World's Leading Independent Aviation News Service
Volume 25, Number 28b
July 11, 2018
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11 Rescued From Alaska Crash
Mary Grady

A chartered de Havilland Canada DHC-3T Turbo Otter float-equipped airplane crashed in a remote part of Alaska on Tuesday morning, but after a brief search by the U.S. Coast Guard, all 11 people on board were rescued. They were airlifted out by a USCG Jayhawk helicopter. Some were taken to a medical center in Ketchikan, but no details about their condition have been released. The airplane went down on Prince of Wales Island, near Hetta Inlet, at about 2,000 feet of elevation, on heavily forested Mount Jumbo. The island is part of the Tongass National Forest.

Visibility was about one-quarter mile, but the pilot had made an SOS call, and rescuers were able to locate an emergency locator signal. “This could have been bad," said USCG Petty Officer Charly Hengen. "Thankfully, it was a good outcome. Even though these people did sustain some injuries, we are very thankful that all are alive and that we were able to get to them quickly even with the weather conditions."

100-Plane Flyover Marks RAF Centenary
Mary Grady

Few aviators anywhere are held in the kind of reverence long shown by the British for the Royal Air Force—which helped save them from the Nazis in World War II—and the country turned out to honor them on Tuesday, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the RAF. The day began with a special service in Westminster Abbey, and was highlighted by a flyover of 100 aircraft, including Spitfires from WWII, above Buckingham Palace, with the royal family and a crowd of an estimated 70,000 in attendance. Twenty-two Eurofighter Typhoons flew in formation to form the number “100” as they passed above the palace, three stealth fighter F-35 jets made their first-ever public flight, and the Red Arrows, the RAF’s aerobatic team flying Hawk T-1A jets, finished the fly-by with a display of red, white and blue smoke.

Queen Elizabeth presided over a ceremony honoring the RAF, and said “tenacity, skill and gallantry” had long been the hallmarks of the service. "I remember the Battle of Britain being fought over the skies above us, and we shall never forget the courage and sacrifice of that time,” she said. Speaking at Westminster Abbey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, said the RAF had played a "decisive factor in saving this country's independence, its democracy and its freedom; its hope of civilization and its contribution to humanity for the future.” He added: "It is also right to remember with sorrow and again profound thanksgiving the scores of thousands who have given their lives in service as part of the RAF." The Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service merged to create the RAF in 1918.

Slim Goes to Paris
Paul Bertorelli

My friend and fellow blogger Paul Berge revealed what a sheltered life he has led when he confessed in last week’s blog to not knowing the significance of Sidney, New York. At the expense of appearing a boorish know it all—as opposed to just a boor—I can say that I most certainly did know the significance of Sidney.

Because … the Sidney Scintillas. It’s easy to remember, but I got a refresher as I was reading The Flight: Charles Lindbergh’s Daring and Immortal 1927 Transatlantic Crossing by Dan Hampton. I think I turned the last page just as Berge was releasing that expensively flown fly to the jaws of certain death.

Hampton’s book isn’t new; it was published in 2016. It showed up on my Kindle list and looked interesting. Is. Sidney merits a mention because Lindbergh’s Wright J-5 Whirlwind was sustained by a pair of Sidney-made Bendix Scintilla magnetos and upon their reliability, he staked his continuance on the mortal coil.

Hampton is a retired Air Force F-16 pilot and drawing on Lindbergh’s extensive notes, his book is a minute by minute account from inside the cockpit. Contemplating Lindbergh’s flight from the comfort of the couch causes me to consider that, sure, Lindbergh was a shy, intense man and a steely eyed aviator, but also a bit of a wild-eyed lunatic. It may be silly to view Lindbergh’s flight through the lens of modern risk assessment, but it’s just as impossible not to. If you plug in the various risk factors into what we belovedly call aviation decision making, the machine would buzz and click and nothing would come out.

Let me elaborate on just two points: navigation and instrument flying. The former was in its infancy for aviators in 1927, the latter was barely a sperm cell. Indeed, after the fact, Lindbergh pioneered I Learned About Flying From That when he conceded that the next time he charged across the Atlantic, he’d damn well take a navigator. Yet, while success in the early trans-Atlantic race was elusive, cruel ironies were not. In Francois Coli, famed French World War I aviator Charles Nungesser had a superb navigator. The pair vanished without a trace attempting a westbound Paris to New York flight 10 days before Lindbergh succeeded. Slim paid his respects to Nungesser’s grieving mother in Paris.

By the time he left New York, Lindbergh had been through military flight and navigation training, but he had no oceanic experience. When he departed from St. Johns for Ireland, his overwater experience consisted of the leg he’d just flown from Cape Cod. As Hampton and other authors have explained, Lindbergh was obsessively laser focused—or whatever the 1927 equivalent of that was—on endurance and hence, fuel. If he accepted that his navigation would be, to be generous, rudimentary, he could adjust by carrying a ton of fuel—literally, and then some.

Lindbergh planned a great circle route—150 miles shorter than a direct rhumb line—90 minutes of duration in the Ryan NYP. He maintained the circle with a series of 100-mile straight legs, with a compass correction at the end of each leg. The oft-discussed earth inductor compass helped with the headings, but the first time he used one of those was the morning he departed. Even Lindbergh admitted his remarkably accurate landfall at Dingle Bay was due as much to uncommonly good fortune as to heading discipline.  

As Hampton reveals from Lindbergh’s notes, Lindbergh had the barest notion of winds and although he had a drift meter, he didn’t use it. His dead reckoning strategy required periodic position hacks, but he had no accurate estimate of how far east he was, nor of crosswind drift. He realized his landfall could have been anywhere from the Bay of Biscay to Scotland. If it had been north of that—improbable but not impossible—he’d of landed in Oslo.

The instrument flying part gives me sweaty palms. Lindbergh flew into darkness—and weather—about 12 hours into the flight. That far north and flying east, night was short, but the NYP was minimally equipped to handle heavy cloud cover, rain and icing, by any standards, much less modern ones. It encountered all three.

Lindbergh had a turn-and-bank indicator for roll, airspeed for pitch and a clever device called a Rieker P-1057 Degrees Inclinometer. It’s a variation on the slip-skid indicator that also includes a bubble for pitch. In this photo of the NYP panel, the Rieker is the large T-shaped device in the center of the panel.

Radium being high tech in the 1920s, these instruments would have glowed enough to read them—probably. Despite a diligent search, I can’t find any description of cockpit lighting in the Spirit of St. Louis, although some photos seem to show old-school shielded lamps at the top of the panel. These could have been added later. Lindbergh had at least one flashlight, but probably not the six most of us carry these days.

Either way, Lindbergh had a thousand miles of needle-ball-and-airspeed flying, much of it in utter blackness, turbulence and with no radar to pick the soft spots. At least he didn’t have to worry about in-trail restrictions. As with his oceanic navigation, he was learning on the fly. Despite a couple of years in the airmail service, his instrument experience was minimal. Private pilot applicants may have as much.

Jimmy Doolittle’s seminal blind flying experiments were still two years away and it took the FAA another 50 years to dream up six hours and six approaches. For Lindbergh, it wasn’t so much keeping the greasy side down, but doing it hour after hour with no help from an autopilot following a sleepless 40 hours.

Lindbergh’s flight put Ryan on the aeronautical map. But the company soon faded, existing today as an echo of the founder’s name in Teledyne Ryan. Wright Aeronautical, maker of the J-5 Whirlwind, became Curtis Wright. It failed to make the transition to the jet age, but exists yet today as an industrial conglomerate. In little Sidney, New York, Bendix thrived, employing nearly 9000 during World War II, building mags for aircraft, tanks and PT boats.

Before the Lindy Hop was a thing, the Scintilla Shuffle was the happening dance in Sidney, according to a company history. It’s what you did when you grabbed two magneto leads and gave the rotor a spin. Somehow, I think an apprentice’s first day on the job in the QA department would have been just a regular barrel of monkeys. By the way, the dictionary defines scintilla as a “tiny trace or a spark.” But this does not describe the output of a Bendix magneto. It is, in fact, a fat, blue knock-you-on-your-ass discharge capable igniting fuel/air mixture squeezed down by 50 atmospheres. If you’ve ever ruminated on this from an unintended repose on the ramp, you know what I mean. To this day, Continental Motors still makes the evolved Bendix magnetos, although the Bendix identity dissolved in a series of mergers and acquisitions. And yes, the Bendix in BendixKing has bits of Sidney DNA.

The interesting one is Rieker Inc., a little company you never heard of. Last year, the company celebrated its centenary and in an age when pilots think rudders are foot rests for the brake pedals and finding a slip/skid ball on a glass panel evokes needles and haystacks, the company still makes mechanical inclinometers. These are mostly ground bank and pitch indicators and boom angle devices for crane operators who, as YouTube videos will attest, aren’t always as successful at keeping the shiny side up as Lindbergh was.

Reiker’s Skip Gosnell sent me a nice photo of the P-1057 Degrees Inclinometer Lindbergh used. They no longer manufacture it, but more than 90 years later, they can still repair one if you happen to need it for that long-planned trip to Paris. There’s more to it than meets the eye. In that housing behind the instrument is a triangular tube with a pinched orifice that damps the fluid flow—something you’d really appreciate if you were bouncing around in a pitch black cockpit over the Atlantic.

Reiker is in Aston, Pennsylvania, west of Philadelphia. New Garden Airport, 20 miles west, has a turf glider runway one could probably stuff a Citabria into or certainly a Cub. I feel a field trip coming  on.

Levil BOM Wing-Mounted ADAHRS Trial
Paul Bertorelli

Last year, Levil Aviation showed off its wing-mounted portable ADAHRs called the BOM. It kinda looks like its namesake, too. In this video, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli reports on how the gadget works.

VR Pilot Tech Now Includes ‘Touch’
Mary Grady

Virtual reality systems for flight simulation now include “haptic” capabilities, simulating a sense of touch when interacting with the virtual environment. The U.S. company FlyInside partnered with the Go Touch VR startup, based in France, to develop the system for the market, and introduced it last month at a trade show in France. “This haptic solution can be adapted for pilot training,” Go Touch VR said in a news release. The technology is “realistic, flexible, scalable, [and] affordable,” the company said. The advantage for pilot training is that the VR systems cost much less than simulators, but with the haptic capabilities, they are approaching the same level of experience.

The Go Touch VR system provides three small devices for each hand, which clip on to the user’s fingertips. The devices contain numerous actuators beneath a flexible rubber cover, and by applying variations in pressure, they can replicate the sense of object stiffness, coarse textures and the feeling of holding physical objects in your hands, according to Wired. A VR headset provides 3-D visual input to create the illusion of being in an aircraft cockpit. “When we couple [the haptic device] with a visual rendering in virtual or augmented reality, you reach out your hand toward an object, activating the skin pressure, the brain ‘clicks’ and lets you perceive the virtual object in front of your eyes as real, because it is feeling a sensation that it is expecting,” Eric Vezzoli, Go Touch CEO, told Wired. The technology is still in development and not yet available for sale.

AVweb's Geoff Rapoport looked at a VR simulator last year at Oshkosh.

JP International - Video Library
SureFly VTOL To Fly At Oshkosh
Mary Grady

SureFly, the hybrid VTOL multi-copter in development by the Workhorse Group, will fly at EAA AirVenture on Tuesday, July 24, during the afternoon airshow, EAA has announced. The flight will highlight EAA’s Innovations Day activities. “We are thrilled to fly this year,” said Steve Burns, CEO of Workhorse Group. The two-seat aircraft was introduced at last year’s show and the company is now working with the FAA toward type certification. “We appreciate the opportunity to publicly demonstrate our exciting progress at the world’s greatest aviation celebration,” Burns said.

The SureFly has a 70-mile range and 400-pound useful load, according to the company, with a top speed of 70 MPH. It’s powered by a gasoline piston engine that drives two generators, which charge the batteries for the prop motors. EAA also said it will have a CriCri twin-engine airplane flying in the airshow, for the first time since 2009. The small aircraft, with a wingspan of about 16 feet, will take off from the top of a moving Ford Explorer. EAA also said it plans to fly 100 lighted drones in its night airshows on Wednesday and Saturday (July 25 and 28), which will be a first for North America.

Top Letters and Comments, July 6, 2018
AVweb Staff

Mixed News On Refurb Trainers

I think the key issue is what you said in your next to last paragraph: The cost of replacement parts is out of control. I can't speak for Piper, but Cessna parts have skyrocketed in the past 5-6 years, making a full 172 refurb prohibitively expensive. Add to that, the high amount of hand labor required to disassemble and reassemble an airframe and it is small wonder the companies can't make a profit. Private owners have some ability to control costs because they can do upgrades in phases to spread out the expenses and throw some sweat equity into the project. And, with the advent of STC'd avionics from the experimental world, they can reduce the panel upgrade costs even more. Without a ready source of cheap labor and affordable parts, the commercial refurb concept is DOA.

John McNamee

Unless one of these refurb companies can get authorization to "zero-time" the airframes similar to what Basler does with the Turbo DC3 or Viking with the old Twin Otters I can't see any of these being successful. Any reasonably competent aircraft owner can replicate these refurbishments and not have to pay for someone else's profit margin.

Tom Kovac

Not Doing The Lindy Hop

Reading your article was like listening to a threnody. (finally get to use that word legitimately). I too feel that as society evolves, what is "new" seems to displace what is “old,” perhaps that is why older persons treasure what was once "new" to them but in the eyes of others has become “old.” Seems like old cars and old airplanes, and probably old boats and motorcycles are treasured objects. Me? I am still absolutely in love with Beechcraft Super 18’s, which in my mind’s eye is the ultimate escape vehicle. The mini airliner I discovered when I was 11 years old. Its glorious leather and fine wool interior and the marvelous sound of its radial engines rumbling at idle and rumble-roaring at full power. Of course in the real world I’d rather fly in a Beech Premier and for longer distances a Dreamliner. Enjoy your Citabria, and maybe get a bunch of geezers together and go cut the lawn at that abandoned airfield!

Richard Katz

Those of us who have been around for a while remember those simple, grass rural airfields well. How sad that learning to fly is economically beyond the reach—or interest—of most folks these days. I often think of all the sights that people miss when they're driving. Sounds like an interesting trip.

Larry Stencel

New Rule Targets Proficiency and Training Costs

The new FAA rule should be just a beginning. Integrating flight sim into initial training should lower the cost of getting the first license (ASEL or glider). My peeve is that most sims fail to provide the side view that is essential for flying a close landing pattern. I aim to fix that in the simulator I am putting together in an old Blanik cockpit.

Michael Mayo

Airline Seat Size

There is a reason I refer to the FAA as the "Friendly Airline Agency." They always side with the airlines and aircraft manufacturers over the general public. The current close spacing poses health risks in addition to the evacuation issue. Just ask any cardiologist about the hazards of DVT from sitting immobile for extended periods. But, the FAA ignores that as well. It would be interesting to take a bunch of average citizens off the street and see how they would fare in an evacuation drill as opposed to the athletic kids the manufacturers use for their videos.

John McNamee

Thanks for nothing, FAA. If you are offering a public carrier conveyance service for hire, there should be a requirement for some kind of a safe accommodation for taller people (otherwise, clearly state up front No Six Footers Allowed). I have a 25 inch femur length and literally cannot sit straight in these ridiculous28" pitch seats while facing forward. A few rows of longer pitch seats allocated for this purpose would be sufficient ... but no, FAA is more concerned with promoting bureaucracy than actually doing something to help the public.

A Richie

Picture of the Week, July 5, 2018
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels fly in formation. Photo by U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Schumaker.

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Industry Round-up, July 6, 2018
AVweb Staff

AVweb’s news roundup this week includes reports of a new Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Dynon, a collaboration between Derichebourg Atis aéronautique and Hi-Fly Marketing and a special Oshkosh deal from Aerox. Dynon announced on Friday that Randy Lervold will join the company as their Vice President of Marketing and Sales. Lervold is coming to Dynon after nine years with highly successful backcountry aircraft manufacturer CubCrafters, where he worked as general manager and then president of the company. He previously held senior leadership roles at several consumer electronics companies and brings more than three decades of executive leadership experience and brand building to Dynon.

Overseas, French aeronautics subcontractor Derichebourg Atis aéronautique has announced that it will be working with Hi-Fly Marketing, a South African aviation services firm. The companies will be collaborating to offer improved after-sales support services—including airworthiness management, customer representation and delivery assistance, and technical assistance—to African airlines. Finally, Shaw Aerox Aviation Oxygen Systems will be offering 20 percent off of list prices for all Aerox portable oxygen systems and components purchased during the EAA Air Venture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, July 23 - 29, 2018. The company will also be displaying its latest technologies and products at the event.

FAA Proposes New Bird-Strike Test Rules
Mary Grady

Turbofan engines for airplanes should be required to pass tests showing they could keep flying after ingesting a medium-sized bird during climb-out or landing, the FAA said in a proposed rule published on Friday. The proposal is based on a 2015 report following the “Miracle on the Hudson” flight in 2009, when an Airbus A320 struck a flock of Canada geese during climb-out, and lost power in both engines. The report found that modern jet engines, like those on the A320, have wider fan-blade chords than those that were tested to develop the current bird-ingestion standards. Also, the current tests are conducted only at 100 percent power settings. The tests should be updated, the FAA said.

The FAA said engine manufacturers have the capability of complying with the proposed rule. The rule would generate costs of about $4 million per year, by the FAA’s estimate, but would produce benefits of about $5 million a year. Chesley Sullenberger, captain of the A320, told CBS News in a 2016 interview that the NTSB had made 35 recommendations to improve safety after his emergency ditching on the Hudson River, but only a few had been acted on. "The bottom line ultimately is that the airlines, in a very cost-competitive industry, are reluctant to take on additional safety measures that they view as a burden or an additional cost," Sullenberger said at the time.

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Short Final: Squawk Altitude

Back in the days when Pueblo, Colorado, still had a TRACAB (terminal radar in the tower cab), I was visiting with the controllers when the following took place.

A Cessna pilot, who hopefully was a student, was on a flight from Colorado Springs, field elevation of 6,172 feet MSL, to Pueblo, elevation 4,725 feet MSL. After being handed off from Colorado Springs Departure to Pueblo Approach, the Pueblo controller made contact with the Cessna but was not receiving the mode C readout. The transmissions that followed went something like this:

Approach: “Cessna 567, squawk altitude.”

Cessna 567: “Roger.”

After a short pause...

Approach: “Cessna 567, do you need assistance?”

Cessna 567: “No, sir.”

Approach: “Cessna 567, do you need emergency equipment standing by?”

Cessna 567: “No sir.”

Approach: “Cessna 567, what is the nature of your emergency?”

Cessna 567: “No emergency, sir. Just heading to Pueblo for touch and goes.”

Approach: “Roger, Cessna 567, please squawk 1200.”

Aircraft from Colorado Springs to Pueblo quite often fly at 7,500 MSL. Any guesses as to what code the pilot had entered in his transponder when asked to “squawk altitude”?

When reality struck, everyone in the tower was doubled over for quite a while.

Alan R. von Ahlefeldt
Parker, CO


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Brainteasers Quiz #245: A Pilot Walks Into an Isobar

A good day aloft begins with a look at weather, because no matter how sharp you think you are at the controls, the sky has something to say about who flies and who aces this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

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