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Grass-roots Efforts Shine In The Background
With sponsors like Ford, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman and Eclipse and a huge organization like EAA running the show, it's no wonder the Countdown To Kitty Hawk celebration of 100 years of powered, sustained flight gets most of the attention. And yes, it will be EAA's replica of the 1903 Flyer (built by The Wright Experience) that will duplicate the feat on Dec. 17. But away from the bright lights and fanfare, there are other groups diligently pursuing their own interpretation of that momentous event. Last March 15, the FAA presented the Wright Redux Association with an Airworthiness Certificate for their replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer. The plane, called the Spirit of Glen Ellyn, flew last April and the group is claiming bragging rights that its Flyer was the first to be certified, even though it lacks the deep pockets of EAA's effort. "We don't benefit from a large budget or huge sponsorships," Mike Perry, the group's treasurer, told AVweb. "In fact, if it wasn't for Packer Engineering supplying us with the engine, we'd be far behind schedule, if not grounded." Perry also takes exception to other organizations claiming their aircraft are the only authentic reproductions, as the Spirit of Glen Ellyn includes an exact copy of the Wrights' 11-horsepower engine, a muslin wing fabric and an airframe built entirely of authentic Sitka spruce and ash. The Redux Flyer -- built by weekend volunteers working on a very tight budget -- is scheduled to fly publicly on the front lawn of the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry Sept. 20 and Sept. 21 as the featured highlight of the City of Chicago's Centennial of Flight observance this fall.
...AIAA Builds Two Replicas...
The Los Angeles Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has also taken on the challenges of building its own set of two 1903 Flyer replicas. In 1999, the first aircraft built was used for extensive testing in the wind tunnel in the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffet Field, in California. The aircraft underwent unprecedented static load testing, which the group claims no other replica has undergone to date. Fred E.C. Culick, chief engineer and pilot #1 for the AIAA project, told AVweb the group started working on its aircraft in 1978, "well before the EAA even thought of building theirs." AIAA members worked on the replicas in their spare time and without corporate sponsorship and Culick said that was the whole idea. "Our goal is to have fun while celebrating the Wright Brothers' achievements. It's that simple," he said. There's also been some serious science involved in the project. The Wright replica was used as a test bed in a program in which the controls of a special "variable stability" Learjet were set to duplicate the feel and flight characteristics of the Wright Flyer. Military test pilots flew this bizarre combination as part of their training program and the AIAA got feedback from the pilots on how to make the replica safer to fly. The flyable model is getting some new covering and is scheduled to fly sometime in October or November at Edwards Air Force Base, in California.
...And Vin Fiz Flies Again
At this summer's Muskegon Air Fair, Dana Smith flew a replica of the Wright Brothers' Model EX that made a coast-to-coast flight in 1911. The 68-year-old retired pilot and airplane mechanic was dressed in the era's pilot apparel, as he flew the replica before the crowd of onlookers. He also brought along a replica of the Wrights' Model A for static display. The Model EX replica is patterned after the Vin Fiz, which flew from Sheepshead Bay, N.Y., to Long Beach, Calif., in 49 days during the fall of 1911. Smith's version of the Vin Fiz weighs 400 pounds less than the original and has a redesigned rudder. As designed by the Wrights, Smith said the Vin Fiz wouldn't have been stable enough to fly near air show crowds. Because his Model A needs a catapult to get airborne, it was not flown at the Air Fair, held from July 4-7. The original 1911 cross-country flight -- with numerous stops along the way -- was largely a publicity stunt by the makers of the grape-flavored drink after which the plane was named.
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News Regs Open The Doors To GA...
The biggest consumer market in the world is opening to GA. Premier Zhu Rongji and Central Military Commission Chairman Jiang Zemin recently signed a decree regulating the country's general aviation industry. The new "Regulation for Flight Control of General Aviation" will reportedly help China make better use of its airspace, ensure aviation safety and allow for the smooth development of the country's general aviation activities. So, what does this mean for those interested in developing GA in a country with more than a billion people, an exploding economy and just 400 GA aircraft? Money and possibly lots of it, as manufacturers, training institutions and other companies will be given access to the huge potential market.
...As The GA Fleet Grows
Some companies are already taking advantage of the opening doors in China. On Friday, Cessna announced the sale of a T206 Turbo Stationair to Beijing Sport Aviation School. The airplane will be headquartered in Beijing and is the first Turbo Stationair in China. A&P Light Aircraft Service Co. (China) Ltd., which helped seal the deal with Cessna, is a joint venture found by Anyang Aviation Sports School and PTE, another Beijing–based authorized Cessna single-engine sales representative and Cessna service station. And, as we mentioned, there's plenty of room for more. GA accounts for about 70 percent of aircraft worldwide but China's 400 GA aircraft make up only .2 percent of those in use. China has announced several new businesses debuting within recent weeks, and there's also a new flight-training initiative within the country.
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The first FAA authorization to routinely fly an unmanned aircraft within the National Airspace System (NAS) was recently granted to the U.S. Air Force. The military will use this sign-off to fly the RQ-4 Global Hawk, which was widely used in Afghanistan and the recent war in Iraq. The new Certificate of Authorization (COA) allows it to be used throughout the NAS in a new homeland defense role. The certificate is the first national COA granted for an unmanned air vehicle system. Of course, the Global Hawk had previously flown in the NAS but on a restricted basis, while testing for its new domestic role. Now with the advent of mode "S" transponders, precision altitude and navigation equipment, and UHF/VHF voice relay radios, the unmanned aircraft will reportedly integrate and communicate with air traffic control and even file and fly its own IFR flight plans.
History isn't always pretty and now curators at the Smithsonian's National Air & Space Museum are pondering how to portray some of the space shuttle program's darkest moments. While the Space Shuttle Enterprise is already slated for display at the new Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles, a debate is ongoing as to how, and if, some remains of the Challenger and Columbia wreckage should be displayed. Until now, the museum has obscured these monumental, but unpleasant, occurrences with token mentions on small plaques. But it doesn't seem possible that a special space exhibit highlighting 22 years of shuttle flights can escape more honest treatment of the accidents that have claimed so many astronauts. Or can it? There's no shortage of artifacts. NASA houses wreckage from the two shuttle accidents and the charred remains of Apollo 1, and will meet with museum officials to chart the best course of action. The two entities have always conferred when selecting space artifacts for display. This is not the first time the museum has had to deal with the delicate balance of displaying special artifacts. In 1994, the museum encountered some resistance when displaying a piece of the Enola Gay, the B-29 used to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in World War II. On Monday, the museum unveiled the newly reassembled Enola Gay (click through for streaming video), which will form the centerpiece at the new Hazy Center.
NOTE: Our partner, AirsideTV, is currently broadcasting special NASM coverage, including interviews with NASM Director and Deputy Director Gen. Jack Dailey and Lt. Col. Don Lopez.
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A Qantas Boeing 737-800, carrying 126 passengers, had just taken off from Cairns airport on Sunday night when a bird was ingested into one of its engines. Thanks to technology partially developed by Roxie C. Laybourne, a pioneer in the science of forensic ornithology, the aircraft was able to return for a safe landing. Laybourne, who used her knowledge in identifying dead birds from their feathers in aircraft engine components, died on August 7 at the age of 92. She was regarded as a critical source of information for the proper design of engine and canopy protective systems to help guard airplanes from collisions with birds. Laybourne, who worked at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, originally became involved in identifying birds from their remains after a Lockheed Electra taking off from Boston in 1960 flew into a flock of starlings and crashed, killing all 62 people aboard. Her work helped develop airport bird-management programs and evidence-handling with several aerospace companies and the FBI. Laybourne was recognized in 1966 with a lifetime achievement award from the Air Force Bird Strike Committee.
As you may recall from previous coverage, Raytheon Aircraft announced in June that it was decommissioning the 40-ship Starship fleet because its support costs were prohibitive. While some aircraft were reportedly scrapped, others are headed for museums. NC-41 was recently donated to the Kansas Aviation Museum. On Sunday, the aircraft, formerly based in Rockford, Ill., was flown to the museum at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita. A group of about 100 Kansas Aviation Museum officials and supporters were on hand to receive the Starship after its final flight. NC-41 is not the only Starship destined for a museum, as Raytheon will be donating a limited number of these aircraft to other museums, aviation maintenance schools and various research institutes. The canard-design, twin-turboprop, pusher corporate aircraft was built from 1988 to 1995 but never saw any commercial success. Nevertheless, Raytheon claims the design paved the way for several new business jets, including the Beechcraft Premier I and Hawker Horizon.
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Capt. Marlon Green may not be a household name but his achievements paved the way for all aviators, regardless of race or ethnic background, to vie for that coveted left seat. On Saturday, Green, 74, was honored in Seattle for his achievements at the Organization of Black Airline Pilots annual convention. The organization promotes the training, mentoring and hiring of black and other minority pilots. Green's battle goes back to 1957, when, just as he wrapped his duty with the US Air Force, he decided to apply for a flight crew position with three airlines. Despite his professional qualifications, the airlines couldn't see past the color barrier. Eventually, Green mailed an application to Continental Airlines, but didn't mention his heritage. An invitation for personal interviews and a series of tests was promptly mailed back, yet things changed once he met face-to-face with the company screeners. Green decided to sue the airline after it hired less-experienced white pilots. After six long years of litigation, he won. Today, Green is celebrated for helping making it possible for all aspiring aviators to fly much friendlier skies.
Cessna feels good despite some tough times. Company spokesperson Jessica Myers recently told The Wichita Eagle the manufacturer had a very good show at EAA AirVenture and took orders in the "double digits" for various Cessna single-engine Caravan and Citation aircraft. She declined to offer any further details. This follows Cessna's recent announcement to lay off another 330 people...
The Machinists Union launched an e-mail campaign against Raytheon's plan to outsource wiring-harness work. The company wants to keep the work in Wichita and is asking residents and Raytheon employees to e-mail Bill Swanson, chief executive...
The Israeli Air Force grounded all of its C-130 planes after an accident where seven soldiers were injured during landing. An initial investigation revealed one of the cargo plane's propellers flew off and hit the fuselage during the landing...
London's major airports will each get a new runway. The UK government is set to authorize the construction of runways at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, instead of building a new airport in Southeast England.
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*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
We received over 100 pictures last week. Congratulations to this week's winner, Rev. Marvin B. Tobin, of Springfield, MO. His winning photo, titled "Yellow Fever" captures Mike Mancuso putting on his best before this year's EAA AirVenture crowd. Mancuso was part of the great lineup of air show performers at this year's event, with our coverage still available under the "Special Events" link of the homepage. Great picture, Rev. Tobin! Your AVweb hat is on the way.
To check out the winning picture, or to enter next week's contest, go to http://www.avweb.com/potw.
**Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
We received over 300 responses to our question last week on noise-abatement procedures. Half of those responding indicated they normally follow airport noise-abatement procedures, while 32 percent claim they are "somewhat observant" of these policies. Only 3 percent of our respondents seemed to show a total disregard for the noise level produced by their overflying aircraft.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
This week, we would like to know your thoughts on contract ATC towers. Please go to http://www.avweb.com/qotw to respond.
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Note, this address is ONLY for suggested QOTW questions, and NOT for QOTW answers.
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New Articles and Features on AVweb
Failure is Not an Option -- Part II
Failure to complete a flight safely after an electrical failure shouldn't be left to chance. In Part I, AVweb took a close look at the electrical system. In Part II, we describe other ways the system can fail, and present different ways to prepare for a failure before it happens.
Say Again? #27: 12 Minutes
AVweb's Don Brown is trying something different this month: 12 minutes of fictional radio transmissions (just like those NTSB CVR transcripts) to show how a few innocent errors and omissions in communication can start to overload an air traffic controller on what sounds like a quiet shift.
Sponsor News and Special Offers
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NOTAM MANIA, SOUR APPROACHES, RESTRAINING CABIN ITEMS ARE A FEW ARTICLES in the September issue of Aviation Safety Magazine. Also included are articles on ditching in the water, and why pitot covers are important, plus accident reports, service difficulties and real-life experiences in the air. Order subscriptions online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/belvoir/avsafe
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