NewsWire Complete Issue
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... Scheyden Eyewear
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Close To Mach 10...
At 110,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday afternoon, NASA's scramjet-powered X-43A unmanned research vehicle
flew at close to Mach 9.8, nearly 7,000 miles per hour, breaking its own previous record of Mach 7, set in March, for air-breathing engines. The flight is a "key milestone," said NASA Administrator
Sean O'Keefe, that will help to advance commercial aviation technology. Supersonic combustion ramjets (scramjets) promise to make ultra-high-speed flights within the atmosphere cheaper and safer, NASA
said Tuesday in a news release, and provide an alternative to rockets. The technology can also be used in the first stage to Earth orbit.
The 12-foot long, 5-foot-wide lifting-body scramjet vehicle, mated to a modified Pegasus booster rocket, was launched from NASA's B-52B at about 47,000 feet, in restricted airspace northwest of Los
Angeles. The booster carried it up to 110,000 feet, where the X-43A separated and ignited its scramjet engine for about 10 seconds. After burnout, the vehicle descended and splashed into the ocean, as
planned, and will not be recovered (fishing trip, anyone?). The flight is the third and last of three unpiloted tests in NASA's Hyper-X Program. The eight-year, $230-million program got off to a rough
start in June 2001 when the first X-43A and its booster rocket had to be destroyed in mid-air. The second attempt,
in March of this year, successfully reached a speed of Mach 7. Reinforced carbon-carbon composite material was added to the leading edges of the vehicle's vertical fins for this week's flight, to
handle the higher temperatures generated by the higher speeds. The flight was originally scheduled for Monday but was delayed due to electronics problems.
The scramjet engine design has no moving parts. The forward speed of the aircraft itself, enhanced by the shape of the nose, compresses a stream of air that is channeled into the engine, where it
mixes with gaseous hydrogen fuel -- there are no fan blades that compress the air, as in a normal jet engine. In a scramjet engine, the airflow through the whole engine remains supersonic. NASA says
such a design may be capable of flying at Mach 15 or more. Scramjets have an advantage over rockets in that they use oxygen from the atmosphere, so no heavy liquid-oxygen tanks are required. Also,
scramjets can be throttled back and flown more like an airplane, unlike rockets, which tend to produce nearly or full thrust all the time.
Cities See Downside To MOA Airspace Restrictions...
When pilots worry about losing access to airspace, too often they worry alone. But in southern Indiana, where the Air Force is proposing to create two large Military Operations Areas that would impact
traffic between Louisville, Ky., and Indianapolis, some city officials are concerned about the economic impact. Mayor Jim Bullard, of Seymour, said his city has invested millions of dollars into
navigational equipment to update Freeman Municipal Airport, and is concerned about anything that might impact its use, the Associated Press reported on Monday. Columbus Municipal Airport Director Rod Blasdell also raised concerns, saying that commercial tenants that wanted to locate at his airport
might take into consideration the restricted access caused by the new MOAs, and go someplace else. AOPA is, of course, also engaged in the fight. AOPA said it is asking for mitigation procedures to allow for instrument approaches during the times the MOAs
are active and for charted radio frequencies so pilots can contact the military to obtain real-time MOA activity information. AOPA said it would also seek a reduction in the active times of the MOAs,
since the Air Force actually plans to use the airspace less than an hour a day. The FAA is accepting comments on the MOA proposals until Dec. 6.
Meanwhile, in Poplar Grove, Ill., a small privately-owned airport is growing steadily, by working to create a neighborhood of people who love airplanes. Since 1996, more than 100 homes have been built
and 400 residents, many of them pilots or airline workers, have moved to the airpark community, the Rockford Register Star reported on Sunday. Hangar space has quadrupled from 10 years ago, and the
airport is home to 366 airplanes. "We made a conscious decision to develop a lifestyle airport, rather than a commercially intensive airport," owner Steve Thomas told the Register Star. It's also open for public use. And in New York, Albany International
Airport is working (as its "mission") to become more user-friendly to small airplanes. While private pilots don't bring in the jobs or cash of corporate jets and airlines, "They are proponents and
promoters of aviation, and that is within our mission statement," airport Chief Executive John O'Donnell told the Times Union. The airport is considering various ways to
attract more pilots, but local pilot Craig Dalto said there is a long way to go: fuel prices at the airport are high, and transient aircraft are charged multiple fees for landing and parking.
O'Donnell said he knows there is work to do, but "It's our mission to grow the airport, bring more business here, and build more corporate and general aviation traffic."
Maybe it's a unique Southern California perspective, born of living in an area prone to earthquakes, wildfires, and mudslides, but neighbors near Torrance Airport -- who are not otherwise affiliated
with aviation -- nonetheless seem unfazed by two recent airplane crashes that hit homes and yards. "Even the 89-year-old woman, [Margie Somers], whose house was torn in half by a crashing plane this
month says she doesn't give much thought to living in the flight path," the local Daily Breeze reported on Tuesday.
"It's safer living under this landing pattern than on Pacific Coast Highway," said Somers' son Mark. "It's more likely that you're going to get hit by a car than by an airplane." Others interviewed by
the newspaper reported similarly lofty views. "So few of them fall out of the sky," said Donna Martinez, who lives about a block from Somers' house. "I didn't put a for-sale sign up." Nonetheless,
local officials have called for a meeting with airport authorities to review safety at the field, and some residents have complained about the noise. In July 2003, a Piper Warrior lost power while climbing out of Torrance and crashed into a front yard. The airplane
was destroyed but the pilot walked away. Somers' house was hit by a Cessna 210 on Nov. 4. The airplane caught fire on impact, and the pilot remains in critical condition.
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The FAA should do a better job monitoring designated flight-test examiners, inspectors, and doctors who give FAA medical exams to pilots, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released Tuesday. The GAO, displaying a remarkable grasp of the
obvious, said the FAA is inconsistent in the way it oversees the 13,400 individuals and 180 organizations who perform crucial safety functions, but found no systematic safety problems. Incomplete
databases, heavy workloads and inadequate training for FAA staff who monitor the designees were blamed for the inadequacies. One way for the FAA to improve would be for the agency to charge
application and renewal fees to designees to help offset the cost of administering these programs, the GAO said, however, FAA is prohibited from imposing new user fees unless they are specifically
authorized by law.
Designees perform a valuable function for FAA and the aviation industry, the GAO said, enabling FAA to leverage its staff resources and helping industry obtain FAA-issued certificates in a timely
manner. By using designees, however, FAA places great trust in their integrity and honesty; therefore, periodic validation and consistent oversight is needed, the GAO said. U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio,
ranking Democrat on the House Aviation Subcommittee, requested the study last year. He said on Tuesday the report shows that oversight of the designee program is "toothless and ineffective." FAA spokesman Greg
Martin told the Associated Press the agency is considering the GAO's recommendations, which
"will make a strong program stronger."
Representatives from GA's alphabet groups met with Department of Homeland Security honchos this week to discuss
various security regulations and their impact on GA flyers. Adm. James Loy, deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Rear Adm. David Stone, head of the Transportation
Security Administration (TSA), attended the meeting. AOPA sent President Phil Boyer, who told the security team, "We need to work together to be sure that regulations make sense. It's pointless to
have regulators making rules that can't reasonably be implemented in the real world." Loy pledged to create "engagement opportunities" for GA and DHS to work in concert, AOPA said. Loy described his agency's efforts as a three-legged stool that must balance the need for security
with the interests of commerce and the preservation of civil liberties. He added that there's no going back to a pre-9/11 world. "We understand that we're living under a new definition of what's
'normal,'" Boyer said, "but we also understand that we can enhance security while preserving the freedom and functionality that have made GA a critical part of our national transportation
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You have to wait until Dec. 1 to take an actual FAA Sport Pilot "knowledge test" (what used to be known as the "written" in the pre-computer age), but you can start studying now, because the FAA has
posted its test-question bank online. Questions are posted for sport pilots and for sport-pilot flight instructors/examiners. The FAA has also added questions to the
private-pilot test for weight-shift-control aircraft and powered parachutes. On Tuesday, the FAA also released its
Sport Pilot Examiner's Handbook, a 78-page PDF document. It delineates
privileges and procedures, responsibilities, and limitations of examiner designations and authorizations. Applicants who want to become designated sport pilot examiners or sport pilot flight
instructor examiners must submit an application to the Light-Sport Aviation Branch office in Oklahoma City by Nov. 23 if they
want to be considered for selection at the first Light-Sport Standardization Selection Board meeting, on Nov. 29, EAA
said on Tuesday. Later applicants will be considered at subsequent board meetings.
The practical-test standards aren't out yet but are expected to be ready by Dec. 1, according to EAA. Time to bone up on density altitude, wake turbulence, bad decision-making, and lots more, if you
want a passing grade on that knowledge test.
Bruce Bohannon broke two of his own world records on the way up -- he hit 12,000 meters in 20 minutes, 36 seconds, to establish new time-to-climb standards in the Unlimited and C-1.b classes (the old
record was 22:29), but the one he really wanted Saturday proved elusive once again, EAA reported on Monday.
Bohannon has made several attempts to reach 50,000 feet in his modified RV-4, Exxon Flyin' Tiger. On Saturday,
flying out of his home airport in Angleton, Texas, he flew the Tiger to its highest altitude yet -- 47,530 feet, about 1,800 feet shy of what's required to gain the all-time piston altitude record.
"Everything went perfect," Bohannon said after the flight. "We flew right on the numbers." But the airplane wouldn't climb any higher. Having tweaked every bit of the engine already, Bohannon said the
prop will be looked at next. "We're not giving up," Bohannon told EAA. "Everything worked as well as we had hoped. If this were easy, we'd have done it a long time ago. But it's so close now we can
almost touch it."
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A corrugated iron roof hardly seems like a soft place to fall, but it helped slow down Lt. Charlie Williams enough that he survived with minor injuries after his parachute failed to open during a
training exercise in Kenya. Williams, 25, of the British Army, was on his third jump two weeks ago when he clipped the side of the door while exiting the aircraft and began to spin as he fell and
became entangled in the parachute rigging. "I was completely helpless," he told reporters as he recovered at his parents' home. "There was nothing I could do. I said to myself 'this is it' and I
prepared to die." He crashed through the roof and was surprised to find himself alive on the floor of someone's home with "a crowd of puzzled Kenyans" looking at him. He said he was skydiving in an
effort to overcome his fear of heights. "I'm still scared of heights, but I certainly haven't been put off parachuting," he said. "I don't know if I'm lucky or unlucky. I'm alive and frankly that's
all that matters," he added. Williams suffered three cracked vertebrae and a dislocated finger.
Bill Bennett, an Australian hang-gliding pioneer who helped popularize the sport in the U.S., died on Oct. 7 in Arizona at age 73, it was reported this week. Bennett was taking off with an instructor
in a trike -- a powered ultralight with a hang-glider-like wing and weight-shift control -- at Lake Havasu Airport when the power failed and the aircraft crashed. The instructor, Drew Reeves, was also
hurt. Bennet's company, Delta Wing Kites and Gliders, was among the first hang glider manufacturers in the U.S. The company helped develop the basic design of modern hang-gliders, added features such
as emergency chutes and Mylar-coated sail cloth, and improved handling and performance. Bennett captured attention for his sport by breaking various records, launching from a hot-air balloon, and
flying around the Statue of Liberty on Independence Day in 1969.
All five people on board died Sunday when a Piper Navajo crashed near an apartment complex in San Antonio, Texas. An investigator said Monday the pilot told controllers he was climbing, but
radar showed the airplane in a steep descent...
Cessna's huge new Wichita Service Center is preparing for its grand
opening next month. The center will be the world's largest general aviation maintenance facility, with five hangars, four fuel farms, 443,000 square feet of space, and room for over 100
Gliders in the U.K. were involved in 10 near-midairs in the second half of last year, safety investigators said recently, noting that newer models fly at high altitudes without transponders and
are hard to see, both visually and on radar...
Drop us a line. If it caught your attention, it will probably interest someone else, too. Submit news tips via email to
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The Cessna, The Sky ... and the Cartoonist: Chapters Six and Seven
Stalls -- a word (and sound) that strikes fear in the hearts of student pilots. And professionals, for that matter. But our bold aviator and cartoonist knows it is a required part of pilot training,
and he's ready to take his partner, C152 Charlie, into the air again.
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 dual fuel tank indicator, Citation single-pilot training, fine-wire spark plugs,
Power Flow for Mooneys and much more.
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*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
Last week, AVweb asked how far you trust the FAA in its role as protector
and police for the commercial aviation industry.
You know what we discovered? That AVweb readers are a self-reliant
group who (as a general rule) don't put much faith in outside agencies.
Only 17% of readers answered with an unqualified "yes." An even
smaller number (14% of respondents) chose the simple answer "no." The
most popular answer (with 33% of this week's vote) was this one:
It's a mistake to ever trust the FAA with anything but that's
not necessarily a bad thing. As users of the system, we're just as much
responsible to protect ourselves from ill-advised changes to the system
as the FAA is to manage that system and adapt it to changing times. The
relationship may at times seem adversarial, but we're all on the same
11% of respondents wanted to know exactly when the FAA had been declared
"protector and police," and the remaining 25% of respondents answered, "If
we're on the same team, someone should really tell the FAA."*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
This week, we want to know if you (or anyone you know) will be taking
advantage of the new Sport Pilot rules.
Click here to
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to
This address is
only for suggested QOTW questions, and not for QOTW answers or
this form to send QOTW comments to our AVmail Editor.
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In the December issue of Aviation Consumer,
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Submit a Photo |
Current POTW Winner |
Past POTW Winners
Truly, the golden age of "Picture of the Week" has returned! Of almost
five dozen submissions, nearly a third made it into our "personal desktop
wallpaper" file. But one photo called out to us to be proclaimed the
undisputed "Picture of the Week" Bud Granley's. We think you'll agree
when you see it.
Interesting note: This week's top three photos were all taken in
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of
readers who submit photos.
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
Used with permission of
"Remembrance Day Fly-Past"
Bud Granley of Bellevue, Washington sends us
photo of three T-6s from Vancouver, British Columbia.
Shown here: Mike Langford (lead), Keith McMann (l.w.),
John Mrazek (slot), and Bud himself (r.w.).
here to view a large version of this image
Click here for a
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
Used with permission of
"Canadian Traffic Jam"
Ron Harway of Windsor, Ontario continues
Canadian "POTW" theme with a photo of part of the
Canadian Warplane Museum's
Canadian aircraft collection.
Used with permission of
"We Give a Hoot"
"At Flying Tankers, we give a hoot," writes
Peter Killin of Campbell River, B.C.
(If you don't get the pun, click through to the full-size image.)
You're starting to expect a bonus picture, aren't you?
Well, why not? AVweb readers came through for us once
again with a terrific batch of photos, so you deserve a reward.
Here's two more for your collection:
Used with permission of
"Two of a Kind"
We leave Canada behind for the sunnier climes of Madrid, Spain,
and Javier Arraiza's
eye-catching aerial photography. For all
you cameraphiles, Javier provides the following details:
Nikon D100 28-200 mm (120mm) 1/800 Seg +0.7 ISO 320
Used with permission of
"Balloons at Petit Jean Mountain"
Colby Morgan of Greenwood, Arkansas
slows down the pace with this lovely balloon
launch at Arkansas's Petit Jean State Park.
To enter next week's contest,
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,
send us an e-mail.
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AVflash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest aviation news,
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