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An assembly of cameras, an eyeglass frame, and a tiny projector could put the world outside right in front of a pilot's eye—but right now, it's enough to make you sick. A research team at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., is working to fix that, and give pilots a tool that will keep them safely separated when visibility is nonexistent. A display prototype that perches neatly on ordinary safety glasses is perhaps less than a decade away from cockpits. The team is now working to reduce the time lag between real-world events and the synthetic vision image that is projected on a screen the size of a postage stamp. The lag causes disorientation in the air; on the ground, it can result in motion sickness. Solve that problem with faster electronics, and there could be virtually no limit on what a pilot can see. Read more and watch AOPA Live >>
CLARIFICATION: In the May 11 issue of AOPA ePilot, we incompletely described a decision by European aviation officials to effectively end the longstanding practice of honoring certain pilot certificates earned in the United States. The decision affects only European Union citizens and permanent residents.
Uptick in activity, but little sign of recovery
Argus International reported a slight increase in business aircraft activity (IFR flights) in April, compared to the same month in 2011, but there’s little sign that activity or sales will soon return to pre-recession levels. Read more >>
Bombardier, Cessna announce new jets
Analyst Richard Aboulafia described the jet market as “an absence of pessimism,” and that, given the past four years, is seen as an improvement. In this environment, two manufacturers have launched three new models. Cessna’s super mid-size Citation Longitude jet is aimed at the upper end of the market. Bombardier Aerospace introduced the $11.5-million Learjet 70 and $13-million Learjet 75 that both have ranges greater than 2,000 nautical miles and cruise speeds up to Mach 0.75. Read more >>
UFO a flying mistress
It’s big and slow. The familiar green, red, and white navigation lights indicative of an airplane aren’t visible. One bystander on the ground watches the craft fly low in the Ohio night sky, focusing on the oddly positioned white lights for clues. For decades, others across the country have scratched their heads at the same spectacle, some even reporting UFO sightings. Pilots and residents in Urbana, Ohio, know this UFO well: the Grimes Flying Lab Beech 18 powered by two 450-horsepower Pratt & Whitney 985 engines and outfitted with 56 exterior lights. Read more >>
LightSquared files for bankruptcy
LightSquared filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 on May 14. The wireless network based on mobile-satellite technology that was found to overpower GPS navigation signals filed the petition two weeks after it negotiated an extension for making a payment on its debt. Read more >>
Device enables panel-mounted Garmin to send data to iPads
As further proof that iPads are taking over the general aviation world, Guardian Avionics recently launched a unit that will send GPS position wirelessly to an iPad, and in the case of Airguide Publications’ Flight Guide iEFB application, send a flight plan as well. Read more >>
‘Naked’ airplane plies West Virginia skies
The lore goes that the Breezy became known as the “naked airplane” after the pilot unknowingly made an unscheduled landing in a nudist camp. The aircraft drew quite a crowd among the nudists who noted that the homebuilt “… looks like us. It’s got nothing on.” Fair enough. The skinless airplane does look a little naked, with its pilot and single passenger sitting in the breeze with no structure around them. A photo on a calendar captured the imagination of former naval aviator and best-selling novelist Stephen Coonts, which led him on an adventure to have one for himself. Read more and watch AOPA Live>>
Tennessee aviation legend dies
Evelyn Bryan Johnson, the legendary Tennessee flight instructor and designated pilot examiner better known to her many students over the years as “Mama Bird,” died May 10 after a period of declining health. She was 102. Johnson logged 57,635.4 flight hours and administered some 9,000 practical tests. She built her flight time giving instruction and conducting checkrides. Read more >>
Youth aviation initiative picking up steam
With an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math classes in the education system, and a growing realization of the declining pilot population and predicted pilot shortage, more aviation camps are popping up around the country. Read more >>
Airshow rules: Safety first, show business second
Air Boss Wayne Boggs scowled at the weather, taking shelter from a passing shower under a tent of blue tarps. Boggs, one of a small, elite group of experienced air bosses who run multiple airshows each year, had to make a tough call as a passing shower moved in: Boggs interrupted a tight schedule and told F4U Corsair pilot Dave Folk to cut it short and land as a small, wet crowd looked on at the Great Tennessee Air Show May 13. Read more and view the slideshow >>
Fourth HondaJet joins test fleet
Honda Aircraft Co. marked a milestone toward certification of its HondaJet May 4 with the first flight of its fourth FAA-conforming test aircraft, the company announced at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exposition in Geneva, Switzerland. Read more >>
Cub summer: Maryland couple to fly J-3 to Lower 48
Meredith Tcherniavsky and Dana Holladay of Rockville, Md., plan to launch July 4 on a two-month adventure that will take them 8,000 miles in their 1938 Piper J-3 Cub. Read more >>
Pilot, Citation V speed travel for sick children
Greg Greenbaum uses his Cessna Citation V jet to fly volunteer missions with Atlanta-based Angel Flight Soars. According to Executive Director Jeanine Chambers, Greenbaum, who has been a pilot since 1995, is one of her most dedicated volunteers, flying 25 missions since joining Angel Flight Soars in 2005, including 10 in 2012 alone. Read more >>
Skytrain of D-Day drop honors troops, evokes memories
Paratroopers boarded the Douglas C-47 Skytrain in England on a secret, dangerous mission: Jump behind enemy lines amidst fog and German gunfire to seize bridges and halt a German advance from the west. They jumped at a low altitude, weighed down by 90 to 120 pounds of gear. Some hit the ground so hard their supplies scattered into the pre-dawn darkness. If the Allied invasion at the Normandy beaches five hours hence failed, no one would come to rescue them. On the Frederick, Md., airport ramp recently, a C-47 that dropped paratroopers on D-Day paid tribute to men who risked their lives during World War II. Read more and watch AOPA Live >>
AeroLED Sunspot approved for certificated aircraft
Pilots and owners of certificated aircraft can now install the AeroLED Sunspot 36HX landing light, thanks to an FAA parts manufacturer approval (PMA). The company says a blanket supplemental type certificate (STC) is on the way. According to AeroLEDs, the 36HX will last 50,000 hours, meaning it will likely be the last landing light you ever buy. And at 3,600 lumens, it's significantly brighter than a standard bulb. A pulse feature is also available, either in a multi-light setup or as a single light. Each 36HX retails for $449.
Strong launch sustains pilot club 50 years later
One instructor, one Piper J-3 Cub, 27 solos, and more than 100 students in the first 12 months. The Elkins Pilots Club started with a bang 50 years ago and has continued ever since. The club celebrated the milestone anniversary May 12 with a fly-in at the Elkins-Randolph County-Jennings Randolph Field in West Virginia. Read more >>
Kestrel seeks to tap into Wichita workforce
Often dubbed the “Air Capital of the World,” Wichita, Kan., has seen thousands of layoffs among general aviation manufacturers in recent years. An area with so many skilled workers with extensive aviation manufacturing knowledge is a prime target for aircraft companies that are hiring. Kestrel Aircraft Co. sought to tap into that base by hosting a job fair in Wichita. Read more >>
AOPA Live begins new weekly news show
AOPA's new television-style webcast, AOPA Live This Week, offers a comprehensive look at the week in general aviation. This week, the show includes an update on the Hawker Beechcraft bankruptcy, first flight of Honda Aircraft's fourth test jet, a report on the lumbering C-47 Gooney Bird, and the personal reflections of one of AOPA's editors who interviewed the late Evelyn Bryan Johnson, the highest-time woman flight instructor. The show also breezes through a French chateau in the middle of wine country that just happens to host an extraordinary collection of fighter aircraft. Watch AOPA Live This Week >>
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
Safety & Proficiency
Report: Flight hours up, accidents down in 2010
The year 2010 saw something that's become pretty unusual in general aviation over the past few years: more flying with fewer accidents. According to a preliminary report released by the Air Safety Institute, noncommercial fixed-wing flight time increased slightly, while the number of accidents dropped by 20. There were also 19 fewer fatal accidents. Noncommercial helicopter flights accompanied a 7-percent increase in activity with a 20-percent reduction in accidents to achieve their lowest accident rate on record; for the first time, helicopters suffered fewer accidents than airplanes in comparable amounts of flight time. Read more >>
IFR Fix: Pattern B
It’s dark. You’re tired. Clouds are low, and your fuel isn’t high. This is your first-ever approach to the destination airport, and it’s a relief to hear that you can expect to break out with altitude to spare. So why the long face? Before you get on the ground, you are going to have to confront an old adversary: Pattern B. One idea that emerges fairly clearly about instrument pilots is that the prospect of flying a real-world circling approach triggers considerable avoidance. Give pilots a plausible alternative, and circle-to-land loses. Read more >>
Field elevation, runway length, obstacles, wind, and temperature are all critical components of your aircraft’s takeoff and landing performance calculations. And, as explained in the Air Safety Institute’s Mastering Takeoffs and Landings Safety Advisor, there are additional important considerations beyond POH values to make a truly well-informed go/no go decision. Heard of the Air Safety Institute’s 50-50 rule? Find out more in this enlightening Safety Advisor.
Flying single-pilot IFR: Multitasking at its best
How many tasks can you efficiently handle at one time? If you fly a lot of IFR flights as a single pilot, you’re probably pretty adept at managing the flight well. But if you’re new to IFR flying, or haven’t flown in the clouds recently, you may have forgotten how stressful a single-pilot IFR flight can be. Balancing ATC communications, programming the GPS, navigating, flying the airplane, and taking care of your passengers can be tough. Learn some tips to avoid task saturation and help ease some of the stress of these flights with the Air Safety Institute’s Single Pilot IFR free online course. Take the course >>
Medical certification for aging pilots: Ask the experts
How can we address continuing health and wellness challenges to stay sharp in the cockpit as we age? AOPA members have a chance to get answers to questions about maintaining a healthy edge—and one’s medical certificate—in a Webinar Wednesday, May 23, at 3 and 9 p.m. Eastern time. Gary Crump, AOPA director of medical certification, will lead a discussion with AOPA wellness consultant Dr. Jonathan Sackier and former manager of the FAA Aerospace Medical Certification Division Dr. Warren Silberman focused on airman wellness and maintaining your medical certificate. Register for either session online >>
Leading Edge: Just what is a contract anyway?
If you've been following the continuing saga of the Santa Monica airport, it's easy to see how things have become so contentious, and yet this is precisely why we have laws. A 1948 contract stipulates that the field must remain an airport in perpetuity. But some of the airport's neighbors would like to shut it down and develop it into something else. How does your community feel about your home airport? Read more and take the poll >>
If you are flying near Chicago or the greater Washington, D.C., metropolitan area between May 18 and 21 and spy an F-16 or a Black Hawk off your wing, you’re in big trouble. The FAA has issued notams restricting flight in both areas for the G8 and NATO summits. Security is heightened because of the numerous world leaders who will be attending both events, and pilots should exercise extreme caution when flying near either area. Read more and watch video of a practice intercept >>
FAA report: GA an asset to nation
Over the last century, general aviation airports have evolved from unpaved strips to a vital network of aviation hubs that contributed $38.8 billion to the economy in 2009, says a new FAA study. The study introduced a new set of airport classifications to chronicle GA's role in the aviation system. Read more >>
Regulation modified on Class D taxi operations
A final rule still open for comment will codify as regulation a practice already implemented by the FAA: Abbreviated taxi clearances are no longer given. Read more >>
FAA revises flight-data blocking rules
After a mandate from Congress last year, the FAA had to reverse a policy of publicly disseminating private aircraft flight data; now it is going a step further by publishing new procedures that would give owners and operators broader control over their flight information’s disclosure. The agency will accept comments on its notice of proposed process until June 8. AOPA is reviewing the proposal and will submit comments. Read more >>
Colorado events recognize general aviation
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper declared June Colorado General Aviation Appreciation Month in a proclamation that recognized GA’s contributions to the state’s economy. The official month of appreciation for GA will include numerous events marking Colorado Aviation Week June 4 to 8. According to the Colorado Division of Aeronautics’ 2008 Economic Impact Study, Colorado’s GA airports contribute $1.36 billion and nearly 15,500 jobs, with an annual payroll exceeding $540 million, to the state economy.
Nebraska recognizes GA value
With a stroke of the governor's pen on May 16, Nebraska joined a growing list of states proclaiming support for—and recognizing the value of—general aviation. Read more >>
ASN volunteer turned county leader
AOPA’s Airport Support Network volunteers are engaged in their airport communities in a lot of different ways. One ASN volunteer took a big step and went well beyond the airport to take on a countywide leadership role: Al Ambrosini, volunteer at Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport in Connellsville, Pa., proudly included his aviation credentials and pilot community support as part of his campaign for Fayette County commissioner in southwest Pennsylvania in 2011. 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.
AOPA Close to Home
AOPA Airports iPhone app now AOPA FlyQ
Have you downloaded AOPA’s latest flight planning application for the iPhone? The AOPA Airports iPhone app has been upgraded to AOPA FlyQ. AOPA FlyQ still offers the airport directory information you rely on, but also provides you with aviation weather and flight planning with auto-routing capabilities—free with your membership. Members with AOPA Airports apps for Windows Mobile or BlackBerry devices, powered by WingX, are unaffected and need take no action. Read more >>
One new program that has created a lot of buzz among AOPA members is the new Pilot Protection Services. Members enrolled in the program benefit from the advice and assistance available through AOPA’s Legal Services Plan, as well as access to a variety of other services that can help you protect both your pilot and medical certificates. Read more >>
AOPA 2012 Tougher than a Tornado Husky Sweepstakes
Bruce’s Custom Cover for Tornado Husky
Thanks to Bruce’s Custom Covers, the AOPA 2012 Sweepstakes Tougher than a Tornado Husky has some added protection from the elements. Read more >>
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for a vice president of information systems; human resources generalist; insurance services administrative coordinator; registration, housing, and meeting planner; vice president–Center to Advance the Pilot Community; aviation technical writer; vice president of strategy and philanthropic operations; program manager–products; project manager of online products; director of new market development; and associate editor–Web/ ePilot. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.