AVwebFlash - Volume 12, Number 39b

September 28, 2006

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
Aircraft Spruce West Coast Super Sale: Oct. 7, 2006 Aircraft Spruce West Holds Their Annual Super Sale on October 7th
Aircraft Spruce will be holding their annual Super Sale in Corona, CA on Saturday, October 7th from 7:00am – 3:00pm. Vendors will be on site demonstrating their products. Raffle prizes will be given away hourly. Seminars will include Garmin, Zaon Flight, and the FAA. Numerous discounts, hot dogs, and lots of fun! Complimentary shuttle service available throughout the day from the Corona Airport (AJO). For more information, please call 1-877-4-SPRUCE or visit online for complete details.
Sponsor Announcement ATG - The Way You Used to Fly 
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Airports Seek Alternate Income

Airports are getting more creative at finding ways to make money, USA Today reported this week. At Houston's Bush International Airport, for example, some empty spaces are being put to work growing high-grade hay to sell to local ranchers. Other airports are developing golf courses, hotels, office parks, and residential developments. In Miami, the county shut down the Opa Locka West GA airfield after it was damaged by hurricanes, and will mine limestone rocks at the site. The quarry is expected to generate $300 million to $600 million, which will go to the aviation department. The advantages are that airport operators can keep costs low and thus more competitive, and also can supplement the sometimes volatile aviation revenues. Paula Hochstetler, an airport consultant, told USA Today that assessing risk will be increasingly important as airport agencies begin to broaden their interests beyond traditional functions. "They have to be deliberate and have good business sense that it doesn't place the airport in jeopardy," Hochstetler said.

FAA Criticized For Financial Waste

Meanwhile, the FAA is under fire for wasting money in a project that was designed to fast-track its contracting process by using pre-qualified vendors. The project has been shut down after costing the agency tens of millions of dollars in overruns, The Washington Post reported last weekend. The FAA awarded 114 contracts under the system, with a potential value of about $543 million, according to a recent report by the Transportation Department Office of Inspector General. The report found problems with the project's structure, its implementation, and its cost analysis. The investigation was requested by Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley. "It's just outrageous how the FAA was not looking out for the taxpayers' dollars," Grassley told the Post. "Three words would sum this up: absolutely no accountability."

More Runways And Airports

For years, pilots have complained that it's not the skies that are crowded -- it's the runways. The FAA is catching up a bit with a slew of new airports and expansion projects. St. George, Utah, one of the nation's fastest-growing metro areas, will get a new $17-million airport, the FAA said this week. "Aviation is about more than just airplanes -- it's about providing the kind of economic connections communities need to thrive," FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said. On Tuesday, Blakey said the FAA will commission six airfield projects, including four new runways, a runway extension, and an airfield reconfiguration, by the fall of 2008. These projects will accommodate almost 300,000 additional annual operations, decrease the average delay per operation by two minutes, and will cost the FAA about $2.4 billion. Since 1999, 12 new runways have opened among the 35 busiest airports, Blakey said.

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Mooney CEO Gretchen Jahn Steps Down

Mooney Aerospace Group announced on Tuesday that CEO Gretchen Jahn is leaving to pursue other opportunities. Jahn's resignation will be effective Oct. 1, but she will remain with the company as an advisor to oversee the (235-plus knot turbo) Acclaim certification. Jahn led during a dynamic time for Mooney, when exciting new products hit the market and the company rebounded from a period of change and upheaval. "I have a passion for getting companies up and running. It has been exciting to participate in this process at Mooney," Jahn said in a news release. "We have accomplished many goals over my two years here, including increasing deliveries from 36 deliveries in 2004 to 85 deliveries in 2005, dramatically increasing brand recognition and order backlog, revitalizing customer support, and introducing two new aircraft." In April, the company unveiled the turbo-normalized Acclaim, which has a maximum cruise speed of 237 knots. Less than 60 days later, Mooney also announced the Ovation3, a 310-horsepower variant of its popular M20 design that Mooney says is the fastest in its class. "Gretchen has made a significant contribution to Mooney's revitalization and we wish her well," said Steven Karol, chairman of the board for Mooney Aerospace Group, Ltd.

Dennis Ferguson Named Mooney CEO

Dennis Ferguson was named on Tuesday as the new CEO. He was previously president of Airshow Inc., an avionics manufacturing company. Prior to that, he was a vice president at Dynatech/Acterna Corporation. He introduced lean manufacturing practices that reduced manufacturing costs and increased product quality, Mooney said in a news release. "Dennis brings a strong background in the aviation industry and experience in transitioning a small, entrepreneurial company into a significant force in the marketplace," said Steven Karol, chairman of the board. "Mooney is ready to take the next step in its revitalization, having improved its market share, operational efficiencies and brand recognition over the past three years."

Ultra-Comfort from LightSPEED Fly in Ultra-Comfort with LightSPEED Headsets
"Custom ear molds made my Mach 1 as quiet as any headset I've tried." — Bing Lantis, President of Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing. Discover what thousands of pilots already have: the most comfortable headsets in the industry. The in-the-ear Mach 1 weighs less than 1 oz.; the full-size Thirty 3G, just under 16 oz. and uses soft conform-foam ear cushions. Try a LightSPEED headset with a 30-day money-back guarantee. To order, contact a LightSPEED dealer or call (800) 332-2421 (PST, business hours). View the 60-second video clip!

HondaJet Will Go On Sale Next Month

The Honda Aircraft Company will start accepting orders for its HondaJet VLJ next month at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention, Oct. 17-19 in Orlando, Fla. A full-scale interior mock-up will be on display in the exhibit hall. Honda created the aircraft subsidiary in August to handle the development, production and sales of HondaJet, and will pursue FAA type certification and production certification in the U.S. Honda's goal is to complete certification of the jet in three to four years, and deliver the first customer copy in 2010. The jet's attributes include fuel efficiency, large cabin and luggage space, and higher cruise speed than conventional aircraft in its class, says Honda. Innovations include a patented over-the-wing engine-mount, a natural-laminar flow wing and fuselage nose, and an advanced all-composite fuselage structure. The jet is expected to sell for about $3 million.

Worries Persist About Foreign Flight Students

Efforts to check on and monitor foreign students at U.S. flight schools have been marked by "confusion and misinterpretations" among the various government agencies involved, according to an internal Homeland Security document obtained by ABC News. ABC says the FAA is investigating reports that "dozens" of foreign students at U.S. flight schools have incomplete paperwork and/or background checks. The Transportation Security Administration says it's revising its vetting process. The FAA told ABC News it couldn't comment because of an open investigation on the issue. AOPA spokesman Chris Dancy says flight instructors must be sure they're aware of and in compliance with the parts of the alien flight-training rule that apply to them. "AOPA has used and continues to use every communications avenue available to the association to make sure flight instructors know what they need to know about the rule," he said. If you're due for a refresher, go here to review.

Garmin 396 vs. Flight Cheetah with XM Weather Comparison
How does the Garmin 396 really compare to the Flight Cheetah with XM Weather?  Check out this link to find out.
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Coast Guard Takes Over ADIZ Patrol

Pilots who stumble into the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) above Washington, D.C., now will be intercepted by helicopters flown by the U.S. Coast Guard, which takes over the job from Customs and Border Protection. The change was made official on Monday. "The Coast Guard is fully ready to [provide] air defense in the National Capitol Region," said Rear Adm. David Pekoske at a ceremony. Coast Guard crews will fly orange HH-65C Dolphin helicopters. The Dolphins will be equipped with civilian-frequency VHF radios plus electronic signboards so they can communicate with pilots who might be having radio problems, AOPA said. "Our concern about any change is that the enforcement agency understand general aviation and not be 'trigger happy,'" said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. "We worked with the Department of Homeland Security as this transfer was contemplated, and we strongly expressed the need for Coast Guard pilots to have the training and experience to safely intercept GA aircraft that inadvertently violate the ADIZ and to escort them to an appropriate landing place." The Coast Guard helicopters will be based at Reagan National Airport (DCA) in the center of the Washington, D.C., ADIZ.

A Lamborghini With Your Diamond

Here's another new way to fly, not quite a flying club or fractional deal, but something else altogether. Called an "exclusive transport club," V International is now open in the U.K., offering members access to a fleet of luxury vehicles that includes the Diamond DA42 Twin Star, the Diamond DA40, and the Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter, plus a Bentley, a Lamborghini, a Ferrari and a Porsche, and a few high-performance boats, too. Members pay about $66,000 for the first year, which gets up to 50 driving days and 6,000 miles plus 50 flying hours and 50 boat days. The company, started by a team of managers from Diamond Aircraft, has plans to expand across Europe and around the world. All vehicles can be reserved via an online system. The pitch goes like this: "Wouldn't it be great not having to think about annual insurance costs, maintenance, storage, cleaning, taxing, licensing and how much money we will lose when we sell? So -- we came up with the idea for V-International. All of the things we want but without the hassle and cost of ownership."

Join AOPA: The Real-Time Flight Planner Is Worth the Dues Alone!
AOPA membership can be an invaluable resource at an incredible value. Join AOPA for $39 a year, and take advantage of the benefits exclusive to members, including: a year subscription to AOPA Pilot magazine; 24-hour access to the "members-only" section of the web site; and AOPA's Real-Time Flight Planner with up-to-the-minute flight restrictions, routing images, weather info, and more! As the largest aviation organization in the world, AOPA is a tireless advocate for over 407,000 members, protecting their right to fly. Click here to become an AOPA member today.

NTSB: Comair Pilots Had 45 Seconds

The NTSB on Monday released a factual report from its on-the-scene investigation into the Comair crash that killed 49 people in Lexington, Ky., last month. The Comair crew was cleared to 7,001-by-150-foot Runway 22. The flight data recorder shows the crew stopped near the end of Runway 26 for about 45 seconds before the flight was cleared for takeoff. Six seconds later, the airplane started to taxi onto 3,500-by-75-foot Runway 26. It took about 36 seconds for the airplane to taxi onto the runway and complete the turn before power was increased to initiate the takeoff. The airplane accelerated to about 137 knots, ran off the end of the shorter runway through the airport perimeter fence, and impacted trees on an adjacent horse farm. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a post-crash fire.

Toxicological tests of both pilots found no illicit substances or alcohol, but an over-the-the counter decongestant, pseudoephedrine, was detected at a low level in the first officer's blood. Earlier reports said the captain had taxied the airplane into position, then handed it over to First Officer James Polehinke for takeoff. Polehinke was the sole survivor of the crash. He remains hospitalized in serious condition. His family says he has communicated with them but remembers nothing about the crash. His left leg has been amputated and he will require further surgeries, a hospital spokesman said.

Tired Of Fuel Prices? Virtual Flight Gets Real

Now you can take a step beyond your desktop flight simulator, and fly an actual remote-control aircraft equipped with a head-movement-synchonized camera and a virtual-reality headset that makes you feel like you're right in the cockpit. At least, you can fly this way if you are willing to spend the time and money tinkering with complicated and delicate gear to make it work. Denis Gratton, of Québec, Canada, has done just that, and has the videos to prove it. (You can watch them online here and here... they are pretty great.) How much does it cost to build a system like this? "It's hard to tell how much it cost, I prefer not to know it," Gratton told AVweb in an e-mail. He says others are starting to join in his hobby, and he expects the costs will come down within a year or so.

Putting the system together is complex, he said. "Transmitting video signal in the air from a moving plane is hard, I will lose the video signal if I don't take care of many things ... the metallic parts on the planes will block the waves, so I replace them. The planes must be reliable. It's a real plane that can hurt someone, so the planes must be safe." Gratton says what is unique about his system is that he doesn't just use the onboard camera to record video, but actually flies the airplane from takeoff to landing with the VR headset. "Perhaps I'm the first to fly like this, so I invented a new way of flying, but I didn't invent new equipment," he said. He took existing components and modified and integrated them into a compact unit. For more info about the system, check out this online discussion and Gratton's Web site.

AVweb's Flight Explorer Personal Edition® Now Integrated with ATCSimulator® 2
With this new edition of Flight Explorer, you can view air traffic for the entire U.S., Canada, or New Zealand or zoom in to one airport or a single aircraft; monitor and display real-time FAA delay information; display TFRs and SUAs; and much more. Click here for more information and to subscribe.

Concerns About Video Content

Monday's online version of your AVwebflash newsletter was originally published with video content that began to play when the page was opened -- whether readers wanted it to, or not. That presentation was not how AVweb intends to present video content. Readers should expect future video content to play only when they "press play." (If you like the expanded content of the online version, don't be afraid to click through.)

On The Fly...

A blimp landed in trees near Boston after a rudder failed. The pilot tried to land on a nearby beach but the wind was too strong...

Scottsdale, Ariz., has banned helicopters from taking off or landing in residential areas...

The first private rocket to launch at New Mexico's spaceport took off Monday but failed to reach its goal altitude...

Spiders on a plane lead to lawsuit...

Four people were saved last week in the first deployment of a Cirrus BRS chute in Jamaica...

The NTSB wants controllers to be clear when they issue a runway change.

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 newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

Find all of today's stories in AVweb's: NewsWire

If You Think "Bargains" Are Something Alien to Aviation — Think Again!
Spending hard-earned money on your aircraft and its avionics can be expensive. But don't think good deals aren't available in today's marketplace. Bennett Avionics provides pilots with quality avionics to meet their needs and maintain their budget. Before you buy anywhere else, check out Bennett Avionics at (860) 653-7295 or online. You'll be glad you did!

New Articles and Features on AVweb


The Savvy Aviator #36: Temperature, Temperature, Temperature
Those three words contain the secret to making your aircraft engine operate trouble-free for a long time.

Audio News

Audio news, plus a new in-depth interview are posted online each Monday and Friday. Check AVweb's audio news index to hear news directly from the newsmakers.

Find exclusive interviews featuring Cessna's Jack Pelton on his company's LSA, TCM president Bryan Lewis, NATCA president John Carr, New Piper CEO Jim Bass, Hal Shevers for Sporty's Pilot Shop, Light Sport guru Dan Johnson, Excel Jet's Bob Bornhofen, Adam Aircraft's Joe Walker, FAA administrator Marion Blakey, Cirrus Design's Alan Klapmeier and more. AVweb's Podcast index, is online, now. You'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.

Use the Best — ASA's 2007 FAR/AIMs and FAA Exam Prep Now Available
ASA's 2007 FAR/AIMs, Test Preps for pilots, and Fast-Track Test Guides for AMTs are now available. Prepware combines all the information in the Test Prep and Fast-Track Test Guide series in computer-based training. Contains all FAA Knowledge Exam questions. Virtual Test Prep lets students study from their TVs or computer DVD players. For complete details about these products, visit ASA's web site.

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 http://www.avweb.com/profile/ .

Award-Winning VFLITE™ Computer-Based GPS Training Just FAA-Adopted
Now in use at FSDOs nationwide for FAA Inspector training, the VFLITE™ standard and advanced GNS 530/430 eLearning programs are the ideal solution for both initial and recurrent training. Featuring scenario-based, guided simulation. Get the most from your GPS the quick, easy, and safe way. Manufacturer-recommended, VFLITE™ programs are also available for popular Garmin® and Lowrance® portables. Prices start at $49.95. Order online.

FBO of the Week: Henderson Executive (KHND, Henderson, NV)

For local prices, enter your U.S. ZIP Code or Airport Identifier:
Fuel prices provided weekly by AirNav,
based on prices from the past 2 weeks.
Changes are relative to last week.

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Henderson Executive at KHND in Henderson, Nevada.

AVweb reader Thomas Okerlund offered his praise for the service and facilities.

"The Line and Customer Service staff are top notch and match the new facilites just opened at Henderson. On a recent after hours late night trip, the Line Staff came into assist with parking and luggage. To accomodate the crew, they took everyone to their hotel and then turned down a tip when offered. Wow!"

Keep those nominations coming. For complete contest rules, click here.

AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!

Special Offer from Pilot Journey on New FlyUSA Club!
For a limited time, Pilot Journey is offering half off (regular price: $29.95) for all three of their presentations: Learn to Fly, Career Pilot, and Pilot Training Financial Information. Pilot Journey provides resources for future pilots with podcasts, live seminars, pilot supply discounts, forums, articles, a browser Pilot Dashboard toolbar, newsletters, and more — some at no cost. Passionate about flying? Check out Pilot Journey's site.

Question of the Week: Government Regulation a GoodThing?

This Week's Question | Last Week's Results


Our most recent "Questions of the Week" have centered around airplane shopping and buying.  Last week, we asked which factor (from our list) is the most important in your personal decision to by a new aircraft.

Always responsible, AVweb readers named safety the most important factor in their purchase, with nearly 25% of respondents rating it at the top of their lists.  The second most important factor, getting 17% of respondents' votes, was economy — another practical consideration we can't deny.

14% of you chose speed as the most important factor — one which, we suppose, could be either a practical consideration or simply a personal preference.

11% ranked comfort as the number one variable in making a purchase.

And 12% of you told us that your top consideration was something we hadn't listed.

Curious about the other factors we offered as choices — or what the other 25% of respondents chose?
Click here for detailed results of last week's QOTW poll.


This week's Question comes from an AVweb reader, who writes:

Since de-regulation more than 25 years ago, the U.S. has seen airlines soar and sink. Mostly sink. September 11 didn't help. Delays caused by airport caused by airport capacity don't help. The impending air traffic controller shortage surely won't help. The legacy major air carriers haven't seen sustainable profit in a very long time.

His question:

Would you like to see some form of government regulation for the airlines in hopes of bringing a more stable path for them to succeed?

Click here to answer.

Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to qotw@avweb.com.

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.

Separate Fact from Advertising Hype with Aviation Consumer
Because Aviation Consumer isn't supported by advertising like other aviation publications, Aviation Consumer's editors can tell you the unbiased truth about products and services. Be a subscriber to the fearless aviation publication, Aviation Consumer. Order online and receive unlimited no-cost use of Aviation Consumer's ratings-packed web archives!

Picture of the Week

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

"Stiff competition" is the order of the day in our latest installment of "Picture of the Week."  Not only do the number of contributions continue to rise as we enter fall here in the U.S., but the quality of photos seems to be on the rise, as well.  Not that quality has ever been a problem when it comes to picking "POTW" contenders, but the last few weeks have been chock-full of great-looking photos that we simply couldn't find a way to squeeze in.  Rest assured, we've saved plenty of them to our hard drives and turned them into lovely wallpapers — so keep sending 'em!  Even those that don't make it into our weekly round-up are ogled and appreciated by the AVwebbers who go through 'em.


medium | large

copyright © Robbie Culver
Used with permission

Helicopter Exit

Robbie Culver of Waukegan, Illinois is a familiar name at "POTW" headquarters.  Robbie's signature has shown up on several contenders over the last year or so (most notably last week), but he's never sent us the right photo on the right week to win one of our coveted "Picture of the Week" AVweb hats.  This week, circumstance and an awesome photo come together to push Robbie's latest submission to the top of our pile.

Congrats, Mr. Culver — it's always fun to see your name on the back of our photo submissions, and it's about time you won an AVweb hat.  You've earned it!

(Oh, that's Brenda Culver and Kevin Hultsch jumping out of a Bell 422 helicopter in the photo.)

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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copyright © Paul Tipton
Used with permission

A Lake Above Misty Fjord, Alaska

Paul Tipton of Belton, Texas flew into Misty Fjord in Alaska with pilot Ryan McCue.

We're not sure who built the fire or pitched the tent, but we think we'd like an invite the next time, Paul — looks like a lot of fun.


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Used with permission of Ken Price

Someone's Treasured "Pot of Gold" at the End of the Rainbow

Ken Price of Muskegon, Michigan snapped several shots of this incredible rainbow last week.  "So bright it almost hurt my eyes," writes Ken — and the photos came out great.  We had a hard time choosing just one, but we finally settled on this one, which seemed to capture the spirit of "POTW" best.


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Used with permission of Mark Silvestri

Skytypers at Sunset

Mark Silvestri of Upton, Massachusetts writes:

This picture was taken Friday night, September 8, 2006 at the Oceana NAS, VA air show. The planes look like regular T-6 Texans but are different. They are actually SNJ-2s. The SNJ-2 is the only model with the enlarged 180-gallon fuel tank, allowing the skytypers to operate for over four hours, skytyping messages throughout the day.



medium | large

Used with permission of Larry Portman


Larry Portman of Garland, Texas rented a C-206 with the intention of landing at this — um, somewhat intimidating-looking airstrip on Milford Sound, New Zealand.  Weather let Larry and crew off the hook — "we were advised that the winds were too dangerous," he writes, and "we had to settle for this view from 2,500' instead!"


medium | large

Used with permission of Iain Indian

Short Final

Iain Indian of Oak Park, Victoria (Australia) snapped this from the radar tower near Melbourne International Airport.  (The muted colors look great in the large-size version.)


medium | large

Used with permission of Scott Porter

Pre-Flight Check

Scott Porter of Prestonsburg, Kentucky flies us out this week.

Thanks, Scott — and everyone else who took time to submit this week!  We'll see you all next Thursday for more great airplane pictures.

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.



Avidyne TAS600 — Because Two Antennas Are Better than One!
Whether you're flying in a busy terminal area, navigating a long cross-country, or hovering over a city, seeing and avoiding traffic requires having the right information in real time. Avidyne's TAS600 Traffic Advisory Systems, with dual-antenna technology, provide significantly improved signal coverage and target tracking, enabling faster updates and enhanced performance over single-antenna systems, for maximum safety. Starting at $9,990, Avidyne's TAS600 Series makes premium performance, active-surveillance traffic alerting affordable for virtually every general aviation aircraft. Visit Avidyne online.

Bonanza & Baron Owners: Learn to Save Thousands on Maintenance
The 10,000-member American Bonanza Society is sponsoring a weekend-long Savvy Owner Seminar by maintenance expert Mike Busch November 4-5 in Mobile, Alabama (BFM), including a TCM factory tour. Seminars are open to all GA aircraft owners! In one information-packed weekend, Mike teaches how to save literally thousands on maintenance costs, year after year. For details and to reserve your space, go online.

Flying Takes a Sneak Peek at the New Cessnas in the October Issue
Plus: an Oshkosh photo tour, a report on the roomy and hefty Pilatus PC-12, strategy and tactic tips to earn a pilot's license, and much more. Order your special savings subscription online.


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).

Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team.

If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your PDA or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

Freedom, independence, responsibility.