As search and rescue efforts continue along the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, officials are now saying that the hurricane will almost certainly be the worst disaster in U.S. history.
Along with millions of people in the impacted region, aviation interests have also been devastated by Katrina, so much so that reliable information on which airports may be open and operating is
scarce. There is now a rescue, refugee and looming health crisis in the region, compounded by an instant fuel crisis -- call ahead for fuel and airport availability if you intend to fly anywhere near
the region as resources are being diverted to rescue/support operations. The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) includes a list of local civil airports' operational status on its Hurricane
Katrina resource page (see below). President Bush has asked all private citizens to conserve fuel. General aviation is expected to play a role in the recovery efforts, many efforts have yet to be
mobilized. Relief agencies haven't yet assessed the most desperate needs. For qualified volunteer pilots and concerned individuals interested in lending aid, organized efforts exist. See below details
on these opportunities.
Rol Morrow, Chairman, Air Care Alliance contacted AVweb stating, "useful information along with the only listing of all known volunteer pilot organizations is available on the
Air Care Alliance website.
The National Air Transportation Association has compiled a resource page, which offers information about aviation and jet fuel prices and shortages resulting from the hurricane,
operational information for airports in the affected areas, opportunities to assist in the airlifting of supplies and aid workers, and much more. Find it, here.
For those unable to physically lend aid, vacation-home owners willing to donate their properties to families devastated by the storm are being urged by Gail Pinckney of Vacation Rentals for Families to list the location and duration the property will be available. Phone contact is listed as
770-939-0396 and email at email@example.com
Vacation Rentals for Families also told AVweb they are attempting to organize free air transportation for refugees. Private aircraft owners interested in the effort may visit the
organization's web site or call 678-799-1628 for details. A first mission is planned Friday for departure from Peachtree DeKalb
Airport. along with private aircraft owners organized by ChaseDev Enterprises will be organizing free relief airlift flights for affected families, from airfields close to the damaged areas in
Louisiana and Mississippi; to relocate victim families to the donated homes."
Avemco Insurance Company, the countrys only direct writer of general aviation insurance, has claims adjusters ready to respond to claims resulting from Hurricane Katrina. The company
has issued a release available, here.
As aircraft from the military, Civil Air Patrol and Coast Guard Auxiliary, not to mention dozens of media helicopters, flocked to disaster scenes in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, the FAA had
some disasters of its own to cope with. Katrina did serious damage to numerous FAA installations, leaving controllers with little to work with, and, in some cases, nowhere to work from. "In Gulfport
all the navaids were destroyed and the tower is uninhabitable. There was damage to other towers, as well," FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told AVweb Wednesday. Three major TFRs have been established over New Orleans, the Mississippi and Alabama coasts and in many areas
affected by the storm, operations are limited to rescue and relief aircraft for day VFR only. Three major airports were open for public use: Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Lake Charles. Brown said Louis
Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans was down to a single runway (01/19) with day VFR operations only and is only being used by relief aircraft. The other runway was flooded. New Orleans
Lakefront is flooded and closed. A major radar site was knocked out, wiping out radar coverage below 10,000 feet. Communications sites were also wrecked and there is a limited number of radio
frequencies available. Military controllers are helping the FAA maintain separation but, for many aircraft, it's see and be seen. "Portions of the Houston Center area are VFR only," Brown said.
Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) is just one of the thousands of businesses trying to get back in operation after the storm. Its
Mobile, Ala., factory took a direct hit and the roofs of two buildings were torn off. One production area got a little wet before tarps were in place but none of the equipment or inventory were
damaged, Jay Wickham, manager of Continental Mattituck told AVweb. He said no staff members were hurt although some of their homes were damaged or destroyed. Wickham's shop is helping
coordinate customer service enquiries for the factory in the wake of the storm. "Right now, the biggest thing is power. Without power they can't do anything," he said. Wickham said the plant is trying
to get a generator up and running and he estimates the plant could be back in operation within a day of getting power. But the city of Mobile has other priorities to think about. "There's 12 feet of
water in town," Wickham said. Wickham said his shop's computers have been linked to TCM's server in Los Angeles and that means he'll be able to email updates to customers as he gets fresh information.
"Right now, we're down until further notice but I'll have a better feel for it later today," he told AVweb at noon on Wednesday.
Of course aviation, mostly the rotary kind, is playing a huge role in the aftermath of Katrina. Commercial aircraft along with military, Civil Air Patrol and Coast Guard Auxiliary units from all over
the Southeast are being deployed to the storm-hit areas and there's no shortage of spectacular rescue coverage from the flock of news choppers also vying for airspace. Although the media flights were
permitted initially, the skies got too crowded over New Orleans on Tuesday and Brown said they had to be stopped. She said there have been numerous calls from aviation organizations wondering how they
can help. CAP crews are trained for aerial photography and damage assessment as well as helping with search and rescue. The Coast Guard Auxiliary crews are also in the air. "Our Aviators were
operational, surveying and taking pictures for the Incident Command Center." said William Crouch, Vice Commodore of the Auxiliary Eighth Coast Guard District Coastal Region. Auxiliary members are not
covered by the same laws that enable to National Guard and Reserve units to leave work to report for duty and must ask for time off from their employers to join the effort.
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In almost any other circumstances, a $2.3 million grant from the federal government would be welcomed with open arms by a civic government. But the commissioners of Martin County in Florida faced a
room full of protesters sporting yellow ribbons to signify their opposition to the county accepting the FAA grant to protect the local airport, Witham Field. In the end, the commissioners, in a 3-2
split, took the money, which will be used to buy eight to ten homes nearest to the airport. The protesters wanted the county to close 460 feet of runway that was built in 1998 and resulted in the
residential encroachment on the runway protection zone. "Shorten the runway and you have few takeoffs and landings, shorten the runway and you enhance safety [?] and reduce the noise," claimed Witham
Airport Action Majority President David Shore. Susan Valliere, one of the commissioners who opposed acceptance of the grant said the vacant properties will end up being a maintenance burden and a
magnet for homeless people, a sentiment backed by those in the gallery. "I don't believe for a minute these homes will be bought out and turned into beautiful parklands or a wooded buffer," said
resident Virginia Sherlock.
On the other side of the country, a deadlock by Oceanside, Calif. City Council means the city will lose $150,000 in FAA funding to build a perimeter fence. "The party's over on that one," Alan Cruise,
president of the Oceanside Airport Association told the North County Times. Accepting the FAA money would require a renewed commitment to keep the airport -- which has just erected new hangars -- open
for years to come. The grant was lost because council tied 2-2 in the vote on whether to accept funds. Mayor Jim Wood, who would have broken the tie, was unable to attend the Wednesday meeting.
Deadline for acceptance was Sunday and no further meetings were planned. Cruise said he was surprised council let the money slip away since airport security has been a concern expressed by some
residents. As is usual with such things, however, politics was in the left seat of the debate with some members of council looking at the airport as a liability for the growth of the community. Taking
the money would have required the city to keep the airport open for another 20 years, one of the stipulations the FAA makes when it doles out funds. The city is already committed to keeping the
airport for the next 18 years thanks to the grant it accepted in 2003 to buy land for expansion of the facility. The airport is seen as an impediment, by some, to the rumored construction of a big-box
store complex and condo development near the airport although no formal proposals have been made. Council also deadlocked on acceptance of $195,000 for some already-completed hangars at the airport,
but the deadline for that grant is after the next meeting and the mayor is expected to be there to cast a deciding vote, if necessary.
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The war on drugs hit new heights on the Afghan/Tajikistan border last month as Tajik officials boasted they'd finally stopped an aerial smuggler they'd been trying to shoot down for three years. That
the aircraft of choice by the smuggler was a powered parachute apparently did little to diminish the sense of accomplishment by the ground-pounding border guards. The guards apparently got lucky
sometime in mid August and brought the chute down but they didn't get the pilot, who was reportedly injured in the landing. He abandoned his cargo of 45 lbs. of heroin before hobbling away. However,
Lt. Gen. Saidamir Zukhurov, commander of Tajik border troops, apparently has more confidence in his soldiers' abilities to track an earth-bound target. He said the smuggler has "little chance to
escape" because the area was tightly secured. Tajikistan is a favored route for Afghan smugglers to get their products to Europe and it's not up to us to wonder why.
The majority of production aircraft will never set a record of any kind but Gulfstream's flagship G550 already has 15 speed records to its
credit after only a couple of years on the market. The ultra-long-range bizjet went from Newark to Tel Aviv, a distance of 5,031 NM in nine hours and 52 minutes, which looks like an average speed of
510 knots (or Mach .86, according to Gulfstream). However, this was no stripped down, race-ready version of the G. Although the pilots were going for a record, the company said it was a
passenger-carrying flight and the five passengers on board went about their business as normal. It's not just the plane that can hit the high Mach numbers. The on-board Internet service, called Broad
Band Multi-Link allows passengers to email, surf and perform any other Web-based function at 10 times the speed of other systems, according to Gulfstream President Bryan Moss. The Internet service is
so far available only on North American flights but Europe and the Middle East will be added next year.
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Australia's security apparatus went on its highest level of alert for two hours when the pilot of King Air accidentally used a "secret code word" indicating he was being hijacked, while talking with
air traffic control. The country's national terrorism emergency plan kicked into full gear, an emergency command post was set up in a bunker in Canberra, the nation's capital, and the plane was
tracked by radar and real-time satellite images as it flew from Brisbane to Melbourne. All the while, controllers were peppering the plane's crew with "standard coded phrases used to determine if a
hijacking was actually taking place," according to The Australian newspaper. Since the pilot wasn't speaking the same language, it was deduced that no hijacking was actually taking place and the alert
was lifted. "It was an inadvertent use of a code word," said an unnamed government spokesman. Secret code words? Not as far-fetched as it sounds according to a government official who spoke to
AVweb on condition of anonymity. He wouldn't specify the exact process but did confirm that airline pilots in the U.S. are equipped with something more than the 7500 transponder code (which is
no secret at all) if a hijacker makes it through airport security and the locked door to the cockpit. Wonder if there's a secret handshake, too.
They never missed a rendezvous with bombers over war-torn Europe but the Tuskegee Airmen say they've had their last formal reunion. Members of the famed Red Tail squadron, unfortunately known as much
for their heritage as their skill in the air, are getting too old to stage the annual event, which this year drew dozens of the P-51 fighter pilots, support crew and friends to Orlando. Of the
original 992 African American aviators who made up the 99th, 100th, 301st and 302nd Fighter Groups, only about 200 are still alive and they're in their 80s. About 50 died in the past year. The
remaining members will still get to meet each year but they'll do so in conjunction with another group of younger black aviators. The Tuskegee Airmen was founded in 1972 as a way to encourage young
black people to become pilots. It grew to 45 chapters throughout the country and membership was opened to include other military people, relatives of squadron members and associate members with no
affiliation who shared the same goals.
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In a year of remarkable aviation achievements (GlobalFlyer, SpaceShipOne) a solitary Aeronca Champ would easily escape notice as it putted over the countryside. But for a couple of 17-year-old cousins
from New Jersey, the tiny tandem carried them to no less a sense of accomplishment than all of the well-funded exploits that captured the headlines this year. Last Sunday, Ben Dunkerley and Nick Reed
did a flypast before landing at Hampton Air Field after a 6,000-mile round trip to California patterned after Rinker Buck's book "Flight of Passage" about two teenaged brothers who did a similar trip.
"We read the book and thought to ourselves, 'We could do that,'" said Reed. The boys left Hampton in the Champ (borrowed from their grandfather) on July 20 and made it to their uncle's place in
California in six days. They stayed for two weeks and headed home. They flew two-hour legs, stopping for fuel and rest at small airfields, some of which required a call to the local sheriff to open up
the gas pumps. Bad weather in Kansas and a ground loop in Texas added some interest to the flight, which mostly went smoothly. Dunkerley logged 150 flight hours and Reed 140 on the flight. But while
they copied the flight from the book, they're not planning to write one of their own. They do, however, want to make the flight again.
The Aviation Safety Foundation of Australia says it hopes to eliminate aviation accidents through a new education program. "Our aim is to reduce crash rates to zero," said Mark Riley, of Zauril Aviation, who developed the program. "This program has the power to change aviation safety in Australia like nothing else," he told the Border
Mail newspaper. The program takes an airline-like approach to GA pilot proficiency, through recurrent training, and will be offered throughout the country starting later this year. Riley said there
are eight modules covering flight skills, discipline, situational awareness, risk control and decision making. Foundation CEO Gary Lawson-Smith said the training was designed based on recent fatal
accidents and the deductions of reports from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. "We know that 85 percent-plus plane crashes are caused by human error," he said. "Just like bad drivers; it's not
the car that's at fault, it's the person behind the wheel and it can be the same with planes."
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The future of the Millville, N.J. Flight Services Station remains uncertain after part of the roof collapsed on the building housing it last week. FAA spokesman Jim Peters said they're looking
at setting up in temporary quarters if the building can't be quickly repaired. Briefings are now being handled by other offices. The building is owned by the local airport authority and roof timbers
weakened by flame retardant gave way, Peters said...
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta will be the featured speaker at AOPA Expo. Mineta will be the first Transportation Secretary
to speak at the convention and he'll appear at the general session on Nov. 5...
Temporary flight restrictions, including and Air Defense Identification Zone, will be set up in New York from Sept. 14 to Sept. 28 during the 60th anniversary of the United Nations. Leaders of
most countries will attend.
Drop us a line. If it caught your attention, it will probably interest someone else, too. Submit news tips via email to
firstname.lastname@example.org. You're a part of our team ... often, the best
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COLUMNS The Savvy Aviator #22: The Art Of Troubleshooting
Fixing a problem is the usually the easy part of aircraft maintenance. The hard part is figuring out what's wrong. A little troubleshooting can often save you a small fortune in unneeded parts and
HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVwebs NO-COST twice monthly Business AVflash? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash also focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that
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As everyone is aware, there's a move afoot to make
the ADIZ in Washington, D.C. a permanent fixture of
Capitol airspace. Last week, AVweb was curious how
many of you are motivated to take a stand against the
proposed permanence of these flight restrictions.
Our readers seem evenly divided over the issue, with
nearly 1/3 of respondents (30%) saying this must be
stopped; another almost-1/3 (28%) expressing interest in
the fight; and a third only-slightly-larger group (35%)
admitting that, while they are interested, they probably
won't take an activist stand on this issue.
On the other end of the spectrum, only 22 readers
said they didn't really care about the DC ADIZ becoming
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
Hurricane Katrina has devastated large tracts of
Louisiana and Mississippi, prompting the aviation
community to ask, "What can we do to help?" This
week, we'd like to know what you'll be doing to help the
Once again, we received a small (but high-quality!) batch
of "Picture of the Week" submissions from our readers.
We're tempted to crank up the encouragement and ask for more pics next week but we'll settle for the
same super-high standard of quality we've gotten the last
couple of weeks, if we have to.
Despite tough competition (and several last-minute
reversals of the vote), Warren Woods of Palmer, Alaska makes
off with this week's top prize an official AVweb baseball
cap. For a shot at a cap like Warren's,
submit your own aviation photos.
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of
readers who submit photos.
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
Used with permission
of Warren Woods
"Waiting to Get to the Plane"
Warren Woods of Palmer,
Alaska starts off this week's
barrage of great images with a one-in-a-million nature shot
from Brooks Camp Katmai. We'd send you an extra hat
for the bear, but we don't think we have any in his size.
"Clipped!" Drew Chaplin of
Bluffton, Indiana captured
the split second ribbon-cutting ceremony at
Oshkosh 2005 using his Nikon D1x. As Drew
points out, Sean Tucker is the pilot.
And the tiny strip across the C in Oracle?
That's part of the ribbon suspended in mid-air!
For the camera buffs, Drew shares the secrets of this
80-200 f2.8 AF-S lens, 1/1,000th second at f5.3 ISO125. Medium Large
Used with permission
of Steve Stombaugh
Steve Stombaugh of Avon,
Indiana caught this
dynamic shot of the Blue Angels' C-130 Fat Albert departing MQJ before the Indianapolis Air Show.
"It was a bit humid," writes Steve, "and appears the
props are working extra hard to generate the thrust
required to lift Fat Albert into the air."
It was a tight race to the top spot
this week. Take a look at some
of the photos we considered for
the coveted "Top Three" slots:
with permission of Barry Munden
"Airplane Rides" Barry Munden of Milford,
"I thought the price was a little steep,
considering you have to pedal it yourself."
Still, compared to avgas prices ... .
with permission of C. J. Anthony
"Sixty Years of Separation" C. J. Anthony
of Prescott, Arizona
was trying to get a shot of the White Knight
without the crowds when he snapped this photo
at AirVenture 2005. What he got instead was
a thoughtful shot of two planes that made history
in two different centuries. "My admiration goes out
to those who flew over Germany in the B-17 in flak
and heavy fighter cover," writes C. J., who adds,
"My admiration also goes out to Burt Rutan and his crew
for breaking new ground ... while taking extreme risks." Medium Large
with permission of
David L. Slaybaugh
"World Flyer Arrives at Osh '05" David Slaybaugh
of Taylorville, Illinois
caught another big moment from AirVenture '05 on film:
the long-awaited arrival of the Virgin World Flyer.
"See the Seaplane" Mark Myles of Oklahoma
plays "Where's Waldo?" with us in this photo
taken from a Radisson cruise ship off the coast
of St. Thomas. The image was shot with
a Canon 10D and 75-300mm lens.
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.
Sponsor News and Special Offers
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