AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 18, Number 21b

May 24, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! The Man Who Fell Glided to Earth back to top 

Wingsuit Skydiver Lands Without Chute (On Purpose)

Forty-two year-old Gary Connery Wednesday may have become the first person to land a wingsuit without first deploying a parachute, on purpose and without injury, with the aid of about 18,000 cardboard boxes. Connery performed the stunt near his hometown of Henley, England, and flew two test jumps from a helicopter hovering at 2,400 feet about one mile from his landing site. He landed those under canopy, before committing to the final jump. His last landing was facilitated by a 350-foot "runway" that stood roughly 12 feet high and 50 feet wide, made up of large empty cardboard boxes. Aside from the wingsuit, Connery wore a full-face helmet and the kind of neck brace worn by race-car drivers. He flared above the cardboard runway before settling into the boxes at an estimated forward speed of about 50 mph. Some of his first words after landing? "I'm in a strange space."

Connery's six-pound wingsuit was modified and a final design with thicker ribs was chosen after a handful of earlier versions. He flew the stunt with a parachute that acted as his abort plan.

Click here for video of the landing.

Question of the Week: When Is a Stunt Too Reckless?

Gary Connery made the record books on Tuesday by jumping out of an airplane and landing unscathed without a parachute. Did that cross some hypothetical line between legitimacy and lunacy?

When is a stunt too reckless? Was Connery's?
(click to answer)

Last Week's Question: Results

Want to see the current breakdown of responses? Take a moment to answer the question yourself, and then you can view real-time results.

What's On Your Mind?

Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"?
Send your suggestions to .

NOTE: This address is only for suggested "QOTW" questions, and not for "QOTW" answers or comments. (Use this form to send "QOTW" comments to our AVmail Editor.)

Pilot Input Needed || Spend Five Minutes to Take the AVweb/MIT GA Survey
Tell MIT Researchers About GA's Challenges,
Your Ideas and Concerns

The International Center for Air Transportation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is conducting a study of general aviation trends. Let them know what you think about fuel costs, how to advance general aviation and why you fly. It takes ten minutes or less. AVweb will publish the results — so will MIT.

To take the survey, click here.
NTSB Weighs in on Homebuilts back to top 

NTSB Completes Homebuilt Safety Study

The NTSB on Tuesday released 16 recommendations for improving the safety record of experimental amateur-built aircraft, which have a fatal accident rate 3 to 4 times higher than the rest of the general aviation fleet. Most of the recommendations focus on transition training, which has long been recognized as a problem, and also suggest changes in how flight tests are conducted and how the flight characteristics of each airplane are documented. Nearly 10 percent of E-AB aircraft accidents occurred during first flight, the board said, and 14 out of the 125 accidents in aircraft that were sold crashed on the new owner's first flight. The recommendations are meant to "improve safety while maintaining the adventure of this vibrant segment of aviation," said board chair Deborah Hersman.

Besides 12 recommendations to the FAA, the board also suggested four actions the EAA could take to advance flight safety. The EAA should help develop flight manuals and flight-test standards for experimental aircraft, create a repository of information about flight instructors for experimental aircraft, and help create transition-training resources, the board said. Listen to the board's findings and the 16 recommendations (12 minutes) below.

The webcast of the two-and-a-half-hour discussion will be posted online soon, and the complete report will be posted at ntsb.gov in a few weeks. AVweb will post a podcast interview with EAA officials later this week, with analysis of the NTSB conclusions and recommendations.

The NTSB On E-AB Safety

The NTSB has completed its study of safety issues affecting experimental-amateur-built aircraft. This 12-minute audio clip from Tuesday's board meeting includes the conclusions of the study and the 16 recommendations to the FAA and EAA.

Click here for the MP3 file.

EAA Responds To NTSB Report

"Both EAA and the NTSB know that we must improve the accident record of amateur-built aircraft," said EAA President Rod Hightower on Tuesday evening, in a video response to the safety board's report released earlier that day. However, he said, some of the NTSB's recommendations to the FAA, which could result in more regulations, are "worrisome." For example, the NTSB wants new regulations for testing engine performance and for documenting flight tests in amateur-built aircraft. "At EAA, we do not believe that more regulation is the answer ... Education, versus new regulation, is a better solution," Hightower said.

The four recommendations the NTSB aimed at EAA would expand on programs that are already in place, Hightower said. EAA's Homebuilt Aircraft Council will continue to study the recommendations for what effect they may have on the design, building and certification of amateur-built aircraft. "Any action must ensure that the freedom to participate in the amateur-built aircraft community does not create additional burdens or hurdles," EAA said in its news release.

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Aviation Safety I: Large Scale back to top 

Drone Proliferation Fans Public Fears

The FAA's declaration last week that it will allow unmanned aircraft systems weighing up to 25 pounds to fly at altitudes up to 400 AGL and within sight of an operator didn't draw much reaction in the aviation world, but it did get a response from the mainstream media. Conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer said all drones should be banned in U.S. airspace. "Drones are instruments of war," he said on Fox News. "I don't want to see it hovering over anybody's home." At the other end of the political spectrum, the American Civil Liberties Union foresees a "nightmare scenario" where drone surveillance "leads to an oppressive atmosphere where people learn to think twice about everything they do, knowing that it will be recorded … and possibly used to target them."

Krauthammer also said, "The first guy who uses a Second Amendment weapon to bring a drone down that's been hovering over his house is going to be a folk hero in this country. ... I'm not encouraging, I'm simply making a prediction." Already, the use of a police drone to conduct surveillance during a property dispute in North Dakota has prompted a court challenge on the grounds that using the drone to collect information amounts to "unreasonable search and seizure," according to a recent story in Slate. The FAA plans to fully integrate drones into the national airspace system by 2015.

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Aviation Safety II: Small Scale back to top 

Pilot's Weapon Lands Him In Court

A 52-year-old Piedmont Airlines pilot has been charged with unlawful possession of a concealed firearm after a security check of his bag Friday found a .357 Magnum revolver loaded with five rounds of ammunition. Prosecutors now allege that the pilot, Brett Dieter, had been traveling with the gun since at least May 16, when he skipped an X-ray screening at Charlottesville airport. Dieter is reportedly not a member of the Federal Flight Deck Officer Program. Authorities allege Deiter traveled with the gun in his bag over the course of two days and seven flights. And that may have harsh consequences.

Deiter now faces up to 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine, if found guilty. He will make his case in court next week. Questions remain about what security measures were in place and how those measures were applied to Deiter during the two days he allegedly traveled with the weapon. TSA officials are reportedly reviewing the case with the U.S. Attorney's Office, local police and the FBI. While pilots trained through the Federal Flight Deck Officer Program are authorized to carry firearms, they are subject to strict protocols. All other pilots and flight crew are prohibited from carrying firearms on aircraft.

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The Race Goes On back to top 

Reno Races Good To Go

After 10 spectators and a pilot died in a crash at last year's National Championship Air Races in Reno, the fate of the event was uncertain, but now organizers say they are definitely holding the races as usual this September, although with a modified course. Reno Air Racing Association Director Mike Houghton said on Tuesday the largest pylon course will be moved further away from the crowd, and some curves will be modified to decrease the g-forces on pilots. The association has hired a new safety director, secured $100 million in insurance, and acquired a permit from the city. G-force training will be required for all pilots, and organizers will scrutinize pilot age and medical certifications. Tickets for the event, which will run Sept. 12-16, are now on sale at the association's website.

Race pilot Jon Sharp, who served on the review panel, said the course changes won't be dramatic. "The planes will be a little further away, but they won't be little dots," he told The Associated Press. The NTSB has not completed a final report from its investigation of the crash, but the city's permit requires race organizers to comply with all of the board's recommendations. "If [NTSB] had something they felt was going to be a deal-breaker, I'm pretty certain that would have surfaced by now," Houghton told the AP. The air racing association also plans to host a "world-class memorial and tribute… to those who lost their lives and for their family and friends."

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

FAA Issues Emergency AD For Cessna 210s

Following reports of cracked wing spar caps in several Cessna 210s in Australia and Canada, the FAA on Monday issued an emergency Airworthiness Directive requiring 3,665 of the airplanes in the U.S. to be inspected. If cracks are found in the spar cap, wing spar, or wing, they must be reported to the FAA, and the aircraft must be grounded until the affected parts are replaced or modified. The AD is effective on June 5. Cessna issued a service letter (PDF) addressing the issue last month.

The procedures and deadlines for inspecting the airplanes vary depending on the number of hours in service. Airplanes with more than 10,000 hours are grounded until a visual inspection has been completed, and if no cracks are found, a more thorough check must be done within the next five hours. No action is required for airplanes with less than 5,000 hours of accumulated flight time. Cessna built more than 9,000 210s between 1957 and 1986. The AD affects models produced after 1967, which have a cantilever wing. The inspections should cost $255 to $510 per airplane, the FAA said, but it had no estimate for the cost of repairs if needed. The FAA said it will accept comments on the AD until July 5.

Turboprop Airvan Flies

GippsAero announced Tuesday that its new GA10 turboprop flew for the first time on May 1. The aircraft uses a Rolls-Royce 250 engine and the company says it's "the first single turboprop to be designed and developed in Australia." As the name implies, the GA10 has two more seats than the piston GA8 and is expected to pack the extra payload with even better performance than the already-capable piston airplane.

The first flight went well, according to GippsAero, and the niche the company is aiming for is looking for an occupant. "The GA10 will bring an entry-level turboprop utility aircraft to the market place enabling operators to make the not inconsiderable step of moving from piston to turboprop power," said CEO Dr. Terry Miles. "The projected low purchase price and low operating costs of the GA10, coupled with its great versatility, will offer operators a commercially viable multi-role turboprop aircraft."

Related Content:

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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Delivered every Wednesday morning, AVwebBiz focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry, making it a must-read.

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Aerial Tribute || Every Cloud a Monument
Ascension Scattering™: A Dignified Final Tribute for Any Aviator
Using a high-performance sailplane, Ascension Scattering™ releases cremated remains into strong thermals over the Rocky Mountains. The ashes are carried heavenward, making them part of the sky. Your family is invited to personalize the release to create an individualized memorial event. Optional video of the release serves as a lasting memorial. Contact Aerial Tribute to book an eternal flight, either as an advanced arrangement for yourself or as an arrangement for a loved one. Click here for a video overview.
Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Biofuels Get the Axe

A House committee last week voted to kill the Navy and Air Force's plan to run their airplanes on a blend of biofuel and Jet A. If it stands, it's a major blow to the development of bio-based jet fuel. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli points out how it's also short-sighted.

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.

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

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 255,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Video: Red Bull's Latest Aerial Ballet

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

Red Bull Wednesday shared video of one of its latest sponsored adventures -- five wingsuit skydivers joining up with and maintaining formation with two sailplanes in a dive over Austria. The team flew two aerobatic LET L-13 Blanik sailplanes and just to complicate things, the lead flew inverted and one skydiver formed up in between the inverted and upright glider. The skydivers and gliders came together in formation at roughly 12,000 feet. The sailplanes wore wingtip-mounted smoke canisters and one skydiver wore one on an ankle. The trick of the task was mating airspeed and descent rates and this time all members performed flawlessly.

Generally, wingsuits manage their best glide (roughly 2.5:1) at close to 75 mph. The Blaniks are a 1950's-era metal design and manage close to 30:1 at about 55. For the stunt, the team found a common airspeed closer to 110 mph, then found and held formation with the requisite precision.

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

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Walker Aviation (KTMA, Tifton, GA)

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

AVweb reader Ralph Hoover had a longer delay than he'd planned at Tifton, Georgia's Henry Tift Myers Airport (KTMA) recently -- but what could have been a major delay served as opportunity to discover the helpful, efficient staff at our latest "FBO of the Week," Walker Aviation. Ralph tells the tale of our latest blue ribbon FBO:

My wife landed at Tifton on our trip from Florida. While taxiing back to the ramp, the nose wheel tire on our RV-7 went flat. While my wife was arranging a rental car and hotel, Robbie Fender improvised a dolly and towed us back to the hangar. He then made tools available so I was able to disassemble and find the hole in the tube. The Western Auto in town was locked when we arrived but reopened to sell us a $2.00 patch kit. The next morning, with the assistance of Josh Hulett, we reassembled the nose wheel and were on our way. Both employees of Mr. Clark Walker were polite, friendly, and very helpful to us. We highly recommend Walker Aviation.

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 Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Our latest winning photo comes from Anson Chappell of Yellowknife, NWT (Canada). Click here for the rest of this week's submissions.
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:

Tom Bliss

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Scott Simmons

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Jeff Van West

Ad Coordinator
Karen Lund

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.

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