AVwebFlash - Volume 13, Number 16a

April 16, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVweb Is Your Pass To Sun 'n Fun

It’s hard to preview an event like Sun 'n Fun -- to be held tomorrow through Sunday in Lakeland, Fla. -- because it’s hard to know where to begin. And while AVweb has been flooded with advance notice of numerous announcements, press conferences and product launches, the best way to stay on top of what will be hot in the coming year for aviation is to keep checking your inbox. We’ll be publishing a roundup of each day’s activities, supplemented with audio and video files to capture the full essence of a great event. If you see us on the grounds, please say hello. If you can’t make it this year, we’ll be your eyes and ears.

Cessna Aircraft At 80

Those attending Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland, Fla., starting tomorrow will be among the first to get a close look at Cessna’s proof-of-concept Next Generation Piston (NGP) aircraft. Dealers and prospective fleet customers have already given the flashy high wing a good going over, but the company has always kept it away from the masses since its surprise debut at EAA AirVenture last year with a flyby. The curious at AOPA Expo in Palm Springs had to be satisfied with a mock-up display, but the actual airplane will be at the Cessna pavilion at Lakeland. In fact, the company will have an example of every production model on display to help mark Clyde Cessna’s brave venture that started in 1927. In case you’ve lost track of the Wichita-based manufacturer's current offerings, that’s nine Citation models, the Caravan and three piston singles. The NGP, the proof-of-concept light sport aircraft, the Mustang entry level jet and a Grand Caravan will be on view outside. There will also be exhibits from Cessna’s trophy case, including the 1996 Collier Trophy it won for the Citation X.

Sun 'n Fun's Serious Side

It's probably not a coincidence that the guts of the FAA's proposal to impose user fees came out when much of the GA population was dodging the winter, but spring is here and you can expect a major push against the plan starting at Sun 'n Fun this week in Lakeland, Fla. AOPA is launching a anti-user-fee petition campaign at the official start to the air show season. AOPA President Phil Boyer will hold a pilot town hall meeting at Lakeland April 19, and you can guess what the major topic will be. But while all that is to be expected, there’s opposition to the funding proposal coming from a variety of quarters, some of it substantial. Nothing less than the State of Alaska is ready to battle the proposal via a formal resolution from the state legislature. The resolution, sponsored by state Rep. Kyle Johansen, is expected to be taken up soon and, given the mood up there, it seems sure to pass. A group representing a broad cross section of the cities, towns, charitable groups and businesses that might be affected by the proposal has formed, calling itself the Alliance for Aviation Across America, and the National Association of Counties has also chimed in.

Hawker Beechcraft Marks Old And New

It has a new name but it also has a product line that traces its roots to the 1940s. Can you believe the Bonanza turns 60 this year? Beechcraft itself is also celebrating its 75th birthday, so the newly privatized company that was hived from Raytheon’s considerable corporate bulk last month is pulling out all the stops at Sun 'n Fun. "It is an exciting time for our customers, our employees and our business. For the first time in 25 years, we are a private company and with two of the strongest brands in aviation in our new name, we’re quite bullish about our future," Brad Hatt, the company’s president of commercial sales, said in a news release. A special-edition Bonanza will be on display at Sun 'n Fun this week. Also competing for attention at the show will be a new Baron as well as a King Air C90 GT and a Beechcraft Premier IA.

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» Visit Cessna Aircraft in booths SNF-003-007 at Sun 'n Fun
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Comp Air 12 Flies Just In Time

The Comp Air 12 turboprop single achieved first flight on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. from the Merritt Island (Fla.) Airport, where Comp Air is based. Ron Lueck, owner of Comp Air Aviation, was behind the controls of the all-composite, Honeywell TPE331-14GR-powered airplane. According to the aircraft manufacturer, the maiden flight was "a complete success" and ensures Comp Air will deliver on its promise to fly the Model 12 to the Sun 'n Fun fly-in this week in Lakeland, Fla. In a press release, the company said, "After shutting down the turbine, Ron Lueck emerged from the cabin door with a smile that told it all. Ron and his team did what some had questioned and this Comp Air 12 will be the first aircraft to enter FAA certification from a well known builder of experimental turbine aircraft kits." The airplane will be on static display for the duration of Sun 'n Fun at booth MD-012B.

First Look At Cirrus' "the-jet" June 27

The long-awaited (and excruciatingly foreshadowed) unveiling of a mockup of Cirrus' "the-jet" will occur at a June 27 private event for the hundreds of people who've put up $1,000 to secure positions on the aircraft. The public gets a peek the next day as the company uses the unveiling to kick off its annual "migration" of Cirrus aircraft back to the plant in Duluth, Minn. In an e-mail sent to members of the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) late last week, COPA President Mike Radomsky said the unveiling will be the highlight of the weekend of seminars, discussion groups and parties that Cirrus hosts each June. And in keeping with the coy nature of the PR campaign that's building hype for the aircraft, anyone who wants to see the mock-up firsthand will have to make the trek to Duluth. Radomsky says in the e-mail that the mock-up will not be displayed at EAA AirVenture a few weeks later. Cirrus didn't really announce that it was working on a jet -- it waited until something slipped out in the media and then merely confirmed the project. The first concrete evidence of that was the collection, at last year's migration, of names of those who would be interested in the aircraft. They all got a "grey box" with a drink coaster and some very basic details about the plane and, based solely on that, were asked to send a $1,000 refundable deposit. Hundreds sent in their checks and they'll be rewarded with the first look at the plane. In the meantime, Cirrus is sending them, piece by piece, a jigsaw puzzle of an image of the jet. Just how much of the picture they'll have before June 27 isn't clear.

VLJ Makes Phenomenal Progress

Right on schedule, Embraer on Friday afternoon quietly showed off its first fully assembled Phenom 100 to a group of journalists at its headquarters in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil. First flight of this airplane is scheduled for the end of June, with Brazilian certification and first delivery expected a year later. The very light jet's Pratt & Whitney Canada PW617F engine is currently being flown on a test bed, and Embraer has also made the mating check with the wing and the fuselage and says the assembly program is going "very smoothly." A second Phenom 100 is now in construction at Botucatu, and a total of three development aircraft will be used for certification flight testing. According to Embraer, the VLJ is mostly metal construction with 20 percent composite parts. The projected range of the $2.85 million twinjet is 1,100 to 1,160 nm with IFR reserves. Embraer said it will increase the price of the Phenom 100 after the European Business Aviation Convention and Expo next month in Geneva, though it declined to give that figure today. The company says it has combined orders for more than 350 Phenom 100s and derivative Phenom 300s. The Brazilian manufacturer is also actively looking at two new bizjets in the super-light and midsize categories and is gaining feedback for such airplanes from its advisory boards.

Meet the Oregon AeroSM SkyDancer Duo at Sun 'n Fun
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» Visit Oregon Aero in booths A-040-042 at Sun 'n Fun
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Controller Recruiting Drive In Full Swing

With ads everywhere from college counseling offices to Craigslist, the FAA would appear to be serious about finding replacements for the thousands of air traffic controllers who will retire in the next 10 years. The armed forces-style recruiting campaign is playing up the free training and importance of the job while downplaying the stress, shift work and relatively low pay as it tries to hire an average of about 1,400 controllers per year. In addition to conventional and Internet advertising, the agency is also working with the Department of Veterans Affairs to train disabled veterans to become controllers. As always when controllers are the topic, whether the program is working depends on which side of the negotiating table you occupy. Ventris Gibson, who heads up the recruiting drive for the FAA, says she’s already found 1,300 prospects and the program is in its early stages. But the National Air Traffic Controllers Association says the campaign makes the FAA look desperate to accomplish something at the last minute that it should have been working on for years. "If they had this huge list, then why are they advertising on places like MySpace?" union spokesman Mike Conely told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I don't think it's working worth a plumb nickel."

Nav Canada Cuts User-Fee Rates

Nav Canada, the private company that runs Canada’s airspace system, is making money, and since it isn’t supposed to it’s giving the profits back in the form of rate reductions. Effective Sept. 1, rates charged for its services will be cut by 3 percent, which is in addition to the 1.8 percent cut made last Sept. 1. "Increased traffic growth together with the company's continued focus on cost control, provide the opportunity to offer lower service charges to our customers while meeting our essential safety and service obligations," CEO John Crichton said in a news release. Nav Canada took over air traffic services 10 years ago and rates have fluctuated according to traffic levels. They took a significant jump in the doldrums following 9/11, but traffic is up about 5 percent this year and that makes the whole operation more efficient. The company has also built an $86 million war chest in case there’s another unexpected downturn.

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» Visit Avidyne in booths D-069-070 at Sun 'n Fun
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Mars To Keep Toiling In Canada

An international bid to preserve the last two remaining Martin Mars flying boats in museums in British Columbia and Maryland has failed. Instead, the massive aircraft will continue to be used as heavy-lift firefighting aircraft throughout western North America by Coulson Aircrane, which bought the aircraft from forest company TimberWest in a deal finalized Friday. Coulson is a helicopter logging and firefighting company based in the Mars’ current hometown of Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. "This is a positive outcome as the water bombers will be operated by a local company that is experienced and focused on aviation firefighting," said TimberWest CEO Paul McElligott. "TimberWest takes great pride in having operated the Martin Mars over the last several years and we know that Coulson will continue that tradition." When TimberWest put the aircraft up for sale late last year, there were controversies on several fronts. British Columbia cities and towns that have watched the 64-year-old aircraft at work on wildfires near, sometimes in, their communities passed resolutions aimed at keeping the Mars in the air. Others wanted the Mars replaced with more modern aircraft. An aviation museum in Maryland, where the aircraft were built, and a group of British Columbia aviation enthusiasts were promoting a joint bid for the aircraft that would have seen one housed in the Maryland museum and another in a museum built on the site of their current home base on Sproat Lake. The deal with Coulson included the Sproat Lake base, facilities, spares and infrastructure, and the aircraft will likely stay where they are.

Cessna Fuel Line AD Clarified

The FAA has enacted an Airworthiness Directive (AD) concerning the tightness of fuel line fittings on various Cessna 172, 182 and 206 models after the same problem kept cropping up after the first AD was issued last August. The original AD was intended to ensure that the fittings were all tightened properly to prevent them from separating from various fuel system components. However, the FAA now says it wasn’t specific enough in the first AD and there have been at least four engine failures due to fuel line separation since it was issued. [more] The original AD didn’t specify that the torque settings of the fittings be checked and some aircraft got only visual inspections. “This AD clarifies that the torque values need to be physically established and visual inspection only is not sufficient,” the AD reads. It comes into effect on May 2 but why not beat the rush.

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» Meet APS President B. J. Ransbury at the NAFI booth (E-032) APRIL 20th at Sun 'n Fun
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Orenda Rises Again

A Midland, Texas, company has received FAA approval to take over the engine type certificate for the Orenda OE600A, a Canadian-developed, 600-hp V-8 based on a big-block Chevy engine. The granting of the type certificate transfer from the former Canadian owners allows Trace Engines to begin shipping engines, including the 10 finished mills it inherited in the takeover of the project. Two engines were shipped, ironically, to Canada last week and are expected to be flying by the end of the month. The Texas plant won’t likely build its first engine until September. "Because this is a start-up, we have the opportunity to do things right the first time," spokesman Craig Hoover told the Midland Reporter-Telegram. "We have an active research and development program. There are things we want to improve on the engines even before we begin production." The big recips are aimed at replacing far more expensive small turboprops on a variety of light and business aircraft. They were developed about 20 years ago in Canada, but despite gaining certification were not widely installed. Hoover said his company aims to change that and he expects a lot of foreign orders. There are 12 people working at Trace now, but plans are to increase that tenfold and incorporate a college training program into the factory.

Wings And Prayers

The concept of prayer is not lost on most pilots, but it’s usually the result of something that happens in the air and not the reason for being up there in the first place. But 10 pilots from various states weren’t involved in the usual type of cockpit entreaties -- instead they were aiming their message at the state of Ohio on Good Friday with sort of a blanket blessing from on high. The volunteers crisscrossed the state invoking their message on 11 million unsuspecting Ohioans. "A plane is a good way to cover a lot of ground," Kenneth Wortman, 73, a pilot from Lima, Ohio, told The Cincinnati Enquirer. "In the Bible, God tells us the fields are ripe for the harvest. From the air, a person can see a lot of fields." Wortman came up with the idea for PrayerFlight last fall as he was trying to dream up more efficient ways to spread the Word. He found a couple of other pilots willing to give it a try and, after a shakedown flight, the decision was made to try and cover the whole state. It seems everyone had their own style of high-flying prayer; some were silent, some expressive and others a mix. But they all had a similar goal in mind. "You see rows and rows of houses, and you know they are full of people you are praying for," Samantha Ciminillo, 18, a member of Teens for Christ, told the newspaper. With Ohio now "successfully redeemed," the group hopes to take the effort national.

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On The Fly

Xerion Avionix recently received technical standard order (TSO) authorization for its AuRACLE I & II engine management system. The system replaces old-style engine instrumentation with digital tapes, and STCs are being sought for most types of light aircraft…

AVweb freelance contributor Tim Kern has earned the Certified Aviation Manager certificate. The program was set up by the National Business Aviation Association to enhance the level of professionalism and expertise in flight departments. There are fewer than 100 people with the certification…

Neighbors and a sympathetic council in Sheffield, Ohio, will likely end a local man’s plan to convert an old Convair airliner into a bed and breakfast suite. Ed Guidicelli thinks it would be just the thing to put his depressed area on the map, but the local council recently passed an ordinance against having such “eyesores” on private property.

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something that 130,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

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» Visit Trade-A-Plane in booths A-001-003 at Sun 'n Fun
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Probable Cause #30: Extra Attention

Despite warning signs of course excursions, controllers failed to give a pilot the extra attention he obviously required while shooting an approach in a technically advanced aircraft.

Click here for the full story.

In response, the pilot requested and received vectors to "around OZNUM," which is the final approach fix (FAF) for the GPS Runway 31R procedure into RHV.

The GPS Runway 31R approach procedure was a fairly new procedure, and was not directly depicted on controllers' display terminals. In order to determine the proper course, controllers had to visualize a line between the airport symbol, and the OZNUM and ECYON waypoint symbols.

After this clearance was given and acknowledged, radar data indicates the airplane turned almost 90 degrees to the right and tracked on a course consistent with proceeding direct to PAO. The controller noticed the course deviation, and queried the pilot. The controller provided no specific headings, but told the pilot to make a right turn to avoid traffic associated with San Jose International Airport, and to proceed to OZNUM. The pilot acknowledged and made a right turn of approximately 270 degrees, briefly tracking on an approximately southbound course, which did not appear to be aligned with any relevant navigational fix. After approximately three miles on that course, the pilot turned left to a heading consistent with proceeding direct to OZNUM, flying overhead RHV, on approximately the reciprocal of the final approach course, i.e., aligned with RHV, and the fixes OZNUM, then ECYON.

Widespread Confusion


The first controller to handle the flight in the RHV vicinity (L1) later said he became aware of the aircraft when he overheard the previous controller (Saratoga) correct the pilot's course to OZNUM. The L1 controller said he believed the pilot required extra attention and intended to provide what assistance he could. The pilot had no further clearance to follow, since the Saratoga controller had cleared him direct to OZNUM with the expectation that L1 would provide vector service.

At that point, L1's initial instruction was for the pilot to proceed direct to ECYON; the pilot's response was to question the fix. According to L1's statements, he recalled that the airplane was in a position coincident with a downwind leg, and the turn toward ECYON would work out to be the same as a vector to final. Shortly after this exchange, L1 noted the airplane appeared to begin a left turn towards OZNUM, but he instructed the pilot to turn right toward ECYON in order to remain clear of a higher terrain area. At this time, OZNUM was directly behind the airplane, and ECYON at about the four o'clock position. The pilot completed a right turn, briefly flying a course headed to OZNUM, but then made a slight left turn and flew a course consistent with the published segment between ZUXOX and ECYON. L1 said he observed the pilot on this course and issued clearance for the approach.

At this point in its discussion of the accident sequence, the NTSB chose to quote FAA Order 7110.65, the "bible" for controllers, by noting that it specifies that standard approach procedures "shall commence at an Initial Approach Fix or an Intermediate Approach Fix if there is not an Initial Approach Fix. Where adequate radar coverage exists, radar facilities may vector aircraft to the final approach course [by assigning] headings that will permit final approach course interception on a track that does not exceed 30 degrees."

Compounding the apparent confusion in the controlling facility -- and probably fostering it in the cockpit -- a controller change occurred as the flight flew between ECYON and OZNUM. As part of the changeover, L1 advised the second controller (L2) that the aircraft was on the approach and the only remaining task was to issue the frequency change to RHV tower.

During the pilot's initial conversation with the RHV tower, the airplane began a turn to the right approximately over the JOPAN waypoint. The airplane's course had diverged almost 90 degrees from the final approach course.

Shortly after the pilot made initial contact with RHV tower, the Minimum Safe Altitude Warning System (MSAW) alerted. The RHV tower controller cleared the pilot to land then said, "low altitude alert, check your altitude immediately." Based on the radar data, the airplane's projected track was diverging away from the centerline of the approach, and toward higher terrain. At the time of the alert the airplane was at about 1900 feet, and the minimum altitude for the final segment is 1440 feet. About 30 seconds later, the tower controller notified the pilot that he appeared off course. The airplane had clipped power lines and came to rest approximately 032 degrees from the first identified point of contact.

Probable Cause


The NTSB determined the accident's probable cause to be the pilot's failure to "maintain the course for the published approach procedure due to his diverted attention. The distraction responsible for the pilot's diverted attention was the ... the confusion surrounding the ATC clearances to get established on the final approach course, which likely involved repeated reprogramming of the navigation system. Factors in the accident include the failure of ATC to provide the pilot with a timely and effective safety alert concerning the deviation from the proper course ..." According to the NTSB, an additional factor was the nonstandard method of providing approach clearance, which likely may have exacerbated pilot task overload.

There's no question that modern cockpits can demand high workloads of solo pilots when a series of missteps by controllers require their time and attention. And, as we have reported in the past, the proliferation of GPS approaches has left many controllers unsure how to handle them at times.

In this instance, both parties -- controllers and the pilot -- should have taken a deep breath and started from scratch by positioning the airplane south of RHV for a straight-in approach. But, pride goeth before a fall, and both ends of the transaction probably believed things were salvageable. Unfortunately, neither gave the flight the extra time and attention it obviously deserved.

More accident analyses are available in AVweb's Probable Cause Index. And for monthly articles about safety, including accident reports like this one, subscribe to AVweb's sister publication, Aviation Safety.

Stupid Pilot Tricks

Gather 'round, boys and girls. It's time for your annual smug fix, wherein we harvest the perplexing and peculiar from a year's worth of NTSB accident reports.

Click here for the full story.

truck, the pilot took his eye off the ball to copy down a phone number to call about an en route airspace violation. The pilot's bent ego was then joined by bent airplane when his left wing hit a metal pole, crunching four ribs back to the spar. With that much bad luck in one day, we hope he stayed away from the slots.



Unmanned Aerial Vehicles can be a really good thing in a war zone. They're not as swift in the civilian context.

Consider, if you will, the California chopper jock who'd just ferried an organ harvesting team to a hospital helipad. During preparations to depart, he noticed a door unsafe indication. After setting the brake and idle for the Sikorsky S-76A, the pilot left the cockpit and attempted to secure the door. Returning to the cockpit to leave, the unsafe indication persisted. He went back and forth several times, becoming increasingly frustrated. The pilot didn't recall retarding the throttles to ground idle before he left the cockpit the last time. The helicopter started moving on its wheels toward the edge of the pad. The pilot tried to get back in, but a witness reported that the chopper did a quarter turn and then rolled on its side.

Then there was the Tennessee Hiller UH-12E light utility helicopter doing fertilizer bucket dumps. When the bucket stopped dispensing, the pilot landed and stepped out of the aircraft in an effort to read the hydraulic gauge. During exit, the pilot slipped and bumped or grabbed the collective to the full-up position. The unmanned helicopter lifted off and climbed to about 500 feet in a right spin. The bucket was still attached, of course, and its gyrations eventually caused the main rotor to sever the tail boom.

You know all those stories about talking the non-pilot passenger down? Consider for a moment how much additional fun it would be for that passenger if the thing had already crashed once. A temperature shift caused a Colorado balloon to land much harder than intended, which tossed the pilot athwart the basket. A second bounce ejected her completely. One of the passengers then jumped ship. Although the pilot tried to hang on to the vent line, the sudden decrease in weight sent the balloon skyward once again with a single non-pilot passenger still aboard. After a bit of an unscheduled jaunt, the crew chief was able to talk the passenger through landing the balloon. We assume that there was no extra charge for the additional flight time.

Upkeep Downers


As in life, aviation cures are sometimes worse than the disease. Witness, for example, the Minnesota mechanic with a bit of a follow-through problem. It seems that he started an oil change and then noticed a problem with the nose gear.

After notifying the owner of same, "I abandoned all work, as I had no safety wire with me. And I didn't have a new crush washer for the drain plug." Which begs the question why he'd started the oil change in the first place, but we digress. "I then closed and locked the hangar. That's the last time I saw the aircraft."

Six days later, a second mechanic showed up to fix the nose gear. Everybody and his first cousin saw that the safety wire to the oil filter had been cut, but nobody noticed that the drain plug was gone. Safety wire installed, the airplane was ground run for a minute. Predictably enough, there weren't any leaks. Apparently the subsequent flight commenced without checking the dipstick, which is a bad idea any time, of course, but is certifiably insane before launching into an 800-foot overcast right after maintenance. The engine seized a few minutes after takeoff and two very lucky people came to a survivable stop in a cornfield.

A similar fate befell a Texas RV-3. The pilot reported spending most of the day waxing the airplane and decided to take it for a single turn around the pattern. Apparently some of that waxing time should have been spent checking the dipstick. The post-accident investigation determined that a mechanic had drained the oil and then left the aircraft unattended, at which point Mr. Clean showed up. But it looked really nice in the accident pix.

In the realm of "trust, but verify" was the Cardinal RG starting a post-maintenance test flight in Washington State. The date was April 21, but it probably should have been 20 days earlier. On the first takeoff following replacement of the wings, the aircraft rolled left. Right roll inputs just made it worse. Upon reaching approximately 80 degrees of roll, the 177 descended onto the runway surface. You're ahead of us here, aren't you? Yep, the ailerons had been rigged backwards, and neither the mechanic nor the pilot caught it on the walk-around.

Then there are the folks who are overly solicitous of the hardware. Perennial entrants in this category are the pilots who stop the engine to save the props and whatnot. The occasional laudatory Film-At-Eleven notwithstanding, every year yields another crop of those who tried to save the engine and wound up balling up the whole airplane. The lucky ones didn't break bones while they were at it.

Along these lines was the Kansas P-206 jump-plane driver who apparently sustained a backfire during the March startup. Unbeknownst to him, the air intake hose had blown off. Although sluggish, the Cessna made it to 11,000 feet, dropped its human cargo and started back down, at which point the pilot couldn't close the cowl flaps. At 6,000 feet, the manifold pressure started fluctuating, so the pilot intentionally shut down the engine "to prevent further damage." All of which might actually have worked out OK, except non-standard maneuvers by another aircraft in the pattern delayed the turn to base and put the field out of reach for what was now a rather large and heavy glider. The subsequent off-airport landing substantially damaged the aircraft.

We close this year's sojourn through mechanical mayhem with a remarkable performance turned in by that venerable draft horse, the Cessna 182. In June of 2001, a Missouri commercial pilot doing aerial photography had a close encounter of the guy wire kind. Climbing through 800 feet AGL, the pilot felt a "jolt." As the pilot reported, "After regaining control of the aircraft, I noticed a section of my left wing was missing." Not just a tip faring or some such, mind you. More than three feet of the left wing was now lying on the ground beneath the tower. Nevertheless, the sturdy old girl carried her pilot to an uneventful on-airport landing.



This year's iteration of the bent and bizarre inaugurates a new award category: Creative Excuses. We don't mean the ever-popular but pedestrian wind shear in the flare or even "the dog ate my preflight" from our last entrants.

Contestants in this category must demonstrate exceptional ingenuity and panache in constructing reasons for the accident. A straight face during execution is a definite plus.

The first contestant in this new genre is the Illinois student pilot who balled up a 152 during a January landing. According to the student, "After [the first] landing I felt that conditions were too windy for flying without an instructor, however, the Hobbs time indicated that I still had time for a few more touch-and-goes, so I went ahead and flew two more." After the third touchdown, the Cessna's spinner wound up buried in an adjacent snow bank. We assume that any remaining Hobbs time expired with the aircraft.

Honorable Mention goes to a second Illinois C-150 pilot for his forced landing to a snow-covered field one week later. "I have been flying this aircraft for the past 19 years, and the ending of every flight was a stop at the fuel pumps to top up the tanks." The pilot didn't report actually looking in the tanks. Rather, he "perceived that the fuel gauges indicated full." In fact, "They are always full ... My conclusion: Someone, between my last flight and this, someone entered my hangar and removed 76 percent (17 gallons) of the useable fuel from my airplane." Why the putative thief left behind the other few gallons wasn't addressed.

A second Honorable Mention is awarded to the California pilot who trashed yet another two-seat Cessna. The pilot was tooling just offshore on a bright March morning when, as he reported to the responding deputy sheriff, some loose items on the seat "struck the engine controls" during turbulence, causing an engine shutdown and a ditching 20 yards offshore.

Somebody ought to do a research paper on the phenomenon, since we've never previously heard of turbulence that could pull a mixture control, turn an ignition key or otherwise shut down a 150's engine. We're absolutely certain that it couldn't possibly have been that he was just flying way too low over the water and got bit. By the way, the pilot's certificate had been revoked some 18 months earlier following another accident.

Another finalist is the Missouri PA-34 driver who lost power to one engine due to fuel exhaustion in IMC during an early morning December cruise. The second engine went dry on short final, bringing a very nice airplane to an inglorious stop 500 feet short of the runway. The pilot reported that he didn't visually verify the fuel quantities because there was "standing water in the fuel caps and moderate rainfall at near-freezing temps and I didn't want to contaminate my fuel." The pilot didn't indicate why it was better to take off with an uncertain fuel load rather than locate a couple of paper towels to wipe off the caps.

Details, Details


You know how they always tell you to be familiar with the systems before flight? Occasionally, that's more easily said than done, particularly in older aircraft with time-worn labels.

An instructor and private pilot were tooling around in a C-172F, a substantially older model than those with which they were familiar. Colorado can turn a bit nippy in February, so our intrepid aviators eventually began a search for the cabin heat control.

An illegible but prominent white knob on the panel appeared a likely candidate. Things proceeded normally for a while, albeit without any noticeable heat. Then the instructor noticed that the left tank was showing empty. Shortly after switching to the supposedly full right tank, the engine stopped graveyard dead.

The subsequent investigation determined that the white knob was actually the fuel strainer knob, from which the closing spring was missing.

Loss of directional control on landing normally is just too routine for our annual roundup of the ridiculous, but a Bellanca pilot proved an exception to the rule.

On landing in New Mexico, the aircraft departed the runway, the situation made worse by an attempted go-around. "The more I added right rudder, the more it went left." During the subsequent investigation, the pilot sat down in the airplane to demonstrate what happened.

It was then that the FAA inspector noticed that the pilot was sitting in the left seat at an angle and had placed his right foot on the co-pilot's left rudder pedal. What makes this even more bizarre is that the same pilot had the same sort of accident in the same aircraft type just six months before.

And The Envelope, Please

As always, it was hard picking the cream of the ... er ... crop, but our esteemed panel of judges have conferred the 2001 Stupid Pilot Trick Of The Year on the Yogi Berra moment of a pilot ferrying skydivers in.

The single-engine aircraft struck trees during takeoff. One erstwhile jumper reported a very high angle of attack and the pilot "winding the wheel on the lower right side of the chair clockwise, frantically."

The pilot said that he originally suspected a "possible flap disconnect," then a dust devil. Subsequent examination revealed, however, that the aircraft was 1,100 pounds over max gross and nearly 10 inches beyond aft CG.

When asked why there were 22 people on board an aircraft placarded for a maximum of nine passengers, the pilot stated that this limitation didn't apply since the "jumpers are not considered passengers."

It wasn't reported what the passengers considered the pilot.

More safety articles are available here. And for monthly articles about IFR flying including accident reports like this one, subscribe to AVweb's sister publication, IFR.

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AVweb Audio News -- Are You Listening? back to top 

AVweb Audio News

AVweb posts audio news on Mondays, plus a new in-depth interview each Friday. In last Friday's podcast, you'll find part one of an interview with Ed Iacobucci of start-up air-taxi DayJet. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with AOPA's Andrew Cebula; Hawker Beechcraft's Jim Schuster; Avfuel's Craig Sincock; Comp Air's Ron Lueck; Expedition Aircraft's Jim Schuster; VistaNav's Jeff Simon; Andrew Hamblin; Eclipse Aviation's Vern Raburn; NBAA's Ed Bolen; Open Air's Michael Klein; Air Excursions' Cable Wells; Stephen Brown; NATCA's Paul Rinaldi; AOPA's Kathleen Vascouselos; and Maule Air's Mikel Boorom. In Monday's special podcast, hear part two of DayJet's Ed Iacobucci interview with AVweb on the on-demand, per-seat operator's plans. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.

FBO Of The Week back to top 

FBO Of The Week: Bergstrom Aircraft

Nominate an FBO | Rules | Tips | Questions | Winning FBOs

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Bergstrom Aircraft at KPSC in Pasco, Wash.

AVweb reader Richard Ciccone says the FBO blends old-fashioned service with modern facilities.

"It's easy to see why Bergstom Aircraft has been Central Washington's foremost full service FBO for 35 years. They offer a highly regarded maintenance facility, as well as efficient and friendly office and line staff that supports an extended and loyal customer base. A consistent population of primary and advanced students is also supported by a dedicated staff of professionals in a very modern facility. This family's strong commitment the aviation community is reflected in everything they do, everyday."

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!

Video Of The Week back to top 

Video of the Week: Heritage Flight at Sun 'n Fun 2006

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

Sun 'n Fun 2007 kicks off today, but before we roll out the carpet on this year's fun, let's take a quick look back at last year's with a video montage of the 2006 air show heritage flight, courtesy of YouTube's mig8769. (Music: Coldplay's "Clocks," from A Rush of Blood to the Head. [Amazon link])

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If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it, there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."

The Lighter Side Of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Overheard in IFR Magazine's 'On the Air' Section
Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the Air"

The following exchange took place en route to opening day at Sun 'n Fun last April

Bonanza: Jacksonville Center, Bonanza Four Seven Two Zero Yankee. 11,000.

Center: Bonanza Four Seven Two Zero Yankee, Roger, Jacksonville altimeter 30.12.

Bonanza: Are you working a lot of traffic to Lakeland this afternoon?

Center: I'll tell you what -- if you fell out of your airplane right now, you'd never hit the ground.

Names Behind The News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

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 Contributing Editor Russ Niles (bio) and Editor In Chief Chad Trautvetter.

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