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Volume 9, Number 51a December 15, 2003

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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded, Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's NewsWire.

The Centennial of Flight festivities at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, on North Carolina's Outer Banks, kicked off Friday, with the news that the White House has confirmed President Bush will speak at the site on Wednesday. Friday's crowds and traffic were not as heavy as expected, though weather was not forbidding. Attendance, estimated at about 5,000, was well below the park's capacity of 35,000. "This is what I was hoping for," Lawrence Belli, National Park Service superintendent, told the Virginian-Pilot. The event opened with an air show, musical acts, flyovers, exhibits and static displays. See AVweb's NewsWire for a more complete listing of events and television coverage. And Thursday don't miss AVweb's coverage from on-site correspondent and former Kitplanes editor, Dave Martin. More...

Honda's decision to produce (or not produce) their 225-hp piston aircraft engine is due before the end of the year (though probably not at Kitty Hawk). Boeing's 7E7 super-efficient, mostly composite airliner "Yea or Nea" announcement is due soon, too. But the biggest scheduled event may be much more weather-dependent -- Wednesday the 17th will (if it pleases Mother Nature) offer the long-anticipated re-creation of the Wrights' first flight, courtesy of The Wright Experience's Wright Flyer reproduction. Saturday, organizers said Kevin Kochersberger will be at the controls for Wednesday's flights -- there will be no coin toss. Kochersberger had more success on his trials than his teammate, Terri Queijo. But even if weather prevents a Wednesday attempt, President Bush is expected at 2 p.m., amid rampant speculation (and Hussein related elation), he may announce plans for manned flight to the moon or even Mars. More...

Today, the Smithsonian opens the doors to its Udvar-Hazy Center, the annex to its Air and Space Museum (click here to read AVweb's advance report), in Virginia. Oregon's Evergreen Aviation Museum will wrap up its 100-day commemoration -- which began in September with the opening of an interior viewing platform for its Spruce Goose -- with a barbershop quartet, period costumes, and a talk about the Wright Flyer. The Museum of Flight in Seattle offers free admission all day on Wednesday, including live simulcasts of the Wright Flyer flights (or events) at Kill Devil Hills. More...

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With so much attention focused on flying machines this week, hope seems to be brewing that the long-awaited Sport Pilot NPRM might be about to take another step forward. "We're keeping our fingers crossed," the FAA's Sue Gardner told AVweb on Saturday, "that we might have an announcement before the New Year." We'll suggest that breath-holding is still not recommended. The proposal was expected to undergo a 90-day review by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and then move on to the next step, but the 90-day mark passed long ago. Gardner said the proposal was reviewed by the DOT in a timely manner, shortly after Oshkosh, and "There was some back and forth, and some questions [from the DOT to FAA] were answered," and then the process seemed to grind to a halt. More...

"Manufacturers and pilots are waiting for this," EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski told AVweb on Saturday, "and we'd like to get it expedited. The sooner the better." The proposed new rules would create a Sport Pilot certificate that would make it easier for students who want to fly for fun to earn a certificate, and create a new category of Light Sport Aircraft that would be simple and cheap to operate. Knapinski said EAA had been hoping for some action by October. "We haven't heard of any hurdles," he said, and there is no clear reason for the delay. "There's no penalty for DOT if they don't meet that deadline. And there are no official progress reports on these things." So, the waiting game goes on. More...

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Prognosticators, who tend to proliferate at year-end anyhow, are plentiful beyond reason this year. Everybody not busy reminiscing about the last 100 years is busy imagining the next. National Geographic Magazine has "The Future of Flying" as its December cover story. Popular Science weighed in last month with its "Gallery of Future Aircraft." Cirrus Design last week disseminated its own White Paper on its vision of future technology for the next century of personal flying. Science News explored the future of wing warping, and the U.K.'s New Scientist this week features an in-depth cover story about radical wing designs. More...

At last week's Dubai Air Show, Airbus claimed supremacy in the commercial jet market, saying it is selling more jets than Boeing, its longtime rival. Boeing, however, was not so willing to move over to the No. 2 slot. While Boeing did not dispute that Airbus has more orders so far this year -- 263 vs. 216 -- a spokesman said it's the longer term that counts. "We are not concerned about one downturn year," Boeing's Randy Baseler told the Associated Press. Airbus touted its 555-seat A380 at the show, while Boeing said the market is limited for such unwieldy big aircraft, and the future is in smaller jets. More...

The Friends of Meigs (FOM), never backing down from a fight, last week presented their latest proposal at the Chicago Park District budget meeting. The group's plan calls for the city to reopen the airport, while developing part of the area as parkland and building an aviation museum. The FOM said its plan would solve the district's budget problems by bringing in tens of millions of dollars in federal airport improvement funds. A vote on the proposal is expected Wednesday. The FOM is asking supporters of the former airfield to express support for the plan via an online form at their Web site. More...

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Australian pilot Jon Johanson, who was stranded last week at Antarctica's McMurdo Station when he was unable to refuel, left Antarctica Sunday, thanks to some help from a fellow aviation adventurer. British pilot Polly Vacher had stored a cache of fuel at McMurdo for her round-the-world flight in her Piper Dakota, but ran into logistical glitches and had to scratch her McMurdo stop. Vacher gave about 100 gallons of fuel to Johanson, which should enable him to fly on to New Zealand in his RV-4. He was due to arrive in Invercargill about 4 p.m. Monday local time (11 p.m. EST Sunday). According to Vacher's Web site, the donation to Johanson was made "on the understanding that he will now work tirelessly for Wheelies on Wings, the Australian equivalent to Flying Scholarships for the Disabled." More...

In Italy last week, a race car and a fighter jet re-created a classic competition -- wheels vs. wings. The match was held in commemoration of a 1931 race between an Alfa Romeo and a Caproni 100 biplane in Rome. In last week's three races, on wet pavement under rainy skies, Michael Schumacher's Ferrari F2003-GA -- the one he drove to his sixth Formula One world title -- lost 2-to-1 against a Eurofighter Typhoon piloted by former Italian astronaut Maurizio Cheli. The Ferrari narrowly won the 600-meter run but was no match to the jet in 900 and 1,200 meters. More...

The CarterCopter, repaired and modified, resumed test flights Dec. 6...
President Bush on Friday signed off on $60 billion FAA bill...
FAA offers course for amateur-built airworthiness reps...
United jet took evasive action to avoid Mexicana A319 near O'Hare...
Jack Pelton is Cessna's new CEO, Textron announced last week...
A low-flying NASA 747 spooked Houston residents last week. More...

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Reader mail this week about the pilot stuck in Antarctica, airport closures in Florida and Denver and more. More...

As the Beacon Turns #71: What Price Value?
There is an endless tug-of-war in aviation -- from airlines to the independent flight instructor and everything in-between -- when trying to charge enough for services to stay solvent but keep the price attractive to consumers. AVweb's Michael Maya Charles thinks we're doing ourselves and our industry a disservice with the current rates. More...

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At a busy local airport one sunny Saturday flight instructors were hopping in and out of different aircraft all day long:

Unidentified pilot: Montgomery Ground, Cessna, er, Cessna ... wait ... who am I today?
I'll have to call you back.

Ground: Roger, call back when you know who you are.


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