AVwebBiz - Volume 10, Number 27

July 11, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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If Garmin is feeling the heat from GPS-enabled tablets and smartphones, it's not taking the competition lying down. This week Garmin rolls out the GLO, a new self-contained GPS receiver that links to Android and iPad tablets via Bluetooth, wirelessly providing position updates up to 10 times a second. Remote GPS gadgets for tablets aren't new, but Garmin equipped GLO not just with GPS, but with a receiver for Russia's GLONASS system. That puts another 24 satellites on the table for rapid time to first fix and more robust position sensing once the location is calculated.

"Whether you're driving through an urban canyon or flying an airplane at any altitude, GLO ensures that your mobile device maintains a strong, reliable GPS signal," says Garmin's Dan Bartel, VP of worldwide sales. Garmin is clearly targeting the tablet market, which have siphoned at least some sales from Garmin's line of dedicated portable GPS navigators. The company is offering a GLO-for-aviation package that includes a mount, power cable and free six-month trial of Garmin's recently updated Pilot app for iPad and Android tablets. The GLO itself can be powered from ship's power or an internal battery with a 12-hour duration. Garmin says GLO will be available in August for $99 and the GLO for Aviation package is available immediately at a suggested retail of $129.

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Inside the Sale of Hawker Beechcraft back to top 

Hawker Beech Deal Has Pitfalls

Although Superior Air Parts may well end up as the owner of most of Hawker Beechcraft, analysts who've now had a chance to sort through the issues facing the Chinese owners of Superior are cautioning that it's anything but a done deal. Possibly the biggest stumbling block is that there's a significant defense business embedded in Hawker Beechcraft as a whole and the federal government will demand assurances that no militarily sensitive technology or information is compromised. To accommodate that reality in the "exclusivity agreement" that was announced Monday, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Superior will initially buy all of the company for $1.79 billion and then be "refunded" about $400 million representing the military business.

Because Hawker Beechcraft is in bankruptcy, there must be a competitive bidding process for the acquisition of its assets. Under this deal, Superior has 45 days to hammer out the details, while paying to keep production of business jets and propeller-driven aircraft going. Assuming the deal is done, Superior will be the opening bidder and other potential buyers will have the opportunity to outbid Superior. Among those who have been interested in Hawker Beechcraft are Cessna parent company Textron, the Carlyle Group, Embraer, Mahindra (of India), and another Chinese firm, New United. Political response has been muted so far, perhaps because of pre-emptive assurances from Hawker Beechcraft officials that Superior intends to maintain the facilities and jobs in Wichita and other U.S. cities. Some analysts questioned those assurances and Richard Aboulafia, of the Teal Group, said the notion of Superior, which currently builds piston engines and other aircraft parts, building business jets was "farfetched."

Hawker Beechcraft Agrees To Offer From Chinese Company

Hawker Beechcraft will be sold to Superior Aviation Beijing Co. for $1.79 billion, the company announced on Monday, assuming that a final agreement is worked out over the next 45 days. The transaction will not include the Hawker Beechcraft Defense Co., which produces the T-6 trainer and is developing the AT-6 light attack aircraft. "The decision to move forward with Superior was based on two key factors," said Chairman Bill Boisture. "The bid for the company was the most attractive we received during the strategic review process and the going-forward plan offered the most continuity for our business, allowing us to preserve jobs, product lines and our ability to maintain our commitments to our customers." The company will maintain a "strong presence" in the U.S., Boisture said, retaining its current employee base and management team.

Superior Aviation Beijing intends to make Hawker Beechcraft its "flagship investment," the company said in a news release. During the 45-day review period, the companies will negotiate a "definitive agreement," which would be subject to various regulatory reviews and approval processes both in the U.S. and in China. Superior will start to make payments to Hawker over the next six weeks to "support ongoing jet-related operations" and help Hawker keep the business going until the close of the transaction. Hawker CEO Steve Miller says the agreement will give the company greater access to the Chinese business and general aviation marketplace, which is forecast to grow more than 10 percent a year for the next 10 to 15 years.

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Another Chance to Chime In back to top 

Comment Period Extended For Medical Proposal

The FAA will extend its comment period on a proposal to make it easier to fly without a third-class medical certificate, EAA and AOPA said on Monday. Pilots now have another 70 days -- until September 14 -- to add to the more than 14,000 comments that were already filed in the initial 20-day comment period. The proposal would allow pilots to fly some GA aircraft without a third-class medical if they take an online course, self-certify, and hold a driver's license. AOPA and EAA requested the extension, noting that the exemption would likely affect more than 39,000 pilots and impact the operations of up to 114,333 single-engine piston airplanes.

"The number of comments received by the FAA to the medical exemption request is nearly unprecedented for any aviation issue," said Doug Macnair, EAA's vice president of government relations. However, he said, the short comment period prevented some people from filing comments before the deadline. "The extension will supply additional time for people to support this important measure for the future of aviation," Macnair said. Last month, AVweb's Mary Grady spoke with Kristine Hartzell, AOPA's manager of regulatory affairs, for more details about the plan and the strategy behind it. Click here for a link to that podcast and for more details about the proposal and how to file comments.

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News Briefs back to top 

ACR Electronics Sold To J.F. Lehman

ACR Electronics, which makes the ACR and Artex lines of ELTS, PLBs and related safety and rescue equipment, has been sold to J.F. Lehman and Company, a private equity firm that invests in defense, aerospace and maritime sectors. ACR is based in Fort Lauderdale and employs 180 people. It has been in operation since 1956 and helped pioneer ELTs and the related items the technology spawned.

ACR has most recently operated as a unit of Cobham Commercial Systems and the recent emphasis has been on consolidating more business into the Fort Lauderdale facility. "This marks a new chapter in the long and proud history of ACR Electronics," said Michael Wilkerson, who will continue on as general manager.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Jordan Gets His Wings

On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli talks with his student, Jordan Nations, whose Private Pilot Certificate is less than 24 hours old. Jordan had the rare opportunity to learn flying in both a vintage Piper J-3 Cub and a Cessna 150. Paul and Jordan took a victory lap around the Florida beaches savoring the unique satisfaction that only students and instructors share -- and we share it with readers in this special vlog.

Read more and join the conversation.

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Who's Where back to top 

Pribyl Moves to AOPA

Katie Pribyl

Katie Pribyl is the new vice president of communications for AOPA. She was formerly director of communications for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

Who's Where? You Tell Us

Get a promotion or a new job? Your colleagues want to know about it, and AVwebBiz can get the word out. Drop us a line about the staff appointment, with a nice recent photo, and we'll do our best to include it in our new section, "Who's Where." The items will be permanently archived on AVweb for future reference, too.

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Forty-Seven Years In Aviation: A Memoir; Chapter 15: A Year In Korea, Then Back To OSU

The USS Pueblo incident near North Korea inspired a show of force requiring many reservists, including Richard Taylor, to drop what they were doing (teaching, in Richard's case) and head off to Korea. Along the way, he got to do a little bit of flying and practicing water landings with a parachute. Back in the States after a year, Richard went back to the classroom, but also flew the Ohio Army National Guard's Bird Dog and Beaver.

Click here to read the 15th chapter.

On Jan. 23, 1968, the USS Pueblo, a small, U.S. Navy, intelligence-gathering ship, was sailing off the east coast of North Korea doing her thing, when she was accosted by several North Korean warships. Our naval authorities and the Pueblo's crew insisted she was well outside the 12-mile international-waters boundary but the bad guys claimed the Pueblo had violated their 50-mile boundary. After a failed attempt to get away (the best speed the Pueblo could make was about 20 knots), the captain complied with the Koreans' demands; the ship was subsequently captured and towed into port at Wonsan. (The Pueblo was later moved to Pyonyang and became a tourist attraction, a demeaning exhibition that continues to this day.)

It is easy to imagine the diplomatic measures taken to gain release of the ship, but the Northies were having none of that ... the Pueblo and its crew were valuable political prizes. Long story short, the crew was bound, blindfolded, beaten, prodded with bayonets and taken to POW camps where they were starved and tortured for the next 11 months.

Shortly after the Pueblo was captured, President Lyndon Johnson put on a show of force by activating 14,700 reservists from all branches of the military. The Ohio Air National Guard's 166th Tactical Fighter Squadron (F-100s) at Lockbourne Air Force Base in Columbus was federalized on January 25 and was ready to go the next day (98 percent of our personnel reported for duty at 0800 on the 26th). But where would we be sent? Or when? We had no idea ... it was several months before the dust settled and we were assigned to Kunsan Air Base on the west coast of South Korea. We were to join up there with a similar F-100 squadron from McConnell AFB in Wichita, Kan., to form the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing.

My faculty status with The Ohio State University Department of Aviation was, of course, suspended until further notice and my position would be held open until I was released from active duty, whenever that might be.

Once the urgency of the Korean situation dropped a notch or two (the entire Pueblo crew was in jail with no expectation of imminent release and it appeared the incident was not going to incite another war with North Korea), I didn't need to report every day; that provided some time to get my civilian ducks in a row for whatever was in the immediate future. I spent more than a few hours in the Cessna 140 with my friends in the Ajax Flying Club and flew with several other aviation students, hoping to complete all that training before I had to relocate, but there just wasn't enough time. While Uncle Sam was making up his mind what to do with almost 15,000 reservists, I flew the Helio Courier on a much-reduced schedule, participated in an AOPA weekend flight training clinic and spent a lot of time with my family. On the military side of those several months-in-waiting I logged 60 hours of T-33 time and 32 hours in the C-54.

Flight training for the fighter jocks in the 166th TFS was heavy on aerial combat and weapons delivery -- the F-100 was a formidable war machine that could fight with guns, rockets and bombs. And there was another area of training -- sea survival -- with life-or-death potential for our pilots who would soon embark on a trans-Pacific flight. The Tactical Air Command had developed a school based at Turkey Point, Fla, that covered all aspects of water survival. The fighter pilots were required to complete the course but there was room for several others, so those of us who flew the support airplanes (T-33 and C-54) got a "C'mon along" from the CO and off we went for several days in south Florida.

Classroom sessions were replete with information about survival equipment such as the full-body waterproof garment ("poopy suit" in pilot lingo), the one-man life raft and its emergency kit.

We learned the proper procedure to keep from drowning if the surface wind dragged us across the water before we could release the chute: Wearing a parachute harness, we jumped off the stern of a remodeled LCI and were dragged behind the boat until we either rolled onto our backs and assumed the proper position ... or swallowed a lot of salt water.

The Air Force has never required pilots to qualify as parachutists, but the pièce de résistance in the sea survival school was pretty close to the real thing. The LCI's deck was a long, narrow platform with a large-mesh net at the back. Dressed in full survival gear and standing on the deck, we were connected to a towboat with a line about three hundred feet long; the LCI's speed of about 10 knots inflated the parachute fully against the net, whereupon the towboat driver put the pedal to the metal and with just a couple of steps, voila! ... we were parasailing. The canopy was a lifter when being towed and when we were almost directly overhead, a crewman on the towboat waved a green flag, our signal to cut loose.

When the forward motion stopped, the canopy became a parachute, giving us just enough time to release and inflate the life raft, deploy the emergency kit and prepare for landing.

Parasailing launches were repeated in quick succession and we finished the exercise floating in a line of one-man rafts, waiting to be picked up by a helicopter. The over-water bailout drill was a great learning experience that fortunately wasn't needed by any of our F-100 drivers on their long, feet-wet flights to Korea and back home.

The exact date has long since departed my memory, but in late winter 1968 we were advised that Kunsan Air Base would be our military home beginning in June and continuing for a full year ... or two, if that became necessary. No one was jumping for joy, but volunteers go wherever they're told to go, no questions asked.

Kunsan AB is located on the western shore of the Korean peninsula, 100 miles south of Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. The surrounding landscape is rather bleak, consisting mostly of rice paddies and mud flats; it has been referred to with tongue in cheek as "Kunsan-by-the-Sea" but in 1968 it was definitely not a resort destination.

The 354th Tactical Fighter Wing was the second USAF unit assigned to Kunsan in response to the Pueblo incident. Col. Chuck Yeager and his F-4 wing launched from Ubon AB in Thailand the day of the capture, but by the time they arrived in Korea the game was over. In the following six months the miserable quarters and poor airport conditions they endured were vastly improved; instead of tents, there were real BOQs and most of the support facilities one would expect to find on a permanent air base.

My duty station was in the Wing Command Post, housed in a building commonly referred to as the "Mole Hole" ... it was really a half-buried Quonset hut covered with several feet of concrete.

For all practical purposes, this was the nerve center of the 354th, but some of the electronic nerves were getting a bit frazzled. The telephone system was of antique vintage and breakdowns were frequent; whenever it rained we knew communications problems would follow shortly thereafter.

There were several pilots (including myself) on the base who were required to fly at least four hours each month to earn flight pay, but because there was no aircraft for us to fly, some kind soul arranged a waiver of that normally inviolate regulation while we were in Korea. Oh, there was the occasional ride in the Beaver (U-6) owned by Base Ops and a couple of sorties in the back seat of an F-100F (the training version), but that didn't satisfy the need ... we wanted to fly. The problem was solved in September when a C-47 was acquired by the airbase support people in response to the need for a larger airplane to provide transportation from Kunsan to a pair of satellite bases that were part of the Wing.

This was one of several Gooney Birds in semi-mothball condition at Osan, a USAF fighter base just north of Kunsan. They had been used by the U.S. diplomatic corps in Korea (I suspect they flew high-ranking personnel to and from the Korean armistice talks at Panmunjom) and were "VC" airplanes with just fourteen airline-type seats ... no bucket seats for the big shots.

In the nine months from acquisition of the C-47 until we came home in June 1969 I flew 87 hours in the Douglas Racer, including numerous in-country flights to Kwangju, Taegu, and Seoul plus several round trips to Tachikawa AB on the west side of Tokyo, in the land of the big PX. It probably violated a regulation, but I recall one trip to Tachikawa carrying a briefcase stuffed with paper money (won -- the local currency) collected by the Korean ladies who worked in the Officers' Club to buy cosmetics and other "girl stuff" that wasn't available on the base or downtown Kunsan.

Speaking of the "O" Club, a bunch of the boys where whooping it up one night when an argument arose about the climb capabilities of the F-100 versus the Kaman HH-43 flown by the Air Rescue detachment on the base. The HH-43 was a most unusual flying machine, a jet-powered helicopter with two rotors that intermeshed overhead, eliminating torque and the need for a tail rotor.

The argument heated up, bets were placed and a live contest was arranged. The two aircraft -- both with minimum fuel on board -- would line up on the runway side by side and at the starter's signal both pilots would climb to 3,000 feet as fast as they could and call out over a public address system when they got there.

On the day of the race nearly everyone stopped work and gathered to watch; the Super Sabre was heavily favored. When the pilots signaled they were ready to go, the starter dropped a flag and the race was on. The F-100 roared out of the gate in full afterburner and the Huskie jumped off the ground, making much less noise -- but it was climbing for 30 seconds or so while the F-100 was still on the ground accelerating to takeoff speed. I don't remember the exact elapsed time, but not many seconds later there were simultaneous transmissions from the pilots -- it was a dead heat. Oh well, back to the bar, boys.

In mid-February, I arranged for some leave time and traveled to Hawaii for a mid-tour rendezvous with my wife. I rode on an Air America C-118 from Kunsan to Tokyo then shopped for a ride the rest of the way. In 1969 you could walk into any USAF Base Operations wearing a flight suit and carrying a B-4 bag and inquire about a ride … sooner or later you'd find someone who was going your way and you would be welcomed on board. In this case the free ride was a C-124 bound for Honolulu; it was slow, noisy, shook a lot and we had to RON at Wake Island, but the price was right -- and Nancy and I had a most enjoyable time.

Late in the winter of 1969 we got word that our tour would finish soon and if everything worked as advertised we would be home by the end of May. But on April 15 a pair of North Korean MiG-17s shot down a U.S. Navy EC-121 in circumstances eerily similar to the USS Pueblo incident -- this time an alleged invasion of North Korean airspace -- and there was probably not a man at Kunsan who didn't think, "Here we go again." Fortunately, cooler heads in Washington prevailed; instead of launching a military strike and possibly setting the stage for Korean War II, the reconnaissance flights were resumed within a week to make it clear the United States would not be intimidated by North Korea's action.

With this last-minute scare behind us, the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing finished its work; we departed Kunsan-by-the-Sea near the end of May with no regrets and headed for home. Once again the F-100 troops completed the 9000-mile trip with no hitches and the rest of us returned to Columbus via a contract airline.

Coming home and seeing one's family after a long absence is always a happy event; in my case, our three kids (and a friend) had posted a warm welcome in front of the house.

After a week of re-acclimation to civilian life, I eased back into classroom teaching and flying for the OSU Air Transportation Service (ATS). While I was away, the fleet had been reduced to a pair of DC-3s and two Piper Aztecs. Even with several other pilots hard at work, we were flying almost every day. (I took advantage of a break in the schedule to acquire an Airline Transport Certificate and a DC-3 type rating ... a vigorous two-hour workout, with everything except the first takeoff and final landing under a hood.)

In addition to the busy ATS schedule, I was teaching a regular class on campus, working on an MA in journalism, conducting weekend courses for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and barely maintaining currency in the T-33 and C-54. As 1969 ended, I realized something had to give, and after much deliberation I left the Air Guard and returned to the inactive reserve. About six months later things had eased up a bit and I cut a deal with the Ohio Army National Guard to join up as a warrant officer and fly their fixed-wing aircraft, the Cessna L-19 Bird Dog and the DeHavilland U-6 Beaver. (Their aviation detachment was literally across the street from my office at the OSU Airport and only a mile and a half from home). As a warrant officer, I would not be assigned any duties other than flying, which released more time to pursue my other interests.

The L-19 had deep civilian airplane roots, having evolved from the Cessna 170. Instead of four seats it had two in tandem configuration and it was flown with a stick; when you sat in the airplane, it felt like a much larger machine than its Cessna predecessor. With a larger engine (213-hp compared to the civilian version's 145-hp) and much more glass, the Bird Dog was obviously designed to be an observation platform and more. It was used sparingly during the Korean War but found its niche in Vietnam, where it was flown by USAF fighter pilots trained to fly low and slow, find and mark targets with white phosphorous rockets, then call in air strikes.

With no worries about bad guys in black pajamas trying to shoot me out of the sky, I had a good time flying the L-19. During the one and only summer camp I attended as an Army aviator, I set out to land on every unpaved strip in Michigan's Lower Peninsula. (We warrant officers were given a simple order each morning: "Take airplane number so-and-so and be back by dinner time.") I didn't get to all the grass airports, but I visited most of them.

The legendary DeHavilland Beaver was another story; if the L-19 was a Cessna on steroids the Beaver was the elephant in the single-engine utility airplane room. It was originally designed for bush pilots and built "hell for stout," as the Pennsylvania Dutch are wont to say. The 450-hp Pratt & Whitney radial engine and a very efficient wing design enabled the airplane to get its 5,100 pound max weight off the ground in about 1200 feet, with the capability of landing in the same distance; it was truly a STOL airplane. The Beaver didn't fly very fast (maximum airspeed 140 mph) but as one veteran bush pilot said, "You only need to be faster than a dog sled." There was room for a passenger in the right front seat and six passengers -- or whatever cargo would fit through the doors -- in the rear compartment.

This warrant-officer arrangement worked well for the next 12 months, until the Army's frequent changes in weekend drill schedules and my commitments elsewhere became incompatible. I resigned from the Army Guard, rejoined the Air Force inactive reserve and went about my business. It would be another three years before I regained my rank as a major and five years after that to put in enough time with the AF Reserve to lock up my retirement ... but more about that later.

[Continued next month.]

To send a note to Richard and AVweb about this story, please click here.
More articles, stories and fiction about the joy of aviation are found in AVweb's Skywritings section.
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AVweb Video: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Video: 'Aviation Consumer' Takes the Show on the Road with Five Folding Bicycle Reviews

The July issue of our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, features a blow-by-blow comparison of some of the best folding bikes for pilots we could find. See them in action in these five video reviews by Consumer's Jeff Van West.

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Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebBiz Team

AVwebBiz is a weekly summary of the latest business aviation news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the world's premier independent aviation news resource.

The AVwebBiz team is:

Tom Bliss

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Scott Simmons

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Jeff Van West

Ad Coordinator
Karen Lund

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? Your advertising can reach over 225,000 loyal AVwebFlash, AVwebBiz, and AVweb home page readers every week. Over 80% of our readers are active pilots and aircraft owners. That's why our advertisers grow with us, year after year. For ad rates and scheduling, click here or contact Tom Bliss, via e-mail or via telephone [(480) 525-7481].

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