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Volume 25, Number 15d
April 12, 2018
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Sun ‘n Fun Hosts Flight to Honor for Area Vets
Tim Cole

Sun ‘n Fun welcomed more than100 returning World War II, Korea and Vietnam war veterans back to the warbird area last night after a whirlwind day of visiting war memorials in Washington, D.C. The Flight to Honor continues a tradition of chartering day flights to the nation’s capital so aging veterans can see the monuments erected to commemorate their service.

Last night’s arrival festivities had a certain twist: All of the veterans who flew up and back on a chartered American Airlines A320 were from Polk County, Florida, which hosts Sun n’ Fun annually. The day trip cost $75,000, raised entirely from local donations.

Gary Clark, chairman of the Polk County Veterans’ Council, cited three objectives of yesterday’s Flight to Honor mission:

“Number one, we want these veterans to see the memorials that were constructed in their honor.  Two, the event gives the community a chance to show our appreciation. Last and most important, we want to impress upon young people the importance of service above self.”

Priority for the Flight to Honor was given to those with medical conditions, then World War II veterans, followed by the younger generation of Korean and Vietnam war veterans

AVweb will have a video of the Flight of Honor later today.

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Jeppesen and Bad Elf Collaborate on Avionics Updates
Kate O'Connor

Jeppesen and aviation hardware and software solution provider Bad Elf recently announced a system that makes updating avionics possible from inside the cockpit. Using the Jeppesen Distribution Manager (JDM) Mobile app paired with Bad Elf’s Wombat accessory, Jeppesen subscribers can wirelessly download updates to their iPhone or iPad, insert the avionics data card into the Wombat and transfer the update. See a full video of how the Wombat works here.

The Wombat comes in two models: the piston edition, which is meant for GA piston and turboprop aircraft, and the turbine edition. The piston edition is currently compatible with Garmin and Avidyne avionics, including legacy systems. The turbine edition supports the same products as the piston version with the addition of Honeywell and Rockwell Collins avionics. Plans are underway to add additional systems from other manufacturers.

Cost for the piston edition Wombat is $249.99—a Jeppesen subscription is necessary, but there are no annual fees beyond that. The turbine version runs $499.99 with a $100 annual service fee after the first year. The Wombat can also be used to copy some kinds of flight data logs from avionics that support SD or USB media and recharge mobile devices.

The Enduring Misfire Of Gyrocopters
Paul Bertorelli

Anyone who attends Aero in Friedrichshafen for the first time would quite naturally believe Europe is awash in gyrocopters. The expo floor is just cheek-by-rotor jammed with them and somebody must be buying them or there wouldn’t be so many companies selling them.

And that’s also why most of the gyrocopters you see at the U.S. shows are also of European origin, including the Rotovox C2A described in this video. Whether U.S. buyers would develop a taste for gyros is, at the moment, an academic question because the approvals to sell them as modern certified aircraft or even light sport aircraft don’t exist in the U.S. It wouldn’t necessarily be obvious that the C2A is being imported into the U.S. not as a completed aircraft but as an experimental amateur built with a fast build program. It’s priced at around $165,000-ish.

As dollars-to-capability goes, that much money doesn’t compare favorably to a well-equipped EAB  or a light sport airplane, say the Flight Design CTLS or some of the other imports from Eastern Europe. While it’s an apples-to-lug-wrenches comparison, the airplanes just fly faster and farther than any of the gyros. Gyroplanes are pure fun flyers that have their own niche, but it’s not a broad one, at least in the U.S.

But who am I to judge what people want? Still, before the want can be satisfied, the FAA has to get out of the way and provide an approved definition so gyroplanes can be certified under the light sport rule. Just to make things confusing as hell, you can fly them under the sport pilot rule because they meet the weight limit, but you can’t buy the equivalent of a S-LSA that’s a gyroplane. I’m told that a proposal to change this is percolating through the ASTM committees, but no one seems to know when that will emerge or if it ever will.  

And here, I’ma flip into autorant repeating my screech about the LSA weight limit. I was out at Vashon Aircraft in Seattle last week flying the Ranger. Nice airplane, brilliant production plan and maybe timed right to become the next Cessna 150. Maybe. But because it’s an LSA with an increasingly arbitrary 1320-pound weight limit, it’s artificially limited in adding more structure, a different engine or maybe even a ballistic parachute.

People want that kind of stuff, so here’s yet another example of the bureaucratic inertia of ASTM rules and FAA agreements both stunting the market and working against safety. Again, the raising or eliminating the weight limit is on the table, but it’s unclear if it’s going anywhere.

Sun 'n Fun Dries Out
AVweb Staff

With a day of rain gone, the weather cleared in Lakeland Wednesday and the mud dried, but show organizers said first-day attendance still took a hit. Sun 'n Fun president John "Lites" Leenhouts joked that hotels in northern Florida were calling to say thanks, as many pilots were stopped cold by an intense line of weather Tuesday. "There's no question we took a hit," Leenhouts said Wednesday, but because advance sales were up, "we're on par with where we were in 2017."

Leenhouts said Wednesday's storm was the worst the event has seen since the tornadoes of 2011 and vendors we spoke to reported slow foot traffic in the commercial hangars. Abundant sunshine evidently made up for any losses on Wednesday. "They're coming, it was just a bad day," Leenhouts said. Mike Wolf, CEO of Sporty's Pilot Shop, told AVweb that sales on Wednesday alone put total commercial activity above last year's peak. "And we had a very good year last year," he said.

Leenhouts said one big draw is the ongoing career fair being held at Sun 'n Fun. Representatives of major airlines and aerospace companies are conducting interviews and with airlines struggling to fill cockpits, and some are making job offers on the spot. AVweb continues daily coverage of Sun 'n Fun through the weekend.

WingBug: Portable Wireless ADAHRS
Tim Cole
At Sun 'n Fun 2018, a company called Straight and Level is showing off the WingBug, a portable, battery-operated wireless ADAHRS that plays on a tablet in the cockpit. In this AVweb video, Tim Cole reports on how the gadget works.


Pipistrel Lands Biggest U.S. Order
Mary Grady

Pipistrel has sold 15 Alpha trainer aircraft to a flight school in California, the company’s largest-ever U.S. order. The flight school, WorldWide Wings, operates facilities in California and Florida that train pilots from all over the world, especially India. WWW director Naushad Imam said his flight school had been looking for a “suitable LSA ab-initio trainer” for quite a while. They leased a few airplanes from various manufacturers and tried them out in the training environment. “This provided a very good understanding of their suitability,” said Imam. “Finding the right airplane which provided the flexibility of conducting all training seamlessly from end-to-end on a standardized platform was the key.” All of the Alpha trainers will be IFR equipped.

The Alpha trainer was introduced in 2012. It’s powered by the Rotax 912 engine and can fly up to 324 NM at a cruising speed of 108 knots. More than 300 are flying in 35 countries, including almost 50 in the U.S., Pipistrel says. Deliveries to WorldWide Wings from Pipistrel’s Italian production facility will begin later this month, with commissioning in San Bernardino scheduled for the first week of June, the company said. AVweb’s editorial director, Paul Bertorelli, went flying in an electric-powered Alpha in 2015.

Podcast: Rusty Pilots At Sun ‘N Fun
Kate O'Connor

AOPA will be holding a Rusty Pilots seminar at Sun ’n Fun this year for pilots who have been out of the air for a while and are looking to get flying again. In this podcast, AOPA’s Jamie Beckett told AVweb about some updates to the program and how pilots of all levels of currency can benefit from the experience. The seminar will be held at the AOPA SnF campus on Wednesday, April 11 at 9:00 a.m.

Flight-Sharing Back In Play
Mary Grady

An effort to allow pilots to share expenses of flights with strangers has resurfaced, with a bill introduced on Wednesday by Sen. Mike Lee, of Utah. The Aviation Empowerment Act would add “definition and clarity to existing rules that will help unleash innovation in the aviation community,” Senator Lee said in a news release. Cost-sharing services have proven to be safe and effective in other countries, Lee said. "This is a job for Congress, not for the regulators,” Marc Scribner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told Reason. “The problem here is that Congress has granted an incredible amount of authority over the decades to the FAA.”

So far the courts have upheld the FAA’s position that using apps or Internet posts to offer flight-sharing is equivalent to “common carriage” and off-limits for private pilots. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where the judges declined to hear it, leaving in place the lower court’s ruling. Senator Lee’s bill proposes to redefine the term “compensation” in the FAA’s rules about flying “for compensation or hire.” The bill proposes that that “the term ‘compensation’ requires the intent to pursue monetary profit but does not include flights in which the pilot and passengers share aircraft operating expenses or the pilot receives any benefit.” The proposal would apply to flights in aircraft with eight or fewer seats and pilots with at least a private certificate.

Picture of the Week April 9, 2018
A collection of cool shots from recent AVWeb Picture of the Week contributions.

See all submissions

Rotorvox C2A Gyro Debuts at Sun ‘n Fun
AVweb Staff

Although autogyros in the U.S. aren’t quite the thing they are in Europe, a new one is being shown off this week at Sun ‘n Fun in Lakeland, Florida. The Rotorvox C2A, an all-carbon fiber design, is being pitched and an experimental amateur built aircraft for the U.S. market.

It’s powered by a turbocharged Rotax 914 engine and the company claims the C2A is one of the advanced gyrocopters in the world. With a large bubble canopy and side-by-side seating, the C2A has a unique twin-boom design. Although sold ready to fly in Europe, the U.S. lacks approvals for light sport aircraft in this category.

Instead, the C2A will be sold as a fast-build kit and will establish a customer support center with Flight Design USA in South Woodstock, Connecticut. That company markets and supports the Flight Design line of light sport aircraft. Rotorvox Aero is based in Broomfield, Colorado.

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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Navy’s Mishaps Up 82 Percent
Joy Finnegan

As AVweb reported last week, military aviation is in an uncertain time with U.S. Navy aviation mishaps involving the F/A-18 E/F Super up 108 percent over the past five years, according a story by Military Times. Additionally, in the Navy’s aviation fleet, mishaps jumped 82 percent during the past five years. This is the biggest spike in accidents among all four services, according to mishap data provided by the Defense Department.

The Military Times says it obtained the mishap data through multiple Freedom of Information requests to the Naval Safety Center, the report says.

According to the Times piece there were “engine fires, towing and flight deck collisions during taxi maneuvers, panels blown off aircraft by weather or the exhaust of other aircraft during shipboard operations, maintainer injuries and ground maintenance-generated damage, such as objects being closed within the Super Hornet’s canopy. There were also several lightning strikes affecting Super Hornets during carrier operations.

Pinning down the common causes has proven difficult but contributing factors may include budget sequestration, spending caps, a cut in depot work, fewer spare parts, reduction in experienced maintainers and the trickle-down effect of short-term budget patches at the previous year’s funding levels. The pace of operations also increased.



Meet the AVweb Team

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

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Kate O'Conner

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