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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded,
Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's
A BAGHDAD-BOUND 747 TURNS INVISIBLE...
So how do you fly a Boeing 747-200B, over five stories high and more
than 200 feet long, carrying a gaggle of reporters and the U.S.
president and his staff, halfway across the world's airspace, without
anybody noticing? Well, it isn't easy. First, you hustle the press pool
off, hush-hush, without any explanation, to the secluded, secure ramp at
Texas State Technical College in Waco, Texas. It's Wednesday evening,
the sun has set, Air Force One is dark, and the reporters surrender
their cellphones. The flight crew had prepared for what they believed
was a milk run to Washington for maintenance. President Bush arrived and
climbed up the rear stairs instead of the front gangway as usual, so
airport workers wouldn't notice him. The plane took off at 7:25 p.m.
local time, without running lights and with all the window shades pulled
Two hours later, the airplane touched down and rolled into a hangar at
the 140,000-square-foot maintenance and support complex at Andrews Air
Force Base, outside Washington, D.C., where the 747's sister ship
awaited. The other 747 was all fueled and catered and ready for the 10
1/2 hour flight to Baghdad. Inside the hangar, the passengers were
debarked and reboarded, and a few more journalists arrived, for a total
of 13 reporters and photographers. They took off again, in the dark and
in secret. At one point during the flight, the pilot of a British
Airways jet spotted the plane with its distinctive blue-and-gold livery,
and asked over the radio, "Did I just see Air Force One?" After a pause,
the president's pilot, Col. Mark Tillman, responded, "Gulfstream five."
WHY THEY FLEW IT
Why didn't the president fly in a fighter or some kind of burly attack
aircraft? Probably because Air
Force One is safer, and better-equipped, than any other airplane out
there. "Air Force One has a wide array of countermeasure capabilities
for foiling surface-to-air missiles, some of which have never been
disclosed to the public," defense analyst Loren Thompson told The
Washington Post. "It is the closest thing we have to an invulnerable
aircraft in terms of dealing with surface-to-air threats."
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SEEKS SOLAR FIRST...
Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, who in 1999 was the first to fly
nonstop around the world in a balloon, announced Friday he has set his
sights on a new project -- to develop an airplane both powered by the
sun and capable of circling the earth. Piccard's co-pilot on the 1999
flight, British balloonist Brian Jones, will join the effort, dubbed Solar Impulse.
Piccard expects first flight of his prototype in 2006, and solar flights
of several days' duration by 2009. The plane (depicted thus far to look
very much like a high-performance sailplane) will be very light, with a
wingspan of about 197 feet, and will be capable of flying at around
30,000 feet. More...
E-PLANE READIES FOR TESTING
Meanwhile, here in the U.S., the intrepid folks at the FASTec project, based
in Worcester, Mass., are working away on their hydrogen-powered electric
airplane. "We expect our first flight sometime in late December or maybe
early January," Jim Dunn, director of the project, told AVweb on
Saturday. Advanced high-energy, lithium-ion batteries will power the
first flight as the first step in the long process of developing a
flight-ready system that will work on hydrogen-powered fuel cells. The
E-Plane is scheduled to start ground testing around the 13th of
December, Dunn said. Battery testing is progressing, and the team is
working on the motor mount and is finishing the avionics package.
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FLYER REPAIRS UPDATE
The soft sands of Kill Devil Hill can be cruel and hard, as Ken Hyde's
Wright Experience team discovered last week when their Wright Flyer
reproduction was damaged in a crash. "I
think the repairs will be done by Monday morning," pilot Kevin
Kochersberger told AVweb on Saturday, but he couldn't be certain. The
propellers were damaged, but backup spares are available, he said. The
engine and the drive train were okay. The repairs require "nothing too
out of the ordinary," he said -- fixing some damage to the structure and
the rigging. Kochersberger had free-flown the airplane successfully
prior to the crash, completing a hop of about 100 feet and four seconds,
at just a few feet off the ground. "That doesn't sound like much," he
said, "but it was enough to prove what we needed to prove, and showed
that all the controls were working. It was a totally controlled flight,
with a good landing." More...
SECRET LIFE CONFIRMED
Three German siblings said last week that DNA tests have proved what
they long suspected: Charles Lindbergh was their father. The three, Dyrk
Hesshaimer, Astrid Bouteuil and David Hesshaimer, were born in 1958,
1960 and 1967. They are not seeking money from the Lindbergh family --
their father visited them once or twice a year during their childhood
and took care of them financially. But their mother hid his true
identity from the children, a ruse that was made easier by the language
barrier. Last summer, a grandson of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh,
Morgan Lindbergh, traveled to Europe to meet the Hesshaimers and agreed
to take a DNA test, which proved their lineage. More...
GIVE AEROSHELL SHINE
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TO SEE AND AVOID BLAMED IN FLORIDA MIDAIR
The NTSB released its final
report last week on the October 2002 midair crash of two Cessna 172s
in Coral Springs, Fla., in which two people died. The probable cause of
the crash, according to the safety board, was "the failure of the dual
students and flight instructors on both [aircraft ] to see and avoid
each other, which resulted in a midair collision." Both were training
flights that originated from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, and each
had a private-rated student and an instructor aboard. Visual
meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plans were filed for
either flight. One student was practicing commercial maneuvers in a
practice area at about 2,000 feet when "all of a sudden, an airplane
appeared very close, in the right corner of their airplane's windshield,
having come from behind the blind spot created by their airplane's right
wing," according to the report. More...
SOUNDS OF SILENCE: BRITS SEEK JET NOISE SOLUTIONS
It's not only small airplanes that run into trouble
with neighbors over noise -- plenty of folks in crowded cities
around the world live beneath the approach paths of passenger jets, and
the noise is a major bone of contention. In a new research project launched in
Britain this month, scientists are examining a number of solutions, from
jiggering the approach paths to allow for quieter descents, to designing
new jets that will be capable of "silent" takeoffs and landings. The
researchers will analyze options such as mounting the engines above the
wing or eliminating the tail surfaces, as well as looking at operational
changes such as holding off on lowering landing gear till later in the
descent and stabilizing the approach at higher altitudes.
AREA AVIATION READY FOR GROWTH?
A recent draft
report released by the Southern California Association of
Governments predicted that air traffic in the region will double by
2030, and smaller airports will need to expand facilities to accommodate
that growth. Nearly 23 million residents are expected to inhabit the
area by then. The region includes 57 public-use airports: six commercial
airports, 45 general aviation airports, two recently closed military air
bases (one certified as a commercial airport), two commuter airports,
and two joint-use facilities, serving about 78 million passengers per
year. The region's airports taken together make Southern California the
busiest of all regions in the country. More...
FLIGHT FOR THE CONCORDE -- OR IS IT?
The very last Concorde ever to defy gravity touched down Wednesday at
the airport where it was built, carrying 100 British Airways crew
members on its final flight. But in true British fashion (remember
Churchill?) the fans of the craft aren't ready to settle for defeat.
Promising to "fight to the end" -- and apparently, beyond the end -- a
group called Save Concorde
is pleading for airplane aficionados everywhere to join their cause.
"With your help this will NOT be the end," the group's Web site exhorts,
and asks supporters to take action. More...
Controllers in Australia says new system unsafe, government
Antonov 26 crashed in Congo Saturday, killing all 22
Boeing fired CFO Mike Sears, VP Darleen Druyun, alleging
FAA to name intersection in honor of FDNY's Michael
PATTY WAGSTAFF WILL
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your reservations for this once-in-a-lifetime celebration do so
immediately! There are only 12 days till the First Flight Centennial
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four-man AeroShell Aerobatic Team, Ian Groom, Michael Mancuso and Bobby
Younkin, plus entertainment from The Beach Boys, Temptations, Aaron
Tippin and Lee Greenwood. Make your reservations, and show your elite
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ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
TPL #68: Of
Good, Evil And Little Airplanes
We don't often speak of evil in
regards to anything that happens in aviation. But after dealing with
people who seem to be intentionally malicious, it takes a strong dose of
medicine -- hanging out with joyous pilots -- to get back in balance.
AVweb's Rick Durden spent time with both kinds of people this month.
FEEDBACK ON AVWEB'S NEWS COVERAGE AND FEATURE ARTICLES
mail this week about the air tour NPRM, misuse of radios, Wright pilot
qualifications and more. More...
Over Philly on a gorgeous CAVU Sunday...
Cessna XXX: Philly approach,
Cessna XXX with you at 4,500.
Philly Approach: Cessna XXX, Roger,
Altimeter 30.69 and numerous targets in your vicinity.
Could you be more specific about the targets?
Philly Approach: OK, 12
o'clock, 1 o'clock, 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 4 o'clock, 5 o'clock - would
you like me to continue?
Cessna XXX: Negative, we get the
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THE BUZZARD HAS
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AVflash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest aviation news,
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