Freedom Fair Wings & Wheels 2014

June 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Events

The 4th annual Gig Harbor Wings & Wheels will take place on 6 July from 11am to 5pm. Scheduled events include Airplane fly-bys; Meet the Pilots; Airplane Rides; Displays; Car Show; Hot Rods and a Military Display. For more information visit

Date: 6 July 2014
Venue: Tacoma Narrows Airport, Gig Harbor
State: Washington
Country: United States

Thunder & Lightning Over Arizona 2014

February 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Events

With the theme of “Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future”, the Desert Lightning Team invites the community of Tucson to an Open House on April 21-13. The program includes aerial demonstrations and guests will have the opportunity to learn about the aircraft and the pilots and support crew at the Air Force Base. For more information visit

Dates: 12-13 April 2014
Venue: Davis-Monthan AFB
State: Arizona
Country: United States

Dangerous Pastime Compromises Aviation Safety

November 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Features

In February 2012, the act of aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft, or at the flight path of an aircraft, in the United States, became a criminal offense when President Barack Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 into law. A recent FAA report reveals that the law has not had the desired effect in curbing this dangerous pastime, as in January this year there were 346 reported cases, compared with the 283 for the entire year of 2005. This is despite the fact that the FAA has endeavored to bring this problem to the attention of the public, including making provision on the FAA website for anyone to report a laser incident, anonymously if preferred.

Two incidents at LaGuardia airport on the night of October 15 are reportedly being investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, highlighting just how seriously authorities are taking this issue. These two incidents bring the total number of laser incidents at LaGuardia Airport this year alone to 54, with three of those occurring in October, and while no deaths have resulted from these incidents, a number of pilots have reportedly suffered injuries to their eyes. Thanks to the skill and dedication of the pilots, they have been able to land their aircraft safely, but the distraction of a laser pointer, which can and does cause temporary blindness, poses a significant threat to aviation safety.

There are many legitimate uses for lasers and other bright lights being shone into the sky, and it is generally agreed among safety experts that a pilot being distracted during cruising does not pose an undue risk. The real danger is during the phases of flight that are classed as ‘critical’ – takeoff, approach, landing and emergency measures. Low-powered lasers are readily available to the public, and some of the effects these could have on a pilot’s vision include what has been described as: ‘distraction and startle’ where the pilot is startled by the bright light and temporarily distracted, particularly as he or she does not know if another brighter light may follow; ‘glare and disruption’ is caused by an increase in the brightness of the light dispersed across the airplane’s window and interferes with vision; and ‘flash blindness’ where night vision is temporarily lost and afterimages of the light remain in the pilot’s vision for a time. Anyone who has had their photograph taken with a flash in the dark will be familiar with this.

While the type of lasers that could do permanent damage to a pilot’s vision are not available to the public, the run-of-the-mill laser being used by pranksters puts unnecessary pressure on pilots who carry the responsibility for the safety of their crew and passengers. Hopefully, the very real possibility of being tracked down by authorities and landing up in jail will be some sort of deterrent to people engaged in this dangerous activity.

Sherman Mills Fairchild: Aviation Inventor and Entrepreneur

June 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Features

Born in Oneonta, New York, on April 7, 1896, Sherman Mills Fairchild made a major contribution to the development of the aviation industry with his many inventions. An astute businessman, Fairchild founded more than seventy companies, including the Fairchild Aviation Corporation, the parent company for many of his aviation-related firms. In addition to designing and building aircraft, Fairchild developed aerial photography for commercial and military use, with his inventions for aerial photography being used on NASA Apollo missions 15, 16 and 17.

Some of Sherman’s earliest airplane designs were inspired by the need for an aircraft that could accommodate the aerial photography he was working on. At the time he had been using a World War I Fokker D.VII biplane, with which he undertook his first aerial mapping of a major city – Newark, New Jersey. This proved to be such a success that he was appointed by the Laurentide Paper Company to perform aerial mapping of Canada in 1923. This was followed by an aerial map of Manhattan Island, which led to other cities using aerial mapping as a less expensive, and quicker, alternative to ground surveying. Frustrated by the fact that existing planes lacked the maneuverability that aerial photography required, Fairchild formed the Fairchild Aviation Corporation, based in Long Island, and designed and built the FC-1. The company built and delivered 300 FC-2, the production model of the FC-1, between 1927 and 1930 and during this time, and in subsequent years, Fairchild dominated the aviation industry.

While Fairchild formed, merged, split, sold and rebought his companies over the years, he continued to make significant contributions to the rapidly advancing technology of aviation. His PR-19 was the aircraft of choice for training military pilots prior to World War II, while the aptly nick-named “Flying Boxcar”, the C-82, was used for military transport. Other notable aircraft included the C-119 Flying Boxcar, of which more than 1,100 were produced, the C-123 Provider, and the A-10 Thunderbolt – nicknamed the “Warthog”.

Sherman Mills Fairchild was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1979. He had also been awarded fellowships in the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, and received recognition for his accomplishments from the Smithsonian Institution.

Ultralight Aircraft Safety Concerns Raised

February 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Features

A series of recent crashes in southwest Florida involving ultralight aircraft has highlighted the risks of operating these non-standard, unregulated aircraft – for the pilot, and people on the ground. All of the five aircraft that crashed were non-standard, and two of the five pilots were more than eighty years old, with one being over seventy. Because ultralight pilots need no license and are exempt from taking a yearly physical, it would appear that older pilots, who may fail to meet the requirements to keep their licenses, are turning to ultralight aircraft to satisfy their need to fly. Critics are raising the question of whether these ultralight, homebuilt and experimental aircraft, along with unlicensed and unqualified pilots, are creating a public safety hazard.

Ultralights that carry only one person, a maximum of five gallons of fuel, and fly no faster than 62 mph need not be registered with the FAA, with the proviso that they stick to non-urban areas, but this is not regulated, neither are there any mandatory maintenance requirements. The main investigative agency for air crashes, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), only investigates if the plane has a number on its tail. Otherwise the investigation is left to local authorities, who only investigate if there is a death. Also, because there is no regulation and/or investigation, there is no database on accidents and their causes, and information gathered is more anecdotal in nature. The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) director of communications, Dick Knapinski, noted in an interview with the Herald Tribune that the organization is working with the NTSB to narrow down the causes of crashes.

Of the five recent crashes, only two of the ultralight aircraft had tail numbers and were flown by trained pilots, the kit-built Seawind 3000 that crashed on the Sarasota campus of the New College of Florida on Jan 12, 2013 and the amateur-built Skybolt that crashed into the Gulf of Mexico on December 19, 2012.

Currently, pilots who move from piloting a smaller airplane, such as a single-engine Cessna, to a larger twin-engine plane, are required to undergo additional training. But when pilots downsize, additional training is not required despite the fact that the aircraft handle very differently. As more and more amateur pilots built their own ultralight aircraft and take to the skies, authorities are being urged to take steps to regulate the operating of what one critic described as “flying lawn furniture”.

Advances in Avionics Improve Safety

January 1, 2013 by  
Filed under Features

American aerospace and defense contractor, Raytheon, has developed a wearable computer and monocle display to increase pilot situational awareness to the extent that the pilot may feel like he is “flying in a glass ball”, according to the company’s business development manager for the new Advanced Distributed Aperture System (ADAS), Trevor Bushell. The new wearable computer technology enables pilots to see through dust storms, and even see through the floor of their aircraft, according to a Raytheon spokesperson. This is achieved, in part, with maps and videos via the computer strapped to the pilot’s wrist.

Former V-22 Osprey pilot turned Raytheon engineer, Todd Lovell, notes that the aviation industry is moving into an era of “cutting edge pilot capabilities”. Key visual data is presented to the pilot in a heads-up manner via a monocle placed in front of the pilot’s eye. 3D audio in the pilot’s helmet allows him to hear where hostile fire is coming from, while a state-of-the-art system of exterior sensors provides circular vision, even when normal vision is compromised, such as in dust storms.

High-resolution infrared and near-infrared images are delivered to the pilot and crew by the Advanced Distributed Aperture System, allowing pilots a view beyond the floor and walls of the aircraft. This can prove invaluable particularly for helicopters required to land in darkness or when the pilot’s view is compromised by bad weather conditions.

With avionics continually advancing, trade shows such as the upcoming Avionics Europe in Munich, Germany, on 20-21 February 2013, perform a vital role in keeping key players in the aerospace industry informed. One of the topics for discussion on the Avionics Europe conference program is the much debated topic of Head Up vs Head Down displays for pilots. Other topics on the agenda include Global Market Challenges for Avionics; Air & Ground Surveillance; Safety & Security; Cockpit Control & Displays, Retrofits, Upgrades & Derivatives; and Helicopter Technologies. Among the exhibitors at the event include Airbus, Avionics Intelligence, Euroavionics, Northcorp Grumman, Barco Avionics, Institute of Flight Systems Dynamics, Techsat, Institute of Flight Systems and many more.

Wings and Waves Air Show 2012

September 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

Hosted by the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Wings and Waves Air Show 2012 will take place off the Daytona Beach shoreline on 13 and 14 October. Performers include USAF Thunderbirds, Canadian Snowbirds, Black Diamond Jet Team, Skytypers, F-18 Tac Demo, and aerobatics by solo pilots Mike Goulian, Matt Chapman and Rob Holland. For more information visit

Dates: 13-14 October 2012
Venue: Daytona Beach
State: Florida
Country: United States

Texas Fall Festival of Flight 2012

September 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

The Texas Chapter of the Antique Airplane Association presents the Fall Festival of Flight on 12-13 October 2012. This annual fly-in offers the opportunity to see historic planes and meet the pilots who ensure they are kept in tip-top condition. Make new friends, renew acquaintances and have an excellent day out with like-minded aviation enthusiasts. For more information visit

Dates: 12-13 October 2012
Venue: Gainesville Municipal Airport
City: Gainesville
State: Texas
Country: United States

Fly Iowa 2012

August 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Events

Scheduled for September 15, Fly Iowa 2012 will take place at Atlantic Municipal Airport with the theme of “Heritage and Homecoming”. The event will highlight the rich historical heritage of the Atlantic Municipal Airport with activities including a fly-in, static displays, a FAAST pilot seminar and an airshow with the star being the magnificent P-51 Mustang aircraft. For more information visit

Date: 15 September 2012
Venue: Atlantic Municipal Airport
State: Iowa
Country: United States

Proposed Technology for Safer Bad Weather Landings

December 20, 2011 by  
Filed under Airplane Tips

With an increasing number of aircraft taking to the skies every year, the aviation industry is constantly looking at ways to make flying safer. Taking-off and landing are statistically the most risky part of air travel, so new technology aimed at making landing in bad weather safer is good news for both the aviation industry and for passengers. According to data from the United States Department of Transportation, inclement weather is the cause for more than 40 percent of delays in flights in the United States. In a recent FAA study it was revealed that the cost of delays and cancellation of flights could be as high as $6.7 billion a year.

By means of an infrared camera mounted on the nose of an airplane, the new technology will enable the pilot to see potential obstacles, such as air-traffic control towers and mountains, which would usually be obscured by bad weather conditions. Using Global Positioning System data, the camera and cockpit screen will provide real-time infrared camera images to aid pilots in making a safe landing.

Larisa Parks of Honeywell International, the developers and manufacturers of the new technology, noted that pilots would be able to see the runway upon approach, regardless of what visibility conditions may be like. The improved visibility would allow pilots to reduce the landing minimum from its current limit of an altitude of 200 feet to 100 feet. Chief pilot of corporate aviation for Honeywell, Ronald Weight, noted that pilots make the decision on whether to attempt landing in bad weather, or divert to another airport, based on whether they can see the runway clearly enough with the naked eye. The new technology of the enhanced vision system will make the runway clearly visible to pilots giving them the advantage of being able to land safely in conditions which may have previously led them to divert.

In addition to the enhanced vision system of the infrared camera, Honeywell has a comprehensive database of runways, along with 90,000 images and positions of man-made and natural obstacles. The goal is to use the two technologies – enhanced vision system and synthetic vision system – to make landing in bad weather a safer experience. This will also cut costs of diverting to alternative airports, or delays and cancellations of flights due to bad weather.

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