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Volume 9, Number 52a December 22, 2003

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

WELCOME BACK TO LEVEL "ORANGE"
Washington, D.C.-area pilots can expect a return to using gateway airports for security checks prior to entering the ADIZ thanks to the increased terrorism alert announced Sunday. The FAA's Greg Martin told AVweb he doesn't anticipate any increased security measures outside the Washington area. Regardless, check the FAA's TFR Web site and call 1-800-WX-BRIEF prior to flight -- be sure to request all TFR/NOTAM information pertaining to or in the vicinity of your intended route. Happy holidays.

U.S. NAVY TO TEST FLYING SAUCER...
It may sound like something from Mars, but this pilotless flying saucer is actually Russian and it has caught the eye of the U.S. Navy. The pita-shaped Ekip drone could be flitting around the Navy's Patuxent River test facility by 2007 thanks to a congressman who saw a prototype on a tour of Russian aviation facilities last year. Developed by Saratov Aviation, the craft takes off and lands on a cushion of air, like a hovercraft, and needs less than 500 feet of runway. The wheel-less drone would be propelled by "high-economy bypass turbojet engines" and use "auxiliary high-economy dual generator turboshaft engines ... for operation of air-cushion landing gear and boundary layer control." The shape lends itself to lower structural weight and loading while offering higher load-carrying capability. Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Penn.) was sufficiently impressed that he passed the information along to the military, and the Navy's Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has agreed to help develop the flying prototype and test it at Pax River. More...

...AS TRULY AUTONOMOUS HELICOPTER FLIES IN OZ
Meanwhile, down under, an Australian company says it has created the first true flying robot helicopter, one that doesn't need any help from the ground or space to find its way around. The five-foot-long Mantis uses a robot brain linked to sensors that enable it to "see" its surroundings and fly without a remote-control pilot and without reference to GPS for navigation. "This is the first UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) to use computerized vision with all its equipment on board," Dr. Peter Corke, of CSIRO Complex System Integration, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Corke said GPS can be distorted or reflected in urban areas so Mantis sees and thinks for itself. And the hardware is very, very light. More...

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MAKING HAPPY HOLIDAYS...
Year after year, a squadron of fellow volunteer pilots join with Santa to deliver the goods. While few of the aerial efforts have reached the sort of legendary status reserved for the Jolly Old Elf himself, maybe some are similarly deserving. One of the longest-running Yuletide aviation benefit programs is Flying Santa of the Lighthouses, now run by Flying Santa Inc. Since 1929, Santa pilots have been delivering gifts to children of families manning lighthouses on the northeast coast and boxes of goodies to lighthouse keepers and Coast Guard personnel. This year, three helicopters, one piloted by Flying Santa Inc. organizer George Morgan and two by Coast Guard pilots, landed at 30 lighthouses from the Canadian border to Long Island Sound. More...

...AND CHARITY EFFORTS...
Not all erstwhile Santas descend from the heavens and dress in red. For 20 years, Pilots For Kids, a group founded by airline pilots, has been visiting hospitalized children, bringing them toys and other items to cheer them up while they're ill. The pilots and cabin crew taking part in the visits wear full uniform, to the delight of the kids. "The delight in the children's eyes cannot be explained in words ..." reads the group's Web site. The efforts come into sharp focus at Christmas for Memphis-area FedEx pilots, who touched down recently at Hope House, delivering good and gifts to the day care center for children affected by HIV/AIDS. There's no shortage of grassroots efforts by pilots to help out their neighbors, either. More...

...WHILE THE FAA PLAYS GRINCH
The FAA, according to some, is not above stepping into the season's most despised role. The agency has some strict guidelines in the use of aircraft for charitable purposes and pilots, who have spent their own money using their airplanes for the good of others, have found themselves under investigation and even facing sanctions. Those taking part in charity fundraisers or humanitarian projects should have a look at FAR 61.113 to make sure they comply. There could also be some changes to those rules via a controversial Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that is stirring up aviation backers in Washington. The new rules would require pilots taking part in charity events to have a minimum of 500 hours (up from 200) and would limit them to four such flights a year. A pile of paperwork also comes with the new restrictions. More...

AEROSANCE PowerLink" FADEC APPLICATIONS GROW With STCs for a number of Beech Bonanza and Baron models now in hand, Aerosance, another Teledyne Technologies company, is highlighting the latest developments with their revolutionary PowerLink" FADEC digital engine control system. For more information on how to bring your aircraft into the FADEC generation go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/tcm/fadec

GRANNY HELICOPTER PILOT PLUCKED FROM ICE
A 63-year-old English grandmother and her 53-year-old male co-pilot are recovering in a Chilean hospital after the helicopter they were trying to fly around the world via the polar route crashed in Antarctica Saturday. Officials credit Polar First Challenge co-pilot Colin Bodill with saving Jenny Murray's life after the chopper went down in bad weather about 120 miles from the Patriot Hills base on the frozen continent. Despite serious chest injuries, Bodill was able to pull Murray, who dislocated an elbow, from the wreckage and prepare for their survival in minus-40-degree temperatures, before he collapsed from his injuries. More...

PROTESTER DINGS ENOLA GAY
Protesters made a dent in security measures, not to mention the Enola Gay, in an apparently well-planned but poorly executed attempt to make their mark on the controversy that has followed the restored B-29 to its new resting place. After reportedly assuring staff at the newly opened Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center that they wouldn't cause any trouble, one of the protesters tossed a jar of red paint at the bomber, which dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. The aluminum yielded, however, and instead of smashing on the plane, the jar left a dent and shattered on the floor below. More...

POLITICIANS SAY NO TO RUNWAYS
Trees, and a local council's unwillingness to pay to have them removed, are threatening Danbury Municipal Airport in Connecticut. The FAA and the state are willing to pay 97 percent of the $4.5 million cost. But Mayor Mark Boughton said the airport is a drain on civic coffers and he's reluctant to spend any more money on it. The FAA has warned the city it will displace the thresholds of the airport's two runways if the trees aren't cut down soon and until the trees are gone, the FAA won't contribute to any maintenance and repair costs at the airport. "The net effect of this could be shutting the airport," said Boughton. Said airport administrator Paul Estefan, "We're going to lose our runway and there's almost no money involved." More...

OWNER PERFORMED MAINTENANCE SEMINARS FROM CESSNA PILOTS ASSOCIATIONBeing able to legally perform a preventive maintenance operation allowed by the FARs, and having the knowledge and capability to do it correctly can be two different things. The Cessna Pilots Association (CPA) offers an Owner Performed Maintenance Seminar to give the Cessna owner/operator the technical and hands-on knowledge needed to learn more about their Cessna aircraft and become even more physically intimate with their aviation passion. There are only a few slots left for the January 16-17, 2004 course. Call CPA at 805 922-2580 and mention this AVflash, or go online for more information at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/cpa

THE SHROUD OF KITTY HAWK
As autographs go, this one could be one of the most historic aviation artifacts around. Scientists at the National Center for Forensic Science will examine a swatch of cloth that may be from the original Wright Flyer and signed by Orville Wright. Jack and Sandy Schweinsberg, of Eustis, Fla., bought the framed piece of cloth from a family member in the 1980s. It's inscribed: "This is a piece of the original wing covering of the Kitty Hawk plane flown December 17, 1903." It is signed, "Orville Wright." The Schweinsbergs have no doubt about its authenticity and there might even be a romantic twist to the story. More...

COMMERCIAL SERVICE WELCOMED ... AND BANISHED
It's a tale of two cities, aviation style. As Naples, Fla., celebrates the resumption of commercial air service to its municipal airport, New Jersey congressman Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) is trumpeting a new provision that has banished scheduled charter service from Teterboro (known to some as the busiest GA airport in the country). Reporters and TV crews greeted the arrival of a Cape Air flight from Key West to Naples that marked a new beginning for scheduled service. The airline left Naples last June because business was too slow. Now it's operating two daily round trips to the Keys and serving as a Continental Connection to Miami International. At Teterboro, it's federal legislation that will limit commercial operations. More...

PILOTS HELP PETS CHEAT DEATH
It's as good a reason to fly as any and sometimes the reward is a big, wet kiss. Flying Paws, a non-profit group of Arizona pilots, fatten their logbooks by getting abandoned pets away from shelters, where they may face euthanasia, and into new, loving homes. Marilyn Butler Subach founded the program a year ago after rescuing an abandoned and abused golden retriever from a remote Indian Reservation. That got her thinking that maybe there was a need to provide emergency flights for animals. "It's been a godsend," Casey Kent, who runs the Chesapeake Bay Retriever Rescue, told The Arizona Republic. More...

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ON THE FLY...
Virgin Atlantic pilot was charged with trying to fly after drinking...Stealthy threesome will fly over Rose Bowl Parade...
Flying model aircraft banned in English town after girl's death...
College of the Ozarks is closing its aviation maintenance course...
White powder suspended flights for seven hours from Vancouver to the U.S.
More...

READER FEEDBACK ON AVWEB'S NEWS COVERAGE AND FEATURE ARTICLES
Reader mail this week about the First Flight celebration, CFI price fixing, airline maintenance (or lack thereof) and more. More...

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NEW ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
CEO of the Cockpit #27: Be It Further Resolved ...
Even grumpy old airline pilots know that change is necessary, and sometimes change begins at home. There are a few things AVweb's CEO of the Cockpit wants to be different in the new year, and he's even going to try and change some things about himself. More...

BUSINESS AVFLASH
HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb’s NO-COST twice monthly Business AVflash? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash also focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the Business of Aviation. Business AVflash is a must read! Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/

More...

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SHORT FINAL...
Overheard December 18, 2003, at a local gliderport...

"A moment of silence everyone, for today we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the tow plane." More...

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AVflash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest aviation news, articles, products, features and events featured on AVweb, the Internet's Aviation Magazine and News Service. http://www.avweb.com

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Today's issue written by News Writer Russ Niles:
http://www.avweb.com/contact/authors.html#rniles
AVweb's editorial team: http://avweb.com/contact/authors.html.

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