AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 17, Number 38a

September 19, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Investing the Reno Air Race Crash back to top 

Video, Telemetry System On Crash Airplane

click for larger image

Crash investigators have recovered memory cards that might have come from an on-board camera on Jimmy Leeward's P-51 that crashed at the National Championship Air Races in Reno last Friday. There was also a flight systems telemetry set-up on board that transmitted information on the aircraft's health and performance to his ground crew, according to an Associated Press story. Investigators have now confirmed their probe will focus in part on the aircraft's tail structure and the possibility that a failure of the left horizontal stabilizer trim tab was a contributing factor in the crash, which killed nine people, including Leeward and eight spectators. More than 60 people on the ground were injured and about a dozen remain in the hospital, some in critical condition. The near-vertical impact of the fighter left a crater in the concrete three feet deep and eight feet across and spread debris over almost two acres. More photos and videos have surfaced since the crash and while the primary focus has been on missing tail parts, there are a couple of other anomalies in the photos.

In various images of the final milliseconds of the flight, Leeward can't be seen in the cockpit. Also, the retractable tailwheel is fully deployed during the crash sequence and it's not clear when that occurred or what effect it might have had. Officials are also casting doubt on earlier reports that Leeward made a single Mayday call before the crash. They told reporters there is no evidence of such a call. Two of the spectators killed in the accident have been identified. They are Greg Morcom, 47, of Washington State and Michael Wogan, 22, of Scottsdale, Ariz., a muscular dystrophy sufferer who was in a wheelchair.

Related Content:

Trim Tab Missing On Reno Crash Plane? (Updated)

click for a larger image

A photo by Tim O'Brien of the Grass Valley Union appears to show that Jimmy Leeward's Galloping Ghost P-51 race plane lost a trim tab before crashing at the National Championship Air Races in Reno on Friday, killing Leeward and eight others and injuring scores of others. Officials now say seven people died at the scene and two in the hospital. According to the Aviation Law Monitor, "without the trim tab, the aircraft may have been uncontrollable." The photo was taken seconds before aircraft dove into the ramp on the edge of the spectator viewing area at Reno during a qualifying heat. Although the tab does appear to be missing, it can't be determined from the photo whether its departure caused the sequence of events that led to the crash or whether the violent movements that preceded the crash caused the part to fail. Regardless, this photo is likely to be scrutinized carefully as investigators continue the grim task of piecing together what happened.

What is known is that Leeward had rounded the last pylon before the long straightaway in front of the grandstand when his aircraft pitched up, rolled and dove almost vertically into the cement just on the edge of the box seating area. Reports say Leeward called a single Mayday. There have been suggestions that Leeward attempted to maneuver away from the seating area, sparing many lives. As of mid-morning Saturday, the casualty count stood at nine dead and almost 60 injured, 15 critically. There was an incident during the 1998 Reno Air Races in which a trim tab came off a P-51 named Voodoo Chile. In that incident, also mentioned in AVweb's coverage, the aircraft pitched violently up, causing pilot Bob Hannah to black out under a G load estimated at 10 Gs. He regained consciousness at 9,000 feet and was able to land safely.

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Jimmy Leeward Crash: Eyewitness Accounts, Opinion back to top 

Podcast: Eyewitness Account of Reno Tragedy

File Size 13.2 MB / Running Time 14:30

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

click for photos

AVweb subscriber Scott Peterson, of Santa Rosa, CA, was snapping photos of the final heat of the day at Reno last Friday and got the full sequence of Jimmy Leeward's fatal crash. He spoke with AVweb's Russ Niles about his impressions of what he saw.

Click here to listen. (13.2 MB, 14:30)

Click for photos.

AVweb Insider Blog: Should the Reno Races Continue?

For as much as we, aviation enthusiasts, might hope so, it's not up to us. It's up to the community of Reno. Accidents like the one last week rightfully spark some inward examination of safety procedures and the risk/reward equation of doing things that are dangerous. In his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli has the immediate takeaway: Air shows and air races represent the tiniest of risk for spectators. But anyone who thinks the risk is non-existent should stay home.

Read more and join the conversation.

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West Virginia Crash Details back to top 

T-28 Down At W. Virginia Airshow (Updated)

A decorated former Air Force pilot has been identified as the pilot killed Saturday when a T-28 performing at an airshow in Martinsburg, W.Va., crashed and exploded. Jack "Flash" Mangan, 54, was known as a meticulous and safety-conscious pilot. No one on the ground was hurt. The crash occurred more than a mile from the crowd. The aircraft was part of six-ship formation group the Trojan Horsemen performing at the Thunder Over the Blue Ridge show. According to the Martinsburg Journal, the crash airplane had just broken from a belly-to-belly maneuver with another T-28 when it "wobbled and went straight into the ground."

Mangan, of Concord N.C., was an Air Force Academy graduate and former F-4 and F-15 pilot who flew with the Horsemen for five years. His son Sean Mangan, 27, told The Associated Press his father always stressed preparation and safety. "He was the best pilot I know," Sean Mangan said. "Flying was his passion. He was a great pilot and a wonderful parent and husband." The elder Mangan was president of a fast-food chain company.

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Another Angle on the Bandwidth Battle back to top 

Will You Need LightSquared's GPS Receiver?

LightSquared, a start-up developed by hedge fund manager Philip Falcone, says its ground-based high-speed wireless network wouldn't interfere with high-precision GPS devices if GPS manufacturers built their receivers properly. According to LightSquared, Department of Defense standards for the operation of the GPS system are not being met by GPS manufacturers. The company says that GPS manufacturers should be building receivers that filter out interference like that created by LightSquared's national wireless network. And to prove the point that building such a device is possible, LightSquared has (at least temporarily) entered the GPS receiver manufacturing business and produced a product it says is up to the task.

LightSquared told reporters Wednesday that it has partnered with an unnamed leader in GPS technology to create a proof-of-concept product that is unfazed by interference from LightSquared's frequency band. The company had originally intended to make use of a spectrum close to that of GPS but found that interference problems would be encountered. In June, it shifted the network to frequencies farther from the GPS band. However, it was found that high-precision GPS devices could still be compromised. The company says that the receiver it has built uses current technology that can be adapted to other devices and put into production within months. LightSquared says production of that unit shows that the interference problem is surmountable. Whether they propose to now sell their solution to affected parties like the Pentagon, federal agencies and other aviation interests -- and whether those interests are interested in adopting the solution at all -- remains to be seen.

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That Metaphor About Kicking a Can Down the Road ... back to top 

Congress Temporarily Funds FAA (Again)

Congress passed another temporary funding measure for the FAA Thursday, averting the layoff of possibly as many as 80,000 people, one day ahead of a Friday deadline. Thursday, the legislation was headed to the desk of President Obama for his signature. Language in the extension passed by the House would fund the FAA at previous levels through January 2012. There was no additional funding for Next-Gen hardware and construction included in that version. The House managed to pass the extension earlier in the week and threats boiled up in the Senate to hold up the bill. Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla., resolved not to pass the bill without a promise about certain long-term funding for bike paths.

Senator Coburn's position was that states should not be mandated to spend 10 percent of federal funds received under the bill on landscaping, bike paths and pedestrian safety. Senate leaders promised Coburn that there would be no such mandate in a bill expected next year that would provide long-term highway funding. As for the FAA, the last long-term funding bill granted to the agency expired in 2007. The House and Senate have not agreed on provisions in FAA reauthorization bills since. With the president's signature, the FAA will now operate under its 22nd extension. According to chairman of the House Transportation Committee, John Mica, R-Fla., this "will be the last extension." Barriers to long-term funding have so far included language regarding unionization of airline employees and how money will be used.

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News Briefs back to top 

Airlines Oppose Fatigue Rules

The Air Transport Association (ATA) has sent a letter to the White House budget office saying that proposed fatigue rules will cost billions of dollars and kill tens of thousands of jobs in the airline industry. ATA says it is basing its estimates on numbers provided by a consulting agency. The job losses are based on ATA's assumption that the industry will react to costs associated with the regulations, which it says are $2 billion annually, by cutting up to 27,000 jobs. ATA says those losses could ripple out to eliminate 400,000 jobs industry-wide. The government doesn't agree with ATA's estimates and the attack isn't the first from the airline industry. Early this year, one carrier argued that compliance with the rules would force airlines to hire people.

In February of this year, American Airlines argued the new rules would require it to hire 2,325 new pilots. The carrier offered public comments, saying, "If AA needs 2,300 more pilots to meet the proposed rules, other certificate holders will need many additional pilots, too." The agency estimates costs of the new rules to run at about $1.25 billion over 10 years with benefits offsetting more than half of that. The FAA proposed the regulations in 2010 to increase rest requirements and set limits for how long pilots can fly during set periods of time. The action was stimulated by the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in February of 2009, which killed all 49 aboard plus one on the ground. Fatigue was not cited as a causal factor in that accident, but the investigators found that neither the pilot nor copilot had slept in a bed on the night prior to the crash. Congress ordered the FAA to present new rules, which are now in the late stages of review.

Launch Customer Refuses New 747-8F

The launch customer for Boeing's new 747-8F is refusing to take delivery of the first airplane, prompting cancellation of a ceremony that was scheduled for Monday. Cargolux hasn't responded to media inquiries about why it's turning the aircraft down but Boeing officials said on Saturday there was a contract dispute between the planemaker and the customer, a large Luxembourg-based cargo carrier. Cargolux has ordered 13 copies of the new-generation 747. "We have unresolved issues between ourselves and Cargolux," Boeing spokesperson Jim Proulx said in a statement. "We are working with our customer to determine a date for delivery."

The embarrassing situation is the latest setback in the company's commercial aircraft division and there has been speculation that it might be related to the delay in delivery of the first plane. Manufacturers normally give discounts if they're late delivering planes and the fracas could be over the amount Cargolux wants returned. The 747-8F was about two years behind schedule. Regardless, Boeing says it's confident the issues will be resolved and a new delivery date set for the first and second aircraft.

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

AVmail: September 19, 2011

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: Cost Is the Issue

Regarding the "Question of the Week": AOPA has stepped around this before and will likely continue to do so. Not too long ago, AOPA reached out to members requesting ideas and suggestions on how to get people interested in flying.

AOPA specifically stated it was interested in hearing ideas other than lowering the costs associated with flying. What is wrong with lowering the cost of flying? Lowering the cost will open the door for many more people to participate. Unless someone can explain how this is bad, I stand behind it.

John Galouzes

... So Is the Third Class Medical

The absolute number-one priority is the elimination of the third class medical. That alone would drastically improve [the] pilot population and help with all the other issues.

Also, NextGen should be stopped. It won't work properly, will cost way too much, and [will] ensure user fees.

Rod Pollard

Expand Light Sport

Work to make Sport Pilot truly affordable by including such aircraft as the Cessna 150/152 in the LSA definition. Aircraft such as this are inexpensive (both to purchase and maintain) and, with their relatively benign handling characteristics, are a good fit for an entry-level pilot certificate.

It may compete with sales of new LSA aircraft but in the long run would mean more pilots and thus be better for industry.

At the very least, there could be some sort of exemption so a Sport Pilot candidate could complete training in such an aircraft. It would help spark pilot starts. In many parts of the country, there are no LSAs for rent at local airports.

John McNerney

Post-9/11 Flying

Regarding the "Question of the Week" [from last week]: Since 9/11, all of my flying is under IFR only. VFR is too risky for long-distance cross-country, which is 90 percent of my flying.

Bill Hefron

Since 9/11, we confine our recreational flying to Canada. We will not cross that border into the U.S.

Over the years, we have flown various small aircraft to Dayton, Lock Haven, Lancaster, Buffalo, Geneseo, Rhinebeck, Harrisburg, Binghamton, New Haven, and Oshkosh.

It is simply too much hassle to attempt a border crossing. Customs and security agencies have shown a moronic fear that small aircraft pose a threat, and until attitudes change, we don't need to fly into the U.S.

Homeland security has clearly allowed an enduring victory for the terrorists.

Mike Ronan

I fly just as much as I would have otherwise. The only difference is that I have only flown commercially three times since 9/11.

Cory Carlson

I fly GA more and avoid airlines as much as possible. If the trip is 1,000 miles or less, I'll fly my own plane or drive.

Randy Coller

Hand-Flying the Airbus

I totally agree with your letter writer about his "lack of handling skills after flying the A320." I was a very happy pilot on B757 aircraft, totally enjoying the automation, which did need me in the loop. I regularly hand-flew the B757 without the flight director on departure up to about 10,000 feet and the same on arrival using manual thrust and no flight director as a way a keeping my handling skills polished, workload permitting. Then came the dreaded A320 conversion.

My check pilots/flight managers actively discouraged any form of manual flight and always threw their arms up in horror at any suggestion of doing so. My handling skills started to fall off a cliff when I started operating the A320, and I always felt I was not really part of the automation loop but an interested outsider looking on. I used to joke that if I turned up late for work it would have gone without me!

After an autothrust problem that gave me uncommanded go-around power during the flare and touchdown, I vowed that I would use manual thrust from then on. I soon felt that I got on top of the airplane, and, as before, I hand-flew departures and arrivals using basic modes or no modes except hand and eyeball. My handling skills returned, and I actually came to like flying the airplane with no automation. Obviously, there were times when workload and weather made it difficult, and I would never intentionally overload my First Officer because of my preference to fly manually.

I always encouraged my FOs to try to fly the airplane manually, and some were excited at the chance whilst others did not want to know; I left it for them to decide. Regrettably, I was one of only a handful of captains who encouraged them to do so.

Line-check pilots always picked up on my manual thrust lever operation and used to quote chapter and verse about the benefits of automation. My reply was if you do not want me to fly manually, issue a directive banning it, but of course that never happened.

One directive did point out that most pilots' single-engine handling on simulator rides was very poor when using manual thrust. Is it surprising when possibly the last time they used manual thrust was six months previously?

The only way to use automation is make it do what you want it to. It can be a good and valid tool but never a complete substitute for accurate manual handling. Do not let it take over and start using you as a tool, as your hard-earned handling skills will quickly vanish.

I know; it nearly happened to me!

Ash Bourne

Pilots Passing

In your article on aviators that have been lost recently, you missed Peter Twiss, who died on August 31.

According to Wikipedia, "He worked for two years on the Fairey Delta 2, a supersonic delta-winged research plane. On 10 March 1956, this aircraft, flown by Twiss, broke the World Speed Record, raising it to 1,132 mph (1811 km/h), an increase of some 300 mph (480 km/h) over the record set the year before by an F-100 Super Sabre, and thus became the first aircraft to exceed 1,000 mph in level flight."

Surely he is worth a mention in your august organ.

Steve Kay

Someone wrote in the article about Betty Skelton that she soloed at age 12, "far from the eyes of the FAA." Since the FAA didn't exist at that time, it was indeed very far from their eyes.

David M. Gitelman

AVweb Replies:

We've actually heard the FAA is powerful enough to bend time and space, but we're glad Betty escaped its omnipotence. Thanks for the note.

Russ Niles

Remote Control Everything

Remote control towers? What's next? Remote control pilots? Then we'll have remote control passengers!

Just think: You won't have to even leave your office to conduct business thousands of miles away.

Marv Donnaud

First and Last Words

Words alone cannot express my deepest thanks for the insight to the last minutes of the lives of those who went first on the darkest day for Americans. I went to the Rutgers Law Review site and found even more.

Their voices will live forever. It's a very moving podcast that I will always have. Thank you very much. You guys are the best.

John W. Jaeger

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

Survey: How's That Factory Engine Working for You?

Our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, would like to know. We're doing a survey on owner experiences with factory-new, factory-reman and factory-overhauled engines. (No field overhauls this time.)

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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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Recent Blogs of Note 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.

AVweb Insider Blog: 9/11 Anniversary Aftermath

We got through 9/11 unscathed, more or less. But the tsunami of reporting on the anniversary revealed some new detail. In his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli explains how a couple of incidents revealed that the flying public, or at least the security agencies, are still nervous.

Read more and join the conversation.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Upshur County Regional Airport (KW22, Buckhannon, WV)

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

This week's AVweb blue ribbon goes to the FBO at Upshur County Regional Airport (W22) in Buckhannon, West Virginia.

AVweb reader Michael Davidson discovered Upshur while trying to stay ahead of Hurricane Irene:

[W22] was a large terrain feature away from the Delmarva Peninsula and listed good support facilities. I reached the line manager, Mr. Dick Bennett, who was very welcoming [both] then and when I called CTAF with landing intentions. He guided me to a better runway choice based on his observation and pilot background. He drove us to Enterprise Rent-A-Car just down the hill, waived the tie-down fee, and in general made us feel very welcome. I would recommend this destination for large numbers of regional coastal evacuees, not only for goodwill hospitality, but for ample ramp and hangar space, long runways, physical security measures, and proximity to ground transport and lodging.

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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New on AVweb.com back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

This week's winning photo comes from Gary Dikkers of Madison, WI. Click here for the rest of this week's submissions.

Video: Garmin's New 796 -- Product Tour

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

At AOPA Summit in Hartford, Garmin will unveil its latest portable, the touchscreen aera 796. Take a video tour of the navigator's features, which include synthetic vision, enhanced chart functions, and a new touchscreen interface.

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If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Witnessed by me as an FAA controller at Waterloo (Iowa) in the mid-'80s. The G.A. ramp is next to the terminal ramp, so these two aircraft were parked in close proximity to each other. Here is how the exchange went:

Tomahawk 86B:
"Waterloo ground: Tomahawk 86 Bravo, ready to taxi."

"Tomahawk 86 Bravo: Roger, taxi to runway 30."

TWA 687:
"TWA 687, ready to taxi."

"TWA 687, taxi to runway 30."

[The controller has the Tomahawk follow the DC-9.]

"Tomahawk 86 Bravo, follow the DC-9 off your right; taxi to runway 30."

Tomahawk 86B:
"Tomahawk 86 Bravo. Roger."

The DC-9 just sat there and sat there. Finally, the DC-9 started his taxi and apologized to the Tomahawk pilot. It went like this:

TWA 687:
"Sorry about the delay there, Tomahawk; this our first time in here."

Tomahawk 86B:
"That's O.K. I'm a student pilot, too."

[Followed by complete radio silence ... .]

David Morales
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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