AVwebFlash - Volume 14, Number 20a

May 12, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News back to top 
Sponsor Announcement

CAFE, Electric Aircraft And 100 MPG Airplanes

The second annual Electric Aircraft Symposium (EAS) held late last month offered a lot of theory and some progress. For now, the tone at EAS may suggest development of electric aircraft could follow the path of electric cars, and see their most immediate practical incarnations take the form of gas/electric hybrids. Boeing, which this year flew a small fuel cell aircraft, has one research group targeting a hybrid that could fly 300 miles per charge. That initiative is connected with a navigational control package that aims to take the work (fun?) out of flying and make it accessible to individuals without special training. That offering may appear sometime in the next few decades. Later this year, however, expect Pipistrel to offer its "world's first two seater self launching glider powered by electrical means." In August the CAFE (Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency) foundation will host a contest to test the practical application of current designs and award $50,000 to the most efficient aircraft.

As a near-term offering, Pipistrel's Taurus Electro aircraft (which has already flown) will be limited in range by the thermal seeking skills of its pilot. Its motor is intended for launch to 6,000 feet, but you can order one today for about $132,000, expect a 40:1 glide ratio, and delivery perhaps late this year. Pipistrel is hoping to work as an airframe supplier for the Stuttgart Institute of Aircraft Design's proposed fuel cell aircraft.

Current electric motors commonly peak at over ninety percent efficiency, which compares favorably to internal combustion engines that rarely achieve much better than 20 percent and are generally less efficient as they are scaled down. On the contrary, electric motors are efficient regardless of size, which encourages unique engine placement -- like inside the wing to blow air over the lifting surface and promote lower stall speeds. The challenge is storage. The battery systems promoted today -- Sonex E-Flight Initiative, Pipistrel Taurus Electro, and others -- generally only provide enough storage capacity for low-power flights of less than one hour while carrying more than 200 pounds of batteries. Batteries, unlike fossil fuels, do not get lighter as their energy is expended. For now, that makes flight planning easier and load carrying harder. And nanotechnology may be the future of battery structure, allowing it to move away from cells toward flexible mats of silicon nanowires that could theoretically hold up to ten times the lithium ions of conventional batteries.

FAA: Smooth Frost May Not Be OK

The FAA has proposed to change its regulations regarding operations with "polished frost" on an aircraft's flying surfaces ... just in time for summer. Frost polished to make it smooth would no longer be permitted as the FAA has determined it poses a threat to safe flight. The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) officially applies to parts 125, 135, and certain part 91 operations. Though the FAA previously recommended that aircraft manufacturers could offer recommended procedures for polishing frost, no current manufacturer has issued any recommendations for polishing or operating with polished frost, and the FAA stipulates that "polished frost" is an "ambiguous" term. Plus, the FAA has correlated at least 11 accidents with circumstances involving individuals who crashed shortly after takeoff after attempting to smooth frost on the aircraft's flying surfaces. According to the FAA, nine of the 11 accidents would not have been prevented by the newly proposed rule because those accident aircraft were not operating under regulations that would be affected by the proposed rule.

The FAA is seeking comments and welcomes them prior to August 7, 2008. You may send comments identified by docket number FAA-2007-29281 at www.Regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for sending your comments electronically.

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The Latest and Greatest back to top 

China Inaugurates Commercial Jet Manufacturer

Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (CACC) was inaugurated Sunday, having been bolstered by a $2.72 billion cash infusion, almost one-third of which comes from the state. The company is expected to be involved in the development of the 90-seat ARJ21 regional jet, which rolled off the production line last December, should be test flown later this year and may be the first commercial regional jet developed and produced by China. Deliveries are scheduled for 2009. The aircraft's initial specifications "indicate that it's a bit heavier" than current offerings from other manufacturers, according to Teal Group aviation analyst, Richard Aboulafia, and may be built without extensive use of lightweight composites. Still, "they might be able to establish a presence in the business over the next 10 to 20 years," he told the International Herald Tribune. Airbus has forecast that China will need more than 2,600 new passenger jets within the next two decades.

For the venture to succeed, Aboulafia believes it will initially need strong financial support from the government followed by an offering of shares to the private sector. Chinese carriers have so far ordered more than 180 ARJ121s, and General Electric's aircraft leasing arm in March took a spot as the first major foreign customer for the aircraft, signing a preliminary agreement for five ARJ121s. GE supplies parts for the jet. China's goal is to give itself a presence in the global commercial aircraft market, eventually produce aircraft of more than 150-seat capacity, and perhaps reduce dependence on foreign manufacturers that have seen big orders from China in recent years. Shareholders of the new company also include China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC I), the country's largest aircraft producer, and China Aviation Industry Corporation II (AVIC II), according to China Daily.

Mooney Gets FAA Approval For Garmin WAAS

Mooney's Acclaim Type S, Ovation 3, and Ovation2 GX have earned FAA approval to use Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS)-aided navigation and Safe-Taxi technology via amended Type Certificate. The systems work with the Garmin G1000 avionics' GPS to ease pilot workloads in instrument conditions and better manage high traffic environments both in the air and on the ground, according to Mooney. Deliveries of WAAS-approved Mooney aircraft with the Safe-Taxi software upgrade will begin immediately. Upgrades to earlier aircraft are expected to become available in the second quarter, after Mooney establishes its pricing structure for retrofit packages. Mooney says the move to WAAS meets with the company's determination to provide aircraft that are built with the ability to safely and efficiently perform in the same environment as turboprop business aircraft. Working in Mooney aircraft, the WAAS system can interface with the Garmin GFC700 autopilot and also generate a virtual glide path for more than 3,000 straight-in GPS and RNAV approaches already in the aircraft's navigation system.

WAAS-augmented navigation provides positional accuracy to within 9 feet and with the FAA's published LPV (lateral position with vertical guidance) allows approaches to general aviation airports down to minimums of less than 300 feet and three-quarters of a mile.

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The State of the (Aviation) Economy back to top 

Aircraft Industry First Quarter Check-Up

The "current uncertainty in the U.S. economy is having an effect," specifically on the spectrum of piston aircraft, according to General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) President and CEO Pete Bunce. This year, Q1 piston-powered airplane shipments dropped 28 percent to 399 from 544 for the same period last year, according to GAMA's report. However, turboprop shipments were slightly higher and business jet shipments rose dramatically -- by more than 40 percent. In sum, total industry billings reached all all-time first-quarter high, up more than 16 percent over last year's. The divergent trends may be partially explained by worldwide economics. Accounting for 67 percent of piston deliveries last year, the North American market is an important player in worldwide figures and a downturn in that economy has broad effects. However, growth is strong in markets outside of North America and a good footing in multiple markets may ultimately provide some stability for those manufacturers best able to adapt to worldwide demand. The turbine segments showed impressive gains as did market share outside of the U.S. and North America. Economic stimulus in the form of bonus depreciation may be having a positive impact on aircraft sales, this year.

Alan Klapmeier, chairman and CEO of Cirrus Design Corporation, said he's heard from customers that the depreciation package put in place in February "is generating new sales within the piston segment." And, because the package applies to purchases made in 2008 and delivered in 2008 or 2009, the stimulus may favor the shorter turn-around time of piston aircraft manufacturers.

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News Briefs back to top 

Tumbling Bear Airshow Pilot Survives Modesto Crash

Airshow performer Rob Harrison Saturday crashed his Zlin 50LX while performing at Modesto airport, and though one witness told a local ABC news channel, "the plane just went all to pieces," Harrison, 66, survived the impact with serious injuries. The pilot, nicknamed "The Tumbling Bear," was performing a rolling maneuver at low level near the end of his routine when the aircraft touched the ground and slid for about 100 feet before coming to rest on its side, relatively far from spectators. A crowd of about 4,000 people witnessed the crash and stayed to watch remote-control aircraft perform following Harrison's evacuation by helicopter to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto. Harrison was reported Sunday to be resting in stable condition. Details of his injuries were not released.

Upset Training Aircraft Crash Kills Two

An Extra 300L operated by Aviation Performance Solutions LLC (APS) crashed Friday, killing two aboard. APS offers upset recovery and spin training. APS instructor Jim "Clap" Clapper was killed in the crash along with another pilot identified by a local CBS news affiliate as "an experienced commercial pilot." Clapper is a former F-4 and F-105 pilot. He had 20 years and 1,400 hours experience flying competition aerobatics, with 8 years flying competitive unlimited aerobatics. In 1995 Clapper was Arizona State Champion -- Advanced Aerobatics. Clapper was employed with the school as an instructor in aerobatics, upset recovery and spin training. The aircraft was returning from a training flight when it crashed approximately eight miles east of the Phoenix/Mesa Gateway Airport in Arizona. "The type of maneuvers they were doing during that flight were very basic, nothing advanced," said Paul Ransbury, president of APS. "It is clear that numerous families were affected by this terrible tragedy," he said. "Our deepest sympathies and prayers are with all of those who were involved in this tragic accident and their families."

NTSB On NASCAR Cessna 310 Crash

"I don't give a sh-t about that. I'm taking the airplane." Juan Solis, an aircraft mechanic, told the NTSB the now-deceased Michael Klemm, an ATP certificated pilot with more than 10,500 hours flight time, spoke those words on July 10, 2007, about the accident aircraft (a NASCAR-operated Cessna 310R) prior to his fatal flight, according to a report released Friday by the NTSB. The flight ended approximately 10 minutes after it began when the aircraft, which was, according to witnesses, trailing smoke, impacted two homes, killing Klemm, along with Dr. Bruce Kennedy (the husband of International Speedway Corp. President Lesa France Kennedy). The death toll on the ground added three others -- including an infant and a four-year-old girl. Klemm's comments are associated with his knowledge of a problem with the aircraft's radar, though the extent of that knowledge remains uncertain.

The NTSB found no witnesses who could remember seeing either Klemm or Kennedy (also a pilot who held a commercial rating) reviewing the discrepancy log prior to the flight. Records included in the NTSB's report show the plane's maintenance discrepancy log (squawk) sheet was recovered at the accident site and included a notation written by the pilot of the previous day's flight who described a "smell of electrical components burning" following failure of the aircraft's weather radar display. The notation indicated the smell "went away" after the radar's circuit breaker was pulled. According to the NTSB, "no corrective action was annotated next to the discrepancy write-up, and no evidence cite that corrective action was taken prior to the mishap flight." NASCAR submitted to the NTSB its own report, which concludes that PVC wiring insulation deteriorates with age and that evidence found in the crash suggests the aircraft's radio wiring may have been the initial source of ignition for an onboard fire.

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News Briefs back to top 

Aircraft And Marriage, Perfect Together

When was the last time you heard that? For AVweb reader Jeff Goosetree, it seems to be the case. Goosetree currently flies 30- and 40-series Lear Jets out of northwest Arkansas, but maintains his earlier-won CFI. Currently, he is in the process of teaching his girlfriend, Maria, to fly, but on May 3 took a carefully planned deviation from the course book. Jeff arranged for Maria's first cross-country flight to fly west into the sunset, headed for the couple's favorite Italian restaurant. He even made sure to request some extra time with the crew car for the evening's dinner. Then, while en route in a 172, with Maria flying, Jeff began talking about their life together with her 8-year-old daughter, Halle. It was about halfway through the flight when, with ring in hand, "I managed to get up on one knee in the seat and proposed."

Aside from some unexpected near-aerobatics, the response was more than welcome. Even the tower (presumably tipped off by the FBO) congratulated them upon arrival. The linemen then got involved by taking the newly engaged couple's first pictures. "I decided to combine the two loves of my life and propose to my girlfriend Maria while airborne," Goosetree told us. And aside from adding a lot of joy to the flight, the only immediate impact on Jeff's flying was that he had to fly the remaining leg home ... because, he said, "she just wanted to look at her ring! Haa!!!"

On the Fly ...

An Irish pilot has been rapped by his country's aviation authority for "poor airmanship" after he landed his Hughes 369HS helicopter on a car parkade in a busy shopping area of Athlone Town. According to the Belfast Telegraph, the unidentified pilot was picking up a set of freshly cut keys for the chopper at a nearby department store ...

The NTSB says airshow pilot Jim LeRoy's vision may have been obscured by smoke when his aircraft crashed at the Dayton Airshow last July. The official cause was LeRoy's "not maintaining clearance from terrain during the aerobatic maneuver" ...

It was no ordinary hangar swap meet at Waterbury-Oxford Airport in Connecticut on the weekend. Among the items on display for the hand-picked and well-heeled crowd was a $50 million Bombardier Global Express (which sold), a $437,000 Rolls Royce and millions of dollars in jewelry and other luxury items.

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New on AVweb back to top 

Probable Cause #58: Known Deficiencies

Pilots sometimes decide to live with some chronic mechanical problems. This time, it wasn't a good idea.

Click here for the full story.

It's rare to find even a brand-new airplane without at least one "squawk" -- a mechanical deficiency. Of course, the FAA would say that all equipment and components of an aircraft must be working properly or placarded as inoperative, else the airplane isn't legally airworthy. The FAA will also say that all equipment listed in the aircraft's Type Certificate Data Sheet must be installed and operating for airworthiness, and any additional equipment required by regulation for the specific operation must be in good working order.

In the real world, however, it doesn't work that way, and pilots routinely launch a flight with some equipment known to be intermittent, at best. While operating with known deficiencies in equipment is rarely a good idea, there are ways to minimize the risks posed.

The severity of a deferred squawk can prevent some kinds of operations, while making others more risky than they need to be. An example of the former might be a failed navigation light, making night flight illegal. An example of the latter could be an inoperative alternator, which could make just about any flight out of visual range from a non-towered home base a bad idea.

I have, on occasion, flown aircraft with known squawks. It wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done, but I was careful to ensure there were no other issues with the aircraft, especially the kind that could have complicated the original problem. But I try to draw the line at engine deficiencies, especially with a single. On the few occasions I have had a known engine problem, the only flying I did was either directly over an airport in an attempt to diagnose the problem or the flight to the engine shop. But that's with a single. If I had a twin with a known problem in one of its engines, I don't know if I would be more or less inclined to fly the airplane, either normally or at all. This month's example teaches us that known engine problems are a good reason to ground the airplane until the problem can be found and fixed.


On April 4, 2004, at about 1606 Eastern Time, a Piper PA-30 crashed onto airport property shortly after takeoff from the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport, Fernandina Beach, Fla. The airplane was substantially damaged and the Commercial pilot and single passenger were fatally injured. Weather for the planned IFR flight to the Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport in Burlington, N.C., was good VFR.

The airplane departed Runway 26 and its landing gear retracted. After climbing to approximately 200 feet AGL, the airplane banked to the left, quickly banked back to the right, and then appeared to stabilize. When next seen, the airplane was in a 25-30 degree left-wing-low and nose-low attitude, which continued until impact. One witness reported a sputtering sound, which he described as being similar to when power is reduced.

The airplane was equipped with a JPI Instruments EDM 760 engine monitor programmed to record the exhaust-gas temperature (EGT) and cylinder-head temperature (CHT) readings from both engines every six seconds.


A review of the pilot's computerized flight log revealed two entries describing discrepancies relating to the fuel injector systems of both engines. The first entry said, "clogged L3 injector." The second entry read, "L4 & R4 injector clogs." Maintenance personnel who performed the last annual inspection on the airplane before the accident reported finding water and corrosion in the fuel strainers, as well as water in the fuel.

At that inspection, a squawk list presented by the owners included, "Check complete fuel system due to chronic injector clogging (both engines). This problem only manifests itself if the plane sits for a month or more. If flown regularly it doesn't happen."

Bench testing of the left fuel servo revealed erratic fuel flow. On disassembly, contamination of the fuel diaphragm and corrosion on the center body was noted, as were debris in the fuel-control housing area and drops of water. Bench testing of the left fuel injector nozzles revealed all exhibited a poor spray pattern. The right fuel servo revealed corrosion on the fuel inlet screen and debris flowed from the unit during the start of bench testing. Disassembly of the right fuel servo revealed contamination at the regulator, and debris and contamination on the fuel side of the diaphragm. Corrosion was noted in the fuel control area, and on the fuel-control idle valve. Bench testing of the right fuel injector nozzles revealed that all exhibited a poor spray pattern.

The engine monitor's stored data revealed 10 events of varying duration, including the accident flight. A total of 78 readings taken every 6 seconds were recorded during the accident flight. A review of the accident flight data revealed that at 20:22:00, the EGT reading of each cylinder of the left engine were, 1429, 1398, 1311 and 1396 degrees F, respectively. The EGT readings for the right engine were 1399, 1413, 1364 and 1384 degrees F. Readings taken six seconds later, or at 20:22:06, indicates the EGT reading for all cylinders of the left engine were 710, 710, 726 and 753 degrees F., respectively. At the same time, the readings for all cylinders of the right engine were 1392, 1418, 1364 and 1384 degrees F, respectively. Subsequent data -- up to the point at which recording stopped -- all included sharply reduced EGT readings from the left engine.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined the probable cause(s) of this accident to include, "The failure of the pilot to feather the left propeller and his failure to maintain control of the airplane following a loss of engine power from the left engine resulting in the in-flight collision with terrain. A factor in the accident was the loss of power from the left engine for undetermined reasons."

It's easy and obvious to point to chronic water and debris contamination as the source of the airplane's injector clogs. What's not so obvious is why the operators didn't demand that the fuel system be more closely inspected.

As we have preached in the past, installing and learning to use an engine monitor, especially one that stores data, can be invaluable when diagnosing operational problems. It's a shame that a definitive examination of this data didn't occur until after the airplane had crashed.

More accident analyses are available in AVweb's Probable Cause Index. And for monthly articles about safety, including accident reports like this one, subscribe to AVweb's sister publication, Aviation Safety.

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

Has Tomorrow Arrived Early? Swift Enterprises' John Ziukowski on the Company's New Synthetic AvFuel

File Size 10.6 MB / Running Time 11:38

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

As you may have read recently on AVweb, Swift Enterprises has unveiled a new general aviation fuel that it says will be less expensive, more fuel-efficient, and environmentally friendlier than any on the market. Swift promises their new synthetic fuel can replace standard petroleum fuel (100LL) and provide a greater effective range while costing about half as much to produce. AVweb's Paul Bertorelli caught up with Swift's John Ziukowski to find out more.

Click here to listen. (10.6 MB, 11:38)

Video of the Week: Powered-Parachute Skydiver Dell Schanze Testing the Emotion Paraglider

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

In our latest "Video of the Week," Powered Skydiving founder Dell Schanze puts a new paraglider through its paces by — what else? — tumbling through the sky with it. We see some pretty nifty stuff on the receiving end of your video recommendations, but this is something to behold:

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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."

Exclusive Video: Patty Wagstaff Interview and Flight

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

Ride along with Patty Wagstaff as she flies her airshow routine at Sun 'n Fun 2008, courtesy of AVweb's Glenn Pew. Or, if you're easily queasy, just close your eyes and listen to our post-flight interview with Patty about how it feels to fly the maneuvers and what it's like to perform. Special thanks to our friends at Bose Corporation and Aircraft Spruce & Supply Co., whose good people stepped up when we needed them and helped make this video happen. And very special thanks to Patty's main sponsor, Cirrus Design, maker of the airplanes that changed the industry.

If you're interested in access to higher-resolution versions, contact Glenn.

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If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Quality Aviation (KFBL, Faribault, MS)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Quality Aviation at KFBL in Faribault, Mississippi.

AVweb reader Rick Lemon made a day stop at Quality while touring a nearby college with his daughter and wife:

Jerry [from Quality] met me at the plane and provided a courtesy car for the day. The car itself was fun — a recycled police car, so you couldn't open the back seat door or the window from inside. While I was gone, a thunderstorm blew in and Jerry put my plane in a hangar to avoid any possible hail damage. He refueled the plane even though it's advertised as self-serve.

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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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"

Heard on 121.5 on December 1, 2001 in the Frederick/Hagerstown, Maryland area (near Camp David or P40):

"Air Force on 121.5, Cherokee One Two Three."

Air Force (my guess is this was the AWACS controller):
"Go ahead."

"There are some F-15s near me. They do not answer my calls."

Air Force:
"F-15s do not have VHF capability; F-16s do."


"Where are you?"

Near Hagerstown; I am doing some photo work.

Air Force:
"You are probably violating expanded P40 and they are escorting you out."

Herbert Rosenthal
Bethesda, Maryland

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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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