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Volume 18, Number 19a
May 7, 2012
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AVflash! Re-Evaluating the Raptorback to top 

Two Air Force F-22 Raptor pilots have taken the unprecedented action of explaining thier refusal to fly the aircraft to a national television audience. Appearing in uniform and without the permission of their superiors, Maj. Jeremy Gordon and Capt. Joshua Wilson told 60 Minutes interviewer Lesley Stahl they've invoked federal military whistleblower protection in their open defiance of an Air Force decision to keep flying the aircraft even though they say the majority of pilots are suffering health problems because of something wrong with the oxygen system. Some, including both Wilson and Gordon, have become disoriented in flight, something that happens at a rate that far exceeds the norm for military aircraft. The officers say pilots have been issued oxymeters and the Air Force briefly equipped the Raptors with charcoal filters in the oxygen system to remove contaminants (the filters themselves caused some pilots to cough up black mucus and have since been removed) but nothing has been done to solve the actual problem. More...

The last of 187 Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fighter jets was delivered to the U.S. Air Force, Wednesday, provoking new debate about the jet's usefulness, cost and ongoing safety concerns. Since listed as combat-ready in 2005, not a single $420 million F-22 has flown a combat mission in any U.S. military engagement, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. They have spent nearly five months of their service grounded due to yet unresolved concerns surrounding the system that delivers oxygen to the jets' pilots. And a few pilots now say they'd prefer not to fly the jet for that reason. In exercises, the F-22 consistently records lopsided wins when pitted against America's best jet fighters. But that hasn't silenced the jet's critics, which include Senator John McCain. More...

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Following Up on Last Week's Big Storiesback to top 

Gordon Boettger, who was hoping to fly more than 900 miles in a downwind glider dash from Minden, Nev., to Rapid City, S.D., was forced to land about halfway to his record-setting goal. Deteriorating weather prompted him to land in Twin Falls, Idaho. More...

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police say they're now trying to get the video off a memory card that was allegedly swallowed by a hang gliding pilot after his tandem passenger fell from the aircraft to her death a week ago. William Jon Orders was kept in jail until police had their hands on card, which they knew would emerge sooner or later because it showed up on a court-ordered X-ray. Orders was released on bail on Friday and the hearing heard what reporters said was "dramatic" evidence about the circumstances of the death of 27-year-old Lenami Godinez-Avila, a Mexican living in Vancouver. They couldn't relate details of the evidence because the Canadian judicial system bans the publication of evidence entered in preliminary proceedings like bail hearings. More...

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Meanwhile, at the Manufacturers ...back to top 

Hawker Beechcraft Thursday announced that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, having entered agreements to eliminate $2.5 billion in debt and securing financing that will allow it to pay its employees, for now. Last year, Hawker lost over $600 million, but company officials remain publicly optimistic about the viability of the company. "Restructuring our balance sheet and recapitalizing the company in partnership with our debt holders will dramatically improve Hawker Beechcraft's ability to compete in a rapidly changing environment," CEO Robert Miller said in a statement. Restructuring won't just impact Hawker, which last week announced 350 layoffs, but will also impact suppliers. The company says it will continue to operate "in the normal course of business" and fill all orders for available products. More...

A "strategic agreement" between Cessna and the China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Company Ltd. (CAIGA) will see Caravans completed in China for sale to the Chinese market, Cessna announced Thursday. Cessna says the agreement advances a framework set in March that opens markets to the manufacturer that otherwise would remain out of reach. Under the agreement, Cessna Caravans will be built in Kansas and sent to Shijiazhuang, China, for final assembly and sale in China. Cessna expects China "to be one of the largest general aviation markets in ten year's time," and that "the versatility of the Caravan makes it a great fit" for the Chinese market. More...

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Next Phase for IAOPA's Secretary Generalback to top 

Pilots the world over share common concerns about the future of general aviation, and the International Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is ensuring GA's interests are heard when decisions are made that might affect private aviation, says the outgoing chief administrator of IAOPA. Secretary-General John Sheehan retired from the post April 30 and said his 15 years there revealed two common threats to GA everywhere: airspace allocation and the future demise of avgas. Sheehan told AVweb in a podcast interview that GA almost always takes a back seat to commercial interests when airspace decisions are made and IAOPA has been able to mitigate the threat to the freedom to fly many times. He also noted that avgas availability is a universal concern as is the patchwork of regulation between jurisdictions, particularly regarding the certification of small aircraft. "Where are our affordable light aircraft going to come from?" he said. More...

For 15 years, John Sheehan has marshaled the combined might of 69 national pilot organizations as the secretary general of the International Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. On May 1, he retired and spoke with AVweb's Russ Niles about the successes in those 15 years and the challenges ahead.

This podcast is brought to you by Bose Corporation. More...

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News Briefsback to top 

Spirit Airlines Friday reversed an April decision to not refund a ticket after word spread that the ticket-holder was a Vietnam War veteran who says he decided not to take his flight after learning he was terminally ill. Jerry Meekins says he bought the ticket two weeks before doctors told him his condition was terminal and advised him not to fly. He says he contacted the airline for a refund and was turned away. At the time, a local news station (WFLA-TV) sought comment from Spirit and said the reply included, "Our reservations are non-refundable, which means we don't do refunds and we are not going to issue Mr. Meekins a refund." Facing public calls for a Spirit Airlines boycott, the airline has now changed its tune, sending a personal message. More...

A New York senator wants the federal government to pass a law that would force the killing of Canada Geese that now use a wildlife preserve near JFK Airport and sometimes get in the way of the airport's aluminum and composite occupants. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., says her bill will end the turf wars between the Department of Agriculture, which would do the killing, and the National Parks Service, which has jurisdiction over the preserve. The law would require the killing to be done by Aug. 1. "We cannot sit back and wait for a catastrophe to occur before cutting though bureaucratic red tape between agencies," Gillibrand said. "We cannot and should not wait another day to act while public safety is at risk." There have been two recent bird strikes, one at JFK and another at Westchester County Airport, more than 30 miles away from the wildlife preserve. More...

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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You!back to top 

AVMAIL: MAY 7, 2012

Letter of the Week: The Third Class Medical Question

Regarding your "Question of the Week": Perhaps the reason that more have not commented in favor is that not as many people agree that it is necessarily a good idea. The cost of a medical is peanuts compared to the cost of actually flying an airplane. So what does extending the exemption accomplish? It allows people with medical issues to fly larger aircraft and carry more passengers. Getting a medical exam every two years is a small price to pay for the privilege of flying. It may also just save your life, or that of your passengers.

If you really want to increase the pilot population, increase the maximum gross weight limit for LSAs to allow the use of legacy aircraft such as the Cessna 150/152. An outright increase would be great, but even an exemption for flight training and the check ride would help. Potential LSA customers could learn to fly more inexpensively, as well as increasing the availability of training aircraft for them.

LSA manufacturers may not like competing with legacy aircraft for sales, but in the long run, more pilots means more potential customers. I'm sure the 150/152 cannibalized some sales of the 172, but in the long run, it probably helped by getting more people into aviation.

John McNerney

Click through to read the rest of this week's letters.


Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 255,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email to What have you heard? More...

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Opinion & Commentaryback to top 

A year on, we've learned more about the special ops raid that killed Osama bin Laden. What we don't know — and may never know — is why that MH-60 crashed in the compound. In his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli wades into the speculation. Read more and join the conversation. More...

If regulations can't spark innovation, is it just as good that they can spread the misery around? Paul Bertorelli contemplates that uncomfortable consolation prize in his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog. Read more and join the conversation. More...

International Association of Flight 
Training Professionals (IAFTP)
IAFTP Is Participating in the NBAA Safety Committee
Business Aviation Pilot Training Project

The first step is to gain a better understanding of current business aviation pilot training practices and issues. If you would like to share your comments on this topic, please add them to the following discussion:

What's Being Done in Regard to the Training Needs of Corporate and Business Aircraft Pilots?
New on AVweb.comback to top 

BrainteasersWhere would you go on a perfect flying vacation, and how would you get there?

Take the quiz. More...

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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learnback to top 

The story of William Rankin's ejection at 47,000 feet and 500 knots is legendary, not only because the fall took him 40 minutes, but also because he lived to talk about it. There are other and more recent cases of people who have been drawn into thunderstorms under canopy and not every one ends in survival. More...

Traditional Tactics Need a Fresh Approach
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Your Favorite FBOsback to top 


AVweb reader Jack Addison discovered our latest "FBO of the Week" -- Jet West at Salinas Municipal Airport (SNS) in Salinas, California:

We had landed at Monterey, California and found [another venue] wanted $25 per night to stay for my wife's race at Big Sur. Their fuel was expensive, and there were no tie-down ropes or chains with the in-concrete loops. We ferried over to Jet West at Salinas, were greeted, tied down with three chains provided, and fueled up at $5.99 and no more charge for four nights. When we returned, the ground crew had put orange cones 3' high at each wing tip for protection. As a bonus, my wife walked over to Sean Tucker and got his autograph! Jet West, SNS likes general aviation!

Keep those nominations coming. For complete contest rules, click here.

AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!


The Lighter Side of Flightback to top 


I heard this while returning from Texas:

Piper Pilot (with a thick southern drawl) :
"Sahv, Centah, Ah believe Ah'm a-fixin' to cancel mah IFR flaght plannn."

"Are you just 'fixin' to,' or are you going to cancel it?"

Piper Pilot:
"Ah believe Ah'm a-goin' to cancel it about now."

"Roger. Squawk VFR."

Ron Cizek
Omaha, Nebraska


Heard anything funny, unusual, or downright shocking on the radio lately? If you've been flying any length of time, you're sure to have eavesdropped on a few memorable exchanges. The ones that gave you a chuckle may do the same for your fellow AVweb readers. Share your radio funny with us, and, if we use it in a future "Short Final," we'll send you a sharp-looking AVweb hat to sport around your local airport. No joke. Click here to submit your original, true, and previously unpublished story. More...

Names Behind the Newsback to top 


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

The AVwebFlash 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].

Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your phone or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.