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A blast of thunder and downpours greeted early arrivals in Oshkosh on Sunday morning, as last-minute preparations got nailed down for the official opening day of EAA AirVenture on Monday. The show already has hosted the dramatic arrival of the Martin Mars water bomber at the seaplane base, an airplane so massive that it’s hard to comprehend the size without another airplane nearby for scale. Boeing Plaza at show central will host a slew of visiting aircraft as the week goes on, from a FedEx 767 freighter to a B-17 Flying Fortress and B-29 Superfortress.

Boeing and the U.S. Coast Guard both will celebrate their centennial at the show, and the centennial of World War I will be recognized with fly-bys of biplanes and triplanes from that era. The Valdez STOL fleet has taken up residence this year at the ultralight runway, with at least 17 airplanes on display for close-up viewing, plus plenty of flying demos all week long. And EAA celebrates the two millionth Young Eagles flight with a launch on Thursday afternoon, with Harrison Ford as pilot.

AVweb's crew is on site to bring you all the news all week long, with special email editions for subscribers delivered daily to your inbox, filled with news, video, podcasts, and commentary.

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The recent passage of the Third Class medical exemption was cause for cheering in the GA industry, but for some pilots, the actual effect of the legislation remains cloudy at best. “The law is very, very specific in how can you use this exemption,” said Dr. Ian Blair Fries, a senior Aviation Medical Examiner with years of experience and who works exclusively in dealing with the FAA to gain special issuances for pilots who are otherwise unqualified to have medicals. But Fries said he’s too uncertain about how the FAA will implement that new law to offer advice on how the agency will handle special issuances going forward.

The legislation, signed by President Obama earlier this month, gives the FAA 180 days to develop and publish new rules to reflect the intent of the law. If it fails to do so after a year’s time from the bill’s signing, pilots are to use their own best judgment in seeking medical evaluation and the FAA will be prohibited from any enforcement action if it doesn’t like the pilot’s efforts.

“The issue that has not been resolved is how this will affect pilots who have a potentially disqualifying condition. And that’s the part that we just don’t know how the FAA is going to handle this. That’s the part I’m not willing to guess about at this point. We have to see how the FAA implements this law,” Fries said.

The legislation specifically lists three medical areas of concern: cardiac, mental health and neurological conditions. The FAA is left to define how it will handle medicals where these conditions are known to exist. You can hear more details on this topic in this exclusive AVweb podcast and at AirVenture this week, Fries will conduct a forum on the topic. See it at the AOPA tent on Tuesday, July 26 at 11 a.m.

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A pilot was injured after an aircraft crashed while landing at Oshkosh’s Wittman Regional Airport on Sunday evening, according to EAA and news reports. The unidentified aircraft was landing on Runway 36 about 6 p.m. but crashed short of the runway, according to local news reports. The FAA and NTSB are investigating.

EAA tweeted that the airport was closed, then 9/27 reopened until the normal closing time of 8 p.m. The pilot was the lone occupant in the plane and was taken to a local hospital. Sunday's arrivals for the day before the official start of AirVenture were unusually congested as many flights were delayed due to thunderstorms over the weekend followed by low ceilings early Sunday morning.

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Today ForeFlight announced ForeFlight 8, an update to the popular IOS app that CEO Tyson Weihs says, “Might be our biggest release since 2011.” That year marked ForeFlight's first release designed specifically for the iPad. The most obvious change is in mapping. Pilots using ForeFlight spend the majority of their time with a sectional or IFR en route chart as the background, over which they see their aircraft, route, weather and more. ForeFlight 8 changes this. 

A new “Aeronautical" map layer draws all objects dynamically, resizing, adding or removing data depending on the zoom level and the pilot’s preference settings. The effect is similar to the moving map on most MFDs or dedicated aviation portables, but with an infinite range of zoom levels and effects to maintain readability.

Weihs says that, while the company will still include traditional chart backgrounds for the foreseeable future, the data-driven approach to aviation information is a far more productive experience. The company has been working with the FAA on how data is updated and disseminated. He envisions a day soon where, “An airport manager could make a runway closed and 10 minutes later pilots worldwide could see it marked as closed on their iPads.” 

Other additions to ForeFlight 8 include enhanced TFR warnings and multiple improvements to ForeFlight logbook—which more than one-third of ForeFlight customers have adopted, according to the company. ForeFlight also overhauled its web interface, allowing for full flight planning and filing throughout North America (including intra-Canada VFR and the Caribbean), and released some enhancements to its Stratus ADS-B systems.

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As AirVenture 2016 opens, EAA has announced that is has expanded its STC allowing installation of the Dynon D10A in certified aircraft to include more models and types, with yet more aircraft expected to be added as the program matures. EAA announced the program, which it calls the Accessible Safety STC, at Sun 'n Fun in April. It allows owners of named certified aircraft to install the heretofore uncertified Dynon EFIS D10A in their panels.

Initially, the STC covered Cessna Skyhawks and the Piper PA-28 Cherokee line. The new expansion extends approvals to the Cessna 175, 177 and 182 series and the Piper PA-24 and PA-32 series. EAA says additional aircraft will be added to the STC list soon. The STC has also been expanded to cover the Dynon EFIS-D100 as an approved substitution for the Dynon EFIS-D10A named in the original STC. The two devices are essentially identical except the EFIS-D100 has a seven-inch display compared to the D10A's four-inch display. Both instruments have proven popular with homebuilders, although they have been displaced in recent years by more capable EFIS products. The larger instrument will require more panel modification than the D10A, but the trade-off is better readability and versatility.

EAA says the STCs will cost $100 and will be shipped about two weeks after AirVenture closes. They can be ordered directly from EAA's subsidiary. For more information, EAA also has a FAQ page. 

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Now Dynon Avionics isn't alone with a certified version of an experimental EFIS display. At AirVenture 2016 at Oshkosh, Garmin announced a wholly owned AML-STC (approved model list supplemental type certificate) for its previously introduced G5 electronic flight instrument. When installed per the STC, the G5 will be approved for use as a primary attitude and turn coordinator instrument when installed in the six-pack instrument layout of 562 certified aircraft. The G5 will be approved for VFR and IFR flight and it has a 4-hour emergency backup battery.

The G5 fits in a standard 3-inch instrument cutout and has a 3.5-inch LED display. Unlike the version released for non-certified aircraft, the G5 for certified models won't have an autopilot interface and can't display glideslope data. Installation is expected to be straightforward, requiring power and ground wiring, plus pitot and static source input. 

Expected to be available in September 2016, the G5 for certified aircraft has an anticipated street price of $2149, and $2499 with optional external GPS antenna. The G5 instrument will be installed in AOPA's Cessna 172 sweepstakes aircraft and will be offered in other Yingling Ascend refurbished Cessna 172 aircraft. The instrument must be purchased and installed through Garmin's dealer network.

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The search for MH370, the Malaysia Airlines jet that vanished in March 2014, will be suspended by the end of the year when crews complete their current phase of operations in the Indian Ocean, officials announced Friday. Unless new information comes to light to help direct the search for the Boeing 777, the ships hired to scan 100,000 square kilometers of the rugged ocean floor are expected to cease their work between October and December as conditions allow, CNN reported. "This does not mean we have given up on looking,” Malaysian officials said. The flight, carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, dropped from radar over the ocean. All are presumed dead and while pieces of debris believed to be from the jet have been found, investigators have had little to go on in determining what happened -- fueling a range of conflicting theories.

Meanwhile, a Dutch company leading the search in the targeted area has raised the possibility that the jet glided under control farther beyond the search area instead of crashing into the waters where crews have been looking. "If it's not there, it means it's somewhere else," the project director for Fugro told Reuters this week. "If it was manned it could glide for a long way.” Investigators, including those from the NTSB, don’t support that theory and the coordinating agency, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, has said evidence points to the jet crashing within the search area. “All survey data collected from the search for missing flight MH370 will be released," the bureau told Reuters.

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Rans Aircraft has its latest new kit airplane design on static display at EAA AirVenture this week, the S-21 Outbound, featuring a 180-hp Titan engine and STOL capability. “This is exciting for us,” said designer Randy Schlitter, “building a big two-seater with a lot of power and aerodynamics that allow both a 150-mph-plus cruise and STOL credentials, and building in features that make assembly easier and more accurate than ever.” The S-21 is an all-metal high-wing design, and can be built as either a tricycle-gear or a taildragger. It’s also the highest-payload design ever from Rans, ready to carry 625 pounds for pilot, passenger and cargo, plus full fuel.

Proprietary extruded spars for the leading and trailing edges make the wing cleaner and easier to build, Rans says. “This should be the fastest-build kit we’ve ever offered,” said Schlitter. “Final-size matched holes in the sheet metal prevent most mistakes for a first-time builder, too.” The finished powder-coated sheet metal will stand up to years in the sun, the company says. Main wheels and tires can range from open or enclosed 8.00-series to 26-inch wheels ready for bush flying. Rans can be found in the North Exhibit area, Booth 620-621.


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I try not to get my pants snagged writing over-romanticized paeans to the intoxicating magic of flight. For as soon as I allow self-restraint to slip for even a moment, the editorial equivalent of a piston through the crankcase will surely reveal itself. Thus, when AirVenture looms on the horizon every year, we gingerly gird ourselves for the challenge of covering it without getting into a pre-show lather.

Every show I’ve attended, which must be more than 30 I guess, has a different feel. We tend to—wrongly I think—use AirVenture as a leading economic indicator of what the aviation markets are doing. Sometimes it is; often it isn’t. Lately, our barometer has been the EAA’s advance press conference schedule for Sunday and Monday. This year, Sunday is a little light, but Monday is stacked—16 events altogether, none of which appear to be major announcements of things we don’t know about already. But there are always surprises and changes throughout the week. And at least one utter bafflement: Why did they ever do that? We’ll see what develops this year.

Actually, the very first event on Sunday is, in some ways, the most interesting. A company called Vickers Aircraft is sponsoring a media lunch—very unusual on a Sunday—presumably to talk about the company’s Wave LSA amphibian. If you’ll click over to get a look at it you’ll realize … surprise … it’s a conceptual cousin of the Icon A5. I’m sure the company will favor us with how the Wave is different, but dense as I am, I can’t help but wonder how I missed this idea that the world is hungering for this many LSA amphibs. Two years ago, it was the MVP. The A5, the MVP and the Wave are all along similar lines, with hard-cut angular lines reminiscent of high-end sports sedans morphed with Jet Skis. Or maybe Jet Skis morphed with LSAs. Icon claims 2000 orders, even as it struggles to build airplanes for delivery. We can only hope these new ideas do better than the last big-ticket, undiscovered market: VLJs.

Avionics are always big at AirVenture and this year will be the same. The big story is rebates and sales promos on ADS-B equipment. Note to readers: I think the industry is finally getting serious about selling this stuff. This summer might be a good time to push the button, balancing the likelihood of better deals in the future against getting jammed up waiting for an installation slot. I still have no sense whether the latter is a real possibility or not. Also on the avionics front, albeit not related to AirVenture, Garmin and Jeppesen have announced lower prices on flight data scripts. This is not a big enough idea to move the sales needle, but it’s a trend that will make many long-suffering owners happy that not everything is on an upward price spiral. Check with FreeFlight and Avidyne for ADS-B rebate programs and keep in mind the Aircraft Electronics Association ADS-B promotion.

For those who attend AirVenture for the airshow, this will be an interesting year, but then it usually is. The giant Martin Mars amphibian will be doing flybys from the seaplane base on Lake Winnebago. There are busses to get over there to get a closer look, but it’s too bad it can’t make an appearance in Boeing Square. (No wheels.) But the CF Snowbirds do have wheels and will show up in the square, I’m sure. It will be a refreshing change to see a jet act, since heretofore AirVenture has been primarily piston airshow performances. The change of pace will be a good thing, I think and the Tutors the team flies aren’t obnoxiously loud.

New airplanes to see? Three that we know of. Cub Crafters will be showing its new XCub and I recommend stopping by and checking out the interior in that airplane. Whoever though a Cub would come to this? Along the same lines, the ever-prolific RANS will introduce its new S-21 Outbound kit, its version of the Carbon Cub and Legend HP hotrods using the Continental Titan engine. This engine is getting a lot of applications and that shows how even when sales are flat, innovation can drive at least some market activity. The company is in the prototype phase, so there’s no hardware to see yet.

Cessna, we’re told, will have a mock-up of its new single-engine turboprop. It’s bigger than you might have imagined. That airplane will have something we haven’t seen in quite some time: a new turboprop engine, this time from GE. It’s about time that Pratt got some competition for the venerable PT-6. That engine is getting a little stale. Also from the engine file, the Wisconsin-based EPS has scheduled some kind of announcement for its large displacement diesel engine and I won’t be too surprised if Cessna has more to say about the diesel 172, the JT-A. Not to be too cynical about it, but it’s really time for the diesel market to start walking the walk. Except for Diamond, sales of Jet A pistons continue to be slow, despite clearly demonstrated economic benefits.

We’ll have coverage of this on a daily basis, of course, with lots of video and podcasts to tell the story. On a personal note, for the first time in 20-something years, I won’t be at Oshkosh. I’m still recovering from an ankle injury and can’t bear the thought of being seen in one of those electric shopping scooters. (When I shop locally, I wear a disguise.) But I’ll be laboring remotely, processing and editing video and copy and offering the staff urgent but unneeded advice. Look for me next year, sans crutches and cast.

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This week's AVweb video by Rick Durden offers a design overview of the Icon A5, a light sport amphibian with key safety features such as strong spin and stall resistance and an built-in angle of attack indicator.

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At 94, Major Fredric Arnold (ret.), sole surviving member of his WWII P-38 class-of-42J group, is sculpting a monumental bronze sculpture in memory of the more than 88,000 WWII U.S. airmen killed in action.

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The following was heard as my wife and I were flying our Mooney over the northern tip of the Great Salt Lake a few days ago and communicating with Salt Lake Center.

Transient aircraft: "Center, do you have time for a question?"

SL Center: ”Sure, go ahead."

Transient aircraft: ”OK, this is the $65 question. Looking below, we can see a train track, shoreline and a reddish area with what look like waves. What is that all about?"

Silence for a short while, then a response from an airliner: "My daughter is a PhD biologist and explained to me that the red color comes from Halobacteria growing in the salt water."

Transient aircraft: "Thank you very much! You win the $65 prize and we greatly appreciate the explanation!"

SL Center: "That's a whole lot better than any explanation we could come up with here at Center."

Another short pause

Airliner: ”That PhD cost a lot more than $65."

The exchange is somewhat paraphrased, other than the punchline. We were laughing too hard by the end for me to copy the exact dialogue.


Dan Roberston 


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