July 23, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
|This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... Oregon Aero |
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There's nothing like a Wisconsin summer but the AVweb crew is spending next week there, anyway. We'll have a full contingent of alternately sweaty, rain-soaked, windblown and sunburned writers, editors and other important folks on the ground -- and in the air -- at EAA AirVenture starting today. We'll be there for the duration doing what you've come to expect from us in event coverage -- comprehensive, credible and interesting reports on the big show and who and what makes it tick. But, you know, we get some of our best ideas from readers and we'll be making it easy for you to let us know what's on your mind. Stop by our booth just about anytime during the show and you'll come face to face with one of the writers or editors who helps put this publication together twice each week, 52 weeks a year, to more than 130,000 subscribers, free of charge. And if you're in a shopping mood, we'll be happy to refer you to the many sponsors that make it all possible. We're altering our production schedule somewhat to accommodate the huge amount of material we'll have to cover at the show. Certain to help is the forecast (cough) of blue skies and highs in the mid-70s throughout most of the week. Watch for AVflash in your inbox on Wednesday and Friday as well as next Monday, crammed with everything we can find out for you. Then, check out the Web site for even more. And pass the sunscreen ... and the cheese curds.
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We're always ready for surprises (like the arrival of the AdamJet last year) but so far, among the most anticipated first appearances expected at this year's show may be the North American debut of Diamond's innovative DA42 TwinStar. The little four-place twin, with a 135-horsepower Thielert diesel on each side, made the 4508-nm trip from the company's German headquarters to its North American headquarters in London, Ontario, in a little less than 28 hours, burning 312 gallons of Jet-A. That works out to an average speed of 161 knots with an average fuel burn of 11.2 gph. The company says the aircraft fought tough headwinds on the last leg. There are plenty of other firsts (and exciting aircraft) on tap. At last year's AirVenture, a new company called Air Investor Resources had nothing more than a few drawings of a single turboprop they intended to fly to this year's show. Well, the Epic LT has been flown and is expected in Oshkosh. Another eagerly anticipated airplane is the Nemesis NXT. With its tiny, aerodynamically tuned airframe sporting a 350-horsepower Lycoming, this race-bred kitplane is expected to be a serious contender at the Reno Air Races this year. And can you believe the King Air turns 40 this year? Raytheon has outfitted a sample of the world's most popular business aircraft (more than 6,000 sold) with an elaborate interior to mark the anniversary and it will be on display.
What does a (modified) RV-4 have in common with a B-29? If Bruce Bohannon has his way, they'll both have held the record for the highest altitude reached by a piston-powered aircraft. Bohannon and his Exxon Flyin' Tiger are headed for 50,000 feet at this year's show, trying to beat the 47,910 feet hit by U.S. Air Force Maj. Finley F. Ross in the pressurized comfort of a B-29 in 1946. Bohannon will face the bone-numbing cold and engine-threatening thin air with a leather jacket, a pair of jeans and an hour or so of pre-breathing on pure oxygen (to flush the nitrogen from his body and prevent the bends). He'll leave Wittman Regional Airport at noon on July 30. Now, they may not be as spectacular as Bohannon's exploits, but AirVenture is a magnet for those who have something to show off. We haven't kept specific track of them, but there's always a contingent of round-the-world (east-west, north-south) pilots, good causes and fundraisers. Actor Morgan Freeman will be there to support the King Air world flight for charity and Jamail Larkins, a 19-year-old pilot, AVweb contributor and spokesman for EAA's Vision of Eagles to inspire youth about aviation, will be at the AVweb booth July 28 at 2 p.m.
And, of course, get ready for a torrent of information, seminars and hangar talk about the Sport Pilot/Light Sport Aircraft rule (which, incidentally, will be published in the Federal Register on AirVenture's opening day, July 27, wink, wink). EAA has been the driving force behind the entirely new class of aircraft and pilot certificate. And, although it's been nine years of tough slogging to create the rule, in many ways the real work is just beginning. Integrating the new system into the tried-and-true will be a years-long process that begins this week. As part of the process, the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) will hold a meeting with flight schools and university flight programs on July 30 to set the agenda for a much larger NAFI symposium planned for the fall. AirVenture is, fundamentally, about education, so expect the a healthy dose of Sport Pilot/Light Sport Aircraft-related seminars in addition to the normal range of topics covered in the pavilions.
Crowds at the AirVenture grounds were light Saturday, but officials say not to worry (matching well with the fact the show hasn't started yet) ... and the really big show of planes landing and tents being pitched were due on Sunday and Monday. The first to cross over Ripon just after 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning was Shreveport, La., pilot Robert Baillio in his Paul Poberezny-built Acro-SportII. Baillio and friends were early enough to secure a primo camping spot perfectly situated under a stand of trees and close enough to port-a-lets to be convenient, but not close enough to be inconvenient, if you get our drift. The predominant sound over the early part of the weekend wasn't the hum of props but the bang of hammers and whir of drills. All the exhibitors are setting up, preparing for what they hope will be large crowds with big eyes and pockets filled with cash. Credit will do, too.
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The former head of the FAA has defended herself and the agency against allegations in the 9/11 Commission's final report that she did nothing to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks despite an increasing amount of intelligence traffic. The commission said Jane Garvey didn't pay "much attention" to her agency's intelligence unit in the days and months leading up to 9/11. "She was unaware of a great amount of hijacking threat information from her own intelligence unit, which, in turn, was not deeply involved in the agency's policymaking process," the report said. But Garvey told The Boston Globe she disagreed with the way the commission characterized the agency's performance before and after the attacks and that she was in the loop on intelligence matters. She said she relied on staff to sort through the "hundreds of pieces of information" received daily by the agency on security matters and was always briefed personally on top-secret items. Although she declined to discuss details of the report with the Globe, she did say the increase in intelligence traffic was not seen as a domestic issue. "We were aware of more activity [but] the predominant information pointed to a concern for overseas terrorism," she said. The report describes a litany of failed systems, flawed operations and general incompetence leading up to 9/11 but does praise the FAA for its safe grounding of thousands of aircraft immediately after the attacks.
The report also slams the agency for its handling of the crisis itself. It describes the FAA's communications as being in disarray as the planes started crashing into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. It also suggests that a fourth aircraft, Flight 93, would have reached its intended target of either the White House or Capitol building had it not been for passengers battling to seize control of the plane from the hijackers. The plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. FAA spokesperson Laura Brown told the Globe that some of the problems were linked to failures by other agencies and that many of the contributing circumstances have now been addressed. A lot of the commission's findings benefit from hindsight. For instance, it criticizes the FAA for not requiring hardened doors to prevent access to the cockpit. Brown noted that suicide hijackers weren't contemplated before 9/11 and FAA strategy called for negotiation with hijackers. The report also points out that it had been 15 years since any U.S. aircraft had been hijacked.
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... And we're betting a Kentucky governor would agree that fortunately, they're not shooting ... yet. Police detained (upon landing) Arlington, Texas, pilot Del Hinton, his wife, daughter and a friend for more than an hour on Saturday before Hinton finally convinced them (with a call to Flight Services) his plane couldn't have been the one that violated the TFR over President Bush's Crawford ranch. Authorities swooped down on the family, which was returning from a trip to a Shreveport casino (not that it's anybody's business), as Hinton taxied into his hangar. While they questioned the bewildered (and, we speculate, increasingly unimpressed) Hinton party, the "real" suspect (apparently of similar threat level) drove away. It was easy for Hinton to prove his innocence. "I tried to tell them we had come from Shreveport, but they wouldn't listen. I was on the radar the whole time," Hinton told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. When investigators finally allowed him to call Flight Service, the local FSS backed him up. As of early Sunday they still hadn't located the real suspect but police told the Star-Telegram they don't think he busted the TFR intentionally.
Boston is off-limits to most GA aircraft starting today for the Democratic National Convention but if you're headed that way, anyway, it might pay to give the 30-nm TFR more than "a few" miles berth. A writer to AVweb says the graphic depiction and written narrative of the TFR don't line up and there's a 1.5-mile discrepancy between them. We couldn't reach anyone at the FAA to confirm our reader's analysis but it seems like a good precaution to not tempt fate (or NORAD) on this one. Think it might be easier to just drive? Think again. Of course, no one's saying you won't be detained for an hour of questioning regardless of route, method of transportation ... or merit badges. While pilots (perhaps with some justification) are grousing about the TFR, ground-bound visitors to Boston will suffer TFR-like inconvenience anywhere near the FleetCenter convention hall where the Democrats will meet. The security is so strict that workers have been asked by the city to take the week off. The main route through town, Interstate 93, is closed during convention hours as is the Boston subway's North Station. Anyone venturing into the area will be met with security checks and razor wire will be an architectural accent almost everywhere. But it's not the politicians who are in the most need of protection this time around. The media is apparently the focus of some sort of attack, possibly with "explosives or incendiary devices." Makes us glad to be going to Oshkosh ...
STEP RIGHT UP FOR CESSNA'S OSHKOSH SPECTACULAR
Travelers between Juneau, Skagway and Haines, Alaska, will soon have the option of "flying" without ever leaving the ground (effect). Pacific Seaflight is planning to launch its eight-passenger "wing in ground effect" vehicle in time to take passengers next summer. The Australian-designed Flightship FS8 Dragon Commuter (scroll down for English) is now being built in Florida and will whisk patrons at 85 knots skimming eight feet above the cold Pacific. It'll cover the distance between Juneau and Haines in 55 minutes for a one-way fare of about $60, said company president Linus Romey. Ground-effect vehicles are nothing new but this is believed to be their first commercial application in North America, Romey told the Chilkat Valley News. Although the Flightship most certainly flies, it's not considered an airplane by the government. Instead, it's regulated as a small passenger ship, which really cuts the overhead. The Flightship is powered by a Chevy engine and Romey said that once it lifts off the water the ride is "as smooth as you can imagine."
Colleges hoping for a slice of $7 million allocated for air traffic controller training in the proposed FAA budget are concerned about a stipulation that will exclude them and could end up closing their programs, while putting a bottleneck in the controller training and replacement process. The extra money, aimed at forestalling (or at least muting public pressure about) a looming controller shortage can only be used by the FAA's controller academy in Oklahoma City. The fact that the provision was presented by Rep. Ernest Istock (R-Okla.), who represents Oklahoma City, was not lost on officials of the University of North Dakota and 13 other institutions that offer basic controller training. Some fear Istock's bill is the first stage of an attempt to centralize all controller training in Oklahoma City. "We want to be able to understand what [Istock] wants to do with this bill," UND spokesman Gary Bartelson told The Kansas City Star. "Is he saying 'Let's close all the schools?'" The bill provision was passed by the House Appropriations Committee but it has a long way to go before it becomes law. Staff members of Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) said it likely won't survive bipartisan opposition in the full House.
|COMPLIMENTARY STUFF & NEW PRODUCTS AT LIGHTSPEED'S AIRVENTURE BOOTH|
Get out your show map and put a big dot on Booth #2023 in Hangar B to remind yourself to stop by LightSPEED's booth for your complimentary promotional gift. Sure, you'll have to demo a headset first, but do you really need another excuse to sit in our egg-ceptional listening booth? How about this?: All LightSPEED headsets are now equipped with cell/satellite phone jacks! That should do it. See you at the show! The new cell/satellite jack feature is also available online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/litspeed/avflash.
With the opening of AirVenture tomorrow, expect new electronics goodies to pad your panel, including some interesting variations on GPS. For instance, recently formed Aspen Avionics has come out with a panel-mounted (experimental only) terrain-awareness display that fits in the hole vacated by your VSI. The AT300 plugs into your GPS shows aircraft position and "offers a high-resolution color LCD moving map display that includes both top-view and side-view terrain presentations" -- plus vertical speed information supplied by the aircraft's air-pressure line to the old VSI. Aspen President Peter Lyons told New Mexico Business Weekly that keeping the two systems separate "enhances the capability of onboard GPS because it lets the pilot use that equipment for what it was designed for -- navigation and navigational situation awareness." The company is marketing the product to the general aviation pilot as a cost-effective alternative to a full TAWS system.
He was hoping to spot dinner but fisherman Cory Fladeboe instead may have served up the solution to a 46-year-old mystery. Fladeboe was fishing for walleye on Green Lake in Minnesota when he got frustrated with his poor luck. He stuck his underwater camera over the side, hoping to see where he should be casting his line. Instead, the wreck of a high-wing airplane filled the screen. Officials believe it might be an Army Cessna L-19 Birddog that went down in the lake on Oct. 15, 1958. The body of National Guard pilot Capt. Richard Carey, of Willmar, Minn., was found in the lake about two weeks after the crash but the aircraft was never recovered. Divers have since taken photos of the silt-covered wreck and all the numbers are being sent to the military for a positive ID. The plane may eventually be hauled up and put on display in a local museum.
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The Air Force spent $2.6 billion on 50 transport planes it can't use according to a report by the Defense Department's Office of Inspector General. The C-130Js don't meet operational requirements and can't be used in combat. Both Lockheed Martin and the Defense Department say the C-130J program is meeting all cost and contractual targets...
The FAA has withdrawn a potentially costly Airworthiness Directive on Cessna 400-series twins. The AD would have required a $75,000 modification to the wing spars but, after protests from AOPA and just about everyone who flies the planes, the agency agreed to look at other ways of tackling the spar problems...
A Swedish pilot has developed a folding guitar that he can take with him in the cockpit. Now, we're not quite sure why Fredrik Johansson needs his guitar in the cockpit (and we're frankly afraid to ask) but he spent $26,000 on three prototypes. The neck folds into the body and the strings roll up and he says it doesn't need to be tuned after reassembly...
What used to be encouraged as a friendly gesture has landed an All Nippon Airways pilot in hot water. The unidentified pilot allowed a total of 27 passengers into the cockpit on a flight from Kansai to Dublin. Since 9/11, virtually all airlines are required to lock their cockpit doors in flight...
Cessna is expecting to beat its jet sales projections for the year. The company got more orders than expected in the second quarter, prompting it to revise its predicted sales of bizjets from 175 to 180 for the year. However, revenues for the quarter dropped by $75 million because of generally weak sales...
A Taiwanese satellite is unraveling the mysteries of strange weather sometimes spotted in the high heavens. The lights were once dismissed as folklore but then space shuttle scientists started seeing them. They're believed to be caused by discharges of electricity from above thunderstorms.
If it caught your attention, it will probably interest someone else, too. Drop us a line. Submit news tips via email to email@example.com.
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Aviation Scholarships -- Get Paid To Learn
Frustrated by the high cost of flight education? Behaved poorly to your cranky great uncle and he left you out of his will? Have we got a deal for you: Free money! Well, it'll cost you some time and effort, but there are ways to get others to help pay your way into the profession.
As the Beacon Turns #79: Connecting The Dots
When things on your airplane break - especially those annoying computers - it can be very distracting and disruptive to your normal flow. AVweb's Michael Maya Charles had a very long morning recently in his MD-10 when the ship's many computers conspired to prevent an on-time takeoff. See how Capt. Charles and his first officer handled the confusion.
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DA42 TWIN STAR CERTIFICATION: LOTS OF FIRSTS
Reader mail this week about Sport Pilot and AVweb's coverage of it, skydiving photos, potential closure of the Hudson River VFR corridor and much more.
Recently while flying over central Missouri, I overheard a controller responding to a request for VFR Flight Following...
Controller: ...And your type aircraft?
Pilot: Beech Dutchess, Low wing, twin-engine, white and blue.
Controller: You're all a quarter-inch long and green to me.
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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