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Volume 10, Number 01a -- December 29, 2003

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

While millions watched on Dec. 17 as the EAA's Wright Flyer struggled along its rail and failed to get aloft, only a few people were present on Dec. 3, when the aircraft successfully left the ground and flew for more than 100 feet. "We had video of that flight, and hoped to show it at the site on Dec. 17, but it didn't work out," Ken Hyde told AVweb on Saturday. Viewers who caught the Discovery Channel's coverage saw the video, and now a QuickTime version is posted at Hyde's Wright Experience Web site so everyone can see what they didn't get to see on the 17th -- a show of powered, sustained, controlled flight, the way it was done 100 years ago. More...

Back home in Virginia after the Outer Banks trip, Hyde found some notes written by Wilbur Wright, which eerily predicted the experience of Hyde's team. On May 5, Wilbur wrote that he and Orville were working in secret, and "so far we've not been subjected to the slightest disturbance from the press." On May 23, the brothers invited reporters to Huffmann Prairie to view their progress. But the weather was uncooperative: "Light rain, wind too anemic," Wilbur wrote. "The result ... a run down the track and a flop onto the ground. Only three of the four cylinders firing properly. Many were disappointed." Hyde's team had the same troubles on Dec. 17 -- light wind and a misfiring cylinder -- and a disappointed audience. "It was spooky when I read that," Hyde said. More...

The EAA's Wright Flyer -- the one that everyone saw on the 17th -- is now back in Virginia and will be heading for Dearborn, Mich., in a few weeks, to its permanent home at the Henry Ford Museum. It will never fly again. A second copy of the airplane was sponsored by the late Harry Combs, and has been donated to the National Park Service for static display. But Hyde also has a third copy in the works, and plans to use that aircraft to continue his flight-testing program. "The engines and propellers are all done, and the rest should go together pretty quickly," he said. He plans to continue working with his experienced flight-test crew, and return to the Outer Banks with the Wright Flyer, sometime soon. More...

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With this year's busy holiday travel season coinciding with high security alerts, AOPA is reminding GA pilots to fly with extra care. "Think about how your flight looks to security officials on the ground," said AOPA's Andy Cebula. He advised pilots to avoid loitering near facilities such as powerplants and water supplies that might cause concern. "We want to avoid any more temporary flight restrictions like the one issued for Chicago," Cebula said. "Given the heightened alert status, GA must be extremely careful not to give officials any reason to clamp down." More...

A report yesterday in London's The Mail on Sunday newspaper -- that two light planes loaded with explosives had been seized by authorities at a Saudi Arabian airport -- was later denied by authorities. According to The Mail, the aircraft were discovered near Riyadh's King Khalid airport, and were intended to be used in a suicide plot to ram a Western airliner, most likely from British Airways, and blow it up as it taxied. "A Saudi security official confirmed that the story ... was not true," the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported yesterday, according to Reuters. "The official said neither the British Foreign Office nor British Airways are able to confirm such information," the SPA said. More...

Sixteen people died last week in four GA accidents in the West. Tuesday evening, a medical helicopter from Santa Rosa, Calif., hit a mountain in bad weather, killing the pilot and two nurses on board. Also on Tuesday, a Lear 24B bizjet flying from California to Idaho crashed in the Mojave Desert, killing both pilots. On Wednesday, a Piper Seneca hit a mountain while trying to land near Avalon, on California's Santa Catalina Island. All three adults and two children on board died. On Thursday afternoon, a Beechcraft Bonanza crashed shortly after takeoff from a North Las Vegas airport, killing all those on board, four adults and two children. The pilot had declared an emergency and said he would try to return to the airport, according to news reports. More...

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Ballistic Recovery Systems, of South St. Paul, Minn., said last week it has set a new company record for revenues. Sales totaled $6.5 million in 2003, up 29 percent from the year before. The company attributed the increase to its new general aviation products and to a growth in sales of parachute systems for recreational aircraft (up 36 percent). BRS delivered 466 parachutes to Cirrus Design, and expects to sell even more to the company next year. "We also believe that research and development is an integral part of the growth strategy for BRS and will continue to play an important role in the company's success," said CEO Mark Thomas, in a news release. More...

On Saturday, both the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder were recovered from the 727 that crashed into a building and then plunged into the Atlantic Ocean shortly after takeoff on Thursday from the tiny West African country of Benin. The airliner, operated by the Lebanese-owned Union des Transports Africains (UTA), was carrying 151 passengers and 10 crew bound for Beirut. Twenty-two people, including at least one of the pilots, survived. Early reports suggested that the airplane may have been overloaded, and it seemed to be unable to retract its landing gear. More...

Steve Holzinger, a 19-year-old from Marlton, N.J., says it was "a dream come true" when he was named the youngest-ever Airshow Fan of the Year at the annual convention of the International Council of Air Shows, held earlier this month in Dallas, Texas. Holzinger drives up to nine hours in a day in his 1986 Chevy Blazer to visit air shows, in between his college classes and his job at KMart. Armed with a camcorder, he's collected hundreds of hours of video, and uploaded thousands of clips to his four-year-old Web site, "Steve's Airshow World." More...

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Harry Combs, who was honored earlier this month in North Carolina as one of aviation's top 100 pioneers, died Tuesday in Phoenix, Ariz. Combs, 90, was a former president of Gates Learjet and founder of AMR Combs, a national chain of corporate aircraft service centers. "He was a very dynamic individual -- a perfectionist, really, in everything he did," Jim Greenwood, a former Wichita, Kan., aviation public relations executive and a friend of Combs, told the Associated Press. When the president of Gates Learjet was killed in a car accident in 1971, Combs stepped in to rebuild the failing company, leading one of the most dramatic corporate turnarounds in U.S. history. More...

Qantas will begin carrying up to six armed air marshals on flights between Australia and Singapore, the Australian government said on Friday. The deal had stalled over who would pay for the seats, and was settled when the government agreed to pay corporate rates. The program will cost the government about $7.5 million (U.S.) per year. The United Kingdom also said on Saturday that armed marshals will begin to be deployed on some flights, and will be dressed as ordinary passengers. More...

On Friday, a ferry pilot en route from Hawaii to California ditched in the mid-Pacific after reporting a fuel problem, and was killed. Kelvin Stark, 58, of Tauranga, was ferrying a brand-new Pacific Aerospace Corporation PAC 750XL plane to Oakland. It was the first of the $1.7 million aircraft to be sold overseas, according to Saturday's New Zealand Herald. Stark radioed for help, and Coast Guard rescuers were sent to the scene, but he never emerged from the cockpit after the ditching. The aircraft was intended to be used as a demonstration plane, and then be delivered to a customer who planned to use it for skydiving. More...

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As of Saturday, the Beagle lander on Mars had not yet sent a signal...
A dead man was found in an AA wheel well at JFK Airport last week...
Famed DC-10 Capt. Al Haynes raising funds for daughter's medical care.

The Pilot's Lounge #69: In 2004, We Resolve
2003 was, in some ways, a great year for aviation; and in other ways, it was pretty sad. But we're already thinking about 2004. AVweb's Rick Durden has assembled his quick list of things his fellow pilots in The Pilot's Lounge have resolved to accomplish in the next year. More...

START YOUR NEW YEAR OFF RIGHT WITH GREAT LAKES CONFERENCE RESERVATIONS! Pilots and maintenance technicians from around the world will be attending the Great Lakes International Aviation Conference, February 6-8, in Lansing, Michigan. This Conference will host a top-flight lineup of nationally known speakers and breakout seminars, hands-on displays, discussions, and an extensive maintenance program. The exhibit area will be filled with the latest products and technologies. IA renewal and the FAA Wings program are available for those who qualify. Your reservation card will be sent in the mail by calling 248 348-6942 and mentioning this AVflash, or visit

AVmail: December 29, 2003
Reader mail this week about security level Orange, the attempted replication of the Wright Brother's flight, Enola Gay protestors and more. More...

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Heard on the Ellington Field ATIS on Christmas Eve.:

"... on initial contact advise you have Ellington information Rudolph." More...

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WIN A PAIR OF SCHEYDENS, AVIATION'S FINEST EYEWEAR A pair of Scheydens will be given away every other week to a lucky AVweb winner, a retail value up to $395! The unique flip up design has become the choice of pilots who demand quality and function in every aspect of aviation. Handmade titanium frames, quality lenses, a Rosewood case, plush micro fiber bag and cloth are standard equipment on all styles. For more information and to register to win go to

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THE AVWEB EDITION OF FLIGHT EXPLORER LETS YOU SEE WHAT ATC SEES The AVweb Edition of Flight Explorer is the PC-based graphical aircraft situation display that shows a real-time picture of all IFR aircraft in-flight over the U.S. and Canada. Whether you're tracking a friend's trip, or want to learn more about the system in action, Flight Explorer has the information for just $9.95 a month. Go to

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