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Volume 10, Number 26b -- June 24, 2004

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This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... Scheyden Eyewear

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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded, Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's NewsWire.

SMALL AIR TANKERS GROUNDED BRIEFLY
While various federal agencies ponder the relative safety of 33 currently grounded large air tankers, the NTSB has pointed out that the single-engine air tankers (SEATs) that are to replace them have some safety issues of their own. In fact, the big tankers were essentially pulled from service because of two crashes in 2002 (albeit both of them from airframe failures) while there have already been three fatal crashes this year in PZL-Mielec M-18 Dromaders, all of them operated by Montana-based New Frontier Aviation. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) grounded all 26 Dromaders under contract for a two-day "safety stand down" that ended last Monday. More...

...PILOTS "RE-FAMILIARIZED" WITH DROMADER OPERATIONS...
During its investigations of the accidents, NTSB staff found that some Dromader pilots were "flying the drop run at an airspeed that was slower than the recommended airspeed for a fire retardant drop." The BLM's two-day stand down was intended to allow pilots to "re-familiarize themselves with the operational specifications of the airplane." The stand down ended Monday morning and all the planes are now available to fight fires. The Dromaders started life as Polish crop-dusters and have been modified to drop up to 400 gallons of retardant on fires. More...

...AS CONFUSION REIGNS OVER FATE OF BIG TANKERS
Meanwhile, at least two federal agencies appear to be at odds over whether the big tankers will be back in time for any part of this year's fire season. Last Sunday, Forest Service officials told a meeting of western governors what they wanted to hear, namely that the agency will consider putting at least some of the aircraft back in service. But at the same time U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton was telling Arizona residents the big tankers won't be back and the state was making other plans, including the addition of SEAT aircraft. The Forest Service is, however, going ahead with safety assessments of the large tankers. More...

ADD CELL/SATELLITE PHONE INTERFACE TO YOUR LIGHTSPEED HEADSET!
Factory conversions are now available for all active and passive models of the XL and QFR series. Passive Upgrade: $50, Active Upgrade: $75. Model upgrades come with a 2.5mm patch cord that connects to most phones. Check LightSPEED's online chart for phones they've tested. Adapters are available. The Active model upgrades include an additional patch cord for personal audio device input. Call LightSPEED at (800) 332-2421 and mention this AVflash, or print out the online order/instruction form to send in your headset for a speedy turn-around at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/litspeed/cell/avflash.

MOJAVE LAUNCH SUCCESSFUL, FAR FROM PERFECT
Sixty-three-year-old Mike Melville's flight Monday in Burt Rutan's design, funded privately to the tune of roughly $20 million by Paul G. Allen, and built mainly by a group of no more than 30 individuals (though all of Scaled Composites' 120 or so employees had a hand in it) was a success — rocketing at "about" 2.9 Mach to "about" 328,491 feet. That mark (reported by "inertial nav data") is just 491 feet above the target altitude required for "space" flight, but 31,509 feet shy of the planned 360,000-foot apogee. It was enough to earn Melville astronaut wings from the government, and a handshake plus a "You've joined the club" from Buzz Aldrin (Melville said later of the encounter, "That was serious stuff, man."). However, the altitude deficit was similarly attributable to some serious stuff — including a control-system failure. The system that failed was described by Rutan in this way: "I can't think of anything more important on the vehicle itself." See AVweb's pre-launch and launch day image galleries. More...

..."I WAS A LITTLE AFRAID ON THE WAY DOWN"...
Not operating on a discreet frequency spurred some tense pre-launch moments, too, as organizers asked the crowd (some listening on handhelds) just 10 minutes before the expected drop time to check for a stuck mic. After the drop from White Knight and rocket ignition, the crowd was informed at 7:53 that they "just got the call, he's OK. Everything's OK." At 7:55 we heard, "270,000 and still climbing" ... seconds later ... "316,000." On the ground, two booms were heard at 7:58 local. Initially thought by the crowd to be sonic booms (we had been told we might expect them) the failed carbon-fiber fairing covering the larger rocket nozzle (neither of which had flown before) later fell suspect. Melville, who endured about 4.5 G's maximum on the way up, said it's more than a little unsettling, the noises the craft makes while plummeting down at 2.9 Mach during re-entry at about 5.5 G's. More...

... REVELING IN THE AFTERGLOW
Success in spite of failures is arguably a more significant success. And for those who can simply read the numbers and quotes, for those who were not there, we must convey that this event was truly epic. To be there, it seemed the emotion behind every eye that had strained into the sky was shared in Rutan and Melville's post-flight embrace. And the tears Rutan wiped away as Melville took the microphone to speak could not be misunderstood. It was more than statistics and records; it was a feeling so positive, and it was grandeur. It was, after all, just Monday that a group of private individuals — extraordinary for their dreams, talent and conviction — came together under a common goal, and reminded the world that "the impossible" ... isn't. Had the flight gone off without a hitch, subsequent flights to fill the requirements and win the X-PRIZE would have soon followed (within weeks). More...

TRADE-A-PLANE BRINGS YOU EVERYTHING THAT KEEPS YOUR FLYING & MUCH MORE!
More planes. More products. More services. In print and online. Order Trade-A-Plane by calling (800) 337-5263 and mentioning this AVflash, or go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/tap/avflash.

"BAN CARB HEAT," SAYS SAFETY GROUP
A British aviation safety group has determined that, as a group, pilots can't be trusted with a carburetor heat control. In fact, the General Aviation Safety Council (GASCo) has released a paper suggesting that the familiar knob be dispensed with entirely in favor of "more reliable" solutions to the problem of carb ice. Among them are fuel injection, permanently warm induction air, heated carburetors and the use of diesel engines. Now, understand it's not carb heat itself that GASCo has a problem with. It describes carb heat as "an adequate solution" to the problem. The problem is with who's pulling that knob. More...

FORMATION PHOTO SHOOT PANICS BOSTONIANS
In another time, Boston residents might have thrilled to the sight of Sean D. Tucker leading a formation of four aerobatic aircraft on a photo shoot overhead. But in the post-9/11 world, office workers stream outside not for a better view but because they think they might be under attack. Such was the case last Friday when the flight, all properly approved by the FAA, was launched to provide publicity photos for a local air show. At least 50 people fled the Prudential building's 23rd floor and about 100 gathered on the ground after the planes flew by. "Give me the name of the person who sanctioned this so I can become a crazy person and call them four times a day and demand an explanation," said one worker who asked that The Boston Globe not identify him. "We're all still on edge. We don't need this. More...

MARV GOLDEN SHOWCASES NEW PRODUCTS WITH SPECIAL JUNE SAVINGS
Fly the skies with: The new line of Seiko flight chronographs; MG Golden Eagle line of headsets featuring cell phone interface — super-lightweight with ANR technology and fantastic pricing; Vertex's Navigation Transceiver with super-high capacity Nimh battery at a special price; and Lowrance's color GPS Airmap 2000c can be pre-ordered for July delivery. You'll find all this at your one-stop pilot shop, Marv Golden! Online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/marvgold/avflash.

CELLPHONES GET AIR-FRIENDLY
Aviation and cellphones don't always mix well but there are some hopeful signs that's changing. As AVweb reported earlier, the FAA is doing its best (which isn't enough in some circumstances) to ensure pilots have the correct numbers for filing flight plans and getting information. Headset manufacturers are also incorporating cellphone jacks into their less-expensive models so that pilots can make use of their time on the ramp getting weather, making appointments or whatever. And the last bastion of cellphone silence, the cabin of an airliner, may soon echo to the rings, chirps and melodies of cellphone ringers. More...

FOUR DRUGS FOUND IN PILOT
A pilot who died in a crash that also killed five others had taken a cocktail of powerful prescription drugs, according to an NTSB report released last week. The pilot, identified by the Sentinel & Enterprise as Robert A. Monaco, had the antidepressants imipramine and desipramine, the anti-seizure drug carbamazepine and the narcotic pain reliever morphine in his system when the Beech B200 went down in a sheet-metal shop near the Leominster, Mass. airport. The Sentinel & Enterprise, of Fitchburg, Mass., said that combination of drugs could cause drowsiness and a lack of coordination in a pilot. More...

OREGON AERO'S NEW CATALOG FEATURES 500+ PAINLESS, SAFER, QUIETER PRODUCTS
Oregon Aero's latest four-color catalog is the biggest ever produced, containing more than 500 products and information about the company, its people, and customers. The catalog has color-coded product segments for easy reference. Product sections include: Seat Cushion Systems, including portable cushions; OEM Seats (the High-G (tm) Safety Seat); Specialty Products; and Equipment Bags. Complimentary copies are available by calling (800) 888-6910 and mentioning this AVflash; or by ordering online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/oregon/avflash.

"RADIATION" NOTAM CONFUSING
Pilots planning a trip up the California coast might have been alarmed by a NOTAM issued by the FAA for the Point Mugu area, just north of Los Angeles, earlier this week. The NOTAM advised of a "radiation hazard" for a 1.5-mile radius up to 8,000 feet around Point Mugu Naval Air Station and said the area is "continuously hot." Since Point Mugu NAS is the Navy's missile and weapons test center, it might be assumed (not by anyone we know, of course) that the NOTAM referred to some kind of nuclear mishap. Fortunately that wasn't the case. More...

ERCOUPE FULFILLS A FANTASY
It might not be everyone's idea of a dream flight, but for Broderick Nixon, an Ercoupe was his ticket to fulfilling a lifelong fantasy. FantasyKids.com arranged a day for 17-year-old Broderick, who uses a wheelchair because of cerebral palsy, in the right seat of the Ercoupe piloted by John Trowbridge. With Broderick on the yoke and Trowbridge working the rudder pedals (this Ercoupe had the conversion) the pair flew between the Texas cities of Willis, Conroe, Brenham and Tomball last May 28. The civic governments of each of the cities also pitched in to make the flight memorable. More...

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF THE AIRCRAFT IN YOUR CLUB?
TimeSync's ScheduleMaster online aircraft scheduling service offers advanced features such as standby scheduling and notification of cancellations.  ScheduleMaster helps your club improve aircraft utilization and will make your members happy.  You can also add AccountMaster, an integrated billing system that works with Peachtree and QuickBooks.  For a no-obligation online demonstration, go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/timesy/avflash.

ON THE FLY ...
Mercenary to admit to planning air strike against Pablo Escobar...
First parachute jump attempt ended in airplane crash...
Eclipse Aviation got a $45 million bond package from Albuquerque...
An Austrian cyclist was killed in collision with a biplane...
German bomber pilot will apologize for almost wrecking a British church in 1942...
Parking lots filled at Washington National, cars turned away...
The Organization of Black Airline Pilots will hold its convention in August at Disney World... More...

AVWEB'S NEWSTIPS ADDRESS ...
Heard something that 130,000 pilots might want to know about? If it caught your eye, it will probably interest someone else, too. Drop us a line. Submit news tips via email tonewstips@avweb.com. More...

NON-OWNER (RENTER) PILOTS EXPOSED: PILOTS ARE HELD FINANCIALLY LIABLE
for losses involving rented or borrowed aircraft. You rent an aircraft on a beautiful day to fly around the patch for a couple of hours. It's time to land, and you get caught in a crosswind. The aircraft is damaged. Fortunately you are okay, but the airplane is in bad shape. Who is responsible for the plane's repair expenses and the FBO's lost revenue? Far too often, it's YOU — uninsured renter pilot. Get the comprehensive coverage you need by calling AVEMCO today. For as little as $215 annually you can have liability and aircraft damage (hull) coverage. Call (888) 241-7891 and mention this AVflash, or go online now at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/avemco/avflash.

NEW ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB

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COLUMNS

Say Again? #38: ATC 104 — VFR High Time
Student and low-time pilots are expected to stumble a bit on the radio. But if you're a high-time pilot flying VFR, your bad habits (perhaps learned by imitating a smooth-talking jet jock) might be causing trouble for controllers and other pilots. AVweb's Don Brown reminds you that there's the book way, and then there's the way that could get a book thrown at you. More...

BUSINESS AVFLASH
HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb’s NO-COST twice monthly Business AVflash? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash also focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the Business of Aviation. Business AVflash is a must read. Watch for a Business AVflash regular feature, TSA WATCH: GA IN THE "SPOTLIGHT". Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/ More...

COMPLIMENTARY WEEK OF ADVERTISING ON ASO!
Selling your aircraft?  Advertise it on Aircraft Shopper Online (ASO) for four weeks and get an additional week compliments of ASO.  Your ad includes six photos, full specs, and a selling paragraph highlighting your bird's best features.  Take advantage of this limited-time offer today:  Call ASO at (888) 992-9276 and mention this AVflash, or go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/aso/avflash.

AVWEB'S QUESTION OF THE WEEK ...
This week, AVweb would like to hear your thoughts on Monday's successful launch of SpaceShipOne. Tauted as "historic" by the engineers at Scaled Aircraft (and by much of the media), the launch is being called "no big deal" by detractors. In your opinion, did we witness history being made, or just masterful hype? PLUS: Results of last week's question on aviation lawsuits. More...

"IT'S LIKE HAVING A NEW AIRPLANE"
"My airplane uses less fuel on a trip than some SUVs."  "General Aviation Modifications' (GAMI) injectors pay for themselves with the fuel savings. A big bonus is how much smoother the engine runs."  "Customer service is just that — SERVICE!"  These are what GAMI customers have to say about GAMIjectors.  Go online to find out how to save fuel and time by buying injectors that pay for themselves at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/gami/avflash.

AVWEB'S PICTURE OF THE WEEK ...
Yes, Team POTW is very good at making predictions: Following last week's winning photo of cars 'n' airplanes, we've been deluged with photos of classic cars and classic planes! Many of them are quite good, but so were this week's many, many non-car-themed entries. (Did we mention this was a huge week for POTW entries?) So, in the interest of fairness, we're shifting gears away from plane and car photos this week. But you won't be disappointed. We certainly weren't — in fact, we were impressed enough to send Brian Matz of Ohio a complimentary AVweb baseball cap for this week's winning photo! More...

Sponsor News and Special Offers

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SHOPPING DEALS

 

LONGER DAYS AND WARMER WEATHER MEAN IT'S TIME TO GO FLYING!
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THE NEW ASA AIRCRAFT FLIGHT LOG IS EASY AND COMPLETE
The NEW ASA Aircraft Flight Log provides the operators of individual aircraft an easy-to-use method of keeping track of detailed items pertaining to the care and use of their airplanes.  Inspections, VOR/ELT checks, oil changes, and simple squawks are all easy to find without digging through a stack of maintenance logs.  Instantly know the disposition of the aircraft you are about to fly, simply by checking your ASA Aircraft Flight Log.  Available now for $9.95 from ASA at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/asadirect/avflash.
SUBSCRIBE TO IFR MAGAZINE NOW AND SAVE
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SOFT LEATHER HOLDS YOUR IDENTIFICATION IN STYLE!
Pilotmall.com is offering a complimentary soft leather ID holder with a stamped airplane on the cover (a $19.99 value) with any order of Pilotmall's quality leather flight bags, backpacks, or Scheyden sunglasses.  Show your style and save at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/pilotmall/avflash.
FIRST WORLD FLIGHT: THE ODYSSEY OF BILLY MITCHELL IS A MUST-READ!
Three years before Lindbergh's flight to Paris, the U.S. Army joined the race to be the first to fly around the world.  Countries that tried had failed, and pilots had died.  Could the United States capture aviation's greatest prize?  This award-winning hardcover book by Spencer Lane tells it all in great detail.  Special autographed copies are available for AVweb subscribers only at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/firstworldflight/avflash.
THE BEST RESOURCE FOR PILOTS — GLEIM PUBLICATIONS & SOFTWARE
Gleim Publishing, the most trusted name in training, is offering a 10% discount on Test Prep software and a $6 discount on the Pilot Handbook. Offer ends June 30, so order today at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/gleim/avflash.
LEARN ALONGSIDE A PRO WITH FLYING CARPET: THE SOUL OF AN AIRPLANE
Icing! Thunderstorms! Mountain Flying! Learn alongside 2000 CFI of the year Greg Brown as he masters these and other tough cockpit challenges in his new classic book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Best of all, Flying Carpet is no musty textbook but a rollicking aerial road trip that will keep you riveted to your seat. AVweb Exclusive: Order online for an autographed copy at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/paperjet/avflash.
SPONSOR NEWS
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FOR PILOT'S WHO DON'T GET TO FLY AS OFTEN AS THEY WOULD LIKE
Introducing Pilot's Audio Update, the monthly CD program that turns "lost" time into an advanced aviation seminar. Order now at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/belvoir/avcons/paucd/avflash.
JOHN ECKALBAR'S BOOK ATTRACT RAVE REVIEWS
"Eckalbar's Flying High Performance Singles and Twins is 400 pages that continue his tradition of clear, tightly executed explanations on the intricacies of flying complex aircraft," says John Geitz. Flight Training magazine calls it "a worthwhile read for any pilot."  Learn more and read sample pages at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/skyroad/avflash.
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AVflash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest aviation news, articles, products, features and events featured on AVweb, the Internet's Aviation Magazine and News Service. http://www.avweb.com

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Today's issue written by News Writer Russ Niles:
http://www.avweb.com/contact/authors.html#rniles
AVweb's editorial team: http://avweb.com/contact/authors.html.

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