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Briefing: A way to give back

Honoring those who do so much

Somewhere in Hollywood, a movie producer is shouting from the rooftops about a production he has under way.

1404 BriefingSomewhere in Hollywood, a movie producer is shouting from the rooftops about a production he has under way. Shocking, right? But seriously—Warner Bros. Executive Producer Mark Wolper, a 35-year private pilot and owner of a Piper Malibu, is planning a party. A party for aviation. On May 4, Wolper and other entertainment and aviation luminaries will honor those pilots and aviation industry leaders who give back to the world with public benefit flying. Organizations such as Angel Flight West, which Wolper flies for; Patient Airlift Services; Pilots N Paws; and others will be recognized for their contributions to the betterment of society.

“I am tired of the bad name aviation often gets,” says Wolper. “It is high time we let the world know the great things that aviation gives back.”

Featuring aviation’s Sean D. Tucker, Clay Lacy, John and Martha King, Scott Parazynski, Ben Marcus, and Bob Hoover—and Hollywood’s Ed Asner, Greg Kinnear, and Robert Zemeckis—the first annual Endeavor Awards will be a red-carpet, black-tie event honoring the people and organizations that commit resources and assistance to public benefit flying. AOPA is a sponsor of the event, which will feature videos from AOPA’s “GA Serves America” campaign.

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10,000:  Flights in 2013 identified by pilots as “compassion flights.” Exact counts of the number of flights are not yet available because many pilots do not use charity-related call signs for their flights. —These numbers from

50: Volunteer pilot organizations (VPOs) fly across the United States for the public benefit.


The Air Safety Institute offers an online course on public benefit flying, Public Benefit Flying: Balancing Safety and Compassion (

Examples of Public Benefit Flying

Able Flight
AirCare Alliance
Angel Flight
Aviation for Humanity
Bahamas Habitat
Challenge Air
Children’s Flight of Hope
Civil Air Patrol
Cloud Nine Rescue
Corporate Angel Network
Dreams and Wings
Emergency Volunteer Air Corps
Flying Paws
Flying Samaritans
Hope Flight Foundation
LifeLine Pilots
Mercy Flight
Operation Angel Planes
Patient Airlift Services
Pilots for Patients
Pilots N Paws
South Wings
Veteran’s Airlift Command
Vital Flight
Volunteer Pilots Assoc.
Wings Flights of Hope
Wings of Mercy


Prepping for the shows

The Debonair’s new engine rounds second

By Thomas A. Horne

1404 Briefing

The Debonair’s engine saga is in mid-completion as this goes to press. All of the engine’s internal components—crankshaft, camshaft, crankcase, accessory case drive gears, magneto drive gears, and much more—have been either replaced or inspected and reconditioned to like-new status at Genesis Engines in North Carolina. Any reconditioned parts are “yellow tagged,” meaning that an FAA-certified repair station has found them airworthy. Yellow tags are often referred to as the “birth certificates” of replacement or reconditioned engine or airframe parts; that’s because they document the parts’ origins and service and repair histories.

ECi has generously provided six new cylinders, and these are being fitted to the internal assemblies and crankcase. The new cylinders’ valves are set at an angle, according to ECi account manager Jim Ball. This, along with its dome-shaped combustion chambers, will make the engine burn fuel more efficiently than the old engine’s parallel-valve arrangement. It’s this setup that helps the new engine make 35 more horsepower than the original.

In addition, the engine is getting a new air-induction system, along with a new propeller governor, starter, and oil cooler. The old oil cooler is junk, the assumption being that iron particles in the oil of the original engine had been trapped inside. If we reused the oil cooler, all that trapped metal would recirculate into the new engine, creating damage all over again. So it’s Genesis Engine’s policy to install new oil coolers to prevent this from happening.

What else will be new? Plenty. New oil and fuel hoses. New scat tubing. New magnetos. A new ignition harness. And D’Shannon Aviation’s new engine baffling and cooling kit, to keep oil- and cylinder head temperatures optimal. The baffling will be painted, and the baffling’s edges have custom-molded, flexible seals done up in colors that match the airplane’s paint scheme.

Aero Engines of Winchester, located at the Winchester (Virginia) Regional Airport, will install the new engine and dress up the engine compartment as well. Aero Engines will also do the job of plugging in the new engine’s redlines and other limitation values into the Electronics International MVP-50P engine/systems analyzer.

When all is done, The Debonair will have a field-overhauled, 260-horsepower Continental IO-470-N engine with zero time on it. There’s a bit of time-travel bound up in that last phrase—because by the time you read this the engine upgrade should be complete! What’s more, it will be on display in front of AOPA’s tent at the Sun ’n Fun Fly-In from April 1 through 6 at the Lakeland (Florida) Linder Regional Airport and at later AOPA Fly-Ins.

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AOPA sweepstakes coverage sponsored by Bank of America

Three ways to win one of 76 prizes in AOPA’s Debonair Sweepstakes

Join or renew your AOPA membership and you are entered to win in AOPA’s Debonair Sweepstakes. AOPA is giving away a completely restored 1963 Beechcraft Debonair B33 with an all-new ergonomic interior, the latest avionics, and up-to-date airframe as the grand prize. You also could win one of 75 other great aviation prizes. Visit the website ( to enter.

Pilot Products

Portable camera mount system

Getting fired leads pilot to stabilized career

By Thomas B. Haines

1404 BriefingArnie Itzkowitz turned getting fired into a new opportunity to combine his passions for flying and photography. An air traffic controller at New York Center and in the Teterboro and LaGuardia towers, Itzkowitz was on vacation in 1981 when President Ronald Reagan fired the striking controllers. The longtime pilot had tinkered with cameras his whole life and soon discovered he could sell his air-to-ground photos to help pay the bills. But when a video job came along he realized how inadequate a handheld camera is inside an airplane.

Itzkowitz began assembling his own portable design and quickly began to win recognition in the New York metro area for his high-quality and low-cost air-to-ground video projects. Madison Avenue took note and a business was launched—Aerial Exposures International. Today, his still photos and video work has appeared in countless ads, promotional videos, and special events coverage. His portable camera mount system is in use worldwide by everyone from local photographers to the U.S. Navy.

1404 BriefingA camera—anything from a movie-quality Red Epic camera to a basic DSLR—is attached to a series of Kenyon Laboratory gyrostabilizers. That arrangement is then suspended via bungee cords from a tubular metal frame. Power comes from a battery pack or directly from the aircraft or ground vehicle, 12 or 28 volts. Sliders allow the photographer to basically change the center of gravity of the camera, causing it to tip up or down. Handles allow for panning. The mount simply sits in the back of his Bonanza, for example, with the aft doors removed, giving the operator a grand view for shooting. He also has a mount used in a helicopter. The system also is frequently used in ground vehicles.

His system costs $11,500. “It’s what you need,” he says. “It does 80 percent of what the bigger, more expensive gear can do.” The mounts are available from Aircrast Spruce or from Itzkowitz’s Aerial Exposures.

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75 years ago this month

AOPA was formed in May 1939.

It is April 1939. Benito Mussolini is prime minister of Italy. The Spanish Civil War ends on April 1 and the United States recognizes the Franco government. African-American singer Marian Anderson performs before 75,000 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., after being denied use of Constitution Hall and a D.C. public high school. The average cost to rent a home in the U.S. is $28 per month. A loaf of bread is 8 cents and a pound of hamburger meat is 14 cents.

April 5
In Germany, it is obligatory to join the Hitler Youth.

April 7
Italy invades Albania.

April 16
Joseph Stalin, premier of the Soviet Union,requests British, French, and Russian anti-Nazi pact.

April 20
Adolf Hitler is 50 years old. One of his gifts is a model of the airplane Condor, presented to him by his private pilot Capt. Hans Bauer.

April 14
President Roosevelt asks German Chancellor Hitler and Italian Prime Minister Mussolini for a 10-year guarantee of peace. 

John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath is published.

April 23
Boston Red Sox Ted Williams hits his first home run.

April 28
Hitler rejects Roosevelt’s request of April 14.

Saving Yoshi

California dog rescued by flight to Pennsylvania

By Jill Tallman

1404 BriefingPhillip Angert’s first animal rescue flight was a bit unusual, even by pilot standards. The New York City tech designer flew 2,000 nautical miles in a coast-to-coast odyssey that drew national attention as he attempted to deliver one small dog to a new home.

Angert had been trying to coordinate an animal rescue flight, but hadn’t been able to make it happen. He decided to plan a cross-country trip—one with “purpose and intention”—and would transport dogs to any stop along his route. In Los Angeles, a Pilots N Paws volunteer stepped in to pull a Chihuahua mix named Yoshi from a high-kill animal shelter. Yoshi was to be euthanized within hours. The volunteer drove the dog to Corona Municipal Airport where Angert had stopped.

Angert hadn’t flown with any dog other than his own and was concerned that Yoshi might be frightened. He checked on the dog in its crate in the back of his Cherokee. “You could see in his eyes, he knew he was safe.”

As the pair traveled across the country, they received media attention wherever they stopped. “Throughout the trip, we got more and more press, and I used that to be a spokesman for [GA],” Angert said.

Angert and Yoshi touched down at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on January 16. Another rescue volunteer was there to greet them. She has received several applications to adopt Yoshi, Angert said.

Watch the video.

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Rans to certify new Light Sport Aircraft

1404 BriefingBy mid-summer Rans Designs will certify as a Light Sport aircraft the S-20LS, a factory-built aircraft that will join 130 other LSAs already on the market. Rans Designs displayed a kit version of the aircraft, the S-20 Raven, at recent airshows. It has side-by-side seating for two.

The S-20 is not an LSA if the owner assembles it as a kit, but instead is certified as Experimental, Amateur Built. Since the side-by-side two-seater meets speed and weight requirements for the LSA category, it is still qualified in the Light Sport category even for pilots with only a sport pilot certificate.

The S-20LS will sell for $110,000 with analog instruments (most will go out the door at $124,000 with options), and will cruise at 97 knots true airspeed. Speed isn’t the most important feature, however, since it will also reach places in the bush where non-bush aircraft fear to tread. The S-20LS and S-20 combine features of two previous models, the Rans S-7 and S-6. The S-7 had bush capability while the S-6 had side-by-side seating and tricycle gear. The S-20 can be switched between tailwheel gear and tricycle gear but the work must be done by a certified mechanic.

Making it rugged enough for the bush is the all-steel fuselage and tail, an upgrade from the aluminum tailcone on the S-6. The first production S-20LS is already on the manufacturing line for a customer in Tennessee. —AKM

Good move for Textron

Year-end delivery figures for Beechcraft show that Textron made a good choice when it decided to acquire the company. Deliveries of King Airs rose from 89 in 2012 to 135 in 2013. Baron G58 and Bonanza G36 deliveries rose from 36 in 2012 to 70 in 2013, a 94-percent increase.

Skycatcher program ends

LSAs to be used as spares

By Alton K. Marsh

1404 BriefingCessna Aircraft officials have decided not to sell the remaining inventory of 80 or so Skycatcher Light Sport aircraft (LSA), diverting them instead for use as spares to support the existing small fleet.

Cessna’s Skycatcher was, at the end of its program, tripped up by parts supplies. After six years and a price increase to $149,000 that drove away deposit holders, fewer than 200 were in customers’ hands and 80 were registered to Cessna Aircraft. The website indicates there were 275 registrations, including those registered to Cessna that were awaiting sale.

In January 2014 Cessna officials had an opportunity to sell all the remaining Skycatchers to a single customer. Rather than proceed, the decision was made in late January to instead use those remaining aircraft as parts. The aircraft is no longer shown on the Cessna Aircraft website.

The two-seater had difficulties almost from the start, starting when prototypes crashed in 2008 and 2009. Slight changes were made to enlarge the tail and improve spin recovery. There also was controversy among potential customers concerning building the aircraft China rather than the United States. At one time the order books were said to be greater than 1,000, with Cessna officials keeping the actual total private.

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Airport Stories

In the media spotlight

Palmyra Airport highlighted in negative TV report

By Benet Wilson

In February 2014, Palmyra Municipal Airport found itself in the media spotlight after being targeted in a story that appeared on a local Milwaukee television station. The story took issue with the way Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants are spent in the state, including funds received by Palmyra. AOPA called the story “incomplete and wrong.”

In their story, WTMJ Channel 4 reporters Tim Meulemans and Steve Chamraz said that in the past four years, 80 Wisconsin airports shared in $76.2 million of the $10.3 billion AIP funds available in 2012.

The story claimed that AIP grants spent on Capitol Drive and Palmyra airports was money that neither facility asked for. “Across Wisconsin, small airports are spending millions of dollars from that fund. In some cases, just because they can,” the story said.

According to the state Department of Transportation, Palmyra received $1.5 million in total funds and $1.2 million from the federal government for necessary airport projects done between 2001 and 2014.

“My total airport budget is $11,000. We have a grass runway, and our local pilots buy the seed, plant the grass, and pay for the fuel to cut the grass,” Airport Manager Donald Agen said. “This way we don’t have to ask residents for any money.”

AOPA members who saw the story commented on the association’s website and Facebook page. They blasted the station for not including AOPA’s remarks in the story, including facts and figures on the economic impact of GA in Wisconsin.

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AOPA Action

Judge dismisses Santa Monica suit

City will stop at nothing to close airport; AOPA ready for long fight

U.S. District Judge John F. Walter in February dismissed the city of Santa Monica’s lawsuit to release it from its obligation to operate Santa Monica Municipal Airport as an airport.

This is a major victory for the airport, and a blow to the city’s latest attack. In its suit, the city claimed that when it agreed to the transfer of federal land to the city in 1948, it did not know the United States claimed an interest in the title to the airport property. If the city were to ever close the airport, the government could take back the land.

The judge found that the city had been put on notice of the United States’ interest in the airport property, and that the statute of limitations for the city to make the claim expired decades ago. The city raised various constitutional issues, which were dismissed.

“This doesn’t mean the city will give up,” said AOPA General Counsel Ken Mead. “The city continues to strangle the airport while spending millions to try to close it. We’re ready for whatever they bring on.”

AOPA President Mark Baker also cautioned the aviation community that the fight is far from finished. “The city will spare no expense—financial or the personal toll on its own residents—to close the airport,” said Baker, “but we will use every resource available to keep Santa Monica open.”

AOPA Vice President of Airports Bill Dunn said the city’s general plan calls for a business park at the airport, and that city council members have said that anyone who thinks Santa Monica will be turned into a park is wrong; it will be a development.

Adding a business development would worsen the traffic congestion in Santa Monica. AOPA commissioned a third-party survey in 2011 to gauge residents’ concerns about various issues in the city. The airport ranked near the bottom of the list of residents’ concerns, with just 2 percent expressing that view. Meanwhile, traffic congestion and growth and development were at the top of the list.

“The city is not representing its citizens,” Baker said. “Surveys have proven the majority of Santa Monica residents support the airport.” —AJM

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Learn more in this video.

Disney’s Planes 2 flying to theaters

A sequel to the previous Planes movie by Disney, Planes 2 Fire & Rescue, is expected to open in theaters July 18. This time Dusty, the happy little cartoon cropduster, is busy fighting forest fires.

1404 BriefingAeroshell team members will sign copies of this poster at AOPA tents at Sun ’n Fun April 1 through 6 in Florida and EAA AirVenture July 28 through August 3 in Oshkosh. The poster commemorates AOPA’s 75th anniversary.

Worlwide Airplane Billings

2011: $19.04B

2012: $18.87B

2013: $23.42B

GAMA reports increases in aircraft shipments, billings

Aircraft makers logged the best year since 2008 last year, with $23.4 billion in worldwide billings for 2013, up 24 percent from 2012. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) reported the numbers February 19, 2014. Big-ticket business jets continue to drive the lion’s share of revenue increases for 2013, however, there are signs of progress in piston and turbine aircraft as well; single-engine piston deliveries increased 5 percent; multiengine piston deliveries climbed 12 percent; and turboprop deliveries incresaed 11 percent.

First Fly-In at San Marcos

Texas hosts first regional fly-in April 26

1404 BriefingAOPA’s first-ever regional fly-in will be held at the San Marcos Municipal Airport (HYI) from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., April 26, 2014. An exciting and action-packed day of fun, friends, food, and flying awaits AOPA members, pilots, and aviation enthusiasts at this great Texas airfield.

Known in the 1940s as Gary Air Force Base, where military pilots trained for World War II, San Marcos Municipal Airport still exudes a culture of military aviation with the Commemorative Air Force’s Cen Tex Wing and museum located on the field. These fascinating aircraft will be joined by a host of static display and demonstration aircraft at the AOPA Fly-In. Come check out aircraft of every era—from vintage airplanes to the manufacturer’s newest models. Included in the aircraft displays and demonstrations, the Experimental Aircraft Association’s B–17 Aluminum Overcast will be on site all weekend offering rides. Take advantage of the opportunity to tour one of World War II’s most ubiquitous warriors.

Attendees will enjoy two great meals—a pancake breakfast will accompany a pilot town hall with AOPA President Mark Baker, and a barbeque lunch will be prepared by one of San Marcos’ best local restaurants.

Some of aviation’s leading speakers will be on hand to share their knowledge in seminars covering safety, maintenance, and technology. Bruce Landsberg, Rod Machado, Adrian Eichhorn, and John Zimmerman will be with us in San Marcos. Spend the rest the day exploring exhibits, visiting with AOPA leaders, and getting to know fellow aviators.

Complete details including seminar topics, invited guests, entertainment, exhibitors, and a schedule of events can be found on the website, which is being updated daily as information is available.

Join us! Be sure to RSVP for a fly-in near you.

2014 AOPA Fly-Ins

San Marcos Municipal Airport
(HYI)—April 26, 2014

Indianapolis Regional Airport
(MQJ)—May 31, 2014

Plymouth Municipal Airport
(PYM)—July 12, 2014

Felts Field, Spokane
(SFF)—August 16, 2014

Chino Airport
(CNO)—September 20, 2014

Frederick Municipal Airport
(FDK)—October 4, 2014

Malcolm McKinnon Airport
(SSI)—November 8, 2014


‘Yellow Rose’ in the Hill Country

CAF CenTex Wing’s flying history collection

By Jill W. Tallman

1404 BriefingWhen you stop at San Marcos Municipal Airport in the Texas Hill Country for the April 26 AOPA Fly-In, you’ll want to stay awhile—particularly if you fancy military aircraft. Just up the ramp from Redbird Skyport is a massive hangar housing a bomber, two movie stars, and more.

The Commemorative Air Force’s Central Texas (CenTex) Wing’s collection includes a 1943 North American B–25J Mitchell, painted in camouflage and the markings of the 340th Bomb Group. A proud example of the medium-range bombers that took part in the 1942 Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, the Yellow Rose is more than a museum piece—she flies regularly, as do most of the other aircraft, to airshows and other events. Other airplanes are undergoing restoration or repairs.

None of the airplanes are behind velvet ropes. Visitors can walk among them (and duck under wings) and touch them. Or even sit inside one, if you’re fortunate. During a recent visit, Wing Leader Tim Black invited me to climb inside the Yellow Rose’s cockpit. Black, a U.S. Air Force veteran and retired UPS pilot, is one of Rose’s crewmen. After I had carefully made my way up the ladder and into the left seat, I felt awe, then thankfulness for our armed forces—and then pure glee. Black suggested that I crawl inside the bombardier station, but I took a pass and was glad that the men who flew the B–25 during the war did not have claustrophobia.

Posed near the Yellow Rose are the wing’s two movie stars: Kate, who started her life as an AT–6 but was highly modified to resemble a Japanese Mitsubishi B5M, and Zero, a replica Mitsubishi A6M Zero. Kate and Zero appeared in the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora! and Kate also can be seen in the 2001 film Pearl Harbor. The two perform at airshows as part of the CAF’s Tora, Tora, Tora recreation of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

Another rare bird is the Bell P–39 Airacobra Miss Connie, a low-level fighter. Miss Connie is the only regularly flying P–39 in the world, according to the CAF.

The CenTex Wing was established at San Marcos in March 1974. The enormous hangar that houses the wing was built in 1942, and during its long life it, too, has been used as a film backdrop. It also houses a library, officer’s club, and a museum with hundreds of World War II artifacts, uniforms, photos, and models. While the Yellow Rose was not flown in the Doolittle Raid, the museum has on display a 50-pound seat armor plate recovered from the B–25 flown by Gen. Jimmy Doolittle.

The wing welcomes visitors Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There’s no admission, but a suggested $3 donation can be dropped in a big plastic jug at the front of the museum .

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See some of the CenTex Wing’s aircraft in this online video.

Fly-outs made possible by Enterprise Rent-A-Car

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