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The CEO of Naples Jet Center at Naples Airport in Florida told AVweb he and everyone else involved in the cleanup after Hurricane Irma are writing a new playbook. “None of us have ever been through anything like this before,” Matt Hagans told AVweb after meeting with airport and FAA officials at the airport on Tuesday. He said it could be 10 days before power is restored at one of Florida’s busiest business airports and in the meantime, the whole community is dealing with devastation it likely never envisioned. “The level of damage to infrastructure is incredible,” he said. “There are millions of trees down.” Hagans, whose official title is CEO of Eagle Creek Aviation Services, the company that owns the FBO, said his business was damaged but will recover.

Hangar doors at the FBO were damaged or ripped off in winds that hit 142 MPH as the eye of Irma passed directly over the popular resort town on the west coast of southern Florida. All the aircraft had been evacuated and there was no staff on site when the hurricane hit and Hagans said he’s grateful there were no injuries. “We are obviously disappointed that our hangar was damaged, but we are fully aware that the damage could have been much, much worse – and we’re particularly grateful that our employees heeded the warnings and evacuated the area before the storm hit,” he said. The runways at the airport were cleared to allow National Guard operations but the airport has been NOTAM'd closed.

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The president of the largest benefit flying organization in the U.S. says help is welcome from private aircraft owners in the enormous relief efforts in Texas and Florida but it needs guidance and direction. Rol Murrow, who leads the Air Care Alliance, said ad hoc volunteer pilots often get in the way, sometimes cause extra work and can also create safety issues in their zeal to pitch in. “What we always recommend is that volunteer pilots work through established organizations,” Murrow told AVweb in a podcast interview. There are more than 70 organizations that muster the tremendous potential of private aviation for good and some will take qualified newcomers in times of crisis.

Those who would love to help but don’t know how are best to stay away for now but consider joining one of the organizations and getting the training and direction to actually make a difference when crises arise. Murrow said there is nothing more gratifying than delivering vitally needed supplies to those who really need them and materially improving their situation. On the other hand, well-meaning but misguided people can create serious issues. The FAA was recently poised to shut down volunteer pilot operations in one crisis area because so many uninvited helpers showed up it created safety concerns at that airport. Volunteer organizations intervened and talked them out of it, Murrow said. In an earlier example, emergency workers had to figure out what to do with hundreds of stuffed animals that “were not needed.”

Murrow also had a word of caution for dealing with well-meaning organizations who offer gas money or other compensation for volunteer pilots. The regs are really clear and the FAA isn't shy about enforcing them and many pilots have faced sanctions for violations of those regs even in times of crisis, he said. It's another good reason for channeling goodwill through organizations who specialize in it.

Doug Jackson didn’t set out to found the largest private disaster airlift operation in history, but Operation Airdrop took on a life of its own. Jackson, who owns a vehicle trailer dealership, was using some of his trailers to drive relief supplies to the Gulf Coast when he got the idea to work with a fellow pilot and friend to coordinate relief flights by general aviation pilots. Twelve days ago, Jackson was organizing missions on his cellphone with a notepad between flights, when the Operation Airdrop command center spontaneously self-organized.

The Operation Airdrop command center collects data from pilots on payload capability, relief organizations on supplies needed, and donation depots on supplies available. Missions are planned in the afternoon, so pilots arrive at the airport the next morning to find their cargo waiting on a pallet, appropriated weighted for their aircraft capacity, and a recipient expecting those particular supplies at the destination. In the command center, “we have an air traffic controller who works the Tower at Love Field, we have a former C-130 driver, we have a loadmaster, we have flight instructors and we have IT specialists,” says Jackson. Most amazingly, Jackson told AVweb, they just showed up wanting to help: “There wasn’t really anybody in charge. Everybody knew their job, no one fought, they just did their job when it needed to be done. That’s the part that’ll stick with me for the rest of my life.”

In total, Operation Airdrop organized over 500 sorties moving more than a quarter million pounds of supplies by air. More than 200 pilots and aircraft, based as far away as Arizona and Iowa, flew Operation Airdrop missions with a 100% completion rate. Operation Airdrop has ceased flights into Texas, but Jackson isn’t back to his day job. Jackson is working with the operator of a King Air fleet to move Salvation Army personnel from Texas to South Florida where they’re now more urgently needed. Jackson hopes people will remember the role played by general aviation in disaster relief on the Gulf Coast this summer. “In our five hundred plus flights, we didn’t get a single noise complaint.”

When the FAA set aside ten million dollars to help general aviation pilots comply with the ADS-B Out 2020 mandate, few predicted that pilots would leave more than half that money on the table, but on Sept. 18 it’ll be official. Starting on Sept. 19 of last year, the FAA offered aircraft owners $500 to equip their airplanes with the ADS-B Out equipment required to permit those airplanes to fly in what is now Mode C airspace after Jan. 1, 2020. Owners were given one year to sign up, and that year is now coming to a close. The FAA hasn’t released exact figures on the number of owners participating so far, but of the 20,000 rebates available, only 5,000 reservations had been made by early April. At that time, the FAA projected that only around 7,000 aircraft in total would take advantage of the program.

Any aircraft owners kicking themselves for missing the window should know there’s still time. Geoff Hill, director of communications for the Aircraft Electronics Association, told AVweb, “The last day to make a reservation is Sept. 18, but owners still have 150 days to complete the installation, pass the validation flight, and claim the rebate provided they complete the reservation step by the Sept. 18 deadline.” To make a reservation, owners need to provide a valid tail number, the make and model of ADS-B equipment expected to be installed and a scheduled installation date.

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Landing in the trees is hardly ever a first choice, but it worked out for one pilot on Monday morning. Around 11:30 a.m. local time, a pilot flying a rental Cessna 172 from Robertson Airport crashed into a tree in the parking lot of an industrial equipment company adjacent to the airport. Security camera footage of the Carling Technologies parking lot shows the 1981 Skyhawk appearing to enter a spin, when it collides with a tree. As the top of the tree snaps, the aircraft is spun around and strikes the ground mostly upright.

The pilot, 79-year old Manfred Forst, was reportedly taken to the hospital, but released after evaluation with no significant injuries. "I was very fortunate I got out of it without any real injuries," Forst told his local NBC affiliate. "I'm just so thankful." Initial reports suggest a small fuel leak, possibly from a fuel sump, may have led to a loss of engine power.

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Fostering a good pilot/examiner relationship is essential to overcoming test-day jitters, and knowing a little about aerodynamics, FARs and weather forecasts will help you ace any checkride and this quiz.

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Has it gotten to the point that that ultimate gesture of privacy—crashing an airplane into a tree—is now suddenly a thing of the past? Evidently, judging by this video of a tree landing near Robertson Field in Connecticut this week. It’s possible to draw some useful things from this viral clip.

The overarching one is don’t do anything—I mean anything—unless you’re comfortable seeing it on YouTube because there’s fairly high probability it will appear there for all the world to see. Second, does this clip answer the question of the survivability of putting one into the trees? Not entirely, no, but it does offer a useful datapoint. Is also shows that under a specific set of circumstances, a nearly 40-year-old Skyhawk has impressive crashworthiness, even as it wallows through what appears to be a textbook stall-mush. Indeed, the airplane may have been about to enter a spin just as it intercepted the tree. Look at the video closely and see what you make of that left wing drop right near the end.

Tree landings, it turns out, are often survivable and this video shows why. A few years ago, I tried to develop some data to see how often they are survivable and how they compare to the survivability of water landings. The exercise was indeterminate because the NTSB files didn’t provide enough detail to judge what was an intentional tree landing and what was just a crash into trees.

Nonetheless, if you’ve ever flown over a carpet of green and contemplated what you’d do if the engine quit, putting it into the forest crown is an option. This video shows that if the airspeed at impact is slow enough, the cabin and aircraft will remain intact enough to increase if not guarantee survivability. Survival or survival with injuries can turn on small things, like whether a shoulder harness is used and is snugged down securely and how much unsecured junk you’ve got in the back of the airplane. Think about a tow bar coming adrift and denting your noggin. Or some tiedown stakes. Or all the other paraphernalia you have in the airplane. (I once carried a 24-inch monitor and a printer.)

Fire is always a worry. When I was a young pilot, the operative advice if you knew you were going into trees was to slow the airplane down as much as possible while still maintaining control—good advice—and then aim between the trees so the wings would be ripped off, absorbing the energy. Yeah, but … that’ll likely open up the wings so if you survive the impact, you die in the fire. Nothing about this crashing business is ever simple. But if you walk away—or are least carried away alive—you’ve illustrated the definition of victory. The pilot of the 172, Manfred Forst, had minor injuries, so he wins this week’s lottery.

The Morane Saulnier Type L was an early wing-warping parasol design used in World War I both as a fighter and a trainer. At AirVenture in 2017, Daher—builder of the TBM—showed off a unique reproduction of the Type L. AVweb shot this video tour of the airplane.

Fly SAM STC Approved

The impulse is to help and pilots have the tools to do a tremendous amount of good in crisis situations but they can also do a lot of harm. Air Care Alliance President Rol Murrow spoke with AVweb about how to really use your skills and equipment to help out.

Picture of the Week
Picture of the Week

Ah, what summer flying is all about. A Cub on floats is about as grassroots as it gets and Daniel Hanson captured the mood perfectly. Thanks, Daniel.

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

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