AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 14, Number 42b

October 16, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News: TSA's Proposed Safety Rule Draws Fire back to top 
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Negative Reaction To TSA NPRM Continues

A proposed rule from the Transportation Security Administration aimed at general aviation could have "serious implications," says AOPA. "This proposed rule is an unprecedented imposition of security requirements on the general aviation community, affecting 10,000 individual operators and hundreds of airports," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. "An overwhelming majority of our members surveyed last week expressed strong concerns about the proposal." The huge 260-page TSA proposal would require all U.S. operators of aircraft exceeding 12,500 pounds maximum takeoff weight to implement a TSA-approved security program. Mandated measures would include fingerprinting and background checks of flight crews, vetting passengers against terrorist watch lists, and security requirements for GA airports.

EAA also was alarmed by the proposal. "On first glance, these new regulations would compel many operators of large vintage aircraft, Warbirds, turboprops, and others over 12,500 pounds to comply with new, costly, and burdensome requirements which, frankly, do not appear to equate with their risk assessment profiles," said Doug Macnair, EAA vice president of government relations.

"The proposal also ignores that fact that private operators of general aviation aircraft are not carrying the public and are in all instances personally acquainted with their passengers in the same manner as a passenger in your personal automobile. We do not feel that personal-use aircraft should be painted with the same broad brush as commercial and charter operators who carry the public." EAA's B-17 tour and other organizations that offer historic experience rides in large aircraft would fall under the new requirements. The TSA says its proposed rules would "strengthen the security of general aviation by further minimizing the vulnerability of aircraft being used as weapons or to transport dangerous people or materials." All of the GA alphabet groups are continuing to review the proposal and are expected to file formal comments during the TSA's 60-day comment period. The complete text of the proposal is available in PDF format at the TSA Web site.

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Record-Setting Sport Pilot Certificate back to top 

Armless Pilot Proves Her Capabilities

Jessica Cox, of Tucson, Ariz., was born without arms, but she hasn't let that define her role in life, and last week she scored a first when she earned her Sport Pilot certificate using only her feet to manipulate the controls of an Ercoupe. "I highly encourage people with disabilities to consider flying," Cox said. "It helps reverse the stereotype that people with disabilities are powerless into the belief that they are powerful and capable of setting high goals and achieving them." Cox, who is 25, won an Able Flight scholarship and trained with instructor Parrish Traweek in his Ercoupe 415C. "What is most incredible about Able Flight is the relentless faith and support not only from the board but also from the other pilots who have succeeded in the program," Cox said. "Thank you, Able Flight, for helping me make history as the first licensed pilot to fly with only her feet!" Since the Ercoupe design has no rudder pedals, no special modifications were required for Cox to fly it.

The rudder and aileron systems are linked, and both are controlled with a single control yoke. The yoke also controls nosewheel steering on the ground. Cox also drives a car and types on a computer using her feet. She works as a motivational speaker and is writing a book about her life.

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Technology Watch back to top 

DARPA's Hypersonic Blackswift Project Axed

The Blackswift project, which aimed to develop a hypersonic airplane that could fly at Mach 6, has been cancelled due to a lack of funding. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Air Force had hoped to start work on an unmanned prototype later this year and fly it by 2012, but Congress was unconvinced that the program's aims were attainable, or necessary. Funding was cut from the requested $120 million to just $10 million, which DARPA says is not enough to move forward. "Obviously we are disappointed," DARPA program manager Steven Walker said, according to Aviation Week. He said lots of work already has been done to develop the hypersonic engine. "The Blackswift testbed would have been able to take off under its own power, cruise at Mach 6, maneuver at hypersonic speeds and land, and then do it again," Walker said. "Blackswift, or something very much like it, will be a required step prior to the U.S. developing an operational, reusable, air-breathing hypersonic airplane." That door may be closed for now, but DARPA already is opening other windows. The agency recently published a request seeking designs for a submersible airplane that can fly under water.

"DARPA is interested in exploring radical new technologies that can provide a game-changing DoD capability for inserting small teams, clandestinely, along coastal locations," the agency says in its solicitation. "One such technology is a submersible aircraft. A submersible aircraft would combine the key capabilities of three different platforms: 1) the speed and range of an aircraft; 2) the loiter capabilities of a boat; and 3) the stealth of a submarine." The virtual world is far ahead on this one. An outfit called Cubey Terra started to sell a submersible airplane for users of the online game Second Life several years ago. The Terra Tigershark seats two avatars, can change color on command, and vanishes from the sky after the ejection seat is deployed.

Autopilot Available For Experimental And Light Sport Aircraft

You might think that an autopilot would be the last thing that pilots of sport airplanes would yearn for -- after all, isn't the whole point of sport flying, to fly? -- but Dynon Avionics says interest has been keen in their new autopilot system, now available. The kit fits several Vans RV models and goes for about $3,700. Customers can also buy one or two new servos for pitch and/or roll at $750 each, enabling existing and new customers of Dynon Electronic Flight Instrument Systems to add autopilot capability. The software for the gear is not yet available but should be out next month, the company says. "Customers can opt to take delivery of servos, mounting kits, and AP74 modules now, allowing them to install hardware, run wires, and be completely ready for the autopilot functionality once it is ready," according to the company Web site.

The Dynon autopilot system was introduced earlier this year at Sun 'n Fun.

Qantas Dive Traced To Computer Glitch

The abrupt dive of a Qantas A330-300 last week that injured scores of passengers wasn't caused by a passenger's electronic device, but by an internal breakdown in the Airbus's flight-control computer system, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said on Tuesday. The aircraft was flying at FL 370 en route from Singapore to Perth when the Inertial Reference System malfunctioned, which resulted in the autopilot automatically disconnecting, the ATSB said. However, the faulty unit continued to feed false information to the flight-control computers, which even with autopilot off, still command the control surfaces. Very high, random and incorrect values of the angle of attack led the computers to command a nose-down aircraft movement. The crew was able to recover within seconds, with a maximum altitude loss of 650 feet and a maximum pitch down of about 8.5 degrees, the ATSB said. Airbus told the ATSB it has never heard of a similar malfunction, but all operators of aircraft that use the system have been informed of the incident and provided guidance for a crew response to minimize the effect of any similar failure. The ATSB said its investigation is continuing.

A Preliminary Factual Report will be released within a month, the agency said. More than 70 passengers were hurt in the incident, with 14 treated for broken bones, concussions, and lacerations. The crew made an emergency landing at an air force base near Perth.

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News Briefs back to top 

Wagstaff Case Nears A Settlement

The case of the Oshkosh, Wis., police vs. airshow legend Patty Wagstaff may be close to a resolution, according to a report in Wednesday's Oshkosh Northwestern. At a Winnebago County Circuit Court hearing held on Tuesday, prosecutors said they are close to an agreement that would settle the charges filed against Wagstaff after an incident last summer during EAA AirVenture. Wagstaff was charged with first offense drunken driving and failure to submit to a sobriety test. She has denied she was impaired by alcohol but does admit to taking a wrong turn. "I was driving from the Gathering of Eagles dinner at the EAA Museum to the North side of the airport, on airport property," she told AVweb in August. "I planned to take a route to the north side of the field down the taxiway... It was really dark, the runway was closed and I mistakenly ended up on the runway for about 1,500 feet....As soon as I turned off the runway I was stopped by EAA Security, who promptly called the Winnebago County Sheriff and two police cars arrived."

Winnebago County District Attorney Christian Gossett told the Northwestern on Tuesday that his office is close to coming to an agreement with Wagstaff and her lawyer. Wagstaff did not appear at Tuesday's hearing.

NTSB Blames FAA In Pilot's Death

A pilot who died last year while practicing formation aerobatics prior to an air show should have been restricted from such flying by his FAA medical examiner, the NTSB said in its final report on the accident. Jan Wildbergh, 74, who had flown with the Geico Skytypers since 1986, died in September 2007. According to the NTSB, after completing their practice, the five-ship team executed a "pop up break" to return for landing. Wildbergh, however, flying a North American SN J-2, continued straight ahead in a slight descent, with the wings level and in a slight nose-down attitude, until the airplane hit the ground and erupted in flames. The NTSB said Wildbergh had an extensive history of heart problems and was taking medication, and the FAA medical examiner "clearly had sufficient information to justify restricting the pilot from commercial and/or aerobatic flight." Wildbergh had visited his cardiologist three days prior to the accident, complaining of multiple episodes of atrial fibrillation over the previous three months with fatigue and shortness of breath, the NTSB said.

At the time of the accident, Wildbergh had completed over 15 minutes of high-performance flight, including nearly two minutes of increased G-loading (up to 2.9 G), and had just completed the longest sustained-G maneuver of the show (30 seconds of 2G loading), the NTSB said. Wildbergh's widow, Rosemary, told Newsday she is "disappointed" with the NTSB report. "The NTSB didn't review the aircraft as much as they reviewed Jan's previous medical history," she said. "I can't imagine Jan getting into a plane if he felt unable to fly." The FAA's aviation medical office is reviewing the case, an FAA spokesperson told Newsday.

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News Briefs back to top 

Skydivers Tackle Mount Everest

Several skydivers made successful jumps at Mount Everest last week, using specially made parachutes and oxygen systems. The highest jumpers departed their Pilatus Porter aircraft at 29,500 feet, and landed at what the trip organizers called "the highest drop zone in the world," Shyangboche, at 12,350 feet. A total of 41 jumpers, both tandem and solo, participated in the Skydive Everest event. The trip was organized by High & Wild, an adventure travel company based in the U.K. "Everything that we've developed for this adventure, from the oxygen systems to the face masks to the gloves, everything has worked perfectly," said skydiver Ralph Mitchell, one of the trip organizers. "We feel we've advanced sports skydiving at high altitude even further with this event." The company is offering another skydiving trip to Everest in May 2009.

The Skydive Everest project aims to raise money for several charities, and a documentary film is in the works.

On the Fly ...

An apparently drunk passenger who told an airline flight attendant he had a bomb was overpowered by fellow passengers on a flight in Russia on Wednesday; the A320 crew flew on to their intended destination...

The first-ever civilian-owned Harrier made its airshow debut in Virginia last weekend...

The Rocket Racing League got the official OK to fly demo flights next year...

Ex-con says 1986 plane crash was the deliberate assassination of Mozambique's president...

Dennis Ferguson, who until recently was CEO at Mooney, has left the company....

Strike talks at Boeing have stalled; no quick resolution is expected.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz back to top 

Glass To Replace Cockpit Windows?

NASA is working with Gulfstream to test a "fly-by-cam" system in which the pilot of a supersonic business jet would land the aircraft using a video feed from an HD camera. According to The Register the system is aimed at solving one of the vexing issues facing development of the speedy bizjets in that their design almost inevitably dicates a high angle of attack for landing and the long pointy nose of such aircraft obscures the forward view. Concorde designers solved the problem with the intensely complicated drooping nose but that's not likely practical for business jet-sized aircraft. So, the researchers are trying to convince the FAA that a camera in the nose is a replacement for the view out the windshield and they're inviting FAA pilots to test the theory themselves.

NASA and Gulfstream have been flying an F-18 with a camera set up for the pilot in the back seat to use for landing. A safety pilot with an unimpeded view sits in the front but so far he or she has been a passenger in the successful landing experiments. The FAA will reportedly get its chance to fly the system before the end of the year.

Controller 'Training' Scrutinized

The FAA says it's "looking into" whether the training of a developmental controller in Florida was accomplished at the expense of three airlines and their passengers aboard four airliners. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association alleged Tuesday that a supervisor ordered on-duty controllers at the Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center to re-route a Delta Boeing 757, a Virgin Boeing 747 and two Southwest Boeing 737s to generate more traffic for a trainee undergoing a "skills check." NATCA says the aircraft were diverted by up to 100 miles and into the path of thunderstorms but the FAA says the longest diversion was about 50 miles and not into thunderstorms.

Regardless of the details, the FAA does seem to be putting the incident under a microscope. Spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen confirmed to AVweb that four flights were involved and stressed that flight safety was not affected by whatever happened. The FAA will determine whether experienced controllers were directed to re-route air carrier flights to generate additional traffic for the trainee, who was undergoing a skills check," Bergen said in a statement. "The FAA's has strict training guidelines which do not permit re-routing flights nor inconveniencing pilots or the flying public.

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New on AVweb back to top 

VFR For IFR Pilots

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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

Question of the Week: Will the TSA's Latest NPRM Improve Safety on Large Airplanes?

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


There wasn't much evidence of stress over the dour economy at this year's NBAA Convention, so last week we asked AVweb readers for their take on the economic downturn and its effect on the general aviation community.

The majority of respondents (54% of you) said we're in for some trouble, agreeing with our statement that flying is one of the first things to go when money gets tight. At the other end of the spectrum, only two readers (at press time) said that aviation is an essential service and will be largely unaffected.

For a complete (real-time) breakdown of reader responses, click here.
(You may be asked to register and answer if you haven't already participated in this poll.)


The Transportation Security Administration's NPRM for a "Large Aircraft Security Program" (LASP) is drawing fire from both AOPA and EAA. We'd like to hear what you think.

Is the TSA's proposed rule for general aviation security reasonable?
(click to answer)

Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"? Send your suggestions to .

This address is only for suggested "QOTW" questions, and not for "QOTW" answers or comments.
Use this form to send "QOTW" comments to our AVmail 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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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

AVweb's NBAA Convention 2008 Video Round-Up

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

In case you missed any of our videos from the 2008 NBAA Convention & Trade Show in Orlando, Florida, you can watch all eight of them (plus two shorts you may find interesting) right here. Just use the arrows at the right and left sides of the player to choose your video.

Video coverage of the 2008 NBAA Convention & Trade Show has been brought to you by Bose Corporation and WxWorx XM WX Satellite Weather.

More AVweb exclusive videos can be found at http://www.avweb.com/video.

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.

Related Content:
Want more AVweb media from the show?
Click here for podcasts from NBAA 2008.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Showalter Flying Service (KORL, Orlando, FL)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Showalter Flying Service at KORL in Orlando, Florida.

AVweb reader Jim Thomas recommended the FBO for exceptional performance "amid the hubbub of NBAA":

Despite nearly 500 aircraft on static display, the great crew at Showalter are still delivering high-quality service with a smile. All fees are waived with a minimum fuel purchase, even as little as a gallon! Showalter has hosted EAA Chapter 74 since the new terminal was built and also provides facilities for the Orlando Youth Aviation Center's "Introduction to Aviation" class series for kids 10-16. I've always found them to go above and beyond on any request. Bob & Kim Showalter run a class act.

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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Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past Winners

Each week, we go through dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of reader-submitted photos and pick the very best to share with you on Thursday mornings. The top photos are featured on AVweb's home page, and one photo that stands above the others is awarded an AVweb baseball cap as our "Picture of the Week." Want to see your photo on AVweb.com? Click here to submit it to our weekly contest.


medium | large

copyright © Gary Walentoski
Used with permission

The Wrath of Ike

Wow. This week's top photo comes with an incredible (but no doubt all-too-common) story. Perhaps it's best told by submitter Gary Walentoski of Baytown, Texas:

This is an Antonov AN-2 at my home field of Laporte, Texas (T41) following the passage of Hurricane Ike. The robust AN-2 was no match for Ike. I apologize for the late submission, but our home electrical service was only restored a little over a week ago.

We couldn't ask for a more eye-popping reminder that the "clean-up" from a hurricane lasts far longer than the news coverage. Thanks for taking a few moments to share, Gary — hope you enjoy the backlog of AVweb newsletters waiting in your inbox ... .

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copyright © Garrett Nievin
Used with permission

Osprey Cleaning the Runway at Oshkosh

We love a good helicopter photo, and there's none more photogenic than the Osprey — and no better place to catch on in action (outside of military ops) than at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. Thanks to Garrett Nievin of Ashburn, Virginia for taking his camera to this summer's show!

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Used with permission of Ron Horton

Mission Debriefing

Semi-regular "POTW" contributor Ron Horton of Ft. Mill, South Carolina is back this week, and so is one of our favorite photo subjects, the EAA's ambassador B-17, Aluminum Overcast. Ron tells us the gentleman in the photo served as a turret gunner in the waning days of World War II.

While Ron didn't catch the gent's name, he did want to pass along a "thanks" to all those veterans of the Greatest Generation who inspired and paved the way for today's pilots.

You know, Veterans Day is coming up in just a few weeks. If Ron's photo makes you think of any appropriate photos that you'd care to share, they're welcome any time. (But, of course, it would be really cool if you swamped us with veteran-themed photos during the first week of November.)

medium | large

Used with permission of
Gary R. Hockensmith

"Wiley Post"

... or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

Gary R. Hockensmith of Mustang, Oklahoma recently spent some time on the set of Pearl, an upcoming biopic about 1930s aviatrix Pearl Carter Scott. (Have we whined lately about how you guys do far more interesting stuff in your off-time than we do?) Here, actor Tom Huston Orr spends his five-minute break leaning up against for more interesting furniture than can be seen in the lavish world headquarters of AVweb's "Picture of the Week."

(Click here for another photo of the cast of "Pearl" in full period regalia.)

medium | large

Used with permission of Steve Bennett

The Trust of a Child

Steve Bennett of Boylston, Massachusetts writes, "This shot was taken by my friend Wendi Kennedy just before I took her daughter Sydney up in my Kolb TwinStar." Steve admits that "Syd was a little nervous," but it's clear from the photo she was anxious for her flight.

As usual, you can see more reader-submitted photos in the slideshow on AVweb's home page. Worth a look, folks!

Click here to submit your own photos to "POTW."

A quick note for submitters: If you've got several photos that you feel are "POTW" material, your best bet is to submit them one-a-week! That gives your photos a greater chance of seeing print on AVweb, and it makes the selection process a little easier on us, too. ;)

A Reminder About Copyrights:
Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or or send us an e-mail.

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

Scott Simmons

Jeff van West

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.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.