NewsWire Complete Issue

August 10, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff

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A Note from Van Bortel Aircraft

Behind The Eyes Of An ADIZ Intercept Pilot...

Repeat After Me, "121.5"

AVweb met U.S. Customs Service pilot Mark Cox on the grounds of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Cox was among several customs pilots on the show grounds this year displaying a Citation 550. Cox has flown three intercepts over Washington, including one that had authorities on the ground more than a little concerned. "It was a Lockheed Lodestar and it went right over the Capitol at 11,000 feet," he said. The Citation crew was finally able to get the pilot's attention and order him to land, something all pilots who enter restricted airspace can expect. "It would be irresponsible for us not to talk to them," he said. Cox stated plainly that pilots need to know exactly what to do if, despite their training, they blunder deep into restricted airspace and he needs to intercept them. "Immediately turn away and talk to us [on 121.5]." As simple as those actions might seem (to those of us who think it could never happen to us) Cox said it's surprising how many pilots don't know what to do [or otherwise lose their senses] when they see either his Citation or a Black Hawk helicopter on their wing.

...Challenging Flying...

Customs pilots normally fly drug interdiction missions off the coast but they also rotate through Washington on temporary duty. They work 12 hours on, 12 hours off waiting for the call to scramble. And while the time away from home and the long days are hard, Cox said there's nothing like the flying. The Citation, with the same radar used in F-16s added inside its bulbous nose, races at full speed to the intercept at which point, in most cases, Cox has to throttle back and hang everything out to match the speed of the (generally single-engine piston) target. "It can be challenging flying," he said. "I once got the tail number of an Ercoupe that was only doing 80 knots." Cox said the wide speed range of the Citation makes it a suitable platform for this kind of work and the pilots are well-accustomed to the go-fast, go-slow mission profile from their experience stemming the flow of illegal drugs headed into the country by air. "Smuggling by air has pretty much stopped," he said.

...The GA/Intercept Pilot Interface

Cox said it's important for pilots to understand customs pilots' role in the protection of the Capitol. "We're here to protect GA," he said. As long as an ADIZ-busting pilot is successfully intercepted by unarmed customs aircraft, there's no need to call out the armed-to-the-teeth military, whose attitude toward errant aviators is markedly different. "The military doesn't know how to deal with this," Cox said. Customs pilots have gone to great lengths to try to keep the F-16s from becoming involved, to the point of crafting handmade signs with the emergency frequency on them and waving them at pilots of target aircraft through the Citation's cockpit windows. Cox said that in the end, they just painted the frequency on the noses of the Washington-based aircraft so the customs pilots could better maintain visual contact (it was hard to see through the signs). Cox, a former corporate pilot, was attracted to the customs job for the job security and challenge of the work. But he said he doesn't think his enforcement role has changed his basic love of flying. "I'm just like everyone else. I'm a member of AOPA and EAA and I just love what I do."

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And More On A Permanent ADIZ...

AOPA Protests

AOPA says the FAA's plan to create a permanent ADIZ of 2,000 square miles -- nearly twice the size of Rhode Island -- is "operationally unworkable" and not clearly justified by the FAA. The FAA is currently seeking comments on its proposal. Meanwhile, for those who must navigate the region's nerve-wracking airspace (and are still waiting on proposed "mandatory training" from the FAA to see the light of day), AOPA has posted a helpful online briefing that explains how to do so without getting into trouble. It took us about 15 minutes to view the program, which covers all the fine points of ADIZ operations in lucid, easy-to-grasp detail. We think this program is must-see for anyone flying in the Washington area. AOPA hopes that by making an effort to eliminate incursions, GA can bolster its argument for eliminating the ADIZ entirely.

...Enforcement Role Could Change

Discussions are now underway that could shift the agency responsible for ADIZ security from the U.S. Customs Service to the U.S. Coast Guard, USCG spokesman Lt. Gene Maestas told AVweb yesterday. The Coast Guard would be suited for the job because it has a dual role as a law-enforcement authority as well as a military branch. "The military can't patrol within U.S borders," Maestas said, but the USCG can. The change could simplify the chain of command in case of a crisis, and perhaps make it easier for hostile action to be taken against an intruder, according to a recent MSNBC story. Sources in the Department of Homeland Security told MSNBC that the Coast Guard would relocate drug-interdiction helicopters out of the Bahamas to replace the Black Hawk helicopters and Citation jets currently used by customs to patrol the Washington area. Maestas said yesterday that nothing has been decided yet and the discussions will likely last another two to four weeks.

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ATC Asked To Assess Runway-Hold Procedures...

Errors Cause Concern

The FAA on Aug. 1 issued a General Notice to all control towers, noting that recently there has been "increased concern" about operational errors involving taxi-into-position-and-hold (tiph) procedures. "It is essential that [air traffic] managers give priority to the management of tiph," says the notice. It mandates that by Sept. 30, each facility manager must determine if an operational need exists to justify the use of the procedure. "Such factors as capacity, efficiency, user input, etc., should be considered in making this determination," the notice says. The manager must then prepare a directive that prescribes local procedures for handling tiph. "Such procedures may include, but are not limited to, reading back the pilot's stated position, annotating flight-progress strips, posting or arranging flight-progress strips according to aircraft's intended takeoff position, or marking the location of aircraft with color-coded chips on a magnetic diagram of the airport," the notice says. Taxi into position and hold, according to AOPA's Air Safety Foundation, can save 20 or 30 seconds by putting a departing aircraft into an immediate launch position. "At busy places it can mean the difference between getting on your way and waiting another three minutes or longer while another aircraft lands," says the foundation.

...As NATCA Complains...

The new directive is "bizarre," the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) said on Tuesday, and "will greatly exacerbate flight delays." It's "inefficient and wasteful," forcing tower personnel to "scramble" to come up with a justification to continue doing things they are already doing, NATCA said. "The likely outcome is that busy airports will eventually get waivers, leaving the real safety concerns unaddressed, while other airports will operate under unnecessary restrictions," said NATCA President John Carr. "Pilots will have no effective way of knowing where this rule is in effect and where it has been waived," he said. "The FAA will have expended untold resources to create the appearance of safety management without doing anything that actually enhances the safety of the system ... These towers now have to jump through hoops to do on Oct. 1 what they've done quite successfully for the last 50-plus years."

...FAA Explains

FAA spokesman Greg Martin defended the action. "The primary intent of this notice is to be a wake-up call to the facilities, to take a close look at taxi into position and hold, and see if they need it," he told AVweb on Tuesday. "And if they don't need it, don't use it. ...This is due to a recent spate of operational errors and subsequent loss of separation." He added that pilots will not be affected. They will know whether the procedure is available or not because they will be talking to the controllers. "Dallas has already reviewed their procedures and verified that they need [tiph], so they will continue to use it," he said. "As will most facilities that have shown a significant increase in volume." Martin added that there is no strict structure in place for the operational review.

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Two Killed In Crash Of Sport Aircraft

Two men died in North Carolina on Sunday when the light-sport aircraft they were flying crashed in a 25-acre cow pasture. Robert G. Swanson, 62, an active pilot with 40 years of experience, had bought the Allegro 2000 in June and had flown it for about 90 hours, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. Also on board was John Nesbit, 51, the former anchor of a TV morning show in Greensboro. The Allegro, a high-wing two-seater with a T-tail, has a composite fuselage and metal wings. It is manufactured in the Czech Republic and was certified in the U.S. as an LSA in May. This will be among the first LSA crashes to be investigated by the NTSB.

Pilots, High Altitude And Risk For Cataracts

Pilots who operate at high altitudes have triple the risk of developing cataracts compared to other men their age, researchers at the University of Iceland reported in the August issue of Archives of Ophthalmology. The researchers said that of 445 men aged 50 or older in the study, 79 were airline pilots and 71 of them had cataracts. The likely cause is the exposure of the pilots to cosmic radiation, the study concludes. According to AVweb aviation medical columnist Dr. Brent Blue, the risk for GA pilots is significantly lower than for airline pilots. GA pilots fly at much lower altitudes and don't frequent the polar routes where radiation is more intense. However, "Exposure to sunlight is a more significant problem for the GA population and good UV protective eye wear is a must," Dr. Blue said. The only risk reduction available for radiation effects is to reduce the time spent at high altitude and along polar routes and to avoid flying during solar storms, he said. Cataracts cloud the eye's lens and can cause blindness unless they are removed surgically. Smokers and astronauts have also been shown to be at higher risk, the Iceland study said.

Sure, the appearances of SpaceShipOne and Global Flyer captured all of our attention at AirVenture this year, but just as significant to aviators was the announcement that the Lancair Company has re-branded itself as Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation. The manufacturers of the Columbia 350 and Columbia 400 — the world's fastest certified piston aircraft — made the change as part of an ongoing campaign to develop a unique identity for the premium aircraft. If you missed them at AirVenture, consider looking them up at the Reno Air Races, where all of the world's fastest planes gather, or at one of the other stops on their Fly Columbia Tour. The tour is an interactive Columbia experience, and they’re holding them at airports around the country through this fall. For a complete schedule, go to

Boeing Clinches Dreamliner Deal In China

Boeing won an advantage this week in its perennial battle with Airbus, with an announcement that four Chinese airlines have ordered 42 of its new 787 Dreamliner jets, with a list price of about $5 billion. Airbus is trying to capture the airliner market with its superjumbo A380, which is already plagued with development delays, as Boeing maneuvers to compete with its midsize, fuel-efficient 787. The fast-growing Asian market is a central battleground for the two companies. Currently the World Trade Organization is arbitrating a dispute between the United States and the European Union over state aid, which the U.S. says gives Airbus an unfair advantage in the marketplace. The EU has countered that that local and state governments give plenty of subsidies and other assistance to Boeing companies. Meanwhile, Airbus has already told its customers that it will be late on delivering its first A380s. First delivery has been pushed back from March 2006 to November 2006.

Alaska Pilots Protest Insurance Rates

High insurance premiums are forcing Alaska's small charter operators out of business, a half-dozen pilots said during a recent forum in Wasilla. The pilots met with the state insurance director, Linda Hall, and state Sen. Charlie Huggins, the Anchorage Daily News reported last week. "Air taxis provide an essential air service and you're losing them," said operator Dave Glenn. He said liability coverage on his four-seat M-7 Maule costs $11,400 per year. The pilots asked that the state create an insurance pool to offer lower premiums, or rescind its requirement of at least $150,000 per seat in liability for commercial operators. Insurance providers told the Daily News that rates are going up everywhere and there is nothing unfair or excessive about the rates in Alaska. Despite improvements over the last 10 years, the accident rate is still higher there than in other states. And when an aircraft is damaged, the costs of recovery and repair in remote areas can be high.


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NASA Goes Looking For Flying-Car Innovations

Have an idea for making the flying car of the future work? NASA wants to hear about it, and the space agency is offering $250,000 in prizes as encouragement. The Personal Air Vehicle Challenge, announced at AirVenture last month, will pay $25,000 each for advances in noise control and handling qualities. The biggest reward, $150,000, would recognize a vehicle with two to six seats that can fly at least 130 mph for a 300-mile range while being fuel-efficient and making good time door-to-door. The idea, NASA engineer Mark Moore told AVweb, is to encourage "chaotic" research. "We think we understand the problem at NASA, but we could be wrong," he says. "Some of the greatest technological innovations have come from somebody playing around in their garage." During a forum at Oshkosh, X Prize winner Burt Rutan was critical of prize strategies that offer inadequate cash incentives, saying the challenge must be less incremental and the reward must be big enough to stimulate interest and investment.

Two Aircraft Hit By Gunfire

Right here in the U.S. Last Wednesday, an instructor and student were flying in a gyrocopter at about 800 feet over Springville, Utah, when they felt a "pop" and couldn't tell what was wrong. During the 10-minute flight back to the airport, they heard a strange whistling sound, and on landing they found a bullet hole in the rotor. Then on Saturday night, a sheriff's helicopter flying above an Albuquerque neighborhood to investigate a burglary was hit by a bullet that shattered the windshield. The pilot said he heard a pop and the helicopter lost power. He was able to land the aircraft in a backyard, but tore down trees and a fence along the way. Both men on board were hit by shrapnel and suffered minor impact injuries. "Let me be very clear, we intend to use every resource available to track down the coward who is responsible for committing this sick and twisted act," Sheriff Darren White told The Associated Press.

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Aviation Consumer Seeks Your Gyro Back-Up Thoughts

Our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, is examining the topic of back-up gyro strategies for light aircraft, specifically using PDAs or Garmin 296-type flight instrument displays as gyro back-ups. The editors would like to hear pros and cons from readers who have used such devices to back up vacuum or electric gyros. Did they work for that purpose? Knowing what you know now, would you do it again? Contact the magazine at with your comments.

On The Fly...

A FedEx cargo plane crossed an active runway without a clearance at Boston's Logan Airport where a JetBlue Airways passenger jet was cleared for takeoff on Monday. Air traffic controllers warned the JetBlue crew in time to avert a collision. The airport yesterday unveiled new procedures to enhance safety.

EAA has posted a database listing 72 instructors ready to train sport pilots...

The Russian Sigma sport plane will be sold in the U.S. by, the company announced Monday, saying interest was high when the airplane debuted at Oshkosh. LSA certification is pending, but is expected soon...

Space tourists now can buy a flight around the moon with a Russian pilot aboard a Soyuz rocket, for $100 million, Space Adventures said yesterday.

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Drop us a line. If it caught your attention, it will probably interest someone else, too. Submit news tips via email to You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

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New Articles and Features on AVweb

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AVweb's Question of the Week ...


This time last week, the FAA had just issued its proposal to bring Washington, D.C. under the protection of its new National Defense Airspace.  AVweb polled readers as to their feelings and impressions about the ADIZ surrounding DC becoming a permanent fixture.

The overwhelming majority of you (over 70%) were skeptical and cautious, choosing our tongue-in-cheek answer This is America, previously the land of the free.

The rest of you were almost evenly split on whether a permanent ADIZ is a good security measure (17%) or merely a necessary compromise in trying times (12%).


This week, AVweb wants to know how concerned you are about having a mid-air collision.  Terrified it will happen to you?  Willing to bet that it won't?

Click here to answer

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 comments.
Use this form to send QOTW comments to our AVmail Editor.

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AVweb's Picture of the Week ...

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions

Current POTW Winner | Past POTW Winners

Christian Hauser of Vienna (Austria) takes the top spot in our latest installment of "Picture of the Week."  It was a fierce battle for the Number One position, but Christian barely edged out Greg Poole of Australia and Kevin Orr of Kansas to win this week's Official AVweb Baseball Cap.

Remember:  You could win a cap of your very own by submitting your best aviation photos.  We'll run the best of them right here on AVweb (in front of a couple million astonished eyeballs) and award one baseball cap to the best of the best.

On with the pictures — !

Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.


copyright © Christian Hauser
Used with permission

"Join Us for a Ride — If You Dare"
Christian Hauser
of Vienna, Austria earns top honors
this week with a photo taken at the Airpower '05 air show
in Zeltweg.  "I have to admit," writes Christian, "I like my new
Canon EOS 20D."  Here's hoping you get more shots with
that camera, Chris — and that you share 'em with the rest of us!

Click 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.

Used with permission of
Greg Poole & Steve De Wit

"First Turbine Helicycle Flying in Australia"
Greg Poole of Castle Hill, New South Wales (Australia)
sends us this photo taken by fellow association member Steve de Wit.
Both Greg and Steve belong to Chapter 11 of the Sport Aircraft
Association of Australia (SAAA), which hosted this meeting to
welcome the first Helicycle to fly in Australia.  According to Greg,
this Helicycle (built by Hermann Roesch) has been followed by
others, with ten total Helicycles currently in Australia.

copyright © Kevin Orr
Used with permission

"Electrical Fury on the Tarmac"
Last week's Oshkosh photos sparked
a landslide of great electrical storm photos
that arrived in this week's submissions.
Our favorite comes from Kevin Orr
of Olathe, Kansas, who took this photo
at the Johnson County Executive Airport.

Bonus Pictures

More favorites from this week's
generous selection of "POTW" entries!

Used with permission of Keith Robb

"Memories of the Early Years"
Likewise, we found a lot of classic WWII-era
planes (warbirds and others) in our inbox this week.
Keith Robb
of Toronto, Ontario (Canada) sent us this
pic of him piloting an SE5a from Ontario's Great War
Flying Museum at the Geneseo (NY) Air Show.
Eric Dumigan snapped the photo.

Used with permission of Bill Whitney

"Arctic Sunrise"
Bill Whitney of Soldotna, Alaska
took off his heavy woollen gloves long
enough to capture the sunrise over
Endicott Island in early May.  This one went
straight to our desktop wallpaper file ... .

Used with permission of Jim Gordon

"Patrolling the Front"
Jim Gordon of Fayetteville, Georgia
submitted our other favorite classic paint job
of the week:  Pilot Ron Glover "flying tight
formation in his Aerodrome Eindecker EIII
experimental homebuilt."  Tight formation, indeed!

copyright © Jud Phillips
Used with permission

"High, Low, Fast, Slow"
From experimentals to a tried-and-true
(but still not certificated) design, we thought
it appropriate to close this week's installment
with two gulls and a jet from Jud Phillips
of Nashville, Tennessee.  The gulls were
designed and built in Edisto Island, South
Carolina, where they held their own air show.

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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