AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 18, Number 52a

December 24, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Viral Veracity back to top 

Cruz Video A Fake: FAA

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It's not often a viral video is debunked by federal investigators but the FAA has determined that Victor Cruz's admittedly significant skills were exaggerated in a YouTube video. The video depicted Cruz, the star receiver for the New York Giants, catching a football that appeared to have been thrown from an airplane. As we reported in November, the video showed him easily catching a ball as a Cessna flies overhead at what looks to be the required 1,000 feet. Cruz makes the catch in the parking lot of what looks like a football stadium in a built-up area and that's what caught the attention of the FAA. As many AVweb readers had also determined (through mathematical, anecdotal and plain common sense deduction) the agency quickly found out the pilot of the Cessna did not allow an object to be dropped from the plane against federal regulations. They took a more direct route to that conclusion.

"Our inspectors interviewed the Giants' promotions staff," an FAA spokesman told AVweb. Plenty of others had asked the same basic questions but while Cruz and the Giants were coy with the media and Twitter followers, they apparently 'fessed up right away when the feds came knocking. The agency didn't give away any secrets as to how the video trickery was performed. As fakes go, it was fairly elaborate, right down to the guy with the handheld radio apparently talking to the pilot. Have a look at our letters section to see a few examples of how AVweb readers reached their conclusions.

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Canada Gets Serious About Biofuels back to top 

Canada, FAA Cooperate On Fuel Research

A couple of months after making the first-ever flight of a jet aircraft on 100-percent biofuel, Canada's National Research Council is applying the knowledge it gained in that effort to help the FAA find a drop-in replacement for 100LL. The NRC will conduct a comprehensive series of experiments and evaluations of five potential avgas substitutes at the government-run facilities in Ottawa. NRC director of flight operations Tim Leslie said in a podcast interview that NRC had planned to do the research independently but it has now agreed to cooperate with the FAA's effort in a fundamental way.

Like the FAA, NRC decided to test the alternative fuels in high-powered Lycoming engines, which power the majority of the aircraft that need 100 LL. At the request of the FAA, NRC will instead use Continental engines in the tests and the cooperative effort will cover almost all of the engines that might be affected. The exception is radial engines still used commercially by some operators and in warbirds. NRC will test five 100 LL alternatives, including Swift and Gami fuels along with 94 UL and very low-lead gasoline. It will also include a Canadian entry from the same company that produced the jet fuel Leslie burned in the NRC's Falcon business jet. Meanwhile, the NRC and its partners in the jet-fuel experiment are celebrating a tip of the hat from Popular Science magazine. It named the biofuel flight as one of the top 25 scientific achievements in 2012. It was the only aviation-related effort to make the list.

Podcast: Canada Joins Aviation Fuel Research

File Size 8.8 MB / Running Time 9:34

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Canada's National Research Council recently flew the first flight using 100 percent biofuel in a Falcon business jet, and the NRC is now applying that research in a study that will parallel the FAA's work to find a suitable unleaded replacement for 100LL. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with the NRC's Tim Leslie.

This podcast is brought to you by Bose Corporation.

Click here to listen. (8.8 MB, 9:34)

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404 Error 86'ed back to top 

FAA Resolves Accident Web Page Error

A banner posted on the FAA's popular preliminary accident and incident notices page as late as Thursday afternoon told visitors the service will be discontinued at the end of the year, but actual human beings at the FAA have told AVweb otherwise. The site provides preliminary information, updated daily, regarding the most recent aircraft accidents. It maintains the information in a rolling database covering the preceding 10 days. The banner sparked a few emails to AVweb, which prompted our emails to the FAA. Responses from contacts there unequivocally stated that the banner message was posted in error.

AVweb brought the service termination message to the attention of FAA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs Laura Brown, who responded plainly. "That's wrong. Our web team is on top of this and that will not happen. I'll get that pulled off the page. It IS used extensively." In other words, regardless of the posted message, the FAA says don't worry about losing access to the preliminary accident and incident notices page. As of Thursday, night, the termination message was removed.

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The Law and the Skies back to top 

LA Sheriff Takes Fire Over Aircraft Use

A county audit has found that managers at the Los Angeles county Sheriff's Department dispatched aircraft for personal reasons, costing the county tens of thousands of dollars, the LA Times reported, Thursday. The county audit was prompted in part by allegations that misuse of county aircraft was impacting response to emergency calls. The audit found no support for that claim, but did find improper use that included a trip to Connecticut in a county aircraft that cost the county $35,000. According to the audit, a commercial flight could have performed the same task faster and for significantly less money. Another flight involved carrying the daughter of a commander to his retirement party. Still, a department spokesperson called the audit an "exoneration."

According to department spokesman Steve Whitmore, the audit's findings exonerated the air support division because the most serious allegations facing the department were not supported by the audit's findings. Specifically, no evidence was found that the activities delayed emergency response or that misuse of aircraft was involved in time sheet manipulation or any attempts to collect additional overtime pay. Whitmore said that the sheriff does not accept "questionable uses" of public resources and that the department "is prepared to correct anything that needs correcting." The allegations were initially made public in March, at which time the LA Times says the office's captain responded by noting that one of the accusers had himself previously flown two relatives on a department helicopter, picking them up from northern Los Angeles County and flying them to LAX.

NZ Flight Instructor Guilty Of Airborne Assault

The former director of a flight school in New Zealand, Ravindra Pal Singh, 65, has been found guilty by a local District Court judge of separately assaulting two student pilots while providing instruction to them in the air. One student testified that Singh had slapped him in the face and pushed his head into the side of the cockpit. Another student said Singh elbowed her on several flights and raised his hand above her head in a manner that was threatening. Singh argued that the accusations were levied by poorly performing students who were in the county on visas that he was not inclined help extend. The judge disagreed with Singh's account in spite of the fact that an arrest warrant has been issued for a third accuser.

The third complainant brought common assault charges and is now wanted on charges of producing forged civil aviation documents. A fourth complainant also brought common assault charges. Both of those charges were dropped by the court. Singh still faces other charges in the case and sentencing will take place after all charges have been heard by the court. Singh had operated Palmerston North flying school in New Zealand until last summer, when he shut down operations. The school catered to Indians, and Singh said it operated well until he became more stringent on visa extensions and student complaints prompted him to close down.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: LSAs for IFR? Why Not?

On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli contends that spending $170,000 to equip an LSA with dual-redundant glass and an autopilot just to tool across the county for a burger raises an obvious question: Why not fly these things IFR? This turns out to be a gray area, rules wise, but it can be done if certain sensible limitations are observed.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Favorite Aviation Flicks -- The Bridges at Toko-Ri

Yeah, we all know it's a great film, but did you ever stop to think why? Paul Bertorelli has been up late recently watching movies and explains some interesting points about this classic aviation film of the Korean War in his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

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Reader Mail back to top 

AVmail: December 24, 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: Not for Pantywaists

In regards to your drop zone pilot's nail-biting video, I think this pilot's operations are completely unwarranted, unnecessary, and unsafe. You've heard the one about old, bold pilots and — really, to save a few minutes? Having said that, it is a cool video, and I admire his skill.

When I was in flight training at a university, my instructors seemed to think I was overly cautious, with one even calling me a pantywaist when I turned back from a cross-country with a huge storm approaching.

Really? I'm flying one of your brand-new $130,000 aircraft, and I'm being overly cautious? Anyway, I enjoyed the video, and I always enjoy your newsletters. Keep up the good work.

Bob Price

I watched the video of the King Air pilot "dropping" into the airport. My first reaction was horror at the stupidity of the pilot. No King Air that I am aware of is approved for aerobatic flight.

My horror turned to anger as I realized that the idiot continuously placed the aircraft in aerobatic flight while violating the regs regarding the wearing of parachutes during the flight. He did not have one on. The feds need to find that fellow and ground him, perhaps permanently. There is no excuse for that.

Michael Crognale

I'll Take the Bus

Regarding the potential pilot shortage: About a decade ago, I researched earning a commercial pilot license, and then I looked at the bigger picture.

I was already working 60 hours a week as a parachute rigger, skydiving instructor, hangar sweeper, fuel truck driver, etc. Earning a commercial pilot license would require working for another two or three years at a jump school (to earn the minimum 1,000 hours to move up to fancier airplanes). Forget about duty time regulations for "seasonal" work flying skydivers!

I would then graduate to starvation wages flying freight in "beater" aircraft (partial panel, rough-running engines, into steep mountain valleys, known icing, etc. on split shifts or at o'dark thirty.)

A friend flew freight for a year in Alaska and concluded that it was pure luck that he did not slide a Cessna 207 off an icy runway and into a snow bank.

Then I researched driving a city bus. Yes, junior bus drivers still get stuck with split shifts and driving at o'dark thirty, but training is paid for by the bus company. Pay is decent (starting at $40,000 per year and quickly growing to $60,000) with reasonable benefits and a union to keep the company on the straight-and-narrow on duty times, sick leave, etc.

After that cost-benefit analysis, I chose a career driving a bus.

My heart may still be in the sky, but the money is in buses.

Rob Warner

The fears of an impending pilot shortage fail to consider how free market forces will correct any imbalances. Since all market supply-and-demand relationships seek a natural equilibrium, any pilot shortage will automatically attract new pilots into the system.

The impact of the 1,500-hour rule will follow a predictable path:

  1. Higher requirements will cause a disruption in the supply of pilots, eventually causing a short-term imbalance between pilots and pilot positions.
  2. Companies needing pilots will sense the shortage and begin competing for the limited resources by offering higher salaries for those positions.
  3. Seeing the higher compensation, new pilot resources will decide it advantageous to enter the market.
  4. So long as #1 remains true, then #2 and #3 are certain to follow until the imbalance is corrected.

The aviation market is unusual in that the non-monetary benefits of piloting are a much larger portion of the overall reason for labor resources to enter the market. Although this will result in a lower than average wage for their equivalent skillset, it does not suspend the natural laws of economics. Pilot salaries will eventually rise to attract new resources to meet the demand, and, at worst, there will be a short-term shortage.

Shannon Bonneau

Daydream Believing

Regarding the "Question of the Week": I'd use a $2,000 windfall mostly in fuel to share the experience of aviation with the young and the old. It is how our forebears experienced aviation in the 1920s and '30s, and it would be appropriate for me since my plane is an antique.

David Bullen

I would upgrade the interior of my Cessna 150, get a good exterior paint job, replace one nav/com radio and be ready to offer it for sale when it becomes necessary.

Rose Dickeson

After 13-plus years of flying, I would upgrade my equipment with a Zulu headset, ADS-B receiver, and flight cam. I have already have an iPad with ForeFlight.

Colin Maitland

Fantasy Cruz

Victor Cruz's catch was fantastic — as in "fantasy football." If the plane was 1,000' up and the football took five seconds to reach Victor, the ball's average velocity was 136 mph. Top quarterbacks throw at 45 mph. A clever fake. Victor still gets my vote for initiative.

Steve Evans

I vote for Photoshopping. As hard as it is to accurately drop flour bombs from 50 feet AGL, I can't imagine dropping anything accurately enough to be caught as depicted from 1,000 feet AGL. From that height, it would be hard to get the football into the stadium, let alone close enough to the receiver that he would only have to move the two feet the video shows. As the MythBusters like to say, "Possible but improbable."

Cary Alburn

Looks fabricated, as there is no "trajectory" to the inbound path of the ball. If the plane is moving 70-75 knots, then so is the ball as it is on its way down. The ball seems to drop straight down to the "receiver" with a forward speed of zero.

Supposing the winds were exactly correct to alter the balls drop to the ground, it might be possible. But I don't think this is the case here.

Ron Harger

Come on, guys. Do some research (and apply basic physics) before reporting. This is clearly a fake.

The total time the ball is in flight is less than four seconds. If you apply the standard formula x = (1/2)*(a)*(t^2) (where a = 32 ft/sec2 and t = 4 seconds), the result yields a height of 256 feet for the alleged drop — and that would be in a vaccum. It would be even lower if you account for air resistance.

Additionally, the height of the stadium wall is approximately 150 feet, and the aircraft is clearly more than 100 feet above that.

Dave Heyburn

AVweb Replies:

See our follow-up story for the latest on the Cruz catch.

AVweb staff

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

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

Survey: Are You Flying with a Garmin GTN Navigator?

If so, the staff of Aviation Consumer would like to know what you think of it. Almost two years ago, Garmin introduced the GTN-series navigators to update its mega-popular GNS products. If you've been flying behind one, tell us what you think of it by taking this survey. It'll only take five minutes.

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

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Chesapeake Aviation Services (KANP, Edgewater, MD)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Chesapeake Aviation Services at Lee Airport (KANP) in Edgewater, Maryland.

AVweb reader Steven Oxman recommended the FBO:

Chesapeake takes care of aircraft problems in the shortest time I have ever seen.

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

Video: L-3's Trilogy Backup Gyro

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

Glass panels have become standard in new aircraft, and now that more legacy airplanes are retrofitted with these systems, there's a growing market for backup gyros. That market has clearly stated a preference: Backup glass units are making inroads. In this AVweb video, Larry Anglisano of Aviation Consumer and Kirk Fryar of Sarasota Avionics give us a tour of the L-3 Trilogy.

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Video: FK's Comet Biplane

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

FK Lightplanes has significant presence in Europe but almost none in the U.S. They'd like to change that with a sporty little aerobatic biplane called the FK-12 Comet. Right now, it's got a Rotax 912, but it will soon have a fully aerobatic Lycoming AEIO-233, making it one of only a couple of light sports approved for aerobatics and the only biplane. AVweb recently took a spin in the Comet with Hansen Air Group's Mitch Hansen. Here's a video report.

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Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 
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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

A double-dose of holiday merriment to celebrate the season.

As a retired NWA/Rep/NCA pilot, I spent a lot of time in and out of ORD. One time, leaving the gate for departure, we heard ground control say to us:

"Via the outer and over the bridge, to 32 rt you go."

Very melodic for the season.

John Clark
via e-mail

In the early 1970s, just before Christmas:

Landing at Burbank, California, the ATIS was:

"Information Raindeer"

When we departed a short time later, it was:

"Information Santa Clause"

On Christmas Day a few days later, Van Nuys ATIS:

"Advise Van Nuys Ground or Tower on initial contact that you are having a merry Christmas."

Terry Lankford
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

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.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.