The Deja View: AOPA Expo ’99 Starts Damp, Ends Sunny

Last week's AOPA Expo '99 was a worthy underscore to the month's two major aviation trade shows, which includes the NBAA Annual Meeting and Convention. Although Atlantic City's fathers did their level best to throw a few wrenches into the works - as far as local lightning rod Bader Field was concerned, anyway - several thousand of the GA faithful made the pilgrimage to join Phil Boyer and his staff for a three-day party by the ocean. The mood was upbeat, the exhibitors seemed pleased and attendees were eager to learn - and buy - all they could. This year's AOPA Expo marked the 60th anniversary of the association, and it was a time for reflection on those who brought us this far but sobering to think of all the challenges that lay ahead. If you couldn't make it to Atlantic City, sit back and relax. We'll take you there.


ExcitementAnd Growth Still Energize General Aviation’s Hard-Core Hardy

Anyone who arrived a day early for AOPA’s 60th Anniversary convention,Expo ’99, got a near-identical taste of what early arrivals experienced going toAtlanta the week before the NBAA Convention: low ceilings, soggy skies, and morerain than the runway drains could handle at Atlantic City International Airport(ACY). (Of course, those of us who got in even a day earlier were cleared forthe visual from 20 nm out.)

But the AOPA members benefited from a bonus largely unavailable to theNBAA delegates: moderate temperatures, gentle breezes and mostly sunny skieswith barely a cloud to concern themselves with for all three days endingSaturday. And the AOPA audience was warm and upbeat, there because they wantedto be and making happy people out of all the vendors who filled the exhibit hallat the Atlantic City Convention Center – much like at NBAA.

Exhibit floor, AOPA Expo '99And AOPA had something in the way of new-and-improved products tobolster the general feeling that general aviation is on something of a roll; butnot without it’s perpetual, potential plagues, as AOPA President Phil Boyer andhis capable staff reminded the 8,000 or so in attendance, between the warmer,fuzzier moments of the convention, and some of the members reminded FAAAdministrator Jane Garvey during her opening-day appearance.

Sure, the local accents were different; seafood buffets and all-you-can-eat restaurants replaced grits and ribs as local fare, and casinogambling entertained as many or more than the Atlanta Braves during the playoffsfor the National League pennant. But the accents on general aviation and theinestimable benefits of private planes were largely the same, with everyone inattendance at both events a true believer.

So, with no further ado, read on and enjoy your ringside seat at AOPAExpo ’99.

HappyTo Be Here: Jane Continues The Dialog At Expo

Meet The Administrator Session Well-received…

Continuing her well-received series of live stand-ups, FAA Administrator JaneGarvey made the journey to Atlantic City for Friday morning’s “Meet TheAdministrator” session: a short speech followed by a question-and-answerperiod. Additionally, she was able to personally present this year’s awards forthe Maintenance Technician, Flight Instructor and Avionics Technician of theYear. Always articulate, fast on her feet andin good humor, Garvey did herusual excellent job of fielding well- and not-so-well-devised questions from theaudience and giving back something in the way of a response. She also showed hergrowing command of the agency, by deftly shuffling from questions concerningBader Field, to linked funding and delay issues involving aircraft certificationand on to how best to deal with Congress. Earlier, she drew applause forannouncing that the agency did not plan any changes in night VFR rules in theaftermath of the JFK Jr. accident. Instead, she allowed that the agency wouldtry to focus more on better education and training of pilots in similaroperations. Still, she noted, Congress had waded in on other issues ofimportance to GA, including a massive funding cut for the long-awaited OASISprocurement, designed to modernize AFSS facilities around the country.

…While Bader Gets No Respect…

Garvey at Expo '99Perhaps the most interesting exchange came on the subject ofall-but-plowed-under Bader Field (AIY), Atlantic City’s close-in GA facility andthe site of the static display of aircraft at this year’s AOPA Expo. For thosejust joining us, Bader has long been on the city fathers’ hit list. For years,the city has been starving the facility – closing a runway, removing allfacilities except a pay phone yet charging landing fees – you get the idea. Notlong ago, AOPA was able to beat back an attempt by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)to absolve the city of its obligations under various grant agreements it enteredinto with the FAA to pay for improvements at Bader. That proposal would haveallowed the city to close Bader quickly, rather than face the agonizing deaththat seems certain. Although probably not on herwatch, Garvey’s agency did little to thwart the Senator’s proposal, leaving itto the GA lobby to do the deed. Since then, the city has built not only abaseball stadium on Bader Field, but also added an ice skating rink, both ofwhich were too far along to stop before the FAA knew anything.

Atlantic City's new baseball stadiumYet the Administrator had no good response for several questions – includingone from AVweb – about why the FAA is letting Atlantic City literallyget away with the murder of a general aviation airport. Adding fuel to the fire,AOPA’s Phil Boyer was quoted by the local newspaper as being critical of thecity’s malignant neglect of the facility. The next day, after Atlantic City’smayor read the report, the city then stopped such basic services as trashcollection at Bader. That was followed by a supposedly “random” firesafety inspection of the entire airport, including aircraft on static display.Said Boyer, “We will not be back here if this abuse is allowed to happen toa sterling organization.” The mayor’s response? “They haveabsolutely no evidence” of any actions by the city designed to make lifedifficult for AOPA and the attendees, according to the local newspaper, ThePress. Right….

All of which points up a growing concern among several of those gathered atAOPA Expo ’99 and who have also been present at earlier GA-related trade showslike EAA AirVenture and NBAA where Administrator Garvey has appeared. While sheis clearly on top of the job, there simply doesn’t seem to be muchfollow-through on issues of importance to GA. Which is a shame, because Garveyis one of the better bosses to labor at the FAA in recent years. But the time iscoming when more than sincerity will be required.

Change,The Consistent Constant

Ovation Redux: Mooney Debuts The Two-Bladed 2 – And You Won’t Miss The Three

The 1999 prize for cutting things closest to the wire has to go to theTexans from Kerrville, where several iterations of paint came and went beforethe Ovation 2 got its final, stunning coat before the 194-knot speedster couldleave for ACY.

Mooney's Ovation 2But judging by the crowds surrounding the latest model Mooney, all that try-and-try-again was obviously worth the effort. If you are familiar with theoriginal Ovation, you may not immediately notice the difference – a new two-blade McCauley in place of the original’sthree-pronged thrust provider. Inthe case of the 2, it turns out much like the Eagle’s development story: Theonly thing you have to lose is speed if you gain a blade. As with the 244-horseEagle, the choice of a McCauley two-blade alone gave the same engine more oomph.In this case, the 280-horse Lycoming makes the O2 a full 7 knots faster than theprior 199 Ovations with an extra stick.

Yep, the first Ovation 2 is the 200th Ovation ever. Meanwhile, inside,you’ll see even more differences: leather upholstery is standard, and of ahigher quality than the previously available option; plus, AlliedSignal’s top-of-the-lineBendix/King KFC225 flight director adorns the panel and, onceit’s certified, the Bendix King KLN94 IFR GPS will navigate for you. Just tokeep customers from holding back, Mooney will swap out the color-screened unitfor the KLN89B that’s been standard. Oh yeah, one more thing. Mooney raised theprice to $399,000, a $15,000 delta lower than the added costs of these changes,a solid testimonial to the production efficiencies Kerrville realized in thepast 20 months. And if you want to swap out the standard KX-155A nav/comms for apair of Garmin GNS430s, you’ll only need to dig up $404,000 – a mere fivegrand more.

MoreCha-Cha-Cha-Changes…Garmins Become A Beechcraft Standard

It was hard to tell whether Marty Martenson was smiling because he’djust gotten the keys to his brand-new Jaguar Edition B36TC – or becausehis Bonanza was the first equipped with Raytheon Aircraft Co.’s new standardpanel for the 2000 model year, with the new centerpiece a pair of GarminGNS430s. Marty was just plain happy to see it, even though he’s going home toSeattle while N988JG heads home to Wichita as Raytheon completescertification of the new panel. In addition to the Garmins, a new PMA7000 audiopanel from PS Engineering, a Shadin ADC 200 fuel/airdata computer, and a WX-500Stormscope from BFGoodrich round out the new standard panel. Raytheon hasalready been through certification with the KFC225 flight director, the BendixKing KT76C transponder and the RDR 2000VP color radar now standard on the BaronB58, since the first two were part of the 1999 all-AlliedSignal standard panel,and the radar as an option on the twin.

Marty, who’s been flying only 52 years is patient enough, to endure thewait. The retired aerospace engineer from Seattle plans to spend some of thattime studying the manual for the 430; there are some differences, he said, fromthe KLN89B in the Ovation he’s been flying. He could have opted for an optionalall-AlliedSignal installation. That stack includes two KX155As, the KLN90B IFRGPS, the KN63 DME, and KR87 ADF, plus the autopilot and transponder used in theGarmin stack.

AnotherSmiling Pilot Gets Cessna’s 1,000th New-Generation Skyhawk

We didn’t encounter J. Scott Middleton, but there’s good reason tobelieve he’s smiling as broadly as Marty Martensen after taking delivery of the1,000th 172R made in Cessna’s Independence plant since it delivered the first inJanuary 1997. Among the grand delivered were seven now flying for Daniel WebsterCollege in New Hampshire. Another dozen will go to Nashua next summer.

And to help keep those sales rolling, Cessna just launched a new programto help owners enter leasebacks with their local Cessna affiliate. Well-managedand -operated leaseback programs have helped many an aircraft owner cut thecosts of ownership by spreading out maintenance and insurance costs andqualifying the owners for the tax deductions and write-offs available from beingin the leasing business.

TheUnchanged: Lancair Nearing First Columbia Deliveries, 12 Months From TC

Lancair's Columbia 300Twelve months and one Expo ago, Lance himself accepted the Columbia300’s type certificate from Jane Garvey on the stage of Expo ’98 in PalmSprings. This year, Lancair’s Mike Schrader could tell customers and press alikethat the first production-conformal 300 had arrived, parked in the staticdisplay at Bader Field. The fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh 300s are inproduction.

First delivery, said Schrader, is near: close to the end of November. ByExpo ’00, another 60 or so should be flying into customers’ hands. And the production certificate is near, too.According to Schrader, the company’s goal is to hit production of one a daywithin 18 to 24 months.

The order backlog, as of Friday, at least, stood at 95. The price for an IFR-equipped Columbia starts at $285,500 with standard avionics, $299,700 withthe premium panel. And both Avidyne and UPS multi-function displays areavailable.

Explorer Aircraft Displays Aussie-Designed Utility Plane

The Explorer 350RExplorerAircraft of Denver, Colo., was showing their Explorer 350R prototype, whichlooks like a Cessna Caravan’s little brother, to convention attendees at BaderField. The nicely-finished 350R is the proof-of-concept for what ExplorerAircraft hopes is a series of single-engine utility planes to be certified andmanufactured in the U.S. The 350R features a TCM TSIO-550 engine putting out 350HP, aluminum wings mated to a composite fuselage, and a cavernous interiorcapable of carrying up to eight passengers or cargo. The aircraft designcame from a team of engineers in Perth, Australia, but the advanced airfoil wasdeveloped by American John Roncz, well-known for his aerodynamic computermodeling skills. Although the prototype has the TCM piston engine, ExplorerAircraft intends to first develop and certify the 500T model powered by a Pratt& Whitney PT-6-135 turbine. In fact, the company announced at the conventionthat they had accepted their first order for the 500T from Mid-Atlantic Freightof Greensboro, N.C. Explorer Aircraft is in the process of looking for amanufacturing site in the U.S., and hopes to start aircraft deliveries by thefirst quarter of 2003. For more information on all the Explorer models, thecompany has a web site.

InOther News: Plane Depot Lands Nine, Ships One Of Independence’s Latest

As if the smiles of vendors and goodies packed out of the exhibit hallby attendees weren’t sign enough of the good times rolling, one Cessna dealertook a hat trick times three by signing sales contracts for seven new Skyhawks,one new Skylane and a new Stationair – and then delivered a new SkyhawkSP at Bader Field. The folks at Cessna’s largest dealer, formerly Lincoln ParkAviation, a New Jersey-based dealer, even did the math for us: The contractstotaled $1.7 million in sales, making these folks the contender for best boothsales at Expo ’99.

Among the Plane Depot’s sales incentives: a 12-month guaranteed buy-backprogram that costs the returnee only the costs of time flown, based on apredetermined hourly figure; a guaranteed trade-in value plane; and a two-yearfree-maintenance plan that even includes annual inspections, above and beyondCessna’s own strong factory warranty.

PosiTech's replacement oil coolersCoolTo The Core: Positech’s Nucore System Whacks Oil-Cooler Replacement Costs

Psst!Interested in saving from 30 percent to 60 percent when the time comes toreplace that tired old oil cooler? If you’re like us, anything that slows theflow into the money hole holds strong appeal, and the NuCore system launchedrecently by PosiTech International could do that. Basically, the techniqueinvolves removing the plumbing feeding your old core, reconditioning thatplumbing and installing it back on a brand-new core. After leak and pressuretests and some cosmetic attention, you’re back in the air with your wallet 30 to60 percent heavier than it would be after paying for an all-new lubricant heat-exchanger.

PositivelySimulating: Vendors Deliver New Highs In Faux Flight

CopyThis: Comm1 Adds Realistic IFR Radio-Procedures Trainer…

Learning to copy and read back those amended clearances, route changes,and other machine-gun rapid instructions in the instrument environment doesn’thave to be real-world challenging with the second radio-procedures training CD-ROM frome-Publishing Group. It’scalled Comm1: IFR Radio Simulator and it packs more than nine hours of practicespread across 55 exercises with 76 detailed briefings. Comm1: IFR follows by ayear and one AOPA Expo the introduction of the Comm1:VFR Radio Simulator thathelps private pilots of all skill levels shed their mic fright.

Other changes Frederick, Md.-based e-Publishing wrote into Comm1: IFRinclude improved screen graphics and radio controls. But the company kept intactthe simple operating interface and realistic record-and-playback functions thathave made Comm1: VFR a success in its own right.

MSFlight Sim 2000 Headed For Store Shelves With AOPA Assets Inside…

After 17 years of teaching the world to virtually fly, Microsoft iswinging to market the latest version of its popular PC-basedsim, dubbed FlightSimulator 2000. And to a greater extent than ever, the world’s best-sellingcomputer-flying software has been enhanced with input from several corners ofaviation, including information on airplanes and flying operations themselvesfrom the resources of AOPA. Fly cross country and see the world below based on aworldwide terrain-elevation grid, fly approaches into airports before youeven launch from your armchair, and pick from the widest-ever array of aircraftwith the greatest level of graphic detail MS has delivered yet.

AndFrom IDP: New PC-Based Instrument Instruction, Finance And Leaseback Plan…

CFIs at Cessna Pilot Centers are using the most-sophisticatedPC-basedtraining aid yet developed, the Private Pilot Computer Based Instruction Program(CBI) John and Martha King developed for Cessna Aircraft. So, it’s only naturalthat this same team would continue the process with a new CBI for the instrumentrating. Improvements include an expanded course-management module and full-screen motion video for both ground lessons and previews of flight lesson.Due out this coming spring, the IFR CBI will also feature provisions for use ofPC/ATDs.

And since making and keeping pilots remains a Cessna priority, thecompany recently developed a partnership with SallieMae to underwrite flighttraining with financing that brings the costs down to as little as $50 a month.

AvionicsUsers, Now Ear This: Collision Avoidance, ANR Keep Improving

RyanTakes TCAD Active With 9900BX – Adds Voice To The Ears

Paul Ryan’s clever transponder-listening system is going another stepbetter with a new traffic and collision-avoidance device that can fill in theblack holes of ATC radar coverage with eyes of its own, the 9900BX. Similar tothe 9900B and 9900 before it, this $20,200 system detects the responses of othertransponders within its hearing range and reports the direction of the trafficand its altitude, based on the altitude code put out by the encoder.

Butinstead of waiting for transponders to squawk in response to ATC or TCAS 1030MHz inquiries, the 9900BX sounds off on its own several times a minute,broadcasting with enough power to trigger transponders as far away as 10 nm thatthe same box will detect. According to Ryan, the resulting anti-collisioncoverage works anywhere within the range of the 9900BX, closing any holes inATC, whether because of low altitude or high terrain. And current 9900B ownerscan upgrade to the BX with the addition of the $5,200 transmitter boards thatmake the whole thing active.

Don’tHave A CFIT – BFG Shows Off NewGeneral-Aviation TAWS…

Youprobably saw this already, but just in case you didn’t read our account lastweek of the NBAA convention, this bears repeating: BFGoodrich is certificating anew, compact terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS) dubbed LandMark.Essentially, the LandMark is a database loaded with the global terrainelevation grid that displays data based on position information from anaircraft’s panel-mounted GPS navigator and provides a color-coded output to runon a display. The LandMark system also displays obstacles and depicts runways of2,000 feet and greater. BFG expects approval in December 2000. And this won’t bethe last system you’ll see of this kind in the coming year.

MoreTo Ear: Sennheiser Unveils Its Latest ANR Headset, The HMEC 300

Sennheiser's latestThe 63-year-old German electronics company and manufacturer ofairline-oriented headsets last week unveiled its new Sound of Silence seriesheadsets, including the new HME 100 and HMEC 300 headsets, the latest in thecompany’s seven-year drive into the general aviation market. Sennheiser firstcame onto the scene in 1992 with its patented-technology HMEC 200 series of ANRheadsets.

Identical except for the 300’s NoiseGuard active-noise reduction,both new designs are the first made entirely in-house instead of with cupssupplied by a contractor; unlike some headsets, the noise-compensatingmicrophone swivels for use on both left and right sides. And Sennheiser shipsthe HMEC 300 with a connection to hard-wire the power side of the headset intothe airplane, as well as with a battery pack; a cigarette-lighter adapter isalso available.

LightSpeedKeeps The Pace With New 20XL

Fans of the features LightSpeed Technologies built into its 25XL ANRheadsets who wanted something lower in cost take note: The new 20XL introducedat AOPA Expo ’99 raises the bar on the company’s mid-range product. LightSpeedadopted to the 20XL the same auto-shutoff feature and long-life power conservingcircuitry that lets the top-of-the-line 25XL go 50 to 60 hours on a pair of AAbatteries. The noise attenuation of the active system is slightly less than the25XLs, and the 20XL comes with only one set of ear seals instead of two.

ElsewhereIn Avionics: Becker Shows New Displays

Knownaround the world for air-traffic control electronics, and for military andcommercial avionics systems hasn’t helped make Becker Avionics a “hangarhold”word around general aviation, something the company believes its new PrimeLineequipment for the light-plane set will do. Ascompany executive Robert Nova put it, Becker is out to elevate its image. At theheart of Becker’s new line are color graphic displays that replace horizon andhorizontal-situation indicators (thanks to a solid-state AHARS), engine gauges,and supply near-photographic details of a VFR chart/moving map display. The linealso includes panel-mounted nav/comms and remotely-mounted nav/comms managedthrough a radio management unit.

Milk,Bread, Logbook …PS Engineering Adapts Audio Panel For Cellphones

Now before you hit us over the head again with the facts of FCCregulations against using cellphones aloft, remember: your plane spends moretime on the ground than in the air. And PS Engineering acknowledged that factwhen announcing an alliance with Sendele Wireless Solutions to distribute Axcellwireless interfaces that connect a cellphone to a the PS Engineering PMA7000-series audiopanel. With the Axcell interface connecting your phone to the audio panel, youcan check with the house about grocery needs after you land and before you exitthe aircraft. Bu-bye!

PalmPCs Power New FlyTimer

Imagine a combination flight planner, timer, checklist presentation,E6B, and more, packed into a package the size of a palm-sized PC, such as thePalmPilot, and you’ll get an idea of what FlyTimer’s new FT2000 software doesfor these increasingly common organizers. The package works with any Windows PCand connects to numerous short-pocket organizers. A version in the works will use a GPS chipto play position and map information in a package smaller than most hand-heldGPS navigators. Cost is $89.95 for the software package to run on your palm PC, oras a $429.95 package complete with a new PalmV.

ArnavOpens Free Internet Gateway To In-cockpit WxLink Images

You probably haven’t yet rushed out to install VHF datalink hardware toyour airplane so you can receive weather graphics in-cockpit, in-flight, sincethe two broadcast networks coming won’t be fully online until next year. Andbeside, the airborne hardware hasn’t yet become widely available. Yet, we said.But pilots can still start using the data for preflight planning and weatherawareness, thanks to Arnav’s decision to open an Internet gateway to the livedata that will soon deliver weather pictures to lay over navigation-systemmoving maps.

Trying to picture what kind of pictures Arnav’s talking about here?Imagine a high-speed modem feeding your desk-top PC real-time live satellite,digital radar and winds-aloft measurements in real time to your in-cockpit MFD.Arnav and AlliedSignal each won an FAA contract to deliver free and value-addedtext and graphic weather over their own nation-wide networks.

PowerPulses To The People: New Engine, Airframe Players Arrive

SuperiorEnters Reman Business With 5-Star Service Program

Superior's Millenium engineThey just keep getting closer to the certificated-engine business, thosefolks at Superior Air Parts, and launching the Certified Millennium Pre-OwnedEngine Program gets the company the closest yet. Under their 5-Star ServiceProgram, Millennium or one of its certified overhaulers will replace yourvenerable Teledyne Continental Motors or Textron Lycoming Engines mill with oneoverhauled to a 67-point certification checklist. Of course, among the top itemson that lengthy list is replacement of the cylinder assemblies with investment-cast versions of Superior’s own Millennium cylinders, followed by100-percent replacement of all required-replacement items, finer componentbalancing and several score worth of other quality-assurance steps.

In exchange for the $700 to $1,200 premium above the OEM’s advertised engine-replacement costs Superior says it will command for its certificatedremans, the new owner will get a new five-year/to TBO parts-and-labor warrantyplan. And regardless of whether an owner buys direct from Superior or throughone of its authorized manufacturers, the price will be the same, according tocompany president Bernie Coleman. And company financing will be available, forthe engines as well as other upgrades to your wings.

Western Skyways is already a designated overhaul/manufacturing shop forSuperior; another dozen to 18 are expected on board by year’s end; Europeanshops should be on board by mid-2000. Regardless of location, the company isinsisting on each shop qualifying to Superior’s own standard of abilities andperformance. Given the track record of Millennium cylinders, Superior expectsupward of 90 percent of its new engines to reach TBO.

AtlanticAero Gives Big Cessnas New Cowls

You may find the proportions and lines of Atlantic Aero’s sleek newcowls a bit out of character on muscular designs such as the Cessna 206, 207and, of course, the 210. At first, at least. But after looking at the mod ondisplay in the static, the axis-symmetric cooling inlet just seemed to grow onthe flocks attracted to the refurbished Cessna on display. Still, one in thecrowd observed that the result was like dressing up a lumber jack. But theystill look cool as well as cool better with less drag.

ViewpointAvionics Debuts Powerview Graphic Engine Monitor

Everimagine dialing in engine speed and manifold pressure and seeing the powerpercentage displayed on the same face, in numbers and graphs? Or seeing thedensity altitude and your runway needs at either end of a flight, illustratedrather than charted? Sure, AVweb veterans have seen other display devices that impartthe information in some of the ways available on ViewPoint’s PowerView graphicengine-performance monitor, but nowhere else in quite so many or variablecombinations.

Andthat observation doesn’t take into account the backup functionality availableby adding the compact, $3,800 display to a panel and keeping the existing tachand manifold-pressure gauges. Nor does this compensate for the unit’s ability tostore and display valid POH data, project fuel flows, accelerate-stop distancesand more.

ProportionallyHistorical, NASM’s Dulles Project Historical In Proportions

Don Engen might not agree with naming the “observation” towerafter him, but few who knew him would think it less than fitting to acknowledgethe man who helped shape the future of aviation’s past at the expansion annex tothe National Air & Space Museum under way at Dulles International (IAD)outside D.C. And this fact, should the Smithsonian board approve the naming, isamong the smaller details in a project that will span the breadth of a centuryof aviation before it realizes its promise.

The annex is projected to cost $130 million to merely raise the dirigible-size mainhangar and other structures, but already the more than half the all-privatefunds have been raised, thanks primarily to the $60 million donation of StevenF. Udvar-Havy, founder of International Lease Finance Corp., the globe’s largestairliner-leasing and finance firm.

Projected to open in aviation’s centennial year, the Dulles Center, asit’s officially called, will give display to the approximately 70 percent of themuseum’s collection impossible to exhibit in the space of the facility on theWashington Mall. And we’re talking some seriously large hardware here: theshuttle Enterprise, a record-setting SR-71 Blackbird, aDHC-1 de HavillandChipmunk, and perhaps the world’s most famous warplane, the B-29 Enola Gay.

Don Engen was still serving in his last career post was as executivedirector of the Air & Space Museum when he died in the crash of amotorglider last summer, ending a career that included flying combat jets in theNavy, test piloting, helping run a major general aviation manufacturer, and sittingon the National Transportation Safety Board, as administrator of the FAA, and ashead of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation.

AnyoneUp There Hear Me? Not On 121.5, After 2008, If Vote Goes That Way

Today, an international transportation body will vote on arecommendation to stop search-and-rescue system satellites from hearing 121.5MHz ELTs. The catalyst for international maritime and aviation policy bodies’recommendations is the 99-percent false-alarm rate forELT-triggered searches.SAR and CAP can still search for your 121.5 ELT, but without the search-narrowing help of two satellite passes hearing the beacon.

These bodies want to encourage a shift to the much-more expensive 406MHz digital locator beacons, which admittedly bring some distinct advantages.For example, the 406 MHz beacons broadcast a registration number that identifiesthe machine to authorities, giving them a chance to call the owner beforelaunching a search; one pass of a SARSAT satellite pinpoints the location betterthan two passes over the older ELTs; and if fitted with a GPS engine, these 406MHz beacons can also transmit precise latitude and longitude to searchers,making the process quicker and surer. The requisite downside is cost -about 10 times the cost of current 121.5 MHz ELTs – and even the new onesare susceptible to false triggering.

Maritime users faced this change years ago, it seems, but aviation hasnot. Many of our more-seasoned veterans of aviation remember when Congressmandated ELTs in the late 1970s after the disappearance of Louisiana congressmanHale Boggs in the Gulf of Alaska, and the experience left something of a badtaste in the community’s collective mouth. Officially, AOPA is opposed to themove and is working to defeat the recommendation. Otherwise, to help your chanceof being found if downed, you may want to start saving your pennies; you’ll haveabout eight years to collect them.

SpeakingOf Safety, ASF Launching Video-Seminars Program

If the pilots can’t come to the seminars, get the seminars to thepilots. That’s the idea behind the latest project of executive director BruceLandsberg and the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, a series of safety seminar videosthat will be going out to relatively new private pilots and instrument-ratedaviators. The breadth of distribution depends on the depths of the AFS’spockets, so the foundation is encouraging donations to help support the program.

And fresh on the philanthropic front is a new endowment program for ASF.It works this way: Contribute $2,500 to the ASF’s endowment fund and receivelifetime membership in AOPA while assuring a perpetual benefit of $100 annuallyto the foundation, plus a healthy tax deduction, to boot.

PenniesFor Heaven: BRS Slowly Advancing Broader IPO

A couple of months back, Ballistic Recovery Systems, or BRS, floated theidea of developing an STC to install in Cessna’s venerable Skyhawk fleet aversion of the certificated parachute system standard on Cirrus’ ground-breakingSR20. Well, the folks from South St. Paul, Minn., have expanded their proposalto a whole range of planes that fall within the speed and weight limits of therecovery system, a net that covers 182s and 180s and Cherokees and Arrows andComanches and Mooneys and others weighing no more than 2,550 lbs.

Proposals requested have risen into high double digits, and the firstfirm commitment is in to invest $2,500 toward the development, with the promiseof a $4,000 credit toward the $15,000 system. If insufficient interest kills theprogram, the investors get back their deposits. BRS is experienced in thisprocess well beyond that gained with the SR20 program, which culminated lastyear with seven perfect test deployments. In the early 1990s, BRS won an STC forthe installation of its General Aviation Recovery Device on Cessna 150 and 152aircraft.

It’sA Jungle Out There: Hank’s Self-Fly Aerial African Safaris

It was easy to imagine flying in-trail behind Dave vanderSpuy afterlistening to the South African aviator talk about flying the skies of the DarkContinent in a small airplane – and at the time, we didn’t even know hewas a leader on Americans Nick and Christina Hanks’ new African Aero Safari, aself-fly tour of three countries that spans 11 days of flying and seven days ofground touring. Launched only last month, this new slice of aviation exotica isthe latest products of the Hanks Aero Adventures company,

AndIn The End, It Was An Expo To Remember

AIY's well-hidden welcome sign.Well,Hizzoner the mayor of Atlantic City provided AOPA members withsome puzzling sideline entertainment, making the daily fishwrap with some oddpronouncements about general aviation in general and AOPA specifically, andreally had the staffers shrugging, including Phil Boyer. But the sun shinedalmost all the time, the slot machines rang out, and the members entertainedthemselves heartily at the receptions, Halloween party and closing nightbanquet.

Traffic flowed continually into both ACY and AIY as the invitation ofmoderate weather beckoned those hesitant during the deluges. But this year therewere no grand pronouncements about the future of general aviation, highways inthe sky or far-into-the-future concepts for personal transportation.

No, this year the faithful came and enjoyed and worried about defendingthe status quo in the hear-and-now, about keeping airports open and the door touser fees closed. Boyer and his staff encouraged calls to home-state senatorsencouraging votes in favor of the AIR-21 bill to unlock the trust fund andrestore public-fund contributions to the FAA budget.

And in a mark of AOPA’s continuing success as a not-for-profitorganization, all 350,000-plus members can look forward to yet another year ofdues at $39. All in all, a pretty good party for a 60th birthday celebration.Congrats to all the AOPA staff over the years, from “Doc” Hartranftand the late Max Karant, to Phil Boyer and his managers, staff and members-support folks.

Next year, Long Beach; October 20-22. We’ll be watching for you.