NewsWire Complete Issue

February 25, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff

This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... Scheyden Eyewear

"I was surprised that I won and even more surprised at the quality of these glasses!" said recent AVweb winner Ted Weiner of Massachusetts. A pair of Scheydens will be given away every other week to a lucky AVweb winner — a retail value up to $395! The unique flip-up design has become the choice of pilots who demand quality and function in every aspect of aviation. Handmade titanium frames, quality lenses, a Rosewood case, plush micro-fiber bag and cloth are standard equipment on all styles. For more information (and to register to win), go to

Controller Linked To Crash Murdered...

Random Act Or Revenge...

On Tuesday, an air traffic controller who worked for Skyguide, the Swiss airspace agency, was stabbed to death in his home in Kloten, near Zurich. The victim had been the sole controller on duty in July 2002 when two airplanes collided in Swiss airspace over Lake Constance, killing 71 people, many of them Russian schoolchildren. He was a 36-year-old Danish citizen, a father of three, and was never publicly identified in connection with the crash. Police said a dark-haired man in his 50s rang the doorbell at the controller's home. When the controller answered the door, a fierce and brief argument ensued. The controller was stabbed and the attacker escaped on foot. Yesterday, some news reports said the police think the suspect is the father of one of the schoolchildren who died. A group based in Russia representing the interests of victims' families expressed dismay over the attack. "The relatives understand that one can't return the victims of the air crash and the death of the dispatcher would only harm negotiations with the governments of Germany and Switzerland," Yulia Fedotova, a spokeswoman for the group, told Pravda. "We don't want to think that the death of the air traffic controller was connected with the investigation into the causes behind the crash, but it is possible that he became yet one more victim of the catastrophe."

...As Midair Investigation Continues

Yesterday, Skyguide scaled back flights by 40 percent in Zurich airspace, to help ensure security and out of consideration for its workers. A quarter of Skyguide's Zurich staff did not report for work. Skyguide had been heavily criticized in the wake of the midair collision. Investigators found that only one controller was on duty while his colleague took a break, a collision-alert system was down for maintenance, and a phone warning from German controllers never get through. The Russian pilot of a Bashkirian Airlines Tu-154 was told by the controller to descend, although his onboard anti-collision system was telling him to climb. The pilot obeyed the controller and descended, colliding with the DHL cargo plane, a Boeing 757. The DHL flight with two pilots on board was also descending. Two weeks after the crash, the controller said in a statement that network errors had been to blame. Yesterday the company said in a statement, "Skyguide employees are in a state of shock and fury and are deeply shaken by the murder of their colleague and friend." Officials have stepped up protection for the second controller who was on duty the night of the crash, as well as for other Skyguide staff. The official report on the crash is expected next month.

Earlier this year, LightSPEED launched several new products based on earlier models, with some additional features and improvements. One of these products is LightSPEED's QFR Solo SS headset. LightSPEED has had great success at the large fly-ins where pilots can hear and compare the QFR Solo SS to other headsets with similar (or higher) retail prices. Improvements made to the Solo SS from the basic Solo product are: Same speaker system as used in the higher-priced 3G product; Gentex Noise-Cancelling microphone element; temperature-sensitive Comfort-Foam ear seals; and a padded headband. For all LightSPEED models, go to

Flying For Freedom, Or Personal Politics...

Brothers To The Rescue Plans A Return To Cuba...

It was eight years ago Tuesday that two unarmed civilian Cessna 337 Skymasters were shot down by Cuban MiGs, killing four Miami-based pilots as they searched for rafters fleeing from the island. To commemorate that anniversary, Jose Basulto, founder of Brothers to the Rescue, is planning to fly into international airspace near Havana and drop one million leaflets that he hopes will drift over Cuba. Flying conditions this week have not been favorable, Basulto told AVweb yesterday, but he is ready to go when the winds are right. He doesn't know exactly when that will be, and if he did know, he wouldn't tell in advance of the flight, he said. The leaflets contain articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and messages addressed to the Cuban people and the United States that demand the indictment of President Fidel Castro for murder. Basulto has conducted experiments to calculate the descent of the leaflets, in hopes that he can determine the right direction and altitude to drop them so they will drift over the mainland while he remains safely offshore. The four pilots killed on February 24, 1996, were Mario de la Peña, Pablo Morales, Carlos Costa and Armando Alejandre Jr. They were flying in two Skymasters.

...As Vietnamese "Freedom" Pilot Waits In Jail...

Another pilot who supported the efforts of Cuban exiles is now serving a seven-year sentence in a Thai prison, convicted of hijacking an airplane to drop anti-communist leaflets over Ho Chi Minh City in November 2000. Ly Tong says he didn't use force against the pilot but bribed him with $10,000 to relinquish control. Ly has a long history of anti-communist aerial pamphleteering, and his supporters around the world say he is a freedom fighter and a hero. In January 2000, he rented an airplane in Miami and flew over Havana, scattering leaflets calling for Castro's ouster. In 1992, he took control of a Vietnam Airlines jetliner that launched in Bangkok and scattered 50,000 leaflets over Ho Chi Minh City, which then was known as Saigon. He escaped by jumping from the cockpit with a parachute, but was captured and imprisoned. He flew as a bomber pilot for the South Vietnamese air force during the Vietnam War and was captured by the North Vietnamese after his plane was shot down. He escaped from a prison camp in 1980 and was granted asylum in the U.S. Ly and his supporters now are lobbying for his transfer from Thailand to the U.S. His sentence was handed down in December.

...And Africans Fly To Celebrate Freedom

A pair of microlight pilots from South Africa have found another way to give wings to their ideas. They launched two trikes from Cape Town on December 17, 2003, to embark on a 50,000-mile flight around the world. "Freedom Flight is a joint celebration of the first decade of a democratic South Africa and South Africa's contribution to the commemoration of the [Centennial]," according to the group's Web site. Ricky de Agrela and Alan Honeyborne plan to circle the world on their own with no ground support, taking 18 months to cross 50 countries and six continents. Monday, the two were in Thailand, and headed north along the coast of China and Russia. Last Friday, one of the trikes began to run rough and lose altitude above the jungle, but it limped to a safe landing and the team made repairs. Contaminated fuel was blamed for the malfunction. Honeyborne and de Agrela say the trip will be the longest microlight flight ever, and they will be the first Africans and South Africans to have flown around the world. The route will continue northward across the Bering Strait to Alaska, down the West Coast of the U.S. and Mexico to South America, up through the Caribbean and the East Coast of the U.S., across the North Atlantic to Europe, and south through Africa to return to Cape Town.

CS&A Aviation Insurance professionals represent all of the major aviation insurance markets and are correspondents with overseas insurers. Accounts range from individually-owned aircraft to FBOs, regional airlines, and corporate accounts. For a no-obligation online quote, go to

Poor English Skills Deadly, ICAO Says

Poor proficiency in English, the international language of aviation, contributed to major accidents that cost the lives of over 1,100 passengers and crew between 1976 and 2000, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Misunderstandings are also a factor in many close calls and runway incursions. To address the problem, ICAO has written new requirements for controllers and pilots involved in international operations, mandating for the first time that pilots must pass a test to demonstrate a minimum level of English language proficiency. The new rules take effect in 2008. Native speakers of English also must try harder to be understood, ICAO says. To reduce the risk of misunderstandings in the international environment, pilots need to study strategies such as avoiding the use of idioms, colloquialisms and jargon, and speak slowly and clearly, ICAO says.

First Flight Of SparrowHawk Gyroplane

Groen Brothers Aviation (GBA), of Salt Lake City, Utah, announced yesterday that its SparrowHawk Gyroplane has made its first flight. GBA said the enclosed, centerline-thrust, two-place kit-built gyroplane is dynamically and statically stable, making it safe and easy to fly. Jim Mayfield, GBA's chief test pilot and principal designer, said, "During the first flight, basic handling qualities were quantified and found to be within predicted limits. ... The centerline-thrust design, incorporating a generous horizontal stabilizer, ensures stability and increases safety. I believe that most pilots will find the SparrowHawk fun and easy to fly." Depending on the final rule definitions, the FAA's upcoming Light-Sport Aircraft category may allow the SparrowHawk, as a completed aircraft and/or a kit-built with minimum assembly requirements, to qualify as a Light-Sport Aircraft. The SparrowHawk is also being offered as a fully assembled aircraft designed specifically for aerial observation. The aircraft will be marketed and sold by American Autogyro Inc. (AAI), a subsidiary of GBA. "Based upon GBA's years of experience in aircraft structures and flight stability and control, and the several months and hundreds of fleet hours of flight time of AAI stabilization-modified aircraft, we are comfortable predicting that 'There will be no safer kit-built aircraft,'" said Mayfield, who is also president of AAI. AAI plans to fly the SparrowHawk at the upcoming Popular Rotorcraft Association Bensen Days fly-in and the EAA Sun 'n Fun fly-in, both held during April near Lakeland, Fla.

You worked hard for your IFR ticket. Now protect it! IFR Refresher is the monthly that polishes your proficiency, challenges your knowledge, briefs you on changing regs, and keeps your decision-making skills sharp. Order today and you’ll enjoy guaranteed savings for as long as you subscribe. Order at

Charlotte Commuter Crash Update

Air Midwest will resume doing its own routine maintenance, instead of outsourcing to contractors, it was reported this week. Maintenance has been a major focus of the NTSB investigation into the crash of an Air Midwest Beech 1900 in January 2003 in Charlotte, N.C. The investigation has focused on work that was done to the elevator cables by a contractor shortly before the crash, and on weight and balance. All 21 aboard were killed when the airplane stalled shortly after takeoff. The NTSB's final report on the crash is expected today. The FAA last week notified the mechanics who worked on the plane that they didn't violate any federal regulations, The Charlotte Observer reported last Friday.

Corsairs Of Akron Remembered

More than 4,000 Corsairs were built at the Goodyear plant in Akron, Ohio, during World War II, and the folks at the MAPS Air Museum want to hear from all the people who were there. All former pilots, mechanics, designers and builders are asked to contact the museum, and they will be recognized at a special ceremony at this summer's Aero Expo air show, June 19-20, at Akron Fulton Airport. They will also receive free tickets to the air show. Two Corsairs that were built in Akron will be on display and will fly during the weekend. Other fly-bys will include the B-2 Stealth Bomber, the F-117 Stealth Fighter, a C-130 formation, and a B-52 Stratofortress. For more information, call the MAPS Museum at 330-896-6332 (Akron) or 330-494-3577 (Canton).

OurPLANE Fractional Aircraft Ownership is the #1 world leader in offering brand-new Cessna, Cirrus, and Raytheon aircraft at a fraction of the cost of sole aircraft ownership. No hassles, no responsibilities with these brand-new aircraft — including the glass-cockpit Cirrus SR22 and Cessna 182T. Lowest-cost aircraft ownership — GUARANTEED! Locations throughout California, Texas, New York, and Connecticut. Call (877) 775-2631 and mention this AVflash, or go online at

Australia Tweaks Enforcement Procedures

Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) announced a new set of procedures last week that it says will improve its rules-enforcement system and enhance safety. The new procedures create a "fairer and more transparent system," CASA said, and will open up enforcement decisions to greater scrutiny by the courts and tribunals. CASA's new chief executive officer, Bruce Byron, says the changes will ensure the punishment fits the crime, and will enable CASA to focus on incidents that have significant safety implications. The reforms also establish a self-reporting scheme that allows pilots to admit mistakes without fear of reprisal. "Prosecution or the suspension or cancellation of certificates or licences should be reserved for serious safety problems," Byron said. "But people who deliberately operate outside the rules or who put the lives of fare-paying passengers at risk should be prosecuted and -- if necessary -- removed from the aviation industry." The key changes are: a demerit-points scheme for breaches of regulations, enforceable voluntary undertakings to ensure compliance with regulations, protection for self-reporting of inadvertent breaches, automatic stays of most suspension and cancellation decisions pending an Administrative Appeals Tribunal review, and Federal Court review of CASA decisions to suspend an authorization in cases of serious and imminent risk to air safety.

On The Fly....

Aerobatic pilots based at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass., who are being sued for noise complaints, this week got legal and financial support from AOPA...

FAA online meeting on proposed air-tour rules underway this week...

Asian Aerospace 2004 underway in Singapore this week; UAVs heavily featured...

The U.S. Army canceled its Comanche helicopter program this week, saying it will reallocate approximately $14.6 billion over five years, to restructure and revitalize Army aviation.

U.S. National Champion Kirby Chambliss is one of many aerobatic winners performing at this year's Sun 'n Fun Fly-In who depends on Oregon Aero for comfort in the cockpit. "I use the Oregon Aero™ SoftSeat™ in my Edge 540," says Kirby. "When pulling up to 10Gs, the seat cushion takes on about 2,000 pounds. It helps to make my performance more bearable and also reduces back pain when I'm done performing." Visit Oregon Aero at the Sun 'n Fun Fly-In (Building A, 40-42) to see what Kirby means, or check out all of Oregon Aero's products online at

New Articles and Features on AVweb

Quiz #78 -- Equipment Check
Your accountant figured out how to deduct your flying lessons from your federal return. So, you buy a Cessna 172, and want to get in at least one flight before the IRS audits your dream. First, however, you need to see if the airplane will pass an FAA audit.

Specials include: A complimentary Everest flight bag with any LightSPEED ANR headset purchase; a complimentary alkaline battery pack and cigarette adapter with the purchase of any Vertex VXA-210 or 150; and a complimentary alkaline battery pack with the purchase of any Icom A-5 or A-23. Plus, fantastic prices on the Lowrance Airmap 1000 — now in stock and ready to ship. Order online at

Business AVflash

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb’s NO-COST twice monthly Business AVflash? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash also focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the Business of Aviation. Business AVflash is a must read! Sign up today at

AVweb's Business AVflash this week sneaks a peek at the draft that may become a formal outline for regulated general aviation security. Some new jets are rolling off the line at Cessna while business aviation celebrates its "safest" year and a close look at GAMA's annual numbers may show reason for economic optimism. Read the latest...

Learn all the information you need to ace the FAA Knowledge Exam right from your home TV or PC DVD player — with the Virtual Test Prep series from ASA. Presented in an easy-to-follow curriculum with on-screen quizzes (consisting of actual FAA exam questions) and up to 10 hours of quality instruction, Virtual Test Prep meets all home-study requirements and will leave you with a true understanding of the knowledge presented — ultimately making you a better and safer pilot! For more information (and to order), go to

AVweb's Question of the Week ...


Last week, AVweb and TSA polled aircraft owners/operators about the safety of their personal planes. Half of those who responded (220 AVweb readers) were very confident about GA safety, telling us their planes were kept locked in secure hangar when not in use. 34% of respondents had some concerns about the safety of their aircraft, but felt reasonably comfortable with the level of protection in place at their airport. And only 33 AVweb readers told us their airplanes were kept in a low-security environment with no auxiliary locking at all.


This week, AVweb would like to know your thoughts on used aircraft pricing — and how the new GA aircraft designs will affect the market. Click here to give us your opinion.

Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to

Note: This address is only for suggested QOTW questions, and not for QOTW answers.

Ever had "sticker shock" when you got the bill after an annual? Frustrated when problems still aren't fixed after several tries? Flabbergasted by the stratospheric cost of parts? Intimidated by mechanical problems far from home base? Ever felt a shop had you "over a barrel"? Spend an illuminating weekend with Mike Busch — AVweb founder, writer, teacher, pilot, aircraft owner, and A&P mechanic — at one of his Savvy Owner Seminars. He'll share his 40 years of aviation experience, help you become more maintenance-savvy and empowered, and teach you how to get better maintenance while saving thousands of dollars. For complete seminar details plus dozens of Mike's maintenance articles, visit Savvy Aviator Seminars at,

AVweb's Picture of the Week ...

Raymond J. Hill Jr. of Iowa takes home the coveted AVweb ball cap this week. His homebuilt biplane photo is AVweb's "Picture of the Week." As usual, we had dozens of great aviation photos to choose from — but it's never enough! We really enjoy your photos, so please keep sending them. Your photo may be the next "Picture of the Week"!

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions

Current POTW Winner | Past POTW Winners

Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.


Click for the Full-Size Image

"Home to Roost"
Raymond J. Hill Jr. of Baxter, IA tells the story of this week's winning photo:
"Taken by Janet Speer as I brought her husband back from a demo
flight in a homebuilt Hatz Biplane in 1986. We think it tells a grassroots story."

Click here to view a medium-sized version of this image
Click here to view a large version of this image

AVweb continues to receive a large number of excellent images for our POTW contest. Here are some of the runners-up. Click on the links below to view larger versions.

Click for the Full-Size Image

"Oops, I Tail-Landed"
Menaham Bar-Nes of Israel
assures us that only the pilot's pride was injured

Click for the Full-Size Image

"Choose Your Destination"
Mark Manes of Alma, Arkansas
shot this fuel stop on the way from MN to AR

To enter next week's contest, click here.

Sponsor News and Special Offers

Access to AVweb and AVflash is provided by the support of our fine sponsors. We appreciate your patronage.


Sign up now for the AVweb Edition of Flight Explorer. It's the PC-based service that provides a real-time picture of all IFR aircraft in flight over the U.S. and Canada. Simply enter the N-number to track a flight, be alerted to delays, and get updated ETAs. The AVweb Edition of Flight Explorer costs just $9.95 a month. Subscribe now at

180hp Mooney owners can now save $500 on the cost of their STC'd tuned exhaust system 'til June 30. Power Flow's PROVEN technology increases the evacuation of exhaust gases from the engine's cylinders, resulting in more efficient operation and enhanced performance numbers. Mooney owners can expect speed increase up to 11mph. Rate of climb improves as much as 300 feet per minute with the engine running cooler and with lower fuel flows at the same speeds. Contact Power Flow at (386) 253-8833 and mention this AVflash, or go to

Carprop is a free-spinning propeller mounted on the front of a vehicle to indicate the driver's enthusiasm for flying. As the vehicle moves, the propeller spins. Carprop's design allows the propeller to park in a horizontal position when the vehicle stops — so that it doesn't interfere with the license plate numbers. For the pilot who has everything, this is perfect! MARCH SPECIAL: 10% discount on any order placed online at


The "Airline Training Orientation Program" (ATOP) is a two-day 737/300 familiarization course designed for any U.S. pilot, especially those interested in airline careers. Presented exclusively by ATOP Inc., the course features 12 hours' ground school, one hour in the 737/300 FTD, and two hours in the 737/300 full-motion simulator. Earn the optional "High Altitude Endorsement," too! Register for any class by March 1 and get a $40 discount off the $435.00 course fee by mentioning AVweb! For details, go online at

Yep, no matter what his shadow says, the groundhog at Safe Goods is offering a complimentary copy of Eliminating Pilot Error when you purchase Spirit and Creator: The Mysterious Man Behind Lindbergh's Flight to Paris, a look into the design of the Spirit of St. Louis, or 2012: Airborne Prophesy, a novel that includes all the elements of a good read. For more information and to order, go to


Train at your own pace with Electronic Flight Solutions' Complete Learning(tm) Avionics Software Library — including Garmin GNS 530/430, Goodrich SkyWatch & Stormscope, Bendix/King IHAS Traffic and Terrain, S-TEC 55X and Bendix/King KAP 140/KFC 225 Autopilots. Self-paced, media-rich, interactive, FAA Wings-accepted CD-ROM training at

Do you ever wonder why you lack confidence? Take a look at Gordon Henrie's INSTRUCTIONAL METHODS FOR FLIGHT INSTRUCTORS, where Gordon takes lessons from fifty years of flying and tells you HOW to be more capable and confident in your own flying — and how to teach more effectively. This is not a question-and-answer book, but a guide to what you actually do and think when you are in the cockpit, and it tells you how to root out bad habits and techniques. You will never understand the depth of this book until you read it. To order, go to

We Welcome Your Feedback!

AVflash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest aviation news, articles, products, features and events featured on AVweb, the Internet's Aviation Magazine and News Service.

Letters to the editor intended for publication in AVmail should be sent to Have a comment or question? Send it to

Today's issue written by News Writer Mary Grady:
AVweb's editorial team:

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

Let's all be careful out there, okay?

AVflash is now available in optional easier-to-read graphic format, which includes some photos and illustrations. If you prefer, you can continue to receive AVflash in text-only format. Simply follow these instructions and AVflash will continue to arrive as it always has, in text format.