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Volume 18, Number 3a
January 16, 2012
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AVflash! Australia's Beech-Grounding ADback to top 
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January 19-22, 2012

Australia has grounded all older-model Beech Bonanzas, Debonairs and Twin Bonanzas with the single pole style yoke attachment. The Civil Aviation Safety Administration (CASA) issued an airworthiness directive (AD) (PDF, one of four) on Beech model 33, 35-33, 35, 36 and 50 aircraft banning further flight (except for a single positioning flight) until the forward elevator cables have been inspected. The AD was issued after a cable failed on a Bonanza just before takeoff and inspection of a similar aircraft revealed damage to its cable in the same location. If the cable is frayed, it must be replaced before further flight and cables not showing any damage that are more than 15 years old have to be replaced within 60 days. Only aircraft that have had new cables since their last annual are exempt. Although the AD applies only to Australian-registered aircraft, things like this tend to spread. More...

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Signs of the Timesback to top 

EAA Thursday announced that a reshaping of the organization will result in the termination of roughly 30 employees, but because other jobs will be added, the net reduction in workforce will be less dramatic. The change will "align our resources with our priorities," EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski told AVweb. The net effect should be closer to 15 jobs lost. The changes were not, he said, a reaction to immediate financial concerns. In the words of EAA president Rod Hightower, "This will strengthen our organization in several key areas to more effectively meet the needs of our members, donors and aviators. More...

A petition titled "Take Aviation User Fees off the Table" has been sent to the White House with well more than 8,500 signatures, and the White House has offered an official response. The response is titled "Why We Need Aviation User Fees." It presents the Obama administration's "conclusion" that "a $100 per flight user fee is an equitable way for those who benefit to bear the cost of this essential service." The response is signed by Dana Hyde, associate director for general government programs, Office of Management and Budget, who twice raises the issue that users must pay or do their "fair share." The fee would be targeted, omitting all piston aircraft. NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen has responded, calling the administration's position an "administratively burdensome, bureaucracy-building, foreign-style user fee scheme that has very little to do with actual costs imposed on the system." More...

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Tuskegee Airmen Breaking Race Barrier ... Again?back to top 

Famed director George Lucas says his soon-to-be-released movie on the Tuskegee Airmen almost didn't make it into theatres because the film industry didn't want to fund its release because of the all-black cast. "It's because it's an all black movie. It has no major white roles in it at all," Lucas said in an interview with Comedy Central's Jon Stewart this week. Lucas said Red Tails, which he funded himself to a budget of about $58 million, met nothing but closed doors in the film industry, which Lucas was depending on to market and distribute the film. He said Red Tails was expensive and cost more than traditional black-cast films that play to smaller audiences. "And they don't believe there's any foreign market for it," Lucas said, adding that if the film isn't successful, larger budgets for future films with black casts may be in jeopardy. More...

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Waging War with the Windback to top 

The speed of prevailing winds over the North Atlantic trended higher in December than in recent history and that has led to some complications for United Continental airlines' Boeing 757s. Last year, when flying west over the North Atlantic, the airline landed twelve jets short of their destination because high winds slowed the jets' progress and ate into reserves. Last month, the carrier landed 43 flights out of 1,100 to refuel, a spokeswoman told the Boston Globe, and 57 flights were affected over a five-week period. Those jets are generally flying routes on full tanks. More...

While slip devotees might decry the crosswind coping techniques displayed in the accompanying video, the long lens and perfect angle offer an interesting perspective on the relative effectiveness of the crab-and-kick technique that is now clearly the norm for commercial airliners. The video, shot during a gusty storm in Dusseldorf just after the New Year, also testifies to the skill of some pilots in the technique and, in some cases, the ruggedness of modern landing gear. Rate the landings and takeoffs for yourself. More...

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News Briefsback to top 

click for photos and video
Red Bull Air Race pilot and airshow performer Kirby Chambliss last year went to Mexico and flew his Zivko Edge 540 beneath a motorcycle as the bike performed a backflip between two ramps, according to -- and now we have video. The motorcycle rider, Czech Republic's Petr Pilat, is billed as the youngest person to ever do a backflip on a motorcycle, having accomplished the feat at age 14. Chambliss is a highly accomplished aerobatic pilot who has demonstrated his skills all over the world. The Sun says the two met in November 2011, at Mexico City, to perform the stunt. Video and still photographs of the event are now available showing the motorcyle flipping over the airplane. At the end of the video Pilat exclaims, "I'm so happy that I'm still alive." Photography was provided by Mauricio Ramos of Mexico City. Click through for video and stills. More...

Plenty of kids grow up around airplanes but not many are raised building the airplane in which they take their checkride. And to top it all off, Blake Crawford was signed off on his 17th birthday by a world-renowned aerobatic pilot who is also an FAA examiner. Debbie Rihn-Harvey, three-time national aerobatics champion and Southwest Airlines pilot, confirmed Crawford as the U.S.'s youngest certificated pilot last week after putting him through the paces in the RV-7A he and his father built throughout his childhood. Crawford was "bucking rivets at a young age," said his flight instructor Valerie Vaughn, of Dutch Wings Flight School at Houston Southwest Airport. More...

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


Letter of the Week: Air Show and Air Race Safety

Regarding the NTSB hearings on air show and air race safety: As an occasional air show performer during the summer months, I feel that I can say with confidence that every reasonable precaution is taken to ensure crowd safety. The regulations are thorough to the point of being onerous, and air show performers are uniformly diligent and professional in their approach to safety.

Are new rules required? Absolutely not! I expect that there is more government oversight involved with me flying a loop in public than is required for a doctor to remove an appendix. My point is that professionals can be trusted to regulate themselves to some extent.

Rob Erdos

Click through to read the rest of this week's letters.


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 What have you heard? More...

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Opinion & Commentaryback to top 

With their vaunted BRS parachute systems, shouldn't Cirrus airplanes be the safest kids on the block? Perhaps. So why aren't they? On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli offers some numbers and a theory to explain it all. Read more and join the conversation. More...

The DOT's new regulation forcing airlines to be more transparent in posting fees is mostly good politics in an election year, but it's still beneficial to consumers. Paul Bertorelli breaks it down on the AVweb Insider blog. Read more and join the conversation. More...

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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learnback to top 

Chris and Corinne McLaughlin are on their way down the coast of South America in a 1978 Skyhawk, on a two-month journey from Cape Cod to Cape Horn to help raise awareness about the need for more organ donors. Chris was a 747 pilot before he fell ill and an organ donation saved his life. He talks with AVweb's Mary Grady about the trip and the mission. More...

To make the iPad a real MFD contender, you need some datalink weather. There are two ways you can get it, and Aviation Consumer's Jeff Van West takes a look at both. More...

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Your Favorite FBOsback to top 


Our latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Thunderbird Aviation at Flying Cloud Airport (KFCM) in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

AVweb reader Mark Hegg told us about his recent visit:

Flew into Flying Cloud on a Friday in early December 2011. They were expecting me and promptly guided me to a convenient tie-down. I told them our departure would be Sunday at noon. On Saturday a snow storm brought six inches of snow and cold temps. I called them Sunday morning to inquire about pre-heat possibilities before our departure. They said, "Don't worry; we had extra room in our heated hangar, and your plane has been inside all weekend. No charge!" When we arrived, they were just pulling the plane out and helped us load up. Fuel was already done, as well. Fuel prices were very reasonable. Their service was always cheerful, helpful, and efficient. I guess it's true what they say: The colder the temperature, the warmer the people.

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!


Reader-Submitted Photosback to top 
The Lighter Side of Flightback to top 


About 40 years ago, when I was learning to fly at Christchurch International in New Zealand, I was holding for take-off on the grass when I heard this exchange from the tower with a visiting farmer who was heading back to the farm.

"You're cleared for take-off — runway 29."

"Cleared for take-off; 29.

Tower (a little while later) :
"Bravo Chalie Alpha, nice take-off."

"Uh, thank you, tower."

"Just one small thing: Next time, can you use the runway instead of the taxiway?"

Barrie Smith
via e-mail


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. More...

Names Behind the Newsback to top 


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:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Scott Simmons

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.