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Volume 25, Number 24c
June 15, 2018
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Court Denies Santa Monica Petition
Kate O'Connor

Efforts to save the embattled Santa Monica Airport suffered a setback this week when a court denied an NBAA petition claiming the FAA exceeded its authority when it agreed to allow the city to shorten the airport’s single runway last year. NBAA had petitioned the court to vacate the 2017 agreement, arguing that the FAA defied requirements set by Congress as well as the agency’s own responsibility to support aviation. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied the petition on procedural grounds.

“We’re obviously disappointed by this decision, but it’s important to note the court did not make a determination as to the merits of our arguments against the validity of the original settlement agreement,” said NBAA President Ed Bolen. “This ruling was purely a matter of procedure, and in no way does it establish a precedent by which the FAA may enter into similar agreements affecting the fates of other vital general aviation airports.” NBAA is also involved in a pending administrative complaint that claims the city violated its grant-based obligations to the airport.

As allowed by the agreement with the FAA, the city shortened SMO’s runway from 4,973 feet to 3,500 feet in a successful effort to reduce jet traffic at the airport late last year. The city has said it plans to close the airport by the end of 2028. According to NBAA, it will continue to pursue options for keeping the airport open. 

JP International 'Checklist for JPI
SubSonex Jet Approved For Reno Air Races
Kate O'Connor

Sonex Aircraft announced that its SubSonex Personal Jet has been approved for the Reno National Championship Air Races this September. The jet, a JSX-2 model named “Sharkie,” was debuted at the Pylon Racing Seminar by High Performance Aircraft Group last week. It was flown by Pete Zaccagnino, a three-time Reno Gold champion and head of High Performance Aircraft Group.

“I believe we got eight flights in and everyone loved it. It was a blast on the course,” said Zaccagnino. “Now we have to get to work in preparation for training enough pilots to create a new race!” The Pylon Racing Seminar—called "Rookie School"—is a four-day training event that takes place at Reno Stead Field and gives pilots a chance to “prepare, practice and become certified to race in the National Championship Air Races.” During the event, the SubSonex participated in formation flights and spent a day on the track.

The SubSonex is currently flying on the Jet/Unlimited course, but Sonex and High Performance Aircraft Group hope to get it approved for the shorter courses, which they say are “designed for aircraft closer to the SubSonex’s speed envelope and level of maneuverability.” High Performance Aircraft Group has said it will showcase the SubSonex at aviation events throughout the season.

For more on what it’s like to go for a spin in the SubSonex, see Paul Dye’s SubSonex Flight Report in AVweb sister magazine Kitplanes. Paul is Kitplanes' editor-in-chief and was lead flight director for NASA's Human Space Flight program. 

Pole to Pole (in a Lancair) - Part 2
Bill Harrelson

Back to Part 1

There are certainly worse places to be stuck than Punta Arenas. It’s quite a pleasant city with friendly folks, good food, and lots to see. After the requisite 72 hours and a lot of work on the part of the ground crew, the permit to fly to Tahiti is in hand. The weather is now somewhat less than desirable, but fore-cast to get worse and stay bad for an extended period. The key is to get north into warmer air and out of the very strong headwinds that exist in the south.

Another full-weight takeoff—the last I hope to ever make—is required for the 4,828 nautical mile, 28-hour northwest bound leg to Tahiti. Headwinds are fierce in the several hours after takeoff—50 to 60 knots right on the nose. This not only slows progress but, over the mountainous terrain northwest of Punta Arenas, creates turbulence. At this weight the autopilot cannot be used. In this turbulence it is not even a consideration. Things just couldn’t get Once again, the only choice is a descent into warmer temperatures. This requires circumnavigating the mountainous islands off the western South American coast. I am able to stay over open water with the help of the Garmin 496 with its excellent terrain depiction. Once I reach 500 miles northwest of Punta Arenas, the weather and winds gradually improve. The rest of the night is mostly flown in smooth, above-freezing air. Shortly after sunrise the next morning, the flight is entering the intertropical convergence zone with the expected thunderstorms. Tahiti ATC contacts the ground crew about a SIGMET along my route. The ground crew negotiates a re-route around the worst of the weather and relays that to me via satellite text.

January is the rainy season in Tahiti. Landing there this afternoon requires flying the ILS approach, not exactly what I want to do after a 25 1/2-hour leg, but you do what you have to do. Three barrels of fuel are pumped into 6ZQ, plenty to make New Zealand with large reserves. After a few hours of sleep at the Tahiti Airport Motel, it is time to continue. Although early in the morning and not nearly at full fuel, the hot temperature in Tahiti still makes for a rather unenthusiastic takeoff. No serious weather is encountered from Tahiti to Auckland, where I am able to quickly clear customs and continue to Hamilton. Total time in Auckland from touchdown to liftoff is 30 minutes. I arrive in Hamilton with plenty of daylight left, about 14 hours after departing Tahiti.

New Zealand to Honolulu

Hamilton Aero Maintenance is a great place to go for general aviation work in New Zealand. Tim O’Neill and Dave Stewart are enormously helpful and competent. We do an oil and filter change, clean spark plugs, replace a broken shear pin in the autopilot pitch servo, repair a broken amperage sensor in the #1 electrical system, and give the airplane a thorough going over. New Zealand is #1 on the places that I want to return to when not on a world record quest. Thanks Tim and Dave for your hospitality and good work.

I depart Hamilton for the 23-minute flight to Auckland, where I clear customs outbound and fuel for the 3825 nautical mile, 211/2-hour leg to Honolulu. This is another lethargic takeoff in the warm summer temperatures. A rather severe cluster of thunderstorms is forming over Tonga. The ground crew has an excellent handle on this from satellite and lightning data, and suggest a westward deviation. This works out well and other than an hour or two of moderate turbulence, I am able to proceed without serious problem. That night I cross the equator northbound at 166 degrees 57 minutes west, giving me almost 123 degrees of separation from my southbound crossing. The minimum separation required for the record is 120 degrees. Dawn is just breaking when I begin my descent into Honolulu.

The plan has been to continue from Honolulu directly to Fairbanks, Alaska. I know that this will be a challenging leg weather-wise. While the arctic weather that is expected in Fairbanks will probably be too cold and dry for airframe icing and the weather near Hawaii too warm, the transition from tropical to arctic will likely prove interesting. Making matters worse, a huge low has parked itself in the Gulf of Alaska, pumping large quantities of warm, wet air into Alaska. Fairbanks is reporting the warmest winter in its history. This will produce almost certain serious icing, something that I very much prefer to avoid.

Waiting for Better Weather

After waiting several days for better weather in the north Pacific and Alaska, I decide to fly to the U.S. West Coast and wait out the weather there. Working my way up the coast will provide more options if I need to land. An early evening departure from Honolulu at a relatively light weight into good weather with a bit of a tailwind and no icing makes the leg to San Louis Obispo the easiest of the long legs (2145 nautical miles and 111/2 hours). I land at KSBP just before dawn and catch an hour of sleep in the pilot’s lounge, while I wait for the maintenance shop to open for another oil change.

Two nights in the pleasant town of San Louis Obispo leave me well rested for the flight to Alaska. A pre-dawn departure helps assure a daylight landing in Fairbanks. As expected, ice is the big concern on this leg. The takeoff is made with just 155 gallons on board, well under half capacity. My plan is to climb high early and find temperatures below -4° F (-20° C). The plan works, and even though I am in clouds from northern Califor-nia through coastal Alaska, I encounter no ice. Plenty of pilot reports of ice are received at the lower altitudes though.

When the route leaves the coast and proceeds inland to the Yukon Territory, the clouds dissipate and leave me with more spectacular views of some very impressive mountains in the Yukon and eastern Alaska. I land at sunset, around 3:30 p.m. in Fairbanks, where I am met by Art Mortvedt. Art is a long-time Alaskan bush pilot and has flown his orange Cessna 185, the Polar Pumpkin, to both poles. Art has been very generous in sharing his knowledge of polar flying and weather with me in phone calls that I have made to him. Now he has driven four hours to Fairbanks so he can take me to his favorite Fairbanks restaurant. Thanks Art!

The next morning I’m back at the best FBO in the north, Alaska Aero-fuel, ready to go. The weather is good everywhere except right over Fairbank sairport. A layer with tops only to 3000 feet is producing light snow and many reports of icing from everything from a Navajo to a DC-9. Since this will be yet another heavy takeoff with slow climb rates, I cannot take the chance of even a little ice. I need to climb to 10,000 feet within 130 miles of Fairbanks in order to clear the Brooks Range. This will not likely be possible with any ice on the wings. So, after waiting several hours for the weather to improve, I return to the hotel, planning to try again the following morning.

Over the North Pole

The next morning is clear and cold, exactly the weather I have been counting on for Fairbanks. After fueling to 300 gallons, 61 gallons short of full tanks, I depart Fairbanks on the last leg—non-stop to Kinston, KITPLANES December 201557North Carolina via the North Pole. The Brooks Range is a beautiful sight in the early morning light. Once past the Brooks Range, I am able to spot the Alaska pipeline and follow it to Dead-horse. Now, little more than two hours after my sunrise takeoff, I watch the sunset as I pass off the north coast of Alaska into the Arctic Ocean.

There’s still enough light for a while for me to see the broken pack ice riddled with leads. I reflect on the possibility of making a landing out here, not very likely to be successful. Perhaps it’s best not to put too much thought into that. Eight hours after takeoff, I pass over the North Pole. Now, I just need to finish this flight, only another 3290 nautical miles to Kinston, North Carolina.

With the oil sump temperature still alarmingly low, I’m wondering if I’ll ever see increasing temperatures. I’m wondering if I’ll ever see daylight. I’m wondering if this record attempt is worth it. After crossing Baffin Island in hour 14, I finally see a little upward movement of the OAT. The temperature has gone from -36° F (-38° C) to -27° F (-33° C). The oil sump temp starts creeping up a little to 80° F (27° C). If this trend continues, I just might make it. The hour 15 readings show yet another degree of oil temp increase and hour 16 a positively tropical 84° F (29° C). Hour 17 finds me over Hud-son Bay with just a hint of an orange glow on the southeastern horizon and 87° F (31° C) in the sump. My mood brightens considerably as dawn breaks. I might actually make it through this long, cold night.

Almost Home

The ground crew is now starting to brief me on possible weather problems farther south. My destination, Kinston, is reporting a 100-foot ceiling and 1/2-mile visibility with temperature slightly above freezing. A large snow-storm is blanketing the northern U.S. from Ohio to New York state. All of Pennsylvania is reporting low visibility in snow. I could duck into Buffalo or Syracuse, but I’d probably be stuck there. Flying west around the backside would add a lot of distance, and I’d have to stop for fuel. It seems to be moving a little too fast to beat the storm around the east side, and I could get pushed to the Atlantic if I tried that.

There are a few things going in my favor though. I’m working Toronto Center on VHF, infinitely easier than HF. Around North Bay I’m in radar contact. I’m starting to receive XM weather on the Garmin 496 and am able to build a good picture of the weather situation. Best of all, I’m light. I can climb. I ask Toronto Center for FL180 and they approve.

Crossing the U.S. border at Buffalo, New York, I can clearly see the weather. It looks like FL180 will keep me on top. I ask Cleveland Center for tops and icing reports. Tops are around 180 and no ice reported at that altitude or above. I know that I can now climb to the low 20s if I need to but FL180 seems to be working well with only very thin, poorly defined tops. I’m mostly in the clear and air temperature is still cold enough to preclude icing. I decide to continue on course. In a few hours I’m over central Virginia and am clearly past the worst of the weather. Kinston weather is now VFR and rapidly improving. The situation is looking quite good. At FL180 I’m only burning 8.5 gallons per hour. My wing and bladder tanks are empty. All of my remaining fuel is in fuselage tanks with well-calibrated sight gauges so I can actually see the fuel. I am quite confident in my quantity readings. I’ve got 23 gallons left and I’m about an hour out...should land with 17 or so, about 2 hours worth. This is actually going to work! 25.6 hours after takeoff from Fairbanks, I touch down at Kinston.

It’s hard to describe the feeling of landing back at Kinston. The years of work and planning have finally paid off. Taxiing in, I see several Lancairs parked on the ramp. I am overwhelmed to see lots of friends who flew in. Thanks. That meant a lot to me.


Several months after this last landing the FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Interna-tionale), keeper of aviation records since 1905, ratified our flight as a new World Record for Speed Around the World over Both of the Earth’s Poles. Here are a few of the statistics:

Total flight time: 174.9 hours

Total elapsed time: 24 days, 8 hours, 11 minutes, 5 seconds (584.18 hours)

Great Circle distance between declared points (total credited distance): 22,172 nautical miles (41,062 kilometers)

Official Speed Record: 37.9 knots (70.3 kilometers per hour)

Previous Record set in June 1987 by Richard Norton and Calin Roseti: 7.6 knots (14.04 kilometers per hour)

Distance actually flown: 31,118 nautical miles (57,630 kilometers)

FAI record class: C1d. C = Landplane (as opposed to seaplane or amphibian). 1 = internal combustion engine(s) any number of engines, piston or turboprop. d = weight 1750–3000 kg (3858–6614 pounds)

This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of Kitplanes magazine.

For more great content like this, subscribe to Kitplanes!

Rolls-Royce To Cut 4,600 Jobs
Kate O'Connor

Rolls-Royce announced on Thursday that it will be eliminating 4,600 jobs—nearly 10 percent of the positions at the company—over the next 24 months as part of a company-wide restructuring plan. The UK-based engineering firm says that after an initial cost of £500 million ($665 million), it expects the restructuring to reduce annual costs by £400 million ($532 million) by 2020. The first third of the job cuts are expected to be made by the end of 2018.

In the same statement in which it announced the job cuts, Rolls-Royce reiterated that it intends to focus on civil aerospace going forward. The company says it currently has orders for over 2,700 engines for wide-body aircraft and business jets and plans to increase engine production “targeting over 600 wide-body engines a year by the end of this decade.” According to the company, it has launched six new engines for the civilian market including the Trent XWB and the Pearl 15.

Rolls-Royce has been struggling with its Trent 1000 engine—primarily used on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner—since issues involving excessive wear were discovered in 2016. Due to the durability problem, an AD was issued in April 2018 limiting extended single-engine operations to within 140 minutes of an airport for some 787s equipped with Trent 1000s. The company has also recently had trouble with parts shortages for the engines. It has been reported that Rolls-Royce has spent almost £1 billion ($1.3 billion) to address the issue so far.

Dowling Aviation College To Reopen Under New Owner
Paul Bertorelli

A Canadian company has bought the bankrupt Dowling College at Long Island’s Brookhaven Airport and plans to rebuild the school’s aviation academic and technical offerings with a focus on aeronautical engineering. The college’s 105-acre campus is adjacent to and has access to Brookhaven’s two 4000-foot runways and has a hangar, a dormitory, classrooms and a library. The school was founded in 1968, but lost accreditation in 2016.

A federal judge approved the $14 million sale to Triple Five Group after a public auction last January failed to produce qualified bids. Stuart Bienenstock, Triple Five’s director of business development, told the Long Island Business News that the company wants to re-establish the aviation programs in place before Dowling went under.

“We’re talking to major educational institutions. We want to expand aeronautical engineering and kick start that in Brookhaven. It’s definitely an exciting proposition. The campus is already set up and we can easily build upon that.”

Although Triple Five owns a helicopter charter company in Danbury, Connecticut, its major business focus is on retail and entertainment properties. It operates the Mall of America in Minneapolis and has invested in other mall projects.

Spitfire Movie To Debut In U.K.
Mary Grady

Few classic designs are as beloved as the British Spitfire, and this month, a new documentary film about the airplane will debut to celebrate the centenary year of the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force. “Spitfire” is the story of a fighter that was “forged in competition, shaped as the war clouds gathered, and refined in the white heat of combat,” according to the filmmakers’ website. Veterans of World War II who flew the airplanes tell their personal stories in the film. Flying scenes were shot by Seattle-based aviation photographer John Dibbs, who describes the Spitfire as “a sculpture that takes flight – it is a machine as art!” The film debuts July 17 in the United Kingdom, with plans to be distributed worldwide later this year.

The Spitfire, designed by Reginald Mitchell, of Supermarine Ltd., first flew in 1935, and deliveries to the RAF began in 1938. The design was influenced by a series of record-setting racing airplanes that Mitchell had worked on in the 1920s, including the S.6, which set a world speed record of 357 MPH in 1929. The Spitfire’s elliptical wing and powerful Rolls-Royce Merlin engine provided exceptional performance. “Spitfire” tells the airplane’s story through interviews with pilots who flew it in combat, and also explores how the airplane still serves its mission today, as an international icon and a reminder of the determination and sacrifice that won World War II. Rare archival film from the 1940s has been digitally remastered for the project, and an original score was contributed by composer Chris Roe.

Watch the trailer here.

Picture of the Week, June 14, 2018
This photo was taken on a C-182 flight from Alabama to El Paso. All in all, it was a 10.1 hrs adventure. We skirted just south of Guadelupe Peak, entering ELP from the east at 12,500 feet. Copyrighted photo by Robert Wannenburg.

See all submissions

UND And United Partner For New Career Pathway Program
Kate O'Connor

The University of North Dakota (UND) has partnered with United Airlines to create a career pipeline program for its flight students. Through the Career Pathway Program (CPP), graduates of UND’s Professional Flight Program now have a direct path to United’s regional partners. Assuming they meet CPP requirements both during school and after graduating, students who complete the program are placed in the first available spot in a United new hire class.

To be eligible for the program, CPP participants need to be active, full-time students in UND’s Professional Flight Program, maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA or better and successfully complete an interview with United. When it comes to the actual hiring, graduates must meet CPP program exit requirements, which vary between United Express CPP partners. All students are required to put in 150 hours as a multi-engine instructor at UND before United can hire them through CPP.

According to UND, students participating in the program can apply to other airlines—or even to United through other methods—and still remain eligible for the United CPP. UND has pathway partnership agreements with several other airlines including JetBlue, SkyWest and ExpressJet. Each partnership has different requirements and expectations, which can be found on UND’s website.

Short Final: Ludicrous Speed

This past September I overheard this:

King Air 12345: “Potomac, King Air 12345, do you still need us to hold back to 190 knots?”

Approach: “King Air 345, yes I do. There’s a Pilatus about 50 miles ahead of you, same altitude, and we need to maintain separation while I hand you off to the next sector. You’d have to go really fast to get ahead of him before the hand‑off.”

King Air 12345: “Potomac, King Air 345 could push it up to 238 knots. Would that work?”

There was a pause while the controller digested this option.

Approach: “King Air, 345 that works. Turn 10 degrees right and speed your discretion.”

King Air 12345: “Roger, Potomac, King Air 345 cleared ‘ludicrous speed!’”

Mike Jones
Southern Pines, NC
EAA Announces OSH Innovations Day Events
Kate O'Connor

EAA has announced the lineup for its annual Innovations Day at Oshkosh 2018. This year, the organization says, topics will include electric and hybrid powerplant technology, artificial intelligence in the cockpit, future avionics and the uses of unmanned aircraft. Innovations Day, which is scheduled for Tuesday, July 24, will feature new technology displays by more than 20 exhibitors, a roundtable discussion on trends in GA avionics and a forum with participants from Uber, Boeing, Embry-Riddle and other aviation organizations.

“Many of the innovations seen at Oshkosh over the past five decades are now commonplace in aviation," said EAA VP of marketing and business development Dave Chaimson. "There’s no place better than Oshkosh, and its connection with the community’s leading manufacturers and service providers, to provide world-class educational experiences to engage in aviation’s future.” 

Innovations Day programming begins at 9:00 a.m. and will conclude with the final judging for the Founder’s Innovation Prize. As part of the final selection, the top five Innovation Prize entries will each present their loss-of-control solutions to the audience and a panel of judges. The winner of the $25,000 prize will be announced at the end of the event.

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