AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 15, Number 50a

December 14, 2009

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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But Prosper During the Current Financial Crisis

To be your most productive, and your most efficient, you must keep flying. Because in so doing, you will emerge from these times even stronger than before. And you will replace the uncertainty that surrounds many, with the confidence and courage to light the way for all. Visit CessnaRise.com.
Top News: Another Benchmark for Boeing Dreamliner back to top 
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Boeing test pilots lifted the nose of 787 Dreamliner during a 130-knot run down the runway at Paine Field Saturday in what is likely the precursor for a first flight on Tuesday. Last week Boeing announced the prototype had been structurally approved by company engineers and would be ready for first flight beginning Dec. 15, complete with a webcast that goes live 24 hours prior to first flight. The flight is expected to take about three hours and transfer the 787 from Paine Field to Boeing Field, near Seattle. As for the exact date, weather won't be the only determining factor. The company says that it will perform internal reviews and still needs final paperwork from the FAA. The aircraft is two years behind schedule, but for a project still in development, it has also attracted a record number of orders (totaling about 850, back in August) ... and many cancellations.

The promise of the 787 is that of a higher-efficiency airliner that consumes 20 percent less fuel than comparable aircraft and costs 30 percent less to maintain. The project has been beset with multiple delays and, most recently, unforeseen structural complications. Current prices have the Dreamliner selling for anywhere from $105 million to $205 million, according to Reuters.

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Owning a Piece of History back to top 

Spirit of St. Louis Parts Auctioned

Original parts of Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, in which the famed pilot flew non-stop in 1927 alone across the Atlantic, will be auctioned at Bonhams New York auction house Dec. 15. Parts removed by Lindbergh engineer Kenneth Lane include shock absorber bungee cords, spark plugs and a rocker arm from the Wright J5-C Whirlwind that powered the flight. The auction house estimates the "lot" at $80,000-120,000, but that's not all. Two other lots include a historic hand-signed typed letter from Lindbergh to historian Ev Cassagneres, and a testimonial from Irvin Air Chutes in which then Cadet Lindbergh's March 6, 1925, midair is described. Those items are estimated to fetch less than $5,000 each. The items are considered to be "the only pieces of the plane, from her trans-Atlantic flight, ever to be auctioned," according to Bonhams.

The bungees, spark plugs and rocker are thoroughly described and pictured online by Bonhams, here. The Lindbergh to Cassagneres letter is both pictured and described, here. The parachute-company testimonial pictures Lindbergh and others and is pictured and described, here.

Click images for large versions

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Another One for Your Holiday Wish List back to top 

"First" Civilian Su-27 Flanker For Sale

The "first" civilian-operated, privately owned Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker in the world, according to the people who are trying to sell it, is fresh off its restoration, flew Dec. 10 at Rockford, Ill., and is now for sale. Pride Aircraft says the jet departed Runway 25 into a 15-knot headwind, after a 1,100-foot ground roll at Chicago Rockford International Airport. The jet flew locally for about 45 minutes in 7-degree air (14 Celsius) and performed multiple missed approaches before landing. According to the FAA's online registry, the fighter is flying on a temporary certificate issued Dec. 2, 2009, that expires Jan. 1, 2010. According to Pride, the jet is the first ever to be "licensed" in the USA and one of a pair that represents "the first and only" two privately owned Flankers (both two-seat UB models) in the world.

The aircraft have been restored and relabeled (Russian placards don't help English-reading pilots) and are fully IFR instrumented. Pride says the aircraft arrived in completely demilitarized condition and are now ready with "freshly-overhauled (zero-time)" airframes and zero-time engines. As a selling agent, Pride hasn't listed a price, and is seeking to deter tire-kickers. But for those with the green, the company says it's offering "by far the most extraordinary high-performance aircraft you can own."

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Meanwhile, at the FAA back to top 

Bill Sets 1500-Hour Minimum For Commercial 121 Pilots

Family members of those lost in the fatal crash of Continental Flight 3407 near Buffalo are pushing the Obama administration and FAA chief Randy Babbitt to impose a 1,500-hour minimum for the commercial pilots flying part 121. The crash, which killed all 49 aboard plus one on the ground, has inspired the formation of the group Families of Continental Flight 3407. That group had plans last week to meet with Sen. Charles Schumer, D- N.Y., who has sponsored a bill that would require the 1500-hour minimum. Babbitt is more in favor of changing the FAA's rules regarding training specific to certain types of operations -- particularly, how pilots seeking positions in commercial airliners are trained. As for the hour mandate, Babbitt has said flight hours alone may not guarantee proficiency. Babbitt is already under fire from lawmakers over other concerns.

Some lawmakers believe the FAA has not adequately addressed pilot fatigue. The FAA is expected to issue new rules designed to reduce the threat of pilot fatigue, but final action is still pending. Said Senator Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., the chairman of an aviation subcommittee, "We're just out of patience here." The sentiment was echoed by Margie Brandquist, who lost a sister on the Buffalo flight. "It feels like they are going slow," she told the Washington Post. The NTSB has called the February crash the worst in the U.S. in the past seven years.

Boise TRACON Closure Looms

Idaho politicians and the controllers' union claim the FAA is trying to rush through the planned closure of the Boise TRACON before a new FAA reauthorization package prevents such closures. According to the Idaho Statesman a local FAA official has confirmed TRACON functions will be transferred to Salt Lake City despite a call by the Idaho delegation in Congress to examine the motive behind the move. The FAA claims the move will save the agency about $1 million a year but the politicians want to have that claim audited. They reportedly had assurance from the FAA that the move would be postponed until the figures were analyzed. Doug Church, spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, told the paper the move is strategic on the part of the FAA. "They're playing beat the clock," Church said. "They want to act before Congress steps in and includes language in the reauthorization bill that would put a stop to what they're doing in places like Boise." He also said the move is in defiance of testimony given by the FAA's Chief Operating Officer for the Air Traffic Organization, Hank Krakowski, who told a congressional subcommittee that TRACON closures are "in abeyance."

Regardless of the machinations in Washington, the locals in Boise are vowing to fight the closure. Boise Mayor Dave Bieter said it makes no sense to remove the service from Boise if there are little or no cost savings. "We must keep TRACON jobs and service here in Boise," he said. "I will work with Idaho's congressional delegation to force the FAA to take no action until our requested audit is complete."

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R&D, P&L back to top 

Aircraft Lightning Strike Radiation Research

New research suggests that simply being near a lightning discharge while flying in an airplane may subject the you to the equivalent of 400 chest X-rays, or 7,500 hours of normal high-altitude flight. "Near" apparently means within about 300 yards and the potential dosage measures in at about 10 rem of exposure within less than a millisecond. "Ten rem is considered the maximum safe radiation exposure during a person's lifetime," according to Florida Today, which reported on the study. The bad news is that even aircraft that overfly storms aren't necessarily avoiding the radiation generated below. The good news is that the researchers didn't measure doses inside aircraft but estimated it based on computer models and satellite data. The better news, according to researchers, is that commercial aircraft are struck by lightning only about once or twice each year. Still, researchers do have some suggestions.

Researchers from Florida Tech worked on the project with other researchers and scientists at the University of Florida and the University of California-Santa Cruz. According to Florida Today, "they plan to recommend that the FAA place detectors aboard airplanes capable of measuring the storm-related radiation bursts to determine how often they occur." Some forecasters are expecting an El Nino (a weather phenomena caused by warm surfaces waters in the Pacific) to produce more storms this year. That said, the preliminary research does not at this time suggest there is a newly discovered large risk to pilots and passengers.

JSF Engine Trouble Could Cost Billions

Rolls-Royce and GE are together battling Pratt & Whitney in the race to power the Joint Strike Fighter but critics say new problems with one team mean it's time to cut it loose, leaving the estimated $100 billion-over-30-years prize solely to the other. Rolls-Royce apparently must redesign a component that helps hold its engine together, a step that critics say will raise costs and increase delays at a time that the Obama administration is pushing to cut the program's overall costs. Congress has for years funded both engine development programs behind the logic that cutting either would remove competition and damage the product's final value. But critics argue that the JSF project is already $16 billion over budget. A spokesman for Rolls-Royce told the Independent UK that the necessary redesign is not complex and full testing will resume in the new year. Rolls-Royce is the sole developer of engines for the vertical takeoff version of the JSF to be used by the Royal Navy, but demand for more conventional versions is expected to be substantially higher. The dollar signs involved mean that politics are also an issue.

Competition lost is one thing, but the costs of removing a country from the engine development program run deeper. The JSF is a multi-national project that has attracted eight nations as buyers and project supporters hope to see the program sell some 3,000 jets. Kicking any team out of the engine competition kicks that company's national host out of the estimated $100 billion pie that represents potential powerplant contracts. In short, kicking any team out of the competition could bring political fallout that might further complicate the balance of the project's joint partners.

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Marketwatch back to top 

Cessna Closing Plants, Cutting Jobs

Cessna has announced plans to close its three plants in Columbus, Ga., including the $25 million 100,000-square-foot facility that it opened there in August 2008 and its McCauley Propeller facility. It will also move 175 subassembly jobs from Wichita. The timeframe for all the action is anywhere from six to 24 months. In Georgia, the closures will claim the remaining 315 workers of what was once a 600-person-strong workforce. Some of the work will move to Independence, Kan., and Mexico. Meanwhile, back in Wichita, and over the same time period, the company "will move some subassembly work," affecting, but perhaps not terminating, the jobs of 175 Wichita workers, spokesman Doug Oliver told The Wichita Eagle. "We need to continually attack costs and structure the business for predicted demand" of the company's aircraft, Oliver said.

Cessna's Columbus facilities have been a part of the company since 1996 and in 2008 Cessna had planned to add up to 150 jobs over five years. But by January 2009 Cessna had announced plans to cut 100 jobs, followed in April and August by 89 and 50 jobs, respectively.

Remos Announces Capital Investment

What appeared originally as rumors of a catastrophic loss of investment capital leading to an actual "notice of insolvency" filing have been clarified by Remos as "a procedural option" under German law and now "a new capital injection" that solidifies the company. The company announced Thursday that an "additional significant investment" has made "secure the future of REMOS Aircraft" and will allow the company to move "strengthened into the year 2010." REMOS credited its two main shareholders, the Faerber Group of Munich and Pall Mall partners of London, for enabling "the introduction of new programs through which the company will be able to address new customer segments." REMOS claims itself to be "the world's leading manufacturer of Light Sport Aircraft" and says that in spite of the slow economy it "reached the goals" it set for the year 2009.

REMOS's future goal, announced at Oshkosh '09, is to create a world-wide distribution and support network that cares for its aircraft and customers and further develops and maintains a sustainable culture around use of its LSAs. Founded in 1994, the company manufactures in Germany its all-composite flagship single-engine LSA, the REMOS GX.

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

AVmail: December 14, 2009

Each week, we run a sampling of the letters received to our editorial inbox here in AVmail. One letter that's particularly relevant, informative, or otherwise compelling will headline this section as our "Letter of the Week," and we'll send the author an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you" for interacting with us (and the rest of our readership). Send us your comments and questions using this form. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail (just in case your letter is our "Letter of the Week"); by the same token, please let us know if your message is not intended for publication.

Letter of the Week: Space Certification Challenge

While the unveiling of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo is a momentous occasion for all parties involved, I've noticed that a critical factor has been missing from coverage of the event: Information concerning the certification of the spacecraft and commercial space operations carrying passengers is notably absent from virtually all media.

If flights to paying customers are to come as early as 2011 as we are told, Virgin is surely facing one of the toughest certification programs ever seen, both for the vehicle and the operations they will be conducting with it. I do not doubt the safety of the craft. Scaled Composites has a proven track record of successful designs and I'm sure the flight test program will be thorough, but just because an aircraft can be operated safely does not mean that the government will give its blessing to carry paying passengers. I would like to know what will be expected of Virgin Galactic in order to proceed beyond the experimental stage, a realm unknown to manned spaceflight, government or private.

In addition to the challenges facing of Virgin Galactic, I have my doubts that the FAA would be able to come up with a new certification process for commercial manned spaceflight by 2011. There is a great deal of work ahead of many people, and given the high price of admission, I question whether there is enough interest from potential customers to justify the expense. Private experimental suborbital spaceflight is real, but some seem to have made the assumption that all it takes is a willing customer to make commercial spaceflight a reality. It will take much more than that and I want to see both Virgin Galactic and the FAA answer the tough questions that will have to be faced to bring this venture to fruition.

Ryan Lunde

Alaskan Security

I think TSA isn't being realistic to the off-airport pilots at Punta Gorda Airport. I am based at Lake Hood (LHD & Z-41) which has about 1,000 GA aircraft. We do not have a perimeter fence (only some areas are fenced) and roadways are open 24/7/365 to the public and moose.

We suffer theft, vandalism, and moose damage to our aircraft. We have one gate that is suppose to be closed after 11 pm, but is only closed about 40 percent of the time by airport police.

We have very high recreational use of our ramps and taxiways by the public. I have tried for about 10 years with very little success to have the public separated from aircraft operational surfaces. I have a series of photos that show mothers with strollers walking past signs that say "Aircraft Only."

Lake Hood is also connected to adjacent Anchorage International Airport by a taxiway with a radio gate that took 16 years for the airport to install. So why would TSA bother an airport with working radio gates when they ignore the worst-run GA airport in North America?

Name Withheld

TSA Complaints

Can you identify where folks can contact the TSA to express an opinion about its overreaction to preventing these aircraft at Punta Gorda from (practical) operation? For the TSA to require an FBO employee to open ther gate at Punta Gorda virtually renders the 'through the gate' program unworkable.

FYI: This does not personally impact me, but I am a supporter of airparks and I don't want to see zealots prevent normal aviation operations in the name of "national security", an expression which is obviously being overused by officials to regulate normal aviation behavior.

Pat Barry

AVweb Replies:

You can fill out a complaint form or call their contact center at 1 (866) 289-9673.

Russ Niles

GA Perception Behind Security Stance

All of the discussions about the through-the-fence operations I have heard seem to miss one important point. This isn't about security or FAA grants, or fair reimbursement to the airports. It's about the general public's perception of general aviation.

The average citizen doesn't understand why we are able to go to and from our hangars without clearing security, and why our luggage isn't searched. They would be appalled at the fact that we don't have to file a flight plan to go somewhere VFR!

If we can't sell the general public on the notion that GA airports and airparks are safe, secure and a tremendous asset to the whole community, instead of a place for "rich guys to play with their toys," we will be forced into a situation of developing our own private airfields without any government support such as has happened in many foreign countries.

Josh Johnson

Real Estate Decision

I've been looking into purchasing a property which has a through-the-fence agreement very similar to the Punta Gorda arrangement. It looks like this would be a big mistake at this point. What makes this a greater security threat than all of the other airparks that own the airport where they're located? How about all of the little, private airports with no fences or gates? Are they next? It looks like someone needs to step in and take control of the FAA and TSA.

Bill Gores

War by Drone

I think it's great that Air Force pilots of unmanned drones can contribute to a war effort without putting themselves in harm's way. How some people find this "unethical" is incomprehensible to me. How can a drone with two 500-lb. bombs cause any more collateral damage than a piloted aircraft with tremendous ordinance?

I completely disagree with opponents of UAVs who claim that this technology "makes war easier" and that a lessened risk would make military commanders somehow less responsible about waging war. In their arguments of ethics, the opponents of UAVs come very close to complaining that our servicemen/women being at little or no risk is somehow "unfair" because they sleep in their own beds at night.

Unbelievable. I highly doubt that our enemies consider issues of "fairness" when they're trying to kill our people. If we can come closer to winning without putting more people at risk, how is that wrong, or even remotely "unethical"? Thanks to your article, I'm now very interested in the UAV program.

Alan Tipps

Power Plant Concerns Are Real

In response to a letter suggesting power plants are good neighbors, I feel some clarification is in order.

Fist of all, I am a commissioner on the Airport Land Use Commission (ALUC) in whose airport influence area the "Peaker" power plant would be sited. The actual location is in an adjacent county however, in Alameda County, Northern California. The airport, Byron Municipal (C83) happens to be in Contra Costa County.

At this point, the CCC County Board of Supervisors, the ALUC, the county Aviation Advisory Committee and the California Pilots Assoc. have all sent letters to the California Energy Commision (CEC) requesting, among other things, details on the "plume" impact to aircraft safety. The plant, by the way, would be owned by the Mitsubishi Corp. and they already own several in the state. These peak power plants are quite differant in their composition and operation than a coal or gas type plant. The data is still too new to know the real effects of transiting a plume of the exhaust gas emitted from the peaker plant's turbine exhausts. Old style "smokestack" type plants, usually built well away from airports, have tall towers yes, but the overflight of these plants is usually done at a much higher altitude than the new generation, closer-in turbine powered peaker plants. The plant proposed near Byron would be approximately two miles away from the departure/arrival corridor of the main runway.

Further, there are glider and ultralight as well as skydiving operations at this airport, and the plume data the power plant applicant has presented thus far is not detailed enough for anyoneto make a determination as to flight safety.

Lastly, the CEC has recently declined a permit for a peaker plant near the Hayward Air Terminal in Hayward, California for essentially the concerns raised above.

Geoff Logan

Power Plant Facts

Andy Manning's response to the recent article on the power plant issue at Byron Airport in California requires a clarifying response. There are a few facts that should be known before you dismiss the airport power plant issue. In the case of Byron Airport, the proposed power plant is indeed close to final and would be also be flown over during the missed approach to Byron. Further these power plants are gas turbine units with mostly invisible plumes with documented vertical speeds of up to 3000 feet per minute. There has been at least one turbine engine failure as a result of flying over such a plume.

It appears that power plant companies are targeting airports for a number of reasons, including but not limited to: open land, existing infrastructure such as natural gas lines, electrical lines, sewer systems and roads. To make the issue even more important, the California Energy Commission power plant approval process is almost secretive - a process that clearly was influenced by the power plant companies.

Finally, the California Pilots Association is a statewide, non-profit volunteer organization whose mission is the Promotion, Preservation and Protection of California's GA airports. We invite you to visit our web site at www.calpilots.org to learn more about our efforts to protect airports. And while you are there, may I suggest that you perform a search on 'power plants' to read more information regarding power plant in airport area issues.

Ed Rosiak
President, California Pilots Association

Welcome the Power Plant

Having worked in a PR and political role for a major Van Nuys, CA operator, I would have been thrilled to be surrounded by power plants and industrial property instead of residential, your alternative.

Power plants don't care about aircraft noise, nor lobby against the airport, as the holding company usually operates a private airplane. On the other hand, residents move in, organize, and lobby the hell out of your district, and can eventually topple you.

If you follow the upcoming Cap and Trade/carbon reduction legislation rules, etc., you'd see this type of operation is going be pretty clean from the get-go.

Wake up. Let the power plant in, and then when the locals go after you, which they always do, they will go after the plant too. and then you can team up, and fight back, with someone trained to fight this sort of battle, because you're not!

Think long-term, before you pick a fight my friends. No matter your intention, you put yourself on the radar by taking a swing in the first place.

Greg Andrews

Djunow Where Juneau Is?

Regarding the ADS-B locations listed in the article on Dec. 7: "The areas expected to have first operational capabilities include the Gulf of Mexico, Philadelphia and Juno."

That wouldn't be Juneau, Alaska? (Kinda sounds like Juno, but it's Juneau.) Come on up and visit.

Gary Rolf

Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own Letter to the Editor with this form.

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AVweb Audio — Are You Listening? back to top 

Old-School IFR with the Editors of IFR Magazine

File Size 11.1 MB / Running Time 16:11

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IFR magazine's Jeff Van West talks with pilots from WWII (and just after) about the early days of instrument training and flying. These guys really lived on the edge — and went looking for thunderstorms to fly.

To read the full article — and others like it — subscribe to IFR magazine.

Click here to listen. (11.1 MB, 16:11)

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

Video: Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker — Civilian Warbird Over Illinois

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

AVweb reader Scott Ross turned us on to this video of the first civilian registry SU-27 Sukhoi Flanker flying overhead ... in Rockford, Illinois. Scott tells us he "heard it banging around yesterday but didn't realize what it was. RFD's Runway 25 touchdown point is four miles from my house, and we are directly below the ILS. Wish I'd been outside when she went over.

(P.S. Scott credits the vid to Buck Wyndham!)

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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."

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Ann Arbor Aviation Center (KARB, Ann Arbor, MI)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Ann Arbor Aviation Center at KARB in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

AVweb reader Armand Bendersky experienced the FBO's top-notch service just last week:

We had a flight of two arrive at ARB last Saturday ... [and] were greeted by a young but friendly and efficient line crew. ... They could not have been more helpful. Not only did they arrange transportation for the group of seven pilots ... [but] they put my plane in a hangar ... with a smile and great efficiency. They fueled our planes while we were in town gorging ourselves at Zingerman's Deli and gave us a 10-cent discount. Great service by nice people. I look forward to visiting them again in the near future.

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!

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

A few years ago, I was routinely flying my Bonanza from Houston Hobby to Austin. The trip was normally very predictable, including the knowledge that radio traffic, when handed over to Austin Approach, was extremely busy and communications needed to be very efficient. On one trip, the Approach controller changed those rules and added some levity.

"Bonanza 56, turn right, heading 350. I hate to tell you this, but you're number 9 for landing, and I have to send you up to Georgetown."

Bonanza 56W (me) :
"No problem; those Boeings have a lot more passengers than I do."

"56W, what speed can you give me to the outer marker?"

Bonanza 56W:
"I can give you 150 knots."

"Great. If you can do that, I'll give you a kiss. Turn left, heading 280, and join the localizer 17L."

Bonanza 56W:
"Left to 280, join the localizer 17L, and I'll pass on the kiss."


Southwest 123:
"SW 123 checking in on the localizer 17R. And we'll pass on the kiss, too."

[Other aircraft check in and add to the laughter.]

"Hey, I'm getting my feelings hurt here! SW 123, ask one of your flight attendants if they would like the kiss."

SW 123:
"Stand by."

[After a few moments ... .]

SW 123:
"Approach, SW 123. One of our flight attendants will meet you on the ground for the kiss. His name is Kevin."

John Yates
via 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
Mariano Rosales

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

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