Special Report: AOPA Expo 2001 – Muted Enthusiasm, Determined Concern Permeate Expo

Amid the backdrop of ongoing flight restrictions at various locations throughout the U.S., close to 10,000 made the trek to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to gaze upon the latest and greatest GA planes, gadgets and services available at last week's AOPA Expo. The event included Jane Garvey answering questions about September 11, some 80 aircraft on static display and a surprisingly upbeat mood about the industry and its future. AVweb's coverage includes this Special Report, an image gallery, and more.


Members Voice Support For AOPA Efforts And Progress Since 9/11…

Everyone knew coming into AOPA Expo 2001 that the world tilted a little more than usual toward the theater of the absurd in the nine weeks since civil aircraft became weapons of terror in the hands of hateful fanatics. Everyone in aviation knew because all of aviation continues to suffer in the aftermath of those cowardly attacks. Airline traffic remains depressed; airport security efforts continue to increase to the point that air-carrier airports resemble those of Third World nations; questions concerning whether the FAA will ever again call all the shots for all its turf.

And those questions remain acute because a shadow Federal Aviation Administration in the National Security Council continues to give the appearance that it holds general aviation — and much of aviation generally — to be an untenable, unnecessary risk at turn after turn. The evidence: The notoriously ridiculous "Nuke NOTAM" that expired just a week ago, with its ludicrous conflict between requirements to avoid specific areas using laughable non-specific information and the withholding of specific data on those locations in the name of protecting them; resistance to easing restrictions on segments of general aviation such as lighter-than air, news and traffic flights, all of which remain hamstrung by some unspecified, unparalleled paranoia; and concerns that some of the most onerous of past knee-jerk responses may yet return to deny the nation the benefits of a general aviation community that served the public and private good for more than nine decades, saving lives, catching crooks, even defending our lives in times of war.

All in the laudable cause of "national security."

But in a show of legendary American determination, nearly 10,000 general aviation pilots and proponents descended on the Ft. Lauderdale Convention Center between Thursday and Saturday to make an unqualified success of AOPA Expo 2001. Many members flew into area airports in defiance of their own fears of being grounded away from home — again. They came by private plane, despite the prospects of aerial interdiction and they came by human mailing tube, unintimidated by the prospect of unreasonable search or untimely seizure, to celebrate and support their community and their association.

AOPA President Phil Boyer echoed the mindset of his membership during his remarks delivered during the opening session of Expo 2001 when he described his routing from the municipal airport at Frederick, Md. (FDK), to Fort Lauderdale International (FLL) as one requiring him to dodge six Enhanced Class B Airspace sectors, deviate around TFRs encompassing 20 nuclear power plants, and vector himself away from an unknown number of outdoor high-school sports events. Boyer drew a hearty, knowing laugh from more than 1,200 members in that morning’s audience. But while the audience laughed, all knew the problems general aviation face today are no laughing matter.

Yet in spite of  — maybe even because of — their fears and worries, general aviation pilots showed the world what they are made from, closing ranks and swelling AOPA membership to within spitting distance of 380,000 members. And in a sign of the times few expected, AOPA opened Expo 2001 with a record number of exhibitors — about 550 in all. Yes, a small percentage of vendors withdrew in the final days leading up to Expo 2001, all immediately replaced by other businesses all on a stand-by list and waiting patiently for space to open.

Expo 2001 also brought the return to the East Coast of AOPA’s trademark Parade of Planes, for the first time in years. And it was quite a crowd stopper, thanks to the ranks made up of some 80 aircraft that taxied through city streets to the convention center from Ft. Lauderdale International Airport (FLL).

It was a sight to see and an event to remember. If timing is everything, AOPA’s post-9/11 decision to fly forward into the convention could well be viewed as the best possible solution to help counter the worst possible times general aviation has ever endured. With a mood notable largely for the underlying optimism, it’s easier to believe now that general aviation will weather this storm. Add a pinch of sober reality and a latent sense dread of what may come next — from both terrorists and bureaucrats, alike — and, in balance, AOPA members provided their own strong elixir for unsettling times.

…Behind The Wings: Funding For Public Awareness Next Big Step…

Although the association released word of its next "big thing" a couple of weeks before Expo 2001, it was still news to many that before year’s end AOPA hopes to raise $1 million for a 2002-long effort to educate the non-flying masses about GA’s role in American society. "It’s long overdue," mused one industry insider who didn’t want to sound critical. "We should have done something long ago," voiced another.

The point? That after years of preaching to the converted, 9/11 highlighted just how isolated and vulnerable general aviation is when public misperception comes into play. The signs of that problem abounded during the prior nine weeks, but nowhere more than in the offices where unilateral decisions can make or break the future of private flying.

What Boyer envisions is a "sweeping public education program" to cure the fears of the American public. The points to be made go to the very core of general aviation. For example, the NSC and other law-enforcement officials reacted with shock upon learning that most flights by most civil airplanes occur with no formal flight plan on file, no positive control over the aircraft and no access to the identities of who is flying or on board. But that’s the way it’s been since the Wright Brothers’ first flight nearly 98 years back. Today, 90 percent of all flying is VFR; 65 percent is conducted for business purposes. And all this airtime generates an economic impact of about $65 billion each year — that is, if the the industry is ever allowed to go forward as normal.

So to that end, Boyer wants to raise the $1 million in the next 60 days, he said, in order to launch the program in early 2002. "General aviation is essential to the economic health of our country. We need to get started as soon as possible." But under its current structure and financial demands, the association cannot underwrite this program out of its existing $50 million operating budget. Given AOPA’s latest membership numbers — 379,514 as of Oct. 31 — the needed funds could be in-hand quickly with only a donation of about $2.65 from each card-carrying AOPA member.

AOPA coming to the well in need of extra bucks is a rarity, given the association’s success at funding its $50 million in operating needs while it has long maintained its dues at only $39 per year — not quite high enough to raise $15 million from dues alone. So in its usual fashion, the association used the final-day general session to unveil several new programs, some of them with the joint goal of improving member services and increasing revenue.

…Followed By New Services…

For example, on one hand AOPA is continuing its efforts to improve on the process of special-issuance medical certificates, noted Andy Cebula, the association’s new senior vice president of government and technical affairs. At the same time, the folks in Members Services unveiled the launch of a new Turbo Medical service on the association’s Web site. Turbo Medical, senior vice president Karen Gebhart explained, provides the member with a duplicate of the FAA’s own medical-certificate application in a digitized format. Self-prompting, the page helps members submit information in a manner that should avoid triggering a review, while providing a source of answers on medical questions at the same time.

Gebhart also unveiled a new on-line insurance-quote service from the AOPA Insurance Agency and a subscription-based flight-tracking service available to members at the association’s Web site.

Finally, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation announced a number of program enhancements of benefit to members, including credit toward FAA’s safety-oriented Wings Program for successful completion of ASF on-line educational seminars. And a new SkySpotter program designed to improve the quality, quantity and dissemination of weather-related PIREPs throughout the U.S.. According to ASF Executive Director Bruce Landsberg, the SkySpotter pages go live on the association’s Web site this week.

…Number 11: The Year Of The Dogged For Boyer And Company

Beyond the Meet the Boss session, AOPA members gave likewise high marks to AOPA, its staff and association President Phil Boyer for a range of work performed under tremendous pressure — in particular for the rapid communications of news about restrictions and the dissemination of NOTAMs delineating those airspace and operating constraints.

A year ago at AOPA Expo 2000 in Long Beach, Calif., Boyer’s staff staged a mock political-convention-style rally to commemorate Boyer’s 10th year in general aviation’s hot seat. "Ten more years! Ten more years!" the staff chanted Nixonesque, toting signs and marching in front of the banquet stage on the final night of Expo 2000.

Upon being reminded of that chant a few weeks into our current crisis, Boyer responded: "I don’t even want to think about it. I just might go out and shoot myself." Not hard to understand, given the unbroken string of crises newly minted by the minds of the uninitiated. Between working with the FAA, lobbying Congress, searching for policy inroads and working to establish conduits to the NSC and other law-enforcement agencies, answering staggering levels of member inquiries and laboring to defuse media-generated misinformation and propaganda, few groups outside those directly impacted by the attack have experienced so much fallout from the attack.

Now, this isn’t to say that every question receives an acceptable answer or that someone somewhere even knows what the answer might be. But there’s no denying that Boyer and Company continue to labor against the outright malevolent, the outrageous and the ill-informed, despite exhaustion, moving targets and the inability to always identify toward whom their efforts should be directed. And members of the general aviation community — at least as represented at Expo 2001 — generally gave their highest marks to the work performed by AOPA thus far. They said so at the convention, in emails and voice mails and plain, old-fashioned letter posts.

Perhaps best of all, vendors exhibiting at Expo 2001 generally reported satisfaction at the amount of business done at the convention. The public that flies seems ready to follow the advice of our nation’s president and get back to normal — at least, as close to normal as his security chiefs will let us go.

Yes, the number of airplanes actually flown in for the event was lower than expected. In addition to the security worries that kept many pilots from flying themselves in for Expo 2001, there was Hurricane Michelle to add some more discouragement. And the continued uncertainly about the status of the airspace, of what new, inventive and utterly worthless constraints security officials might impose next, and concerns about combat-aircraft interdictions combined to provide a powerful disincentive for many to fly themselves or via commercial carrier to Ft. Lauderdale.

As if to confirm their worst fears, the opening day of Expo 2001 brought news of a student pilot flying a Diamond Katana being forced down at a nearby airport after officials mistakenly, inexplicably decided he was the purveyor of a telephoned bomb threat. He was questioned, released and allowed to proceed.

But the mere fact that this sort of circumstance can arise remains a stark reminder of why we need groups like AOPA and why we need to do more to show our support than simply right a check for $39 once a year. At Expo 2001, members made their gratitude known with their attendance, their dollars and their words.

And on the afternoon of closing day, general aviation pilots and businesses received a spontaneous reminder that most Americans really do like airplanes, given the opportunity to see them. Tens of thousands of locals waved flags and cheered the crews motoring the Parade of Planes back over its Wednesday-morning route to FLL. With flags fluttering from tailfeathers and flag wavers roaring along the route, it was easy to come away from the experience with a sense that all is far from lost, as long as we never give up and never surrender.

All well deserved for an event well run under conditions far from optimum.

Last Dance: FAA’s Garvey Meets The Masses Via Satellite

No Lame Duck, Garvey Shows Why We’ve Grown To Appreciate Her

The end is approaching for Jane Garvey’s tenure as the first five-year-term administrator of the FAA. She already had established a tone for her tenure before she was sworn in on Aug. 4, 1997 — she had met privately with numerous aviation groups and even came to Oshkosh that year to get a head start on her new gig. And last week she planned to again address AOPA members at the annual Expo, where prior appearances before it and dozens of other groups had shown her capable of dealing directly with the masses and more than up to enduring the sometimes-whimsical, sometimes-uncomfortable, often-off-beat-or-off-target questions of her constituents.

But something different happened on the way to the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center. A scheduling conflict borne from the ongoing crisis threw off her original schedule. Despite her offer to show up at hours other than 9:00 a.m. Thursday morning, AOPA President Phil Boyer thought the best way to avoid confusion was to stick with the published, publicized schedule. So, Garvey "appeared" via satellite link. And as the one person pilots most wanted to hear from, Garvey once again fielded questions from the members, assisted by Steve Brown, the FAA’s associate administrator for air traffic services she plucked from Boyer’s executive staff a few years back.

She appeared tired (understandably) and uncomfortable (we believe because of the less-than-personal format). But as the session progressed, Garvey once again showed why the aviation-inexperienced appointee we loved to loath early in her tenure almost five years ago turned around the opinions of many of us. She works hard to connect and to deliver, giving quarter to outside influences unwillingly and remembers who the FAA serves as well or better than any administrator going back at least a decade. And given the revolving door on the administrator’s office dating back into the early 1980s, that covers a lot of past FAA bosses.

As usual, Garvey came prepared with remarks that acknowledged current issues. Unusually, even the audience questions sprang from a single well: Concerns about general aviation access and freedom to fly in a world where the last word seemingly belongs to officials outside the culture of 800 Independence Avenue.

The one topic on the table — the continuing aftermath of the deadly attacks — brought fewer concrete answers than anyone on either side of the discussion would like to have. But Garvey’s "appearance" did include an acknowledgment from Brown that served only to enhance the credibility of both him and his short-timer boss: With "20/20 hindsight, not everything we did makes sense," said Brown, a long-time pilot.

To quote the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "Does the word ‘Duh’ mean anything to you?" It most certainly does to the pilots imprisoned inside "Enhanced" Class B airspace zones by Temporary Flight Restrictions, the licensed pilots barred from flying VFR in those ECBs while students could, and the companies driven to the brink of bankruptcy — and beyond — by the related collapse of commerce while TFRs sprouting like mushrooms in the humid south Georgia sun grounded their businesses.

"Never has there been a time when communications between the FAA and AOPA has been more important," Garvey told the collected members. It’s been through those lines of communications that AOPA’s positions and suggestions have been articulated to the officials of the National Security Council, she acknowledged. She also worked to assure AOPA members and general aviation pilots in general that she knows "you are not the problem." "I know and the Secretary of Transportation (Norman Y. Mineta) knows you are not the risk," she stressed.

But with security officials fearful of our freedom of movement, our numbers, our relative anonymity and the presumed ease with which airplanes can be stolen, general aviation remains a root source of NSC paranoia, Garvey tacitly acknowledged. And in the least welcome news of all, she bit the bullet and gave it to us straight: General aviation will remain subject to (choose one or all: irrational, illogical, ineffective) constraints until security authorities are satisfied with their measures to protect the public — and until public confidence is restored.

Perhaps most important, Garvey took special care to urge that pilots exercise an even higher degree of common sense than usual and to avoid some of the stupid-human tricks that have done nothing more than support the NSC’s worst fears — stupidity like a CFI and student buzzing a Ferris wheel near Atlanta or toilet-paper bombing a high-school football game. "The national security agencies are thinking of only one thing," she noted, "they are not thinking of general aviation benefits…."

As much for her bluntness and candor as for her supportive attitude, the administrator and the FAA still received some well-deserved points for their mostly successful efforts to work out solutions with an unknowledgeable and seemingly uncaring NSC. "Are we satisfied we’re doing everything we can and working as hard as we can with everyone we can? Yes. Are we satisfied with what’s been done? No."

"We’re 90 percent there," she said. "We’re continuing to work on that other 10 percent and we’re going back to work on that now." She also spoke solemnly about the sobering sight of the FAA’s Aircraft Situation Display dwindling in targets from upwards of 5,000 to nothing in the matter of a few hours — and about the staggering task of reversing that process to return the first semblance of normalcy to America’s skies.

"There is no playbook for restoring aviation, no manual for working with the national security agencies," she said. There’s "more to come," Garvey added somewhat ominously, on who’s flying and when.

But what’s worked best of what FAA has accomplished in recent weeks is a thoughtful, step-by-step process. Both Garvey and Brown had their own laurels to drape on AOPA and its staff, singling out the association for its role in communicating to pilots what the rest of the world’s communications infrastructure continues to be incapable of handling accurately — information such as "the world’s largest NOTAM," the notice issued September 11 that closed the NAS.

Garvey also offered her own step-by-step guide for how individual pilots can help:

  1. Be responsible and read the NOTAMs;
  2. Keep those ideas coming, whether through AOPA or directly to FAA; and,
  3. Keep communicating.

With attention now turned to restoring normalcy for the remaining 10 percent of the system, the FAA is also tackling such issues as local communities attempting to set their own security rules for allowing access by airplanes operating in the interstate commerce system — something underway by Mayor Richard Daley’s airports people in Chicago. Garvey tacitly agreed that what the nation and system need least of all is multiple systems for screening incoming aircraft, while what we must unwaveringly fight off are attempts by local politicos to set their own rules for airspace access, something that is happening in Chicago at both levels.

Other problems remain, as questioners helped illuminate; problems like the continued grounding of foreign-registered airplanes, particularly when the airplanes are operated by permanent residents or U.S. citizens; problems like expanding international access even further — something helped along last week when FAA granted a waiver allowing VFR operations between the U.S. and the Bahamas; the potential for unfounded security mandates to bankrupt small community airports; and, of course, state efforts to impose standards on flight schools or force background checks on would-be student pilots.

"We’re trying to maintain a balance and keep these steps proportional," she said. "We will get things back to normal."

We all certainly hope so.

Pay No Attention To That Doomsayer Behind The Curtain

AOPA Expo Delivers The Goods, New Goods, That Is…

Surprise, surprise. The business of general aviation seems not at all as dead or ailing as some other parts of flying that we can name, at least if you take a clue from the 550 vendors who exhibited their wares in Ft. Lauderdale during AOPA Expo 2001. We’re probably not going to hit every one of them here, because not all of them crossed our radar screens, if you will. But from among the hits we had, we found some interesting developments and the making of a true-blue new trend in gadgetry. Some of what we found was evolutionary; some (a lot less) bordered on the revolutionary. And some, as is usually the case, was a rehash or variation of something established or existent. But taken together with the record number of exhibitors — yup, a record during times when business is rumored to be going downward at an arguable rate — and the variety of products unveiled, all in all, Expo 2001 was a decent showcase for innovation and entrepreneurship.

So, hunker down with your budget and holiday gift lists and take a look at these product snapshots. Who knows — you may find something you want given to yourself.

…PIC Phone Home: AirCell Unveils New Boxes, Services With Innovation…

You may already be familiar with the newest innovation in weather and traffic avoidance systems based on in-flight datalink systems that deliver weather and traffic images via a satellite or ground-based broadcast system. Fortunately or unfortunately, these products are still in the coming-to-market phase of development.

Putting telephones in airplanes has long been popular with the bizjet crowd and even got a boost for the piston-single crowd about three years ago when AirCell and Garmin International collaborated on a product using the Garmin NavTalk Pilot and AirCell’s network. But the costs of installation and air time combined to make this product less successful than expected.

Now comes AirCell with something that cuts across class lines in its potential application in planes from piston to propjet: The FlightGuardian service using the increasingly popular Compaq iPAQ Personal Digital Assistant (or PDA) as the display and AirCell’s own network of FCC-legal analog cellphone towers as the delivery network. The costs: About $650 for the iPAQ and the required software as a package; a hundred bucks for the software if you already own an iPAQ; plus the usual subscription fees and air time charges.

Thanks to the budget consciousness of AirCell’s execs, you can receive NEXRAD digital color radar pictures, plus text and graphic weather information for as little as $10 a month and $2 per minute using AirCell’s DataComm 500, one of two receivers hard-mounted in the aircraft and necessary to use the service at around $2,000 each. Need more? You can buy into a service costing $30 per month for cell service priced at $2 per minute and get voice in addition to data using AirCell’s slick Guardian 1000, which delivers clear telephone conversation on your headset via a panel-mounted box that resembles an audio panel for around $2,500. And in case you really hate being out of touch, you can use these systems to handle email while in-flight.

…As More Datalink Offerings Come Fast And Furious…

And AirCell’s is only one of the opening antes in this growing and popular market. Of course, no company ever has an exclusive on a potential-laden innovation like datalink weather for long and this is no exception. Both Honeywell and Garmin are working on datalink receivers that will provide text and graphic weather data, email and traffic depiction. But it’s in the weather services that an explosion is occurring.

We counted about 16 outfits vying for a share of this exciting new technology, including AirCell. Among the others we found: Always On Services, Satellink Technologies’ Merlin, and Enflight, all of which use some combination of PDA (Palm OS or Windows CE) to display and control the information flow, with either ground-based or satellite transmission systems. Many of the other offerings are not yet online or their boxes are in prototype stages, or negotiations are ongoing with various vendors and display vendors. This likely will change by AOPA Expo 2002.

Something else that may change by AOPA Expo 2002 is a current limitation on Flight Explorer, the PC-based aircraft situation display software and service package that displays, in near-real-time, the position and movement of IFR aircraft throughout the U.S. Satellink Technologies — of Merlin fame — announced at Expo that the company is teaming up with Flight Explorer to make the service available in your airborne cockpit, Dubbed "FE InFlight," the new service will offer a poor-man’s collision avoidance system (remember that near-real-time reference earlier?) and should be available in the first quarter of 2002.

Honeywell, on the other hand, is about ready to start deliveries of its KDR 510 Data Link Receiver for use as a weather source for the company’s KMD multifunction displays and others. Meanwhile, GARMIN International targets April 2002 for the marrying of ia new black box with its wildly popular all-in-one MFDs, allowing the latter to display NEXRAD weather information.

So forewarned is forearmed; even if you’re not anxious to install a PDA on your yoke and dangle wires across the glareshield, there’s a system coming you may want to consider.

…Socata Delivers A TBM 700 Freighter, Its First…

French planemaker EADS Socata broke new ground last week with its capable propjet single, the TBM 700, by delivering the first-ever copy in a freighter version. Launch customer Quest Diagnostics plans to take delivery of six copies in all to replace a fleet of six Cessna 310s that are being flown to deliver critical medical materials and samples for testing. With 30 full-service labs, 150 rapid-response labs and more than 1,300 patient service centers collecting test specimens, dispatch reliability is an essential issue for Quest.

EADS Socata already delivered an airplane that seemed an ideal for freighter work, thanks to the large aft access door designed into the TBM 700. Modifications for the freighter role include removal of seats and tracks, installation of a liner and window covers; a forward cargo net. And, most important, Socata designed a new door into the fuselage so the pilot can enter and exit easily with the plane already loaded.

Oxford Aviation in Maine performed the airframe and interior modification work while Banyan Air Services in Ft. Lauderdale handled the avionics work that went into the planes. The result is a turboprop single with 123 cubic feet of pressurized cargo space.

In other Socata news, refer back to the above item on weather datalink systems. The planemaker now offers the Honeywell KDR 510 as an option on its Trinidad GT. Didn’t we warn you this in-flight weather gear was catching on?

…Cirrus-ly: SR22, SR20 Getting New FlightMax EX5000C Color Display…

After delivering more than 260 new Cirruses — with about a 60/40 split between the SR20 and SR22 — Cirrus Design Corp. is upgrading the large, 10.4-inch display that has been a trademark of the types since the very first. The new display, a specially tailored version of Avidyne’s all-new EX5000, is bringing a new level of clarity and functionality to the two airplanes, according to company president Alan Klapmeier. "Finally, we have blue water," Klapmeier quipped in reference to displays that have used black space to represent wet space.

According to Avidyne President Dan Schwinn, the FlightMax EX5000 also improves on the flexibility of the company’s previous models, with terrain color-coding, contouring and the ability to display multiple layers of information over the base terrain map. "We’ve brought display technology previously only available in the high-end of business aviation and air transport segments to all general aviation aircraft owners," Schwinn said.

Cirrus is installing the new displays on current production aircraft. But Klapmeier and company didn’t neglect its existing owners. Retrofit kits that involve simply replacing the existing display or upgrading the data buss to take advantage of all the new features available on the unit will be available for existing SR20/22 airframes.

…Speaking Of Retrofits, How About A Couple For A Popular Piper?…

Thanks to some collaboration between New Piper, Meggitt Avionics and Meggitt/S-Tec, any Malibu Mirage owner can now make his or her panel look a lot like that of the planemaker’s hot new Meridian turboprop. How? By using a new STC to add a single MAGIC display, Garmin GNS 430 or 530, and S-Tec’s slick System Fifty-FiveX autopilot/flight director. Meggitt obtained the STC after months of intensive work. New Piper will be responsible for sales and distribution of factory-authorized kits for Mirages built starting in 1997; retrofit kits for Mirages built in 1996 and earlier can be obtained through any Meggitt MAGIC dealer. But regardless of the airplane’s age or from whom the kit comes, the installation gives the pressurized piston a new level of capability.

The upgrade, for example, replaces the traditional gyros with new state-of-the-art, solid-state ADAHRS sensors to drive the display’s depiction of the attitude and directional gyros. The Garmins provide the source for navigation and other data that round out the package.

…Or A Twin Commander?…

Twin Commander Aircraft Corp. was also at Expo and announced the first installation of a Twin Commander-Meggitt MAGIC EFIS system in the company’s new Grand Renaissance aircraft. The venerable high-wing twin’s "steam" gages are replaced with the new, high-tech Meggitt MAGIC systems, the same basic type used on the New Piper Meridian turboprop. The system displays all airspeed, attitude, altitude, vertical speed and heading information while including the flight director function. Three display modes are available and the system smoothly interfaces with the aircraft’s existing avionics suite. According to the company, the installation saves weight while offering greater capability and flexibility, plus the redundancy electronic systems can provide. Pricing is to be announced. For more information, email the company.

…Enhanced Flight Group Offers Cowling Upgrade For Mirage…

Many pilots are familiar with the axis-symmetrical cooling inlets found on virtually all new New Piper aircraft; many more may understand some of the cooling-drag and thermal issues that have helped these designs cool engines better while reducing speed-robbing drag. Enhanced Flight Group LLC came to AOPA Expo to show off its retrofit Magnum carbon-fiber cowling for the Mirage that brings those benefits to bear on the big Lycoming that drives the pressurized single.

But this one is not quite ready for prime time, so don’t worry about getting in a rush to get in line. The Magnum is due for certification and STC in mid-2002, according to the company.

…COMM1 Puts Money Where Its Mouth Is, Awards Two Scholarships…

Communications-simulation pioneer e-publishing of Frederick, Md., and its COMM1 operation has helped advance the aviating ambitions of two students by awarding the company’s first-ever scholarships to an Alaskan medical student and a New York firefighter. According to Carol Dodds, e-publishing’s director of marketing, Jennifer Pilby of Anchorage and Christopher Remusat of Farmingdale will receive $1,000 and their own COMM1 CD-ROM-based communications simulators to help them advance their flight training. Pilby, who is still in primary training, hopes someday to be a flying physician who serves remote areas. After earning his private-pilots license October 30, Remusat hopes to make flight training his second job as he works to become a CFI while keeping his existing day job with the firefighter in his hometown. Congrats to both and good luck.

…While King Schools Has Designs On DVD…

Some of the first training aids for student pilots involved low-tech filmstrips and audiocassette tapes. Then came lengthier audio porgrams designed to walk students through a written exam or a new rating. Soon, video became a popular training tool, followed by the personal computer and CD-ROMs. Now, the same technology you use to watch "I Love Lucy" re-runs — DVD — can be used to train, refresh or teach, thanks to King Schools. "For the first time, pilots can harness the power of their computer for learning and also enjoy the same sharp picture resolution that DVD provides for TV," said John King, co-founder of King Schools, the industry’s 800-pound gorilla in training. The same disc for the PC can be used in your home theater, too, so the kids can learn with you.

…That’s A Wrap!

There was, of course, much, much more to see, to learn about and to spend mega-bucks on at this year’s AOPA Expo. The weather cooperated (mostly, there was Hurricane Michelle, after all), we haven’t learned of anyone getting hurt flying to, playing at, or flying home after the show, and the GA faithful’s faith was once again topped off. If you weren’t able to make it to Ft. Lauderdale this year, we feel for you. We also hope that this Special Report whetted your appetite, for at least a short while.

Make your plans now to attend AOPA Expo 2002, presently set for a return to Palm Springs, California. A new FAA administrator will be among the attractions. We’ll see you there!

Note: Be sure to check out the rest of AVweb’s Special Report on AOPA 2001!