June 2, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Allen Holding Finance Ltd. has paid $4 million to buy the stock of Mooney Airplane Company (MAC) from its parent company, Mooney Aerospace Group Ltd. (MASG), MASG announced on Tuesday. MASG President J. Nelson Happy said the sale took place because MASG's secured debenture holders declared their notes in default. "As a result, the MASG board accepted the offer to purchase all of Mooney Airplane Company's stock by Allen, and the sale was completed last Friday morning," Happy said in a news release. "The board of MASG deeply regrets that the sale of Mooney Airplane Company's stock was made necessary," he added. "However, Allen has assumed over $21 million of the Company's debt owed to the secured debenture holders, and has also agreed to provide $4 million of new capital for the operating company within 30 days," Happy said. "This is good news for Mooney Airplane Company, which will now have adequate capital to meet its business plan." MASG will no longer have any financial interest in MAC. A court decision last Friday ordered MASG to pay almost $24 million to their former landlord at Long Beach (Calif.) Airport. "We were very disappointed at the outcome of this case, but we must abide by the court's decision," Happy said in a news release on Tuesday. "We fought the landlord's claim with all of our legal resources, but in the end the landlord prevailed. The board is inclined to appeal the decision, however."
"This [sale] will allow us to achieve our business plan, and should remove all doubts about Mooney's financial stability," Barry Hodkin, MAC's chief operating officer, said in a news release Tuesday. The three-year business plan, approved last month, calls for Mooney to sell more than 70 airplanes in 2004 (we didn't really need one, but hey, if their goal is 70 ...). The goal is more than twice Mooney's 2003 volume. It also calls for new product features, wider sales presence, additional employees and improvements in production over the next three years. Hodkin said he expects FAA certification in August of two new models, the Bravo GX and the Ovation2 GX, both with Garmin G-1000 glass-panel displays. He also said MAC, which is based in Kerrville, Texas, has hired 20 new workers, bringing the workforce to 200 people, and he plans to hire more. MASG had bought the Mooney plant out of receivership in 2002.
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Burt Rutan plans to launch SpaceShipOne on its highest flight yet on June 21, and in an unusual twist for the once-secretive project (and generally secretive company), not only is the launch being announced in advance ... but you're invited to come to Mojave and see it for yourself. At the Scaled Composites Web site yesterday, the company announced that "Everyone, especially children," is welcome. You can even bring your RV and your dog (on a leash), but don't bring your airplane -- the Mojave airport will be closed to transient aircraft starting several days before the event. The flight plan calls for SpaceShipOne to reach an altitude of 100 kilometers, the height specified by the X PRIZE, but Rutan is billing this flight as a test only. "Based on the success of the June space flight attempt, SpaceShipOne will later compete for the Ansari X PRIZE," said yesterday's news release. The announcement follows a May 13 test flight in which pilot Mike Melvill reached a height of 211,400 feet (approximately 40 miles), the highest altitude ever reached by a non-government aerospace program. Sub-orbital space flight refers to a mission that flies out of the atmosphere but does not reach the speeds needed to sustain continuous orbiting of the earth. "The view from a sub-orbital flight is similar to being in orbit, but the cost and risks are far less," the news release said. The name of the test pilot for the June flight has not yet been released.
Scaled.com lists extensive details of what the public can expect at the Mojave Civilian Aerospace Test Center on June 21. "White Knight [the carrier aircraft], with SpaceShipOne slung underneath, will taxi by right in front of the public viewing area. A few minutes later, you will see it take off." The kids might want earplugs for that. "You can see them circling overhead as they climb. It takes the pair of mated vehicles roughly one hour to reach 47,000 feet ... That is where White Knight releases SpaceShipOne. ... [It] glides for a few seconds, then the pilot lights the rocket and you'll be able to see flames and a rocket exhaust trail for about 80 seconds." Bring binoculars for a better view. With unprecedented verbosity, Scaled.com goes on ... "There will be a public address system in the viewing areas which will carry the radio transmissions between Mission Control, the White Knight pilot and the SpaceShipOne pilot, so you'll know what is happening. SpaceShipOne's flight lasts roughly 25 minutes. It will rocket to space, spend about three minutes weightless outside the atmosphere, then enter the earth's atmosphere in a high-drag configuration. It will glide back toward Mojave, circle overhead, then land directly in front of the public viewing area on the same runway on which it took off about 1 hour and 25 minutes earlier. SpaceShipOne's rocket is very loud but it can only be faintly heard on the ground in the best of conditions. If its reentry direction is aimed away from the airport, two soft sonic booms will be heard. After landing, SpaceShipOne will be towed by a truck to the media area for a brief photo opportunity, then moved to the adjacent public viewing area, then towed back to Scaled's facility. Thus, the media and the public will get to take their own close-up photos. White Knight takes longer to return. It usually lands a few minutes after SpaceShipOne." If you can't be there on the 21st, you'll have to wait till later in the year for "Rutan's Race For Space" on The Discovery Channel.
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While the X PRIZE celebrates the urge to explore, a few stories this week remind us all that aerial adventures come with real risk ... and sometimes a terrible price is paid. South African pilot Alan Honeyborne, 34, who was flying around the world in an ultralight, was killed last Friday when he crashed into a lake in central China. The Cape Argus news reported that Honeyborne told his flying partner, Ricky de Agrela, 42, by radio that he had lost a wing and was going down. The flyers were reportedly on their way to Wuhan after being diverted from their original destination by bad weather. They had launched a href="http://www.safreedomflight.com" target="_blank">Freedom Flight 2004 last December, to honor the abolition of apartheid in their homeland 10 years ago. The flyers also raised funds for the Red Cross Children's Hospital in Cape Town. Although early reports said de Agrela planned to return home, he said Monday in a message posted at the project's Web site that although he is dealing with "a lot of emotional and frightening realities" right now, he hopes to find a way to continue the expedition. "We have traveled so far and done so much," he said. The pair had expected the flight to take 18 months, and had already traveled along eastern Africa and across the Middle East, Asia and Australia.
During an air show on Saturday, pilot Don Hinz was performing a fly-by in a Commemorative Air Force (CAF) P-51C Mustang when he reported a problem. Unable to return to the field, Hinz managed to avoid nearby houses and power lines, but the aircraft hit the ground hard, and both wings were torn off. Hinz died Sunday of his injuries. The accident took place during the Wings of Freedom Airshow at the Red Wing Regional Airport in Minnesota. Hinz, 60, of Woodbury, Minn., had played a major role in the fundraising, educational, restoration and outreach programs of the P-51C Mustang, and had worked to bring the aircraft and the message of the Tuskegee Airmen to the public, the CAF said in a news release. The P-51C Mustang was based out of Fleming Field in South Saint Paul, Minn., and operated by the Minnesota Wing of the CAF. Hinz was a retired Naval aviator and a former airline pilot for Braniff and Sun Country Airlines. He leaves a wife and four sons. The CAF, based in Midland, Texas, operates a fleet of over 150 World War II aircraft, and has two other P-51 Mustangs in its collection. On Tuesday, CAF spokeswoman Tina Corbett told AVweb it was not clear if the aircraft could be repaired.
COMPLIMENTARY WEEK OF ADVERTISING ON ASO!
French officials have said they will shoot down private pilots who stray into restricted airspace during this weekend's 60th anniversary D-Day events in Normandy, the Daily Telegraph reported Monday. At least 16 heads of state and 1 million visitors are expected to attend the ceremonies. The region will be protected by an array of radar installations, AWACs aircraft on patrol, remote-controlled drones, two squadrons of Mirage 2000 fighters, lots of anti-aircraft missiles, 50 military helicopters, 9,000 troops, 10,000 police, at least two aircraft carriers offshore, plus an unknown number of submarines. Our advice: Don't fly in that airspace. Organizers said they are guarding particularly against an al Qaeda attack from the air. Tuesday, the entire country was put on "red alert," the second-highest tier in their terror-alert scale.
If every general aviation dollar was somehow flagged as it traveled through the economy, do you think GA would get more respect? Monty Walford isn't trying to take Rodney Dangerfield's schtick, but he thinks the answer is a definite "yes." Walford, owner of Shreveport, La.- based J & M Aircraft Supply, thinks GA gets pushed around more than most other multibillion-dollar industries -- especially since 9/11 -- and has come up with a way to show off its clout. Walford's message, "General Aviation Made This Payment Possible," is printed on all his company checks (click for large image), and his message is getting noticed. "Think of all the places I send checks each week -- they go to buy shipping boxes, to pay UPS, taxes, and freight," Walford told AVweb. "All the company payroll checks get deposited in banks and go through the system. General aviation dollars touch a lot of people, more than we might realize." Walford believes GA pilots and businesses would do themselves and the industry a lot of good by pushing GA in this very visible way. Walford first began printing the message on his checks about a year ago, after receiving a payment from an Ag operator with the words, "Agriculture makes this possible." "It was too good not to use," Walford said. "And I think others should use it, too. We're fighting for rights, money, and respect. We need to use whatever clout we have!" There is certainly potential clout out there, according to AOPA. About 95 percent of the aircraft flying today in the U.S., roughly 200,000, are general aviation. Multiply that by all those who come into contact with GA, and the number is legion ... as is the potential for GA's marked money.
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The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has certified Cirrus Design's SR20 for import to the European Union, Cirrus announced on Tuesday. The certificate was awarded to Cirrus officials at a private meeting in Brussels by members of the EASA. "EASA certification of Cirrus's first production model, the SR20, will help us expedite development of market-specific products that address the wants and needs of the European customer," said Dale Klapmeier, executive vice president of product strategy. "The European market plays an integral role in the long range strategic growth of our company." EASA was created in July 2002, and replaces the Joint Aviation Authorities. The Cirrus certification is the first of its kind awarded by the new agency.
A crew of aviation archeologists excavated a World War II airplane in London over the weekend, digging beneath a paved road near Buckingham Palace. Parts of a Hurricane's engine and control panel were found as the airplane's pilot, Ray Holmes, now 89, watched and live TV cameras rolled. Holmes saw the German bomber heading for the palace during the Battle of Britain in 1940, but he had run out of ammunition. "What goes through a young pilot's mind as he confronts the Germans?" asked the TV host. "Nothing particularly," answered Holmes. "Except he just has to go and have a bash at him. That's all." So Holmes rammed into the enemy plane, which crashed at Victoria Railway Station, then bailed out of his own disabled aircraft. The program, broadcast live on Britain's Channel Five, focused on aviation archaeologist Christopher Bennett, who has been investigating the story for 12 years, trying to pinpoint the exact position of the remains through historical research, photography and ground-penetrating radar. Bennett said: "'Fighter Plane Dig Live' is the culmination of a project that has taken hundreds of hours of work. After all these years I'm delighted we've got permission to excavate." The program also followed a second team in Germany as they excavated a Spitfire buried in woodland and believed to be one of the last Spitfires involved in air-to-air combat during the war.
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While air traffic controllers worry about who will take over when they all retire, NASA this summer is working on an alternative scenario -- let those pilots control themselves. The "Autonomous Operations Planner" being tested at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., feeds collision-avoidance info directly into the cockpit and lets pilots choose their own path through the sky. During a test later this month, airline pilots and researchers will be at computer workstations flying simulated aircraft into a mock-up of the Dallas-Fort Worth airspace. The pilots will use the experimental autonomous flight management system to plan their own routes to "safely and seamlessly fit into the traffic flow," NASA said in a news release. Air traffic controllers, using new automation and data communication tools, will be able to see those aircraft on simulated ATC monitors. The current phase of research ends in September. There's no schedule yet for testing the technology in real flight. "We don't think, with how the current system is designed, that it is going to handle the future need," Richard Barhydt, a Langley aerospace engineer, told the Hampton Roads (Va.) Daily Press. The goal of the experimental technology is to enable the system to accommodate a substantial increase in traffic, NASA said. Since 1997, NASA has spent about $55 million on autonomous flight-management research.
Owners of a popular brand of Mode S transponder must ensure they're running the proper software. The FAA has issued an Airworthiness Directive for Garmin GTX 330 and 330D Mode S transponders after it was discovered that, under certain circumstances, they don't always reply to the interrogation pulse of another aircraft. "The inaccurate replies could result in reduced vertical separation or unsafe TCAS resolution advisories," the AD says. The fix is to install Software Upgrade Version 3.03, 3.04 or 3.05. The transponders are installed in hundreds of different types of aircraft.
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The Cessna Caravan that crashed in Canada in January, killing all 10 aboard, was 1,000 pounds overweight, Canada's Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday. The investigation is ongoing and no conclusions have been reached about the cause of the crash...
The TSA is "a Soviet-style centralized bureaucracy," House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) said this week...
Hungarian aerobatic champion Zoltan Veres (unofficially) broke the roll record last week in Hungary (click for image). Veres rolled his Extra 300S more than 70 times, then lost count and kept going. As you may remember, Veres contacted AVweb a few weeks ago and asked if 70 continuous rolls was the record ... we didn't know, but it sure sounded good to us. If 70 was the record, then congratulations, Zoli. If not, heck, good job anyway...
Federal air marshals have asked Congress for help in changing rules for dress and deportment that they say make them too easy to pick out of the crowd...
A memorial to American Airlines Flight 1420, which crashed at Little Rock, Ark., five years ago, was dedicated on Tuesday. Eleven people died when the MD-82 ran off the runway after landing during a thunderstorm...
Four people died when their airplane hit a house near Owatonna, Minn., Tuesday night. Nobody on the ground was hurt...
A bill now in the U.S. House would deny certain tax deductions now in force for corporate jets when used for personal flights...
Did you know June is National Learn to Fly Month? So says Be A Pilot, which is launching its annual Father's Day campaign...
AOPA holds its annual fly-in and open house this Saturday in Frederick, Md.
What's New -- Products and Services
This month, AVweb's survey of the latest products and services for pilots, mechanics and aircraft owners brings you a new instrument training book, GPS mapping software for PDAs, LED flashlight conversion kit and much more. If you know of a new product or service other AVweb readers should hear about, please send us a note.
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Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions
Current POTW Winner | Past POTW Winners
As a general rule, spectacle wins the ribbon in our "Picture of the Week" contest. Catch a tremendous stunt in progress or snap a photo of a pristine aerial formation, and you're a contender. But action isn't the only element of a good photo color, composition, humor, and historical significance all factor into our "POTW" choices. Did we mention composition? Sometimes a well-planned shot of the simplest scene can steal the show. If you don't believe us, check out this week's winning photo from Steve Hughes of Washington state. Steve gives new meaning to the the term "vanishing point" (using only five aircraft) and takes home a coveted AVweb baseball cap!
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
"Round Motors Warming Up"
Steve Hughes of North Bend, Washington shows off his mastery of perspective
in this week's winning photo of five Beavers lined up for weekend flights from Seattle;
taken at Kenmore Air Harbor's dock on Lake Washington
here to view a large version of this image
Click here for a medium-sized version
AVweb continues to receive a large number of excellent images for our POTW contest. Here are some of the runners-up. Click on the links below to view larger versions.
"Bonanza Over Avalon"
Eric Kinder of Claremont, California sends this shot of a Bonanza
formation flying over the town of Avalon on Catalina Island
"Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer"
Hillis M. Cunliffe of Millbrook, Alabama submits this photo of
Dan Horton in his Max-Air Drifter, taken north of Wetumpka in August of last year
To enter next week's contest, click here.
A Reminder About Copyrights: Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or send us an e-mail.
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Last week, AVweb asked pilots about their relationship with ATC. Is the controller always right, or do you have to supersede their judgement with your own? Most of you (45% of respondents) admit to having refused a controller's directions but you consider it a rare event. Another 21% of those who participated agree that controllers know best (for the most part) and that their decisions should always be heeded. A relatively small percentage (13%) disagreed, reminding us that ATC works for pilots and isn't a voice of indisputable authority. Most telling, perhaps, is that 20% of respondents think the "my way or the highway" attitude of controllers is a counterproductive bit of pilot culture that needs to change.
Flying can be a dangerous business. Sometimes recognition of that notion heightens our vigilance and helps keep us safe. This week, AVweb would like to know how many friends you've lost to flying. Click here to share your opinion.
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: This address is only for suggested QOTW questions, and not for QOTW answers.
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Terrific Ideas for Father's Day at
AVWEB'S SHOPPING GUIDE
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