AVwebFlash - Volume 17, Number 50a

December 12, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
Save Up to $5,000 on a Rebuilt Engine from Lycoming
Two Great Ways to Keep Your Engine Up to Speed
Do you have a new engine core that's never been rebuilt or overhauled? Save up to $5,000 on a rebuilt engine. Do you have an original Lycoming factory engine that last left the factory as a new, rebuilt or overhauled engine? Save up to $1,900 on a new, rebuilt or overhauled engine. For complete details, call (800) 258‑3279 to find an authorized Lycoming Distributor near you or visit Lycoming.com.
 
AVflash! Backing Off the PiperJet back to top 
 

Piper Seeks Forgiveness

Piper is seeking to renegotiate a deal it made with the state of Florida and Indian River County to avoid paying back some government incentives, TCPalm reported Thursday. In 2008, Piper agreed to repay more than $1.5 million of a $10.7 million incentive package it received from the state and county if it failed to meet specific employment benchmarks. Piper has now written state officials to ask forgiveness for those government investments. In a letter to the state, Piper officials said, "This will help ensure the company can successfully continue to manage its financial affairs and accomplish its marketing, sales and employment goals in the future."

As part of the 2008 agreement, Piper agreed to employ 1,100 people by year-end 2009. The company could not find market conditions to support that goal and, by summer 2009, Piper's employment rolls fell below 600. Company officials have suspended the Altaire jet program and now estimate they will have about 700 employees by year-end 2011. Economic forces weren't the only ones to batter Piper. According to the company, it spent incentive money not only on aircraft research and development, but also on building repair. Piper facilities suffered damage due to hurricanes in 2004. In asking for financial forgiveness, the company contends that its activities and investments returned to the state and county more money -- by a ratio of nine-to-one -- than it took.

 
Compare and Save at the Pilot Insurance Center
Don't pay more for life insurance coverage just because you fly. Contact Pilot Insurance Center to see how you can save. PIC works with A+ rated insurance companies to provide preferred rates for pilots. Call (800) 380-8376 or visit PICLife.com.
 
What Was That in the Skies Over Iran? back to top 
 

Iran And The Stealth Drone (With Video)

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

In a state TV broadcast, Thursday, Iran showed off what it says is a U.S. drone brought down in that country, but some observers have found reason to question portions of that account. The video broadcast shows two men in military garb walking around something that looks very much like an RQ-170 Sentinel drone aircraft. U.S. officials believe Iran is in possession of an RQ-170 that had been flown by the CIA and was lost over the country last week. At least initially, they appear less convinced that the object displayed in the video is that vehicle. U.S. officials claim the aircraft they lost was likely brought down due to a technical malfunction and did not immediately confirm that the video showed an authentic drone. Iranian officials have their own explanation.

Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Brig. Gen of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and chief of its aerospace division, said the aircraft was brought down in an electronic ambush. According to Hajizadeh, that effort allowed Iranian forces to bring the airplane down with minimal damage. The aircraft on display is beige, which differs in that respect from gray models seen in stock video footage. It may also be smaller than the Lockheed Martin manufactured drone. Authentic or not, the Iranian video shows the vehicle is perched on a platform that displays American flags altered with skulls in the place of stars. The flags are also decorated with slogans translated by the Washington Post as, "We'll trample America underfoot" and "The U.S. cannot do a damn thing,"

 
Gifts for Pilots || Sporty's Pilot Shop
The Best Gift for Pilots — With Same-Day Shipping
Don't settle for another tie this Christmas! Sporty's Pilot Shop has thousands of unique gifts for pilots, from headsets and GPS to iPad accessories and flight simulators. Every product is backed by our famous one-year guarantee, and you'll receive our standard express shipping. Visit our Gift Guide to shop by pilot rating or price.
 
Well, It Is the Shortest Route to Orbit back to top 
 

Colorado Seeks Spaceport Status

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has sent a letter to the FAA seeking designation as a spaceport and the ability to create facilities for that purpose. Colorado ranks third for highest state revenue generated from the aerospace industry, according to the governor. It also hosts 140 aerospace companies, the Air Force Space Command headquarters and NORAD. The governor's target is Front Range Airport, about 20 miles east of Denver. If federally approved, Hickenlooper hopes to transform roughly 10,000 acres of land surrounding the airport into fertile ground for spaceport support services and the jobs that go with them. He appears to be hoping for a quick turnaround from the FAA.

According to the governor, the state could win spaceport designation by year-end 2012. The spaceport itself would serve as an important tool for economic development in what some believe will become a growing industry. Proponents believe near-term business interest would come from commercial payload carriers offering service to space and eventually could expand to include space tourism. If granted, Colorado would join ranks with early adopters like New Mexico, which already holds the spaceport designation. A facility being designed there reportedly has an estimated cost of roughly $212 million. Virgin Galactic is expected use it to fly space tourist flights. The tab for the facility's creation will be footed by state taxpayers.

 
Bose® A20™ Aviation Headset
Bose® A20® Aviation Headset
The Best We've Ever Made
Bose was the first to introduce active noise reducing headsets to aviation more than 20 years ago, forever changing the way pilots fly. Today, we continue to set the standard with the Bose A20 Aviation Headset. The headset provides acclaimed noise reduction, with a comfortable fit and the clear audio you expect from Bose. It also features Bluetooth® connectivity, an auxiliary audio input and priority switching. Learn more.
 
2012 Not the End of the World for ICAS back to top 
 

Airshow Teams Announce 2012 Schedules

The Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy's Blue Angels released their 2012 schedules last week at the International Council of Air Shows annual meeting in Las Vegas. Both teams fly their first show in March -- the Angels at El Centro, Calif., and the Thunderbirds in Yuma, Ariz. The Thunderbirds also are scheduled to fly at Sun 'n Fun, in Florida, March 31 and April 1. The ICAS schedule can be downloaded here (PDF). Besides the military teams, however, much of the season's schedule remains to be filled -- the slot for EAA AirVenture, for example, is nearly empty -- but you might find your favorite airshow on the 13-page list.

Recently, with Washington stalled over the national budget, concerns have arisen that the military jet teams may be affected. Last week, about 100 performances by Air Force one-ship teams were grounded to save money, but at least so far, the two jet teams seem to be fully funded for another year. The Blue Angels cost about $37 million per year to keep flying, according to The Associated Press. AVweb's Mary Grady spoke with John Cudahy, president of ICAS, about the coming airshow season; click here for that podcast.

 
Legal Aspects of Aircraft Leasing 
and Financing || February 16, 2012 || Dubai, UAE || Register Now
Legal Aspects of Leasing and Financing
to be Debated in the Middle East

The successful Legal Aviation Workshop (LAW) on Aircraft Leasing and Financing is returning to Dubai in 2012 in order to address legal issues and answer critical questions. The workshop will cover themes such as Principles of Contract Law, Operating Leases ("Dry"), Aircraft Finance, Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance ("Wet") Leases, and Aviation Insurance. A practical exercise is included in order for the participants to debate the results of the day. Click here to learn more and register.
 
Aviation Safety: Expect the Unexpected back to top 
 

Rowdy Passengers "Chewed Through Restraints"

Air Canada officials told authorities that two rowdy passengers who caused the diversion of a Toronto-Beijing flight last week actually chewed through the restraints used by the crew and passengers to subdue them. The Vancouver Sun quotes CBC News as saying the pair, a couple of IT executives on a business trip, were so out of hand that the captain ordered the cabin "locked down" for 80 minutes as they made a run for the nearest airport, Vancouver International, to offload the troublemakers. George Campbell, 45, and Paul Wilson, 38, were immediately hauled before a judge where they pleaded guilty to mischief and were ordered to pay $72,000 in restitution. However, Air Canada has tallied up its expenses and estimates the fiasco cost it $200,000, not including a roughed-up flight attendant and a planeload of upset passengers.

According to court documents obtained by the CBC, both men were apparently drunk before they got on the flight and continued to alternate between drinking, passing out and making pests of themselves. At one point, the documents say, Campbell threatened to kill other passengers as they left the plane and he also laid in the aisle "kicking his feet." It took several cabin crew and passengers to subdue them and handcuff them with plastic restraints and tape to temporarily restore order. The court records say they both "eventually chewed their way through their restraints." They were subdued again and guarded by crew and passengers while all other passengers were ordered to remain in their seats until landing. Campbell and Wilson worked for Blackberry smartphone maker Research in Motion and live in the company's base of Waterloo, Ontario. The company fired them within days of the episode, saying the antics didn't reflect RIM's "standards of business behavior." The CBC managed to reach Campbell but he did not comment.

Plane Hits Empty School

Authorities in the Philippines are focusing on the fuel system of a Beech Queen Air that crashed into a school in the Manila suburb of Paranaque City on Saturday killing at least 13 people, including 11 on the ground, and leveling the school. Only the two pilots and one passenger were aboard the aircraft. Because it was a Saturday, there were no classes and a much bigger loss of life was avoided. The plane exploded on impact and caught the school building and adjacent shanty homes on fire and it took three hours to quell the flames. The pilots had requested an emergency landing shortly after takeoff.

Philippine media say the pilot reported a dual engine failure shortly after takeoff and tried to make it back to the field. The aircraft was reportedly fully fueled before leaving. It came down in a poor area of makeshift homes and the resulting fire is blamed for the deaths of those on the ground. Philippine authorities have grounded the aircraft operator Innovative Technologies Inc. pending further investigation. The company operates a fleet of small cargo aircraft.

 
WingX Pro 7 on the iPad || Hilton Software
WingX Pro7 for iPad - Synthetic Vision for $99 — New!!!
The new WingX Pro7 for iPad adds Synthetic Vision with AHRS pitch and bank (optional). Wow! WingX Pro7's Moving Map also includes Terrain-Enhanced VFR Sectionals and IFR Low/High En Route charts, ADS-B NEXRAD and In-Flight Weather, TFRs, SUAs, and a lot more. All moving map views can be displayed full-screen or side-by-side. Also included: Animated weather images, DUATS, A/FD, AOPA Directory, Route Planning, FARs, E6B, and more. Synthetic Vision requires an annual $99 subscription. Click here for more information.
 
The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 
 

AVmail: December 12, 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: Did Babbitt Have to Go?

Regarding Randy Babbitt's resignation: Randy Babbitt was the head of ALPA for years and a former airline pilot. One of the wonderful accomplishments of ALPA over the last two decades was the realization that alcoholism is a disease and pilots who have run afoul of laws concerning driving, flying, and alcohol may actually be suffering from an addiction that affects health and judgment.

Airline pilots that I know who have gone through "the program" and returned to duty are the some of the safest, driest pilots on the line! Instead of a rush to judgment that resulted in an early end to Randy Babbitt's career, I wish the FAA had used this incident to further raise public awareness of the fact that addiction can hit anyone and of the avenues available to help those who have problems with alcohol.

Let's treat Babbitt the same way the airlines treat pilots now: treatment for the addiction in a HIMS program, resulting in an FAA administrator who is much wiser and [more] experienced!

John Hanson

He made his decision correctly and honorably. Therefore, there is no controversy or inflammatory media publicity.

Sharon Landau

I'd say the issue is not the charge (not yet before the courts) of DUI, but about the larger issues of political message and personal judgment.

No government wants to be associated with something that screams, "Do as I say, but don't do as I do!" If that sort of stuff goes down too often then a government loses moral authority and the people start to ignore it.

The other shoe is personal judgment. Anyone working in the aviation industry has had "eight hours from bottle to throttle" hammered into their brains since they did their first solo. So, when there's a such a huge disconnect in judgment by someone who's paid to provide trusted leadership as a key component of their job, then I'm afraid the bell rings and the party's over.

Larry South

I agree that Babbitt should have been able to stay subject to an appropriate apology.

It's incorrect that he would be able to stay like any other government employee. Air traffic control employees would lose their security clearance and possibly their medical certificate, resulting in loss of their job. Babbitt just happens to lead this group of government employees, so it'd be an awkward position. Most controllers are still sad about his departure.

Michael Harris

He does not have to go. Face the charges like any other citizen. As a pilot, proceed through the same FAA-approved HIMS program and related medical screenings as any other pilot would do.

R. Capp


LSA Pricing

Regarding the issue of LSA pricing: I think the very notion of a "sweet spot" in the context of product marketing of any type assumes, perhaps even requires, that a void exists when one compares the details of market demand with what's available in that market. The problem with applying this concept to the flooded LSA market is that there's a plethora of every imaginable combination of feature, price, and capability. There is no obvious "hole," hence there is no opportunity for a sweet spot, per se. The market is more of a continuum, with every potential demand being answerable by one or another specific model already available

Cessna was, in my opinion, just performing a dance. I am guessing that, rather than be everything to everybody, Cessna simply wanted to establish an undeniable presence. If the initial price was too high, the Skycatcher would never have gained any traction and would have been inconsequential. By providing an affordable model initially, the company established itself in a meaningful way. I'll bet most of the market sold itself on the basis of comparison with the Cessna "benchmark."

To be the LSA "sweet spot"? There is no such thing. But to be the most important LSA — now, there's something!

Anthony Nasr

LSAs were supposed to be inexpensive aircraft to get more people flying. Cessna's price hike, if followed by the rest of the industry, plus the possibility of the repeal of the class three medical, will drastically hurt the LSA market and manufacturers. I think X-Air has the right idea in a $60,000 aircraft, and I think the market will show this eventually.

Karl A. Vogelheim

The Cessna 162 new price is only $25,000 more when you consider the options most popular previously are now standard. LSA prices of the top brands have been between $120,000 and $150,000 for fully equipped planes for a couple of years.

I believe that Pipistrel is unrealistic in it price forecast and will not be able to deliver.

There are more than 120 SLSAs nominally on the market but only about 20 are viable. There is bound to be a huge fallout of the marginal models and I don't understand why it hasn't come already.

I now operate five LSAs — two C-162s, two SportStars, and one Tecnam Sierra — and all are in the new price range as equipped.

Bob Archibald
Dragonfly Aviation

As someone for whom aviation is a hobby and not a career, I can tell you the number one limit is cost. Kitfox has a fly-away LSA for $89,000, and it appears they sell them as fast as they can build them.

The downfall of the LSA is most younger people that are interested in flying want an A-to-B plane. Many have kids. A two-seat limit just doesn't work. As much as I love cruising around the local airspace, I probably will never own an LSA before I retire in 40 years or so.

As for the sweet spot for price of an LSA, I honestly think it's right at $75,000, which so far no one has been able to do except as experimental/homebuilt. (You can do between $50,000 to $60,000 for a decently equipped eLSA.)

The real questions is whether LSA engines are too expensive. To get the price down to a marketable point, someone needs to design and build a four-stroke engine — naturally aspirated, direct drive, 100HP, 89 octane, air cooled, similar weight to the Rotax 912 — and price it at $13,000.

As a side note, the Skycatcher instrument panel needs more leg clearance. I'm 6'2" and fit in it (barely). In an accident, the first part of my body that could contact the plane is about three inches below my knees, into a hard edge of the bottom of the panel. It would be nice to see some type of crash tests similar to cars done on light planes. A survivable front-end collision (at stall speed) should be easily designed into a $100,000 plane.

Joseph Chambers

LSAs are a tough sell when they typically start at $80,000 and go up to $150,000 for the 162. Considering a decent used 172 that seats four can be bought for $50,000 just clouds the LSA argument. Granted, it'd be a 30-year-old Cessna with higher fuel burn and maintenance costs but the disparity in purchase price would seem to make it a better deal.

Will Alibrandi


Rewriting History

I suspect that you will get many comments about changing the date of the Pearl Harbor attack from December 7 to December 6 in the article about the civilian flight that was taking place at the time of the attack.

Sam Clipp

AVweb Replies:

Thanks to Sam and the others who pointed out this slip of the digit.

Russ Niles
Editor-in-Chief


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

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.

 
Spidertracks || The Crash-Proof Aircraft Location System That Survives Every Crash - 
So You Can, Too
Winter Specials
Buy a Spider S-4 or S-4AT 20% off list + two months of data services at no charge (depending on plan). Use adcode Avweb 12-14. Order online at Spidertracks.com or call 1 (800) 491‑2895 today!
 
New on AVweb.com back to top 
 

Forty-Seven Years in Aviation: A Memoir; Chapter 8: Advanced Flight Training

For advanced flight training in Texas, Dick Taylor and his class try their hands at the B-29, which by the mid-'50s was used as a trainer. And yet, although huge and pressurized, with a third guy in the cockpit (flight engineer), it still had a castering nosewheel.

Click here to read the eighth chapter.

March 1956. On the move again, this time headed for Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, for advanced flight training.

Nancy and I surrendered our rather sparse collection of household goods to a mover in Enid, Okla., and packed the bare necessities in our station wagon for the trip south. The move to Texas was not a permanent change of station (PCS, in AF lingo) so our furniture would be stashed in a warehouse somewhere until we were settled in Tampa, Fla. Given our naivety with regard to timely deliveries, we expected our household goods to arrive shortly after we showed up in Tampa, but that's another story ... I'll share it in a later chapter.

A rather fancy sign for an Air Force Base. This photo was taken in 1995 and is probably not the sign that welcomed us aboard, but it says a lot about the history and unique character of this installation. Known for many years as the "West Point of the Air," Randolph began turning out U.S. Army Air Force pilots in 1930 and has continued its flight training mission to the present day.

From its conception, Randolph was remarkably different, perhaps even unique, in the construction of Army Air Corps facilities. Military base design in the late 1920s was hung up on pure GI ... the Quartermaster Corps apparently knew no way to build airfields other than "the Army way." But the apple cart was upset when Lt. Harold Clark, assigned to Kelly Field as a transportation officer, heard of the plans for a new base in the San Antonio area and sketched his ideas for a perfect "Air City." (Clark had studied architecture before joining the Army.) His plan aligned the runways with the prevailing winds and placed base facilities between the runways so that the airspace for takeoffs and landings would be free of obstacles.

The Air City plan found its way to Army Air Corps headquarters, where the idea was well-received; Clark was transferred from his job in the motor pool to a staff position at Randolph Field in order to help develop the project.

Enter the Military Affairs Committee of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, whose members immediately began a search for property suitable for the proposed air field. A site 17 miles northeast of downtown San Antonio was offered to the Air Corps and accepted in August 1928 despite the protest of a blue-ribbon committee of senior officers ("Army way" troops, no doubt) who did not favor the circular design.

The construction of Randolph Field began in November 1928; at that time, it was the largest construction project ever undertaken by the Army, with the exception of the Panama Canal. In January 1929 the powers that be approved the official layout, which combined the Air Corps' operational and training needs with advanced city-planning principles. In 2001 the National Park Service nomination for National Historic Landmark status included a comment that "the final layout for Randolph Field is clearly the work of a master planner."

Most of Randolph's buildings display the influence of San Antonio's location in the southwest United States. Stucco walls topped with red-clay tile roofs are the predominant construction materials and Mission Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival styles are prevalent throughout the facility.

Building 100 is Randolph's signature structure. Years ago someone likened it to one of the seven wonders of the world, and the nickname "Taj Mahal" has endured to this day. Randolph's "Taj" was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1987, and in 2001 the entire base was designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service ... a significant achievement for a military installation.

Our GI quarters (second-floor apartment, one bedroom, bare tile floors and plastic furniture) at Randolph had a red tile roof and stucco walls, a nod to the Spanish Revival theme, but it was home for seven weeks ... and the price was right.


The well-worn cover and frontispiece of a 1945 Army Air Force Manual (below) is typical of such publications in the 1940s. It was not an exhaustive discussion of the airplane and its systems but was considered a guide for B-29 pilots training to be airplane commanders. (The operational details were covered in various Technical Orders, long since known as -1 manuals.) In contrast, the seven-week course at Randolph in 1956 was not intended to produce qualified B-29 pilots, much less airplane commanders; rather, it provided a transition from the B-25 to the larger and more complex airplanes we would fly as line pilots.


In the mid-1930s the Army Air Force foresaw the need for bigger, faster, long-range bombers. The Boeing company had a leg up on the competition due to their early research; working without a contract, Boeing had built and flown two experimental airplanes that provided a wealth of data regarding the design of a very large (for the time) bomber. The first was designated the Y1B-9A and was, if nothing else, ugly.

The fat wings, open cockpits and little-wheel-in-the-back landing gear were state of the art bomber design in the 1930s. The Y1B-9A was powered by two 600 hp Pratt & Whitney radial engines, had a maximum gross weight of 14,320 pounds and cruised at 165 miles per hour.


The B-9 didn't get beyond the service test phase but it set the stage for the next prototype, the B-15. Air Corps reviewers were favorably impressed; the airplane was huge for the time (wingspan 149 feet, max takeoff weight 70,700 pounds and wings so thick there was room for crewmembers to perform minor engine repairs in flight) but before the project could proceed, the Army's emphasis had shifted to defensive capabilities and the B-15 went no further. The only one manufactured was converted to a cargo airplane, redesignated the XC-105 and put to use as a cargo hauler in the Caribbean during WW II.

Aerial combat in the early days of the war over Europe made it clear that for bombers to be effective, defense was the name of the game. Boeing embarked on a lengthy series of radical design changes, a number of prototypes and a host of major modifications that resulted in the XB-29's maiden flight in September 1942. The new airplane, a direct descendant of the B-17 Flying Fortress, was aptly named the Superfortress.


And "super" it was: The fat, wide wings of its predecessors were replaced by long, narrow wings that enabled higher airspeed and increased range, with Fowler flaps to permit takeoffs and landings at lower speeds and shorter ground-run distances. The B-29 was also much larger and more powerful than the B-17, evidenced by the chart below:


The B-29 was the first bomber with pressurized crew compartments: one in the nose to accommodate the pilots, flight engineer, navigator, radio operator and bombardier; another in the rear of the airplane for the gunners. A tunnel above the fore and aft non-pressurized bomb bays provided for crew movement between these compartments. Defensively, the B-29 had four gun turrets -- two on top of the fuselage, two below -- each equipped with two .50 caliber machine guns, and a pair of .50 caliber guns in the tail. One of the more remarkable features of the B-29 was its computerized central fire control system, with which the gunner in the upper rear turret could allocate targets to the other three turrets to maximize the airplane's firepower. It was the first bomber designed to carry 20,000 pounds of bombs or -- sans bombs -- fly almost 6,000 miles.

Unfortunately, the B-29 had an Achilles heel ... the four Wright R-3350, 2200-hp engines. These powerplants were rushed through production to meet the Army's demand that the B-29 be put into service ASAP, a situation that raised the specter of less-than-the-best quality control. In addition, Boeing had enclosed the engines in tight-fitting nacelles that boosted the airplane's aerodynamic efficiency, but the accompanying decrease in cooling air resulted in chronic overheating and frequent engine failures. Maintaining cylinder head temperatures at safe levels was so critical that the procedure was addressed specifically in the Airplane Commander's Training Manual:

Cowl flaps, which are 15° open as the ship takes the runway, are closed to 7-1/2° by the time the airplane leaves the ground. This setting permits rapid acceleration of airspeed and should keep all cylinder-head temperatures below 260°.

If cylinder-head temperatures rise above 260° on takeoff, or stay above 248° after the second power reduction, the flight engineer informs the airplane commander. The airplane commander can then order cowl flaps on the hot engine opened to a maximum of 10°. (Never open cowl flaps more than 10° in flight. Larger openings provide little, if any, additional cooling and reduce cruising ranges considerably.) Or, the airplane commander can pull back the throttle on the hot engine to about 25". The throttle should not be pulled back unless the airplane has reached 170 mph.

The problem didn't go away until after the war, when Boeing turned 200-plus B-29s into B-50s by installing Pratt & Whitney R-4360 engines.

Our short course at Randolph in 1956 may have been a "dying on the vine" combination of SAC's Combat Crew Training and a more generally oriented four-engine transition program for pilots who would subsequently fly prop-driven tankers and cargo/passenger airplanes. (The B-47 jet bomber entered service in 1951 and put the Superfortress out to pasture.) The academic schedule called for a total of 113 hours of classroom work, including crew management (there's a subject we hadn't studied before), more schooling in instrument techniques and weather, and many hours getting familiar with B-29 systems, most of which were similar to those we would encounter in other large airplanes.


The B-29 was virtually an all-electric airplane that required seven generators to handle the load ... one generator on each inboard engine, two on each of the outboards and an internal auxiliary power unit (APU) powered by a small gasoline engine. Management of the electrical and fuel distribution systems plus engine controls and indicators created the need for a full-time flight engineer and a dedicated control station located directly behind the copilot ... the engineer flew backwards. The engineer was responsible for starting the engines and maintaining proper operation of all systems throughout the flight.


I was familiar with the B-29's streamlined, all-glass nose that made the airplane resemble a torpedo with wings and a tail, but I was not prepared for the unique configuration of the cockpit viewed from the inside. Because of the circular cross-section of the fuselage and the need for access to the bombardier's station in the nose, the typical instrument panel and center console gave way to a completely different control arrangement on the flight deck. The pilot's throttles were located on the sub-panel to his left and the copilot's throttles were in the same position on his right. Both pilots and the engineer had access to a duplicate set of propeller control switches, but the remaining engine controls and a third set of throttles were located at the flight engineer's station. Cooperation between pilot and engineer was perhaps the most important thing we learned in this transition course ... the pilot flies the airplane but the engineer makes it run.

For whatever reason the B-29 was not equipped with nosewheel steering, which made taxiing a rather delicate procedure. We were taught to use brakes (gently, gently!) rather than differential power; cylinder head temperatures tended to rise when the engines were operated at more than the standard 700 RPM idle setting. Engine runup prior to takeoff was routine, including a full-power check on each engine to confirm proper operation of the superchargers.

Our training missions began at a nominal takeoff weight of 120,000 pounds. Once lined up on the runway, directional control was maintained by walking the throttles forward slowly to full power; if you became good at it you could keep the airplane on the centerline without using brakes. The rudder became effective at about 60 mph and the lift-off speed for this weight was 124 mph. With the standard flap setting of 25 degrees, standard-day conditions and no wind, the calculated takeoff distance was about 5,000 feet; 3500 feet on the runway, another 1500 feet in the air to clear a 50-foot obstacle. A skyrocket the B-29 was not; average climb rate was in the neighborhood of 1000 feet per minute.

All three airplanes I had flown to this point (Piper Cub, T-6 and B-25) had rather short, fat wings that required only moderate rudder pressure to overcome adverse yaw. The B-29 was a different animal in this regard because of its high-aspect-ratio wing; lacking boosted controls, a lot of rudder pressure was required to make coordinated turns and fly a stable platform in turbulence. In short, a considerable amount of physical strength was required to fly the airplane properly.

Our flight training amounted to 40 hours, split 50-50 between pilot and co-pilot time. The air work included instrument procedures; low-frequency range orientation and approaches, ADF exercises, and an introduction to the VOR, the newest wrinkle in IFR flying. We also had an opportunity to experience the two fairly-new precision approach systems, GCA and ILS. Simulated engine-out drills were conducted frequently (so what else was new in a multi-engine training program?) as well as a number of actual occurrences; one of my classmates experienced seven actual engine failures on the eight missions he flew ... Wright 3350s doing their thing. Given the propensity for engine failures, it was comforting to know the B-29 was flyable on three engines in the landing configuration, and could maintain altitude with only two engines operating, albeit at a lower weight.


Every airplane is restricted from executing certain maneuvers and the B-29 was no exception, but this illustration in the 1945 Airplane Commander Training Manual may have been a bit of overkill; no pilot in his right mind would attempt any of these.

By mid-April I had filled enough squares to graduate from the Combat Crew Training/Four-Engine Transition Course (call it what you will) and we prepared to move on to my next assignment, as a tanker pilot in the Strategic Air Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla.

(My thanks to 56-I classmates Ev Chambers, Chris Menadier and Ed VanAkin, whose memories of our tour at Randolph AFB were sometimes stronger than mine.)

[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.
// -->

AVweb Insider Blog: Ahead This Week -- AeroNav Gets to 'Splain Itself

For reasons we find mystifying, the FAA steadfastly refuses to answer questions about budget and revenue plans for its AeroNav charting division. It's supposed to sort this out with vendors in a closed meeting this week, which the public and press are barred from attending. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli runs downs the issues and options.

Read more and join the conversation.

 
AVbuys || AVweb Stories About Great Deals in Aviation
Fly More for Less
Visit the AVbuys page for discounts, rebates, incentives, bargains, special offers, bonus depreciation, or tax benefits to help stretch your budget. We're helping you to locate and view current offers instantly, with a direct link to sponsors' web sites for details.

Click for the resource page.
 
AVweb Audio — Are You Listening? back to top 
 

Podcast: The FAA After Babbitt

File Size 8.5 MB / Running Time 9:19

Bose® A20™ Aviation Headset

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Ed Bolen, president and CEO of NBAA, has known Randy Babbitt for roughly two decades. Bolen has been an aviation industry insider -- acting in a position of influence -- for just as long. AVweb's Glenn Pew spoke with him to discuss the impact of Babbitt's departure.

This podcast is brought to you by Bose Corporation.

Click here to listen. (8.5 MB, 9:19)

 
Light Plane Maintenance Toolbox CD
Get Them While They're Hot!
Order the Light Plane Maintenance Toolbox CD now and get over two years of issues in searchable PDF format! Find out how much money you can save on annuals and overhauls!

Click here to order now!
 
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 
 

FBO of the Week: Advanced Wings (Wings Field, KLOM, Pennsylvania)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Advanced Wings at Wings Field Airport (KLOM) in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.

AVweb reader Jeff Kircher told us about Advanced and called their team "the most helpful people I have come across."

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!

 
Peter Drucker Says,
"The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Create It"

It's easy for your company to be more proactive, flexible, and entrepreneurial with AVweb's cost-effective marketing programs. Discover the benefits of instant response, quick copy changes, monthly tracking reports, and interactive programs. To find out how simple it is to reach 255,000 qualified pilots, owners, and decision-makers weekly, click now for details.
 
AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 
 

Video: Jeppesen's Mobile FliteDeck (Part 1)

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

Last summer, Jeppesen rolled out its iPad-based Mobile FliteDeck, a complete chart manager system for owners who already subscribe to Jeppesen's electronic charting products. In this video, AVweb launches the first of three Product Minutes to review the new app.

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

Video: Jeppesen's Mobile FliteDeck (Part 2)

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

Jeppesen's new Mobile FliteDeck is a route-based app that compiles approach plates and procedures from Jeppesen's charting materials. In this video, part two of three, Paul Bertorelli takes a look at how its route functions work.

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

Video: Jeppesen's Mobile FliteDeck (Part 3)

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

Jeppesen has switched strongly to delivery of charts via electronic means, and its new iPad app, Mobile FliteDeck, does the heavy lifting. In this video, the final of three, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli takes a video tour of the plate management part of the application.

Don't see a video screen?
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

Our tower does periodic checks. About mid-day, I heard on the scanner:

Salem Tower:
"Tower test for tapes. One, two, three. Three, two, one. Test out."

A Local Aircraft:
"Salem tower, loud and clear. N12345."

Salem Tower:
"Aircraft N12345: Frequency change approved."


Mary Ann Lebold
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:

Publisher
Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Webmaster
Scott Simmons

Contributors
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.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.