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By Editor Staff

Des Porter’s vintage de Havilland DH84 Dragon flew for an hour in low clouds in Australia last month before it crashed in rugged, wooded terrain, killing him and five passengers. The 1934 plane was returning from an airshow to its home airport near Brisbane when it flew into an overcast layer and radioed for help. For the next hour, witnesses on the ground reported seeing the distinctive red twin-engine biplane peek in and out of the low overcast as Porter tried climbing and descending to break out of the clouds, according to a preliminary investigative report. Throughout that time, Porter talked with air traffic controllers, updating them on his fuel status as they tried to dispatch rescue aircraft. Controllers lost radio contact with the plane for the last 17 minutes of its flight, but it took two days for search teams to locate the wreckage. The plane’s right fuel tank had almost 2 gallons of fuel remaining, while fuel had leaked out of the left fuel tank. The plane hit the ground in a left bank at high speed, investigators said.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/atsb-interim-report-on-queenslands-de-havilland-dragon-crash-finds-biplane-hit-trees-at-speed/story-e6frg6n6-1226513037711

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By Jim Trusty

Ramp checks, I am told, are just another way the Federal Aviation Administration enforces safety. It is not, however, something that inspectors do to make new friends. It is not the worst thing that can happen to you as you go forward in flight across our beautiful land but if you fly far enough and long enough, you will likely encounter one. When that day comes, this ramp check survival guide may help make the experience an ... enjoyable ... one.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

I have a hard time trying to think of something good to say about stationary fronts. They not only tend to wear out their welcome, they never have any in the first place. Especially in the eastern United States, a stationary front associated with a low pressure system can drape itself over higher ground, and in the company of adjacent troughs and large areas of moderate rain showers (which are in turn fed by maritime air that drags in plenty of Atlantic or Gulf moisture), you have, aside from a formula for low clouds and wet, sticky weather, a recipe for disaster.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

They say every accident is the result of an unlikely chain of events: On a Friday afternoon, a student and a flight instructor prepared for a flight lesson.  Continue»

By Chad Austin

Oil is the lifeblood of your engine and because about half of all general aviation aircraft hold it behind quick drains you should know how those drains work.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

Northrop Grumman is rolling out a relatively low cost way for law enforcement to get an extra set of eyes in the air with a modified Quest Kodiak single-engine turboprop. The plane will compete with other manned aerial surveillance aircraft like modified Pilatus PC-12s and King Airs, but at a much lower price point. Equipped with a wide-angle camera that can pick out motion and targets over a 16-square-mile area, as well as an infrared camera, radios and datalink communications, the plane will cost about $4 million, with a variety of equipment options available. That’s much less than similar aircraft on the market, and Northrop Grumman hopes it can expand its market to law enforcement agencies that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford a larger plane. The 10-seat Kodiak, which is known for its short-field performance and ability to fly in and out of unimproved runways, normally costs up to $2 million, depending on options. Kodiak will continue to make the Air Claw variants at its Idaho facility, and then will send the aircraft to Northrop Grumman’s facility in Maryland to be equipped with surveillance gear.

http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/30/northropgrumman-planes-idINL2E8JTKJL20120830

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By Editor Staff

In a package that weighs just 22 pounds, a jet engine in development could let future drones cruise as fast as Mach 1.5, or  more than 1,100 mph. There is no physical prototype for the drone yet; computer simulations show a delta-wing configuration with a single engine and no vertical stabilizer. Right now the engine is undergoing static tests. Researchers in Colorado who are developing the drone’s engine want to have a functional prototype aircraft in the air by the end of the year, and they’re aiming to break speed records for drones in the process. After that, they envision a supersonic drone being used as a flying test bed for other high-speed aviation applications, at a cost much lower than a conventional aircraft. Of course, military uses abound, and the researchers could see such a drone being used in hurricane data collection as well.

http://www.reuters.com/video/2012/06/05/reuters-tv-supersonic-mini-drone-aims-for-jet-speed?videoId=235831381&videoChannel=118065

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By Thomas Turner

For a given amount of engine power, the higher you fly, the faster your true airspeed. If your engine is very powerful, and especially if it's turbocharged or a turbine, your airplane can fly to well above 15,000 feet -- getting spectacular cruise speeds.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

Did you know that a moving Prohibited Area always follows the President of the United States where ever he goes? The Federal Aviation Regulations make it illegal to fly over or near the President.  Continue»

By Chad Austin

Pilots that fly at night see some of the most beautiful sights in the world, but there are some biological factors that make seeing things at night -- and how you should look for them -- very different than seeing things during the day.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

The accident numbers and NASA reports seem to cluster around particular areas of operation. This fact should serve as a warning sign. If pilots are repeatedly having problems in predictable situations, then whenever you find yourself headed into a similar situation you should know to get ready.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

The lack of awareness continues to be a source of problems when aircraft move on the ground. Not too long ago, you would not find runway incursions listed as an accident category, but it is just as easy to get lost on the ground as it is in the air...  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

Every year it happens. Pilots press on into deteriorating weather conditions. It is the leading cause of fatal accidents among pilots. But some pilots do survive their encounters with the clouds and live to tell about it.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

The lack of position awareness takes place more often than we want to admit. In a post 9/11 world, even more than before, it is absolutely vital that pilots know exactly where they are all the time.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

Winter can bring some wonderful things: severe clear, super 'low' density altitudes, great tailwinds if you're headed East, and near-freedom from freezing rain (when the water's already frozen).  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

Whenever we fly, we become an integral part of a human-machine system -- we're also the least consistent and the least reliable part of that system.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

I find it curious that one critical precept of flight -- one that we are all taught at the start of our training -- is rarely again explored in the same level of detail, but so vital to our survival.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

We've all seen it. We've all felt it. And I'll bet there isn't anyone out there who can fog a mirror who hasn't been confused by it.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Our piston airplane engines are extremely reliable -- but fly enough and you may have an engine problem.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

When the Soviet Union shot down Francis Gary Powers’ U-2 spy plane in 1960, the incident escalated Cold War tensions. But the details of Powers’ two-year-long ordeal in a Soviet prison didn’t emerge until more than 30 years later, when the CIA began declassifying documents about the spy plane program. Now Powers, who died in an airplane crash in 1977, will receive the military’s third-highest honor, the Silver Star, for his flying and for refusing to divulge classified information to Soviet interrogators. Powers, once an Air Force captain, had to give up his rank when he chose to fly the U-2 for the CIA. But his particular mission was a joint one between the CIA and the Air Force, making him eligible for the military commendation. Powers’ son, Gary Powers Jr., has been lobbying for the award, especially as declassified documents provided a more complete picture of the mission. The U.S. continues to use a fleet of 33 U-2 spy planes in missions today; the military recently shelved plans to replace the U-2 fleet with unmanned drones, citing the drones’ higher cost.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303410404577466940172036420.html

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By Thomas Turner

Many of us pilots (and pilots-in-training) are highly motivated, goal-oriented types, always reaching for the next step.  Continue»

By Chad Austin

When problems turn up in your airplane, you need to be concerned -- whether the problem is large or small -- because may just be the tip of the iceberg. Usually, the problems are trying to tell you something, and if you don't listen, that something could cost you your life.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

I was climbing on top of the fog, looked down at my instruments, and when I looked up I saw the power lines... Miraculously, all three aboard the Beech Bonanza escaped injury when the slick six-seater hit the power lines and slammed into a pasture. The aircraft was consumed in a post-crash fire.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Turning base to final, I saw a Piper Cherokee sitting on the centerline at the arrival end of the runway. "Keep an eye on him," I told my student as we rolled level onto final approach. "Be ready to go around if he doesn't move soon."  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

The "pop-up": an on-the-spot IFR clearance from ATC, possibly without either an IFR briefing or having filed a flight plan -- it's quick and dirty... and it beats the heck out of scud-running.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Pop Quiz: Is it against the Federal Aviation Regulations to take off with ice and snow on the wings? Will “dry snow” blow off the wings and tail during takeoff? Can you eliminate any takeoff ice hazards by “polishing” frost on the wings until it’s smooth?  Continue»

By Reader Submission

Sunday March 30, Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago sent a task force to Meigs field -- the lovely airport on the lake -- and had the runway destroyed. The facility handled some 1,500 instrument flights per month and provided some relief to air traffic controllers handling the already overwhelmed O'Hare airspace.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

Should the title of last week's accident report be, "When you gotta go, ya gotta go." Or, "Always know where the nearest airport is." A pilot who needed to make a restroom stop crash-landed instead of landing at an airport 2 miles away. The pilot was not thinking straight -- but he was dealing with a big distraction.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

Common sense and calculations were missing when two pilots ran out of fuel in flight and experience off-airport landings. Did you see where the pilots went wrong in last week's POD examples?  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

Bad things can happen when a pilot flies without understanding the complete situation that surrounds them. Last week we learned from three pilots who did not have complete awareness and because of it, each had an accident on takeoff. Let's recap...  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

If we can spot where a pilot goes wrong on a flight, will it be easier to recognize the same point during our own flights? Last week we heard from a pilot who got in over his head with weather. He learned. Can we?  Continue»

By Chad Austin

Pneumatic systems, while simple, can prove to be difficult to troubleshoot. If you're ever host to a pneumatic gremlin, getting the aircraft back on the ground may be only the beginning of your problems.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

Tired of flipping through the “green books” looking for the preferred routes you’re probably going to get when you file your IFR flight plan?  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

Anger can be an unruly marauder that displaces good judgment with ruinously immature impulses, but it's also an indispensable guardian that guides our responses to life's challenges -- does it have a place in the cockpit?  Continue»

By Editor Staff

Jeremy Roswell is planning to make a 10,000-mile flight from London to Sydney later this year using five tons of recycled plastic converted into 1,000 gallons of Jet-A for his Cessna 182 Skylane. An Irish company has developed a process to break down plastic into several different petroleum fuels, including diesel, unleaded gasoline and kerosene. The company is building its first large-scale plant in England, which will be capable of producing 5,000 gallons of fuel each day from discarded and recycled plastics. So far the resulting fuel has worked in cars, with tests planned for aircraft as well. If successful, Roswell’s flight would be the longest using a reclaimed fuel source, and it could open up a viable way to produce jet fuel without having to extract more oil first. Roswell says he’s making the week-long flight to highlight how much plastic waste humans discard.

http://www.letsrecycle.com/news/latest-news/plastics/waste-plastics-to-fuel-pioneering-flight

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By Editor Staff

An Australian Airbus A319 made a rare flight to and from Antarctica last week to pick up a patient who needed a greater level of medical care than the remote research station could provide. Flights to and from Antarctica are extremely rare this time of year; the lack of daylight, severe winter storms and low temperatures that can cause jet fuel to gel make landing or taking off again a treacherous undertaking. But officials needed to evacuate the patient, whose medical condition was not disclosed, since McMurdo Research Station only has about 70 researchers during the winter months and limited medical facilities. During the summer, the station's staff swells to as many as 1,500 people, with regular flights from Antarctica to several continents. Last week's flight landed during a brief period of twilight -- the sun doesn't fully rise in that part of Antarctica this time of year -- and took off again about an hour later. While there was a break in the weather during the landing, the temperature was -13 Fahrenheit.
http://articles.cnn.com/2012-08-08/world/world_antarctica-us-emergency_1_mcmurdo-station-new-zealand-time-medical-team

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By Editor Staff

Add one more player to the niche market of “roadable aircraft” designed to both fly and drive on highways. Plane Driven showed off its newest prototype, the PD-2, at Oshkosh last week. It’s a roughly $60,000 conversion kit for the Glasair Sportsman that adds a small 50-horsepower engine to drive the rear wheel on the conventional-gear plane. Unlike the Terrafugia, which uses the same engine in flight and on the road, the PD-2 has separate engines and a manual conversion process that involves folding back the wings and sliding the drive unit into place at the back of the aircraft. During flight tests, the Sportsman, which is limited to 2 passengers instead of four, cruised at 140 mph and had a range of about 475 miles. On the road, the PD-2 can cruise at up to 70 mph with a 200-mile range. Plane Driven is not taking orders yet, but plans to in the near future. The company says the kit can’t be fitted to existing Glasairs, only newly built aircraft kits with a few special modifications needed to accommodate the drive unit.

http://planedriven.com/faq/

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By Chad Austin

The placards and instructions in the POH of our aircraft are there for our protection... usually.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

We have all just lived through a watershed event in our country's history, one that is certain to change forever the political landscape, our own rights to fly, the spirit and joy of flight itself, and the very fabric of our society.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

I was in the right, front seat of a 1999 A36 Bonanza as we launched on an IFR training mission in northern California. A gloomy overcast had rolled inland off San Francisco Bay and we heard traffic holding overhead when Center gave us our clearance to go. My student, new to the Bonanza, did a superb job of holding attitude as he arced over the now-unseen hills while we turned inland; the holding pilot, now cleared for his approach, asked the Center controller about the weather at our departure airport.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

One of the most critical aspects of flying cross-country is dealing with the weather, but almost all the weather information available for our preflight briefings comes only from areas near major airports -- and close to the ground.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

The Florida Institute of Technology will buy up to 24 new Piper Archers and Seminoles as part of a new vocational training program with Piper Aircraft. Florida Tech already has a large aerospace and flight training program, but the partnership will add internship opportunities, mentoring programs, scholarships and more career guidance for its students. The school will get its first eight new Archers, equipped with Garmin G1000 flight decks, starting next year. It has options on additional Archers and twin-engine Seminoles in the years after that. Florida Tech has about 400 students in its various aerospace programs. The flight training program currently has a fleet of 32 aircraft, many of which are Piper Warriors, Arrows and Seminoles.

http://www.piper.com/pages/PiperFloridaInstituteofTechnologyFormAviationCareerAlliance_11122012.cfm

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By Editor Staff

 

Piper Aircraft’s financial picture is steadily improving, with almost $70 million in revenue from new aircraft deliveries in the first half of 2012. The company has delivered 76 planes so far this year, compared with just 59 deliveries in the first half of last year, an increase of 28 percent. The most popular models are the Meridian and Mirage high-performance single-engine planes, which together accounted for almost half of Piper’s sales so far this year. The company sold a dozen of its Warrior trainers, though other models like the Archer, Arrow, Seneca and Matrix each brought in single-digit sales figures. Overall, Piper says its sales outlook is positive, and the company noted that is sales figures, both in terms of number of aircraft and in terms of revenue, have increased year-over-year since 2009.

http://www.piper.com/pages/PipersDeliveriesRevenueContinueRiseinFirstHalf2012_07262012.cfm

 

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By Editor Staff

Piper Aircraft’s financial picture is steadily improving, with almost $70 million in revenue from new aircraft deliveries in the first half of 2012. The company has delivered 76 planes so far this year, compared with just 59 deliveries in the first half of last year, an increase of 28 percent. The most popular models are the Meridian and Mirage high-performance single-engine planes, which together accounted for almost half of Piper’s sales so far this year. The company sold a dozen of its Warrior trainers, though other models like the Archer, Arrow, Seneca and Matrix each brought in single-digit sales figures. Overall, Piper says its sales outlook is positive, and the company noted that is sales figures, both in terms of number of aircraft and in terms of revenue, have increased year-over-year since 2009.

http://www.piper.com/pages/PipersDeliveriesRevenueContinueRiseinFirstHalf2012_07262012.cfm

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By Editor Staff

In 2008, months before the economic recession hit, Piper Aircraft secured $32 million in economic incentives from state and local authorities in Vero Beach, Fla., for meeting future employment targets. But the recession and drop in aircraft sales means Piper has missed those employment targets – it had just 730 at the end of 2011, not the 1,100 it promised to Florida. A new agreement worked out with officials means the company won’t have to repay the $10.6 million in grants it has already collected as long as it meets new, revised employment figures. Piper agreed not to seek payment of the remaining $21.4 million the state once promised it. The company could still be forced to repay some of the grant money if it misses the new employment targets in each of the next four years, which weren’t immediately available.

http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2012/dec/07/piper-state-reach-agreement-on-incentive-package/

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By Reader Submission

Probably the most heavily produced floatplane in the short history of aviation is the Piper PA-18 Super Cub.  Continue»

By Reader Submission

The Piper PA-16 Clipper is not a common seaplane, but there are a few still out there flying regularly.  Continue»

By Reader Submission

The Piper Aircraft Company, like several other lightplane manufacturers, submitted a liaison version of their tandem trainer to the military.  Continue»

By Reader Submission

The ultimate classic, a J-3 Cub, is what comes to mind when most people think of “a lightplane”.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

Not to editorialize or anything, but just what good are all those hoops that we all have to jump through for the Practical Test Standards? These trained animal acts in which we're all called upon to perform on the day of our checkride are not exactly geared towards improving judgment, or decision-making skills ... or ... are they?  Continue»

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