AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 18, Number 24a

June 11, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
What He Didn't Know About His Life
Insurance Cost His Family $500,000

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Francis Gary Powers Awarded Silver Star

Francis Gary Powers will be posthumously awarded the Silver Star on June 15, 50 years after his U-2 spy plane went down in Russia on May 1, 1960, during the height of Cold War tensions between the U.S. and Soviet Union. Although Powers received service medals and top recognition from the CIA, this is the first time he has been cited for "gallantry in action." The Silver Star is the third-ranked in this class for actions not warranting the Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross. The Silver Star will be presented by Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz to Powers' grandson and granddaughter at a Pentagon ceremony on Friday.

The loss of Powers' U-2 was one of the most significant incidents in the Cold War and frosted relations between the U.S. and Soviet Union even more deeply. For decades, official Washington did not believe Powers' story that he was bagged by a Russian surface-to-air missile while on an ultra-secret photo flight over the Soviets' most sensitive military installations. The missile that brought down the U-2 may have exploded behind the aircraft and the concussion caused it to break up. Powers bailed out and was captured by the Russians. He spent two years in prison and underwent numerous interrogations but apparently never gave up any important information. After his release in exchange for a Russian spy in 1962 he was criticized for not hitting the self-destruct button on the airplane and then not taking his own life with the poison-tipped needle he carried. Powers died when the news helicopter he was flying in Los Angeles ran out of fuel and crashed in 1977. In 1998 declassified documents proved the 1960 flight was a joint CIA-USAF operation, qualifying Powers, a former Air Force captain, who was then officially a civilian contractor, for military honors. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Prisoner of War Medal and National Defense Service Medal in 2000.

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Aviation Safety back to top 

Pilot Investigated As Part Of Crash Probe

The FAA has opened another investigation concerning California pilot Dave Riggs as an offshoot of its probe of a fatal L-39 crash that happened in Nevada in May. Riggs lost his flight privileges for a year for a 2008 buzzing of the Santa Monica pier in an L-39 and he was in formation with Doug Gilliss in his L-39 when Gilliss's jet went down near Boulder City, killing Gilliss and his passenger Richard Winslow, of Palm Desert, Calif. The FAA is investigating whether Riggs, who also had a passenger in his L-39, violated the regulations restricting the selling of seats for this type of flight.

Riggs operates Mach One Aviation, which offers aerobatic and upset recovery training in a variety of Cold War Soviet Bloc jets. According to the NTSB preliminary report (PDF), Mach One and Incredible Adventures operated the flight under Part 91 and "a group of eight people had paid for a flight package." The FAA is investigating whether the flight was conducted according to its rules. "The FAA is very actively investigating this accident and the circumstances behind the aircraft operations," FAA spokesman Ian Gregor told the Los Angeles Times on Friday.

PC-12 Wreckage Suggests In-Flight Breakup

Six people were killed in the crash of a 2006 Pilatus PC-12/47 that appears to have broken up in flight some 50 miles southwest of Orlando, Thursday. The crash took place at about 12:30 p.m. and early reports state that parts of the aircraft have been recovered more than two miles from the main wreckage. The aircraft was carrying four children ages 8, 11, 13, and 15, along with their two parents, flying at 25,000 feet en route from the Bahamas to Junction City, Kan. Five family members were found with in the aircraft. Friday, the body of one of the children was found nearly half a mile away. Witnesses say they saw the airplane tumbling out of the sky.

Weather in the area at the time of the crash included showers. The aircraft had stopped at St. Lucie to clear customs and departed there about half an hour before the problems developed. A pilot flying nearby told investigators he heard the accident aircraft issue a mayday, but nothing specific about the nature of the emergency. The aircraft's emergency beacon activated shortly thereafter and the aircraft was found in a rural field. Six feet of the aircraft's right wing along with portions of the left wing and the horizontal stabilizer were found away from the fuselage. Florida newspaper The Ledger reported Friday that one witness told NTSB investigators that he "heard a plane overhead, which then made some strange crunching or grating noises and then went dead."

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Yesterday's Aircraft, Today's Regs, Tomorrow's Skies back to top 

Regulating Warbirds

According to the Collings Foundation, you can see their historic aircraft at airshows largely because of specific exemptions granted by the FAA, but that could soon change for them and similar organizations and your chance to comment ends June 18. In March of 2011, the FAA put a moratorium on issuing the exemptions and they are currently under review, so your voice matters. Hunter Chaney, director of marketing for Collings, told AVweb Thursday that it's now unclear whether the FAA will issue new exemptions for newly restored aircraft or even reissue current exemptions. That, says Chaney, could cripple the ability for organizations like Collings to bring their historic aircraft to airshows and share them with the public. Click here for more details and to hear our conversation with Chaney.

The exemptions in question allow operators of historic aircraft to recover some of their costs of operation by offering the public the chance to purchase rides on the aircraft. Chaney told AVweb Thursday that the revenue pays to bring the aircraft to the airshows. Without it, Chaney said, that sort of operation could stop. The FAA has opened the issue for discussion and is accepting comments. To learn more and contribute your thoughts, click here.

Podcast: Exempting History

File Size 7.3 MB / Running Time 7:56

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

How you experience historic aircraft may soon change. AVweb's Glenn Pew spoke with Collings Foundation director of marketing Hunter Chaney about an FAA exemption -- currently under review -- that Collings says it depends on to bring historic aircraft to the public.

Click here to listen. (7.3 MB, 7:56)

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Coming Soon to a Theater Near You back to top 

New Flight Movie For Denzel Washington

A new fictional film, Flight, due for release this November, charts the complicated, mostly post-crash life of an airline pilot played by Denzel Washington, and it comes with a twist. The pilot is made a hero by his actions during a crash landing, but his blood tests positive for alcohol. The cast of the movie includes John Goodman and Don Cheadle, who plays Washington's lawyer. Quotes from the movie's trailer set the stage with, "The FAA placed 10 pilots in simulators, recreated the events ... every pilot killed everybody on board. You were the only one who could do it." And, "You had alcohol in your system; that could be life in prison." Fiction aside, the movie's trailer suggests it may touch on at least one real-life fatal airline crash.

Unrelated to the alcohol issue, it appears other parts of the movie may create the fantasy ending some pilots might have wished for Alaska Airlines Flight 261. The Alaska Airlines MD-83 crashed in January 2000, killing all 88 on board. The NTSB found that the aircraft's stabilizer jackscrew assembly failed, leading to loss of control. As the pilots struggled to keep the jet in the air, they may have sought to stabilize it while flying inverted. The trailer shows Washington's fictional character reacting to an uncontrolled dive by commanding down trim and a roll to inverted. The movie aircraft appears similar to the MD-83. In the movie, "investigators concluded the aircraft failed." A link to the trailer is available at IMDB.com. The movie is due to be released on Nov. 2, 2012, in the U.S.

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Remembering Ed King back to top 

Avionics Icon Ed King Dies At 90

Avionics icon Ed King, who in the 1950s started King Radio in his basement, has died at age 90. Ed King once set the standard for which all general aviation avionics were judged. King eventually moved his King Radio business to a farmhouse in Lenexa, Kan., and then began an impressive run of innovative avionics products including the venerable KX170-series nav comm.

Ed eventually sold King Radio to Allied Signal Aerospace in 1985 but the Bendix/King division thrived and became part of Honeywell Aerospace. Honeywell recently announced a renewed dedication to bringing the Bendix/King line back to the level it once enjoyed with fresh new products promised in the coming year.

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Do You Know Aviation and Publishing? Let's Talk back to top 

Wanted: Aviation Publication Associate Editor

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New on AVweb.com back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: The Case for Commercialized Space

Last month, upstart rocket company SpaceX did what, heretofore, only sovereign nations have done: They launched a spacecraft into orbit, docked it with the space station and recovered it. So why are both the first man and the last man to stand on the moon opposed to this? On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli gives you a chance to tell us why.

Read more and join the conversation.

Forty-Seven Years in Aviation: A Memoir; Chapter 14: The Ohio State University Airport

Richard Taylor's first full year at The Ohio State University included teaching aviation classes, flying 19 different kinds of airplanes (including a jet), and starting a flying club with a tail-dragger.

Click here to read the 14th chapter.

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

AVmail: June 11, 2012

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: It Adds Up to an Overrun

Regarding the story on the Jackson Hole overrun: With more than 15,000 hours in the B-757 I can state that it is not uncommon to have the reverse levers (one or both) tend to hang up while selecting reverse. Also, if the speed brake is not set all the way into the "armed" position, it will not activate properly on touchdown but will activate when reverse is selected. (In this case, they were unable to get it into reverse in a timely manner.) And last (a major pet peeve of mine) is the FAA's mandate that an aircraft (whether VFR or IFR) be "at or above the visual or electronic glide slope."

This has created a generation of pilots that have found "security" in being above the glide slope during approach, thus always touching down long of the touchdown mark. One only has to go to the observation deck of any major airport and count the number of jets that land on the mark. It will be less than one in 100.

These guys just got caught in a "triple whammy" of failures, one of which was pilot error.

Keith Weiland

Regarding your " Question [of the Week] " about the future of manned fighters: Drones are good platforms for the close air support mission. However, air superiority, a major mission of fighters, will most effectively be done by manned fighters because of the ever-changing combat environment.

Escalating costs of technology should be considered, but pilot training should always be fully funded. I flew the A-7D, a more advanced, computer-assisted close air support fighter than the iron sight-based A-10. But (it pains me to say it) for the close air support mission, the A-10 has proven to be the more capable weapons system for today's combat situations.

Phil Miller

Cancelling the F-22 was short-sighted, especially when Russia unveiled its own just a couple of weeks later.

The F-35? Who wants it? It's not an air superiority fighter. As a single-engine aircraft, it is vulnerable to ground fire. The Navy would rather have aircraft with two engines. Just like the F-111, it was designed in Washington. The Holy Grail of every politician is to have one aircraft that does everything. The result is an aircraft that does nothing well.

Jim Hanson

We already own one of the most advanced fighters in the world, the F-15. We also know its limitations.

Reopen assembly lines and update [them] using lessons learned from F-35 and F-22.

Cancel the F-35. It's the modern day F-111, the search for a plane to do everything for everybody. Not possible.

John Wrenn

The question that should be investigated before we automate any of our tactical air defense or strategic air offense with UAVs is how they function following an electromagnetic pulse event. A high-altitude nuke could render the entire fleet worthless, and I've seen nothing about these capabilities. If we put all our eggs in one basket, we better make sure it is an invulnerable basket.

Jim Carter

No, we don't need to rethink the need for manned fighters, but in the light of today's economy, the way they are developed needs to be overhauled. The manufacturers need to share some of the fiscal responsibility.

If Lockheed or Boeing wants to build a fighter, they need to use the commercial model: Build it, prove it, and then sell it. Right now, U.S. taxpayers are just paying for the OEMs to experiment.

Dale Smith

You went and did it. In the article about the F-22 oxygen system, you refer to it as a fighter jet.

It is a jet fighter.

Have you seen a transport jet? No! Jet transport, yes!

Have your seen a transport turboprop? No! Turboprop transport, yes. So why fighter jet?

I have no idea when the it changed from jet fighter, but most who flew and now fly them call them jet fighters.

Les Strous

Modern Air Tankers Exist

Regarding the story about the P2V incidents: The news media and AVweb apparently haven't discovered the new Bombardier/Canadair 415 turboprop air tankers. A fleet of these planes can deliver a lot more water to a fire than a few 747s and DC-10s that have to find a long runway somewhere.

Expensive, yes — they're new. Why pinch pennies when lives and property are at stake?

Terry Brisbin

AVweb Replies:

The CL-415 isn't particularly new, although you can still order them from the factory. They are expensive, more than $25 million. The first one flew in 1993, and it's an update of the round-engine CL-215, which has been around since the late 1960s.

Russ Niles

What Would You Do?

I was really appreciative of the video showing the Lockheed P2V partial gear-up landing. I fly a Cheyenne II, and I am always debating with myself as to what I would do if I don't get three green before landing. The options are full gear-up (assuming you can raise the gear) or land with partial gear.

For me I think I would opt to fully retract the gear if possible and conditions permitting, [then] kill the engines as I cross the numbers.

What do other readers think?

Jim Kabrajee

Neptune ID

I don't know why all the reports about the Neptune crash say the aircraft was built in 1962. It's an ex-RCAF CP-122 Neptune, s/n 24110, that was delivered new to Canada in 1955 and retired by the Canadian Armed Forces (as it then was known) in 1968.

Name withheld with AVweb consent

Aircraft Ageism

In the story about the Dana Air crash, I see you have brought up the age of the aircraft, which has nothing to do with the accident. Tragic though the loss of life is, aircraft age is immaterial as it is the maintenance and competence of the crew that is the real crux of the matter. The problem with stating age is that you encourage what I call the "used car syndrome" among government ministers, most of whom have little knowledge of aircraft.

The age of an aircraft does not make the aircraft inherently unsafe. This syndrome has India accepting aircraft that are 14 years old or newer and rejecting EASA-registered and maintained aircraft for ACMI work if they are over that age limit. Personally, I would rather fly in one of Atlantic's C-47s than a new Air India aircraft as I trust EASA maintenance more than I trust Indian [maintenance].

Some countries are now stating 10 years is too old. This behavior plays havoc with the used aircraft market and residual values of aircraft. I believe Saudi Arabia has a 20-year age limit, but after they introduced it, they lost almost all of their EASA ACMI aircraft; they then put a codicil that they would look at aircraft over 20 years old on a case-by-case basis, and they got their Hajj fleet back.

The U.S., Canada, Australia and EASA all fly aircraft older than the Dana Airways one and do it safely, day in, day out. If age were a problem, they would not be allowed to fly in the First World countries, so why do we allow the Third World to get away with it?

I would therefore ask you to refrain from stating aircraft age as a reason for incidents, as this just makes it difficult for us when trying to place aircraft into countries who should know better but are trying to cover up their lack of safety oversight using the age card. Maintenance, not age, is the key factor, along with crew training.

Next, it will be getting rid of pilots after they have flown for 15 years. This could start to get incredibly silly.

Dave Hunter

Not Really Funny

I didn't get a chuckle from the exchange between that alleged pilot and ATC. How did he pass his BFR?

Orv Knarr

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

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

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

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Desert Skies Executive Air Terminal (KHII, Lake Havasu, AZ)

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

Our latest "FBO of the Week" is one we spotlighted a couple of years ago — Desert Skies Executive Air Terminal at Lake Havasu City Airport (KHII) in Arizona. AVweb reader Scott Brooksby told us about the usual low prices and great services but noted that little "something special" that makes Desert Skies a must-revisit destination:

Desert Skies not only has great prices for fuel, some of the lowest in the region, but they also have Waldo's BBQ. The restaurant closes at 8:00 pm but has awesome food, and for dessert, you can have a small apple crisp or sweet potato pie among other choices for only 99 cents. The fueling is quick, and the manager was there helping to park the plane and make sure all was O.K.

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!

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Listening to the radio in our hangar, we heard the following exchange. After landing at KSTS, a pilot requested to taxi to his hangar. He was given specific instructions and was cleared to his hangar. About 30 seconds later, we heard:

Mooney 432XX:
"Santa Rosa Ground, this is Mooney 432XX with a request."

"Mooney 432XX, say request."

Mooney 432XX:
"I'd like to change my taxi destination to the shade hangars. I see someone over there who owes me money."

"Change in destination approved. Good luck."

Ten seconds later, we heard:

Mooney 432XX:
"Santa Rosa Ground, this is Mooney 432XX with a second request."

"Mooney 432XX, say request."

Mooney 432XX:
"If a Citabria requests permission to taxi, please deny request."

"You're a Mooney; you should be able to outrun him."

Scott Peterson
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:

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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