AVwebFlash - Volume 17, Number 37a

September 12, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Footing the Bill for the FAA back to top 
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FAA Funding Looks Likely

Government leaders appear ready to speed through passage of a four-month funding extension for the FAA when they get back to work next week. In sharp contrast to the rancorous debate that resulted in the FAA going temporarily unfunded last July, House and Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle seem unified in efforts to pass a "clean" funding bill, stripped of all the hot-button partisan clauses that bogged the earlier one down, as early as Monday. Passage would give the legislators time to wrangle over the contentious side issues without crippling the agency. The current funding package runs out on Friday.

The issues are unlikely to go away, however. The biggest is a squabble over $16 million in subsidies for airlines serving rural airports where the routes lose money. That initiative, championed by Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, hit airports in the districts of several prominent Democrats. The Wall Street Journal says there's a high-level strategy meeting on FAA funding at the White House on Monday.

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9/11: Looking Back at That Tuesday in September back to top 

Podcast: 9/11 Recordings -- Unique Insight

File Size 12.9 MB / Running Time 14:06

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Audio collected on September 11, 2001 has been compiled by the Rutgers Law Review for a presentation titled "A New Type of War." AVweb has organized a series of recorded segments from that presentation to provide insight into the day from the perspective of the pilots, crew, controllers and military personnel who lived it. The following audio describes or includes some of the final moments for 92 people aboard American Airlines Flight 11; 65 aboard Flight United Airlines Flight 175; 64 aboard American Airlines Flight 77; and 44 aboard United Airlines Flight 93. Your discretion is advised.

Click here to listen. (12.9 MB, 14:06)

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9/11 Today: Calmer Skies back to top 

Lav-Locked Pax Draw Fighters

Three people who locked themselves in an airliner bathroom on a flight to New York on Sept. 11 will likely get to explain exactly what they were doing in there to the Secret Service and FBI. The three passengers, whose gender distribution was not immediately known, went into the lav at some point during the American Airlines flight from LAX to JFK and stayed there until after it landed. The aircraft was escorted part of the way to New York by two F-16s and landed otherwise uneventfully at 4:10 p.m. EDT.

The nature of the threesome's business in the lav wasn't immediately revealed but an airline spokesman told The Associated Press that terrorism was apparently not on their minds. "In our eyes, it's a big nothing," said American spokesman Tim Smith.

Sunday A Good Day To Fly

The FAA posted a flurry of new TFRs in the hours before Sunday's somber anniversary, but almost none of them had anything to do with the day we'd all like to forget. Of course, anyone who might have tried to fly near Lower Manhattan, Washington, D.C., or Shanksville, Pa., could have expected, at the very least, a really bad day. By late Sunday, there were no reports that anyone had done so. There were also TFRs for several airshows and the International Council of Air Shows listed at least a dozen shows in North America on Sunday. But by far the majority of new TFRs are the work of forces much more powerful than any wingnut terrorist cell. Forest fires are closing big blocks of airspace throughout Texas and the West.

Even the weather cooperated for a fine day of flying across much of North America. A huge ridge of high pressure kept skies mostly clear through most of the continent, although the ceremonies at Ground Zero and in Washington and Pennsylvania were under somber skies.

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There's an App for That? Apparently, Yes, There Is back to top 

Victim's iPhone Helps Locate Plane Crash

Reports that the location of a Chilean military transport CASA 212 Aviocar that crashed Sept. 4 at sea, killing all 21 aboard, was identified thanks to a victim's submerged iPhone may be overstated, but the phone's role is still compelling. A Google-provided translation of text from an original Argentine source states that a victim aboard the high-wing twin turboprop owned an iPhone 4 and equipped it with an app called "Find my iPhone." The translated article states that the smartphone was "still transmitting its signal" after the crash and allowed for underwater triangulation to pinpoint the crash site near Robinson Crusoe Island. While that may not be the case, one victim's relatives' use of the app was provided to help authorities find the crash site, and the process may have made an argument for real-time telemetry.

Using the app, relatives of one victim of the crash isolated the last known coordinates the smartphone generated before the crash. They took the information to search teams, which used the information in their search. The teams were able to plot the airplane's last position and soon found debris -- so far none of it has been as large as two feet in size. Two undersea robots scouring the sea in the area were hindered by weather as the search continued. Using a record of relatively real-time data to aid in maintenance tracking and rescue or emergency response operations has recently been an idea championed by Star Navigation. That company produces TerraStar, a system it hopes will replace flight data recorders. TerraStar is a new "black box" that actively monitors and transmits data from the aircraft to a secure ground station where it is collected. AVweb's Glenn Pew spoke with Star Navigation CEO Viraf Kapadia about the system that could ultimately make traditional data recorders (and some accidents) obsolete in this podcast from 2010.

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Law & Safety back to top 

Breath Tests Mandatory For Indian Pilots

The Hindu is reporting that the government is finished implementing a program in which all airline pilots in the country must submit to a pre-board breathalyzer test. The newspaper says the Directorate General of Civil Aviation announced last week that 100 percent of crews now undergo the pre-flight check. The program was initiated last year in light of random checks conducted in 2009 and 2010 that nabbed 57 "tipsy" pilots trying to go to work.

All of India's major airlines were represented in the drunk-pilot total. Of the 57, 11 were fired and the remainder were suspended for varying lengths of time. The new rules spell out penalties more precisely. Anyone blowing positive gets a three-month suspension and repeat offenders get five years.

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

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 255,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

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New on AVweb.com back to top 

Forty-Seven Years in Aviation: A Memoir; Chapter 5: Basic Flight Training, Part 1

In the fifth chapter of his memoir, Richard Taylor moves to Enid, Okla., in 1955 to begin basic flight training. Ground school includes the requisite navigation courses (albeit celestial navigation), Morse code, and even the operation of atomic bombs.

Click here to read the fifth chapter.

If the United States had offered an award in 1893 for the fastest-growing city in the country, Enid, Okla., would surely have been the winner. Located 65 miles north of Oklahoma City, Enid was one of the small towns overwhelmed by the thundering herd of settlers rushing to stake their claims in six million acres of Cherokee Indian land made available for homesteaders. On the morning of Sept.16, the "run" for free land began ... on horseback, by train, wagon and on foot. By the end of the day, Enid's population was estimated at 12,000 people jam-packed into an area six blocks wide and 11 blocks long.

Enid (named for a prominent female character in Lord Tennyson's "Idylls of the King") has grown to become Oklahoma's ninth-largest city, shows up frequently in crossword puzzles and boasts the third-largest grain storage capacity in the world ... those huge white grain elevators sometimes made it easier for B-25 student pilots to find their way home.

Aviation activity came to Enid in a big way in July 1941, when the construction of a military airfield began on 1000 acres of flat farmland three miles south of town. (Talk about bargains: The land was leased to the government for $1 a year with a 25-year option). The facility was part of an Army Air Corps expansion program intended to counter the growing threat of hostilities in Europe and the Far East. With national defense now a first-line priority, the government authorized $2.5 billion to build 20 new flight training bases; the output goal was a total of 50,000 pilots per year. By the end of November 1941, the airfield had a commander and a staff but no official name ... it was known simply as the Air Corps Basic Flying School of Enid.

At the end of WWII, the demand for pilots decreased remarkably and the Enid Army Flying Field (renamed in 1943) was closed in January 1947. When the U.S. Air Force was created as a separate service later that year, the Enid facility -- now Enid Air Force Base -- was returned to service as part of the Air Training Command. In 1949 the facility was designated Vance Air Force Base in honor of local WWII hero and Medal of Honor winner Lt. Col. Leon Vance.

Flight training at Vance continued with the T-6/B-25 combination for a short time until the T-6 was replaced by the T-28. When we arrived at Vance in September 1955, the T-28s were still clattering overhead, their nine-cylinder, radial engines producing the noise characteristic of most R-1820s, but the airplane's life as a pilot trainer was nearly finished. 56-I was among the first classes to transition directly from the T-6 to the B-25.

Westward ho! Late in August we set out for Oklahoma in our Nash Rambler station wagon (unique among contemporary automobiles in 1955 for its lack of a front fender cutout -- not pretty, but it worked).

When we arrived in Enid, we encountered a much different housing situation than the ubiquitous, three-bedroom ranches in Kinston, N.C. Most of the bachelor officers lived in BOQs, the Aviation Cadets were of course relegated to their barracks and the rest of us found housing in various parts of the city. Nancy and I (that's her waving from the front porch) rented a small home on Enid's east side; not a dream house, but the price was right and the owner agreed to a six-month lease. (A bouquet at this point to the considerate landlords in all the flight-training base communities who recognized the needs of short-term Air Force flight students). About three months later, Nancy became ill with what the doctor diagnosed as intestinal flu. You were wrong, doc ... the "flu" was actually our daughter Julie, the first of our three children.

Should you ever go to downtown Enid, drive three miles south on Van Buren Street and there's Vance Air Force Base on your right. The sign that welcomed us aboard has been replaced long since, but in 1955 this is what greeted us every work day for the next six months (Work? You call flying Uncle Sam's airplanes and getting paid for it work? No way; it was sheer pleasure).

The fine print inside the white arrow on the sign reads ...


... which ties together rather well the missions of the base and the Air Force in general. The indian-head logo would probably upset some of today's civil-rights activists but in 1955 it was more likely considered a salute to Oklahoma's original residents.

In addition to a new sign, Vance changed significantly over the years to accommodate the high-performance aircraft and support services of a modern, military, flight-training facility. The original layout (left) was typical 1940 Army Air Corps design, with three runways that virtually eliminated (or produced for practice) crosswind takeoffs and landings for those brown-shoe aviators. As the airfield was upgraded, the three original runways became taxiways (why waste perfectly good concrete?) visible in this aerial photograph taken by a classmate in 1955 (right).

Two new north-south runways were up and running well before Class 56-I arrived on the scene; each of them was 6000 feet long, more than adequate for operating B-25s. Both of these runways were lengthened to 9000 feet when Vance became an all-jet pilot-training facility, about 1972. A radical change occurred in 1995 when Vance transitioned to the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training program, in which all students trained initially in the T-6 Texan II (a single-engine turboprop), then in the T-38 (a single-engine jet) for fighter and bomber pilots or in the T-1A (a twin-engine jet) for transport, tanker or large recon aircraft pilots. Joint training for U.S. Navy and Marine Corps pilots began in 1996.

Class 56-I was divided and assigned to a pair of Pilot Training Squadrons, part of the 3575th Pilot Training Wing. After completing the in-processing procedure, we were issued flying gear -- no crash helmets this time, but the throat mikes showed up again -- and briefed on what to expect in basic flight training. Classroom subjects focused on B-25 systems and procedures at the outset, then shifted to an emphasis on instrument flying, radio navigation and communication, more weather studies and -- among other ground school subjects -- a short course in celestial navigation.

Early in "Star Studies 101" the instructor turned out the lights and presented us with projected images of the constellations generally used by navigators. White lines connected the prominent stars that formed images in free-thinking minds; for example, Orion -- the great hunter whose image in the sky is also known as the Southern Cross -- was fairly easy to recognize if you could think outside the box, so to speak. We dutifully memorized the names and configurations of a number of these starry figures, depending heavily on the white lines. The final examination included a section in which we were asked to identify several significant constellations, but -- big surprise -- there were no white lines ... just a black, night-sky scene with stars and stars and stars. (See Celestial Navigation, above at right.)

We also learned the rudiments of Samuel F. B. Morse's famous dot-and-dash code (decoding 10 words per minute -- both visual and aural -- was required to get a passing grade); the content of that course might have been a candidate for "information most likely to never be used again." We were taught a memory-jogging system and I can still recall (slowly) some of the combinations of dots and dashes that define the alphabet ... but if I had to save my life today with a coded message other than S-O-S, I'd be a dead man.

We were treated to another short course that was extremely interesting not only because of the subject matter, but also in the way it was presented. Atomic bombs were a hot topic (pun intended) in the mid-'50s and the Air Force wanted flight crews to have a basic knowledge of how these devices worked and how they would be delivered, so the academic curriculum included a briefing that covered the principles and applications of nuclear weapons. The security classification of this subject was high enough (Top Secret) to warrant a locked classroom guarded by a couple of armed Air Police troops. We lined up in the hall outside the classroom and were required to provide our last names and first initial to the APs, who checked us against their lists before we were admitted. One of our group who couldn't resist poking a little fun at the system gave his name as "Kruschev, N." and walked right in while the AP was trying to find that name. Makes a person wonder ... were those APs a bit light on current events?

Soon after we checked in, instructor assignments were announced. The briefing room arrangement was the same as in primary training: one instructor at a table with three or four students. Our instructor pilots (IPs) were all Air Force officers, most of them 1st lieutenants and recent graduates of the Air Force Basic Instructor School. Once again alphabetical order prevailed and I was assigned to Lt. Bill Reynolds, a fine man, a good pilot and a patient instructor. Some IPs were shouters, some thought they could teach flying by berating their students continuously, but not Bill; I don't recall a single display of that kind of counter-productive behavior throughout the six-month flight training program. I lost track of Bill after graduation, but the quality of his instruction provided a solid foundation over the years as I progressed through a variety of large, recip-powered airplanes.

[Continued next month.]

To send a note to Richard and AVweb about this story, please click here.
More articles, stories and fiction about the joy of aviation are found in AVweb's Skywritings section.
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Remembering Cliff Robertson back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Cliff Robertson -- Pilot/Actor

Actor Cliff Robertson was a fixture around Oshkosh because, besides acting, he was an accomplished pilot, too. Robertson died over the weekend, a day past his 88th birthday. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli reveals a couple of interesting coincidences about Robertson's intersection with history.

Read more and join the conversation.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Capital City Airport (KFFT) (Frankfort, KY)

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

AVweb's latest blue ribbon goes to the FBO at Capital City Airport (KFFT) in Frankfort, Kentucky.

AVweb reader Graeme Lang has been going there for a while and sung Cap City's praises:

Having been involved with this FBO for some time now, I have always seen a complete commitment to the highest in customer service and overall standards. Their manager, Jay Vedelli, has just recently retired, but I have seen no decrease in the service provided. They stay very competitive on fuel prices, have on-site maintenance, will run you anywhere you need to go in their van, and will do all of this with a smile! I highly recommend Capital City Airport in Frankfort!

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!

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

Video: Aerotrek's Bargain LSAs

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

The way Rob Rollison figures it, most LSAs are overpriced, which is why he's marketing his nicely made Aerotrek airplanes at a base price under $70,000. Although most invoice for more than that, they still sell for less than $100,000. In this brief video, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli flies the Aerotrek 220 taildragger version and finds that it has great visibility, excellent climb performance and features you might not expect to find in a bargain airplane.

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Video: Electroair's Electronic Ignition

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

Electronic ignition for certified airplanes has been somewhat of a hard sell, primarily because owners don't always see clear benefits in either fuel economy or reliability. Electroair would like to change that with its new certified system for four-cylinder Lycomings. Here's a quick video tour of how the system works.

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

"Tower, give me a rough time-check!"

"It's Tuesday, sir."

Jim Moore (and friends)
via e-mail

Heard Anything Funny on the Radio?

Heard anything funny, unusual, or downright shocking on the radio lately? If you've been flying any length of time, you're sure to have eavesdropped on a few memorable exchanges. The ones that gave you a chuckle may do the same for your fellow AVweb readers. Share your radio funny with us, and, if we use it in a future "Short Final," we'll send you a sharp-looking AVweb hat to sport around your local airport. No joke.

Click here to submit your original, true, and previously unpublished story.

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.)

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team.

If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your PDA or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

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