On The Fly...

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The FAA (or is it the TSA?) eased restrictions ever so slightly at Washington- and New York-area towered airports covered by the ADIZs on the weekend, allowing pilots and students to do some pattern work. From 0600 Saturday to 02000 Sunday, those staying in the pattern didn't have to file a flight plan and they were given a universal transponder code of 1234. ATC contact and requests for the special treatment were mandatory and the relaxation didn't apply to the DC-3...

When the Vatican closed its airspace it probably didn't have this in mind. A 26-year-old Austrian was arrested Friday after hang-gliding into St. Peter's Square to hang an anti-war banner. Seven other people on the ground, apparently waiting for the early morning landing with cameras and more banners, were also detained...

The King Air carrying Sen. Paul Wellstone was flying perilously slow just before it crashed near Eveleth, Minn. Oct 25. The NTSB says the twin was going just 76 knots, well below the 99-knot minimum non-icing speed in the King Air manual and almost half the 140-knot minimum set for icing conditions. The crash killed Wellstone, his wife and daughter, three campaign aids and both pilots...

Lancair will debut its electric de-icing system at Sun 'n Fun. The ThermaWing system uses a multi-layered tape powered by the engine alternator that cycles and rapidly transfers power to multiple sections of the tape. The tape is bonded to leading edges of the wings and horizontal stabilizer. A heated prop and an optional removable window plate complete the package. A new flat instrument panel will also be unveiled...

It was the Shuttle Columbia's leading edge and not the underside of its wing that was hit by insulation falling from the fuel tank on launch. That's increased speculation the shuttle was destroyed by the entry of superheated gas into the wing from a breach in the leading edge...

Your special-issuance medical could be a casualty of the war in Iraq. Two of the five FAA doctors who review those applications have been called up and a single replacement doctor won't be on staff until the end of April. That means first-time applications will take three months and re-issuances two months. You can speed up the process by making sure all the records and paperwork are complete.