Bigger and Better Oshkosh in 2012?

An article by Alyssa J. Miller at AOPA online highlights some new additions to Oshkosh next year including a potential Space Shuttle visit.

“One of the features Smith said he hopes to pull off is a space shuttle arrival. “I don’t want to promise that it will happen,” he stressed. The retired shuttles are being delivered to their final resting places at museums across the country, and Smith said he hopes to get one to make a detour during its travels.

In addition, the show will feature the Piper J-3 Cub, celebrating its seventy-fifth anniversary, a Tuskegee Airmen reunion, and Richard VanGrunsven flying in the first RV-1 which will later be donated to EAA’s museum.”

Read the entire article here.

Third Class Medical Free-for-All

A few days ago I referenced AOPA’s and EAA’s efforts to change the requirements for the third class medical. We’re seeing a lot of people weigh in on this. Here’s an interesting take from David Wartofsky, whose petition to the FAA started the ball rolling on this topic:

“My petition (FAA 2009-0481) proposes replacing the third class medical for private-use aircraft under 6,000 lbs with a driver’s license. No commerce is involved (remember that interstate commerce clause), and pilots of small family airplanes cannot be any more of a threat to themselves, their passengers, or people on the ground, than driving any SUV along the road. In fact, they are less of a threat in their airplane.

AOPA EAA’s recent proposal is really just incrementally expanding the sport pilot medical; and then barely an inch. At least for some, it would appear,a “small step for a man” remains a terrifying leap for the status quo.Who are they trying to please? I thought these guys were supposed to represent their membership!”

You can read the entire post here.

Cirrus Changing Hands (Again)

If you haven’t been focusing on GA recently, Cirrus Aircraft was sold to a Chinese investor. In another great blog post by J. Mac McClellan over at the Left Seat, he follows the trials and tribulations of GA manufacturing over the last 30 years by focusing on Cirrus.

“Human economic behavior is perverse. We buy expensive items such as houses and stocks when prices are high, but sell them, or don’t buy, when prices go down. And we spend millions on dream airplanes, but when an airplane becomes real, is in production, and is available, we object to the price and don’t buy or invest.

I thought about this while following the saga of Cirrus, one of the most successful general aviation startups ever. I can’t think of a general aviation company in the U.S.that was launched after World War II that lasted long enough to build more than a handful of airplanes. Internationally there are examples of more recently founded successful airplane manufacturers with Airbus and Embraer being the leading examples, but they focused from the beginning on transport airplanes, not GA.”

Read the whole post here.

The Finer Points Podcasts

Obviously, there is a wealth of information about flying on the internet. One that I’ve really enjoyed is called The Finer Points Aviation Podcast. After a brief hiatus, Jason Miller is back delivering regular podcasts. If you’ve never checked it out before, it’s worth your time. His most recent podcast tackles induced drag and does a good job taking on a tough subject.

You can find it here.

Expansion of the Driver’s License Medical?

This is good news for those pilots flying purely for recreation: AOPA and EAA will file a proposal with the FAA to change the requirements to fly aircraft that now require a third class medical. This will open a large number of airplanes – including our club’s Cessna 172 and Piper Cherokee – to pilots who only hold a driver’s license.

““We have more than five years’ experience now with the sport pilot certificate and the driver’s license medical standard,” said Hightower. “In that time, we have not had a single medical incapacitation accident. The standard works”…..

As envisioned, the exemption would be limited by aircraft size and type of operations—for example, a single-engine aircraft, with 180 horsepower or less, four seats or fewer, and fixed gear and operations limited to day VFR, with one passenger. That would greatly expand the number of aircraft a pilot might fly while operating under a driver’s license medical standard.

Read the announcement here.

Morning Fog

It’s interesting how the morning fog did not burn off as quickly as forecast. The Weather Channel is still calling for a mostly sunny day. Take a look at the METARs from around the area at just around 11am local time:

KSUS 231554Z 00000KT 2SM BR OVC006 13/11 A3013 RMK AO2 RAB1458E18 CIG 004V010 SLP204 P0001 T01280111
KSTL 231601Z 00000KT 4SM BR OVC004 13/12 A3014 RMK AO2
KCPS 231600Z 00000KT 4SM BR OVC004 12/12 A3013 RMK AO2

KSET 231554Z AUTO 00000KT 10SM FEW060 17/08 A3013 RMK AO2 SLP200 T01720078 TSNO
KALN 231550Z VRB03KT 10SM FEW010 BKN060 15/11 A3013

Although rare for our region, it’s interesting to see that even without thunderstorms how just a few miles difference can cause a VFR flight to find instrument meteorological conditions (IMC).

The Importance of a Trim Tab

Much of the national media – not to mention the aviation media – has been focused on the tragedy at the Reno air races last weekend. The focus of the investigation appears to be around the trim tab and its importance in flight.

J. Mac McClellan does an excellent job of explaining why such a small piece of the airplane matter so much when it comes to stable flight.

“Trim systems are important on any airplane because they are used to neutralize control forces across the airspeed operating range of the airplane. Trim is also used to compensate for forces caused by various CG locations, and to remove control force caused by an out of balance condition such as more fuel in one wing than the other. Extension and retraction of wing flaps also generates pitch force changes in most airplanes.

But pitch trim takes on an even greater importance in a racing airplane because the airplane is flying at the edge of, or more likely beyond, its original design airspeed.”

The entire post is worth a read, you can find it here.

Free Safety Seminar and Pork Steak Dinner

Everyone’s heard of the $100 hamburger, what about the $100 pork steak? To Farmington and back is approximately 1.4 on the hobbs for N1061X.

What: Pilot/Controller Seminar and Pork Steak Dinner at Farmington Airport

Where: Farmington Airport, Hangar D
Perrine Drive
Farmington, MO 63640

When: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 , starting at 6:00 pm

ATC specialist Scott Berken from Downtown St. Louis Control Tower will be speaking during the forum. You can register for the event here.

Vexing Problem for Emergency Response

Most general aviation aircraft are outfitted with older Emergency Locator Transmitters that broadcast on radio frequency 121.5. One of the major problems of upgrading them is the cost.

This article from the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Magazine makes the case that there should be a significant change in regulation to take advantage of cheaper off-the-shelf options.

“We have a situation,” says NTSB survival factors investigator Jason Fedok, “where you have the most technologically advanced country in the world that is basically allowing a large segment of the pilot population to fly unprotected by any sort of real technology. It’s patently ridiculous.”

Read the article here.