AVwebFlash - Volume 18, Number 36a

September 3, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Three Things You Should Never Say to ATC
Listen as two ATC pros share tips on better communication with ATC. Avoid these common mistakes and make your interactions more efficient and accurate. This is a sample from Pilot Workshops' Tip of the Week. Click here for this quick tip.
AVflash! Rising Cost of Flying in New Zealand back to top 

New Zealand Pilots Oppose Fee Hikes

New Zealand aviation groups are lining up in opposition to major increases in fees for obtaining and maintaining a pilot's license. The one-time "issuance fee" for a pilot's license is going up from $55 to $230 but it's the new "medical service application fee" that is raising the collective blood pressure of the pilot population. Starting in November, pilots will have to pay a flat $313 any time their medical fitness is assessed by the Civil Aviation Administration. For commercial pilots past 40 that's every six months for single-pilot operations. It's not just the pilot fees that are going up, though. The CAA charge-out rate for audit operations will go from $135 an hour to $208 an hour in November and will be $284 an hour by the end of 2014. In all, more than 150 fees are being increased.

Aviation groups claim their members are being made to cover inefficiencies in the way the CAA operates. "If they had an efficient administrative system working in their medical unit -- in other words, internet-based filing -- then they wouldn't have a massive number of people handling bits of paper that inevitably get lost," Irene King, CEO of the Aviation Industry Association, told stuff.co.nz

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The Airplanes of Tomorrow back to top 

Near Silent (Boom) Supersonic Ninja Star Jet?

A team of researchers at the University of Miami has received $100,000 in NASA funding to further develop their ninja-star-looking bi-directional flying wing jet, which rotates 90 degrees in flight to achieve supersonic speeds with virtually no ground-observable sonic boom. The aircraft design is symmetrical along its longitudinal axis and its lateral axis, but one is longer than the other. It has two cockpits, each at one end of one axis, separated by 90 degrees. In flight at subsonic speed, the aircraft uses its longer axis as its wings, with its tips folded up into winglets. The aircraft transitions to supersonic flight by folding down the wingtips and using aerodynamic forces to rotate 90 degrees around centrally mounted twin turbofans. Once rotated, the shorter axis, an airfoil highly optimized for supersonic flight, serves as the wing.

The researchers have run computer models showing that the shorter wing delivers to ground level no observable supersonic boom when traveling at speeds near 1.5 Mach and 2.0 Mach. Transition from subsonic to supersonic configurations would require a 5-second rotation that researchers estimate would produce low level forces that passengers would find difficult to observe. That said, the research will not lead to supersonic passenger jets flying the skies in the next few years. Any application of the technology would likely see flight no sooner than 20 years from now. And that timeframe suggests other technological advances and aerodynamic modifications would evolve and be incorporated along the way. But the research team has looked at simulated versions of the aircraft operating as a business jet. And drone markets seeking the ability to use supersonic speeds and near-silent stealth could help press development.

MakerPlane: A Plan For The Collective Homebuilt

The idea behind MakerPlane is to create an "open source aviation project" that allows people to build their own aircraft using personal Computer Numerical Control (CNC) mills and 3D printers. In that way, MakerPlane hopes to create an environment where people can produce aircraft largely "built on a computer controlled mill at home." The man behind the idea, John Nicol, based in Canada, is seeking to reduce the financial means and physical capabilities required by an individual seeking to build an aircraft. Aside from creating a new largely digital workflow for builders, MakerPlane would also seek to cultivate multi-media builder assistance products and physical builder assistance sites. Nicol has unveiled MakerPlane's first design, "Version 1.0," from Israel-based aeronautical engineer, Jeffrey Meyer. The design conforms to LSA weight and speed requirements. V 1.0 also aims to be a modular design and MakerPlane intends to offer plans, free.

As a modular aircraft, builders could choose from "different pre-approved options" including "landing gear, wings, power plant, interior and other configurations." Aside from aircraft, MakerPlane hopes to create a new level of safety and accuracy in homebuilt aircraft through its use of mechanized "consistent, repeatable and highly accurate processes." Nicol envisions support communities that provide access to contributing designers and participants who volunteer their ideas to builders at every phase of the building process. "This is an international effort of like-minded folks all over the world," says Nicol. That in itself may not be so different from the advanced community forums and CNC-produced parts that exist among some of the world's most popular kitbuilt aircraft designs, like Van's Aircraft. Where MakerPlane would separate itself from that group is through its use of digital manufacturing processes at individual builder's homes, and a modular design that can be more easily adapted to individual needs.

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Aviation Safety back to top 

L-39 Pilot Dies In Airshow Crash

A member of the Hoppers civilian jet demonstration team was killed Saturday when his L-39 Albatros went down at an airshow in Davenport, Iowa. The pilot, Glenn Smith, of Frisco, Texas, was part of a three-ship formation when his aircraft went down in a field near the airport. The crash was visible to the crowd and resulted in a large fireball. The show resumed Sunday "out of respect for our fallen aviator," according to a note posted on Quad City Air Show website.

The Hoppers are a group of private L-39 owners from varying backgrounds who say their goal is to interact with children at airshows to inspire them to achieve. "The Hoppers have been blessed through hard work and a little luck to be in a position to fly these planes," the team says on its website. "Our goal is for kids to gain an appreciation of what these jets are all about and to walk away thinking 'I could do that too. All I have to do is work hard in school and think big!'" There has been no word from the team whether it will perform next week at the Waukegan, Ill., airshow as scheduled.

Richard Bach Injured In Crash (Updated)

It's now been confirmed that celebrated author and longtime flying enthusiast Richard Bach was seriously injured when his SeaRey amphib clipped power lines and went down short of a runway on San Juan Island northwest of Seattle on Friday. His son James told The Associated Press his father's condition is improving. He has a broken shoulder and head injuries. Bach, whose short novel about a seagull's love of flight was considered a metaphor for Bach's own passion for the air, was a massive best seller and after Jonathan Livingston Seagull he penned dozens of books, many of which had an aviation theme. The 76-year-old Bach, who was interviewed by AVweb's Mary Grady in 2011, is an accomplished pilot who also started a blog that often mentions aviation.

Details of the crash are sketchy but there are reports the landing gear of the aircraft snagged a power line on final for a private strip on the island. Bach began flying when he was 17 and flew F-84s for the Air Force as a reservist. He held a variety of jobs before the 1972 success of Jonathan Livingston Seagull and was also a barnstormer.

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News Briefs back to top 

The Next JetMan, Troy Hartman?

A new turbine-powered personal flying wing jetpack may be coming from San Diego-based Troy Hartman, an X Games skysurfing gold medalist and aerial stuntman who is actively testing his developing design. Hartman has not yet flown the complete rig but is testing its key components (see video). The ultimate solid wing design may be similar to that created by current only living Jetman, Yves Rossy. Rossy has successfully flown several noteworthy flights strapped to his own turbine-powered wing, including aerobatics (video), and a run in the Grand Canyon (video). Hartman updated his YouTube page Aug. 26 with footage of some of his most recent flight tests that included using the future wing's two-UAV turbine engines, without the wing, to power him aloft under canopy.

As tested, Hartman must lean forward in his harness to create the forward thrust that he uses to fly the rig like a powered parachute. His rig so far differs from Rossy's by using two larger UAV turbines for power, mounted together on his back. Rossy has used four smaller turbines, two per wing, and has shown a habit of continuously modifying the details of his design. Hartman is still working toward his own optimal solid wing design, and is reportedly developing at least two options -- one with the engines together on his back, the other with them mounted, one under each wing. The flight tests shown in the video are part of what Hartman calls "Phase 2" of his testing schedule. Hartman's Phase 1 checks previously tested his turbine rig, mounted to his back, and accelerating him, sometimes uphill, as he stood on snow skis. In that configuration, Hartman says he's reached a top speed of 47 mph and demonstrated "fast uphill ascents." (Click for video.)

NAHF Honors Armstrong's Legacy

The National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) will honor the legacy of the first man to walk on the moon by renaming one of its most prestigious awards as The Neil A. Armstrong Aviation Heritage Trophy, to be awarded this September. Formerly The Rolls-Royce Aviation Heritage Trophy, the award has been presented during the Reno Air Races, and sometimes by Armstrong himself, as part of the concurrently held National Aviation Heritage Invitational. It recognizes "the most authentic example of a vintage aircraft restored to airworthy condition." This year, and moving forward, it will carry Armstrong's name. Head of Rolls-Royce North America, James M. Guyette, said Rolls-Royce has been a proud sponsor of the National Aviation Heritage Invitational since 1998. He added, "I can think of no finer way" to memorialize Armstrong than to rename the trophy "in his honor, as a lasting tribute to his legacy."

Armstrong's logbook is said to contain time in more than 200 different aircraft models, from the Aeronca Champ, to the X-15, and the Grumman/NASA Lunar Module he hand flew to landing on the surface of the moon. According to NAHF, prior winners have been thrilled to receive the trophy from a Hall of Fame Enshrinee, "especially the first man to walk on the moon." Said Mike Houghton, president of the Reno Air Racing Association, "I am thrilled that The Neil A. Armstrong Aviation Heritage Trophy will be unveiled to the NAHI competitors and our air racing fans at the 49th Annual Reno Air Races next month." This year, that winner will not just enjoy the presentation ceremony, but also the unveiling of the new trophy to take place Sunday, Sept. 16, at Reno. Winners are given a "keeper" trophy. The original resides throughout the year at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

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

AVmail: September 3, 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: Pilot Currency

Regarding the "Question of the Week": I belong to the "I-get-an-IPC-every-six-months-whether-I-need-it-or-not" club. I always do ("need it," that is). I'm discovering that even with the every-six-month constraint, I find the need to really "exercise" a skill which is difficult to put into words — for lack of a better term, I'll call it "problem solving," — and it's virtually impossible to do this alone.

The rote procedure of establishing oneself on a final approach course, keeping things centered and landing is a skill which, admittedly, needs regular polishing. The "higher level" skill is the ability to deal with the curve ball, the distraction. I'm absolutely convinced that the bulk of morbidity out there, practiced by pilots who have the training to know better, is the result of misdirected attention to unseen traffic, GPS knob fiddling when a simple twist of the VOR OBS would do, or just generally missing the forest for the trees.

One of the rewards of IFR flight is the smooth handling of these challenges. It's one of the hardest skills to practice, too. I like to rotate through a couple of instructors at IPC time, just to make the experience a little less predictable. I think that helps shake the rust off the problem-solving machine.

Anthony Nasr

Time to Fly

Regarding the "Question of the Week": I was one of the respondents who put "other" as my answer. I am not flying currently because I am building an airplane. All my spare time (and money) are going into that project. I hope to return to the air (in my homebuilt) next year!

Darryl Ray

I fly for a living (flight instructing), so at work I have plenty of time to fly. I also own an airplane which I fly outside of work. Ten years ago I averaged 100 hours plus/year in that airplane. Now I'm down to 50 hours or less. Time, cost and family members who are less interested in flying on family trips have all been factors in reduced personal flying.

Dave McClurkin

Factors liming my flying hours are fuel cost, fuel cost and fuel cost — in that order.

Steve Zeller

MIT should be embarrassed about the study that found cost was a factor in the decline of general aviation. This is what they spend their time on for a higher education? I could have told them that without leaving my house. Wonder if they will send me a Masters Degree now.

Dale Gibboney

I have plenty of time, not enough money. What's more important — one hour on a Hobbs meter vs. two or three nice, nice, but not extravagant, evenings out with my wife?

Fred Wedemeier

Sorry, but the issue of available time affecting propensity to get into flying is not new. AOPA research (later donated to the new Be a Pilot program) found the two prime deterrents were cost and time. That's why BAP themes focused on concepts like "It costs less than you think and takes less time than you think."

Drew Steketee

I'm retired, so time is not an issue. Fuel cost is a bigger issue for me, but hasn't stopped me from flying regularly. Mogas prices are still reasonable, which helps me keep flying.

Jim Hefner

Armstrong Did Say It

Computer analysis shows that Neil Armstrong did say, "That's one small step for a man." The utterance was so short (35 milliseconds) that we don't hear it.

See this page or one of any other web pages when the story on the speech analysis occurred — back around 2006.

R. Montagne

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

AVweb Replies:

Staff Reply Goes Here.

Russ Niles

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We Ask, You Answer back to top 

Brainteasers Quiz #175: Back to Flight School


"For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these:" Back to School! (With apologies to John Greenleaf Whittier's "Maud Muller," 1854). Break's over, kids; time to review what you might've forgotten over the summer. This quiz will count toward your final grade.

Take the quiz.

More Brainteasers

To Multi Or Not To Multi

That was the question we posed last month. Is it nobler in the minds of pilots to fly on multiple engines or forsake one throttle and -- by opposing the multi-engine fetish -- declare, "One sound power source is good enough for me!" Here now are the results of our single v. multi-engine poll. Here now are the results of our single v. multi-engine poll.

Let's begin this review of the single-versus-multi-engine issue by agreeing to disagree that declaring which is better -- safer, faster, more efficient, sexier -- will never be settled in a civilized manner. Red Sox and Yankees fans will link arms and sing "Kumbaya" before pilots come together on this. Still, some of us can't pass up the opportunity to shoot BBs at hornet's nest, so in Brainteaser 174, I asked readers to declare which they favored, single or twin. More than a statistical survey, which usually proves mind-bogglingly dull, I also solicited the logic behind respondents' decisions. Comments ranged across the field from "twins/singles are safer" to "I think everyone should fly hot-air balloons only, because when the burner flames out you simply float into someone's backyard, and they usually hand you a beer." Can't argue with that.

As of Aug. 18, 2012, I'd received 212 survey responses and managed to delete 15 of those before I figured out not to answer emails on a laptop while drinking beer in some stranger's backyard. So, of the 197 surviving poll responses, 144 favored multi-engine aircraft over 53 diehards in the single-for-life column.

(Statistical margin of error of plus or minus something or other. Results as interpreted by the author are not indicative of scientific evaluations found in loftier surveys, such as Aviation Consumer or Aviation Safety. Discontinue use if excessive chaffing results.)

I'd thought the multi-yes column would be even larger, because I specified that -- for our survey purposes -- readers shouldn't concern themselves with the actual costs of multi-engine operations. All flights would begin and end at my fantasy airfield, Ailerona Muni, located in the Soysack Mountains of south-central Iowa, where the weather is always clear, avgas is a nickel a gallon -- plus you can charge it without ever getting a bill -- and there's never a fee for maintenance and instruction, because mechanics and instructors feel guilty about charging to be around airplanes. I know I do. Oh, yeah, and we'll even toss in a free hangar with a powered tug. So there's no reason to turn down this chance to squeeze a fistful of throttles and leave the singles gawking in awe.

Except those 53 devoted singles readers saw through the ruse: "Give me one reliable PT-6 in the nose over two finicky 1940s-technology piston engines bangin' away on the wings any day," an anonymous curmudgeon wrote. [Ed. note: We've stripped all identities from the comments. If you think you recognize any uncredited comment as being yours, well, it wasn't. It's from the other guy.] Her email reeked of kerosene, but she had a point. A wheezing Piper Apache can't hold a relief tube to the reliability of today's single-engine turbines. This led to many of the answers being classified as yes-no-but answers, as in, "Yes, I'd take a multi, but I can't afford it," or "No, I have no need of a twin, but whenever I fly over the Cascades on a winter's night, I sure whish I had a spare engine."

Tossing aside the cost factor -- which is significant in leaping from one engine to two -- 22 readers chose twins simply because they were "cool." Those are the kind of pilots we need more of around the field. No one rides a Harley because it gets good gas mileage or handles like a Triumph 650. You mount a Hog because it rumbles and annoys the hell out of the guy at the light in his Prius. Likewise, a deep-throated Baron, when it taxis across the ramp with those lopping big-bore Continentals sucking more avgas than a Cirrus will burn in a month, looks cool. It is cool. Face it: Many of us became pilots to overcome a lack of coolness. Those of us who had bad acne and really liked muscle cars in high school, anyhow.

More levelheaded readers argued the plusses and minuses of twin v. single by alternately sighting safety. Several readers rightfully pointed out that the aircraft's mission should drive the debate. How cool is that?

The multi-yes crowd greatly favored the extra windmill when operating over mountains or vast stretches of water. Multi detractors quoted the tired saw: "When one engine fails, the other just gets you to the crash site sooner." To which several multi-engine pilots countered with, "When one engine fails, the other takes me to the airport."

Accident stats do not always support the two-engines-is-better-than-one debate. Many twins have crashed with one good engine still on the wing or on the fuselage (think Cessna Skymaster). Causes vary, but almost all readers -- except those devoted to the cool factor -- pointed out that a multi-engine aircraft presents multiple chances of trouble. If the pilot is not properly trained and (this is important) maintains proficiency, then the extra engine can prove to be a negative in an emergency. Sound advice.

Building on the training theme, several multi-engine pilots said they'd earned the rating simply to increase their skill levels. "Best $6000 BFR I've ever had," commented one reader, who admitted he'd never fly a twin after the checkride but found that the discipline of mastering the extra engine and systems made him a better single-engine pilot. Tricycle-gear pilots often get the same results when transitioning to tailwheel. Any training that's good training increases overall pilot confidence and ability. Ideally, the Cessna 210 pilot should upgrade to twins in a DC-3 and get the multi, tailwheel, and definite cool factor all wrapped in one.

Several readers asked, "Why limit this multi-fantasy to twins?" And then they suggested a list of three-and-four-engine transports, such as DC-10s and 747s. I particularly enjoyed the reader who suggested transitioning to multis in a Ford or Stinson Tri-Motor. Gotta admire the understated cool factor.

A subtler approach to favoring twins over singles didn't buy into the need for the extra thrust. Several readers mentioned the comfort of having redundant systems, such as vacuum and alternator. Engines don't fail all that often. When they do, a competent single-engine pilot can usually make a relatively safe emergency landing. But what about those night IFR trips over the Great Lakes when you'd really, really hate to lose the single vacuum pump? Twins offer a little extra IFR piece of mind in that department.

Comfort was a minor factor in the survey responses but shouldn't go unnoted. Going higher to ride in cool, dry air above the clouds drew a few pilots into multis. Yes, Mooneys and 210s can cruise with most small twins while burning less fuel, but you get the gist. Air conditioning on the ramp drew another survey pilot into popping for a twin.

So, will the debate ever be resolved? Of course not. Don't even try. If you spent your kids' inheritance on a tricked-out Cessna 210 or Beech Baron, it really doesn't matter. They'll never fly with you, because you just aren't cool. Get over it. Love your airplane ... and, oh yeah, your kids, too. Both are expensive. Neither calls on your birthday. But pursue whatever winged dream you have and never let anyone try to tell you that your choice was the wrong one, because anything that gets you into the sky and above the ordinary is a good choice. When your kids turn 40, they'll get it. Just make them buy their own damn airplane!

And speaking of being above the ordinary, check out this P-51 flying fantasy come true. [Ed. Yes, that's the author's voice in the Above The Ordinary video.]

Next up: We tackle the multi- v. single-malt scotch debate. // -->

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New on AVweb.com back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: No Time? No Kidding

Cost is a big reason that many owners have reduced their flying hours. But so is lack of time. No surprise there, either, says Paul Bertorelli on the AVweb Insider blog. You probably don't know anyone who's working fewer hours than they did a decade ago, and neither do we. Modern life puts so many demands on the 24-hour day that flying gets bumped to the bottom of the to-do list. Plus, some additional thoughts on the passing of Neil Armstrong.

Read more and join the conversation.

Podcast: Flying to America

File Size 9.7 MB / Running Time 10:35

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

It's an ambition for many pilots in the U.K., and Flyer magazine publisher Ian Seager invited some of them along for the ride on his trip to AirVenture Oshkosh. Seager flew his Cessna 182 and talked to AVweb's Paul Bertorelli at the show in late July.

Click here to listen. (9.7 MB, 10:35)

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Gill Aviation (KDWH, Houston, Texas)

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

AVweb's newest "FBO of the Week" is Gill Aviation at David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport (KDWH) in Houston, Texas.

AVweb reader J.C. Hyde visit there recently and experienced their first-rate service first hand:

Flew into Houston last week. I had arranged for a rental car to be available upon our arrival. What I hadn't planned for was the lost of my primary vacuum pump. When we arrived, [the] rental car was ready; when I asked about fixing the vacuum, the FBO instantly put me into contact with Rite-Way Aviation, whose owner, John Davis, met me at the aircraft. We hadn't even finished unloading before he was hooking the aircraft up to his tug, ready to tow it to their maintenance facility. [He got it] fixed that day and ready for departure. Between Gill Aviation and Rite-Way Aviation, a two-day planned stop did not end up in a long downtime waiting for repairs. And even the cookies were great!

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!

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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

In view of all the recent hurricane news coverage, I recalled a pertinent exchange from the the Port Columbus, Ohio (CMH) tower. I worked at the "Lane Gate" vehicle check point for several years, regularly monitoring the tower frequency to get a "play by play" description of what was going on around me. I overheard the following exchange the day after the remnants of hurricane Ike came through, causing a lot of downed trees and subsequent power outages. A recently landed ERJ was taxiing to the ramp and called the tower:

"CMH Tower, American Eagle 1234. I hear you guys got a lot of wind yesterday. How much did you get?"

"American Eagle 1234, Tower. The highest gust I saw was 68mph, and then the wind thingee blew away."

(78mph gusts were reported by the news media.)

Edwin Esson
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.

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