AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 14, Number 17a

April 21, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Tragedy in the Wake of Sun 'n Fun back to top 

Sun 'n Fun Crash And Speculation

Click for a Larger Image

A Lancair Legacy that departed the Sun 'n Fun Fly-in and airshow at Lakeland, Fla., April 13 may have done so with an open canopy and did result in a fatality. An AVweb reader sent our newsteam an image of the accident aircraft departing with a gap clearly visible along the canopy/fuselage joint and at the rear of the canopy. The Legacy is an all-composite, retractable-gear, two-place kit-built aircraft, in this case powered by a Continental IO-550. Its canopy is usually forward-hinged. The NTSB's preliminary report on the accident states that the aircraft, N1177M, departed Lakeland's Runway 27L in VFR conditions. Witnesses told the NTSB that the pilot and sole occupant appeared to have difficulty closing the canopy. One witness stated that during takeoff climb he saw the canopy moving "up and down about 6 to 12 inches." Shortly after takeoff, another witness said the "engine lost power," the aircraft continued straight and level before nosing down 40 degrees, dipping its left wing and crashing beyond a tree line.

Pilots familiar with Lancair designs speculate that an unlatched canopy introduces a significant distraction to the pilot but should not in and of itself result in complete loss of controlled flight for the Lancair Legacy.

Glasair Pilot Sues Sun 'n Fun For "Skinny Runway" Crash

A Florida pilot is suing the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-in for a crash that occurred four years ago while he was trying to land at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. The pilot, Terry Edward Morris, is seeking more than $15,000 in damages. Morris was attempting a go-around in his Glasair III homebuilt when, according to the NTSB, he failed "to maintain airspeed and establish a climb during an attempted go-around" and “nosed over” onto the runway and adjacent grass after stalling. Air traffic control called Morris's go-around because they observed him landing on Runway 9R instead of “skinny runway” 9L.

This “skinny runway” is the 75-foot wide parallel taxiway to Lakeland’s runway 9/27 that is used during the fly-in as a temporary runway. Morris claims in his lawsuit that the taxiway as a runway is “ultrahazardous, abnormally dangerous.” The lawsuit also states that, “only during the week of the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In is the taxiway used as a landing runway.” Morris’s lawsuit comes two and a half years after the city of Lakeland filed its own lawsuit against Morris for his crash. The city’s lawsuit seeks $16,283.44 for airport property damage and the cost of a fuel spill cleanup that ensued after the crash. The city’s lawsuit claims that Morris was negligent for attempting to land on the wrong runway.

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Close Encounters back to top 

F-16/Pilatus Incident: Air Force Says No Closer Than 600 Feet

The U.S. Air Force says that an F-16 came no closer than 600 feet to a Pilatus PC-12 it intercepted while flying VFR in the Gladden MOA near Phoenix last month. The incident raised quite a ruckus when AVweb reported it earlier this month following an eyewitness report from the PC-12’s pilot, Patrick McCall, who told us the F-16, one of a flight of four, maneuvered aggressively and came as close as 20 feet to his airplane. (Hear McCall’s report in this podcast.)

McCall told AVweb that when his onboard TCAS tracked the approaching F-16, he maneuvered to avoid the conflict but that the F-16 countered and stayed right with him. He reported a merge from head on, then a join up by the F-16 from behind his PC-12. A second airplane inside the MOA, a Beech Premier jet, was also intercepted and had to declare an emergency while complying with a TCAS resolution advisory that would have taken it into Class A airspace without a clearance. The Premier was also transiting the MOA VFR and both civil pilots were operating legally in the airspace.

An investigation by our sister publication, Aviation Safety, scheduled to appear in the May issue, reveals that the Air Force’s account of the intercept contrasts with McCall’s report. Major Miki Gilloon, Luke Air Force Base’s public information officer, told Aviation Safety that the F-16’s radar, head-up display and HSD display tapes showed that the F-16 approached the PC-12 on a parallel or divergent heading and got no closer than 600 feet.

She also said the F-16 did not counter the PC-12’s TCAS evasive maneuvers but approached to visually identify it “in order to contact the civilian pilot and educate him about the risks of transiting an active MOA.” The F-16’s data tapes aren’t releasable to the general public, according to Gilloon. However, the investigation results will be available under the Freedom of Information Act on the Luke Air Force Base web site.

The incident occurred on March 21 when the PC-12, flying VFR at 16,500 feet on a westerly heading through the MOA, transited airspace in which four F-16s were conducting a two-on-two air combat exercise. The training exercise was halted and three of the F-16s orbited in holds while the lead aircraft conducted “a properly executed standard maneuver such as he might do to gain a visual contact with his flight leader or an aerial refueling tanker,” Gilloon said “This was a controlled maneuver to ensure that neither aircraft was placed in any danger.” She said the F-16 was “fully within Air Force rules” to conduct the intercept.

Military controllers alerted the four-ship flight to the presence of the PC-12, but neither they nor the F-16s were aware of its identity. “The civilian traffic was identified by the military controlling agency as stranger traffic, possibly military. The civil aircraft entered the MOA near our local military entry point at the altitude and airspeed comparable to an F-16 and without a VFR IFF squawk,” Gilloon said.

The FAA says that the PC-12 was not receiving traffic advisories from Albuquerque Center, which owns the local airspace, although McCall told us he was receiving flight following. Once the PC-12 was identified, the F-16 flight raised its tactical floor to 20,000 feet and resumed its training.

When asked about FAR 91.111, which prohibits unplanned formation flight, Major Gilloon said “Our ongoing investigation has revealed no indication whatsoever that the F-16 pilot violated any existing military practices or procedures for operating military aircraft in a MOA.” While the Aeronautical Information Manual notes that military aircraft are exempt from some FARs, it’s unclear—at least to us—if 91.111 is among them. However, the Air Force considers 500 feet of separation “well clear,” while the civil definition of formation flight is ambiguous.

Both the Air Force and the FAA are continuing their investigation into the incident. McCall has filed a near miss report with FAA, but Gilloon said “it is not USAF policy to file complaints against civilian aircraft legally operating in a MOA.” For more in Aviation Safety’s May report, see www.aviationsafety.com. The article will appear on the site next week.

RAF Instructor Fined For Buzzing Pro Golfers

RAF flying instructor Flt. Lt. Rodriquez pleaded guilty Tuesday before a court martial hearing regarding his low altitude flight with a student over an Open golf championship. Rodriguez, with student in tow, reportedly descended a Grob trainer to 400 feet AGL and flew over some 30,000 people who had gathered to watch the world's best golfers, all of whom were "protected" by temporary flight restrictions. Aside from being identified by its registration number, the flight was also tracked by a satellite. Rodriguez has accumulated more than 1600 flight hours, including time logged refueling coalition fighter aircraft over Iraq. The instructor earlier told investigators that he had not been made aware that the course had been identified as a "no-fly" zone by his station commander at RAF Leuchars ... and that he was an avid golfer. He was fined 1,500 British pounds and "given a severe reprimand," according to the Telegraph UK.

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News Briefs back to top 

"Corrugated" Skin For Lower Drag

Texas A&M University researcher Dimitris Lagoudas and his colleagues claim that by creating an undulating skin they have been able to demonstrate reductions in skin friction drag of up to 50 percent. To maximize efficiency, the skin must be able to adapt to very subtle changes (micrometers in height) at different speeds, adopting active wrinkle patters in a skin that "shifts to the shape of an ideal surface wave," according to NewScientist.com. The complexity of controlling an actively morphing skin controlled by electric fields that match the wavelengths necessary to reduce drag currently poses significant challenges, and would be especially difficult to adapt to aircraft. But the researchers claim that even a fixed corrugated skin design would reduce drag and could be tailored to be most effective during specific phases of flight -- cruise, for example. With some tweaking, the same fixed skin could also be designed to increase drag while the aircraft is in landing configuration.

The research team says the idea is not entirely original -- dolphins have been wrinkling their skin to reduce drag for perhaps as long as there have been dolphins. One scientific approach designed to mimic the behavior involves using an electrical field to manipulate "piezoceramic legs" under the skin, bending the skin upwards by as much as 30 micrometers where applied. Corrugations generated by that technique have resulted in increased surface flow velocities, and it is those that researchers have translated into skin friction drag reductions of as much as 50 percent.

Honda Aircraft's HondaJet Sees European Expansion

Honda Aircraft Company Inc. will begin expansion of HondaJet sales to Europe beginning at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) to be held in Geneva this May. The move is a reaction to strong demand for the aircraft from customers in the European market, says Honda, and follows on recently expanded sales throughout North America that included a sales and service strategy for Canada and Mexico. "We are excited to initiate sales in Europe, where we have received a steady stream of inquiries from interested customers who will now have the opportunity to reserve delivery of a HondaJet," Michimasa Fujino, Honda Aircraft president and chief executive officer, told WRAL.com. Honda Aircraft Company last week finalized its distribution network in the U.S., adding Albany, N.Y., to a list that includes Tallahassee, Aurora, Phoenix and Salt Lake City as locations for its five sales and service facilities across the country.

The company's U.S. headquarters are located at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, where the HondaJets will be assembled. Certification and first delivery of the HondaJet is expected in 2010.

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News Briefs back to top 

Helicopter Pilot Files Suit For Backyard Heliport

John Casciani is fighting Webster, N.Y., for the right to use his own land as a helipad, claiming his rights are protected under the First and 14th Amendments of both the U.S. and New York Constitutions. Casciani had done as much, on occasion landing his 2004 Enstrom 480B on his 1.5-acre property without concern from 2003 through 2006. That lasted right up until the Town Board passed a law prohibiting private aircraft from landing in the town, but beyond 2005 when Casciani drafted for the Town Board a proposal that would allow him to keep his private heliports. Casciani's lawsuit, filed against the town and Supervisor Ronald Nesbitt, includes the claim that he was told by the Town Attorney he would be exempt from any future laws that might ban his backyard landings and takeoffs. Regardless, Casciani's hopes are now balanced by a group of about 50 private citizens who have organized in opposition to his aerial interests.

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Teens in Flight back to top 

Aviation Program To Help Kids Of The Fallen

Retired Marine Corps Col. Jack Howell wanted to help the children of fallen soldiers and through the magic of aviation he has found a way. Teens-In-Flight is a program designed to provide flight scholarships to the teenagers of soldiers that were killed or severely disabled in the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan. “I wanted to do something more to help the grieving families,” Howell told AVweb. “These scholarships will make flight training accessible to these kids and will encourage them to use their brainpower to succeed.” The scholarships are also available to children from non-military families who are disadvantaged. The aircraft and instruction has so far been provided free of charge through the generosity of local instructors and flight schools but as the program expands, Howell told AVweb in a podcast interview, he's looking for corporate sponsors. Anyone interested can contact Howell through the Teens-In-Flight Web site.

Currently there are programs established in Jacksonville, Fla., and Flagler County, Fla. A new program is expected to open in Colorado Springs through the help of A-Cent Aviation and Peak Aviation. The Colorado program will serve kids at nearby Fort Carson, which has also committed support to the project. By the end of the year another program is expected to open in Killeen, Texas, to support the families of nearby Fort Hood. Hundreds of flight hours have already been donated, and the program is still growing. Howell hopes that with more funding this program will expand nationwide. “We can teach teenagers many lessons through aviation,” said Howell.

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Reader Voices back to top 

AVmail: Apr. 21, 2008

Reader mail this week the Fenway flyby, airliner mergers, synthetic vision and just who can fly in an MOA.

Click here to read this week's letters to the editor.

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 200,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

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New on AVweb back to top 

The Pilot's Lounge #125: To Abort; Perchance To Live

AVweb's Rick Durden had a close call when he didn't abort a bad takeoff, and he has suggestions for how to be a little more embarrassed but a little less dead.

Click here to read Rick Durden's column.

The Looking Glass

New technologies have brought us very capable "glass panels," and they're popping up everywhere. But has training progressed at the same rate?

Click here for the full story.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBOs of the Week: Barrett Aviation/Air Charter Express (ACE) (KORK, North Little Rock, AR)

Nominate an FBO | Rules | Tips | Questions | Winning FBOs

Maybe it's all the travel related to Sun 'n Fun, but we received quite a few (really compelling) nominations for "FBO of the Week" over the last few days. The standout among these was a rather unusual recommendation (and plea) from AVweb reader Doug McDowall of EAA Chapter 165. Doug raved about two airports he frequents in North Little Rock, Arkansas — Barrett Aviation and Air Charter Express (ACE) — both located at North Little Rock Municipal Airport, KORK (formerly 1M1). On April 3, the airport was hit by a tornado, causing massive damage to both FBOs' rental and charter airplanes. The two have still managed to keep up with Doug's demands, and he hopes the exposure as AVweb's "FBOs of the Week" might encourage more people to stop by and support the FBOs during their reconstruction.

Doug writes:

[Fuel sales] may be the only source of income for both Barrett Aviation and Air Charter Express for months to come. If you are coming through this area and need to make a fuel stop, it would really help these two FBOs to get through some tough times. Barrett Aviation is a Phillips 66 dealer, and Air Charter Express handles Shell products (also has a 24-hour self-fueling faciltiy on the SW corner of the field). Both Barrett Aviation (Harry Barrett) & Air Charter Express (Tommy Murcheson) ... have taken a major hit from Mother Nature and deserve a helping hand.

Keep those nominations coming. For complete contest rules, click here.

AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!

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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh, and Learn back to top 

Teens-in-Flight Puts Children of Fallen Soldiers into the Skies

File Size 8.1 MB / Running Time 8:51

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

When we think of victims of war, we most likely think of the men and women in uniform who either never return or come back injured and disabled. But their families are also victims, and retired Marine Corps Col. Jack Howell is using aviation to help the children of those soldiers find solace and direction. The Teens-in-Flight program has already helped dozens of young people and is on the cusp of becoming a national program for kids who have already paid a heavy price in America's conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and for those whom life is more challenging than others.

Click here to listen. (8.1 MB, 8:51)

Video of the Week: F-16 Model (With Afterburner!)

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

It's been a while since we're run a radio-controlled airplane clip as our "Video of the Week," but when AVweb reader Taber Bucknell told us about this realistic-looking F-16 model with a working afterburner ("The information with the video says afterburner 'effect,' but still — it looks great!"), we couldn't resist:

Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it, there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Overheard in IFR Magazine's 'On the Air' Section
Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the Air"

I was en route to a New England airport famous for its fog. The ATIS reported below minimums but gradual ix, improving. Approach said to expect the ILS, and I could hear one aircraft ahead, a local airliner. Approach cleared me for the approach and sent the other aircraft to tower.

"Did the aircraft ahead get in?"

"Well, he didn't fly the missed. Contact tower."

"Tower, at what altitude did the previous plane break out?"


"I didn't ask."

Me (after landing a little proudly):
"Tower, be advised that we broke out just above minimums."

"Everybody does."

John Ward
via e-mail

More AVweb for Your Inbox back to top 

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's NO-COST weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry. Business AVflash is a must read. Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/.

Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

AVwebFlash is a weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.

The AVwebFlash team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team.

If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your PDA or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

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