AVwebFlash - Volume 18, Number 2b

January 12, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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AVflash! LSA Buyers Between Scylla and Charybdis back to top 
 
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Aviation Consumer: LSA Shoppers Face Financing Challenges

Shoppers in the market for a light sport aircraft have lots of choices, but according to a report in the February issue of Aviation Consumer, those choices get thin when it comes to finding a loan. "The LSA industry is stuck in a Catch-22," the report found, "where low volume of sales hinders financing, but the impediments to financing hinder sales volume." The impact of the credit crunch is widely variable. Well-qualified buyers are most likely to find financing for well-known LSA models that can show a track record of holding their value. But the report concludes that financing for less-common models or commercial use is virtually unavailable.

Phil Solomon, CEO of Tecnam North America, told Aviation Consumer his sales were cut in half because flight school operators couldn't get loans. Cessna, however, eliminates that obstacle by providing its own financing. In fact, three out of four Skycatchers financed by Cessna are for flight schools. Some specialty LSA manufacturers, like Cub Crafters, sidestep the issue by appealing to buyers who can write a check for a $165,000 airplane. While the picture is mixed for LSAs, Aviation Consumer found that overall, financing for aviation has been increasing, with one lender reporting a 30-percent rise in approvals in 2010 over the year before, and 18 percent more transactions.

 
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Watching the Watchmen back to top 
 

Domestic Drone Use Sparks Lawsuit

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Tuesday filed papers seeking to force the FAA to release information about use of drone aircraft and the identity of entities allowed to fly them inside the U.S. above an altitude of 400 feet. That specific kind of operation requires authorization from the FAA and as yet, the FAA has not made public any information regarding who has been granted the authorizations and how those recipients are using approved aircraft. Last April, the EFF sought records through the Freedom of Information Act and says it has not seen a response from either the FAA or the larger DOT. The use of drones in surveillance of U.S. citizens is not theoretical, according to at least one report.

The EFF's lawsuit specifically cites law enforcement's use of those drones in "at least two dozen surveillance flights since June," as reported by the Los Angeles Times. The suit has prompted public support from Jane Harman, former chair of the House Homeland Security Intelligence subcommittee. "There is no question that this could become something that people will regret," Harman told theHill.com. The EFF believes the public "needs to know more about how and why" drones are employed in surveillance of U.S. citizens. Drone use has been on the rise militarily, but also domestically as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has started to employ use of the vehicles and currently operates eight Predator Bs. It is the reported loaning out of those drones for local police activities that has drawn the most public scrutiny.

 
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Chicago's Potential Runway Incursion back to top 
 

Midway Controller Clears 737 Into Path Of Learjet (Audio)

File Size 2.1 MB / Running Time 2:14

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Audio has been released of an event that took place at Chicago Midway Airport and appears to show that Midway tower controllers cleared a Southwest 737 to cross a runway into the path of a jet that was taking off. The event involved Southwest Flight 844, a Boeing 737, and a Learjet. Together, the two aircraft carried 85 people. According to the NTSB, "Air traffic control did not cancel the takeoff clearance of the (Learjet) nor direct the (Southwest plane) to hold short of Runway 31R," the Washington Post reported. As the Southwest jet approached the intersection, its crew spotted the Lear on its departure roll. The Southwest crew stopped short and "the thing went right over our head." The NTSB calculated separation at 287 feet with the Lear passing 62 feet overhead. The Southwest crew then called the tower and may have gotten a response they were not expecting.

Click here to listen. (2.1 MB, 2:14)

 
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Click here to learn more about both shows.
 
What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 
 

Hawker Beech Ramps Up Fight With Air Force

Hawker Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture vowed the company will fight vigorously to overturn an Air Force decision to exclude its AT-6B from the bidding for a light air support platform. "We won't go away quietly," Boisture said in an interview. In a podcast interview with AVweb he said his company has sold hundreds of aircraft to the Department of Defense and it has never handled a bid in the way the LAS competition was dealt with. He said the DOD constantly changed bid criteria and processes without properly notifying Hawker Beechcraft and finally excluded the AT-6B from the competition days before awarding the deal to Embraer and its Super Tucano. Hawker Beechcraft has filed suit in Federal Claims Court alleging the bid was mishandled by the DOD.

Boisture said the case will be heard by the end of March. In the meantime, the Air Force has halted work on the LAS project. Air Force officials say they're confident the bid was handled appropriately and that the Super Tucano is a superior aircraft. It appears the issue could become a political football in Washington as lawmakers prepare to head back to the capital after a shortened Christmas break. Boisture said Hawker Beechcraft is gathering political support not only from the Kansas delegation but from politicians in other areas concerned about the jobs that could be threatened by Hawker Beechcraft's loss of the contract.

Bombardier Wichita Expansion Announced

Bombardier formally announced expansion plans for its Wichita facilities Tuesday, saying it will add about 450 jobs as it ramps up for production of the Learjet 85. At a news conference, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said he said the state was providing $16 million in incentives toward the expansion, which will start with a $52.7 million for paint, preflight and delivery facilities. The city and county governments in Wichita are chipping in $1 million each. That's in addition to the $600 million the company has already sunk into development and infrastructure for the Learjet 85.

In the future, Bombardier says it will add engineering, flight test and information technology facilities. "We want to build lots of airplanes here," said Steve Ridolfi, president of Bombardier Business Aircraft. "Bombardier as a company is very, very happy here." The Learjet 85 is Bombardier's first composite design and was announced in 2007. First deliveries are expected in 2013.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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Add AVwebBiz to your AVweb subscriptions today by clicking here and choosing "Update E-mail Subscriptions."

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

Question of the Week: Are Air Shows Safe Enough?

The NTSB held hearings this week to take the temperature of the industry and the authorities on the safety of air shows. What do you think?

Are air shows safe enough?
(click to answer)

Last Week's Question: Results

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 
 

AVweb Insider Blog: Cirrus Parachute -- A Successful Failure?

The full airframe Cirrus CAPS system by BRS has definitely saved lives. When deployed properly, it seems to work as advertised. But on the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli points out that it hasn't been successful enough to have given the Cirrus aircraft anything other than a barely average safety record. Why not?

Read more and join the conversation.

 
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New on AVweb.com back to top 
 

Forty-Seven Years in Aviation: A Memoir; Chapter 9: Strategic Air Command, Part 1

Finally joining the Air Force's Strategic Air Command, Dick Taylor and his wife move to Florida, and Dick begins training in air-refueling techniques in the KC-97 Stratotanker.

Click here to read the ninth chapter.

We arrived in Tampa, Fla., home of MacDill Air Force Base, with the expectation that our household goods would follow soon thereafter, but we were not prepared for the several weeks we had to live with what we were able to carry with us from Oklahoma. Our "portable inventory" consisted of an ironing board, a TV set and as much clothing and other necessities as we could stuff into our little station wagon. We arranged a lease on a small, two-bedroom house about eight miles from the base and after a week or two without any furniture to speak of, the neighbors took pity on us and provided a card table and a couple of chairs ... a big improvement over the ironing board. Wife Nancy was very pregnant by this time, so we rented a bed to ease her discomfort. Lesson learned: When accomplishing a permanent change of station, never trust a moving company's estimate of a delivery date for your household goods.

At that time, MacDill AFB hosted two complete bomb wings (305th and 306th), each comprised of several bomber squadrons equipped with B-47s and an aerial-refueling squadron flying KC-97 tankers. I was assigned initially to the 305th Wing air-refueling squadron; shortly after signing in, I asked to be transferred to one of the bomber squadrons with the hope of acquiring some heavy-jet time in the next three years. My request held up for only a few days, whereupon I was re-assigned to the 306th refueling squadron. I never did find out what prompted the sudden relocation but it was likely due to the inescapable fact that brand-new, recently-arrived, 2nd lieutenants always occupy the bottom rung on the ladder of squadron privileges.

When I reported, the CO of the 306th offered a warm welcome to the squadron, but laid down the law on two things I'll never forget: First, a bounced personal check was very near the top of the list of officer no-no's; and second, an offense of any kind committed "in town" (even something as innocuous as a parking ticket) would result in equal or worse punishment inside the gate ... somewhat like the double jeopardy when you got into trouble at school and had to pay for your misdeeds again when you got home. Welcome to SAC and General Curtis LeMay's no-nonsense rules.

Tampa's relationship with the military goes back to 1898 and the Spanish-American War. The city's strategic location made it the logical choice for a rendezvous point for troops heading south to help Cuba gain independence from Spain. Approximately 10,000 troops (including Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders) -- waiting for ships headed to Cuba -- set up camp in Port Tampa City, a village on the western shore of the peninsula.

MacDill AFB occupies the southern portion of the Interbay Peninsula that runs due south from downtown Tampa, with Hillsborough Bay on the east and Tampa Bay on the west. This parcel of palmetto-covered land that lay barely 10 feet or so above sea level was apparently considered worthless in 1939, when it was donated to the U.S. War Department by the state of Florida and Hillsborough County.

Originally established as "Southeast Air Base, Tampa" (how generic can an airfield name be?), the facility was later named in honor of Col. Leslie MacDill, a WWI aviator. Construction began shortly thereafter and the airfield was dedicated in April 1941, just in time for the Army Air Forces to start ramping up training for WWII. The location and layout were ideal for flight operations, with open water east, west and south of the field and virtually no obstacles to the north.

(Read more about MacDill and its B-26 Marauders in the sidebar at right.)

When I joined the 306th Air Refueling Squadron in the spring of 1956, the concept of inflight refueling had been around for nearly four decades thanks to Russian aviator Alexander de Seversky, who had proposed such a procedure in 1917. Four years later, a California wingwalker strapped a can of gasoline to his back, climbed out of a Lincoln Standard and onto a Curtiss Jenny, and proceeded to pour the fuel into the Jenny's gas tank ... that was aerial refueling by definition, but it was more stunt than anything else.

A more practical demonstration of this procedure took place in 1923 when the crews of a pair of DeHavilland DH-4s proved that, given a strong hose, the force of gravity and some good formation flying, fuel could be transferred successfully from one airplane to another in flight.


This was a bare-bones application of the probe-and-drogue method that was applied to a number of modified B-29s in the post-WWII years, when extending the range of the recip-powered bomber fleet was of critical importance.


The next step in the progression toward larger, faster and more efficient tanker airplanes involved the Boeing B-50 Superfortress. As these airplanes were released from their assignments as bombers, a number of them were modified for use as tankers; the KB-50 still employed the probe-and-drogue system, but was capable of simultaneously refueling three fighters.

Three major developments in the early 1950s enabled SAC to take a giant step toward fulfilling its stated mission of providing long-range bombing capability: The first was the initial delivery of Boeing B-47s to the 306th Bomb Wing at MacDill AFB; the second was the near-concurrent delivery of the first Boeing KC-97 tankers to the 306th Air Refueling Squadron, also located at MacDill; and the third development was the flying boom. This combination of aircraft -- with tankers at strategic locations -- held the Russian bear at arm's-length by permitting SAC to maintain a nuclear-armed bomber force in the air 24/7 with enough fuel to reach their targets in the Soviet Union.


The flying boom -- a rigid, telescoping, fuel-delivery line, maneuvered into position by a boom operator in the tail of the tanker -- was an integral part of a refueling pod installed in place of the rear cargo doors of the C-97 cargo aircraft; a receptacle in the receiver airplane locked the fuel nozzle in place during refueling.


My introduction to the KC-97 consisted of a considerable amount of classroom training in aircraft systems and procedures, a lot of sitting-in-the-airplane familiarization and three flights; the first lasted a bit more than four hours (all of it after dark), the second went on for nine hours (half of it at night) and the third was four and a half hours. This was a portent of things to come: A typical refueling mission averaged four to five hours and about half of the flights took place after the sun went down ... SAC flew a lot at night. There was the occasional local flight set aside for transition training and currency.

Shortly after my three "dollar rides," I was sent to West Palm Beach AFB (long since deactivated) to attend the C-97 simulator program operated by the Military Air Transport Service (MATS). At that time, the term "simulator" was rather loosely interpreted as any sort of device that was capable of providing instrument indications and control responses to help aircrews familiarize themselves with a particular aircraft's flight characteristics; today, the MATS simulator at West Palm Beach -- with no motion and no visuals, just frosted cockpit windows to simulate flying in clouds -- would probably be classified as a "training device." I remember a couple of airmen standing outside the sim, one shaking a sheet of metal to simulate thunder, the other producing simulated lightning by flashing a bright light on and off. Its shortcomings notwithstanding, this was state-of-the-simulator-art in 1956 and provided valuable training with zero hazard and much less expense than actual flight. The C-97 (cargo version) was nearly identical to the tanker in almost all respects, so we were able to acquire a good understanding of airplane systems and procedures.

The Palm Beach simulator program was very busy, operating nearly 24 hours a day, which meant students would inevitably be scheduled for early morning classes. On one such occasion I showed up at 5 a.m. for the first sim session of the day, settled myself in the left seat, started all four engines and prepared for takeoff. The engine-noise generators did their thing, the airspeed indicators came to life and at the proper speed my mate in the right seat called out "rotate." I applied a bit of back pressure on the yoke, at which point red lights came on all over the instrument panel, all four engines quit and everything died. The instructor reset the sim for takeoff and said, "Let's try that again," whereupon we got the same result when I tried to raise the nose. Totally confused, I quickly reviewed the takeoff procedure but couldn't find anything out of order. Now the instructor made his point: "Lieutenant, I don't know what else I can do to wake you up; take a look at your attitude indicator."

Something did indeed look different; under the wings of the airplane symbol on the attitude indicator were two little projections intended to represent the landing gear; but instead of being under the wings they were on top. I don't know if my instructor set me up or if the previous instructor had rolled the sim inverted and put it to bed upside down; either way, it proved that clever instructors could do amazing things with the simulator, that one should pay more attention to the flight instruments (especially at 5 o'clock in the morning) and that applying normal flight control pressures to an inverted airplane was not a good way to get off the ground. I still wonder what would have happened if I had realized what was going on and pushed forward on the yoke.

[Continued next month.]



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

FBO of the Week: Orzel Aviation Services (St. Clair Airport, Port Huron, MI)

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

AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" is Orzel Aviation Services at St. Clair County International Airport (PHN) in Port Huron, Michigan.

AVweb reader Hella Comat explains how the Orzel team bent over backward to make a recent visit outstanding:

Sue and Rick at Orzel couldn't have been more helpful or friendlier. They were able to arrange overnight hangarage, accept a shipped parcel for me, find out about taxi services, and generally be as accommodating as possible on my recent stop there. Thanks so much!

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!

 
Traditional Tactics Need a Fresh Approach
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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 
 

Video: Got an Oily Hangar Floor? This Stuff Can Spruce It Up

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

Many of us dream of a gleaming gray expoxy-coated hangar floor illuminated by the glare of bright lights. But most of us actually have oil-stained concrete, dingy from years of abuse. If your floor is stained badly, a product called ReKrete can help improve it. Aviation Consumer's Paul Bertorelli demonstrates the product in this brief 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.

Video: F-106 Corn Field Bomber, Convair Delta Dart

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

This is an unusual story. The jet you're looking at is an F-106 Delta Dart. A storied interceptor in its day, it was built to exceed an Air Force requirement for 1.9 mach and continuous flight at 57,000 feet. It did both. And in December 1959, it set a speed record, of 1,525 mph, or about 2.3 mach, while flying at 40,000 feet. Its pilot at the time, Major Joseph Rogers, claimed the record might not be accurate. He was still accelerating, he said, at the time.

But this particular jet is famous for a different reason.

As the story goes, the aircraft you see here on February 2, 1970 flew itself into the ground -- a snowy field in Montana, where its engine continued to run for another hour and 45 minutes. Grounded, pilotless and still under power, with its radar still sweeping, the jet sometimes crept forward foot by foot through the snow as a small collection of onlookers watched. Its pilot, 1st Lieutenant Gary Foust, had ejected roughly two hours before that show was over. Foust's trip was just as interesting. He'd lost control of the jet while flying a mock engagement that led his and two other jets into harsh maneuvers in the thin, unforgiving air at 38,000 feet. Attempting to match a high-g reversal by another pilot, Foust's jet bucked. He entered a flat spin, and the jet fell, spinning slowly like a model on a turntable. The flight's two other pilots came to his aid, calling out recovery procedures. But by 15,000 feet the result seemed certain, and an instructor in one of the other jets ordered Foust to eject. Foust obeyed.

But for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and it could be it's that law that saved the jet. As Foust shot up, the jet's condition changed -- just enough for it to recover on its own and head off for the horizon. Legend has it that one of the observing pilots said on frequency, "Gary, you better get back in."

In the end, the jet was recovered, rebuilt and put back to work as tail number 80787. But it was forever known as the Corn Field bomber. Delta Darts were phased out in the 1980s.

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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 
 

Short Final

I heard this on a recent trip into New York's JFK Airport:

Air Carrier:
"Kennedy tower, how do you read?"

Kennedy Tower:
"Usually from left to right."


Keith F. Lauder
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 twice-weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the world's premier independent aviation news resource.

The AVwebFlash team is:

Publisher
Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Webmaster
Scott Simmons

Contributors
Kevin Lane-Cummings
Jeff Van West

Advertising Director, Associate Publisher
Tom Bliss

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? Your advertising can reach over 225,000 loyal AVwebFlash, AVwebBiz, and AVweb home page readers every week. Over 80% of our readers are active pilots and aircraft owners. That's why our advertisers grow with us, year after year. For ad rates and scheduling, click here or contact Tom Bliss, via e-mail or via telephone [(480) 525-7481].

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.

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

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.