AVwebFlash - Volume 16, Number 34a

August 23, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Swift Fuel's Latest Trial by Fire back to top 

Swift Fuel Engine Test Results Generally Positive

Swift Fuel's leadless alternative to 100LL appears to have come through a critical engine endurance test with flying colors at an FAA lab. In a report (PDF) released last week, researchers at the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City said they found no problems with wear or engine deposits in a brand-new Lycoming 540 that was broken in and run on Swift Fuel for 150 hours. "There was no indication of excessive wear on any of the high-contact, high-stress parts of the engine, and the engine oil analyses showed minimal fuel dilution," the researchers concluded. "There was no evidence of excess fuel nozzle deposits or fuel maldistribution. Cylinder combustion deposits, including spark plugs, valves, and piston face deposits, were light. Varnish and sludge buildup were light." The fuel tested was made in a refinery, rather than from the biomass process Swift hopes to use. The researchers recommended that further tests be done using biomass-sourced fuel. Although the tests went well, the results weren't perfect.

The engine was difficult to start cold, although it fired right up when it was hot. Also, the secondary fuel pump diaphragm had stretch marks on it. While the pump's performance degraded noticeably over the length of the test, it remained in spec. The researchers apparently had no recommendations on the cold-start issue but said they'd like to see further testing on the action of the fuel on the fuel pump diaphragm.

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The Once-Fanastic Starts to Look a Little ... Mundane back to top 

FAA Looks At Space Regs

The FAA has partnered with eight universities to figure out how space tourism fits into the airspace and, in some ways, into society itself. New Mexico State University at Las Cruces will lead the Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation. There are, of course, mundane practical matters to be addressed. "If the plans of people like Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic are accurate, in the next three to five years there will be very frequent space tourism launches," Scott Hubbard, a professor of astronautics and aeronautics at Stanford University, told The Associated Press. "That means you've got to clear the airspace and if it's very frequent you've got to be sure to manage that together with airplanes going by," he said. But the advent of regular launches to the edge of space or beyond raises technical, regulatory and even medical issues that haven't been considered before and the FAA's Hank Price says the agency wants to try and keep everyone safe without unduly impeding development of the industry. "We try to be as flexible as we can, to be as safe as possible but also allow testing of (private spaceships and rockets)," Price said.

Price said there are a host of areas that need to be fleshed out, from certification of private astronauts to design and operational standards for spaceports. Beyond those challenges, other scientists are looking at how to make commercial space travel accessible to as many of those who want to try it as possible. The current rules, essentially there for the safety of test crews, have fairly stringent medical and training requirements. That would shut out a large portion of the population, including those with chronic illnesses, and James Vanderploeg, a professor of aerospace medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, is looking at whether they, too, could be accommodated. "How do you evaluate those individuals, what kind of medical monitoring might be required, what sort of conditions would be acceptable to fly?"

WhiteKnightTwo Suffers Gear Collapse

Scaled Composites' WhiteKnightTwo (Eve) was involved in what the company is calling "a minor incident" early Thursday, when its left-side landing gear collapsed while the aircraft was on the runway at Mojave. According to Scaled, "no injuries were sustained and the incident did not involve the Spaceship, which was not attached to WhiteKnightTwo." The vehicle was involved in its 37th flight test at the time. WhiteKnightTwo is purpose-built to carry SpaceShipTwo (Enterprise) between its twin boom fuselages and deliver "space tourists" a temporary sub-orbital weightless experience for a ticket price, through Virgin Galactic, of $200,000 per person.

Eve is designed to carry Enterprise to about 50,000 feet, where the smaller craft is released for airborne launch. The smaller vehicle carries up to eight people, two as pilots and six as passengers. Virgin Galactic says more than 340 people have signed up for the ride, with deposits starting "from $20,000." WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo made their first conjoined, crewed flight on July 15. There is no formal projected date for the first commercial flight.

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New Lease on Life for Classic Airplane back to top 

Rare Helldiver Recovered

A February 2009 underwater discovery evolved Thursday into the recovery effort of an extremely rare Navy SB2C-4 Helldiver lost near San Diego 65 years ago. The aircraft was successfully raised Friday. San Diego Air and Space Museum CEO Jim Kidrick told nbcSanDiego.com the aircraft may be one of "two or three others in the world today." (Other sources suggest there may be as many as five Helldivers in museums around the world, with one flying.) The aircraft was deposited in Lower Otay Reservoir by E.D. Frazar and his gunner Joseph Metz after it suffered engine failure during a low altitude target run on May 28, 1945. Too low to bail out, the two men survived the ditching and swam to safety. Frazar's son Richard and other family members were on hand with hundreds of other spectators to see the aircraft pulled from the reservoir. Hundreds of volunteers now stand at the ready to work the plane back to "new" condition, but that effort will still take years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations. The finished product is not expected to stay in San Diego.

The aircraft was discovered last year by Duane Johnson's fish finder. Johnson was on the lake looking for Bass but recovered pictures of the aircraft, instead. He sent the images along to the FAA and the investigation began. The National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla., is expected to eventually provide a static home for the aircraft following restoration. That process could take at least three years. Of roughly 2,045 SB2C-4's built, there may be only one still flying (out of Graham, Texas).

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Good News for Desktop Pilots back to top 

Microsoft's Return To Flight

Last year, layoffs at Microsoft put the future of Flight Simulator X (FSX), popular amongst both desk jockeys interested in flight and real pilots interested in maintaining their skills, in question; now, we're seeing clues of a new beginning. Microsoft has announced that a new game, "Flight," is in the works. And it will be the first flight simulation offering released by the company since 2006. The company says it's targeting flying enthusiasts interested in an emphasis on accuracy and realism, but hasn't offered many details. CNET.com recently noted that Microsoft has licensed some of its technology to Lockheed Martin for a forthcoming military training program called Prepar3D. The web page for that program says it can help train pilots "to fly the world's most advanced fighter jet." It's not known if Prepar3D shares anything with "Flight." For now, all we have is a vague announcement to expect "a new perspective" that welcomes everyone, and a vague video.

And the video will have to do, because insiders speculate that Microsoft won't offer the game in Beta until sometime in 2011. When Microsoft closed down the Aces game studio responsible for Flight Simulator X, it said the franchise would continue. Microsoft Flight appears to be the answer. And until then, FSX should still work just fine.

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Long Flights for the Young and the Young at Heart back to top 

Special Personal Flight May Set Record

At 82 years of age, Arnold Ebneter has realized his dream of building his own aircraft and flying it solo and nonstop across the country, and he's possibly set a record along the way. Ebneter believes he may have set the new mark for distance in a small aircraft weighing less than 500 kilograms. Ebneter's E-1 weighs just 580 pounds, empty. With wet wings and its pilot aboard, the starting weight is about 1,100 pounds. The fuel load puts 2,327 miles (west to east) in easy reach and that's what Ebneter says he's flown. The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale will now decide if he's met the standards and bested a 1984 record set by Frank Hertzler (and his VariEze) of nearly 2,214 miles. Ebneter began his 18 hour and 27 minute flight at Paine Field in Washington on July 25 and first landed the next day at Fredericksburg, Va. The aircraft was ten years in the making; the dream started earlier.

Ebneter has had an interest in record-breaking distance flights since he wrote a paper on the topic while studying at Texas A&M in the mid-50s. He began his own project about a decade ago when his all-metal, single-engine low wing, now called E-1, began to take shape and first flew it in July 2005. Leaving at 2 p.m. local time, he flew his custom-built airplane through the night, burning all but two of its 58.5-gallon fuel load. Ebneter has previously won two awards from the FAA: The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award and The Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award. He still works out of Harvey Field a few days each week as a flight instructor and FAA inspector. He's expecting to hear back from the FAI, soon.

Another Teen Transcontinental Flight

Call it the Rinker Buck effect, but as one teenager finishes an epic flight in a J3 Cub, another is getting set for his own "flight of passage." As we reported in a recent podcast, 18-year-old commercial pilot Samuel Daigle set out from Whitehorse, Yukon, Aug. 6 on a ferry flight in a Cub to Montreal. He finished the 4,000-mile trip Friday. On Monday, Nate Foster, 17, of Reiserstown Md., plans to leave Ocean City, Md., bound for Monterey, Calif. (about 3,000 miles) in a Cub he and his father restored. Foster got his private pilot certificate on Friday. Both teens cite Buck's 1966 memoir Flight of Passage, which recounts Buck and his brother's flight from New Jersey to California, as inspiration for their flights. "It sounded like they had the absolute time of their lives," Foster told the Baltimore Sun. "When else am I going to get a chance to fly to California?"

Foster has about 150 hours and his pilot father Whit says he trusts his son to make safe decisions in marshaling the tube-and-fabric across the plains and over the Rockies. "But you worry about teenagers every time they go out on Saturday night," he told the Sun. "He'll have to make his own decisions up there, but that's true no matter what you do in life. He has good judgment." By comparison, Daigle is an old stick. He got his private license in November of 2009 and was working as an instructor before the ferry flight came up. Still, the big cross country accounts for about 15 percent of his 300 hours.

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

AVmail: August 23, 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: Third Class Medical Outdated?

After a couple of years flying without an FAA medical, I would like to join the growing crowd who support expanding this freedom beyond Sport Pilot privileges. History has shown that the third class medical certificate does little or nothing to promote flight safety. I think this is because pilots self-certify their own health for each flight with better judgment than the bureaucracy provides in the medical certification process.

I think the key to inherently safer flight lies in the mission for the flight. Those who fly solely for recreation or other personal reasons are naturally more safe than those who fly with business schedules in mind.

The current set of rules prevents any private pilot from getting most additional ratings without a medical certificate. I think additional training for instrument flight or multi-engine rating should be encouraged for those flying without a medical certificate. They could still benefit from additional training and development of new pilot skills.

It makes sense to limit sport pilots to day VFR operations because of their limited training and experience. They are also limited to the simple systems of LSA and non-business flight missions. For private pilots flying without a medical certificate, I think the best choice is to limit only the missions they can fly to non-business ones. I would encourage private pilots to continue training to get instrument ratings and multi-engine as well. Perhaps a limitation on night flight to multi-engine aircraft or those on an IFR flight plan would make sense.

Paul Mulwitz

Perhaps the focus for both EAA and AOPA could be the use of self-certification as used in the LSA rating for both recreational and private pilot ratings. With the data from LSA to substantiate how safe this decision has been it is time for this change to take place.

Roger Bailey

Put Limits on RC Size

I'm glad the pilot of the biplane at Brighton, CO didn't lose the aircraft, but I'm glad he took out that giant radio controlled toy. If this RC owner went to jail, maybe these RC enthusiasts would understand that we who fly real aircraft and actually get off the ground are in danger every time RCs invade our airspace.

Over the years, I've encountered RC flying helicopters, fixed wing aircraft and paragliders. Most of the time I've been able to avoid them. But lately it seems these guys want to build nearly full-scale UAVs approaching the size and weight of ultralights, not model airplanes.

Either RCers need to fly those damn things in separate airspace, or they need to spend the time and money to get licensed like those of us who actually leave the ground. Maybe a weight and size limit should be in effect.

Chuck Leathers

Biden's Trail of Destruction

O.K. You started the conversation with the AVweb article about Air Force Two and the unfortunate Cub.

What were the other three incidents/accidents involving aircraft alluded to in your closing paragraph?

John Townsley

AVweb Replies:

As we said, John, they were motorcade accidents.

Two New York City police officers on motorcycles escorting Biden were involved in a minor crash, The New York Times reported, last week.

On Feb. 14, Peggy Fleming and Vonetta Flowers sustained minor injuries after being involved in a collision while riding in a Biden motorcade, according to MSNBC.com.

In November 2009, a police car escorting Biden's motorcade crashed into a cab in NYC.

Russ Niles

Regarding your story beginning, "The Vice President's C-32 transport, a modified Boeing 757 dubbed Air Force Two ...":

Air Force Two is a call sign, not a specific aircraft. Whether a T-52 or a C-5M, if it's got Mr. Biden aboard, it's Air Force Two. The same with Marine Two, Army Two, Navy Two, and Executive Two.

Scott Janisch

Protecting Students and Schools

While it is difficult to argue that any prospective student deserves due diligence in selecting a flight school, the California "solution" seems a trifle overkill.

Seems as though a regulation that requires that schools keep student money in a trust account, separate from their operating account, just like real estate agents and many others are required to do, would solve the real problem that generated all the fuss. That would require some additional expense for the school, but not a lot.

Joel Ludwigson

Students should be very wary of posting cash up-front. That's a great big red flag.

I almost made the same mistake myself, committing to pay for 65 hours of flight training. I switched schools and was licensed in only 41 hours.

I deplore more regulation because it is invariably written with a one-size mentality. Still, every time another flight school goes under, taking deposits with it, it is another black mark on an industry that is dying from bad press, TSA, over-regulation and closed airports.

Bruce Liddel

Regarding the article about Cirrus accidents: It seems to me the pilots have learned to fly the all-glass panels quite well but in the process have forgotten the basics of take-offs, landings and go-arounds. Maybe instead of spending hours going cross-country with the AP in control, spend an hour a week at the local field reviewing the act of flying instead of playing computer expert.

Elias Vujovich

Flying Distracted

People flying into AirVenture or other busy air shows should practice approaches and landings with another pilot giving last-minute changes in the landing instructions and doing their best to distract you at the same time. Only when the pilot can make drastic last-minute changes, deal with the distractions, and keep situational awareness should the pilot consider himself ready to go.

Above all, pilots must always be ready to admit early in the process that they are not comfortable, and say "unable" or "going around."

Getting low and slow or being out of ideas and altitude at the same time can be fatal. An instructor once told me, "If a pilot doubts the situation, it is past time to leave the situation behind."

Jim Morgan

EAA Losing Touch with Members

I think Kent Misegades makes several excellent points regarding EAA. I have been a member for decades and was a chapter president at one time. I was also a member of a chapter on the East Coast that simply died on the vine. It had lost too many elderly members and, despite the best efforts of well-intentioned officers, we simply could not attract new members. I agree wholeheartedly that the heart of EAA is the chapter. Many are having a hard time continuing.

Having just returned from OSH, I must say that the costs associated with going to this event are getting out of hand. The prices are escalating faster than taxes in Democratic states! To take a family of four to this event today would be a major expense. A vacuum goes in your pocket from the morning you arrive until you depart.

Despite many years of membership, I am feeling less a part of this organization [rather] than more. There is a great divide between those running the EAA and the individual member. I think Paul Poberezny grew the association by making people feel they were an important part of it. Today it seems the "money people" have taken over and are bent on maximizing the dollar intake.

While a lot of good work is done by the EAA, I fear it will be quite difficult to replace the old white-haired guys (myself included) that have made up this organization to this point. You have to make the "little guy" feel like he belongs rather than like an exploited customer.

Bill McClure

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

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New on AVweb.com back to top 

30,000 Hours on Gravel

File Size 6.4 MB / Running Time 7:00

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Yute Air Alaska serves dozens of remote Alaskan villages with a fleet of 12 Cessna 207s and a single Cessna 172, and every trip involves at least one gravel strip landing. Three of the 207s will reach 30,000 hours in the next few months. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Matt Sullivan, the airline's assistant director of flight operations, about tough airplanes and the tough people who keep them going.

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'Beyond This Historic Brown Gate' — Slick Hutto's AirVenture 2010 Video Montage

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

We introduced you to 19-year-old James Wesley Perkins, who's gone by the nickname Slick since he can remember, just after the 2009 AirVenture Oshkosh via a video he put together of all the stuff we didn't get to see, or saw out of the corners of our eyes as we rushed from one assignment to another. Another AirVenture has come and gone and the routine was pretty much the same for AVweb staffers. Thankfully Slick had his video camera and talented eye at the show and recently posted his assembly of the highlights of AirVenture 2010. The young future naval aviator has also had a few highlights of his own in the past year.

With last year's video we discovered Slick is already a carded aerobatic performer and had just received a full ride ROTC scholarship to Texas A&M, where he's taking aerospace engineering. He recently had his "summer cruise" as part of ROTC. "During cruise I flew a T-34C through some aerobatics! It was a blast! The rest of the summer has been taken up with flying both the Pitts and Clipper, Oshkosh (of course), and trips to see family," he said. "I've been working on my new Raven Wings for the Pitts, and hope to have those done in a year or so. This way I can really up my game at IAC competitions!"

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

Aircraft Ditching Training with the Editors of Aviation Consumer

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

Aviation Consumer's Jeff Van West got water up his nose as he practiced exiting an aircraft that has sunk and flipped over. It was quite a ride.

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Aviation Consumer Reviews Avidyne's DFC 90 Digital Autopilot

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

Avidyne has a slide-in replacement for the STEC-55X autopilots common to Cirrus SR20s and SR22s. Aviation Consumer's Jeff Van West took it up for a flight to the claims of improved performance and new safety features.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Landmark Aviation (KAVL, Asheville, NC)

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

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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Landmark Aviation at Asheville Regional Airport (KAVL) in Asheville, North Carolina.

AVweb reader Tahj Kraus told us about this Landmark location:

I spent three weeks coming and going out of KAVL. Initially I was hesitant to stay there, but thought I'd try out Landmark. Rebecca and Paul made my stay so enjoyable and comfortable that I ended up feeling like part of the family — a home away from home. Even though I'm just an avgas burner, they still made me feel like royalty!

Keep those nominations coming. 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!

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

15 Years and Now 15 Grand Giveaways ... We're Giving You Another Chance to Win a Bose Aviation Headset X

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 Drawings

Our 15th anniversary celebration continues, with a second chance to win a Bose Aviation Headset X! 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.)

Deadline for entries is 11:59pm Zulu time Friday, September 3, 2010.

Click here to read the contest rules and enter.

Congratulations to Roger Newcomb of Austin, TX, who won our last drawing, for a Spidertrack Aviator! (click here to get your own from Spidertracks)

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Inbound to ATL area, the following exchange took place with Memphis Center:

"Lear 905RL, you're cleared direct Bunni for the Dumbb Bunni2 arrival."

"Roger. Cleared direct Bunni for the Dumbb Bunni arrival.

"Question: who codes these things anyway?"

Memphis Center:
"Special controllers for all the really special pilots."

Steve Shattuck
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.)

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