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The FAA will allow the GA community an extra 30 days to comment on a proposed policy that spells out what is considered acceptable use of a hangar, EAA said late Tuesday afternoon. The request for comments was due to expire this Friday, and by Tuesday afternoon more than 1,100 comments had been logged. EAA said it had asked for an extra 60 days, and added that requests were also made by the Commemorative Air Force and U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo. "EAA felt that more time should be granted for the public to weigh in on this important issue for those who have hangars on airports that receive federal grant assurances," said Sean Elliott, EAA's vice president of advocacy and safety. EAA said it requested the extension due to "strong and ongoing member interest in receiving more in-depth understanding of the issue, combined with a desire to provide meaningful comments about the policy."

EAA has said it supports the FAA's creation of a hangar-use policy because it helps eliminate confusion about appropriate hangar use for the aviation community. However, EAA has taken issue with some details of the proposal. For example, EAA believes that all active aircraft construction for education and recreation should be a protected aeronautical activity, and asked the FAA to replace the term "final assembly of aircraft" as a protected aeronautical use to "active assembly of aircraft." EAA said it will submit its detailed comments to the docket close to the deadline in early October.

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Amazon, Google and plenty of others are eager to use drones; the FAA is facing a deadline to allow them into the airspace; pilots are worried about how this will affect them -- and amid all this worrying, NASA scientists are working on new technology that could solve the problem. The solution, says NASA's Parimal Kopardekar, is to create what is essentially a separate system to manage the airspace between the surface and 1,000 feet. The concept now in the works, the Unmanned Aerial System Traffic Management system, or UTM (PDF), aims to safely enable UAS operations within this low-altitude airspace within five years. Within 10 to 15 years, the goal is "to safely enable the anticipated dramatic increase in density of all low-altitude airspace operations," according to NASA's fact sheet.

NASA is collaborating closely with the FAA to develop the UTM, and when it is thoroughly tested a prototype will be transferred to the FAA -- the plan is, by 2019. The system will enable low-altitude aircraft to operate autonomously for the most part, with limited need for human oversight. The NASA project is working on two types of systems -- a portable system for operations such as agriculture and disaster relief, which could be ready for testing within the next year or so, and a permanent system that would provide continuous support for low-altitude UAS operations across a geographical area, which could start field tests with private-sector partners as soon as 2016.


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All five people on board a Piper PA-46 Malibu died when it crashed on Sunday, shortly before noon, near the Erie Municipal Airport in Colorado, about 25 miles northwest of Denver. Peter Knudson, spokesman for the NTSB, said the airplane had taken off from Centennial Airport, south of Denver, and was attempting to land when it crashed in a field to one side of the runway. The weather was clear at the time, Knudson said. Three of the occupants were declared dead at the scene, and two were taken to local hospitals where they later died. "We heard it sputtering," Jan Culver, a witness, told the Boulder Daily Camera. "Then there was no sound. We knew it crashed."

Local media identified the pilot as Oliver E. Frascona, a real-estate lawyer, who owned the airplane and lived in the neighborhood adjacent to the airport where the crash occurred. The identities of the other victims have not yet been released.

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The FAA says it hasn't yet dealt with more than 30 requests from companies and groups that want to fly small unmanned aerial systems for commercial purposes in the U.S. The companies, like Wilbur-Ellis Co., a California-based agribusiness corporation, have been filing Petitions for Exemption from a host of regulations that add up to the FAA's current prohibition on commercial drone use. Wilbur-Ellis wants to use UAS vehicles to survey agricultural operations but other companies are proposing uses ranging from motion picture work to inspecting smoke stacks. The exemption requests have been trickling in a few at a time over the past few months but an FAA spokesperson said the agency hasn't made a decision on any of them. The perceived foot-dragging may have led to Google's announcement last week that it's testing Project Wing drone package delivery in Australia.

According to Forbes blogger Gregory S. McNeal, Google did the testing in Australia because of "dithering" by the FAA on moving forward with more permissive UAS regulations. He noted that Amazon has gone the exemption route to try to test its well-publicized aerial delivery proposal but in the absence of a decision from the FAA may have to go overseas, too. In a letter accompanying the exemption request, Paul Misener, Amazon's VP of global public policy, said the company wants to do the research on U.S. soil, namely property it owns near Seattle. Misener said Prime Air has been able to make significant strides toward a workable delivery system by testing indoors and in other countries but would "prefer to keep the focus, jobs, and investment of this important research and development initiative in the United States."


Continental Motors has announced a major fleet sale of its CD-135 diesel engine to a Spanish flight school. Aerodynamics Malaga S.L. will retrofit 16 Cessna 172s with the diesel and the first four are headed for the shop immediately. Two of the school's mechanics have been certified to look after the engines after attending a training course in Germany, and Aerodynamics will become a Continental service center for the diesels. Ken Suda, president of Continental Motors Germany, said the company is "proud" that a major school has opted for the diesel.

"With the Continental CD-100 engine series, Aerodynamics is deliberately opting for a fuel-efficient and easy-to-operate diesel engine that runs on jet fuel," he said. Continental is claiming a 60-percent reduction in direct operating costs when the reduced burn and lower cost of Jet-A are put together. But a major consideration in the re-engine decision is the availability of avgas. "In Spain, the availability of avgas is only guaranteed in well-populated areas, whereas at smaller airports, avgas has to be ordered three or four days in advance," said Wolfgang Biereth, head of sales for Continental in Germany.

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Since it's a holiday here in the U.S., here's a video with no news in it at all, but just some beauty shots of flying above the mountains of Alaska, mostly above Denali National Park and the Yukon, in a Sonex. Pilot Aaron Knight posted this online a few days ago, and says it came from "14.5 hours of HD handheld and wingcam video condensed down to 5.5 minutes of Epic Insanity and a perfect film score." Knight says the trip was flown over eight days in July, covering more than 7,000 miles and more than 80 hours of flying.


Life gets dull in the middle of the envelope. To excel demands exploring the outer limits. But when approaching the edge, as poet Christopher Logue warns, be ready to step over ... and fly. Assuming you've aced this quiz.

Take the quiz.


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Logbooks as a means of preserving precious memories of flight are way overrated because most of us just jot down the basics, rarely making note of how scared, excited or inspired we were by a particular flight or lesson. So even if I could find my first logbook, it would be of no use in helping me remember if, as a student, I was scared of stalls. I don't remember being scared, but I do recall my instructor telling me I'd never solo if I didn't learn to do them correctly. (I had a military instructor; everything was by the numbers.)

But I'm surprised at how many people are nervous about performing stalls and terrified of anything other than a plain-vanilla, power-off, wings-level stall. And then just once, please. A couple of months ago, I was giving some taildragger stick time to a young student about to solo in a tri-gear airplane. A mutual friend said she was interested in Cubs. During the stall series, over the clatter and swirl of the Cub's typical stall, I could detect definite unease. Not fear, but noticeable discomfort and a request to move on to something else.

All instructors have strategies to deal with this, but it's not something that can or should be swept under the rug in hopes that the student will wobble through the checkride and never see a stall again. Loss of control, stall, stall-mush and stall-spins are still a leading cause of accidents, many of them fatal. The current fashion is to believe angle-of-attack indicators are the magic technology that will finally solve this problem and I hope the people who believe this are right. I'm not among them, yet.

It will be years before AoA indicators are fielded in sufficient numbers to have much effect so in the interim, we're left with teaching stalls the same way we always have—by feel, sight picture and airspeed indicator. The Cub, if you've never flown one, is a unique classroom for stalls. You can do them at 500 feet if you want, but stalls are a whole body experience. Weather permitting, almost everyone flies the Cub with the door open. As the alpha comes up, you feel and hear the wind flow change and the elevator loses bite as a function of lower airspeed.

The slipstream pattern changes and the lower door floats up just as the stall is about to break, such that it does break, which isn't much. The Cub has a unique and mistakable lightening in pitch force right at the stall if the stick is full back, where it should be. It's exactly the same feeling you have on sticking a perfect three-pointer and you'll know, beyond the slightest doubt, that the airplane lacks the energy to bounce and you won't even think of using brakes to stop, you'll be going so slow. Which is good, since the stock brakes in a Cub pretty much suck anyway.

Compared to the more abstract stall sensations in even a light trainer like a Cessna 152, in a Cub—or an open cockpit anything—the experience is more visceral. There are multiple cues, not just a whining horn or an airspeed indicator or a little buffet. Despite that, people still stall Cubs and make smoking craters. Despite the smiling bear on the tail, they will bite if abused and ignored. But compared to stalls in a glass-equipped airplane, which I've done from the left and right seat, Cub stalls are just more involving and more educational. It's one thing to see the glass tell you which direction to point the nose to recover, quite another to feel the air swirling up your nose with a whiff of exhaust gas. 

But back to stall fear and what to do about it. I don't have any genius solutions for this. My strategy has always been to discuss it with the student and explain that the Practical Test Standards require the would-be pilot to explain the factors involved in a stall and demonstrate same. So I flip roles and have the student take over the white board and explain stall theory and how we'll demonstrate them in the airplane. And I generally keep my hands off the controls for that demo because I have always believed that people mostly teach themselves to fly. The instructor is there to advise, consult and keep the airplane out of the ruts. (On our Cub flight that day, I didn't do that second part worth a damn, but that's a story for another blog.)

On flight reviews with interested pilots, I have sometimes spent most of the flight portion fooling around with stalls—turning stalls, high-alpha departure stalls and accelerated stalls. And I've flown with other instructors who know far more than me about this subject and enjoyed the experience, passing it on to others who, I hope, have benefitted. I make no claims about having stall proofed anyone. But you can't learn to avoid what you can't recognize, so what the hell…go fly some stalls. In a Cub, if you can find one. You won't regret the experience.

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