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What AOPA is doing to keep you flyingWhat AOPA is doing to keep you flying

Responding to member concerns, AOPA and the Experimental Aircraft Association will request an exemption that would allow many pilots flying the most common single-engine aircraft recreationally to use a driver's license and self-certification medical standard.

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Call 800/622-AOPA (622-2672)

Call 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672)

Call 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672)

Call 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672)


AOPA works to cut Indiana GA aviation taxes

Current rates render the state uncompetitive in attracting new jobs and business

AOPA’s government affairs team is working with key leaders in Indiana’s legislature on a bill that could eliminate taxes on key aviation activities in the state. The state’s 2013 legislative session is a budgeting year, where legislators will plan the state’s finances for the next two years.

Indiana is one of only 15 states that imposes a sales tax on aviation fuel, at 7 percent—which, in combination with the excise tax, makes its cumulative tax liability one of the highest in the country. Additionally, the state’s 7-percent sales tax on aircraft maintenance (parts and labor) stifles maintenance providers and other related businesses in the state who watch as aircraft are ferried out of state for repair work in states with exemptions already in place—including neighboring Ohio.

“Several other states, which have previously enacted economically stimulating tax cuts and exemptions, have not only experienced a resultant uptick in GA jobs and investment, but also a net gain in overall revenue from the increased direct and ancillary economic activity,” said Mark Kimberling, AOPA director of state government affairs. “As we have examined Indiana over the past several months, it has become clear that either or both of these potential measures will boost the state’s GA industry in this same manner.”

AOPA discussed the state’s aviation fuel and aircraft maintenance sales tax structure during the legislature’s summer study, laying the groundwork for relief during the upcoming 2013 Indiana legislative session.

In the past year, AOPA has had extensive talks with Rep. Brian Bosma (R), speaker of the Indiana House, and Senate Majority Floor Leader Brandt Hershman (R) to explain the detrimental effects these tax rates have on the Hoosier aviation industry and the state’s economy.

“The conversations with Speaker Bosma and Majority Floor Leader Hershman have been very positive,” said Kimberling. “We look forward to continuing our discussions with these, and other key legislators, to finally spur this vital economic growth across the state.”

Flying clubs newsletter makes its debut

The AOPA Flying Club Network has published the first issue of its new monthly email newsletter, Club Connector. AOPA’s research has shown that flying club leaders are hungry to learn more about the practical experiences of other clubs. So this monthly e-newsletter will keep subscribers connected with useful news, information, and good ideas from flying clubs around the nation. It will also keep readers informed about AOPA’s Flying Clubs Initiative, a big part of the new Center to Advance the Pilot Community. 

Strength in numbers

AOPA’s Political Action Committee continues to be a strong force in Washington, D.C., thanks to the AOPA members who supported our efforts in 2012. Our strength in 2013 will again come from member AOPA PAC contributions. We’re going to be facing enormous challenges in Congress. User fees will be back on the table, along with “sequestration” budget cuts, avgas tax increases, and more. We’re going to need all the help we can get to win these political fights. And we won’t have the strong backing in Congress that we need unless we stand by our friends now, when they need our help most.


The Debonair sweepstakes

Bringing the swinging sixties back

AOPA’s Debonair Sweepstakes is under way. AOPA is giving away a refurbished 1963 Beechcraft Debonair B33 with an all-new ergonomic interior, the latest avionics, and up-to-date airframe mods. This unique airplane will be a modern classic with a one-of-a-kind look and appeal. One lucky winner will fly in style and comfort in this classic aircraft—and it could be you. Each month we will give you updates on the restoration (see “Briefing: Progress Report,” page 30) and Editor at Large and sweepstakes project manager Tom Horne keeps you up to date on his blog.

It’s official

AOPA’s Debonair Sweepstakes began at 9 a.m. Eastern time December 15, 2012, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on July 31, 2014. No purchase or contribution is necessary to enter or win this sweepstakes and a purchase or contribution will not improve your chances of winning. There are multiple methods to enter. Please refer to the official rules on The Debonair Sweepstakes website.

Sweepstakes Sampler

  • 2012 Tougher Than a Tornado Husky
  • 2011 Crossover Classic Cessna 182 Skylane
  • 2010 Fun to Fly Remos GX
  • 2009 Let’s Go Flying Cirrus SR22
  • 2008 Get Your Glass Piper Archer
  • 2007 Catch-A-Cardinal Cessna Cardinal
  • 2006 Win a Six in ’06 Piper Cherokee Six
  • 2005 Commander Countdown Commander 112
  • 2004 Win A Twin Piper Twin Comanche
  • 2003 Centennial of Flight Waco UPF-7
  • 2001 Bonanza Sweepstakes V35 Bonanza
  • 2000 Millennium Mooney Mooney 201
  • 1999 Aero SUV Cessna 206
  • 1998 Timeless Tri-Pacer
  • 1997 Ultimate Arrow Piper Arrow
  • 1996 First New Cessna 182
  • 1995 First New Cessna 172
  • 1994 Better Than New Cessna 172
  • 1993 Good As New Cessna 172
  • 1989 AOPA 50th Anniversary Piper Archer
  • 1954 AOPA 15th Anniversary Piper Tri-Pacer


The ABCs of EKGs: Know what your results mean to the FAA

by Dr. Warren Silberman

The two main reasons for performing an EKG on an airman are the requirement for first class airmen when they turn age 40—and every year above—and for the “initial” packet of a pilot who is reporting treatment for high blood pressure for the first time.

It is the responsibility of the AME to interpret the EKG and, if it is abnormal, to have the patient undergo certain testing and evaluations to make sure that he or she doesn’t have a medical condition that could be suddenly incapacitating.

If the AME is uncomfortable reading the EKG, then he should get someone who is comfortable to interpret it before he releases a patient from the office with a medical certificate in hand.

Most EKG machines these days have self-interpretation capability, and the FAA has given medical examiners a list of what are called “normal variants.” These are findings on electrocardiograms that have been found not to be aeromedically significant.

The FAA places online what is called the Federal Air Surgeon’s Medical Bulletin, which comes out four times a year to update and educate the AMEs. There are two FAA webpages on interpretation of electrocardiograms: electrocardiogram problems and EKG guidance.

When you have an EKG performed in your AME’s office or bring one in from your own treating physician, it is critical to ask the AME how it “looks.” If he says that it is not normal, then you need to press him or her about obtaining more testing to demonstrate to the FAA that you are OK.

Do not leave the office until you both agree on a next step to establish that you are OK. Otherwise, if the AME does not review the EKG and just lets you leave and the graph is not negative, some months later you may receive one of those letters that say that your electrocardiogram shows a variance and you need to provide the FAA with testing. If that happens then I strongly suggest that you find yourself another AME.

Dr. Warren Silberman is the former manager of FAA Aerospace Medical Certification and a doctor of osteopathic medicine. A pilot since 1986, he is recognized nationally as an expert in aerospace/preventative medicine.


Prop-start peril

by Janet Bressler

Exclusions are an ever-present part of all types of insurance policies, including those that cover our aircraft. We know there are terms and conditions about who can fly, where we can fly, and the like. But finding out too late about an exclusion in the policy that results in an unexpected claim denial makes us question exactly what we bought to protect ourselves.

Not all aircraft insurance policies are created equal. There are definitely those that provide much broader coverage and fewer exclusions than others. Accordingly, it’s always good for you to talk at length with your insurance broker and read your policies in their entirety. The exclusion I want to discuss with you does not exist in all aircraft insurance policies, but is certainly present in some and worth your time to review.

Take, for example, verbatim from one carrier’s form an exclusion you need to be alerted to that may exist in your policy, even if phrased somewhat differently: “This policy does not apply under any coverage to injury, damage or loss arising out of the starting of an engine, whether intentional or not, unless a licensed pilot or mechanic is seated at the controls.”

This may seem reasonable and not cause for concern. Sure, it is bad practice and downright dangerous to hand-prop an aircraft without the right skills at the controls. However, a story involving a Beechcraft Baron with an issue starting up the right engine led to this exclusion’s causing an unexpected result. While attempting to start the aircraft, the pilot exited the cockpit to have a look at the engine. When he moved the prop slightly—not attempting to hand-prop the aircraft mind you—the engine caught. He was lucky to escape injury, but the nearby hangar, an innocent Cessna 172, and the Baron itself did not fare so well. Irrespective of the fact that this was an unintentional start of the engine, this exclusion triggered a claim denial.

My recommendation to you is to pull out your aircraft insurance policy and read it cover to cover; call your broker with any questions. Then at every renewal review your policy options with your broker to ensure you understand the differences between carriers, coverages, premiums, and exclusions in order to select the right policy for you and your aircraft.

Janet Bressler, a private pilot, is an aviation insurance professional with more than 17 years of experience.


At Dubuque Airport, AOPA volunteer says practice makes perfect

Think of it as successfully passing an FAA checkride every year for the past 22 years. That is what Dubuque Regional Airport Manager Robert A. Grierson was recognized for by AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Dr. Philip Polstra recently. “He was pretty shocked that AOPA would recognize him for this,” said Polstra, assistant professor of aviation at the University of Dubuque. Grierson is no stranger to checkrides; he is a longtime pilot, holding military and civilian certifications for helicopters and airplanes. He is a helicopter pilot in the Iowa Army National Guard and a 25-year AOPA member.

Dubuque Regional Airport is a non-hub, primary commercial service airport but it has a large GA contingent including the university’s flight department. Areas inspected by the FAA include the airport certification and operations manuals, staff training, airport emergency plans, inspection plans, pavement inspections, navaids, wildlife hazard management, airport signs, lighting, and marking. Scoring a perfect Part 139 annual inspection 22 years in a row is a major accomplishment—one that should get kudos from the world’s largest general aviation organization.


Accident case study

‘In Too Deep’

At 8:30 a.m. on the morning of November 26, 2011, a pilot, his two college-age daughters, and the younger daughter’s boyfriend climbed into a Cirrus SR20 and took off from Marion, Indiana. The mission: return the older daughter to her college near Chicago. Two hours later and 200 miles northwest, the aircraft exited a low overcast in a near-vertical dive and disintegrated on impact.

In most years, nearly half of all weather-related accidents happen as a result of continued VFR flight into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). Sadly, the vast majority of those accidents are fatal. The subsequent NTSB accident investigations usually conclude that the majority of these VFR-into-IMC accident pilots made the decision to launch, or continue, into weather that was clearly inappropriate for their skills or the flight rules under which they chose to operate—but why?

In the Air Safety Institute’s latest Accident Case Study: In Too Deep, ASI hopes to provide more insight into the thought process that tempts pilots to wander into this dangerous territory. The video brings to light events leading up to the tragedy as it pieces together the ill-fated flight with actual audio of the pilot’s discussions with air traffic control and factual information from the NTSB report. In Too Deep exposes some of the troubling reasons why VFR into IMC accidents are all too common in general aviation.

Fuel for thought

The Air Safety Institute is a division of the AOPA Foundation. Supported by tax-deductible donations and contributions, for more than 55 years the Air Safety Institute has been the leader in safety education and research for the general aviation community. The AOPA Foundation funds four key initiatives: GA safety, growing the pilot population, preserving and protecting airports, and improving the perception of general aviation.

You don’t expect to run out of fuel. But perhaps you’ve encountered a stiff headwind—much stronger than planned for. And on top of that, air traffic control changed your routing unexpectedly, adding additional flight time to your trip. Now, fuel is getting low. What do you do? Your calculations look hopeful—there’s still enough fuel to make it to your destination—maybe. It all depends whether ATC can vector you direct, in which case you’ll probably be OK. But should you tell them about your fuel status? And what do you say? When it comes to communicating a low fuel situation to air traffic control, words matter—and what you say is as important as when you say it.

In this Air Safety Institute Ask ATC: Minimum Fuel vs. Fuel Emergency video clip, you’ll learn why you want to talk to ATC and how they can help when things don’t go as you had expected.

Additionally, you might want to prime your next flight with “ASI’s Golden Hour Fuel Reserve”—it means you land with at least one hour of fuel in the tanks, so be prepared to make an intermediate stop before continuing to your destination.

Find additional fuel-management-related resources at the “Fuel Management Safety Spotlight”.


Are you an AOPA Foundation donor?

AOPA membership dues contribute to benefits such as your monthly AOPA Pilot, 24/7 access to AOPA Online, as well as the Pilot Information Center and membership benefit programs. But those dues do not fully support AOPA’s long-term and far-reaching projects. Those programs are made possible by specific, dedicated support to the AOPA Foundation by those who make a conscious decision to take a stand for GA.

You most likely share AOPA’s deep concern about the challenges that confront GA. Just think about stories you’ve heard in the news about airports being destroyed to make room for shopping malls or the disturbing news coverage and troubling aftermath of avoidable aviation accidents. What’s more, there’s great concern about the declining pilot population. Maybe you feel strongly about reversing those trends, but how?

This is where you can make a significant difference. When you support the AOPA Foundation through tax-deductible donations, you address the Foundation’s four critical initiatives identified by AOPA members as key areas of focus: advance GA safety through the Air Safety Institute; preserve and improve local airports; grow the pilot population through the Center to Advance the Pilot Community; and highlight and support the benefits provided by GA.

There are several different philanthropic programs and levels to choose from, including “Friend of GA” monthly giving, Hat in the Ring, Honorary, Memorial, and Airplane Donation programs. Take up this invitation to join the the many AOPA members who have made a conscious effort to support the future of general aviation and make a tangible difference every day by participating in aviation philanthropy.

The AOPA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

Make a difference—the AOPA Foundation Legacy Society

If you’re searching for an effective way to help GA succeed into the future, become a member of the AOPA Foundation’s Legacy Society. How do you go about this? Simply include the AOPA Foundation in a will, establish a charitable gift annuity or trust to benefit AOPA, or name the AOPA Foundation as a beneficiary of a retirement plan or life insurance policy.

Estate gifts include bequests, charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, life insurance, retirement plans, and other deferred gifts.


Alaska: Pilot Heaven

From the jagged, snowy peaks of the Chugach Mountains to the spectacular shoreline of Cook Inlet; from the gorgeous turquoise rivers of the Kenai Peninsula, teeming with fish, to the rugged Brooks Range Mountains in the Gates of the Arctic National Park—Alaska is breathtaking from the sky and on the ground. Flying is the perfect way to see the vast state. If you are thinking of making a summer trip north, now is a good time to start your planning. Read about flying to Alaska in this month’s Answers for Pilots.

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