The Best We've Ever Made
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PILOTS GO ON TV TO HIGHLIGHT AIRCRAFT'S PROBLEMS
Force F-22 Raptor pilots have taken the unprecedented action of
explaining thier refusal to fly the aircraft to a national television
audience. Appearing in uniform and without the permission of their
superiors, Maj. Jeremy Gordon and Capt. Joshua Wilson told 60 Minutes interviewer Lesley Stahl
they've invoked federal military whistleblower protection in their open
defiance of an Air Force decision to keep flying the aircraft even
though they say the majority of pilots are suffering health problems
because of something wrong with the oxygen system. Some, including both
Wilson and Gordon, have become disoriented in flight, something that
happens at a rate that far exceeds the norm for military aircraft. The
officers say pilots have been issued oxymeters and the Air Force briefly
equipped the Raptors with charcoal filters in the oxygen system to
remove contaminants (the filters themselves caused some pilots to cough
up black mucus and have since been removed) but nothing has been done to
solve the actual problem. More...
PASSES MILESTONE, CRITICS DEBATE WHICH ONE
The last of 187
Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fighter jets was delivered to the U.S. Air
Force, Wednesday, provoking new debate about the jet's usefulness, cost
and ongoing safety concerns. Since listed as combat-ready in 2005, not a
single $420 million F-22 has flown a combat mission in any U.S. military
engagement, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. They have spent
nearly five months of their service grounded due to yet unresolved
concerns surrounding the system that delivers oxygen to the jets'
pilots. And a few pilots now say they'd prefer not to fly the jet for
that reason. In exercises, the F-22 consistently records lopsided wins
when pitted against America's best jet fighters. But that hasn't
silenced the jet's critics, which include Senator John McCain.
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SHORT OF GLIDER GOAL
Gordon Boettger, who was hoping to fly
more than 900 miles in a downwind glider dash from Minden, Nev., to
Rapid City, S.D., was forced to land about halfway to his record-setting
goal. Deteriorating weather prompted him to land in Twin Falls, Idaho.
GLIDING CAMERA CARD RETRIEVED
The Royal Canadian Mounted
Police say they're now trying to get the video off a memory card that
was allegedly swallowed by a hang gliding pilot after his tandem
passenger fell from the aircraft to her death a week ago. William Jon
Orders was kept in jail until police had their hands on card, which they
knew would emerge sooner or later because it showed up on a
court-ordered X-ray. Orders was released on bail on Friday and the
hearing heard what reporters said was "dramatic" evidence about the
circumstances of the death of 27-year-old Lenami Godinez-Avila, a
Mexican living in Vancouver. They couldn't relate details of the
evidence because the Canadian judicial system bans the publication of
evidence entered in preliminary proceedings like bail hearings.
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FOR HAWKER BEECHCRAFT
Hawker Beechcraft Thursday announced
that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, having entered
agreements to eliminate $2.5 billion in debt and securing financing that
will allow it to pay its employees, for now. Last year, Hawker lost over
$600 million, but company officials remain publicly optimistic about the
viability of the company. "Restructuring our balance sheet and
recapitalizing the company in partnership with our debt holders will
dramatically improve Hawker Beechcraft's ability to compete in a rapidly
changing environment," CEO Robert Miller said in a statement.
Restructuring won't just impact Hawker, which last week announced 350
layoffs, but will also impact suppliers. The company says it will
continue to operate "in the normal course of business" and fill all
orders for available products. More...
CARAVANS FINAL ASSEMBLY IN CHINA
A "strategic agreement"
between Cessna and the China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Company
Ltd. (CAIGA) will see Caravans completed in China for sale to the
Chinese market, Cessna announced Thursday. Cessna says the agreement
advances a framework set in March that opens markets to the manufacturer
that otherwise would remain out of reach. Under the agreement, Cessna
Caravans will be built in Kansas and sent to Shijiazhuang, China, for
final assembly and sale in China. Cessna expects China "to be one of the
largest general aviation markets in ten year's time," and that "the
versatility of the Caravan makes it a great fit" for the Chinese market.
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RETIRES AT IAOPA
Pilots the world over share common concerns
about the future of general aviation, and the International Aircraft
Owners and Pilots Association is ensuring GA's interests are heard when
decisions are made that might affect private aviation, says the outgoing
chief administrator of IAOPA. Secretary-General John Sheehan retired
from the post April 30 and said his 15 years there revealed two common
threats to GA everywhere: airspace allocation and the future demise of
avgas. Sheehan told AVweb in a
podcast interview that GA almost always takes a back seat to
commercial interests when airspace decisions are made and IAOPA has been
able to mitigate the threat to the freedom to fly many times. He also
noted that avgas availability is a universal concern as is the patchwork
of regulation between jurisdictions, particularly regarding the
certification of small aircraft. "Where are our affordable light
aircraft going to come from?" he said. More...
JOHN SHEEHAN 'RETIRES' FROM IAOPA
For 15 years,
John Sheehan has marshaled the combined might of 69 national
pilot organizations as the secretary general of the International
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. On May 1, he retired and spoke
with AVweb's Russ Niles about the successes in those 15 years and
the challenges ahead.
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VETERAN, PUBLIC PRESSURE MOVE SPIRIT
Spirit Airlines Friday
reversed an April decision to not refund a ticket after word spread that
the ticket-holder was a Vietnam War veteran who says he decided not to
take his flight after learning he was terminally ill. Jerry Meekins says
he bought the ticket two weeks before doctors told him his condition was
terminal and advised him not to fly. He says he contacted the airline
for a refund and was turned away. At the time, a local news station
(WFLA-TV) sought comment from Spirit and said the reply included, "Our
reservations are non-refundable, which means we don't do refunds and we
are not going to issue Mr. Meekins a refund." Facing public calls for a
Spirit Airlines boycott, the airline has now changed its tune, sending a
personal message. More...
WANTS LAW AGAINST GEESE
A New York senator wants the federal
government to pass a law that would force the killing of Canada Geese
that now use a wildlife preserve near JFK Airport and sometimes get in
the way of the airport's aluminum and composite occupants. Sen. Kirsten
Gillibrand, D-N.Y., says her bill will end the turf wars between the
Department of Agriculture, which would do the killing, and the National
Parks Service, which has jurisdiction over the preserve. The law would
require the killing to be done by Aug. 1. "We cannot sit back and wait
for a catastrophe to occur before cutting though bureaucratic red tape
between agencies," Gillibrand said. "We cannot and should not wait
another day to act while public safety is at risk." There have been two
recent bird strikes, one at JFK and another at Westchester County
Airport, more than 30 miles away from the wildlife preserve.
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|The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You!||back to
MAY 7, 2012
Letter of the Week: The Third Class Medical
Regarding your "Question
of the Week": Perhaps the reason that more have not commented in
favor is that not as many people agree that it is necessarily a good
idea. The cost of a medical is peanuts compared to the cost of actually
flying an airplane. So what does extending the exemption accomplish? It
allows people with medical issues to fly larger aircraft and carry more
passengers. Getting a medical exam every two years is a small price to
pay for the privilege of flying. It may also just save your life, or
that of your passengers.
If you really want to increase the pilot
population, increase the maximum gross weight limit for LSAs to allow
the use of legacy aircraft such as the Cessna 150/152. An outright
increase would be great, but even an exemption for flight training and
the check ride would help. Potential LSA customers could learn to fly
more inexpensively, as well as increasing the availability of training
aircraft for them.
LSA manufacturers may not like competing with
legacy aircraft for sales, but in the long run, more pilots means more
potential customers. I'm sure the 150/152 cannibalized some sales of the
172, but in the long run, it probably helped by getting more people into
Click through to read the
rest of this week's letters. More...
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WILLIAM RANKIN, THE MAN WHO RODE THE THUNDER
The story of William
Rankin's ejection at 47,000 feet and 500 knots is legendary, not only
because the fall took him 40 minutes, but also because he lived to talk
about it. There are other and more recent cases of people who have been
drawn into thunderstorms under canopy and not every one ends in
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OF THE WEEK: JET WEST (SNS, SALINAS, CALIFORNIA)
AVweb reader Jack Addison discovered our
latest "FBO of the Week" -- Jet West at Salinas Municipal Airport (SNS)
in Salinas, California:
had landed at Monterey, California and found [another venue] wanted $25
per night to stay for my wife's race at Big Sur. Their fuel was
expensive, and there were no tie-down ropes or chains with the
in-concrete loops. We ferried over to Jet West at Salinas, were greeted,
tied down with three chains provided, and fueled up at $5.99 and no more
charge for four nights. When we returned, the ground crew had put orange
cones 3' high at each wing tip for protection. As a bonus, my wife
walked over to Sean Tucker and got his autograph! Jet West, SNS likes
Keep those nominations
coming. For complete contest rules, click
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in
the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here
next Monday! More...
I heard this while returning from
Piper Pilot (with a thick southern drawl)
"Sahv, Centah, Ah believe Ah'm a-fixin' to cancel mah IFR
"Are you just 'fixin' to,' or
are you going to cancel it?"
Ah'm a-goin' to cancel it about now."
THE AVWEBFLASH TEAM
AVwebFlash is a twice-weekly summary of the
latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on
world's premier independent aviation news resource.
AVwebFlash team is:
Jeff Van West
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