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July 28, 2001
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Saturday OSHtalk (July 28, 2001) Tonight marks the last evening of OSHtalk for the first AirVenture of the new millennium. It was appropriate that the evening presented one of the most beautiful sunsets of the week to those who were fortunate enough to be sitting around their airplanes and talking flying. Host Rick Durden's first guest was well-known aviation safety and survival expert, Doug Ritter. Doug has been evaluating survival equipment and teaching survival techniques to pilots for over 20 years. Tonight he talked about the personal locator beacon (PLB), essentially a second-generation ELT that the owner registers upon purchase. It is more powerful than the current ELTs and the organizations that track distress calls from them automatically know who is making the call. Those agencies can also trace false alarms easily (some 98% of current ELT transmissions are false alarms) and can localize the source of the transmission to within a matter of feet. Unfortunately, the Federal Communications Commission is dragging its feet on the PLBs and the U.S. is the only country in the world where they cannot be purchased. Doug and Rick next talk about ditching, and dispel a few Old Wive's Tales about that procedure. What they have to say is definitely worth a listen.
The price of aviation fuel and the difficulty of obtaining it in many parts of the world have resulted in accelerated efforts into developing alternative aircraft engines. The diesel was very popular in the early 1930s, but faded from the scene, largely due to its high relative cost at the time. Today, diesels are back and one of the companies in the process of developing a series of certified engines is DeltaHawk, of Racine, Wis. Company president Diane Doers and Vice President of Engineering, Doug Doers, joined OSHtalk to give a little history of diesels in aircraft as well as describe their 150- and 200-hp diesels that will burn jet fuel. A diesel of that power output will be about 30 pounds lighter than a comparable horizontally-opposed engine, have a smaller frontal area and burn about 25% less fuel in cruise according to the company's testing. If all goes well, the engines should be available for homebuilders first, with certification to follow for production aircraft.
In September, Carlene Mendieta will attempt to recreate Amelia Earhart's first record-setting flight using a sister ship to the original Avro Avion. Carlene joined Rick to tell OSHtalk listeners a little about Amela's original flight in 1928 and the fact that it was not intended to set any records, but just provide a vagabond vacation for Amelia. At the time, Earhart had fewer than 300 hours total time; interestingly enough, Carlene has about the same number, all of which have been logged in antique aircraft starting with obtaining her private certificate in a Piper J-3 Cub. Carlene describes the series of old and unusual airplanes she flies and goes into some detail about the Avion. Earharts's Avion was built by the A.V. Roe Company of England and used for some record-setting flights by Lady Heath. Earhart purchased it from Lady Heath after riding as a passenger across the Atlantic in a Fokker Trimotor. The aircraft used for the recreation was built one month before Amelia's. Carlene also told about the fact that airplanes built in the 1920s did not have the benefits of what we know now about stability and control, so it is just plain difficult to fly, was not built to handle crosswinds and is very nose-heavy on the ground.
Mark Wagner of Phillips 66 joined Rick on the flight line to give a little background into what is happening with the supply of aviation fuel. He said that the issue of lead in avgas continues; however, the refiners know how to deal with it and will continue to do so. The current challenge is that reformulated gasolines are becoming more and more common as more and more parts of the country use them to reduce air pollution. The problem is that avgas uses the same akaloids that are needed for reformulated gasolines, thus the increased demand is putting pressure on price. Mark assured Rick that even though avgas is a tiny proportion of all gasoline sold, the avgas folks at Phillips will keep making sure it gets refined and to the pumps at our airports. In closing, Wagner said that Phillips now has a Web site through which pilots can order aviation oil in quantity, something that may help reduce costs for those who buy by the case.
The final guest of the last OSHtalk for this year was Berry Gamblin of Flight Explorer. Berry talked about the history of the software that initially allowed airlines to track their airplanes in the ATC system and cost millions of dollars. It evolved to the point where it is offered through AVweb to individual users for $9.95 per month. Flight Explorer Personal Edition allows a person to track airplanes that are in the ATC system, learn the real expected arrival time, see where the airplane is and keep track of its progress. Berry also told Rick that there are some new products coming in the next few months, including an alert system that will advise when a flight is delayed and an improved ability to see weather conditions.
So ended the sixth and final edition of OSHtalk for AirVenture 2001. On behalf of host Rick Durden and the entire AVweb AirVenture news team, thank you for listing. We'll see you again next year!