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AVflash! Taking Satellites And You!
Virgin Galactic will make its maiden tourist flight into space next year, Sir Richard Branson announced at the Farnborough Air Show on Wednesday. He also unveiled plans to use WhiteKnightTwo to
carry a vehicle called LauncherOne that will deliver commercial satellites into orbit. The vehicle is already in development and is expected to be ready for operations by 2016. It will offer "frequent
and dedicated launches at the world's lowest prices," according to Virgin's news release. Four private companies already have put down deposits for several dozen launches. Branson also said Virgin
Galactic now has deposits for suborbital tourist flights from 529 people, which is just above the total of 528 people who have flown in space to date.
LauncherOne will be a two-stage vehicle able to carry up to 500 pounds to orbit for prices below $10 million, according to Virgin. "Virgin Galactic's goal is to revolutionize the way we get to
space," Branson said. He added that he plans to be on board for the first flight into space next year, along with his two adult children, Holly and Sam. Virgin displayed a full-size replica of
SpaceShipTwo at the air show all week. The real spaceship has been busy with flight testing in Mojave, Calif.
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Santa Monica, Calif., city council members this week shelved the plan they introduced two weeks ago to pay flight school operators to fly student pilots away from the city's airport for touch and
go operations. The original plan would have been introduced as a test program. It would have offered participating flight schools operating from SMO $150 per flight to conduct "repetitive takeoff and
landing practice" at "other area airports during weekends and federal holidays only." City council members had planned to set aside $90,000 to fund the reimbursement/incentive program over a test
period of six months. But, according to one council member, "The people just don't want us to do it."
Council member Bob Holbrook cast a dissenting vote that left the council one short of unanimous approval. And in Santa Monica, appropriation measures must have at least five members in favor to be
approved. Four approved the measure, Holbrook voted against it, and three other officials were not present for the vote. Holbrook, who voted in a clear minority, told the Santa Monica Mirror that "not
one single person who I've received an email from or talked to, including leadership of the different groups around the airport, wants us to do this." Council members had hoped to divert traffic away
from Santa Monica to reduce traffic above the airport and neighboring cities. The council has now reportedly shelved the pay-to-go-away flight training idea, indefinitely.
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AirVenture at Oshkosh is coming up fast, less than two weeks away, and in recent days EAA has announced more details about what visitors can expect to see at the show. One aircraft sure to attract
attention is the one-of-a-kind e-volo 18-rotor multicopter, which will be on display at the Innovation Hangar. The multicopter, built in Germany, is the successor to the 16-motor VC1 that achieved the
first manned flight by an electric-powered VTOL aircraft last October. Another unusual aircraft coming to
the Innovation Hangar is an electric-powered Long-EZ that's part of the development program for a long-range electric airplane that could fly from New York to Paris. Motorcycle racer Chip Yates and
his "Flight of the Century" team will be at the show to talk about their technology. The hangar will also be the site
for two days of forums about electric flight, on July 26 and 27.
In other recent news updates, EAA said Sporty's has released its free 2012 AirVenture app for iPad, iPhone, and Android devices to help visitors plan their Oshkosh visit and find their way around
the grounds (available as a free download at Sporty's website). Special events for college students, service veterans, teachers and students, all are on the schedule. A group of Aviation Explorers
from Wisconsin will be working on a Zenith CH 750 kit project all week long on the field. More surprises are sure to appear as the show unfolds. Will Sir Richard Branson turn up with the full-scale
SpaceShipTwo replica that he brought to Farnborough this week? EAA isn't saying, so we'll have to wait and
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Aircraft wreckage that was discovered on a glacier last month by an Alaskan Army National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crew on a routine training mission has been identified as an Air Force
Douglas C-124A Globemaster II. The airplane crashed in November 1952, killing all 52 people on board. "The plane hit the mountainside, exploding and disintegrating upon impact," according to an
Anchorage Daily News story at the time. "Six to eight feet of powdered snow covered everything." Military teams investigated the site shortly after the crash, but it was considered too inaccessible to
attempt any recovery. After the National Guard members found the site last month, it was visited by an eight-man team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, based in Hawaii, who were able to
recover some artifacts.
The team initially intended only to examine the site to provide an assessment for the follow-on recovery team, JPAC said. "Once there the team determined they could manage the recovery and began
immediately. The size of the site and deteriorating environmental conditions factored into the decision," according to JPAC's news release. "The team recovered material evidence, such as life-support
equipment from the wreckage, and also possible osseous remains [bone tissue] from the glacier. The evidence will be transported to JPAC's Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii for further
analysis." The wreck site is in a remote area about 45 miles east of Anchorage. The artifacts were found several miles from the original crash site, apparently traveling with the movement of the
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Aviation Safety Resources (ASR) has earned a patent for what it calls the Smart Recovery System for General Aviation Aircraft, which "automatically deploys the appropriate device" for a given
emergency situation. The company says it is using sensor systems currently available in commercial and military aircraft. It "detects the environment" and "makes decisions based on monitoring data,"
according to ASR. In practice, that would translate to a system that could deploy verbal warnings (if available), fire extinguishers, the autopilot, flight control, airbag and ballistic parachute
recovery systems in response to diagnostic parameters. And those systems would be activated automatically, with one caveat.
The system evaluates conditions, identifies an emergency situation, and commands available systems on the aircraft, automatically -- unless overridden by the pilot -- according to the company. ASR
has pursued unique safety solutions for aircraft since at least 2000, though none have yet been widely adopted. The company previously earned a patent for its TriChute Safe Landing system. TriChute
uses "ballistic systems" to separate an aircraft's fuselage (passengers included) from its wings (and fuel), and then brings each component down under its own parachute. The idea is to reduce the
chance of post-crash fire endangering the aircraft's occupants. ASR says its new avionics system aims to offer a "comprehensive diagnostic" and "instant awareness" coupled with "integrated solutions."
The New Jersey-based company is still seeking investors and partners for further development.
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On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli talks with his student, Jordan Nations, whose Private Pilot Certificate is less than 24 hours old. Jordan had the rare opportunity to learn flying
in both a vintage Piper J-3 Cub and a Cessna 150. Paul and Jordan took a victory lap around the Florida beaches savoring the unique satisfaction that only students and instructors share -- and we
share it with readers in this special vlog.
The USS Pueblo incident near North Korea inspired a show of force requiring many reservists, including Richard Taylor, to drop what they were doing (teaching, in Richard's case) and
head off to Korea. Along the way, he got to do a little bit of flying and practicing water landings with a parachute. Back in the States after a year, Richard went back to the classroom, but also flew
the Ohio Army National Guard's Bird Dog and Beaver.
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If Garmin is feeling the heat from GPS-enabled tablets and smartphones, it's not taking the competition lying down. This week Garmin rolls out the GLO, a new self-contained GPS receiver that links
to Android and iPad tablets via Bluetooth, wirelessly providing position updates up to 10 times a second. Remote GPS gadgets for tablets aren't new, but Garmin equipped GLO not just with GPS, but with
a receiver for Russia's GLONASS system. That puts another 24 satellites on the table for rapid time to first fix and more robust position sensing once the location is calculated.
"Whether you're driving through an urban canyon or flying an airplane at any altitude, GLO ensures that your mobile device maintains a strong, reliable GPS signal," says Garmin's Dan Bartel, VP of
worldwide sales. Garmin is clearly targeting the tablet market, which have siphoned at least some sales from Garmin's line of dedicated portable GPS navigators. The company is offering a
GLO-for-aviation package that includes a mount, power cable and free six-month trial of Garmin's recently updated Pilot app for iPad and Android tablets. The GLO itself can be powered from ship's
power or an internal battery with a 12-hour duration. Garmin says GLO will be available in August for $99 and the GLO for Aviation package is available immediately at a suggested retail of
The FAA will extend its comment period on a proposal to make it easier to fly without a third-class medical certificate, EAA and AOPA said on Monday. Pilots now have another 70 days -- until
September 14 -- to add to the more than 14,000 comments that were already filed in the initial 20-day comment period. The proposal would allow pilots to fly some GA aircraft without a third-class
medical if they take an online course, self-certify, and hold a driver's license. AOPA and EAA requested the extension, noting that the exemption would likely affect more than 39,000 pilots and impact
the operations of up to 114,333 single-engine piston airplanes.
"The number of comments received by the FAA to the medical exemption request is nearly unprecedented for any aviation issue," said Doug Macnair, EAA's vice president of government relations.
However, he said, the short comment period prevented some people from filing comments before the deadline. "The extension will supply additional time for people to support this important measure for
the future of aviation," Macnair said. Last month, AVweb's Mary Grady spoke with Kristine Hartzell, AOPA's manager of regulatory affairs, for more details about the plan and the strategy
behind it. Click here for a link to that podcast and for more details about the proposal and how to file
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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Trego-Dugan Aviation at North Platte Regional Airport/Lee Bird Field (KLBF) in North
AVweb reader Larry J. Newland got the royal treatment on a recent visit:
In June, we stopped overnight, and as soon as we landed I told them I needed a room for overnight each time and they made arrangements right away and got transportion to and from the hotel.
[They also] tied down the airlpane and fueled it, and the whole crew was very friendly.
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
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