AVwebFlash - Volume 16, Number 1a

January 4, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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2010's Top Priority? Safety, Of Course back to top 
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American Airlines Landing Incidents Prompt FAA Review

The FAA will increase its oversight of American Airlines following a string of non-fatal landing incidents that took place in December, including one that left an AA 737 in pieces in Kingston, Jamaica. FAA spokesperson Lynn Lunsford made the comments to CNN, adding that the FAA's review will attempt to determine if those incidents "might be indicative of a larger issue." On Dec. 13, an American MD-80 went off the side of the runway while landing at Charlotte Douglas International Airport and dragged a wingtip while realigning. The Dec. 22 incident at Kingston left 91 passengers injured and the 737 broken when it overran the runway in heavy rain. And on Dec. 24, another AA MD-80 dragged a wingtip landing at Austin.

American is cooperating with the investigation, all of which is said to be routine for this and similar situations. Upon conclusion of the review, the FAA will deliver its conclusions to American and "assist in the development of appropriate corrective actions," Lunsford said.


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Eager Owner's Unexpected Escort back to top 

Misunderstanding Leads To F-15 Intercept

Jean-Claude Courtois bought a plane in Florida but an allegedly iffy checkride and some miscommunications saw his maiden flight shortened by a pair of F-15s. The incident began at American Aviation on Hernando County Airport in Florida, where Courtois purchased a Cessna 425. While Courtois was getting checked out in the plane, his instructor developed concerns about the Frenchman's command of English and his piloting skills. Based on those concerns, the instructor recommended to American Aviation (the plane's seller) that Courtois fly with and be re-evaluated by another instructor. But before that could happen, the Frenchman hopped into the aircraft and departed Hernando "without (air traffic control) clearance," FAA spokeswoman Arlene Salac told NaplesNews.com. Next, due to a miscommunication somewhere in the chain, a call from American Aviation to controllers along Courtois' presumed route of flight became a report of a foreigner who wasn't talking with controllers flying a stolen aircraft. Soon after, Courtois found himself putting down at Everglades Jetport at the urging of two NORAD-deployed F-15s.

Courtois' was reportedly heading from Hernando to Guadeloupe. Once on the ground, the misunderstanding started to become clear. Reached for comment by Tampa Bay Online, Hernando County Airport Director Don Silvernell lamented the misunderstanding. "It was his airplane and he left with it," Silvernell said, adding that security concerns were never an issue. Silvernell said the man was properly certificated and the whole incident was just "blown out of proportion."

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News Briefs back to top 

1911 Vickers Antarctica Wreckage Possibly Found

A single-engine Vickers abandoned on the Antarctic ice during the 1911-1914 Antarctic expedition of Australian Douglas Mawson may have been found on New Year's Day, 2010. If true, the find itself may be as unique as the circumstances that allowed for it. Wreckage was found on ice-encrusted rocks on the shore of Commonwealth Bay. Modern-day expedition leader Dr. Tony Stewart told Reuters, "Friday was the only day in several years when the rocks were sufficiently exposed and the tide was low enough." Only rusted lengths of metal tubing were found, but they match structural tubing from the monoplane's fuselage and the expedition believes they're a match. The Vickers was originally intended to fulfill Mawson's goal of launching the first human flight over the Antarctic ice cap, but that bid ended before it began.

The aircraft was damaged during a demonstration flight in October 1911, just prior to Mawson's expedition. Its still-intact fuselage was taken on the adventure, anyway, with hopes of using it as a tractor to haul gear across the ice. But once on location and on skis, it was found that the engine seized in the cold and the fuselage was abandoned where it sat at Cape Dawson.

Wing-Flapping MAV Flies

A $2.1 million investment has yielded a hand-sized infrared controlled micro air vehicle (MAV) that flies by flapping its four polyethylene wings up to 30 times per second. Displayed last Monday by Professor Hiroshi Liu, of Japan's Chiba University, the 2.6-gram, four-inch long MAV carries a rechargeable battery that's reportedly good for six minutes of powered flight. The vehicle has yet to demonstrate its ability to hover, which is next on the list, but has demonstrated stable figure-eight flight. Liu plans to ultimately develop the MAV for earthquake-aftermath search missions by equipping it with a tiny camera. The addition of a camera would make it not terribly unlike an existing MAV, the Dutch DelFly Micro, an ornithopter that weighs in (with camera) at about 3 grams and has a flight duration of about three minutes.

Liu specializes in the development of machines based on living beings. "First, we need to learn about effective mechanism from natural life forms, but we want to develop something to go beyond nature eventually," he told Agence France-Presse. Aside from aiding search and rescue in crumbled buildings, Liu suggests his remote-controlled ornithopter might also find use as an extra-terrestrial explorer by flying reconnaissance missions in the Martian atmosphere.

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Meanwhile, Down at the Airport back to top 

USA Today Continues Airport Funding Coverage

Public-use, privately owned reliever airports have again won the negative attention of USA Today, this time with two articles -- one titled, "FAA and taxpayers prop up small, little-used airports." USA Today writer Thomas Frank's two articles appeared in USA Today on Dec. 31, stating among other things that some small airports are owned by "businesses," and that "raises questions about whether public funds should go toward assisting private enterprise." Like a similar article printed in USA Today back in September of 2009 these latest two have drawn reaction from AOPA. The pilot group wrote Friday that the latest articles cast reliever airports as "playgrounds for the rich," when they actually "support business aviation, medical services, and disaster relief." AOPA noted that it had provided a statement to the reporter prior to the story's inclusion in the paper, "but the newspaper chose not to include it."

AOPA's position is that reliever airports "comprise a valuable component of the national aviation system." The airports provide "access to small communities" and connect "all parts of the nation." According to AOPA, of 3,400 existing and proposed airports, 269 are considered relievers and of those 43 are privately owned. Those 43 are subject to the same grant obligations as any other airport that receives federal money.

Airport Gets On-Site Wind Turbine

Heritage Aviation, Burlington International Airport's new general aviation facility, has installed -- onsite -- a wind turbine, claiming "a first for renewables and aviation industries," according to Heritage. The Northwind 100 (100-kilowatt) turbine erected at the airport stands 121 feet tall, measuring from atop the 41-foot-diameter rotor's disc area. The airport hosts a number of instrument approaches, and Heritage pushed through heavy FAA scrutiny with the help of turbine supplier Alteris Renewables. "Basically we had a very close look at radar maps and found a 10-foot circle where this could go," Nils Behn, director of Alteris' wind division, told the Burlington Free Press. Another turbine erected by the University of Vermont is close to the airport and won FAA approval in part because it was constructed next to a larger pre-existing water tower.

Presumably with the FAA's blessing, Heritage is using the turbine along with a solar hot water system and 120 210-watt solar panels to offset energy costs by an estimated $14,600 per year. Turbines like the Northwind 100 are expected to pay for themselves through energy cost savings anywhere from five to ten years after installation. At Heritage, the overall clean energy project cost -- which includes a 79,000 square-foot facility -- is about $18 million.

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Help Us Celebrate AVweb's 15th Anniversary back to top 

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Win a Bose Aviation X headset as we celebrate our 15th Anniversary! All you have to do is click here to enter your name and email address. (You only have to enter once, and you'll be entered in our prize drawings for the entire year — so if you've already entered, you're all set.)

And no, we're not going to rent or sell your name, ever. Tell your friends, and invite them to sign up for AVweb so they can qualify for our 15 Grand Giveaways prize drawings, too. (We won't spam them, either — but we hope they will sign up for our newsletters.)

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Year in Review back to top 

AVweb's Most Popular Stories Of 2009

We've looked back through the electronic monstrosity that recorded the roughly 600 million hits you generated for AVweb last year so, without further ado, here are the stories that you found most clickable in 2009. In January, your interest was dominated by our same-day breaking news coverage of Sully and Jeff and their "Miracle On The Hudson," along with our comprehensive first impact video footage and CVR audio. In February, C-17 belly landing pictures and video won the top slot. The third month was dominated by Terrafugia, specifically our Terrafugia first flight video coverage. In April, a King Air pilot died en route, forcing a low-time SEL pilot/passenger to orchestrate a landing and our audio coverage won out. In May, more audio -- this time covering Sean Tucker's off airport landing. In June, video of a Beaver that crashed on takeoff claimed the top spot.

July brought Oshkosh, and video of a 777 pilot's take on an Airbus' A380 firm arrival to AirVenture. That actually carried its winning position into August when our F-16 loss of control video grabbed the second spot. September's winner was the Victor Bomber aborted takeoff or fast taxi mistake video. In October, you were most interested in the story and pictures of an Alaskan cub that allegedly lost an encounter with a bear. November's winner was Lutheran Airlines, an audio clip. And December's big draw was our video dissection of a fatal Cirrus stall accident. Here's looking forward to 2010.

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

AVmail: January 4, 2010

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: Spin Recovery

Unfortunately, I don't think most pilots would be able to react to a stall/spin situation. Most pilots I talk with fear spins and spin training. Some are actually reluctant to do stalls. Thus they don't have the opportunity to experience a spin until they inadvertently enter one, at which time it is too late.

It's difficult to find an instructor today who will teach spin recovery from an actual spin, as many instructors have not experienced an actual spin. A pilot flying light aircraft today would benefit themselves and their families by taking spin recovery training from actual spins from a qualified instructor.

Pat Bartlett

The Good Old Days

In reading Rob Stultz's letter concerning closure of FSS facilities, I laugh and I cry. I "grew up" in aviation during the fantastic 1960s, when one could rent an almost new airplane, single or twin, at virtually every airport in the country. One could walk over to the FSS, get a good briefing from someone who knew the area and who cared, and make a flight.

Now we have "modernized." We listen to a computer — at least it isn't done from India (yet) — and end up talking to someone employed not by the FAA, but from a profit-making company, who may be in Seattle or New York, one who knows nothing about the area and one who is so busy taking calls from all over the country that he has no time to learn the local area, or to care.

I've been on the phone for 45 minutes trying to close a flight plan, only to receive a later call of admonition because I had failed to close my flight plan. I've taken off from St. Petersburg, called St. Pete Radio for more than 10 minutes on all three frequencies, never receiving an answer, thereby being unable to activate my DVFR flight plan.

On landing, I've called the Flight Service Station, only to be told that "...we were talking to 10 aircraft at that time. What can you expect?" Now we are losing even this? Why don't we just close them all, feed everything into one big computer in India or Thailand, and hope for the best? It certainly would be cheaper, and would give us just about as much personal service as we are getting from Lockheed Martin.

Oh, for the days of the one-man Flight Service Station at Purdue Airport, and at Crestview Airport. They may have been archaic, but they gave excellent service.

Chuck Svoboda

Mastery as Mayhem

I announced airshows for about ten years in the 1980s and '90s and had the pleasure of working with Jimmy Franklin, Bobby Younkin, and so many other talented performers. Kyle Franklin is right up there with the best, and I thoroughly enjoyed the video.

Seeing Kyle's drunk act also brought back some great memories. Dave Slaybaugh was doing a similar act one time, and he was so convincing while he worked the crowd that one of the CAP cadets' mothers came up to me and asked me to page a police officer to deal with him since she didn't think a teenager should have to. It took a bit of convincing that it was an act, but she went along with it and promised not to blow Dave's cover.

Well, some officers did in fact handcuff Dave and put him in the back of the squad car. He never broke character until they were headed for the gate and he told them, stone sober, that they really needed to get him back so he could fly his act. Really messed up the cops, but they were good-natured about it.

Like all good performers with this kind of act, Dave made use of the terrain and just disappeared for a few minutes. I had no idea what he was up to. Somehow he snuck around the airport and came in from a completely different direction and surprised us all. Great showmanship, and Kyle is carrying it forward.

Bob Rogers

There were several schemes for the errant Cub pilot routine at air shows: There was a drunk from the crowd, a wayward hick farmer, and such as that.

Back in the early 1950s, there was a pilot named Bob Peters. He flew out of the old Rubinkam Airport at 167th and Kedzie south of Chicago. (It's all a housing development now.) Bob also did an errant pilot act, but he used a standard 65hp Cub. He would be "arrested" and have his hands placed in handcuffs behind his back. Then he'd "break away" from the distracted arresting officer.

He'd jump into the front seat of a Cub that was already running (no need to swing the prop to get it started), and he'd takeoff with his hands behind his back! The doors would be open, of course, and the crowd could see him using the stick and throttle in the rear seat to fly the plane from the front seat.

One of his stunts was to bounce the wheels on the ground, do a loop, and then recover with the wheels once again bouncing off the ground. It was, to say the least, quite a performance.

Carl B. Jordan

Unintended Consequences

While I understand the concern for through-the-fence issues, in sheer numbers of people and cultural impact, it does not compare to the FAA proposal concerning hangar use. I believe the statement was "not even couches" in hangars.

Porch piloting is an essential element of the aviation community. Not to mention this would be devastating to my wife: It would mean I would be hanging out around the house on weekends instead of the hangar.

Doug Dwyer

Follow the Money

I have one question about the poll regarding flight plans for 2010. Most people who have quit flying for one or another reason probably don't bother to read aviation-related articles. This would really skew the poll results.

Another thing: Most people quit because of the monetary cost. In 38 years of GA flying, I've never heard of any quitting because of overregulation. It's always money.

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

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 Audio — Are You Listening? back to top 

Trends in Pilot Gear, with John Zimmerman of Sporty's Pilot Shop

File Size 10.8 MB / Running Time 11:53

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

John Zimmerman, vice president at Sporty's Pilot Shop, explores what kind of new products are popular with pilots, takes a look at what's coming up in 2010, and explains why if you don't yet own a personal locator beacon, maybe it's time you should put it on your shopping list.

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

Exclusive Video: It Takes a Lot of Work to Fly This Badly

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

Come along for the ride as Kyle Franklin explains his entertaining Super Cub comedy act and Ben Wabknoski goes flying. Franklin makes it look easy — but trust us, it's anything but.

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Georgetown Air Services (GED, Georgetown, DE)

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

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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Georgetown Air Services at Sussex County Airport (GED) in Georgetown, Delaware.

AVweb reader Mark Galbraith had high praise for the staff and facilities at Georgetown:

I'm in my third year of flying regularly to GED for both business and pleasure, and the guys at Georgetown Air never disappoint. The large ramp assures parking is available. All requested services are done immediately and to high standards. Free long-term vehicle parking is available, as are several courtesy cars. Randy and Greg are like family, giving my daughters rides on the golf cart and, when I'm in on business alone, helping me with all of my belongings and airplane duties. I am always treated as well as the corporate jet folks.

See? We told you Mark gave them high marks all around!

With the new year upon us, there's no better time to tell us about your favorite FBO. Click here to nominate someone. 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

On approach into OAK, I was left-hand seat in the Cessna 182, and my wife was working the radio with the following transmissions:

OAK Tower:
"Cessna 1234, cleared to land. Caution: banner-towing plane crossing in front of you."

Cessna 1234:
"Cleared to land — and we have the banner on the right and the plane on the left."

OAK Tower:

Gary Cook
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.)

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team.

If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your PDA or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

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