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With the first two FAA test sites for unmanned aerial vehicles now up and running, in North Dakota and Alaska, the introduction of UAVs into the national airspace is only a matter of time -- and manufacturers and advocates say that time can't come soon enough. The UAV industry will gather next week in Orlando, Fla., to show off all the latest technology from more than 550 exhibitors, arriving from more than 40 countries. Upward of 8,000 visitors are expected to attend the Unmanned Systems show, organized by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Besides the exhibits, the show offers a full roster of speakers and information sessions.

The program will include a long list of workshops, including discussions of the potential for non-military applications for UAS, privacy issues, and how to safely integrate UAS with other aircraft. General session speakers include officials from the military and government as well as industry experts. There also will be an area designated for live demo flights. The show runs Monday through Thursday, May 12 to 15. If you're thinking of going, be prepared for the cover charge -- a full conference pass will run you $1,109. There are discounts for AUVSI members and active-duty military, and students can get a full pass for only $210. Exhibit hall-only passes also are deeply discounted, running about $239. Editorial director Paul Bertorelli will be there to cover the event for AVweb.


Officials at two national parks have told visitors the use of drones within their boundaries is illegal but the absence of laws and regulations governing their use could make the ban short-lived. Last Friday, officials at Yosemite National Park in northern California reminded visitors via social media that drone use is "prohibited" and on Monday Zion National Park in Utah followed suit. They cited noise, safety and wildlife concerns in announcing the measure. The park staff warns that violators face a $5,000 fine or six months in jail but critics have noted the National Parks Service is applying fuzzy legal logic in trying to enforce the ban.†

In a blog post on the Forbes website, law professor Gregory S. McNeal says the existing laws on aircraft in national parks only apply to manned aircraft and the rules announced by the parks amount to bureaucratic decrees. "While they've decided they want to prohibit drones, it is clear the rules on the books don't address drone use," McNeal wrote. He said that until the Parks Service goes through all the necessary rulemaking steps "they are bound by existing rules." In this case, he argues, drones can't be banned because they aren't "aircraft" by the Parks Service or even the FAA's definition. McNeal says he thinks it's a good idea to ban drones in national parks but he wants it done legally.


As Textron works through the integration of Beechcraft into its newly formed Textron Aviation unit, some complications have arisen that put millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded incentives in question. According to the Wichita Eagle, detailed discussions between Textron and state officials are planned to sort out the future of a total of $45 million in incentives that were originally aimed at keeping the former Hawker Beechcraft in Wichita about four years ago. The incentives, $40 million from the State of Kansas and $5 million from local government, came with employment guarantees that the new company has violated in its rationalization of the two workforces.†

Under the incentive package, Beechcraft was required to keep at least 3,600 people working to qualify for the yearly payments and if it doesn't maintain that level it has to pay back some of the money received in previous years. Textron spokesman Jim Walters said employment levels will be set in the best interests of the combined company and will live up to the obligations that might arise from those decisions. Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George said he gets that and the discussions will establish the future of the incentive programs. "I'm sure they've crunched the numbers a thousand different ways," he told the Eagle. "They have some obligations to meet. When we get into the nitty-gritty, we'll look at what the number of employees are (and) what agreement is in place."

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The FAA and GA advocacy groups have teamed up to support an eight-month-long national safety campaign about weather challenges. The project, called "Got Weather?", aims to help pilots better prepare for dealing with weather they may encounter during the year's busiest flying season. Federal officials and leaders of GA groups kicked off the campaign on Sunday at the Great Alaska Aviation Gathering, in Anchorage. "Too many lives are lost each year in general aviation crashes related to weather," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said at the show. "This campaign will help ensure that our general aviation pilots are prepared in the face of bad weather and are as safe and well-trained as possible."

The safety campaign will run through December and will feature a new weather topic each month on the project's website. Topics start with turbulence in May, and will also include thunderstorms, icing, crosswinds, weather resources for pilots and more. The website will feature fast facts about the topic and links to training videos, safety seminars, quizzes, proficiency programs, online training, case studies and more. The campaign partners will share materials, link to the website, and promote the campaign on social media. "Mother Nature's performance is capable of overriding forecasts and aircraft specifications," said Bruce Landsberg, president of the AOPA Foundation. "The best preparation is a full understanding of what you're up against." Besides the main website, the campaign will run at #GotWx on Twitter, and on Facebook and YouTube.

The GA groups participating in the campaign include AOPA, Aircraft Electronics Association, American Electronics Association, EAA, FAA Safety Team, GA Joint Steering Committee, GAMA, Helicopter Association International, National Agricultural Aviation Association, National Air Transportation Association, National Association of State Aviation Officials, National Association of Flight Instructors, NBAA, Soaring Society of America, Society of Aviation and Flight Educators, University Aviation Association, and the U.S. Parachute Association.


The destruction of a B-17 Flying Fortress in June 2011 was caused by "inadequate repair of the fuel tank that allowed the fuel leak to continue, ultimately resulting in an in-flight fire," the NTSB has concluded in its final report. The Liberty Belle, operated by the Liberty Foundation of Florida, was destroyed by fire after the crew made an emergency landing in a corn field in Illinois. All seven people on board escaped, with only one minor injury to a passenger, according to the NTSB, but the airplane was a total loss. The weekend before the accident, a fuel leak was identified, the NTSB said. The fuel leak was subsequently repaired, and a final inspection the morning of the accident flight reportedly did not reveal any evidence of a continued fuel leak. Shortly after takeoff, the flight crew noticed a faint odor in the cockpit and a small amount of smoke near the radio room.

The flight crew immediately initiated a turn with the intention of returning to the departure airport, the NTSB said. About that time, they received a radio call from the pilot of the accompanying T-6 chase plane advising that fire was visible on the left wing. The B-17 pilot subsequently executed an emergency landing to a corn field. Emergency crews were hampered by the muddy field conditions, and the fire ultimately consumed significant portions of the airframe. A post-accident examination noted that the C-channel installed as part of the No. 1 main fuel tank repair earlier in the week was partially separated, the NTSB said. Metallurgical examination of the repair area revealed a longitudinal fatigue crack along the weld seam. The full report was posted on the NTSB website last month.


Image: Chinese Air Force

Plenty of airports are plagued by problems with birds, but at one military airport in China, officials have discovered a unique solution -- they trained rhesus monkeys to climb trees near the field and knock down bird nests. "Our airfield is located along one of the eight flyways, the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, so large numbers of migrating birds come here around March every year and begin nesting near the airport, which creates significant safety hazards for flight," said Su Chuang, head of the bird control team at an unidentified airbase of Beijing Military Command, according to China Daily. Workers have been hired in the past to knock down the nests, but it's a slow and costly process. In the last two months, two trained monkeys have destroyed about 180 nests. The monkeys' scent adheres to the trees, so the birds don't return, officials said.

Compared with traditional ways of dispersing birds, the new method is eco-friendly and has a minimal effect on the birds, Wang Yuejian, commander of the airbase, told China Daily. Bird strikes are a hazard to aircraft around the world. In 2012, the FAA reported that globally, wildlife strikes have killed more than 250 people and destroyed 229 aircraft since 1988. Factors that contribute to this threat are increasing populations of large birds and more air traffic by quieter, turbofan-powered aircraft, the FAA said. Mitigation efforts in the U.S. generally involve habitat management near airports to reduce the attraction for birds, techniques for harassing hazardous species, and efforts to develop better avian radar systems.

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Just when you think you know a subject, 50 shades of doubt can ooze from the depths of aero-minutiae memory to compromise personal confidence. Fear not! Put doubt back in its place by acing this quiz.

Take the quiz.

And click here for reader stories about embarrassing checkride mistakes we received in response to our last quiz.


Confession is good for the soul but can be embarrassing. Here, now, the unscientific tabulation of readers' responses to "Brainteasers" quiz 194's question, "How did you screw up your checkride?"

Before pointing snarky fingers, I'll confess that my Private pilot checkride performance 40 years ago was lame. I remember the examiner snarling, "I don't want you demonstrating stall/spins here on base-to-final ..." hinting that the coordination ball should appear in the center other than while slamming from full-left to full-right deflection.

While demonstrating a soft-field takeoff on my commercial checkride, I inadvertently unlatched my seatbelt just as the mains pulled free from the simulated muck. With the loose belt riding under my armpits, the stall horn warbling and the tower saying, "Contact Departure," I managed to click the belt and make the call.

Fairly smug as I leveled out, I couldn't understand why the Beech Sierra, which normally cruised around 130 knots, was dogging along at 110. The examiner remained ominously silent as I reviewed my post-climb checklist: Power/prop -- set; Trim -- set, Flaps -- up, Gear -- down, three in the green. We were still slow, so I repeated the list twice more (slow learner), until pausing at "Gear down!" Cramminy! I was flying with the wheels hanging down like a stiff-legged Sundowner.

Hoping the examiner might not have noticed, evidenced by his continued silence, I reached for the gear handle as the examiner mumbled, "Don't care if you fly all day with the wheels down, so long as they're down on landing." I knew this would be a long ride.

Now, let's hear from readers who braved the fires of checkrides gone sour and the showed the moxie -- or lack of good judgment -- to share their horrors. Submitters' names have been redacted, because we assumed they were bogus to begin with.

Short But Not Always Sweet

On the Private checkride, I couldn't do slow flight. On the Instrument, my oral was way off. On my glider ride, I came in short on landing but, luckily, got the chance to do it over.

It gets better.

On my Commercial ride, the examiner called my Lazy 8's "El Stinko." In some countries, that's a compliment.

My student was at the end of the runway, and the examiner asked him whether he had finished his checklist. Examinee replied, "Yes." Examiner asked again with the same reply, at which point the examiner instructed him to taxi back to the ramp with a pink slip.

Apparently, while the Cessna's door handle had been pushed to the down position, the door was still open. I had to give the student a lesson on checklist usage in the airplane, and then sign him off for another checkride 20 minutes later, which was successful. Shortest "flight" for a checkride failure I'd ever seen.

Here's a checkride flop with a stiff-upper-lip tone: I forgot to change to area frequency and forgot to change squawk code to 1200 VFR after leaving aerodrome vicinity (Class D). Flared too high on one landing and thumped it down. That's about it.

It was 1976 at Jefferson County Airport (North of Denver) when I took my Private pilot checkride. The examiner was easily 300 pounds. For the weight-and-balance calculation, he said he weighed 150 pounds. My instructor had weighed 135 pounds, and I'd never flown the Cessna 150 over gross (that's my excuse).

Everything went great until a simulated short-field landing. At 10 feet, the C-150 fell out of the sky. We hit so hard that I thought that I had lost a couple of fillings but managed to keep the nose up. I stammered something about "getting behind on that one," while the examiner motioned me into the first turn-off. I figured that was it, but he passed me anyway. Maybe he feared having to go up with me again.

I'd been cautioned to always turn toward runway/airport after losing power in the pattern. On the Private checkride, I got a power-out at the beginning of the base leg, so I turned toward the runway and found myself over the numbers at 700 feet. Sheesh. Hammered in a huge slip with a transition to landing and serious braking while the examiner went into a fake coronary. I passed and started learning to fly.

On my 1973 Private pilot checkride, anxious to do a perfect power-off short-field approach over a 50-foot obstacle, I turned base way too soon (OK, twice) and was at least 100 feet above the runway. The examiner gave me one last chance to get it right, and thankfully I did.

Ya Gotta Know The Territory

[And this candidate did not: ]

I was an Iowa flat-lander spending two weeks in Idaho, prepping for my Private pilot ride. After barely skating through the written, I was to take the checkride in Missoula, Mont. The examiner wanted me to plan a cross-country to places I'd never heard of, and after scouring five sectionals, I confessed that I had no clue where we were supposed to go. "You're not from around these parts," was her comment. "Oh, hell. Let's go fly anyway," she said in her best Martha Lunken impression. I remember absolutely nothing about the flight other than she had put that Grumman in one nasty unusual attitude and calmly said, "Your airplane."

It was 1980. I was 18 years old and on my checkride at the Gainesville, Fla., airport where I worked. I was nervous. The examiner asked me to flightplan for Crystal River, Fla., on the Gulf of Mexico and left me alone to plot my course, obtain a weather briefing and then preflight the aircraft, while he sipped coffee and chatted with my coworkers who were all there to see me become a licensed pilot.

I was ready, and as we climbed into the aircraft, he asked my initial heading. Sure of myself, I said, "018 degrees." I obtained permission to taxi and gave the tower my direction of flight. My mind was racing and my palms were sweaty when, halfway through my run-up, I realized I had given the examiner and ATC the reciprocal heading for my intended destination. I was going to end up in Georgia!

I confessed to a major goof and asked if he wanted me to taxi back to the FBO. He laughed and said he just wanted to see what was going to happen once we were airborne. I called the tower and corrected my error, but the bad part was our FBO had a loudspeaker on the ramp, so everybody heard my mistake.

I passed, and three months later I was at Keystone Airport (42J) and heard a guy on the radio report, "Downwind Runway 77." I guess 22 can look like 77 upside down and just figured the poor shlub was on his checkride.

My ICUS (in command, under supervision) checkride was to be an aeronautical navigation flight. This was way before GPS. I had to plan a three-hour VFR flight that was fuel-efficient and hit the return-to-base ETA within five minutes.


I simply wasn't ready for it. I had a rough idea of the checkpoints' general locations but got all screwed up in the planning phase by messing up the weather, using wrong expected TAS figures and more.

The CFI didn't say a word. About two hours after departure, I was thoroughly lost and started making landmarks "fit" the map. It wasn't until we were getting close to a busy airport's control zone, about 50 miles east of where I thought we were, that the instructor asked, "Where are we?" I confidently answered, "Here," while pointing at the map.

"No, we aren't," he replied and added, "My controls while you work out where we really are and then how to get back to base."

And that was it, checkride busted. Mortified, I determined our location, the route home and rescheduled the checkride.

I almost didn't make it to the flight part of my Private pilot exam because of a mapping scenario. My home airport was on both sides of the Chicago sectional, and I'd never had to plan a flight from one side to the other. Naturally, the examiner wanted to see me do just that. Wasn't pretty. Additionally, he quizzed me on everything he could possibly find for two hours. Then, on the flight, my VOR stopped working. Thought I was skunked but passed nonetheless, with the examiner saying I was a "good airplane driver." I think that was a compliment ...

[And one from the student-bites-examiner file: ]

The examiner ordered a short-field landing, and when I selected less than full flaps, he berated me and insisted that I show him exactly where it says that my technique was acceptable for that airplane. He began fishing through the POH.

Granted, I probably did do it wrong. The only smart thing I did that day was telling him that I wasn't going to discuss it in the air, and that we could look it up once we were safely on the ground. Hey, it worked. I passed.

After not flying for 20 years, I was on a checkride that wasn't going so well. High on approach, I slipped to reduce altitude but slipped away from the wind, which felt really weird. Fortunately, I landed on the runway, although, the examiner wasn't impressed.

Before my tailwheel checkout, the instructor showed me a shattered propeller in the briefing room, explaining that it was the result of a downwind landing. This illustrated his opinion of such carelessness

Off we went to fly.

There was a brisk wind, so I was being careful of my control positions as I slowly taxied to the runway ... the wrong end of the runway, setting myself up for a downwind departure. Blush!

While landing with full flaps the examiner called a go-around. Slow and about to touch the runway, I added full throttle but couldn't arrest the descent, so the wheels touched the runway.

Additionally, a wing dipped and I corrected with aileron only. This got me into an oscillation, banking left and right because of the lack of compensation for the induced yaw. I was able to recover and did pass my checkride, but the examiner told me I needed to use the rudder pedals.

Snatched From The Jaws of Failure

My instructor warned that the examiner was a real stickler for performing clearing turns and had flunked many applicants on that single item. Of course, when the examiner called for steep turns, I immediately banked without the clearing turns. Defeat was imminent, but when he commented, "Hope no other airplanes are up here with us," I explained through a sweaty grin that my first steep turn was, in fact, a clearing turn. It didn't fool him, but he accepted my dumb explanation, and I made it through the rest of the examination. Whew, that was close ...

I was horribly nervous on my Private checkride, babbling through the oral despite trembling knees. The flight didn't settle things as the examiner requested a steep turn.

Immediately, I dropped 50 feet within the first 10 degrees of turn but managed to arrest the descent at 120 feet below target. As I climbed back up, the examiner said, "Now that you've gotten that out of your system, let's do it again, only correctly this time, shall we?" Happily, the rest of the turn, indeed, the rest of the checkride, proceeded with minimal burbles as I remembered a bit of advice from my instructor: "Remember to breathe. You already know how to do everything else." Surprising just how much self-induced hypoxia can affect performance.

The examiner pulled the throttle to idle to simulate an engine-out. I selected a suitable landing site after making sure that the aircraft was in the proper glide speed, stabilized with trim set. I said that I would try to restart but, failing that, I'd head to a nice, flat, grassy field to land. I circled and at 500 feet, set up the approach with flaps. Wind was gusting with low-level turbulence shear. As we approached the pasture, a gust caught the airplane and suddenly we were looking at the ground from the passenger-side window because the wings seemed almost vertical. I leveled the airplane and looked at the examiner. His hands were almost on the yoke. "All right," he said, "Add power and let's head back to the airport." Returning to the airport I bounced twice but managed a three-pointer on the third try. I passed the flight exam, but learned that you really shouldn't scare the crap out of the check pilot, as evidenced by the 30-minute post-flight lecture.

IFR Foibles

On my instrument checkride, I set the ILS frequency but didn't notice that it was on standby. When the approach wasn't working right, I figured out what was wrong and initiated a missed approach. So far, so good. Unfortunately, I skipped a step on the landing checklist (fullest tank) and ran out of gas. I responded instantly, and the engine picked back up, but by then the checkride was over.

On my instrument checkride, I was doing a missed approach, and the examiner said to climb and maintain 1800 feet. I leveled off at 800 feet, because it felt like we'd been climbing long enough to be there when the long needle approached 800, at which point I failed.

On the ILS during my IFR checkride, I accepted an ATC request to increase speed. I should have refused but wanted to impress the check airman with how cool I was under pressure. Not cool at all when I blew the approach and the rest of the ride.

Instrument-Checkride-Day weather was crappola when we launched, and I immediately turned the wrong way (away from) the VOR for my first approach. Had to re-schedule so that I could show that I knew the difference between TO and FROM.

During my helicopter ATP checkride, when completely brain-dead, the examiner asked me to enter a holding pattern.

Easy, until I flew the pattern in reverse direction and flunked.

Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

In 1966, with 36 hours logged, I went to a designated examiner, a grizzled old timer who made me do commercial maneuvers and then requested that I do an instrument approach. When I protested that I was only there for a Private license, he said, "Son, if you want a Private license, then my requirements are that you fly an approach." I took the approach plate that I had never seen before and flew the approach. Thinking that I had aced the ride, my ego was shattered when he said, "Amazing how you made it within sight of the approach end of the runway even though you used the NDB chart and flew the VOR approach."†

[Being told that your Lazy 8s are "El Stinko," might seem like the ultimate checkride putdown, but this examiner's comment to a busted applicant wins the truth-shall-set-you-free award: ]

"I don't believe you should continue flying. You've shown me every negative skill a pilot could jamb into one single hour. If you love flying that much, ya gotta start all over at ground zero."


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AVweb Insider <="221974">

Air carriers encounter turbulence every day and I wouldnít be surprised if it causes minor injuries nearly as often that we just donít hear about. On Sunday, a U.S. Airways flight departing Philadelphia caught some nasty bumps over Delaware that bounced people off the overheads and injured a few passengers and at least one flight attendant. As these things go, it wasnít at all an exceptional example of how bad things can get. When the flight has to be met by a half dozen ambulances and paramedics, the encounter was serious. This one didnít require that. But check out these photos of a Singapore Airlines A380 that hit extreme turbulence on the way to London last summer. The coffee splat on the cabin ceiling was an especially dramatic touch.

The good thing is that the vast majority of passengers will never see this kind of turbulence. But the bad thing is not having seen how bad bad can be, they traipse around the cabin unsecured as if on the way from the couch to the refrigerator. Frankly, this makes me nervous as hell. When the flight attendants push the drink trolly up the aisle, that makes me nervous as hell, too. Iíve seen those things come off the deck even in mild bumps. And when I go to the lav, I use one hand for business and the other to maintain a death grip on the helper handle and I jam my head against the ceiling. Then I rush back to my seat and strap in, all the while nervous as hell. Iím not worried about crashing; Iím worried about a broken arm or a concussion.

Thatís because Iíve seen how bad bad can get and I secretly suspect it can be even worse than that. Iíve also seen how the bump from hell can be just a single jolt that comes out of nowhere, neither forecast nor indicated in any way. After Sundayís report appeared, I pulled up the prog chart and had an intense case of dťjŗ vu. The pressures and front features were almost identical to an encounter I had in the mid-1990s in a Mooney enroute from Connecticut to Norfolk, Virginia. Iím sure Iíve mentioned this before, but a quick search doesnít pull it up.

As with the Sunday flight, there was a low off the Atlantic coast and a high over the south. In my case, it was actually a March Noríeaster. I was cruising along in IMC on Victor 1 south of JFK with a 30-knot push and the next thing I knew, my headset was around my throat, the autopilot kicked off and a bag of Famous Amos chocolate-chip cookies I was munching was suddenly scattered across the glareshield. Flying an approach into anywhere would have been a challenge, seeing as how my Jepp binders had either landed in the backseat or down by the right-side rudder pedals. Iím not sure I ever figured it out. I could push the PTT, but I couldnít rotate the frequency selector to contact the next sector. Neither could anyone else on the frequency. It lasted about 10 or 15 minutes, I guess, then I broke out into the clear and the groundspeed dropped from 180 to about 90 knots.

That experience traumatized me toward turbulence and realizing now that it was almost 20 years ago, the effect was permanent. On the other hand, Iím among that handful of passengers on airliners that flight attendants never have to remind to strap in. The number of people who donít do this is alarming. On the last flight I was on, of four people in the row, two were unbelted just after top of climb. It was a smooth trip, but as that Mooney flight taught me, you can be lolling one minute and launched the next. I have considered reminding people to belt in, not because I care that much about them, but because I donít want to fend off a kneeóor worseóto the noggin (or worse). Iím thinking Iíll put those Singapore photos on my iPad and just show them. People tend to believe the Captain will warn them before the bumps come, but we all know the fallacy of that.

Hats off to the FAs who stand up and navigate the cabin in light chop. I wouldnít blame them or the Captain a bit if they kept everyone seated through any kind of turbulence event. In fact, I would prefer it. I can do just fine without my Diet Pepsi and pretzels.†

Some climatologists say that with climate change, extreme turbulence events may be more frequent or more extreme. Given the way data is collected and processed in the modern airline world, maybe weíll be able to draw colorful graphs and charts to show if this is true or just more unsubstantiated Cassandraism. I donít care, since Iím going to be belted in from gate to gate. I just wish other people would do the same. I wouldnít mind a bit if cabin crews got more aggressive in nudging people to stay strapped in. Iím a loud and proud turbulence chicken and not afraid to admit it.

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Epic hopes to begin deliveries of its E1000, the certified version of the LT owner-built aircraft, in 2015. †AVweb and Aviation Consumer's Rick Durden toured the plant in Bend, Oregon and flew an LT.

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AOPA launched their first new regional fly-in last weekend in San Marcos, Texas. †AVweb's Mary Grady talks with Katie Pribyl, AOPA's vice president in charge of events, to find out more about how the new format worked out and whether it's meeting the association's goals.

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Jeppesen has brought back its Chart Clinic educational program with a modern twist. †Jeppesen's Reggie Arsenault talks about the integration of its apps for IFR and VFR charts into the new series of Chart Clinics.

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Avidyne's IFD540 navigator has been stalled in certification for a couple of years, but the company said it plans to begin deliveries at the end of June 2014. †Aviation Consumer's Larry Anglisano had a look at the IFD540 during a flight demo at Sun 'n Fun 2014 and got an update on the project from Avidyne's Tom Harper.

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Picture of the Week <="221948">
Picture of the Week

While we haven't caught up to the blood moon pics from this past week, the silver lady is on our minds this week, which could explain why we're leading offing this edition of "PotW" with a shot from Brian Buck of Irmo, SC. Click through for more reader-submitted photos.

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