NewsWire Complete Issue


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Fenced-off Skies

Orange Alert Affects D.C. Airspace, Sports Events…

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Tuesday raised its “national threat level” from Elevated to High risk of terrorist attack (for those of you with color vision, that’s Level Orange). What it means to you: Waivers that allow access to the 15-mile “no-fly” zone around Washington, D.C., will be suspended, security officials told AOPA and EAA Tuesday afternoon. Also, waivers for sport stadium overflights will be suspended, and Tipton Airport in Fort Meade, Md., will be re-established as the gateway for aircraft flying into the three GA airports in the D.C. area (College Park, Hyde Field, and Potomac Airport). At Tipton, TSA staff will screen aircraft and passengers. Pilots were asked to exercise extra vigilance in and around airports, and to carefully check NOTAMs before flying. Enjoy the new rules in all their glory on the FAA’s Special Interest NOTAMs page. In a statement, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge did not specifically mention aircraft as a means of attack, but said tactics to be used against “soft targets” could include “small arm equipped assault teams, large vehicle borne improvised explosive devices, and suicide bombers.” He added that “there is not credible, specific information with respect to targets or method of attack.” Ridge noted that all citizens should be vigilant during public events and in crowded areas, and implied that the raised threat level would persist at least through the holiday weekend. “For all Americans, we recommend that you continue with your plans for work or leisure,” Ridge said. If your plans include flying an airplane in the D.C. area, though, that could be tough to do.

…While Mainstream Fears Persist…

The enemy wears a mask and there are those who think that mask looks just like … you. An editorial in last Thursday’s USA Today characterized small aircraft as a high-risk threat to homeland security but drew a quick response from GAMA prez Ed Bolen. The newspaper said that “little has been done to prevent attacks by the nation’s 200,000 private aircraft” and pilots can “elude detection” easily. Bolen quickly fired off a response, saying that plenty has been done to enhance GA security. He told the editorial board about the Airport Watch program, the federal rule mandating that pilots must carry a photo ID, and new restrictions on foreign-registered GA aircraft. “The Department of Homeland Security and the general aviation industry are working together to analyze and assess the threats to our nation and define appropriate security measures,” Bolen wrote.

…And DC-3 Airports Find Ways To Adapt

Even before this week’s latest round of restrictions, the “DC-3” GA airports near Washington, D.C., lost more than $8 million. They are struggling to survive, but none is giving up, The Washington Post reported Monday. The three small airports — Potomac Airfield, Washington Executive Airport/Hyde Field, and College Park Airport — were closed for six months after 9/11, and then saddled with security rules that restricted access. With the “threat level” heightened again, it’s clear those restrictions are not going to ease anytime soon. Nevertheless, the owners of Potomac and Hyde Field say they’re not looking to sell out and they’re finding ways to adapt. “We’ve always been an upbeat, progressive location,” Potomac co-owner David Wartofsky told the Post. “There are still occasionally hiccups, but nothing earth-shattering.” Wartofsky said he’s adopted new marketing strategies and makes sure airport users are kept abreast of the regulations. At Hyde Field in Clinton, Md., developers have made offers to buy up the property, but the owner declined. Airport manager Stan Fetter told the Post the field could survive as a GA business. “Nobody wants to sell out at this point,” Fetter said. “We’re doing the best we can, and we still think we have the ashes of a viable airport.” College Park Airport is publicly owned and subsidized.

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Centennial Of Flight Update

Wright Model “B” Crashes In Virginia…

The Wright Experience’s reproduction of a Wright Model “B” crashed into a treetop Monday evening near Warrenton, Va., with airplane builder Ken Hyde at the controls. (This is not the reproduction of the 1903 Flyer that is scheduled to fly at Kitty Hawk in December.) Hyde was treated for injuries including a broken arm and released from the hospital. “I was dodging trees and power lines trying to get back to the airport,” Hyde told the local newspaper, the Fauquier Times-Democrat. The aircraft had taken off inadvertently during a taxi test. The reproduction flies with an original Wright engine, and is being used for a NOVA documentary, “Inventing the Flying Machine,” that will air later this year on public television. The airplane was retrieved from the tree with a cherry picker, and will be repaired. The 1911 Model “B” was the Wrights’ most popular airplane, and was used for instruction at schools including the Wrights’, the US Army’s, and others established by former Wright pilots.

…Rare Appearance Of Three Jet Teams Set For Dayton Air Show…

If your travel plans for 2003 include a celebration of the first 100 years of powered flight, Dayton, Ohio’s “Inventing Flight” events in July hope to get your attention. Among the highlights of the two-and-a-half week festival: A four-day air show, July 17-20, with all three North American military jet demonstration teams flying each day — an unprecedented event in air show history, according to the organizers. The US Navy Blue Angels, US Air Force Thunderbirds and the Canadian Armed Forces Snowbirds will show their best. Among other highlights: a “spectacular” Grand Opening, July 3; a balloon rally, July 4-7; a tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen, July 11-13; a Pioneers of Flight Homecoming, hosted by Harrison Ford at the National Aviation Hall of Fame, July 19; and lots more. Dayton knows all too well that the Wright brothers are associated with the dunes near Kitty Hawk in the public consciousness, but the Wrights’ bicycle shop and their home were in Dayton and the city hopes to teach that to the world this summer. Advance tickets and visitor info can be found online.

…Tickets Now On Sale For Centennial Celebration At Kitty Hawk

If you’re thinking far, far ahead — to the coming winter — you can get your tickets online now for the Centennial events scheduled for Kitty Hawk, N.C., December 13-17. The celebrations are centered at the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kill Devil Hills, and include exhibits, displays, and air shows. At a ceremony yesterday, the National Park Service opened its new 20,000-square-foot First Flight Centennial Pavilion at the Memorial, which will provide space for exhibits, meetings, concerts, and special events. On December 17, at exactly 10:35 a.m., the EAA’s reproduction of the Wright 1903 Flyer will attempt to repeat the historic first flight. A 100-airplane flyover will follow. The National Park Service is selling one-day tickets for $10 and five-day tickets for $25. For more information, visit the First Flight Centennial Web site. Visit the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau for up-to-date accommodation information, or to request a Visitors Guide.

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Parachutes Prove Golden In Aviation Sales

Stories of financial hardship are all too common in the world of GA businesses, so numbers like “56 percent growth” tend to stand out. That number led a press release last week from Ballistic Recovery Systems (BRS), of South St. Paul, Minn., which reported gross revenues up 56 percent from the same quarter a year ago. The company credited strong sales to certified manufacturers for the upsurge, especially Cirrus Design. CEO Mark Thomas told AVweb on Tuesday that BRS is also working on certifying a parachute system for the Cessna 182, and its chute for the 172 is ready to go and just starting deliveries. “That’s going to be our next big seller,” Thomas said. Also in development is a system for the Light Sport Aircraft category and for heavier Experimental airplanes, up to 1,800 pounds. “We want to get them out there,” Thomas said of the chutes. Cirrus Design has delivered over 800 aircraft, every one of them equipped with a BRS system. BRS is also increasing sales to the European Union, helped out by a favorable exchange rate. The company got its start designing and manufacturing parachutes for ultralights and Experimental aircraft.

BWI Controllers Complete Potomac TRACON Staffing

Forty air traffic controllers from Baltimore have moved into the FAA’s new approach facility in Warrenton, Va., joining controllers from four other airports. The facility, called the Potomac Consolidated TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control), opened last December to serve the busy Baltimore-Washington area airspace. The BWI newcomers join controllers from Washington Dulles International, Reagan Washington National, Richmond International, Baltimore-Washington International and Andrews Air Force Base. About 300 FAA employees at the center now handle about 5,000 flights a day in 23,000 square miles of airspace covering parts of five states. Later this year, the FAA will begin implementing a redesign of the Potomac airspace in the Baltimore-Washington area. The FAA says the new design will allow aircraft to fly more direct routings, reach higher altitudes more quickly on departure and stay at higher altitudes for a longer time on arrival. The redesign will result in less noise at the surface and an estimated $25 million in annual fuel savings. “Programs such as this are a key component in our effort to safely increase aviation system capacity by 30 percent in the next decade,” FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey said in a news release. The new TRACON cost about $110 million.

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CAP Pilots Direct Coast Guard To Cuban Refugees

Two Civil Air Patrol pilots flying with an experimental digital imaging system made an unexpected discovery off the Florida Keys last month, and used the equipment to help the Coast Guard locate three Cuban refugees. “I looked down and saw what appeared to be a dark gray raft carrying people,” said Terry Raymond, one of the CAP crew aboard a Cessna 206. “I grabbed the camera and got the best shots possible.” The digital images were transmitted via satellite phone to the Coast Guard within two minutes, and the Coast Guard dispatched a cutter to intercept the raft. “This technology significantly improves CAP’s capabilities in reconnaissance as well as search and rescue,” said Col. Drew Alexa, who heads CAP’s Advanced Technologies Group. “The equipment is far less bulky than our older photography systems. With this new digital imaging system, we need only carry a digital camera, a laptop and the system itself. The whole system weighs only about 12 pounds.” CAP hopes to purchase several of the new digital imaging systems to be used across the country. A Coast Guard spokesman said worsening weather approaching the Keys would have endangered the rafters’ lives had they not been picked up. The three refugees were uninjured and were repatriated to Cuba.

Shuttle Designer Faget: Time To Retire The Orbiter

Another call to retire the space shuttle fleet has been heard, this time from Max Faget, a former NASA engineer who helped to design the spacecraft, the LA Times reported on Monday. “We ought to just stop going into space until we get a good vehicle,” Faget told the Times. “If we aren’t willing to spend the money to do that, then we should be ashamed of ourselves.” NASA officials told the Times the shuttle has been upgraded and modernized in the 30 years since Faget worked on the original design. However, NASA engineers said Faget is “a giant in the space community whose opinions are worth more than anybody else’s,” according to the Times. Others have been joining in this refrain, including Texas Congressman Joe Barton, who said earlier this month he won’t support any further funding for the manned shuttle program. “We need to spend the money on building an advanced orbiter or space plane, of the best and safest technology,” he said. NASA says it needs the shuttle to complete the International Space Station. For now, the Russian Soyuz capsule is providing the only access back and forth to the ISS. “It is like going down the highway and thumbing a ride,” said Faget. “You can do it, but it isn’t the best way to get around. It is really admitting defeat.”

NOTE:Curious to learn more about Max Faget’s role in aviation history? Check out this interview with PBS’s NOVA, and a reprinted feature story from the late Omni magazine.

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Tower, I’m Ready For Takeoff … No Need To Cry About It

British pilots who tuned their aircraft radios to listen to ATC near London’s Luton Airport instead heard the sounds of a crying toddler, The Sun reported on Monday. A baby listening monitor in the child’s room somehow was interfering with the airwaves. Government inspectors traced the interference to a home near the airport, The Sun reported. Lisa Stapsley, the child’s mother, said she was shocked when the inspectors knocked on her door. “It was like something out of Ghostbusters. It totally freaked me out.” The trouble was traced to a monitor in her 13-month-old daughter’s bedroom. The Stapsleys now just leave the door open a crack instead.

On The Fly…

An NTSB preliminary report on the fatal crash during a test flight of a Sino Swearingen jet on April 26 in Texas has been posted online…

The Organization of Black Airline Pilots will hold its annual convention August 14-16 at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel & Towers…

The remains of an Oregon pilot from World War II were found in the wreckage of a B-25 in the mountains of Indonesia, the Associated Press reported on Sunday. Lt. Philip Miller’s remains will be flown home for a military burial in Arlington National Cemetery…

Boeing cannot be sued for punitive damages by the families of those who died in the crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 in January 2000, a federal judge has ruled.

Happy Memorial Day weekend.

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AVweb’s Picture Of The Week…


We received over 100 pictures last week. Congratulations to this week’s winner, Mike Hanson, of Westminster, Calif. His photo titled “Launching Out of Long Beach (LGB)” captures the pure fun of flying a classic Stearman. You can almost see the smile on Mike’s face as he waves to the camera while flying out of the Long Beach airport (LGB). Great picture Mike! Your AVweb hat is on the way.

To check out the winning picture, or to enter next week’s contest, go to Note that due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.

AVweb’s Question Of The Week…


We received over 400 responses to our question last week on GA glass cockpits. Close to half (42 percent) of those responding indicated the benefit of a GA glass cockpit package depended more on their currency rather than the equipment installed. Only 5 percent did not like the use of this high-tech platform, while 19 percent stressed the actual equipment installed would be the deciding factor.

To check out the complete results, including comments, go to


This week, we would like to know your thoughts on . Please go to to respond.

Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to [email protected]. Note, this address is ONLY for suggested QOTW questions, and NOT for QOTW answers.

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AVweb’s AVscoop Award…

Congratulations and an AVweb hat go out to Pat Marshal, this week’s AVscoop winner. Submit news tips via email to [email protected]. Rules and information are at

New Articles and Features on AVweb

Quiz #68 — Additional Ratings and Endorsements
Some pilot privileges require a written exam and a grueling checkride administered by a grumpy examiner. Others are gained through additional training from a friendly CFI and a low-anxiety sign-off. Know the difference?

LightSPEED Thirty 3G ANR Headset
AVweb’s Russ Niles moved up from no cockpit noise reduction to a passive headset only 10 years ago, and now has tried the latest active-noise-reduction (ANR) set from LightSPEED. He’s a convert, and now he won’t willingly fly without an ANR set, preferably LightSPEED’s.


Sponsor News and Special Offers

Remember, we are able to provide FREE access to AVweb+AVflash thanks to our fine sponsors so please try to patronize them whenever you can.



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