Archive for July, 2013

Strange but true general aviation news

Friday, July 26th, 2013

 General aviation as a crime fighting tool. Kevin Weber, owner of  Weber Farms near Quincy, Wash., and a pilot, was a man with a problem — someone had stolen his dump truck and trailer. His solution? After receiving an anonymous tip, he got in his aircraft and flew over an area near Grand Coulee and saw his truck and trailer in the yard of a man who had worked for him four years ago, reports the Yakima Herald. The man was arrested and the equipment was returned.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a drone?  Some pranksters in the San Francisco Bay Area decided to have fun with drivers by posting signs saying “Speed Enforced By Drones,” reports CBS San Francisco. The California Highway Patrol confirmed that the signs are fake, but that they were done very professionally.

Speaking of drones… Florida’s Highway 98 near Panama City was shut down for 24 hours after an Air Force QF-4 drone crashed and exploded, reports Flying magazine . No one was hurt in the explosion.

Put the camera away. National Geographic freelance aerial photographer George Steinmetz was arrested and charged with trespassing after he was caught photographing a feedlot, reports Huffington Post.

Fake pilot, real flying. A man going by the name of Alex Coussirat was arrested by the FBI after it was discovered he was flying helicopters for Mercy Flight Central in the Syracuse area for eight months — without an airman’s certificate, reports Coussirat is actually John M. Dial, a former military pilot unable to get a certificate because of his criminal record.

Diesel market special report in “Pilot”

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Just as the deal is announced between AVIC in China, and the bankrupt Thielert diesel engine company in Germany, AOPA Pilot has published a special report on where diesels are headed. There are several general references to a deal to bring Thielert out of bankruptcy in the article, as well as comments on Continental’s plans to stake its future on sales of diesel engines to the world market, if not so much to the United States.

Continental is owned by the same Chinese company, AVIC, that acquired Thielert. The deal means that Continental suddenly can offer a complete line of diesel engines. Before its bankruptcy, Thielert even had a 350-horsepower diesel on several Cessna 206 aircraft, but development ended with bankruptcy. Continental now has access to that technology, along with the smaller engines. Continental certified in December its 230-horsepower diesel based on technology it bought from SMA, the company that used its refined, second generation technology to win the trust of Cessna Aircraft for the Cessna 182 now nearing deliveries.

Check out our special 3,000-word report on where diesel technology is headed in the August issue of AOPA Pilot already released as a digital edition, and reaching mailboxes now.

Headed to Airventure? See the GAMA/Build a Plane Glasairs

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013


Many of you are on your way to AirVenture 2013, and many more of you are planning to head to Oshkosh in just a few days.

Dan Lutgen (left), Julia Garner (center) and a Glasair employee work on a wing.

Dan Lutgen (left), Julia Garner (center) and a Glasair employee work on a wing.

I hope there’s time in your schedule to stop by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association/Build a Plane tent and see for yourself the Glasair Sportsmans (Sportsmen?) that were built by eight teenagers last month. (I blogged the build and you’ll see a complete feature article in the October 2012 issue of AOPA Pilot magazine.)

The teens themselves will be at AirVenture—look for a group of kids in matching T-shirts.

The GAMA/BAP exhibit is 299,  which, according to the map in the Sporty’s app, is right next to Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Hangar A.

See you at AirVenture!

Postal Service to issue ‘inverted Jenny’ collector stamp

Friday, July 19th, 2013

(c) 2013 U.S. Postal Service

(c) 2013 U.S. Postal Service

Philatelists, start your engines: The U.S. Postal Service plans to issue a collector stamp commemorating “the most famous error in the history of U.S. stamps”: the 1918 misprint that produced an upside-down Curtiss-Jenny biplane.

The reprinted inverted Jenny stamp will be issued Sept. 22 for $2. The original inverted Jenny was issued in 1918 and cost 24 cents. The postal service is using the original engraved dies of the 1918 stamp in the design of the 2013 edition.

If you happen to own one of the originals, good for you. The Postal Service says collectors have accounted for nearly all of the 1oo inverted Jennys that were produced. One recently sold at auction for $625,000.

The 1981 original. (c) 2013 U.S. Postal Service

The 1918 original. (c) 2013 U.S. Postal Service

Strange but true general aviation news

Friday, July 19th, 2013

It’s a bird, it’s a plane — it’s a metal clipboard! Gus Binos of  Long Island, N.Y., is still reeling from seeing a metal object that fell from the sky and hit the ground a few feet from where he was standing, reports NBC New York. The object turned out to be a metal clipboard that had flight patterns and navigation guidelines for flying through the Hudson River corridor and around the Statue of Liberty, and a runway map of MacArthur Airport.

Can’t we all play nicely. Youths in Australia thought it would be fun to destroy a 100,000-piece Lego helicopter worth $23,000 that was on display at a local mall, reports the New York Post. It took Ryan “The Brickman” McNaught  six weeks to build the helicopter. The youths fled after destroying the model.

Tagged — you’re it. A Learjet valued at $2.3 million was spray painted with gang-related graffiti as it sat at Van Nuys Airport, reports CBS Los Angeles. The damage is estimated to be $100,000.

Flying with Frank Sinatra. Arik Kislin, a businessman in Kings Point, N.Y., has donated a Gulfstream II business jet previously owned by Frank Sinatra to the Western Suffolk BOCES aviation maintenance program, reports Newsday. The students will use the aircraft for training.

Fake monk? No… Last week we reported an item about Thai Buddhist monks flying on a private jet, wearing expensive sunglasses and carrying Louis Vuitton bags.  The monk carrying the Vuitton bad turns out to be a fake monk who is allegedly married and having relationships with seven other women Thailand’s Department of Special Investigations told the Daily Mail.

A sad end. The first aircraft with the Air Force One designation — a 1948 a Lockheed VC-121 Constellation 48-610 used by President Dwight D. Eisenhower — is now decaying away in a field at Marana Regional Airport, reports the Air Force Times. The aircraft’s caretaker is looking for a museum willing to spend $200,000 restore it.

All’s well that ends well. Two skydivers and their pilot managed to escape from their aircraft right before it crashed into some trees in Auckland, New Zealand, reports A pilot and his passenger made a successful landing in a field across the street from New Jersey’s Blairstown Airport, reports Aliosman A. Bilukbash of Sciota, Pa., made an emergency landing in a field near a bank just outside Braden Airpark in Forks Township, Pa., reports the Pocono Record.

We’ll end the week with this YouTube clip of plane spotters at RAF Waddington in England getting quite a scare after a Eurofighter Typhoon came dangerously close the the spectators during a recent air show. Enjoy!

Why Icon DID get its LSA weight exemption

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

UPDATE: Icon has been granted its 250-lb weight exemption. Here’s our story by AOPA Senior Editor Dave Hirschman.



LOS ANGELES, July 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued its decision to grant ICON Aircraft’s petition for exemption to allow an increased takeoff weight for ICON’s A5 amphibious Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) up to a maximum of 1680 lbs. The exemption would accommodate, among other safety features, a Spin-Resistant Airframe (SRA) which enables the A5 to better avoid loss-of-control scenarios due to stall/spins. The company announced in February of 2012 that the A5 had been successfully tested to and met the full FAA Part 23 standard for spin resistance. The FAA exemption will allow the A5 to become the first conventional production aircraft to meet this rigorous safety standard.


In its Grant of Exemption No. 10829 issued to ICON Aircraft Inc., the FAA stated, “The combined design features and SRA concepts incorporated into the ICON A5 design . . . are recognized by the FAA as significant safety enhancements.” The FAA went further to state: “The FAA determined that granting relief from the MTOW (Maximum Takeoff Weight) for LSA for this specific safety enhancement is in the public interest and is also consistent with the FAA’s goals of increasing safety for small planes.”

“We’re excited the FAA has recognized the importance of this accomplishment to the future of aviation safety,” said ICON Aircraft Founder and CEO Kirk Hawkins. “For decades now, statistics have shown that loss of control due to stall/spin situations is the leading cause of pilot-related fatal accidents in General Aviation. ICON spent an extraordinary amount of time and resources going well beyond the call of duty to achieve this important safety milestone.”

The FAA’s decision enables ICON to continue with A5 manufacturing, currently scheduled for first production aircraft in spring 2014. The FAA’s published guidance allows up to 120 days to issue a decision on any exemption request; however, ICON’s exemption request was not approved until 14 months after it was filed in May of 2012. Faced with the delay, ICON was forced to move forward with an interim design weight that still guaranteed the safety benefits of a Spin-Resistant Airframe. As a result, the initial production A5 will have a max gross takeoff weight of 1510 lbs, an 80-pound increase over the standard 1430-pound amphibious LSA maximum. “We had to make some tough engineering decisions in order to keep the program moving forward given the FAA delay,” said ICON VP of Engineering, Matthew Gionta. “But in the end, we got to a great place and are on the verge of delivering one of the safest, most user-friendly Light Sport Aircraft possible today.”

In a speech titled “A New Look at Certification” delivered October 11, 2012, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta mapped out the FAA’s vision for the future of aircraft certification where regulations encourage innovation by being less prescriptive and where complexity and performance are used as aircraft criteria instead of weight and propulsion. “We applaud the FAA Administrator and his team for demonstrating truly outstanding thought leadership,” said Hawkins. “This kind of progressive thinking unleashes innovation within aviation that will have a profoundly positive impact on increasing safety while simultaneously promoting a strong, growing industry for our economy.”

 OLDER STORY JULY 18 with Dan Johnson commentary:

Follow me along here on this advance, speculative reporting. The FAA has just announced that it is near a decision on the requested 250-pound weight exemption needed by Icon Aircraft for its A5 amphibious airplane. (Check back here Monday, July 29, mid-morning, for an update.) What else is near? Could it be that AirVenture occurs in nine days, and the announcement will be made there? To me that is a certainty. To you, your own opinion is fine with me.

Now then. Would the FAA make an announcement unfavorable to an airplane company at a show that draws 600,000 pilots armed with super-sized cups of lemonade loaded with sticky sugar, and just right for throwing? Unlikely. The FAA barely has enough money to send anyone to the show (although you can get controllers to run the tower if you pay enough), let alone pay a huge drycleaning bill. So my deduction is that the weight exemption is approved. Still, try to act like you didn’t know when it is announced.

“I am of two minds on this,” said Dan Johnson, a founder of the light sport aircraft movement and author of See his take on the pending weight increase decision here. “This has the potential to grow the LSA sector, yet some may view this as unfair since they played by an earlier rule set. The FAA may hear from a lot of other producers who would also like to qualify for a safety exemption, and some of those could prepare the right package and get it if Icon does. Will the FAA be able to accommodate multiple requests given their budget? On behalf of the Light Aircraft Manufacturing Association [which Johnson heads] we supported the request for exemption because it has potential to grow the sector,” Johnson said.

Now Icon can go from the 1,430 pounds that light sport seaplanes can now weigh to 1,680 pounds, a 250-pound increase. (However, it was later learned Icon will use only 80 pounds of the exemption allowance.) With that, it’s more likely A5 customers will get the cuffed outer wings that keep the A5’s wingtips, and the aileron, flying when near a stall, and a parachute, folding wings, and retractable gear. “Exemptions sometimes lead to new rulemaking and are used to evaluate approaches to new technologies,” Johnson said.


Strange but true general aviation news

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Let’s fly Con Air! Officials from New Zealand’s Corrections Department spent $6500 to fly some prisoners on a day trip  from Christchurch to Blenheim by private aircraft to appear in a court trial, reports The journey is usually four hours in a truck.

Now landing – the iPad. Pilot Raymond Cody watched as the instrument panel in his cockpit malfunction and his navigation system give out, so what did he do? He called the Transportation Security Administration’s customer service hotline, where an agent was able to walk him through landing at Colorado’s Grand Junction Regional Airport using his iPad, reports Huffington Post.

Next time, rent an aircraft. Joe Barbera had to be rescued from a tree 40 feet in the air after he tried to fly 268 miles in a lawn chair carried by balloons in an attempt to break a world record, reports Northwest Cable News.

Justin Bieber, monkeying around… Pop sensation Justin Bieber kept a private jet chartered take him from Miami to Burbank, Calif., waiting for eight hours. Why? He had chartered a helicopter earlier in the day to fly him to from Miami to West Palm Beach to search for his pet monkey, reports the New York Daily News.

Don’t monks take a vow of poverty? Photos of three Thai monks — one wearing flashy sunglasses, one wearing headsets and one with a Louis Vuitton bag — sitting on a private jet have gone viral, reports the Global Post.  So much for that vow…

Do the crime, do the time. 48-year-old Michael Paul Gallanter and 31-year-old Ethan Oliver Wynne-Wade pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute after being caught with 200 pound of marijuana and other drugs in a Piper PA28 after making a refueling stop at Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport, reports

This may have been overkill.  Flying magazine has posted a video showing a flight instructor and student in a Robinson R22 helicopter who decided to descend and rescue a P-51 scale model that had crashed into a tree — and filmed the rescue. So now the debate is on — was this a smart thing to do?

All’s well that ends well. A couple walked away after having to make an emergency landing in a corn field near Camas, Wash., after their aircraft lost power, reports Oregon Live. Howard Lowden managed to land his Beechcraft Travel Air, without landing gear, at Georgia’s Rowan County Airport, reports the Rome News-Tribune.