NewsWire Complete Issue

March 23, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff

Mysterious Crash Raises Questions

Baron Crashes After Seemingly Pilotless Flight

The pilot of a twin-engine turbo Beech Baron 56-T-C was headed home to St. Paul, Minn., from Glendive, Mont., on a business trip, when he apparently lost consciousness somewhere above Wisconsin last Friday night. The airplane continued on course until it ran out of fuel near Charleston, W.V. Two F-16s intercepted the Baron and attempted to make contact with the pilot, and fired flares, to no avail. They escorted the airplane until it descended and crashed in a rural area about 9:45 p.m. The pilot, William Roger Cammack Jr., 56, of St. Paul, who was alone on board, died. Nobody on the ground was hurt. Cammack had been a pilot for over 25 years and had recently joined the Civil Air Patrol, family members said. The nearest house to the crash site was about 250 feet away. It is not yet clear if Cammack died in the crash or during the flight. The accident was reminiscent of last year's crash of an airliner in Cyprus, and also of the 1999 Learjet crash that killed pro golfer Payne Stewart and four others. That airplane flew halfway across the country on autopilot before crashing in a pasture in South Dakota. In both of those accidents, the crew was incapacitated by hypoxia. It's not yet known whether that was a factor in last weekend's crash, or if other factors led to the pilot's incapacity.

As Helios Crash Investigation Continues

Meanwhile, the report into last year's crash of a passenger jet in Cyprus is nearing completion. The Helios Airways 737-300 ran into a mountainside after running out of fuel, after the cabin's loss of pressure led to the incapacitation of the cockpit crew. It has been reported that a flight attendant with minimal experience as a pilot was only able to gain entry to the cockpit after the aircraft lost power from fuel exhaustion. All 121 on board died. The investigation so far has found that "latent errors have lain there for years waiting for the pilot to pull the trigger," according to Akrivos Tsolakis, head of the investigation. The systemic faults created "a window of opportunity" for the errors made by the pilots, he said. Tsolakis spoke last week at an aviation safety seminar in Athens, Flight International reported. The final report on the crash is expected to be released in June or July. The Greek newspaper Kathimerini obtained a leaked draft version, and in a story published Sunday, said a long chain of mistakes led to the crash. The 737 failed to pressurize after a maintenance crew left a critical control set to manual instead of automatic. The pilots failed to correct the error during cockpit checks and then when an alert sounded, they misinterpreted its meaning. Blame likely will be attributed to state and airline authorities for a lack of oversight and to Helios Airways company officials and ground crew, the newspaper said.

Count Down To Sun, Fun

Air Show Season Opener Weeks Away

For much of the U.S., the summer flying season starts on April 4, when the annual Sun 'n Fun show opens in Lakeland, Fla. On Monday, the FAA released its official arrival procedures, complete with a video tour of the VFR route. The folks at Sun 'n Fun Radio 1510 sent out a reminder this week to bring a portable AM radio. They will broadcast 24 hours a day, with schedules, interviews, weather updates, the daily air show narrative, and remote broadcasts of the evening programs. The entire Sun 'n Fun campus also will be a wifi hotspot, so bring your laptop and stay connected. Special programs will honor the 25th anniversary of the first Space Shuttle launch, and the 20th anniversary of Voyager's historic nonstop round-the-world flight. Friday, April 7, will be the third annual AOPA Day, with discounts and special prizes for AOPA members. The theme for this year is "The Joy of Flight." Events continue right through Monday, with daily air shows, forums, seminars, plenty of vendors, and exhibits. A splash-in at nearby Lake Parker hosts seaplanes on Thursday and Friday.

What To Expect At Sun 'n Fun '06

Sun 'n Fun attracts about 4,000 airplanes, with a wide variety of classics, homebuilts, sport planes, and warbirds. This year's special-guest list includes a new air vehicle from the folks at CarterCopter, who promise to demonstrate a new Personal Air Vehicle prototype, an "aerial motorcycle." They plan to fly it in from Atlanta, stopping at gas stations, restaurants, attractions and other hotels along the way to Lakeland, to prove the aircraft's versatility, and arrive at the show at noon on Wednesday, April 5. The first civilian air show appearance of the F-22A "Raptor" stealth-technology fighter, America's newest fighter aircraft, is scheduled for Thursday, April 6. And lots more. If you can't be there in person, watch for AVweb's special coverage to automatically arrive in your inbox on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday that week, complete with galleries, interviews, and all the news from the show. Even if you're there, find a wifi spot in the shade and check out our news, to be sure you don't miss anything.

News Briefs

Congress Goes To Wichita For Aviation Hearing

The Aviation Subcommittee of the U.S. House traveled to Wichita yesterday to hold a field hearing on economic competitiveness in the aviation industry. Peter Bunce, CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), urged committee members to support GA with tax relief and clarified export rules. He also assured the panel that the introduction of very light jets into the airspace system -- expected to begin this year -- will not "clog up the airways." Bunce said the VLJs will stay away from crowded airline hubs and add value to underutilized GA airports. The committee also heard from Jack Pelton, president of Cessna Aircraft, and James Schuster, CEO of Raytheon. All three described the GA industry as healthy and growing, with an increasingly important role in our nation’s economy, then explained what support they need from Congress. "Regulatory changes that put an undue financial burden on general aviation, inconsistencies in rule interpretations, and illogical regulatory priorities will eventually cripple our industry," said Pelton. He said delays in FAA aircraft certification are a leading concern for Cessna. Schuster emphasized that it's vital to ensure that FAA funding and resources are allocated in the way that Congress intended. "If the certification of new aviation products becomes onerous or subject to delays in the U.S., the general aviation industry will be severely disadvantaged in the global marketplace. The result will be the loss of our technical leadership, international competitiveness, and ultimately, jobs," he said. Congressional representatives at the hearing were Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), John Mica (R-Fla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and Vern Ehlers (R-Mich). The hearing was held at Wichita State University's National Institute for Aviation Research.

IAOPA: Global Support Needed For GA Safety

The directors of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) met in Montreal, Canada, this week to discuss a global strategy for aviation safety. While most of the conference dealt with air-carrier issues, GA concerns were represented by John Sheehan, of the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA). Addressing the conference, Sheehan emphasized the need for GA pilots to have sufficient, affordable information pertinent to the safety of flight. "Weather and airport information are not always available or affordable, and regulatory restrictions and high fees deter pilots in obtaining added experience and proficiency," said Sheehan. "General aviation has become safer over the past decade yet improvements are still needed. ... Insufficient, nonexistent or delayed meteorological reporting, unavailable NOTAM information, and out-of-date aeronautical information references make the pilot's job more difficult under the dynamic conditions that accompany every flight. The partnership between pilot and ground-based information systems is of critical importance to flight safety." Sheehan added that increased fees work against aviation safety. "Rising aircraft operating costs and regulatory restrictions serve as a disincentive for pilots to gain additional experience," he said. "Experience in a broad range of operating environments, proficiency, and recency of experience are proven antidotes to aviation mishaps."

News Briefs

Pirate Stations Invade Crowded Aviation Airwaves

As if the radio frequencies weren't already busy enough, now pirate radio stations in Florida are interfering with aviation communications. "It's a nightmare," Jim Marinitti, president of the Miami Tower branch of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Monday. For the last month, pilots have been hearing hip-hop tunes and Haitian music instead of clearances and callbacks. Police traced the signal of a radio station that calls itself Da Streetz to a warehouse with an antenna, but nobody was there. Audio broadcasting equipment was confiscated, but the music has kept on playing. "It's sporadic, but it always seems to happen at the most inopportune time, as soon as traffic starts to pick up," Marinitti said.

Copperstate Fly-In Changes Schedule And Menu

Arizona has hosted some form of the popular Copperstate Fly-In every year for over 30 years, and it has been held at at least six different sites. This year, the change is all about the date, pushing back to later in the fall in hopes of cooler weather. This year's show will run Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 26 to 29, which statistics say should provide 80-degree days, 12 degrees cooler than past events. Show organizers also have axed the usual afternoon air show and replaced it with hourly fly-bys and demos of the antique, classic, and homebuilt aircraft that fly in to the field. The change will keep the airport open all day, organizers said this week, and give the fly-in pilots who attend the show a chance to showcase their aircraft. The fly-bys will include manufacturer demonstrations, mass flights of the latest light sport aircraft, a Parade of Flight from the oldest airplane on the airport to the newest, and more. "People come to Copperstate to see airplanes," said the organizers in a news release on Tuesday, "and while giving them close-up scrutiny on the ground scratches one itch, seeing and hearing them in flight adds a totally different dimension to the experience. That's the experience Copperstate will give you at this year's event -- Fly-In pilots won't be just attending the show, they'll be part of it." The 2006 event will be held at Casa Grande Municipal Airport (CGZ), located midway between Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., just a few miles west of Interstate 10.

News Briefs

Growing Pains For India's Aviation Industry

With a booming economy and a rapidly expanding aviation sector, India is finding it tough to fill all of its pilot seats, and extra demands are made on the pilots that are available. Pilots at Air India are assigned to legs as long as 10 hours without relief, a practice that would not be allowed under FAA air-carrier rules. To ease the shortage, India has been hiring foreign pilots to fill its seats, but that has caused problems when the pilots are not fluent in English. Incidents in recent months involving foreign pilots have raised concerns that there may be miscommunication with air traffic controllers, and even among cockpit crews. Air India ordered 68 new airliners from Boeing early this year -- so lots more seats are on the way. Senior Air India pilots told that the long legs mean that when they approach busy international airports for landing, they are already worn out from flying.

Pilot Groups Support FAA Changes To "Position And Hold"

Although the FAA's recent efforts to minimize the use of "taxi into position and hold" procedures have been vociferously opposed by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, two pilot groups this week said they are fine with the changes. "The FAA's review [of TIPH] promises to build in necessary safeguards during departure and arrival operations on the nation's runways," said Larry Newman, a spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). The Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents American Airlines pilots, agreed. "We applaud the FAA's action to improve safety on our runways," said Mike Leone, APA Safety Committee chairman. "The risk factors the FAA found in its review are real, and the changes mandated ... will significantly mitigate those risks." The APA added that to further improve runway safety, they would like the FAA to also implement the Airport Movement Area Safety System, install the ASDE-X ground radar system, and adequately staff control towers. Monday was the deadline for airport towers to notify the FAA if they intend to seek a waiver to continue use of the procedure.

News in Brief

On The Fly...

Aerobatic pilot Nick Nilmeyer, 23, died during a practice Monday near Greenfield, Calif., in his Extra 300-S. Nilmeyer was the youngest member of the first Stars of Tomorrow team in 2003 and graduated to team captain in 2005... Custom Chelton EFIS for Vans RV-10 released by Direct-To Avionics...

New data will provide better warning of solar events that affect GPS satellites, astronomers say...

EAA has added more stops on its Sport Pilot Tour, with more yet to come: May 6 near Nashville, June 17 near Chicago, Aug. 19 in Minneapolis, Dec. 2 near Los Angeles, and Dec. 9, San Diego...

Pilots among safest drivers, study finds, qualifying them for lower driver's insurance rates...

Aerospace Gala at Braintree, Mass., April 22 will feature exhibits, demos, guest speakers, banquet...

Japan Airlines has developed a new program to keep its older workers on staff as mentors and overseers...

FAA is testing screened-off perimeter taxiway design to prevent runway incursions at Atlantic City airport...

ATG reports continued progress with the flight testing of its Javelin Jet.

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.


New Articles and Features on AVweb

Quiz #105: Think Clearly
Flying instruments is not particularly difficult. It's figuring out what Air Traffic Control expects that fogs the brain. Learning the hidden powers of IFR and VFR clearances launches any pilot on a direct route to success.


AVweb's Business AVflash

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb’s NO-COST twice monthly Business AVflash? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash also focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the Business of Aviation. Business AVflash is a must read. Watch for a Business AVflash regular feature, TSA WATCH: GA IN THE "SPOTLIGHT". Sign up today at

Isn't It About Time You Choose Something Extra?
Pilot-inspired, German-engineered, and internationally renowned -- that's the difference in Extra Aircraft's EA-300 and EA-500. All it takes is one flight in the EA-300, and you'll discover why so many world-champion aerobatic pilots choose Extra. Extra's certified, Rolls Royce-powered, 6-seat turboprop EA-500 is in a class all by itself. The only new-technology cabin class airplane, the EA-500 averages 220 kts, gets 11 mpg, and costs less than $200/hr to operate. Click here for more information on both remarkable aircraft. ISN'T IT ABOUT TIME YOU CHOOSE SOMETHING EXTRA? Pilot-inspired, German-engineered, and internationally renowned -- that's the difference in Extra Aircraft's EA-300 and EA-500. All it takes is one flight in the EA-300, and you'll discover why so many world-champion aerobatic pilots choose Extra. Extra's certified, Rolls Royce-powered, 6-seat turboprop EA-500 is in a class all by itself. The only new-technology cabin class airplane, the EA-500 averages 220 kts, gets 11 mpg, and costs less than $200/hr to operate. Click here for more information on both remarkable aircraft:

Question of the Week


Last week, AVweb wanted to know how many of our enterprising readers are taking maintenance matters into their own hands.  When provisions allow you to perform maintenance tasks on your own aircraft, do you take advantage?

It turns out a good many AVweb readers do use the provisions their advantage — 53% of those who responded said they do as much maintenance as they're allowed (following all the regulations to the letter, naturally).

Another 32% of you were adventurous enough to tackle some of the maintenance but felt it best to leave the stickier tasks to the professionals.

For 12% of you, the only hands under your cowl are those of a trained professional.  Any other hands — even your own — just don't cut it for your aircraft.

And a mere 23 readers were brave enough to ask Um, what provisions ... ?


Taxi into position and hold procedures are no longer welcome at most airports. Your local airport was probably affected, but it's possible nobody asked your opinion. So now we are.

What do you think of the change? (click 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.

Don't Wish Your Airplane Had All the Bells and Whistles
Bennett Avionics makes that wish affordable! Used avionics is Bennett Avionics' only business. Bennett stocks a complete line of used avionics that will add tremendous capability to your aircraft at a price that makes sense. Bennett also purchases used avionics equipment and will work out an exchange for newer electronics. Bennett Avionics is your one-stop used avionics specialist. Call the Bennett Avionics specialists at (860) 653-7295, or go online. DON'T JUST WISH YOUR AIRPLANE HAD ALL THE BELLS AND WHISTLES Bennett Avionics makes that wish affordable! Used avionics is Bennett Avionics' only business. Bennett stocks a complete line of used avionics that will add tremendous capability to your aircraft at a price that makes sense. Bennett also purchases used avionics equipment and will work out an exchange for newer electronics. Bennett Avionics is your one-stop used avionics specialist. Call the Bennett Avionics specialists at (860) 653-7295, or go online:

Picture of the Week

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past POTW Winners

Welcome back to AVweb's "Picture of the Week."  Each week, we sort through the top aviation photos submitted by AVweb readers and choose our favorites.  We share the best of the best right here and award the number-one photographer with an Official AVweb Baseball Cap.

This week's winning cap goes to Billy Walker of Phoenix, Arizona.  Billy's submitted before, but the fun perspective in this week's photo took him all the way to the top spot.  Congratulations, Billy — your hat is on the way!


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Used with permission of Billy Walker

"Almost Canopy to Canopy"

Billy Walker of Phoenix, Arizona wins this week's top honor — and actually gets to star in his own photograph!  We're not sure who did the snapping on this one, but Billy's comments indicate he's the one flying the T-6.  In the foreground, Larry Perkins pilots the Yak 52-TW

AVweb continues to receive a large number of excellent images for our POTW contest. Here are some of the runners-up.  Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.

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Used with permission of Warren Woods

"A Horse and Dog Team on the Iditarod Trail"

We're not sure if Warren Woods of Palmer, Alaska is starring in his photo — but we are sure it took some serious padding and steady fingers to get this shot of a sled team at Rainy Pass during this year's Iditarod race.  Oh, and there's a Turbine Otter in there too, for those of you who like airplanes ... .


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Used with permission of Warren Woods


"Not too much to say," writes Ryan Pemberton of Spokane, Washington.  "But with a beautiful grass strip and a Stearman fly-by, it doesn't get much better, does it?"  We tend to agree — Ryan's scene is already decorating our computer desktop and making us anxious for warm summer Saturday afternoons.


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Used with permission of
William J. Oehlbeck III

"There She Blows!"

William Oehlbeck of Portsmouth, Virginia sends us this photo taken by his friend James Hopkins.  In the background is the 1990 eruption of Mt. Pinbatubo in the Philippines!


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Used with permission of Pat Donaghy

"Short Water-Landing"

Proof-positive that clever captioning does win you points in our weekly "POTW" contest:  We were quite fond of this photo from Pat Donaghy of Norland, Ontario (Canada) — but it was his caption that made us decide it had to make the cut this week.


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Used with permission of Pete Dobbins

"Lone Star Lady"

We wanted to re-title this digital manipulation "X-Ray Specs," but we decided to go the original title suggested by Pete Dobbins of McKinney, Texas.  The B-52 seen "through" Lone Star Lady is actually the same plane.  Fun stuff, Pete — thanks for sharing!


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Used with permission of Renee Gerez

"The Plane for the Bush Pilot!"

Fifty more points for clever captioning!

We all love the flying lawn mower, and here's Renee Gerez of Don Torcuato, Buenos Aires (Argentina) with pictures of it making the rounds at the Christen Eagle Fly-In in Buenos Aires.  For those who remember Renee from last week, yes, this photo was taken with his trusty Sony W800 camera phone!

Oh, and a quick apology to Renee for identifying him as a her last week!  I think we were a little pre-occupied with your cell phone specs, so please forgive us.


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Used with permission of George Mock

"One in a Million"

The flying mower is back — this time in Windsor, Ontario, home of occasional "POTW" contributor George Mock.  Courtesy of George's Sun Parlor Radio-Controlled Flyers Club.


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Used with permission of H. Douglas Stead

"Bet You Can't Identify This Aircraft — The Answer!"

Before we forget, it's time to reveal the answer to last week's "mystery plane" question!  The game was a fun one, prompted by some interesting customizations Doug Stead of British Columbia made to his plane.

Many readers guessed Doug's bird was a Helio Courier — so many, in fact, that we were afraid to ID it as a Yugoslav UTVA in Monday's edition of AVmail.  We consulted with Doug just to be sure, and he told us that the plane is indeed a UTVA-66.  "I added the spinner, which is perhaps why some people thought it was a Helio," writes Doug.

The first reader to correctly guess the ID on Doug's plane was AVweb reader Al Runnells, who gets a special shout-out for his eagle eye.

Oh, heck — who are we kidding?  This was so much fun, Doug and Al, that we think you both deserve hats!  We'll be in touch to get your mailing addresses.

Thanks to everyone else who played our impromptu game!  "POTW" HQ has been swamped with e-mails this week, so we may not have gotten back to all of you — but we hope you had as much fun with this as we did.

See you next week!

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.

Names Behind The News

AVwebFlash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.

Today's issue was written by news writer Mary Grady (bio).

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