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With the auction of the assets of Eclipse Aviation, including the type certificate for the E500 jet, expected soon -- perhaps sometime this month -- interest is ramping up, and this week, the Eclipse Owners Group, which plans to enter a bid, said it is working with Hawker Beechcraft on a plan to provide maintenance support for the
fleet. David Green, a spokesman for the EOG, said on Tuesday the group has entered into a preliminary agreement with Hawker,
contingent on EOG's winning the auction. "This relationship [with Hawker] is sure to create tremendous confidence in Eclipse owners that their planes will be flying for many years to come," said
Green. "Hawker Beechcraft is pleased to offer Eclipse 500 owners the highest quality service and support in general aviation," said Bill Brown, president of global customer service and support for
Hawker Beechcraft. "We look forward to this new relationship and keeping the Eclipse 500s in the air." The owners group will be competing with at least four other likely bidders, including one that
is headed by former Eclipse CEO Roel Pieper, one foreign entity, and one OEM. Randall Sanada, an Eclipse owner who is also chairman of Jet-Alliance, an aircraft management company, told AVweb
on Wednesday that the EOG has raised enough money through contributions from its members to be a viable bidder for the company's assets.
However, he added that the owners would be glad to see a stronger, better-funded candidate come along and out-bid them. "What we don't want is for another bankruptcy to occur," he said. The
challenge is to create a viable business plan that will support the fleet of 260 jets in a way that is affordable for current owners. Sanada also said that Jet-Alliance is working on a plan to acquire
DayJet's fleet of E500 jets and disburse them at a discounted price to deposit-holders who have lost their money in the bankruptcy, perhaps on a shared-ownership basis. Many of the fleet of Eclipse
jets still require substantial upgrades, including tip tanks and avionics, Sanada said, which could cost up to $500,000 per airplane. Also, if nothing changes, all of the jets will be grounded before
long as they accumulate hours and reach mandated maintenance needs that can't be met.
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Mechanics at American Airlines used the wrong procedure to manually start an engine, and when the left engine caught fire during the departure climb the crew mishandled the emergency, the NTSB said
this week. The MD-80 was taking off from Lambert-St. Louis International Airport in September 2007 when the left engine caught fire. The crew turned back to the airfield, but the nose gear wouldn't
extend, so they went around, got the gear down, then landed on the runway -- with the engine still burning -- and safely deplaned all 143 pax and crew. It sounds like a pretty good outcome to a dicey
situation, but the NTSB was not impressed. "The Board examined how the flight crew handled the in-flight emergency and found their performance to be lacking," says Tuesday's news release. The crew got
distracted from the engine-fire checklist at a critical point, which prolonged the fire and led to the loss of hydraulic pressure, which caused the nose gear failure. The first officer at one point
mistakenly fed fuel to the burning engine, which could have exacerbated the fire, the board said. "Here is an accident where things got very complicated very quickly and where flight crew performance
was very important," said NTSB Acting Chairman Mark Rosenker. "Unfortunately, the lack of adherence to procedures ultimately led to many of this crew's in-flight challenges." Yet despite its criticism
of the crew, the board found that the decisions they made were "reasonable ... appropriate.... [and] prudent." As a result of this investigation, the NTSB wants the FAA to ensure that flight crews are
trained to handle multiple emergencies simultaneously and to communicate effectively with the cabin crew.
The board also found fault with the maintenance procedures that led to the engine problem. "The airline's own internal maintenance system, the purpose of which is to catch maintenance and
mechanical issues that could lead to an incident or accident, failed to do what it was designed to do," said Rosenker. "And that allowed this sequence of events to get rolling, which ultimately
resulted in the accident. Following the appropriate maintenance procedures would have gone a long way toward preventing this mishap." More details can be found in the NTSB's news release and synopsis. The full report will be
posted online in a few weeks.
Helicopter pilot David Keith Martz, 52, this week lost his appeal to regain his certificate, which he lost after a video surfaced that allegedly shows him having sex with a Swedish adult film actress
while flying a helicopter over San Diego. Martz argued that since his hands never left the controls during the encounter that he was not being "careless or reckless," and he has also said that he
knows his actions were unwise and he's more responsible now, according to the Associated Press. The NTSB judge who heard his appeal -- and watched the unedited video of the notorious 2005 event in his chambers -- was apparently not impressed. Judge William
Mullins upheld the FAA order revoking Martz's right to fly after a hearing on Tuesday in Gardena, Calif. Martz had no comment after the proceeding. His certificate has been revoked or suspended
several times in the past, for incidents such as landing a helicopter on a Hollywood street to pick up a rock star, flying too low over a residential neighborhood, landing too close to a military
base, and flying with damage to his helicopter.
The video became public when it was posted online by a Hollywood gossip Web site in February. After reviewing the video, the FAA claims it shows the pilot was blocked from the helicopter's controls
by the woman's body.
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Just in time for spring and cross-country flying plans, the state of Florida has made some progress in getting rid of its aviation-unfriendly user tax, AOPA said recently. Current law allows the state to levy a sales tax of up to 6 percent of the purchase price on
out-of-state airplanes that land in Florida, if they were bought within the last six months. The law requires the owner to pay the difference between any out-of-state tax and the 6-percent Florida
tax. Bills now gaining support in the state legislature would cut the tax to 3 percent, and would exempt pilots who stay in the state less than three weeks, AOPA said.
"Passing this exemption could transform the message Florida is sending to the aviation community," said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy. "Now, pilots who might
otherwise come to Florida for maintenance, business, and tourism are avoiding the state altogether. Removing the threat of a hefty tax on visitors will welcome pilots -- and revenue -- back into the
state." AOPA representatives have testified before the legislature to communicate how the use tax deprives the state of revenue and economic activity. An attempt last year to change the law passed the House but stalled in the Senate, but this year's effort seems to be gaining momentum,
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A Silicon Valley company has come up with voice-based GPS for aviation use. GiPSi Navigation Corp., of Menlo Park, Calif., says the GiPSi
eliminates "heads-down" navigation by enunciating the information a pilot needs in a "clear human voice." In fact, the GiPSi has no display. It communicates entirely by voice. In a news release the
company said the $395 device doesn't require extensive training and allows pilots to maintain situational awareness. "The interaction is very intuitive. It speaks to the pilot. The pilot can focus on
flying the airplane."
The pilot creates a flight plan on his or her computer and downloads it into the device. As the flight progresses, it logs flight movement with time-stamped altitudes, airspeeds, track and bearing
deviations, along with waypoints. It can notify the pilot of the aircraft's exact location and other types of information commonly found on GPS units.
The flight school whose Cessna 172 was stolen for a cross-border flight Monday says security was not compromised in the incident
because the alleged thief was a student who had normal access to the aircraft. Adam Leon, a 31-year-old Turkish immigrant who became a Canadian last year, was arrested near Ellsinore, Mo. Monday
evening after landing on a highway. In a statement, Confederation College, of Thunder Bay, Ontario, said that it was the first incident of its kind in the flight school's 35-year history. Rather than
a theft, the school is calling the incident an "unauthorized flight." But in an interview with the Canadian Press, Pat Lang, the college's president said a thorough review of security would be
undertaken. Under the existing policy, flight students have access to the ramp and hangar. "When the planes are beside the hangar, the keys are kept in the aircraft," she said.
Leon, who arrived in Canada under the name Yavuz Berke, reportedly told the sheriffs who arrested him that he wanted the F-16s to shoot him down but when that didn't happen he lost his nerve and
put the aircraft down on the road. The FBI told CP that a background check on Leon didn't turn up any terrorist ties and NORAD spokesman Mike Kucharek said his excursion through the Midwest was
treated as a "safety of flight" issue. Leon is in jail in St. Louis while authorities on both sides of the border hash out how to proceed, although the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have
apparently decided to treat it as a simple theft rather than an international incident. "It is still a joint investigation between the RCMP and Thunder Bay police service in regards to the theft as
well as to any aeronautic or Transport Canada offences...," Sgt. Marc LaPorte said. Leon was described by neighbors and school officials as bright and friendly and showed no signs of the depression he
was apparently being treated for. He had initially failed his flying course but was re-admitted and was doing well the second time. He completed his first solo last week and was preparing for his solo
cross country flight.
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Market analysts say Textron, the parent company of Cessna and Bell Helicopter, is prime for a takeover bid, and speculation grew this week that a move is imminent, perhaps by Lockheed Martin or
Raytheon. Sikorsky officials have also expressed interest in acquiring Bell, according to Reuters. None of the companies would comment on the rumors, but Textron's stocks rose 11 percent by Tuesday, trading at 12 times the usual level. Aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia
told the Wichita Eagle that both Cessna and Bell are solid companies that would be attractive to buyers. Other
analysts, however, noted that some of Textron's other divisions, such as a golf-cart company, would be less appealing. Officials at Textron have said that divisions may be sold off one by one if
necessary to raise cash. Textron share values dropped 87 percent over the last year, and last week more layoffs at Cessna were
Textron is exiting most of its finance business to try to stem losses and has reduced its dividend to conserve cash, the Providence Journal reported on Tuesday. The company recently sold off one division,
HR Textron, a supplier of systems and products for aircraft and turbine engines, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and X-45 unmanned combat air vehicle, raising about $265 million.
The mainstream media is starting to take note of the impact of TSA rules that general aviation pilots and operators have been unhappy about, and if a story in this week's Denver Post is any indication, GA may get a sympathetic hearing. The costs and logistics of TSA regulations on Colorado's
airports are significant, Rex Tippetts, director of aviation at Grand Junction's Walker Field, told the Post. New TSA rules will require him to provide 2,000 additional security checks and badges.
"It's out of control," he said. "We have a large maintenance operation here with 400 people. We have a large interagency fire-fighting operation here, with maintenance facilities. It's an unfunded
mandate we have to comply with. We had to hire people just to comply with it." James Elwood, director of Sardy Field in Aspen, said the regulations will be "time-consuming and difficult to
accomplish." Details of the security procedures have been released only to airport managers. The Post reporter said the TSA refused to release a copy of the directive, but a spokeswoman wrote that all
personnel with access to secure areas, including private pilots, must undergo a Security Threat Assessment, which includes matching their names against a terrorist database, a criminal background
check, and a review of immigration status. Pilots must attain a security badge from each of the 13 commercial airports in the state, and passengers and guests who don't have badges must be
Dennis Heap, director of the Front Range Airport, said the directive is a major step toward shutting down the nation's GA system. "General aviation is a huge economic generator that polices itself
very well," Heap said. "Why are we doing this?"
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Sun 'n Fun It's Like Spring Break for Pilots Scheduled for April 21-26 in Lakeland, Florida. Featuring the U.S. Army Parachute Team "Golden Knights." This annual event includes more than 4,500 airplanes, 500 commercial
exhibitors, over 400 educational forums, seminars, and hands-on workshops for virtually every aviation interest. Plus a spectacular daily air show. All included in your ticket price. Special
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Common sense and a spirit of cooperation have resolved a peculiar impasse in New Zealand that would have resulted in the closure of
towers at five airports for lunch, twice each day. Government officials, the air traffic control provider and employees have reached a deal whereby tower staff will eat lunch in a combination of
scheduled meal breaks and traffic-dependent interludes. Late last week Air New Zealand said it would have to cancel 25 regional flights so tower staff at five small airports can comply with new labor
rules. The rules, apparently strictly interpreted, would have required all lunch breaks to be scheduled. On the eve of the April 1 imposition of the rules, negotiators worked overtime to come up with
schedules that complied with the law but kept the towers open and there were no disruptions.
It's worth noting, however, that the rules have been looming for six months and the deal was struck literally at the 11th hour. Air New Zealand's public description of the effect may have had
something to do with it. Airline spokesman Bruce Parton said the cancellation would have taken 2,500 seats out of the company's regional capacity and cost it millions in revenue. It would also mean
less convenience for passengers in the affected communities of Gisborne, Napier, New Plymouth, Rotorua and Invercargill. Jobs would also have been lost at two regional carriers, Air Nelson and Eagle
Planning to fly to Oshkosh this summer? You can place your order now for the FAA Notam and a copy
will be mailed to you when it comes out next month...
The Lindbergh Foundation is auctioning off rides in EAA's Spirit of St.
Louis replica, bidding is via e-mail...
ABC says the FAA is checking into questions raised by its recent report about the Red Bull Albatross.
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Is the economic storm raining on your air show plans? Last week, we asked AVweb readers how many aviation events they will attend this season, compared to 2008.
Turns out, a good many of you (49% of those who responded to our poll) are planning on attending the same number of shows as always.
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.)
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
The theft of a Cessna 172 from Thunder Bay has reignited the debate over security at flight schools. This
week, we'd like to hear your opinion on what constitutes good security measures at a flight school.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
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Little Canadian Geese hatch and grow into big geese so they can clog inlet guide vanes and fill big city rivers with Air Busses. Flowers bloom, little green turtles open their eyes to a brand new
pond and our airline rolls-out a new passenger boarding system. The old method of loading the people seemed to work well enough in the olden days. You would announce that the flight was about to board
and were there any disabled people, people with little kids, or disabled people with kids? They got to board first. Once the 120 suddenly crippled, lame and child-burdened passengers shoved their way
onto the plane, the four or five honest or deaf people got to board.
It has always been amazing to me that we could carry so many physically challenged passengers who spontaneously got healthy enough during our flight to jump up and run off the airplane first when
we reached the gate at our destination.
First Class Passenger Perk Smugness
Of course, first class passengers always got to board first so they could sit in their much larger seats, sip on cocktails in real glasses and look smugly upon the great unwashed masses as they
schlepped their stuff to the back of the bus. Our new system does away with all that randomness and adds an entire new system of unfairness. We still board what few first class passengers we have at
the onset, but the plebeians in the back have zone colors and seat numbers on their home-printed boarding pass cards.
The "order of go" is vitally important to them because we now charge money to check a bag. This means that the passengers lug everything they own onto the jet to save money. Our airline's little
excursion into making duffels into dollars has turned most gate houses into bedlam-ridden flea markets.
Chad, my erstwhile copilot and I get to board before any passengers. As a matter of fact, if we were wont to follow company policy, our little fannies would be in our pilot seats a full half hour
before push-back. The company wants us to do this so we can program all the computers and do all those little nagging chores needed to give the pubic the impression that we know what we are
The paradox, of course, is that if you really know what you are doing, you only need about seven minutes (yes, I've timed it) to fully program and prepare a Boeing 767 for flight. This means that
the very act of showing up 30 minutes early to reassure the public of your flying competence actually proves the opposite.
More Gas More Happiness
We threw our flight bags into their places and I looked over the paper work as Chad made all the noises. The noises, for those of you who are uninitiated to the ways of the modern flying cattle
car, are your basic GPWS wailings, over-speed warnings and fire warnings along with your other annoying little voices that normal pilots never check but that Chad was checking today with the apparent
intent of pissing off his captain.
Once the cacophony of computer generated voices quieted and rational thought returned to my head I picked up today's fueling slip and noticed that we were tankering fuel into Florida today.
Hey, we are tankering fuel again, said Chad, echoing my thoughts as he looked at the gauges on the overhead panel. I guess fuel has finally gotten cheap enough for long enough so the big giant heads
in the front office noticed.
Cheaper jet fuel means we save money by flying to Florida with enough go-juice to make it both ways. The taxes are so high down there that our airline has tinkered whenever possible when we fly
there. There is a dot on a graph somewhere telling the dispatchers when it is cheaper to tanker than to buy and we had apparently passed that point.
Our plane was full, our jump seat rider, a pilot commuting home to West Palm Beach was firmly ensconced in his jump seat and our jet's pointy nose was pointed to points south. The passengers were
all relaxing a little bit after we announced we were passing through 20,000 feet well above attack-goose flight levels.
Jed Looks Half-Dead
Jed, our jump seat rider had that haggard-tired look that only an international pilot can have after a 12-hour bumpy flight from the sandbox to JFK. He fell asleep as soon as he sat down but
bolted up awake after his head flopped forward and hit the back of my seat. His near concussion put him in the mood for talk, so he spoke.
"Boys," he said, "this is the last time you'll see me doing this. Today was my retirement flight and I'm going home for good. No more Mumbai shooting fests, no more single-engine diverts to the
Azores, no more angry flight attendants with cold sores and early morning van ride shopping stories. I'm leaving early while I still have enough life left in me to, well ... enjoy life."
"Congratulations!" I said. Chad didn't quite know how to respond. On one hand, he was happy to see somebody senior to him retire, but on the other hand, he didn't want to look as old and worn as
Jed when retirement finally came along for him.
I could relate. You see, my retirement is coming up pretty soon and I don't look too good myself. I am not waiting till I age out or until I die on a layover. I'm getting out early and am doing it
after my next trip at the end of the month.
The CEO Retiring?
Mentioning my impending bail out from the airline system really got Chad's attention. What in the world are you going to do? Chad asked. If you leave early the retirement system they set up
post-bankruptcy won't pay you enough and things like your health insurance won't be covered either.
Jed and I looked at each other and smiled.
"Son," Jed said, "it is better to retire young and live poor than it is to retire at whatever age they allow you to and die with health insurance. I just got to the point where none of this is fun
anymore and decided that quitting early and hanging out in Palm Beach for the next 30 years was a far superior way to live than dying in a hotel room somewhere in South America of old age in five
The Retirement Conundrum and the Carter Years
I had to agree with Jed and tried to explain my reasoning to Chad. I understood where his financial concern was coming from. He had two young kids, a huge mortgage and two car payments. College
expenses for the kids, plastic surgery for the wife, his two airplanes, the golf course memberships and Chad's penchant for good food, clothing and booze had him in the clutches of a financial trap he
At age 42, he was ensnared in the airline system. In my mid-50s with no money owed to anyone and both kids grown I had just realized I could escape.
Greener, Saner Pastures
Jed and Chad and I talked all the way down to KPBI about what retiring from the airline would be like. For all my bluster and sarcasm, I'll miss flying overloaded sub-sonic people movers from
urinal to urinal. The past thirty years or so have been a great time to be an airline pilot. I personally think the glory days are over but maybe that is age, not reason talking.
What will I do in retirement? My wife and I look upon it as a return to the President Carter years a time when it was just the two of us with no money, no real future and a lot of polyester
I'm giving up the airline, but I am certainly not giving up flying. If anything, I am returning to the flying I love to do the best. Hot days, wearing shorts and t-shirts, flying tail draggers and
occasionally pulling out the fuel hose to put gas in a Stearman. They say you can't return to your youth but they are very wrong. I may not be retiring with enough money to own an FBO but I certainly
have the wherewithal to work at one.
After my last trip, you can look for me a few days a week behind the counter or hiding behind the fuel truck at our local airport. I have been flying out of there for years and it is about time to
take on my role as the resident old fart know-it-all.
Jed told us he was going another way. He liked flying, but he loved boating. His retirement life would include working at the local marina and taking Yankees out fishing. I've had a great time, Jed
told us, but when it is time to go, you simply know that it is time.
Yearning for Ground Time?
Chad didn't understand when I agreed with Jed with a big nod and a smile. When it is time to leave you really do feel it and know the truth of it in your heart and soul. I know in my heart that I
have made my last autoland and I just don't look forward to spending my weeks and months watching the flight school pattern mostly from the ground I yearn for it.
Jed and I agreed that we would miss the big airplanes and our crewmates terribly but wouldn't miss the memos, management morons, flying through horrible weather or on Christmas.
I'll miss the feeling of competence I get when I do a difficult approach in bad weather and get 300 people safely on the ground. I'll miss layover beers, copilot jokes and seeing hundreds of
work-related friends that I'll never see again after next week.
Somewhere, there is a young person just starting out getting ready to take my place in the airline world. I hope he or she has as much fun as I did and ends up loving it, even with all of its
faults, as much as I do as I say goodbye.
Chad stopped looking sideways from his copilot seat at the two has-been geezers who would soon leave the airline. He was looking forward and was, even now, dreaming of moving over into my left hand
Want to read more from AVweb's "CEO of the Cockpit"? Check out the rest of his columns at AVweb's "CEO"
When you're trying to argue that it's ridiculous to think GA is a security risk, that last thing you need is a pair of F-16s chasing a stolen Skyhawk cross the border. In the latest installment of
our AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli explain why we've got to stop leaving unsecured airplanes on the ramp.
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it takes to grow your career and get the job done right. Books, eBooks, videos, eVideos, software, pilot supplies, and more the AVweb Bookstore offers over 500 titles by over 60 publishers, a
knowledgeable staff, and the best service in the business. We are your professional source.
If you're not attending the Aircraft Electronics Association Convention in Dallas, Texas this week, you're missing some terrific new products. One of the
things we enjoy most about these trade shows is walking the floor and seeing the latest tech in person, so we're sharing that experience with a series of "AEA Product Minutes" in which we
invite vendors to reveal (in one minute) the details of their hottest product at the show.
Just one more minute of your time! In this final "Product Minute" from the AEA Convention, AirCell's Andy Geist talks about in-flight wireless access, a hot topic in the age of
Blackberrys and smartphones.
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Chris Archer sang the FBO's praises, telling us about their "great service ... good instructors ... [and] best aircraft in Hawaii, hands down." (Chris regularly rents a Cessna 172SP with
G1000 from FSH and tells us he's "never had a flight cancelled for maintenance.")
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.
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
AVweb readers continue to deliver top-notch photos for our weekly showcase and plenty of them!
We've got that new film Australia on our Netflix list, but somehow we doubt that it deals with our favorite aspect of the Land Down Under: Those guys are always having the
best local air shows! (At least it seems that way when you get all the "POTW" submissions.)
Alex McDonald of Sydney, New South Wales (Australia) serves up this treat ("no manipulation"!) from a recent air show.
Ronald Frederiksen of Vancouver, Washington gave us a little background on Pearson:
[P]art of the National Reserve Trust only Vancouver, Washington and Williamsburg, Virginia are National Reserve Trusts Pearson is one of the oldest
operating air fields in the nation. The hangars are duplicates of hangars constructed in the 1920s, while the headquarters building is an original historic building from when the U.S. Army owned
Paul Kruger of Old Oak, Western Province (South Africa) reminds us that sometimes a map can do things those high-tech cockpit devices just aren't
suited for. Here, the map comes in handy for both flying and parking.
You'll find more reader-submitted photos in the slideshow on AVweb's home page. Don't miss 'em!
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.
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:
Publisher Timothy Cole
Editorial Director, Aviation Publications Paul Bertorelli
Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles
Contributing Editors Mary Grady Glenn Pew
Features Editor Kevin Lane-Cummings
Webmaster Scott Simmons
Contributors Jeff van West
Click here to send a letter to the
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Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.
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