AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 18, Number 40a

October 1, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! New Leases on Life back to top 

Mosquito Flies Again

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An eight-year restoration project culminated with the first flights of what is now the world's only flyable de Havilland Mosquito fighter bomber in New Zealand. Mosquito KA114 flew from Ardmore Airport to Mangere on Thursday. It was the first time a Mosquito had flown since 1996 when the last surviving example crashed at the Barton Air Show in England. The aircraft is owned by Jerry Yagen, owner of Fighter Factory in Virginia Beach, Va., and after being displayed at Ardmore over the weekend is expected to be crated and shipped to Virginia. The restoration, which was practically a ground-up reconstruction, was done by Glyn Powell and Mike Tunnicliffe. (Video at right.)

Yagen bought the crumbling hull, which was built in Toronto in 1945, from a small British Columbia museum in 2004. The aircraft was reportedly stored outside for much of that time and not much was salvageable. Powell and Tunnicliffe had to re-create the massive molds used to shape the plywood for much of the airframe. Computerized woodworking equipment helped with the manufacture of smaller parts and the structure of the aircraft was ready after about three years. The good news is that the molds are reusable and more Mosquitoes are likely to be built. The airframe parts were moved to AvSpecs, a renowned warbird rebuilder at Ardmore for assembly and systems installation.

China Saves Liberty?

Details of a deal announced earlier this month show that a Chinese city may be single-handedly resuscitating Liberty Aerospace with a $28 million deal that includes the purchase of 50 Liberty XL2s. To put that into perspective, GAMA's 2011 Year-End shipment report lists a total of three XL2 two-seat, side-by-side low-wing trainer deliveries for 2011 -- all of which took place in the first quarter. Through the first two quarters of 2012, Liberty shipped no XL2s, according to GAMA. Now, Wuhan, China, has agreed to purchase 50 XL2s plus 50 four-seat helicopters from other manufacturers. The deal was announced by officials from Wuhan and Federal Aerospace Holdings Group with a promise of "bringing jobs back to America." 

The population of Wuhan is roughly 10 million and it is a major transportation hub in central China recently identified by the Chinese government as "an aviation city," according to a press release describing the deal. The arrangement provides obvious inroads for Liberty in China. General aviation in China is expected to grow after the Chinese government opens airspace to general aviation aircraft in 2015. Current plans include training Chinese pilots in the U.S. and Chinese officials have reportedly toured the Florida Institute of Technology's flight operations building as well as Bristow Academy. Earlier this month, a Chinese delegation of five also toured aviation companies in Florida and flight schools in relation to the deal.

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Aviation Safety back to top 

Balloon Pilot Loses Crash Suit

The pilot of a hot air balloon that caught fire, resulting in the death of two of his 12 passengers in British Columbia in 2007, has lost his lawsuit against the balloon's manufacturer, Aerostar International. Stephen Pennock claimed the fuel lines on the balloon were improperly assembled and designed, resulting in the horrific accident in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver, in August of 2007. The Vancouver Province reported B.C. Supreme Court Gregory Bowden said he was unable to determine from the evidence whether strain on the fuel line or improper assembly caused it to break and in any case he said it wasn't established that the addition of any further safety devices would have prevented the disaster. He dismissed Pennock's suit. It was the last litigation involving the accident. Aerostar had settled out of court with others involved and would not discuss details of the settlements.

Pennock testified during the trial that as he lit the burner on the balloon, he heard a sound like a truck releasing its air brakes and he was enveloped in propane vapor. Before he could shut off the pilot light, the gas in the air ignited and he yelled at the passengers to get out of the basket, according to the judgment. He said he fell out of the basket in flames and it started to rise. All except two passengers were able to jump from the burning basket. Shannon Knackstedt, 49, and her 21-year-old daughter, Gemma, were trapped in the basket as it shot up about 1,000 feet before dropping into an RV park. Many of those who survived were burned or suffered injuries from jumping. The accident led to Canada's Transportation Safety Board calling on Transport Canada to tighten safety regulations for commercial balloon operations.

Nepal, Airline Disagree On Crash Cause

Nepalese aviation officials and executives of Sita Air are at odds over what brought down a Sita Dornier 228 Friday in Katmandu, killing all 16 passengers and three crew. It may be up to British investigators to sort out just what happened. The twin had just taken off from Katmandu's airport headed for Lukla, the first stop for many Mt. Everest trekkers, when the pilot reported a bird strike. Witnesses on the ground reported seeing the aircraft on fire before it crashed on an open patch of ground in the middle of the city. The aircraft burned after impact and the only recognizable part left was the tail. There seems to be agreement that the aircraft hit a bird, possibly a vulture, but that's where the airline and the government diverge.

Suresh Acharya, a senior aviation official, told reporters the aircraft was seen doing "unusual maneuvers" prior to the crash and suggested pilot error was the primary cause. "But a plane crash does not occur simply just because its engine was hit by a bird," he is reported by BBC to have said. "The pilot may have been panic-stricken [and] made a steep narrow turn instead of forming a wider radius required to bring the malfunctioning aircraft back to the runway." Airline spokesman Deependra Shahi responded that his information suggested the bird strike caused the engine to catch fire. Meanwhile, British officials have been reported saying the aircraft may have been overloaded with passengers and gear and might not have been able to make the turn back to the airport on one engine. The aircraft has 19 passenger seats and a maximum payload of more than 5,000 pounds. Katmandu's elevation is about 4,400 feet above sea level and the temperature at the time of the crash was about 70 degrees.

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News Briefs back to top 

Second Suicidal Florida Pilot Missing

About one week after a reportedly suicidal pilot and his plane disappeared from central Florida, a piece of wing has been found floating off Florida's northeast coast that may be associated with a different reportedly suicidal pilot. Investigators are seeking to determine if the four-foot wing section belongs to a Cessna 172 piloted by Gene Milowicki, a retired Navy commander with 24 years service. Milowicki resigned on Sept. 14 from his subsequent position as director of aviation programs at Florida State College, Jacksonville. Police found a suicide note in Milowicki's car, which was parked in his hangar at Herlong airport. The report comes roughly one week after Michael Sills and his Piper Archer disappeared under similar circumstances from Orlando-Apopka Airport.

In both cases, investigators feel that there is sufficient evidence to support the theory that the men committed suicide. Before his disappearance on Sept. 11, Sills reportedly threatened to crash his aircraft into the home of his ex-girlfriend, or another building. His car was also found at his home airport. There was blood inside the car and the exhaust had been rigged for what appeared to be a suicide attempt. A witness told investigators that his airplane departed the airport that night, and the FAA had joined local authorities in searching for the aircraft. In the case of Milowicki, his pastor told police the veteran had told him he had considered flying into the ocean, according to Jacksonville.com. Both men had troubled relationships with women from whom they'd separated prior to their disappearance. Both involved legal complications related to their relationships. The wing section was recovered by a dive charter boat. "We went to flip it over and fuel started spilling out," one passenger said. The Coast Guard began searching for human remains Tuesday and continued Wednesday.

Third X-37B Launch Expected, Few Details

The Air Force has announced that one of its 29-foot-long X-37B unmanned space planes will launch on another classified mission in October and this time has left some faint hints of what the aircraft's activities might involve. Previous missions of X-37B space planes ended in December 2010, after 255 days, and in June 2012, after 469 days. Both of those flights landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and little is known about what the aircraft did while in orbit. Air Force spokesperson Maj. Tracy Bunko has indicated the X-37B helps the Air Force test how new payload systems and technologies perform in space. It also brings those payloads back for detailed inspection, providing "significantly better learning than can be achieved by remote telemetry alone." The next trip may not return to Vandenberg.

The X-37B has launched aboard an Atlas 5 rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral and will do so again in October, but this time, the Air Force says it is considering a landing at NASA Kennedy Space Center. The move could save money by making better use of previous investments and infrastructure available there. The exact date of launch is dependent on weather and technical factors. The Air Force has two X-37B vehicles and the one used for the October mission will be the same vehicle that took the first trip in 2010. Each vehicle is 29 feet long and 15 feet wide. It houses a payload bay similar in size to that of a pickup truck. The vehicle is a Boeing product operated by the U.S. Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office.

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Emergency Procedures back to top 

Pilot Turns Fake Emergency Into Marriage Proposal (Video)

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Back in February, Pilot Ryan Thompson decided to propose to his girlfriend in the air, while flying a Diamond DA40 (or similar) near Chicago, but the proposal wasn't the only drama Thompson had planned and all of it was caught on video. While the actual flight took place months ago, the edited video only appeared on the internet this month and it is making headlines, including Good Morning America. Thompson's preflight planning for the flight included mounting a GoPro to the glareshield and printing a special checklist. Once airborne with then-girlfriend Carlie, the two enjoyed some sightseeing before Thompson unleashed his plan.

He feigned control failure and asked Carlie to stay calm and read through a checklist for him. At the end of Thompson's modified checklist came the phrase "ring engagement procedure." The rest should really be watched, but in the end, Carlie's "well, you got me" was appropriate for more than just the prank. Since going viral, the video has sparked some tongue-in-cheek responses from the YouTube community, like this one: "Well don't I feel like a d__k. I asked my girl to marry me while walking the dog. Thanks, a___ole."

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Why Can't Johnny Land?

He can, just not very well. Loss of control on the runway is the leading cause of accidents, and (no surprise) it's more pronounced among LSAs. Can simulators help? Some schools and flight instructors think so. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli examines the subject.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

AVmail: October 1, 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: Boxed in at the FAA

Regarding the Pearson Box: The air field I used to fly from, White Waltham in England, is close to London Heathrow and when the wind is from the east, is often overflown by airliners turning on to final at 2,500 feet. Our circuit height is 800 feet, with an overhead join at 1,300.

We knew that our activities would trigger TACS alerts, especially when a Pitts or Sukhoi was practicing aerobatics, yet this wasn't and isn't seen as an issue.

Perhaps the FAA should contact U.K. NATS (National Air Traffic Services) and find out how we safely manage this in the U.K.

Mik Butler

Drone Double Standard

On August 2, 2010, the operator of a Department of Defense drone lost link. The drone proceeded into the D.C. Special Flight Rules Area for about 30 minutes. The drone did not execute any lost link procedures.

Here you have an uncontrolled (some would argue, out of control) aircraft inside the SFRA. No fighters were launched to intercept. No one escorted this aircraft out of the area. No SWAT team members or other law enforcement met the pilot on the ground. No TV crews were around to plaster the image of the pilot all over the evening news.

Did the pilot receive a suspension or have to submit a statement to the FAA?

If this had been a pilot in a 150, would the outcome have been any different?

Robert Ore

The Homebuilt Dream

Regarding the "Question of the Week": What about all of us that have started a homebuilt but not yet finished it?


AVweb Replies:

You're the ones we wanted to hear from, Fred, and we did. Thank you to everyone who dropped us a note. We couldn't run all of them.

Russ Niles

I have always wanted to build one but don't yet have the time or space. I will one day.

Gus Cabre

I started a Vans RV-8 project back in 2000, and now, twelve years later, I'm still working on it. I've finished the tail [and] am halfway through the wings with life getting in the way from time to time. I would like to aim for stepping it up and having it flying by retirement (five years)! We'll see!

Jeff Munzell

I have been building a Midget Mustang from plans for 37 years. It was started in 1950 by someone else, and I purchased it in 1975 and have been finishing and modifying it off and on during these years. I moved my project twice across the county. It is now very close to being finished.


I'm currently building an RV-7 and have helped build eight homebuilts.

Thomas Phy

I'm planning to start my first homebuild project early next year. I've narrowed the decision between an RV-10 and an RV-14. Since pricing isn't yet available for the 14, it's too early to decide.

Scott Johnson

I always wanted to build one but never seemed to have the time.

Denis Donohue

After 16 years of building, head-scratching and frustration, we are just about ready for the DAR inspection.

We are assured by our fellow builders that once we fly our project, all our difficulties will be forgotten.

Ric Lee

I fell in love with the Pietenpol Aircamper when I was 13. Fifty years later, I have three ribs built, several Model A engines and a variety of parts. I still have the dream, but progress is slow! Lessee, 10 years ... .

Phil Cianciolo

B-24 Memories

Regarding the video of the Collings B-24: I had a friend who was a mid upper air gunner on the B-24 out of India with the RCAF in the Second World War.

He told me they did their bombing runs at 100 feet. Of course, the bombs were on a delay; otherwise, they would have been toast. He has since passed on, but he loved that airplane.

I was in naval aviation in that war and wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Tony Ellison

50 Years of Edmonton International

Regarding your story about Edmonton City Centre Airport: There is mention of the new international airport opening 20 years ago. Actually, Edmonton Airport CYEG opened 50 years ago. At the time, it was a long way from downtown and referred to as "the White Elephant."

Allan Bowes

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

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Send us an e-mail with your contact information, and we'll set up an interview.

The results will appear in a future issue of Aviation Consumer. For subscription information, click here.

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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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Tradition Aviation (KTRM, Palm Springs, California)

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

AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Tradition Aviation at Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport (KTRM) in Palm Springs, California.

AVweb reader Ted Seastrom recommended the FBO:

For many months, KTRM was my home airport. This recommendation is based not on just one experience but the consistency of dozens of experiences under all conditions. Tradition Aviation, run by Penny Nelson and Ann Goodwyn, is simply a jewel — everything an FBO can and should be. Every person there is competent, friendly, and professional. It's obvious they love aviation and support pilots, passengers, and crew with energy and enthusiasm. Planes are met, escorted, and attended to with efficiency. The building itself has a rustic feel to it while offering the most up-to-date amenities. Everyone is made to feel welcome — from corporate moguls and their jets to new private pilots. Tradition is a case study in FBO excellence.

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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Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Our latest winning photo comes from Andrew Jackson (Savanda Action Photography) of Williamsburg, VA. Click here for the rest of this week's submissions.
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AVweb Video: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Video: The Last Flying B-24 Bomber (Collings Foundation)

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

The B-24 was the most widely produced bomber in world history. This video shows the sole surviving regularly flown example, from roughly 18,000 B-24 Liberator bombers produced. This is the Collings Foundation's B-24, Witchcraft.

During World War II, at peak production, factories put out roughly ten of these aircraft per day. Each was driven by four supercharged turbocharged radials putting out 1,200 horsepower each. Flying with greater range than the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-24 Liberator bomber could drop about 8,000 pounds of bombs from high- or low-altitude attacks. When WWII's most widely used big bomber went down, it often took all ten crewmen at a time. It was notably involved in the infamous Ploesti raid, in which more than 50 aircraft and 660 crewmen were lost. The surviving men who flew in the bomber and the men and women who produced these historic aircraft are becoming few. Talk to one if you get the chance.

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Video: Super Legend Flight Trial

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

American Legend gained success with its popular Legend Cub, and now it's followed up with a new Lycoming-powered version of the airplane. If you like the Super Cub, you'll like the Super Legend, too, because its performance is quite similar. AVweb ventured to Legend's Sulphur Spring, Texas, homebase to fly the airplane, and here's a video report on the flight.

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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

This happened just three days ago, during instrument training, while copying and reading back a clearance for only the second time ever.

Clearance Delivery (after I'd read back my clearance correctly) :
"Readback correct. What runway, and how long?"

"Runway 03, and it's 4,200 feet long."

I can only imagine what the controller said at that time. My instructor keyed in immediately to clear things up.

Brian Smith
via e-mail

Ed. Note: We've had more than our usual share of chuckles from "Short Final" entries these last couple of weeks, but it's rare that pilots — even student pilots — 'fess up to being the culprits in the telling.

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

Ad Coordinator
Karen Lund

Avionics Editor
Larry Anglisano

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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