Baron 58 (now the G58, with the addition of a glass cockpit on new models) is a slightly larger cousin of the Baron 55 introduced in 1961, and remains in production to the present day. As modern electronics have slimmed down, the potential for configuring the long-serving Baron for airborne intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance missions has emerged. Read more >>
Lycoming seeks unleaded approval for European fleet
Lycoming has sought approval to run several of its engine models on an unleaded aviation fuel currently available in Europe, though it may never arrive at a U.S. field. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a safety bulletin in 2011 allowing aircraft to use UL 91 fuel with a separate engine approval in place. Lycoming is seeking that approval for various models installed in light aircraft, including the 233, 235, 320, and 360 model lines. Read more >>
Skylane joins vintage, warbird aircraft in advancing
As voting came to a close in the second round of AOPA's Favorite Aircraft Challenge, we're seeing more awesome matchups coming in future pairings. The final results of Round Two in the West Region demonstrated that the vintage and warbird aircraft have come to play, and are not going to let many modern flying machines stand between them and the finals on April 1 and 2. Look in on Round Two results in the West and see what might happen in that region's Round Three. Read more >>
Uncle Sam balks at FBO's fee, reluctantly pays
Like many pilots, Bob Fahnespock is disconcerted about the White House's proposed $100-per-flight fee for turbine aircraft that use air traffic services. His heartburn intensified this week after government officials used his FBO's facilities during the president's recent visit to Boulder City, Nev., and balked at the idea of paying $200 for the services. Read more >>
Bonanza owner offers baggage compartment mod
As evidenced by its continued presence in the AOPA Favorite Aircraft Challenge, the Beechcraft Bonanza is a legend in aviation, but even great airplanes have room for improvement—and who better to uncover the opportunity than a Bonanza owner? Thus began the odyssey of Jeff Simon, owner of a 1975 Bonanza A36. While lighter and arguably faster than newer A36s, those from the 1970s come up short in at least one way compared to those built starting in 1979—lack of an aft baggage compartment. Read more >>
‘Uncle Joey’ is a pilot
In the “guess-who-stopped-by-the-office” category this week is Dave Coulier, best known as Uncle Joey from the 1980s television series Full House. Coulier, remembered as the cute, funny uncle of the Olsen twins and best friend of Bob Saget, came to tour the AOPA headquarters in Frederick, Md., just like any other pilot—he has been a private pilot since 1979. “My dad had a friend who flew a Cessna 180 at a small uncontrolled field near our home in St. Clair Shores, Mich. When I was just five years old, my father took me along. That first flight on a cold winter day got me hooked on aviation for a lifetime,” he said. Read more and watch AOPA Live >>
Weather or not
Heavy clouds and a low ceiling plagued the morning at AOPA’s headquarters in Frederick, Md., not great for VFR Huskies. By early afternoon, conditions improved and the pair of airplanes took off, headed for Sun ’n Fun in Lakeland, Fla. The clouds kept AOPA Senior Editor Dave Hirschman and AOPA President Craig Fuller low and slow over Maryland and Northern Virginia, until a break in the clouds allowed for a climb to 6,500 feet msl. Despite small storms in the area, the pair had smooth air all the way to the first stop of the journey in Danville, Va. Read more and watch AOPA Live >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Sun ’n Fun
More fun at the AOPA Tent
Stop by the AOPA Tent at Sun ’n Fun March 27 through April 1 for aviation fun and prizes. You can have your souvenir picture taken with the 2012 Tougher than a Tornado Sweepstakes Husky, try to outsmart your fellow aviators by playing the AOPA Aviation Challenge, or sign up for the daily drawing. Each day you will have the chance to win prizes, including the latest Apple iPad on March 30. Anyone who fills out a daily drawing entry will get a free AOPA hat. The tent is near PilotMall and west of Hangars A and B.
Medical matters: Protect your certificate
Visit the Pilot Protection Services lounge in the AOPA Tent where your input will help the association build the protection you need as a pilot. Take some time to get your medical questions answered by AOPA Medical Counsel Dr. Jonathan Sackier, former FAA Manager of Medical Certification Dr. Warren Silberman, and AOPA Director of Medical Certification Gary Crump, who will be dropping by the AOPA Tent throughout the week. You may also get advice from legal experts John and Kathy Yodice.
Fire Hub dedication to support backcountry strips
AOPA will join the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) for its Fire Hub dedication ceremony March 27, located at the campgrounds (west of the Corn Roast Stage) on the Sun ’n Fun grounds. The RAF Fire Hubs are sponsored to support the organization’s conservation and advocacy efforts. The first Fire Hub is sponsored by AOPA; members are invited to stop by from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. to be a part of this special event.
Mobile app offers schedules, new features
This year pilots can stream Sun ‘n Fun radio, find exhibitors on a map, and build their own custom schedule for Sun ‘n Fun with Sporty's Pilot Shop’s free Sun ‘n Fun mobile application. 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 also allows users to purchase advance tickets. Watch AOPA Live >>
Plan your visit to Sun ’n Fun
Flying general aviation to Sun ’n Fun? Download the arrival procedures from the Sun ’n Fun website. Don’t forget that AOPA members receive discounts off admission all days of the show. Be sure to show your membership ID at the gates; the discount is not currently available online. For a full schedule of AOPA events, including seminars, and more information on happenings at the AOPA Tent, visit AOPA’s Sun ’n Fun page.
Safety & Proficiency
Lucky you. It’s instrument proficiency check day! In honor of spring, this ride will also count as a rental checkout at the FBO. First stop is the classroom, where the chief instructor goes over the aircraft, and then asks you to ponder this IFR scenario for any questionable elements. “An airplane is flying a straight-in instrument approach to Runway 22 on a wild and bumpy evening, holding 25 degrees correction for a strong, direct left crosswind. As the airplane nears the missed approach point, the pilot clicks the mic and beholds the happy sight of high intensity runway lights dead ahead.” Read More >>
Ask ATC: Should students ask for better runway assignments?
Student pilots learn early in their training that they should depart a runway aligned into the wind as much as possible. But what if the tower clears them to depart the crosswind runway and the winds are a bit stronger than they are comfortable with? Talking to air traffic controllers is often an intimidating experience for student pilots, and they can be hesitant to ask for what they need. Should they accept the assigned runway? Listen to the newest segment of Ask ATC from the Air Safety Institute as a tower controller addresses these questions. Watch AOPA Live >>
TS DVLPG … CB TOPS FL330 … Huh? It’s only spring!
Above-average temperatures across the country put convective activity in the forecast—bad news for the unprepared. Why? Every year pilots get ensnared in thunderstorms—sadly, not all survive. Check out the Air Safety Institute’s WeatherWise: Thunderstorms and ATC course and experience the brutality of a storm’s power and destruction in an incident video re-creation with actual ATC audio. Also learn what ATC radar does and—more importantly—doesn’t show. The course, produced with the generous support of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service, qualifies for AOPA Accident Forgiveness and FAA Wings. Take the course >>
After hospital stay, FAA seeks records
Following any medical treatment, especially involving hospitalization and surgery, the FAA will request copies of pertinent medical records for review before arriving at a medical certification decision. These records are critical parts of the FAA evaluation, and failure to provide them will slow the issuance of your medical certificate. Find out what you’ll need to provide in AOPA’s subject report.
AOPA Aviation Roundtable group descends on SimCom
For some, it was a chance to visit an airplane from the past. For others, a chance to experience a whole new category of flying. For all, a chance to meet other pilots from across the country and share flying stories. Typical of AOPA Aviation Roundtable experiences, the strangers in the room became instant friends once aviation pleasantries were exchanged. The March 15 and 16 roundtable in Orlando culminated with a visit to SimCom where attendees got the chance to fly a wide variety of flight training devices and full-motion simulators. Read more >>
Focus on spring preflight
Spring sprang early in many areas around the country, for the most part leaving behind the cold, ice, snow, and darkness of winter. But during the winter months many airplanes sit idle for a long time, and bad things tend to befall pilots who just “kick the tires and light the fires” on the first warm day of the year. Check out the Air Safety Institute’s Spring Preflight Safety Spotlight to get ready for the spring flying season. The spotlight gathers in one place essential courses, quizzes, publications, and links so you don’t have to.
Leading Edge: Piloting, sex, and sports
In commenting on Micron CEO Steve Appleton’s death in an experimental aircraft, a recent article in The Wall Street Journal seemed to reflect an editorial bias against anybody who flies except in the back of a Boeing or Airbus, writes AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg. “The desire to fly an airplane has been shown to represent one aspect of a sensation-seeking personality, a genetic trait associated with risky behavior involving driving, sex, sports and vocation, according to psychology studies,” the article notes. Read more >>
Contract control towers provide essential, cost-effective service to 249 airports in 46 states, justifying their full funding in the fiscal 2013 FAA appropriations bill, said AOPA President Craig Fuller and the chief executives of 11 other aviation organizations. Contract towers handle about 28 percent of all control tower air traffic operations, but account for only 14 percent of the FAA’s tower operations spending, the organizations’ chiefs said in a letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders. Read more >>
FAA eases special issuance burden
Starting July 20, pilots who have a medical certificate with a special issuance authorization will no longer need to carry the separate authorization letter with them in the aircraft. It’s a small change in the regulations, but it’s designed to ease the document-carrying requirement for the 28,000 pilots who already endure the extra burden and expense of obtaining a special issuance. Read more >>
AOPA weighs in on Atlanta Class B reconfiguration
Responding to concerns raised by AOPA and area pilots, the FAA has made some welcome changes to the proposed reconfiguration of the Atlanta Class B airspace. Challenges remain, however, as Melissa Martin, senior air traffic analyst for AOPA, noted in a March 21 letter offering detailed comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking. Read more >>
Avgas research funding ‘critical’
The FAA is a critical participant in continuing research to develop an unleaded aviation fuel, said the presidents of five aviation associations in a letter urging congressional support for funding in the agency’s fiscal 2013 budget. The March 15 letter signed by AOPA President Craig Fuller and four other association leaders urged support for a $1.995-million funding level; that would continue progress toward the “complex transition” of the general aviation piston aircraft fleet to an unleaded fuel. Read more >>
Aircraft insurance renewal application explained
What information determines your insurance premium? Ninety days prior to the renewal date of your aircraft insurance policy, the AOPA Insurance Agency mails an aircraft insurance renewal application to the address listed on the policy. It is important that you review all of it and provide updated information in order to receive the best rate. Read more >>
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.