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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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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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.
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.
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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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
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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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.
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...
Strike talks at Boeing have stalled; no quick resolution is expected.
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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.
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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It's an interesting phenomenon: As student pilots, we master VFR traffic patterns in just a few hours. After earning the private, we work on our
instrument rating. Initially, nothing is quite so nerve wracking as a difficult approach. Then, our careers progress and we land that big job. IFR becomes old hat -- we can shoot that approach without
a second thought.
In fact, we get so used to "vectors to final" that we get the shakes flying a VFR traffic pattern at a small airport on a nice day -- something we mastered thousands of hours ago. What causes this odd
reversal and what can we do about it?
As a student pilot, we were delighted if we could hold altitude within a few hundred feet while looking out the window to keep ourselves headed in the right general direction. The "V" in VFR flight
stands for, obviously, "visual." Look outside. Keep your attention divided while struggling to manage that snarling 100 hp. That's a lot for a student to do with any meaningful precision while trying
to effect a controlled mid-air collision with Planet Earth at the end of the pattern.
After we get our private ticket, we learn a whole new set of skills: instrument flying. Now we have to hold heading and altitude more precisely. By then, hopefully, we're skilled enough that
concentrating on keeping the airplane pointed where we want it and maintaining a good scan isn't too hard. Obviously, in IFR flight the instruments are the key.
Then, we land our first dream job -- the big time. We approach this new job determined to be the best instrument pilot possible. Sure, it takes some experience to get there, but we fly IFR everywhere
and even those visual approaches are commonly to runways with an ILS, so we "back up" the visual with the ILS. Even ATC is in on the con, since controllers usually treat the visual approach pretty
much the same: They'll start vectoring you to final until you call the airport in sight. Often, you're already established on the localizer and glideslope anyway. At worst, you're typically well into
the base leg.
So, it goes this way until one day your trip takes you to Smalltown Municipal Airport. It's a clear Saturday afternoon and there are hordes of "little airplanes" buzzing around, practicing their
pattern work. Oh, and you're approaching from the southeast and the one runway in use is Runway 9. Tower tells you to report a left crosswind, citing numerous Cessnas and a lone Citrabria in the
pattern. You're still about 30 miles out, trying to get below 250 kts as you descend through 10,000 feet. As you near the airport, your non-flying pilot reminds you of the upcoming speed limit of 200
So, you try to slow and start hanging out everything but the laundry. Meanwhile, your friend the TCAS is having an apoplectic fit keeping up with all the traffic. "That's OK," you remind yourself.
They'll be at 1000 agl and you'll be at 1500 agl in the "big boy" pattern. Then you remember your own student days and how well you held that 1000 agl and you realize you're a bit nervous. Your
non-flying pilot begins to call out the traffic he's spotting, and you suddenly remember you really need to start looking out the window and actually begin to fly the airplane with reference to the
ground. You brace yourself as you disconnect the autopilot.
Suddenly, all those instrument skills that have served you so well become about as useful as the three-hour old METAR from your departure airport. This is basic, visual flying in an airplane designed
to go fast in any weather. In fact, you might even realize whimsically that, of the couple thousand hours you've got in that type, you probably don't have even an hour of real stick-and-rudder flying.
Then you're aware that you've begun to sweat. A lot.
Take a deep breath. It's like riding a bicycle; you never forget, right? Probably, but what you'll never forget is how to do all that in a piston trainer, not the jet-fuel-burning monster you're
driving that weighs as much as a bus.
Patterns Of Behavior
As all this blasts through your mind, so have you blasted through the pattern. You quickly crank it over in a vain attempt to enter a downwind within at least five miles of the airport. You're still
descending, too, having at least gotten it slowed below 200. As you begin to squirm a bit in your seat, you remember your flight instructor once told you: "Always enter the pattern at pattern
altitude." Good advice, that. You vow to remember it next time, when you're descending through 3000 agl, just as you would probably be doing if you were on tight vectors to a visual. But, of course,
you're not doing that this time.
The rest goes pretty much the same. You level off at 1500 agl about as well as any student pilot. You keep looking over your shoulder trying to figure out when to turn base. Oh, and you also try not
to hit all the other traffic in the pattern. Then, there's the crosswind -- the one on downwind that's pushing you toward the runway. The one you later swear just popped up on base as it blew you so
far through final that the Tower asked if you still had the runway in sight.
Somehow, you landed and managed to keep both your aircraft and your passengers reusable, without a call from the Tower asking for a little chit-chat. But what went wrong and what can you do to prevent
it from happening again?
Planning and Practice
Over the last few thousand hours you've refined excellent instrument skills. You can take that ILS to minimums in gusty, blowing snow and keep the needles within half a dot. You're a pro, and that's
what pros do. However, while you've built up all those instrument skill in your turbine aircraft, you've really only accumulated a few VFR patterns that you had to fly by the seat of your pants. You
didn't quite forget how, but most of the skills and cues about how to do that were acquired in much smaller, lighter, slower aircraft.
Your failure was complacency, lack of planning and lack of skill. Remember your student solo cross-country? You probably started thinking about the pattern entry a long way out. You may have even
reviewed it with your instructor before the flight. On this recent adventure into Smalltown Muni, when did you think about your pattern entry?
Also, being used to progressive altitude and speed assignments from ATC, you didn't plan ahead for a proper altitude and speed at pattern entry. Your experience as an instrument pilot made you
complacent about simple VFR, and you failed to brief the visual approach much as you would brief an instrument approach.
Then, there's your lack of practice. Your common technique was to use the autopilot and fly primarily on instruments until the final segment. You just didn't have all the basic visual stick-and-rudder
skills anymore, especially in that high-speed, turbine-powered plane you'd been flying.
Like so much else in aviation, if you're prepared, both with mental planning and sufficient practice, it's easy. On this trip into Smalltown, like any other arrival, you probably got the weather about
100 miles out. But you dropped the ball when you didn't plan the visual approach and traffic pattern just as you would have planned an instrument approach.
Review the prevailing winds, terrain and runway-in-use and plan your pattern entry. Plan ahead for the necessary descents and speed reductions. Check that wind and figure out what it'll do to your
pattern, just like you did as a student. Tune in the Tower on the second radio and see what they're actually doing down there.
That takes care of the planning, but the practice isn't quite so easy. One of the reasons we use an autopilot is that -- for most of us -- it provides a better ride for the folks in back. In fact,
some airlines and corporate flight departments mandate the use of the autopilot for all but approach and departure. Then, there are the lazy and the fear factors: It's ever so much easier to simply
let George do it.
Or, especially when you're new to the plane, you don't want to risk not flying well, so you let George do it. So, if you start out using the autopilot as a crutch while you're learning the new job,
and you use the autopilot because you're lazy, when do you actually handle the controls? Only those few minutes on take-off and landing? Sure, you're good at take-offs and landings, but there's a lot
more to VFR flying. Even if you're logging a thousand hours a year, you might only have an hour or two actually manipulating the controls.
Fire George! Do as much hand-flying as you possibly can, consistent with workload, safety, and your employer's procedures. Try to turn that hour or so a year into an hour or so a month. Pretty soon,
you'll start to get real comfortable hand-flying the airplane and you'll be pretty good at it, too.
You never know, you might even start to enjoy it, and after all, that's why most of us fly, isn't it? Do all this and your traffic patterns will once again be as good as a student pilot's. Maybe even
More AVweb articles about flying in the IFR system are available here. And for monthly articles about safety, subscribe to AVweb's sister publication, Aviation Safety.
It probably is; you just haven't noticed. In the latest installment of our AVweb Insider Blog, Editorial Director Paul Bertorelli discusses why avgas prices are less volatile than those at the
corner service station.
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.)
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 email@example.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
Join NAA and Help Shape the Next Century of Flight
It's a great time to join the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), the nation's oldest aviation organization. At $39 a year, NAA membership is a terrific value for any aviation
enthusiast! Members receive the Smithsonian's Air & Space magazine, plus access to aviation records and much more. To become an NAA member,
or call (703) 416-4888 and press 4.
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.
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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.
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.
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
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 ... .
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!
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
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.)
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."
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!
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.
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