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Volume 25, Number 15c
April 11, 2018
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Sun ‘n Fun Announces Thunderbird Replacements
Kate O'Connor

Sun ‘n Fun President John “Lites” Leenhouts announced on Monday that the Air Force has sent the Air Combat Command F-16 Viper Demonstration Team to fill the vacant performance spot left when the Thunderbirds cancelled their scheduled performance last Thursday. The cancellation was due to the loss of Thunderbird pilot Maj. Stephen Del Bagno in a training accident last week. It hasn’t yet been announced when the Thunderbirds will return to the airshow circuit.

According to Leenhouts, Air Force Command has been working hard with Sun ‘N Fun to fill the unexpected vacancy. In addition to the F-16s, the Air Force is attempting to bring in an F-22 and F-35. The planes are currently stuck in Santiago, Chile, due to weather. The F-16 team is already on site at Sun ‘n Fun.

The Viper Demo Team is stationed at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina. The team, whose stated mission is to inspire the future generation of pilots and maintainers, emphasizes precision aerial maneuvers. They will be performing Thursday through Sunday, April 12-15, as part of Sun ‘n Fun’s regularly scheduled airshows.

Sun ‘n Fun Airshow Gets Live Streaming
Paul Bertorelli

Jumbotrons at airshows have become commonplace but this year at Sun ‘n Fun, the airshow has both the giant screens and live streaming for those who can’t make it to the actual event. In partnership with Sun ‘n Fun, a company called LiveAirshowTV is feeding both pre-show programs and the show itself to online audiences the world over.

“Following on with the format on sports pre-game shows—it’s a widely popular format—we’re taking that concept to Sun ‘n Fun and bringing that here for the first time in a live environment,” says Sun ‘n Fun airshow director Greg Gibson. AVweb spoke with him and LiveAirshowTV’s Bryan Lee in this exclusive podcast.

The format will be deployed for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday airshows and will consist of pre-show programs on a live stage in front of the local audience and that will be streamed to the Sun ‘n Fun site as well as LiveAirshowTV’s site. The company also plans a live Facebook feed.

Lee said the live airshow used to be the main draw for online audiences, and still is, but “now we have this addition so they’re almost equally as important for information.” In addition to online streaming, Lee says some local and national affiliates have expressed interest in carrying the content.

“The audience wants to experience things at a greater depth rather than watch it just happen,” Gibson said. “They can actually be part of it and interact personally with people delivering that content.”

Piper Adds AoA Option For New Aircraft
Paul Bertorelli

Piper announced this week that its M600 turboprop and piston twins will soon be available with angle-of-attack systems from Safe Flight. The systems will be offered as options by the third quarter of 2018, Piper CEO Simon Caldecott said in a press conference at Sun ‘n Fun. The Safe Flight system, which is STC’d for several other aircraft, has a display indexer mounted on the glareshield that’s designed to be visible in all phases of flight.

The systems will be available on the Archer, Arrow and Seminole twin in early 2019, Caldecott said. The M600 will feed AoA data into the Safe Flight system through the aircraft’s existing lift transducer, while the piston airplanes will get a supplemental lift transducer installed on the wing leading edge. Once approved, the AoA system will also be available as an aftermarket option for airplanes already in the field. New York-based Safe Flight Instrument Corporation developed the system several years ago and has been marketing it as an aftermarket accessory.

Boeing, ERAU Partner To Support Tech Startups
Mary Grady

Boeing’s HorizonX division, which supports new business ventures, is now a partner at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Research Park, ERAU has announced. HorizonX will join the John Mica Engineering and Aerospace Innovation Complex, located next to the Daytona Beach campus, which aims to help new businesses bring new enterprises to market. “We are proud to partner with Embry-Riddle to support research-park entrepreneurs and foster their technological innovations that will help transform how we approach the future of transportation, aviation and aerospace,” said Steve Nordlund, a vice president at HorizonX. “This specialized focus and its new innovation complex is the perfect combination to help startups strengthen and scale their ideas as part of the aerospace ecosystem.”

This kind of academic-industry partnership was part of the vision for the research park, said P. Barry Butler, president of ERAU. “Boeing HorizonX will enable Embry-Riddle to support exciting opportunities for next-generation innovators launching startups and enrich the technology and business environment we provide for our faculty and students,” Butler said. HorizonX joins three existing industry partners at the MicaPlex – Wellspring, a software company; International Speedway Corporation, which promotes motorsports entertainment; and healthcare industry provider DuvaSawko EM Billing & Management Solutions.

Bose Builds A New Headset
Paul Bertorelli

For as fun as airplanes are to fly, it’s even more interesting—at least to me—to contemplate how they’re built. And I don’t mean how a rib is riveted to a wing, but how the builders of these things organize the production of airplanes into an orderly flow. In other words, the economics of serial production.

The thought required to produce many of any kind of thing applies as equally to the accessories as it does the airplane itself. People who do serial production for a living will tell you that developing the product in the first place is one thing; building a bunch of what you’ve designed so it will work as intended, won’t break, has no hidden flaws and won’t bankrupt the company with unsustainable production costs is something else entirely. While the designers kick back and admire their creations, it’s the production engineers who sweat the details to bring genius to the store shelves.

And so it is with Bose’s new ProFlight headset, which is covered in today’s Sun ' Fun 2018 news video. Ahead of the product launch today, Bose pulled back the curtain and gave us a daylong tour of its homeport facility in Framingham, Massachusetts. You surely know that Bose is primarily a consumer audio company and has produced high-end audio equipment of all kinds since the early 1960s. At $4 billion a year, it’s a big business that, surprising to me, is bigger than Garmin by about a billion bucks. That’s a lot of Wave radios.

When we were touring the labs, it occurred to me that Amar Bose, an MIT grad who founded the company in 1964, was interested in all kinds of things that related not so much to audio, but to the cyclical nature of the sort of vibration that defines the science of acoustics. One of the things he invested the company’s intellectual capital in was an electronic automotive shock absorber—really a kind of active vibration cancellation for cars. Like much of what companies such as Bose pursue in the name of pure research, the device never made it to market. But it foretold the electronic shock absorber I have on my motorcycle today and which is common on cars that have adjustable suspension settings. But the technology was morphed into a product that did find a market: Bose Ride is an adaption of vibration cancelling for truck seats that reduces the wear and tear on drivers who must occupy them for thousands of miles a year.

Obviously, products like these require extensive testing before they ever make it to market. For its consumer products and its aviation headsets, Bose subjects them to all kinds of torturous testing to include squirting them with EMI, temperature and pressure variations, UV exposure, drop and vibration testing—in short, all the stuff customers would likely encounter in the everyday use of any product. Bose even has a rig to test the product packaging because industrial history is replete with examples of products bashed to bits because of a poorly designed box or pulled from the shelves because the box collapsed when stacked. The idea is to never have a “I-didn’t-think-of-that” moment.

As for the headset itself, it’s typical Bose, with obvious evidence of careful attention to mechanical design, especially the earbuds, which are quite comfortable. Although you can’t hear it in the video, I paired the ProFlight with my iPhone and the music performance is exceptional. I’d almost buy one just for that. In the meantime, we’ll be getting a test sample and we’ll report on that later. If you have a turbine you’d like to give me a ride in, I’m available.

First Supersonic, Powered Flight For Virgin’s Unity
Mary Grady

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, has completed its first supersonic, rocket-powered flight, the company announced last week. The aircraft was carried to a launch altitude of about 46,500 feet above the Sierra Nevada mountains by the WhiteKnightTwo aircraft, then released. After a few seconds of glide, Unity’s rocket motor was engaged, and the pilots placed the spaceship into an 80-degree climb, accelerating to Mach 1.87 during the 30 seconds of rocket burn. On rocket shutdown, the ship continued an upwards coast to an apogee of 84,271 feet. The pilots then raised the vehicle’s tail booms to a 60-degree angle to the fuselage, into the “feathered” configuration. At around 50,000 feet, the tail booms were lowered again and Unity glided home to a smooth runway landing at Mojave.

The test flight expanded the envelope for the program as a whole, the company said, in terms of rocket-burn duration, speed and altitude. Unity is powered by a hybrid (nitrous oxide / HTPB compound) rocket motor. The aircraft was designed, built and tested by The Spaceship Company at Mojave. The feathered tail feature, which the company says is key to a reliable and repeatable re-entry capability for a winged vehicle, incorporates additional safety mechanisms adopted after the 2014 VSS Enterprise test-flight accident. The ship is designed to carry tourists to the edge of space, and then glide back to the surface for a runway landing.

New Group Teaches Kids To Fly In Cubs
Paul Bertorelli

What better way to learn how to fly than in a taildragger Cub? That's the idea behind a new organization called Kids Fly Cubs, which is working to set up learn-to-fly promotions using Legend Cub serial number 1 loaned by American Legend, the Texas-based company that has been manufacturing updated Cubs for more than a decade. 

The organization's director, Daryl Hickman, told AVweb at Sun 'n Fun this week that will use Legend's first production airplane as a test bed for the new program, which they hope to eventually roll out nationally. Hickman, in this podcast recorded at Lakeland, said many schools actually have modest aviation programs and although many of the kids enrolled in these courses have an interest in aviation, just as many have actually never flown in a light airplane. He says KidsFlyCubs will give them an opportunity to fly for the first time with a loggable flight lesson. You can find out more at the group's website

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General Aviation Accident Bulletin

AVweb’s General Aviation Accident Bulletin is taken from the pages of our sister publication, Aviation Safety magazine, and is published twice a month. All the reports listed here are preliminary and include only initial factual findings about crashes. You can learn more about the final probable cause in the NTSB’s website at Final reports appear about a year after the accident, although some take longer. Find out more about Aviation Safety at

January 1, 2018, Lynchburg, Va.

Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam P2006

At about 1725 Eastern time, the airplane sustained substantial damage following a landing gear separation during landing. The flight instructor in the right seat and the pilot receiving instruction in the left seat sustained no injuries. Visual conditions were present.

As the flight turned onto final approach, and with the flaps fully extended, the aircrew verified verbally that all landing gears were down and locked. The pilot maintained about a 500-fpm descent on final and verified verbally with the flight instructor that the airspeed was 70 KIAS. The pilot flared and executed a normal landing. Immediately after touchdown, the left main landing gear assembly separated at the axle. Subsequently, the airplane skidded for about 100 feet, departed the runway to the left and came to rest on the grass. The pilot performed a shutdown and the two occupants egressed without further incident.

The flight instructor reported there were no wind gusts during the approach and landing, and there was no side loading at touchdown. The flight instructor further reported that in his experience, he did not feel the landing would have caused any damage.

January 1, 2018, Nampa, Idaho

Cessna 150

The pilot later reported becoming disoriented on a dark night. He circled over a nearby town for about an hour, but was unable to find any visual references to aid in navigation. The pilot then called a family member on the ground, who provided guidance to the destination airport via a cellphone app. He spotted what appeared to be the destination airport and maneuvered for an approach but realized in the landing flare he was not at the airport. Instead, the pilot landed on a road about six miles from his intended destination. During the landing, the airplane struck trees, landed on a road, veered left and impacted a light pole.

January 2, 2018, Aurora, Ore.

Cessna T210L Turbo Centurion

At about 0920 local time, the airplane was substantially damaged when its right main landing gear collapsed during landing. The solo private pilot was not injured; visual conditions prevailed.

After failing to obtain indications that the landing gear was down and locked, the pilot flew a low approach, after which tower personnel reported that the landing gear appeared to be down. During the landing, the right main landing gear collapsed, followed by the airplane veering off the right side of the runway. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the right elevator and right horizontal stabilizer.

January 3, 2018, Gulf of Mexico

Cirrus Design SR22T

At about 1800 Central time, the airplane was missing over the Gulf of Mexico and presumed sunk. Visual conditions prevailed. The flight departed Oklahoma City, Okla., at about 1419 with Georgetown, Texas, as its destination.

As the airplane approached the destination airport, ATC cleared it to turn right and descend to 13,000 feet msl. Instead, the airplane turned left. Controllers made multiple attempts to communicate with the pilot, but without success. Radar tracked the aircraft to its last known position about 220 miles north of Cancun, Mexico.

January 11, 2018, Elko, Nev.

Piper PA-23-250 Aztec

At about 1800 Pacific time, the airplane collided with mountainous terrain. The solo commercial pilot was fatally injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

While en route, the pilot reported encountering clouds and asked for the nearest airport, saying, “Alright, I’m getting super turbulent over here I’m going to head over there.” Shortly after, communication and radar contact were lost. Search and rescue efforts ensued, and aerial photography was used to identify the crash site January 19, 2018, on the east face of mountain peak, near its summit. Onsite examination by ground personnel identified the wreckage as the accident airplane.

January 13, 2018, Longmont, Colo.

Beech K35 Bonanza

The airplane experienced a loss of engine power shortly after takeoff. The pilot sustained serious injuries, the passenger sustained minor injuries and the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

A witness heard “a popping noise” coming from the accident airplane during takeoff. A few seconds later, he heard the engine “shut off” with the airplane in a nose-up attitude. The airplane rolled to the right and then descended in a “steep dive” toward the ground. When the witness arrived at the accident site, he observed smoke and smelled fuel near the airplane. He stated the ground near the airplane was wet and fuel was leaking from the wing where it had separated from the fuselage. The pilot later told the owner that after the second consecutive touch-and-go, the engine lost power so the pilot pushed the nose down and made a forced landing in a field off the end of the runway. The pilot added that the landing gear had already been retracted and there was no remaining runway available to land.

January 17, 2018, Raton, N.M.

Bell UH-1H Helicopter

At about 1800 Mountain time, the helicopter impacted terrain; a ground fire and explosion subsequently occurred. The commercial pilot, pilot-rated passenger and three other passengers were fatally injured. One passenger sustained serious injuries. The helicopter was destroyed. Night visual conditions prevailed.

The surviving passenger indicated the helicopter was in level flight and recalled a big bang as the helicopter hit the ground. The helicopter rolled forward, coming to a stop upside down with the passenger hanging from a seat belt and jet fuel pouring on her. The passenger released her seat belt and evacuated the helicopter. The helicopter was on fire and subsequent explosions followed. The passenger called 911 and waited for emergency responders.

Weather at the departure point 10.7 nm from the accident site included wind from 030 degrees at 10 knots, visibility of 10 sm and clear skies. The fuselage came to rest on a flat mesa at the top of rising terrain. The elevation in the area of the main wreckage was about 6932 feet msl. The initial observed point of terrain contact was a parallel pair of ground scars, consistent with the width of the helicopter’s landing skids, which led directly to the main wreckage on a 074-degree bearing. The distance from the start of the parallel ground scars to the wreckage was about 474 feet.

January 17, 2018, Skyforest, Calif.

Mooney M20E Super 21/Chaparral

The airplane collided with rising terrain at about 1130 Pacific time. The private pilot and one passenger sustained minor injuries; two other passengers were not injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot reported departing with 20 gallons of fuel aboard. About five minutes into the flight, the airplane approached terrain that rose from about 1800 feet msl to 5700 feet over about 5.5 miles. The airplane was about 1000 feet agl as it neared the top of the ridgeline. The pilot stated he encountered a downdraft and the airplane aerodynamically stalled. Seconds later, the airplane impacted terrain.

This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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