NewsWire Complete Issue

August 24, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff

This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ...
Wings to Adventure on The Outdoor Channel

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Lights-Out NOTAMs At FSS

The Department of Defense has revised its system of issuing Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) about "lights-out" night training in Military Operations Areas to be sure that the information is available to private pilots when they are briefed by Flight Service Stations, AOPA said on Tuesday. Since the approval of lights-out operations in 2003, there has been a problem because the DOD NOTAM system didn't interface well with the FAA system, AOPA says, so the FSS briefers didn't always have the latest information. Now the NOTAM system has been modified to ensure the FSS is informed, so whenever you get a preflight briefing, you'll get current NOTAMs alerting you to lights-out training near your proposed flight path, AOPA said.

...And Hot Areas Mapped Online In Real Time

An FAA database called the special-use airspace management system (SAMS) now will tell anyone with Internet access whether any restricted area, military operations area, military route, or warning area anywhere in the country is going to be "hot," AOPA said on Monday. It updates every six minutes, and the schedule is accurate 24 hours in advance. AOPA said it has been lobbying for access to this information since 2001. SAMS has been in the works for a while, AOPA said, but it took time for the FAA to coordinate with all the Air Traffic Control centers to ensure that the data is kept updated. Now everyone has access to it -- everyone, that is, except your Flight Service Station briefer, because most of them don't have Internet access available. "But that should change when Lockheed-Martin takes over in October and installs new equipment," AOPA said.


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TSA Releases Details For DCA Access...

It's Complex And Pricey

Oct. 18 is the first day that corporate operators will be allowed back into Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), but if you are thinking that your corporate-owned aircraft can get in there, you might want to think again. Complying with the procedures established by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would require you to hire, at your own expense, an on-board security officer; stop for security screening at one of 12 gateway airports; and obtain TSA approval for every flight, crew member and passenger. "By TSA's definition, 'corporate operator' means paid flight crew, operations manual, and recurrent flight-crew training," Rob Hackman, AOPA manager of regulatory and certification policy, said on Monday. "TSA has indicated that it will consider allowing other GA aircraft such as owner-flown and non-corporate aircraft into DCA, but only after this program has been in place for one year."

...As Voluntary Security Self-Assessment Offered Online

The TSA is also working to develop a free Web site that would allow aircraft owners and operators to voluntarily assess their security protections against terrorist attacks and receive recommendations on how to make improvements. The self-assessment tool would ask a series of questions to develop a comprehensive picture of your security system, and a second series of questions would assess the threats and possible consequences. The results are then used to evaluate the effectiveness of various countermeasures and help in designing a security plan. The TSA says it would use the data it collects from the Web site to help prioritize resources. Comments on the proposal are accepted through Sept. 9.

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Megaflyover Reveals Low-Level View Of Africa...

Small Airplanes In Big Places

Biologist Mike Fay wrapped up eight months of flying at low altitudes above Africa in a 40-year-old single-engine Cessna in January, but he collected so much data and so many pictures that the results are only now starting to be revealed. Last week, an exhibit opened at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., and a documentary film about the expedition debuts on Sept. 22 on the National Geographic Channel. Fay and pilot Peter Ragg created a unique photographic record of the region's ecosystems and the human imprint on the land, using a fuselage-mounted camera that snapped a digital image of the terrain every 20 seconds during their 60,000-mile flight. The two men had some harrowing moments, including loss of oil pressure, engine failure, and encounters with power lines and sandstorms. At night they often slept on the ground next to the airplane. The flyover traveled from Capetown at Africa's southern tip and zigzagged across the continent and Madagascar to the northern coast at Morocco. Fay hopes to use the images and the new map he will make to help persuade the U.S. Congress, United Nations, European Union and the World Bank to change their thinking about funding support for Africa. The trip is also featured in the September issue of National Geographic magazine.

...As Alaskans Fly To Russia, VFR

A group of four airplanes -- a Cessna 210, two 185s, and a Piper Twin Comanche -- flew from Nome, Alaska, to the Russian Far East's Provideniya Bay Airport on July 24, in the annual flight organized by the Alaska Airmen's Association. The airmen have been working with Russian officials for over 10 years to establish VFR Route B-369. Each flight requires months of preparation, though the route itself is only about 100 nm long. The airmen have made arrangements for places for pilots to stay overnight and for 100LL avgas to be available. They hope to eventually enable GA pilots to fly from Anchorage to Tokyo. This year, the group had planned to extend the route to the town of Anadyr, but weather and beauracratic obstacles prevailed against them. They hope to re-strategize and try again. "Numerous Russian regulations and modes of thinking had to be changed and overcome to allow general aviation aircraft into Russia," Felix Maguire, one of the trip organizers, told AVweb. "Our original goal was to melt the ice curtain and reunite families in Alaska and Russia who had been separated by the political lines. We have done that. It is now possible for [residents of] King Salmon to visit the aunts and uncles that they had never met in the village of New Chapalino, and they can get there in a private aircraft flown low-level along a safe route." The Alaska Airmen met with Russian aviation authorities in Anchorage last April to discuss the route extension, and the officials are supportive of the concept, Maguire said.

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As Greek Crash Report Released, A 737 Down In Peru

A Boeing 737-200 operated by TANS, a Peruvian airline, made an emergency landing -- in a marsh -- on Tuesday night, during a fierce storm with strong winds, torrential rain and hail. The flight was only about a mile from its destination airport, in a remote jungle area 500 miles northeast of Lima. The aircraft, with 92 passengers and 8 crew on board, split in two on impact and burned. At least 41 died. Meanwhile, a preliminary report released Monday about the Helios Airways 737-300 that crashed in Greece Aug. 14 shows that authorities have retrieved data from the damaged cockpit voice recorder. A man believed to be 25-year-old flight attendant and student pilot Andreas Prodromou sat in the captain's seat for the last 10 minutes of the flight and twice tried to issue a mayday, but the radios apparently were not on the right frequency and nobody heard him. "The tone of his voice suggested the person was a man who was suffering or was exhausted," the report said. The second mayday call came just two seconds before the crash. "Indications of technical problems in the pressurization system" were found, according to the report, which blamed a sudden loss of cabin pressure and oxygen starvation for disabling the crew. The final cause of the crash was fuel exhaustion and engine failure. A former chief mechanic at Helios has said that the same aircraft lost cabin pressure during a December flight when a door apparently was not sealed properly.

The Peru crash was the fifth major airline incident this month. Besides the Greek crash, 152 people died when a chartered MD-82 went down in Venezuela, 16 were killed when an ATR-72 ditched off Sicily, and in Toronto, an Air France Airbus A340 overshot the runway, with no fatalities.

Rare Dornier Amphibian Greets Hudson River Saturday

One of the stranger-looking aircraft we saw at Oshkosh last month, the one-of-a-kind Dornier Do-24ATT three-engine amphibian, will be landing on the Hudson River in downtown New York City on Saturday. The visit is part of a yearlong round-the-world journey for the airplane, which is owned by Seair, a Philippines airline. The aircraft will touch down off Battery Park at 10:30 a.m. The arrival aims to commemorate a 1931 visit on the same date by a similar Dornier seaplane during a world tour. On that visit, the airplane was flown by Claude Dornier, founder of the company, and greeted by President Herbert Hoover. On this tour, Dornier's grandson Iren, chairman of Seair, is at the controls. Iren Dornier acquired the seaplane in 2003 from a Munich museum, and spent nearly two years restoring it. The Do-24 measures 100 feet from wingtip to wingtip. Power comes from three Pratt & Whitney PTA-45B engines, which replaced the older BMW radials. The tour is promoting the Philippines as a site for business and investment, and also raising funds for educational programs of UNICEF. Upon its return home, the vintage seaplane will be used by Seair as a luxury charter to serve five-star resorts in the Philippines. For more info, visit the official Do-24 site, but be forewarned, it is very slow to load.

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, look them up at the Reno Air Races (where all the world's fastest planes gather) or one of the other stops on their interactive Fly Columbia Tour being held at airports countrywide. For a complete schedule, go to

UAVs Avoid Obstacles, Map Wildfires

NASA tested several small robotic aircraft called APV-3s, propeller-driven planes with 12-foot wingspans, at Moffett Field in California last month to demonstrate their ability to avoid other aircraft in a "flock" and to also swerve past obstacles in flight even without guidance from the ground. The UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) are equipped with thermal sensors and are being studied for their potential to help monitor wildfires. "There is potentially a nice fit here, where you could do your water attacks and use your manned aircraft during the day, and fly the UAVs at night," said NASA scientist John Melton. The aircraft cost about $50,000 each and are easy to launch and operate. The U.S. Forest Service plans to use the UAVs starting next year to patrol a dozen Western states, searching out and mapping forest fires 24 hours a day. NASA is also working on a system that would use ground-based radar stations to ensure that UAVs sharing airspace with other aircraft can see and avoid them.

SkyTaxi Expands Into Northeast

SkyTaxi, a company aiming to implement NASA's "Small Aircraft Transportation System" concept flying six-seat twin-engine Cessna 414s on-demand from small local airports, is expanding to serve 560 airports in the Northeast. Initial service areas are Ohio, Michigan and the high-traffic corridors through Pennsylvania linking New York and Washington, the company said last week. The Cessnas are flown by two-pilot crews from airports with at least a 3,000-foot runway, and are upgraded to feature the latest safety and navigation equipment, the company says. Passengers can sign up for a seat, arrive at the airport 20 minutes before departure time, and fly direct to rural towns and small cities without all the hassles of airline flying, according to the company's Web site. SkyTaxi is a non-scheduled, on-demand service. Flights are initiated by the first traveler to book. Other travelers can then buy a seat on the flight if it fits their schedule. The company aims to offer fares competitive with regional airlines, and focuses on service to and from communities underserved by commercial airliners. SkyTaxi began operations in 2002 in the Northwest.

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Tracking Grand Canyon Overflight Rules

Four microphones attached to tripods in remote areas of the Grand Canyon National Park are working for 50 days this summer to record the natural sounds of the park, in an effort to establish a baseline for "natural quiet." The microphones record 10 seconds of sound every two minutes. That database, combined with another 50 days to be recorded this winter, will be analyzed by a computer to determine a "natural" decibel level, which can then be used to decide whether the current noise regulations that restrict overflights of the park are adequate. The goal is to have natural quiet in 50 percent of the park at least 75 percent of the time. Aircraft noise standards for the Grand Canyon have been under discussion for almost 20 years ... and this summer's data will no doubt add another layer to that discourse.

Japanese Space Agency To Test Supersonic Aircraft

Concorde's demise left the world bereft of supersonic passenger travel, but Japan's space agency is working on a design that could fill that void. It was reported this week that the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will test a model of a supersonic airplane next month over the Australian desert. JAXA is working under a joint agreement with France that was announced at the Paris Air Show in June. The uncrewed mock-up will be launched from a booster rocket, accelerate to Mach 2, and return to the ground under a parachute. The plan aims to build a jet that could carry 300 passengers from New York to Tokyo in under six hours, as soon as 2015. Japan conducted a similar test in 2002 that failed when the test aircraft separated from the rocket prematurely and crashed.

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On The Fly...

NASA awarded civilian astronaut wings Tuesday to three 1960s-era test pilots who flew the X-15 to altitudes of 50 miles or higher. Retired NASA pilot Bill Dana and family members representing deceased pilots John McKay and Joseph Walker received the wings in a ceremony at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California...

Aviation Technology Group will build its Javelin jets in Front Range, Colo. , the company announced Tuesday...

The FAA is investigating the collapse of a 747's nosegear during a landing in Guam last Friday. Three minor injuries were reported. The airport was closed for six hours...

Two "barnstormers" from Santa Monica, Calif., are planning a month-long flight along Route 66 to Chicago, to promote GA and raise funds for the Kentarooney foundation to help victims of autism. They plan to land at 100 airports and write a book about the trip. They're seeking volunteers and sponsors...

Russian test pilots broke two world speed records last week -- both were flying Sukhoi Su-27P fighter jets over long routes, and reached speeds of 938 and 1,022 mph...

Free admission for flight crews who wear uniforms or wings to musical "Plane Crazy," playing in New York Sept. 15-25.

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

The Right to Flight
More and more security restrictions have reduced the accessibility and viability of general aviation, and the proposed, permanent, D.C.-area restriction takes the cake. AVweb wants everyone to realize that this can be stopped with the right actions right now.

As the Beacon Turns #92: Phoenix Risin
A quiet morning on a sleepy ramp somewhere out west -- the perfect way to start a trip across a beautiful country. AVweb's Michael Maya Charles tells about a great day to be alive and to fly.

AVweb's Question of the Week ...


Last week, AVweb asked readers to rate their level of concern about hypoxia in the cockpit.

20% of you told us hypoxia isn't much of a concern, because you do the bulk of your flying under 5,000 feet — but the largest portion of respondents (a full 40%) acknowledged that you begin to pay attention (and perhaps even worry?) when you cross the 10,000-foot threshold.

Another 20% of you maintain your vigilance at all times, exercising valuable cockpit caution.  And another 8% credit your training with keeping you ready for any potential problems.

Only 9% of our respondents insisted that they were "always prepared" for depressurization and potential hypoxia, and a tiny 3% of those surveyed told us they pay attention (even at low altitudes) when the heat and humidity are high.


There's been a lot of discussion about the ADIZ in Washington becoming permanent (including this editorial, appearing today in our "ATIS" opinion section).  We've already asked how you feel about the possibility; this week, we'd like to know if any of you are planning to fight the plans to make the ADIZ permanent.

What actions (if any) will you take because of all this talk of a permanent ADIZ?
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.

AVweb's Business AVflash

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AVweb's Picture of the Week ...

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions

Current POTW Winner | Past POTW Winners

Submissions were down a bit this week — barely 50 fresh photos to choose from!  Luckily for us, every single photo we received this week was a "Top 10" contender.  It made picking a winner tough, but the process was a lot of fun.

When the dust settled, Steve Bailey of Illinois took home this week's top prize — an officially licensed AVweb logo hat!  Wear it with pride, Steve — and be sure to remind your admirers that they, too, can win an AVweb hat if we choose one of their photo submissions as "Picture of the Week."

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


copyright © Steve Bailey
Used with permission

"Blue on Blue"
Steve Bailey
of Hoffman Estates, Illinois wins a tight
round of "POTW" competition this week with his photo
of a P-51 coming in for a landing after a flying demonstration
at Oshkosh this year.  Steve snapped the winning
photo with a Nikon D70 using 70-300mm zoom.

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.

copyright © Embry-Riddle
Sport Aviation Club

Used with permission of Andrea Luethi

"ERAU Sport Aviation Club"
Andrea Luethi of Daytona Beach, Florida
send us this image of the Embry-Riddle Sport
Aviation Club
taking a Special Pitts S2B
out for a little formation flying practice.

Used with permission of George Hedinger

"Adios, Amigo!"
George Hedinger
of Wharton, New Jersey
caught this last-minute of his friend Mike
departing Andover-Aeroflex Airport in Jersey.
Mike had just dropped him off, "capping off
a great day of flying," writes George.

Bonus Pictures

A tiny sampling of the photos we
had to leaving behind on the virtual
"cutting room floor" this week:

Used with permission of Jamie M. Foy

"Rainbow over Cody"
Jamie Foy of Ranchester, Wyoming
kicks off this week's bonus pictures with a photo
he took in Cody, Wyoming "while waiting for the weather
to clear so I could resume mountain-flying training."
Judging by the photo, it was a good wait ... .

Used with permission of Darrell Couts

"Arctic Sunset"
Perhaps in response to Bill Whitney's chopper pic
entitled "Arctic Sunrise" a few weeks back,
Darrell Couts of Redmond, Washington
sends us "Arctic Sunset," along with this note:
"As the sun set for the first time in months,
we were all watching the show.  C-206 on
floats on Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada,
300 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Aug 2005."

copyright © Robert A. Hanson
Used with permission

"Mosquitoes at Kimpo, Korea — 1956"
Finally, Robert Hanson of Olathe, Kansas
takes us on a journey back through time with a photo
from his personal collection.  "I was sorting photos from
my first assignment as a pilot:  A Forward Air Controller
flying LT-6-Gs, known as the Mosquitoes.  Gritty times,"
writes Robert.  (That's him in the cockpit of LTA-582.)

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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Kitplanes compares two aircraft: One you can buy with a big wad of cash and one you'll have to put together yourself. Lancair "twins" Columbia 300/350 and ES may have a lot of design concepts in common, but they've definitely gone their own ways. Kitplanes reports on a Slovenian kit motorglider that combines the joy of soaring with practical cross-country capability. And in "Blowing It," Kitplanes shows what it takes to build your own turbo system. To finish off this October issue, Kitplanes is "Surveying the Sonex" with its all-metal, two-seat kits, and the "Designer Spotlight" is on Chuck Slusarczyk, the CGS Hawk ultralight pioneer. Order your subscription at
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