AVwebFlash - Volume 16, Number 36a

September 6, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Crashes and Causes back to top 

Spectator Killed In Airshow Accident

One woman was killed and up to 38 people were injured when a Tiger Moth taking part in a small German airshow ran into the crowd Sunday. The accident happened at the Lillinghof airfield about 20 miles from Nuremberg. Witnesses told German media the vintage biplane was taking off when it veered off the runway and into the crowd. About 5,000 people were on hand for the event, which featured mostly small aircraft and an AN-2 Russian transport. It was the second airshow fatality on the weekend in Germany.

On Saturday a 50-year-old woman died when the hang glider she was flying crashed into a parked airplane at an airshow in Bavaria.

CVR Recovered In UPS Crash

The UPS Boeing 747-400 that crashed in Dubai Friday was only three years old and had less than 10,000 hours on it, according to a news release issued by the company on Saturday. UPS identified the pilots killed in the crash as Capt. Doug Lampe, 48, of Louisville, Ky., and FO Matthew Bell, 38, of Sanford, Fla. They were based in Anchorage. According to Dubai's National newspaper, the pilot reported a fire on board and was trying to return to the airport. The aircraft had been airborne for 38 minutes before the crash. There is also speculation the pilot deliberately headed for an empty area of a military base, where it crashed. There were no injuries on the ground. The cockpit voice recorder was recovered on Saturday but the flight data recorder has not been recovered.

It was UPS's first crash, although there have been five mishaps on the ground involving UPS aircraft, including a DC-8 that was destroyed after pilots managed to land the burning aircraft in Philadelphia in 2006. The NTSB has dispatched a team to investigate and UPS says it's doing what it can to help the pilots' families. "This is a terrible tragedy, and all of us at UPS extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of both of these crewmembers," said UPS CEO Scott Davis. "Our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with them during this difficult time."

Computer Virus Linked (Loosely) To Airline Crash

Two years ago, a Spanair MD-82 crashed on takeoff at Madrid, killing 154 people and marking Spain's worst air tragedy in 25 years; now, malicious code infecting a maintenance department computer has been implicated in the crash. To be clear, the code was not flown on the aircraft's own systems and did not cause the crash. This specific crash could have been avoided regardless of the malware's existence. But the discovery of malicious code introduced into an on-ground system operated by the airline's maintenance department does suggests certain negative possibilities. One possible scenario is that the code slowed a program which, if properly maintained, would have flagged the aircraft for service and disallowed the takeoff because of a series of smaller problems already noted with the plane. That's a lot of qualifiers. But the fact that the system was infected and didn't flag the aircraft in this case closed one door on an opportunity to save the flight. It also suggests the urgency of proper computer maintenance throughout the entire airline system to assure safety of flight.

The Spanair jet reportedly had hosted two maintenance problems on the day prior to the crash and then aborted a takeoff just prior to the fatal takeoff run due to a faulty sensor. A maintenance tracking system used by the airline could have issued an alert based on those three anomalies and prevented the next takeoff attempt. But Spanish media reports say it took a full 24 hours for the last anomaly to enter the system. It is possible that delay was caused in part by the influence of bad code. No judgment should be passed until investigative bodies publish their final report. What we do know is that after the aborted takeoff, the crew taxied the aircraft for another attempt and attempted a second takeoff while the aircraft's slats were improperly set. The crew didn't notice the error and it seems no cockpit warnings sounded to make them aware.

B.C. Sues Transport Canada Over Crash

The provincial government of British Columbia is suing Transport Canada, among others, to recover the cost of medical treatment for passengers injured in an horrific balloon accident in 2007. B.C. says Transport Canada didn't do enough to ensure the commercial ballooning company involved was properly qualified and equipped to carry out the type of flight that ended in disaster on Aug. 24, 2007. Two people were trapped and died and most of the 11 others were hurt when they jumped from the balloon's basket after a propane fire erupted. Under Canada's public medical system, provincial governments fund a major portion of healthcare. Earlier this year, British Columbia enacted a law enabling it to recover the cost of treatment of those injured due to negligence or criminal acts. The province alleges at least four of the passengers suffered serious injuries, including brain injury, burns, broken bones and traumatic stress disorder. The mother and grown daughter who died couldn't escape and burned to death as the balloon broke its tether and shot 400 feet before the basket broke loose, landing in a campground, destroying several cars and RVs in the ensuing fire.

The suit names pilot Stephen Pennock and his company SRP Adventures, balloon manufacturer Aerostar International and Raven Industries, Doug Scott Aircraft Repair and Canada's Attorney General on behalf of Transport Canada. The province alleges Transport Canada issued operating permits to Pennock and his company without adequately ensuring they were capable of carrying out the work the licenses allowed. Canada's Transportation Safety Board released a report in 2008 calling on Transport Canada to beef up commercial ballooning standards and regulations.

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Last Week's Top Stories: More to Be Said back to top 

S-LSAs And IMC Clarified

The issues surrounding special light sport aircraft flight in instrument conditions are complex and arcane, and in an effort to ensure that some of the finer points are crystal clear, Dan Johnson, chairman of the Light Aircraft Manufacturing Association, sent a follow-up letter to AVweb this week expanding and clarifying some of the details touched on in Thursday's AVweb report. In his letter, Johnson adds background about some of the ASTM committee debates over the issue and emphasizes that safety is the prime concern. "The [committees] always put safety first in their efforts," he says.

For the rest of Johnson's comments, see our AVmail section.

Police Defend Tactics In King Detention

Click for more photos

The Santa Barbara Police Department has defended the show of force employed in the detention of King Schools owners John and Martha King on Aug. 28. Spokesman Lt. Paul McCaffrey told AVweb in a podcast interview officers went by the book in their initial contact with the Kings, which led to their being handcuffed and put in separate police cars. McCaffrey said they were acting on information from the federal El Paso Intelligence Center and the McKinney, Texas, Police Department that the aircraft was stolen (as we've explained in earlier stories the tail number on the Kings' leased Cessna 172 was a re-issuance of the N-number on a Cessna 150 that was stolen in McKinney eight years ago), noting the call from EPIC carries the same weight as a call from the FBI. They had just 15 minutes to cover the 12 miles to the airport and get in position but McCaffrey said they did double-check to ensure the aircraft in question was, indeed, a Cessna with the tail number they'd received. What followed was a textbook takedown, called a felony stop, used by police forces throughout the U.S. to secure a vehicle and its occupants suspected of a serious crime.

The Kings were ordered at gunpoint to exit the aircraft individually and walk backwards to gun-wielding officers before they were handcuffed and put in the cars. Although much of the criticism directed at the SBPD centers on its use of drawn weapons, McCaffrey said police officers are highly trained in the use of firearms and he's unaware of anyone ever being accidentally shot by a police officer under these circumstances. However, police reality shows are full of examples of what can happen if the police fail to control a situation early and can result in dangerous foot and vehicle chases. He said if he'd been there, he'd have handled it the same way.

Click for photos.

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We've Got Our Eye on You — Yes, You back to top 

AOPA: Through-The-Fence Access Changes Loom

Existing airport community homeowners might enjoy continued "through the fence" access to their associated runways, but things may be very different for similar communities in the future, according to AOPA. In 2009, the FAA sought to eliminate through-the-fence access to airport taxiways and runways for aircraft based on adjacent private property. That general layout is popular at many airport community neighborhoods. AOPA says the FAA is now leaning toward a more considered approach for those airports that currently include, or were largely built around, a through-the-fence concept. At those airports, AOPA says the FAA may avoid broad-stroke regulation and apply a case-by-case approach. But looking forward, there's still a chance that airports seeking to provide those access privileges in the future may simply be out of luck.

Those airports that currently allow through-the-fence operations may "be certified as compliant with their grant obligations" by the FAA, provided they meet conditions that would dictate how they manage airport access, says AOPA. But presently, "the FAA plans to eliminate future residential through-the-fence access." AOPA says such operations are essential to the vitality of some airports and it will continue to work with the agency in an effort to insure that "future opportunities for access at other airports" will exist. The FAA has yet to release a final decision on the matter, which, it seems, may have a direct effect on future airport home projects and existing airport home pricing.

Warning: Suspicious Activity May Include Yours

A flyer left by the DHS in an FBO at Hickory Regional Airport in North Carolina makes bullet points of suspicious behavior associated with illegal activities but ensnares some behavior pilots might consider routine. The flyer was left at the FBO about two weeks ago by federal agents and lists suspicious activities that include customers who insist on paying in cash, are vague about their itinerary, fly in with a dirty undercarriage, use self-service fueling early in the morning or late at night, seek temporary hangarage for their aircraft, fly a "worn out" plane with a "very nice" GPS, or travel with "excessive" luggage. The posting listed special agents to contact "if you encounter such suspicious activity." It also offered a reward of "up to $250,000" for information "relating to the transportation or storage of contraband and/or criminal proceeds." The list did also include some activities that might be considered suspicious by a larger group of pilots.

Among the more egregious bullet items were altered "N" numbers" and guards posted around an aircraft. AVweb contacted the FBO at Hickory and was told that the stack of flyers left by agents had since been moved, picked up by pilots, or otherwise taken away. The airport averaged about 111 operations per day for the 12-month period ending July 31, 2009, according to AirNav.com, and about 70 percent of those operations are transient GA. The DHS says organized criminal groups operating in the state are using airports and aircraft to facilitate their illegal activities. Hickory Regional maintains a local aircraft population of about 70 aircraft and, according to the FBO, most of the pilots who keep their aircraft there are familiar with one another.

Click here to have a look at the flyer.

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News Briefs back to top 

JetBlue Lets Slater Slide Away

Steven Slater has made his final exit from JetBlue. The airline confirmed Saturday that Slater, the allegedly frustrated flight attendant who popped the emergency slide on an E190, grabbed two beers from the galley and abandoned the aircraft at JFK last month, is no longer with the airline. Slater achieved Internet folk hero status after his dramatic departure, allegedly triggered by an altercation with a female passenger who ignored instructions to remain seated until the plane was chocked. Slater later said he'd been bonked in the head by the passenger's carry-on as she, against his instructions, pulled it from the overhead. Slater was later quoted as saying he wanted his job back but the airline deflated that dream with a brief statement.

Since the incident, other passengers have cast doubt on Slater's story, including those who have said Slater's head was gashed before the flight and that he was rude to them. Oddly enough, we don't seem to have heard at all from the woman who was allegedly involved in the altercation and presumably had a front-row (or aisle) vantage point for what followed. We likely will hear from her eventually, however, as Slater still faces charges of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing and she will undoubtedly be a witness.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: The Limits of Sim Training

Can pilots be trained in a simulator to handle every conceivable emergency situation, or are we just kidding ourselves? In the latest installment of the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli argues that at some point, you have to stop training and start flying.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Up Against the Fence, Martha

The Santa Barbara police chief had the decency and class to apologize to John and Martha King after holding them at gunpoint over the weekend following an erroneous stolen aircraft report. Unfortunately, as Paul Bertorelli reports on the AVweb Insider blog, pilots are uniquely vulnerable to this sort of thing — and we wonder how many agencies would bother with the apology, much less the extra mile to avoid these things in the first place.

Read more and join the conversation.

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Letter of the Week back to top 

AVmail: September 6, 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: LSA, IFR Clarifications by Dan Johnson

While I thank AVweb for frequent coverage of Light Sport Aircraft activities, I must object to some words appearing in the Sept. 2, 2010 article with the title "LSA, IFR, and IMC: An Update." I would appreciate if you could communicate the following to your readers so they more accurately understand the situation.

The following statement is incorrect: "'The IMC change is driven more by committee members' concerns about liability than about safety,' Johnson said." Safety was not secondary. In my interview with reporter Mary Grady, I referred to a defensive position taken by the design and performance subcommittee of the F37 LSA standards-writing committee of ASTM. I intended to suggest that the subcommittee felt it advisable to recommend a placard prohibiting flight into IMC because the subcommittee did not believe IMC flight in LSA was defensible until another subcommittee working on an IFR standard was able to come to consensus. In reverse of the referenced sentence, the main thrust of the subcommittee was to focus on safety, not to worry over a manufacturer's legal liability.

The details of this discussion and the work of the F37 committee are complex, but here is what I find important for you to inform your many readers: The F37 overall committee and the D&P subcommittee always put safety first in their efforts. Legal liability is ever-present in our society and cannot be ignored, but manufacturer liability was not the primary focus regarding the IMC prohibition placard decision.

This subject came to the forefront because of an August 28, 2010 post to my web site. I stand by what I wrote.

The larger topic of industry consensus standards as a means of certifying light aircraft remains widely misunderstood. This situation is hardly surprising after many years of government-issued certification rules. The topic is highly technical, and it may take years before it is widely understood. For nearly a decade, the ASTM committee has worked hard to create a worthy set of standards. They are not perfect, but they are continuously being improved. Indeed, they are the new way to prove aircraft quality and reliability, and I remain utterly confident that ASTM committee members will continue to do valuable work. That they do this rapidly and on the slimmest of budgets makes this all the more impressive. Also remember that although these are not government standards, FAA personnel play an active role in their development, and after ballot approval by ASTM, FAA reviews any proposed standard and issues a Notice of Availability once they have accepted the new standard.

These standards are part of a solution that has allowed the cost of a new well-equipped and well-performing aircraft to become half of the price (or less) of a typical type-certified aircraft. LSAs are a likely component of the growth of aviation in the future, and AVweb's coverage of this new sector is appreciated. The safety record is good, as publicly stated on repeated occasions by FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, and the ASTM committee and the manufacturing community deserve support for their work to achieve so much in a brief space of time.

Note that I am not speaking for the entire F37 ASTM committee. The words above and those published on my web site are mine alone. As a longtime participant of the ASTM committee's work, I applaud the ceaseless efforts of many leaders and participants, and I expect this approach will become better and better as committee members continue their work.

Dan Johnson
Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association

The use of aircraft built under a standard implies to the general public that the aircraft is safe. The standards for S-LSA do not cover instrument use in IMC; therefore, they are not tested for that and should be clearly stated as such.

Any manufacturer who implies that a 1,300-pound aircraft without the same testing as is done on a fully certified aircraft under part 23 is suitable for IMC under the existing standards is irresponsible at best, liable for sure in the case of anything that might happen.

Yes, the committee is concerned. I have been on the committee since the beginning of the LSA process and can tell you that we have tried more than once to get standards, but until we can get them done and approved, people should be responsible.

Just to be clear, IFR is fine. It's the IMC that is at issue here. A good well-equipped aircraft flying in the IFR system with a correctly rated pilot is not a problem. It's the IMC conditions (with their icing, turbulence and other issues) that need to be addressed. Check the statistics; this is the absolutely most dangerous condition flown, especially for light aircraft.

Eric Tucker
Rotax Flying & Safety Club

Third Class Medical Value

Those who protest the FAA's requirement for a third class medical as doing little for flying safety are missing a very important point.

I recall a statement made long ago in an aviation publication that if a pilot is required to get a periodic physical, then that exam should be as complete as possible, because that may be the only medical exam that a pilot gets.

This admonition became intensely personal to me in 1990, when, during a third class medical, a slight eye twitch was discovered by the medical examiner. Once he found that symptom, I guess it's possible that he could have ignored it; however, he felt obligated to do the right thing as a medical professional. So he failed my exam, which meant I couldn't fly as a PIC anymore. I was crushed.

Twenty years later, after surgery to remove the orange-sized brain tumor that caused the eye twitch, I feel fortunate that that medical examiner chose not to rubber-stamp my medical but act as my doctor. Had he not, I would be dead now.

Thanks again to Dr. Richard Grayson in St. Charles, IL. I am alive today because you acted professionally 20 years ago.

John Leonard

I wonder how Paul Mulwitz's letter made it to the web site as the "Letter of the Week." His conclusions are that it's O.K. to fly without a medical when you know you can't pass one, as long as you fly light sport; [that a] medical does not make you safe; and that flying without a medical makes you safer.

He went as far as to say people who self-certify use better judgment than an AME. I realize that everyone should have a voice, but I can't understand why this was the "Letter of the Week."

I disagree with Mulwitz for three reasons:

The first is that he has provided no basis on fact to these statements he makes.

The second reason is precedence. The FAA has set up the medical certification process for a reason. People cannot be trusted to do what's right and safe for everyone. They just want to do what they want to do, and, in this case, that is to fly. AMEs exist to ensure that people who should not be flying don't — just like the FAA exists to ensure that people who are unsafe do not fly, either.

The third and final reason is experience. It is well known that light sport allows people who are knowingly medically deficient to continue to fly and pose a risk to the general public. Part 61.23(iv) speaks to this directly in addition to 61.53(b).

These regulations exist for a reason, and let us not forget that. I see this every morning when the "old birds" association flies. Instance after instance, incident after incident has shown some — not all, but some — of these people need to put away their love for aviation for the safety of the public.

Where Mulwitz gets his theories I don't know. I do know that common sense dictates when it's time to hang up the wings, you hang them up — period — or you may end up hurting innocent members of the public.

Name Withheld

Editor's Note:

We have verified the author's name but granted his request to keep his name out of this because it could affect his employment.

It is good to hear someone else who feels the same way I do. The FAA needs to re-evaluate their thinking and see that a track record for a few years now does exist that says a third class medical is not required — pilots are not falling out of the sky — in order to fly safely. I wish more pilots would get involved to get something done. I wish I could find an organization that supports this ideal. EAA and AOPA do not seem to be motivated to get on board about this.

Garey Burns

I am flying an ex-military aircraft with a nearly 60-foot wingspan and a gross weight of 1,850 pounds without a medical. How? Although it has a motor, it is classed as a glider (self-launching). Gliders do not require any medical certificate — not even a driver's license medical. Am I any less safe to the world at large than if I were flying a Cessna 152? I have diabetes, and the hoops that I have had to jump through are outdated and unnecessarily complex and expensive.

Let's drop the third class medical and either go with no medical or a driver's license medical. I have no intention of becoming an airline pilot. I just want to continue doing the $100 hamburger flights.

Michael J. Nutt

Line Up and Wait

Rumor has it that a commission was put together by the NTSB, and while on break at a local kindergarten, they observed the teachers at the bus stop controlling the little tykes. What they heard was "line up and wait." It worked.

With over 5,000 hours of flying time and 33 years as a controller, I never thought it would come to this.

Dean Ritter

"Line up and wait." I'm still amazed at the new FAA terminology being introduced this month. However, I hear this all part of the new government strategy for standardization so that we'll see consistency in government terminology whether it's at the airport, the Post Office or our new government-run healthcare system.

Evan Julber

What Makes Aviation Newsworthy

The reasons we hear about aviation accidents or incidents is because they are so rare. After EAA AirVenture, we typically hear about crashes of aircraft that were returning from there. How often do you hear about a motorcycle accident from someone returning from Sturgis?

Mark Lokken

Most people don't understand aviation and are naturally more curious with stuff they don't understand. Media try to take as much gain as they can out of this property of human nature, so they tend to dramatize aviation accidents and incidents, as such news is popular with the audience. Unfortunately, popular information is often not the most informative.

Lukasz Jezierski

You have a pretty shallow set of potential answers to your "Question of the Week" regarding how aviation incidents generate drama. There is a variable mix of tradition, instinctive fear of flying by many, media mania, misdirected paranoia, government overregulation and public gullibility.

The dawn of aviation as a world-changing event coincided with the early years of "electronic" news dissemination. Each new development was followed by a worldwide audience thanks to the telegraph. Record-setting flights were media events that attracted mobs. (The Spirit of St. Louis was torn apart when it landed in Paris.) The exploits of WWI pilots and post-war barnstormers were hyped by the print media, and air shows were almost certain to include some sort of photo-op crash to be gobbled up by the press. Today that tradition is honored and we encourage that expectation with the "daredevil" antics of air show performers doing extreme aerobatics or dragging the pretty blond wingwalker's hair inverted along the runway in an old or at least antique-looking biplane.

Even today, there are those educated by generations of media hype who are always ready to declare for their 30 seconds of fame that when the Cessna 150 crashed, its engines were sputtering (a term whose genesis surely dates to the 1920s or earlier). When JFK Jr. died in his Saratoga in 1999, Peter Jennings asked aloud on prime time how it was that a private pilot could take off "...and fly hundreds of miles without filing a flight plan."

Flash forward to 9/11 and remember that it was a combined muck-up of government security agencies (FBI, etc.), airport security, and commercial airline ground crews that allowed the tragedy to occur.

Collective round-robin fingerpointing demanded that a scapegoat be found. A-ha! General aviation. It's obviously out of control; let's punish it and bail out the airlines. Let's create a whole new generation of agencies to keep tabs on these suspected terrorists. From that we had a new ground-pounder group of paranoid government bureaucrats to develop the TFRs, the large-aircraft security proposal, eAPIS, multiple airport security badges, etc., etc. Time magazine took that ball and ran with it with a cover page picture of a Cessna next to a power plant.

President Obama, like no other before him, depended on GA to get his message out, yet now that he is in office, 9,000 cubic miles of airspace continues to be cleared whenever he ventures forth. Testosterone-laden goon-squads launch to surround unsuspecting pilots in their planes. Faulty transponders lead to Chinese fire-drills that empty Congressional offices onto the front steps where presumably they can be strafed by the incoming King Air.

GA as a group has become politically targeted as never before. It wasn't helped by the auto executives in their rush to scramble the corporate jets with their hands out for bailout money.

In the current context, I place government squarely in the mix as part of the politicization of GA. As is the case with most elements of our lives, governments and their commissionaires are ever searching for things to regulate. In the search for an elusive zero-risk, political grandstanding generates a call to "do something, anything!" Some things need to be regulated, but others don't. Regulation means data collected by multiple fiefdoms that is not shared or vetted. The King episode illustrates that we are no further ahead in 2010 than we were on Sept. 10, 2001 in terms of interagency cooperation.

As a group, GA has few dollars to contribute to campaign funds to defend against this targeting. GA is seen as a rich man's playground. We are not seen as part of the middle class. Instead, pilots and those who fly in private aircraft (or even balloons) are set aside as a special suspect class. Only pilots must ask for permission to leave the USA in their own private conveyance, when that conveyance happens to be an aircraft.

That aircraft incidents are news is a result of all of these factors combining to convince those not involved in aviation of the inherent danger and drama associated with flight. Credit the tradition of a century of sensationalism associated with aviation for a baseline of expectations. Blame the media for their part in not putting some sort of filter on their coverage. Add the irrational fear-of-flying mentality that will persist from generation to generation. Incorporate the current fear of terrorism and assign pilots a role in it so that vast legions of government functionaries can justify their existence by treading on the purview of the FAA.

When stuff happens and an aircraft is somewhere in the same state, all of the above factors and background noise contribute to the ensuing fuss. I do not expect this to change any time soon.

David MacRae

You're Welcome

Just a note this morning to say just how much over the past years I have enjoyed AVweb.

I picked up the habit from my co-workers at the Boeing Phantom Works before I retired, and I'm still addicted to flight and everything that has wings.

Again, thanks for always making my morning flight fix.

Don Shultz

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

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AVweb Audio — Are You Listening? back to top 

The Rest of the King Story

File Size 15.4 MB / Running Time 16:50

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Santa Barbara Police have taken some heat for their handling of the detention of John and Martha King on Aug. 28. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Lt. Paul McCaffrey of the SBPD, who says that, based on the information they had, the officers did a proper and professional job of bringing the situation to a safe conclusion.

(Note this podcast is longer than usual at 16 minutes.)

Click here to listen. (15.4 MB, 16:50)

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

Aviation Consumer Flies a Silver Eagle Turbine-Converted Centurion

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

Wanna go fast and climb like hell? That's what the Silver Eagle Conversion of a P210 with a Rolls Royce turbine engine does. Aviation Consumer's Paul Bertorelli recently took a flight demo in the airplane.

If you enjoy this video, be sure to look for more on the Silver Eagle package in the September 2010 issue of Aviation Consumer.

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Cluster Balloonist Jonathan Trappe

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

Jonathan Trappe is a sort of super-hero to some children and a crazy man to some adults. We found him inspirational. Trappe is licensed to fly beneath a group of homemade helium-filled balloons. That means his aircraft is one of the most structurally redundant vehicles in the sky. But it's also challenging to fly. Trappe controls his direction by varying his altitude. He can drop water ballast or stab balloons with a knife to alter his buoyancy as he flies. Wind direction can vary with altitude, and Trappe uses that to his advantage, adjusting his present reality to the forecast conditions. To stay visible to controllers and aircraft, Trappe carries a radio and transponder, making him visible on radar. For visual avoidance, Trappe relies mainly on the 50-foot brightly colored canopy of balloons above his head. At night, he uses lights.

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

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Orion Flight Services (Wittman Regional Airport, KOSH, Oshkosh, WI)

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AVweb reader Doug Latch pointed out that we'd given due praise to two FBOs who stepped up to the plate when traffic was routed away from Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh at the beginning of AirVenture — but no one had given a nod to KOSH's own Orion Flight Services:

These people went well beyond normal. They treated me like I had a Gulfstream or Boeing business jet, and they knew from the start I was flying a 1966 Cessna Skyhawk. During AirVenture this year, parking was extreme and almost gone. [While] the other FBO was only accepting twins and jets, Toby Kamark took me and my Skyhawk and treated us like Royalty ... [then] he took as many people as he could to register for the show and returned. ... I was there after the show, and the level of service did not decline.

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!

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Overheard in IFR Magazine's 'On the Air' Section
Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the Air"

Heard on Chicago Center frequency:

"Chicago, Piper 12345 en route to St. Louis. Request flight following."

"Piper 12345, where in the world are you?"

"I'm down below the water [meaning south of Lake Michigan], heading for St. Louis."

Center (deadpan) :
"Piper 123, it must be pretty wet down below the water. Want to try again?"

"I'm ten miles south of Michigan City."

"That's more like it."

John Urschalit
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.

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