Forward This E-mail | Edit Email Preferences | Advertise | Contact | Privacy | Help

  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

The Navy says problems with the oxygen generation and pressurization systems on T-45 and F-18 series aircraft have been a factor in the deaths of at least four of its pilots in the last 10 years and it’s now made fixing the problem a top priority. The announcement came out of a report that was commissioned in March after Navy flight instructors and students refused to fly T-45 trainers because they were suffering dizziness, breathing problems and other issues that the Navy has filed under the heading of “physiological episode (PE).” While no deaths in T-45s have been linked to PEs, the four F-18 tragedies were apparently not the sole result of oxygen issues but embedded in a trend of increasing problems being reported by pilots. The report comes days after the Air Force grounded F-35 aircraft because of problems with the oxygen systems.

Over at the Navy, reports of PEs started ramping up in 2010 and incidents increased from 13 to 38 for T-45 crews and 57 to 114 for the F-18 in the last five years. So far this year, there have been 52 F-18 PE incidents. The Navy admits it doesn’t know what’s wrong. "To date, finding a solution ... has proved elusive," the report said. "The complexity of aircraft human-machine interfaces and the unforgiving environment in which aircrew operate will continue to generate PEs whenever systems do not operate as intended or human physiology is a factor.” One of the steps being taken is adjusting the leadership of that part of the Navy. The next person in charge of flight training will be an experienced naval aviator. “Based on the findings of the report, the next Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) will be a more experienced aviation flag officer,” the Navy said. “The increase in seniority is meant to improve flight safety, address current instructor concerns, and ultimately resume student training." Rear Adm. Jay Bynum, currently serving as Commander, Carrier Strike Group Nine and a two-star admiral select, is scheduled to assume command of CNATRA later this month (June 2017).

Lightspeed - It pays to upgrade $350 Trade Up

The Paris Air Show starts Monday and aviation pundits have counted 16 aircraft making their debut at the big show, including the Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet. The single-engine personal jet was certified last November and made its first European appearance in May at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE). The only other aircraft connected to GA are the military conversion of the Air Tractor 802 into L-3’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) Longsword and Diamond’s Dart 450 turboprop military trainer. As always, Boeing and Airbus will duke it out for orders and attention by bringing their latest hardware.

Boeing is bringing the 787-10 and will increase media attention by giving details about the next model in the pipeline, logically expected to be designated the 797. Airbus is flying the A350-1000 and has also upgraded the A380 to improve fuel efficiency (winglets) and increase takeoff weight to a staggering 1.27 million pounds. Lockheed has reportedly booked $37 billion in orders for the F-35 and is shopping for customers for the civilian version of its J model C-130. Other new aircraft include the AN-132D, Airbus A321neo, Airbus Helicopters H160 and VSR700, Boeing 737-9 MAX, Embraer E195-E2 and KC-390, Kawasaki P-1, Mitsubishi MRJ90 and Turkish Aerospace Industries Hurkus.


Newly reorganized Lancair International is planning to fly the first version of its MAKO high-performance kitplane to AirVenture this year and a news release from the company says the first article is coming together well. The company released a photo of the fuselage of the aircraft in its paint booth at the new headquarters in Uvalde, Texas, over the weekend and if it looks remarkably like a Cirrus SR22 or the Cessna TTX, that’s because Lancair has been hyping the new kit as direct competition to those airplanes. But there's one thing the Mako won’t share with the go-fast factory models and that’s the nearly $1 million price tag.

“We expect the performance of the MAKO to exceed either Cirrus or Cessna TTX at a fraction of the cost,”” said CEO Mark Huffstutler. And since it’s a kit, there’s a lot more flexibility in the final product, especially engine choices. “A variety of engine options will be available, ranging from the standard 210-HP Continental IO-360 to a 350-HP turbocharged Lycoming TIO-580,” the news release said. “Typical non-turbo cruise speeds will be in the 215 knot range, with the turbocharged models exceeding 250 knots.” Full production is expected early in 2018.

Cessna TTx || The Difference Is Clear

A United Airlines flight, scheduled to travel to Venice, Italy, from Newark, New Jersey, on Tuesday night, turned back to the gate after passengers informed flight attendants that the aircraft was gushing jet fuel from the left wing. Evidently, neither aircraft crew nor airport personnel noticed the fuel spraying from the 767’s wing until notified by a pair of newlyweds alarmed by the growing lake of kerosene.

United told the press, “While taxiing to the runway on Tuesday evening, United flight 170 traveling from Newark to Venice, Italy returned to the gate due to a fuel leak, and was later cancelled. We apologized to our customers for the inconvenience. Our team worked to provide customers with hotel accommodations for the night and to get them back on their way to Venice the next day.”


An identical companion bill to the FLIGHT Act introduced earlier this month by Senators Inhofe and Duckworth has been introduced in the House by Representatives Graves and Bustos. With bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, the bill’s odds of becoming law improve markedly, but will still require the support of Republican leadership to advance to the floor for votes—as well as the president’s signature. Although President Trump frequently discussed infrastructure investments during the campaign, his post-election infrastructure focus has been tilted more toward privatization of the government’s aviation assets, speaking out in favor of privatizing ATC and some government-owned airports.

The FLIGHT Act’s key provision would give greater flexibility to small airports to roll over their annual $150,000 Non-Primary Entitlement grant for up to five years, allowing the program to fund more significant projects. Importantly for the homebuilt community, the bill would also revise the definition of aeronautical activity to include building experimental aircraft. AOPA and EAA have battled with the FAA for years about whether building experimental aircraft should be an approved aeronautical activity that can be performed in hangars located at airports receiving federal funds. The FAA had taken the position that hangars were only allowed to be used to store or maintain complete aircraft in order to maximize hangar availability for flying airplanes.

Sponsor Announcement
AirFleet Capital || Contact Us for a Quote - Click Here or Call (800) 390-4324

The U.S.’s busiest FAA flight examiner was remembered as a generous, humble man whose love of aviation knew no bounds. Services were held last week at Madison County Executive Airport near Huntsville, Alabama, for Clyde Harold Shelton, who died after a brief illness at the age of 86. He stopped flying last Nov. 30, having given a record 10,379 checkrides. He ended his love affair with all things with wings with 38,971 flight hours, 20,000 of them as an instructor. "My father had the privilege of being able to live his dream for 63 years. His dream was to fly, promote aviation and teach," Shelton's son, Scott, told local media.

While Shelton was famous as a pilot, his career with NASA helped launch and sustain the U.S. space program. Shelton worked with Werner Von Braun on all the rockets developed by NASA from the Redstone to the Saturn V. He retired after 38 years in 1993, ending his career in the shuttle program.

Sponsor Announcement
Over 25,000 Happy GAMIjectors® Customers Can't Be Wrong!
GAMIjectors® have given these aircraft owners reduced cylinder head temperatures, reduced fuel consumption, and smoother engine operation. GAMIjectors® alter the fuel/air ratio in each cylinder so that each cylinder operates with a much more uniform fuel/air ratio than occurs with any other factory set of injectors. To speak to a GAMI engineer, call (888) FLY-GAMI, or go online for complete engineering details.

I just got home after delivering a brand-new American Champion Denali Scout from the factory to a dealer in Boise. One of the integral parts of any ferry flight is a careful preflight inspection—both for the pilot’s safety but also to assure that any little thing that is wrong is fixed at the factory before the airplane leaves. It’s cheaper and more efficient to do it in house than for the manufacturer to have to pay for a fix under the warranty. Nevertheless, I often feel as if I’m insulting the people who built the airplane as I do a fussy preflight—they’re rightfully proud of their work and I’m an outsider who may be giving the impression I’m second-guessing it. As I was going through all that had to be done to depart, company co-owner Jerry Mehlhaff, Jr. came up to me and said he wanted to make certain I checked over everything and stayed in the area after takeoff to confirm everything was working in flight. “We’ve checked it over, but a second pair of eyes is always a good thing.” I liked his attitude a lot.

Once aloft, after the in-the-air checks over the factory airport showed that all systems were functioning properly and I’d aimed the backcountry flying machine west, I got to thinking about how we pilots approach the preflight exams of our airplanes.

I’ve been through classes on big twins where the instructors seemed consumed with minutiae and insisting that we dutiful students memorize such things as the ply rating of the nose-gear tire, the weight of the aileron counterweights or number of degrees of aileron deflection—stuff that is not going to go wrong inflight and I generally can’t inspect it on a preflight. I’d learn it long enough to pass the checkride and dump it immediately, keeping in my head the material that was truly relevant to safely operating the airplane and that I could inspect during a preflight. Beyond that, I’ve watched pilots make preflights with the POH in hand, dutifully checking each item called out—and only each item called out. I’ve also watched a lot of pilots walk out to their aircraft and perform a preflight that, at most, consisted of checking the oil—and then go flying.

In my personal memory bank there's a large folder entitled: “How could I have been so stupid as to do that with an airplane?” In it there is a deeply embarrassing preflight incident in which I overlooked what could have been a significant problem. I'd been flying a Cessna 206 every day for about a week and was about to check out another pilot in the airplane. He did the preflight and found a crack that went around half the circumference of an exhaust pipe. I had missed it for the entire week, as I doubt it had suddenly appeared on the last flight. He had done something I normally do, but had been neglecting: He had taken hold of the exhaust pipe and wiggled it.

With the above in mind, is there an answer to the historic question of how much and what information a pilot should have about the aircraft when it comes to a preflight and how to actually perform one successfully? I think there is—and the guidelines below come from pilots with far more experience than I and whom I greatly respect.

In a nutshell, it’s my opinion that a successful preflight is a function of whether the pilot applies a single-minded focus on the airplane itself during the entire process.

Without Distraction

It begins as you open the hangar door or are walking across the apron to where the airplane is tied down. That moment when you first see that flying machine—that amazing creature of flight—is when it should become your entire world. You look at the aircraft. All of it. For the time being, nothing else need exist for you but that aircraft. You think about how it should look and focus on matching that idealized vision with what you are actually seeing. One friend of mine with well north of 20,000 hours in the sky refers to the process of concentrating completely on the airplane during a preflight as a Zen sort of experience; you feel or become the airplane, reaching out to it mentally to be aware of the structure of its existence. Another friend, a retired airline captain, used a different label for the same process of total concentration while preflighting—that of old-fashioned Catholic/ Jewish/ Midwestern guilt and paranoia: You try to look into every little nook and cranny, because you just know something is wrong and you just have to find it because it’s out to get you. I'd like to consider the preflight a combination of the best portions of both of those approaches and try to avoid labels. I just make certain that I concentrate on the airplane to the exclusion of anything else.

So, what do we include on the preflight itself? The POH or the Owner's Manual for the airplane provides guidance but, because it is not a "how to fly" book, it does not presume to tell everything. The private pilot manuals every one of us studied provide even more guidance; as do our primary flight instructors and other pilots we've spoken with over time. I suspect that most pilots have had some scares due to missing something on a preflight, so they have modified theirs accordingly. Each airplane has its special areas that must be examined, such as challenges involved with actually sampling the fuel for some airplanes, or checking the level of the hydraulic fluid in others. Such specialized systems mean that first you have to look at the handbook for the airplane and read what the manufacturer recommends doing on the preflight, learning how to go about finding those fluid reservoirs and little eccentricities. After that, it's a matter of remembering the general things you learned long ago, to check to see that all fuel and oil filler caps are attached, and that no one has swiped a wing, that sort of thing.

No matter what is appropriate to include on the preflight of a particular type of airplane, the operant concept is focus, to point that intellect of yours at the task of insuring your ride is going to get you there and back again. How many accidents have occurred because the pilot got interrupted at exactly the wrong point on the preflight? Is it fate that pilots got distracted right then and missed something that would have been obvious—a missing oil filler cap or that the airplane had just come out of the paint shop and someone hooked up the ailerons backwards? (Yes, that has happened more times than is comfortable to consider, and a huge proportion of pilots who got those airplanes into the air died trying to fly them—and, please, always make sure that an airplane’s first flight out of any maintenance—any—is made solo, day, VFR.) To be fair to yourself and your passengers try to set things up so that you can do a preflight without distractions. Randy Sohn, who spent much of his flying career flying dozens of different types of airplanes with the Commemorative Air Force, had a practice of insisting on several minutes with the airplane he is to fly, without any interruptions. It helped him make sure the airplane was ready to go, and to recall the speeds and systems for the airplane. Then he was mentally ready for the challenges and any ill behavior it might demonstrate. If it was good enough for the guy who successfully flew the CAF's B-29 out of the boneyard in California all the way to south Texas, nonstop, to start its restoration process and is alive and healthy today, then I figure the "fully focused on the airplane from the moment the pilot approaches it" concept is the one I should follow.

The First, Long Look

On that first look at the airplane, take in the big picture. Is anything hanging from it? Is anything dripping or is there any indication that something has been dripping? Are all the antennas sticking out from the appropriate spots? Is the airplane sitting level? If not, why not? How do the wheels look, the landing gear legs/struts? During that first good look, from a distance, you are trying to spot those things that you might overlook up close. For example, if the airplane is not sitting level, both fore and aft and side to side, it may not be able to hold its full rated quantity of fuel. That's especially important if it has wings with little dihedral and fairly large fuel tanks. If it was not fueled while sitting level, there is a chance it is not really full of fuel, which could bite you in a few hours. So check. If the ramp is level and the airplane isn't, find out why. It may just be a shock strut on one main gear that is not fully inflated, but it may also be something serious such as broken structure. Really look at the outside of the airplane. I keep thinking of the two pilots who set off to steal a light twin one night about 20 years ago. They didn't notice that the flight controls had been removed. Yes, they went off the end of the runway at very high speed, firmly on the ground. Yes, they were seriously injured.

Then, look inside for the aircraft documents and to get the flaps extended (if that is your practice), remove the control wheel lock, get the fuel sampler cup and take a general look, and I mean look, at the interior. Is a seat crooked? Is it off the track or is it broken? Has someone stolen a radio?

Once outside, do what you've been taught, and do it in an orderly fashion. If you do get distracted (hey, life isn't perfect), the risk is skipping something in that general area, so I'd suggest going back two or three steps and start over, not from the beginning, just back maybe a quarter of the way around the airplane.

Be prepared to get dirty. I am not convinced it is physically possible to preflight a piston engine airplane without getting dirty unless you wear gloves—a pair is in my flight bag. Getting dirty ties into the preflight where I slipped up: One has to grab hold of things to make sure they are secure. Grab onto those tailpipes and give them a little shake. If there is a crack, move it enough to spot the crack. Tailpipes have been so badly cracked that they have fallen off in flight, leading to fires; the simple act of laying on of hands prior to launch probably would have identified the problem.

Plenty of Fluids

Do you have enough fuel and is it clean? It sounds pretty basic, but look inside the tank. Take samples from all of the drain points, every one. Do you know where all of the fuel quick-drains are located? It means getting under the airplane in most cases to get the fuel sampled. Some fuel tanks have more than one quick drain. That's because folks discovered surface tension sometimes prevents water flowing to the lowest point in the tank, especially if the airplane isn't sitting level. If you get water in a sample, be very suspicious. If it's a small amount from one quick drain and three or four subsequent samplings from that drain are without water (and you know it is fuel, not water), then things are probably OK. However, if the airplane has been parked out in the rain, or if it was just fueled, or if you get water in two or three samples or from more than one quick drain, stop everything until a mechanic has a look at the system. Get some professional help because airplane engines just don't appreciate being fed water. You may have a leaking fuel cap (which seems to be the most common source of water), or the fuel you just took on was contaminated (it happens), so get an A & P involved and assure yourself that all of the water is out of the system. It may require that the system be drained and purged. True, it will delay departure—but a slug of water in the engine at the wrong moment may forever delay your arrival.

Make sure that you got the kind of fuel you want; even with all the designed-in safeguards, jet fuel still gets put in piston pounders. Often it happens because the pilot is distracted when the fuel truck appears and starts to load the airplane. The great Bob Hoover was misfueled a number of times in the days he was doing his airshow in the Aero Commander Shrike. I guess line personnel just figured that to get that kind of performance from an airplane it had to have jet fuel in it. More than once he was standing beside the airplane signing autographs when the misfueling took place. He was besieged by fans, one of those minor distractions that we mortals rarely face, but the point is that distractions are how the mistakes slip past us.

Catch all the fuel you drain and either pour it back into the tanks (if it and the sampler cup are clean) or put it into a dedicated container for fuel samples. It's being done at more and more airports as the potential for contamination of ground water from dumped fuel samples has proven to be greater than was realized in the past.

If you fly an airplane used for training, look down the rows of rivets on the wings and in between the landing gear to make sure they still line up, that the airplane hasn't been overstressed and broken a rib or other structure.

Make sure the fuel and oil caps are in place. If you fly an airplane that does not have the dipstick co-located with the oil filler cap, check the cap. Often you can see it from the cooling air intakes in the front of the cowling. If the oil cap is off, oil is going to come out of the engine amazingly quickly. It may warn you by appearing on the windshield, but on some airplanes it will simply be blown downward out of the bottom of the cowling. You may or may not get an oil temperature increase and drop in oil pressure before the engine seizes, so check before you go.

It Was Here Last Time ...

Are the antennas in place? It's kind of strange to be looking at the airplane and have that nagging feeling that something is wrong, and then realize that an antenna has departed. I owned a Cardinal that developed an appetite for ELT antennas. They made no noise on departure, so I didn't realize it until a subsequent preflight where I went through the "I think there's something missing here" sequence before figuring out that there was an empty space where the ELT antenna used to live.

Look for abrasion or tears on the underside of the horizontal stabilizer and elevator. It's a spot few people check and I'm surprised how many times I've found torn skin from a rock kicked up from the landing gear, especially on airplanes that go into fields that are not always maintained in the peak of condition, which includes paved runways.

Are the landing gear struts properly inflated? A flat strut is not just an inconvenience; it's a no-go item on most airplanes. A flat nose strut on a Cessna 310 means that the nose gear will retract, but then it will jam in the wheel well and you'll get to make a landing on the mains and stare at the pretty runway when the nose drops through during rollout.

Are the static sources open? Touch them. If the airplane has been washed and waxed there is a chance that the static source has been plugged.

Touch things. Move the controls through their full range of travel; feel if the brake lines are secure. That doesn't mean yank on things, but pull gently and see if things are attached well. How are the tires? Any large flat spots? Tread okay? Can you be sure you are going to land softly and smoothly enough for those tires?

How is the prop? Yes, treat it as if it will start when you touch it, but touch it and feel for nicks and its overall condition.

Untie the airplane and get the chocks out of the way. It's embarrassing to start up and realize that one or more tiedown ropes is still attached or that you didn't pull the chocks. We've all done it, and it's a symptom of distraction on the preflight. By the way, powering out over the chocks is not one of the wisest things you might do with an airplane. A twin based at my local airport did that, the chocks flipped up into the nose gear well and, as Murphy's law would have it, did just the right kind of damage to allow the gear to retract but not extend.

A good preflight does not have to take half a day. We use the airplanes because they cut down on travel time, we don't want to waste it doing an endless preflight. The secret is to devote one's full attention to the task so that you're less likely to miss something.

And, paranoid is good, too. There's nothing to motivate a preflight like the knowledge that the airplane has been tampered with and you have to find it. It does wonders for your level of concentration. With that as a thought, why not have your instructor do a little sabotage on the airplane the next time you do your flight review? It might be a valuable learning experience.

Rick Durden holds a CFII and ATP with type ratings in the Douglas DC-3 and Cessna Citation and is the author of The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual or, How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing It, Vols. 1 & 2.

Forward this email to a friend
Tailor your alerts!
Click here to update alerts preferences.
AVweb Insider <="229160">

When I was shooting today’s video in the Airborne Museum at St. Mere Eglise earlier this month, I was impressed that the museum has on display an example of every little thing the paratroopers carried. And I mean everything, including a box of Smith Brothers Cough Drops.

Seeing that unleashed a flood of nostalgia. Those cough drops enjoyed prosecutorial immunity from the nuns’ edict against chewing gum and eating candy in class. I can still taste that tart licorice flavor. Writ small in cardboard, it also reminded me yet again that World War II was geopolitics and strategy, but it was also a contest of industrial production. Either someone in the War Department put cough drops on the infinite list of requirements, or an enterprising Smith Brothers executive insisted that the boys would need them. They probably sent a ship load.

Through the gauzy lens of history, Americans tend to view war production romantically; Rosie the Riveter stepped up and created an industrial miracle. In the aggregate, that’s true; in the granular, it was sometimes messy—really messy. When I was prepping for my glider shoot, I referenced Michael Manion’s thesis Gliders of World War II: The Bastards No One Wanted and Flint Whitlock's If Chaos Reigns: The Near Disaster and Ultimate Triumph of the Allied Airborne Forces on D-Day, June 6th, 1944.

If the titles strike you as baleful, there’s good reason for it, for the entire airborne operation, although carefully planned, devolved into such chaos during its execution that only determination, discipline and training saved it from disaster. But as Whitlock reveals, even two years ahead of the invasion, the effort to build gliders was a comedy of missteps, errors and incompetence that have been largely forgotten in the hagiography of the Arsenal of Democracy. 

The U.S. came late to the airborne and glider idea, so late in fact that by the time the Americans decided they needed gliders, Germany was already phasing both paratroopers and gliders out of its doctrine. It had had several successes with gliders and vertical envelopment, but the German high command—and Hitler—decided that surprise no longer favored airborne units and the casualties didn’t justify the gains. The Germans evolved to the air landed concept that's favored today.

Nonetheless, despite no developed doctrine or specific plans, the U.S. forged ahead building gliders. A lot of gliders. As Whitlock writes, the Army faced an almost insurmountable challenge in finding enough companies to build these machines. Waco fairly quickly devised what became the standard U.S. glider design, the CG4A. Producing it in volume proved another matter.

The major airframe companies—Boeing, Lockheed, Grumman, North American—were up their Cleco bins in war work and had no surplus capacity. Desperate to get the CG4A built, the Army eventually enlisted 16 companies to build the airplane. Although it eventually got its gliders, it also revealed a truth that, despite the application of experience and digital technology, remains a truth today: Serial production of anything defies easy solutions, but it always seems far more difficult when airplanes are involved.

According to Whitlock, having designed the airplane, Waco should have been in a good position to build it. It was an experienced airplane company, but Waco, like so many companies, couldn’t ramp up fast enough and was continually bogged down by design change requests from the government and technical envoys from the other companies trying to figure out the CG4A. Of 13,903 CG4As built, Waco produced about 1000. Not surprisingly, Ford built the most—4190—at a unit cost of about $15,000.

Well, that made sense. They were car guys and who knows mass production better than car guys? Ford had its share of airplane experience, too, with the Tri-Motor and a couple of minor models. Ford made gliders at its Kingsford, Michigan, plant which, before the war, built woodie station wagons. They obviously had the skill base. Other aircraft companies pitched in, including Cessna (750), General Aircraft Corp. (1112) and even the Gibson Refrigerator Co., which churned out 1078.

In the 1940s, the aircraft industry was still composed of many small manufacturing companies most of us have never heard of. And here, the government ran into trouble or, more accurately, the companies themselves did. The poster child for mismanagement and incompetence was the National Aircraft Company of Elwood, Indiana. Despite the name, had no experience at all building airplanes. In awarding a CG4A contract to National, the Army Materiel Command hoped they would figure it out.

They didn’t. Whitlock writes that the Army’s experience with National was more like a Marx Brothers comedy than an aircraft contract. With an order for 90 aircraft, National appeared to be building in a barn and suffered from lack of skill and poor management. Its shop was too small to accommodate the CG4A wingspan, so it knocked out the walls and put up lean to’s. A revolt by workers stopped production, such as it was. By the time a frustrated Army contract officer cancelled the contract, National had produced one glider at a unit cost of $1.74 million in 1943 dollars. That’s about $25 million in today’s dollars, vividly illustrating that cost overruns and shoddy quality are nothing new in airplane building.

A St. Louis company called Robertson Aircraft Corp. paid for its incompetence in blood. Although the company actually had engaged in aircraft services and training before the war, like National, it was hampered by mismanagement. That didn’t stop a government desperate for gliders from awarding it an order for 170 CG4As. On a hot August day in 1943, one of Robertson’s gliders was being demonstrated as part of a bond drive when it broke up over Lambert Field. Aboard were the mayor, several city officials and the company president. All were killed when a wing departed the airframe. Left unknown is whether any of the occupants were aware of the Army’s concerns about quality control at Robertson. The cause was later revealed to be a mis-machined strut fitting that hadn’t been properly inspected because no one knew it needed to be.

Although the better of the 16 companies involved in glider production eventually delivered, the Army found delays and quality issues throughout the program. Unit cost varied widely, with Ford the only company hitting the target numbers. A Florida company, Babcock Aircraft, built 60 gliders at a unit cost of $51,000, according to Whitlock. North American was building Mustangs for only a little more, at $58,000. Such was the headlong rush into material production for the coming invasion of Europe that the government had little choice but to continue with most of the companies it had engaged.

Ironically, the gliders came very close to not being used at all, at least in Normandy. As late as May of 1944, Eisenhower’s air officer, Air Chief Marshal Trayford Leigh-Mallory, argued with Gen. Omar Bradley about the need for an airborne operation at all. Leigh-Mallory believed the two American divisions stood a good chance of being wiped out. Neither man knew that the Germans had already come to the same conclusion in their own use of airborne forces. Bradley believed the landings on Utah Beach wouldn't be successful without an airborne component. Eisenhower overruled Leigh-Mallory, assuring the storied history of both divisions.

Further irony: American planners vastly overestimated the number of gliders that would be needed, much less used. Adding up all the glider operations in Europe, I can’t come up with a total that reaches even 6000 CG4As used in combat. That means less than half were used. The rest were sold for scrap for as little as $50. The crates the gliders were shipped in—five in all—had 10,000 board feet of select lumber. That was much in demand for the post-war housing boom. A few of the gliders were converted to campers, but the vast majority, like so much of the staggering volume of material produced during the war, were simply scrapped.

I wonder if all those cough drops suffered a similar fate.

Electronics International 'Aviation Alert! Short video on how EI saved this pilot's life

This week marks the 73rd anniversary of D-Day landings at Normandy. Paul Bertorelli visited St. Mere Eglise and shot this fascinating history of one of the most unusual airplanes in aviation history: the combat glider.

JP International 'Checklist for JPI
Picture of the Week <="229158">
Picture of the Week

We have a soft spot for DC-3s and this beautiful example was the subject of an AVweb video a few years ago. It hasn't been restored. It's a corporate aircraft that's always been maintained in pristine condition. It attended the Gathering of DC-3s at Flabob Airport and David Dickins got a nice shot.


Last month, on a calm day, we were number two for takeoff on 27R in ATL. Delta was holding short number one. 

Delta: Delta 123 requests wind check.

Tower: No answer

Delta: Delta 123 requests wind check.

Tower: No answer.

After a few seconds Delta cleared line up and wait. 

Delta: Delta 123 wants a wind check 

Tower (slowly with emphasis): Delta 123 wind is 250 at 2 gusting to 3!

'IFR' Is the Only Magazine for Pilots Who Understand the Realities of Instrument Flying || Subscribe and Take Advantage of Our Special Offer

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something the flying world might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via e-mail here. (Or send them direct to Newstips at


AVweb is the world's premier independent aviation news resource, online since 1995. Our reporting, features, and newsletters are brought to you by:

Tom Bliss

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Geoff Rapoport

Rick Durden
Kevin Lane-Cummings
Paul Berge
Larry Anglisano

Ad Coordinator
Karen Lund

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.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? Your advertising can reach over 225,000 loyal AVwebFlash, AVwebBiz, and AVweb web site 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: