Flying in the mountains


By BILL SCHROEDER, For General Aviation News

While departing a high-density-altitude airport, a Cessna 177RG, with four people on board, climbed about 50 feet but did not accelerate. The airplane was observed descending before hitting trees about ½ mile off the departure end of the runway.

MountainFlyingWeight and balance computations placed the airplane over maximum allowable gross weight. Density altitude was computed at 8,493 above mean sea level. The airport, at 6,264 feet msl, is known for its high-density altitude and downdrafts at the end of the departure runway.

Probable cause of the accident, according to the NTSB, was the pilot’s decision to take off, over maximum allowable gross weight, from a high-density-altitude airport. Other factors? The high-density altitude, down drafts and the pilot’s lack of familiarity operating from high density altitude airports.

The pilot’s logbook revealed that his only experience operating at an airport with a field elevation over 3,000 feet above sea level was one takeoff and landing at an airport with a field elevation of 3,996 feet. As a result of this pilot’s actions — and inexperience — he and his three passengers were killed.

When it comes to high-density altitude training, one takeoff and one landing does not meet any acceptable standard of performance. That’s why all pilots planning to fly in mountainous regions should go through a comprehensive training program. The checkout should consist of a combination of ground and flight training that takes at least eight hours to complete.

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Fate of Epic still up in the air

A Portland judge is giving seven Epic Air customers, who were assembling kit-built planes when the Bend, Ore., company closed last year, a second chance to purchase the bankrupt company’s assets, according to a story from The Oregonian.

The seven finished last out of three bidders for Epic’s assets. A Chinese aviation company placed the winning bid at $4.3 million. After a hearing Tuesday, Judge Randall Dunn gave the seven another chance to present numbers and explore deals with the two other bidders before the next hearing on Friday, April 2.

Read the full report here.

Sun ‘n Fun Skyward Festival takes off April 2

Sun ‘n Fun and the Downtown Lakeland Partnership (DLP) will be looking skyward during DLP’s First Friday activities April 2.

Sun ‘n Fun will bring aerial fly-bys, tethered hot air balloons, an after-dusk aerial light show, plus the US Air Force rock band “Reserve Generation,” to downtown Lakeland for the first Sun ‘n Fun Skyward Festival, for the traditional First Friday community gathering organized by local merchants. The evening activities arranged by Sun ‘n Fun represent a prelude to the events and activities taking place during the 36th annual Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In & Expo, which will take place April 13-18 at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (LAL).

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CAP aircrews wrap Midwest flood response


CAPCivil Air Patrol aircraft and personnel from seven Midwest states have returned home after providing nearly 360 hours of flight time supporting disaster relief efforts in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota.

“Our mission is complete,” said Illinois Wing Maj. Eric Templeton, who directed CAP’s ARCHER flights over the Red River Valley as well as other parts of North Dakota from the organization’s flood response mission base at Fargo’s Hector International Airport.

The Airborne Real-time Cueing Hyperspectral Enhanced Reconnaissance, or ARCHER, is flown aboard CAP’s Australian-built Gippsland GA-8 aircraft. Developed a few years ago specifically for Civil Air Patrol to aid in search and rescue, homeland security and disaster relief, ARCHER is one of the most sophisticated non-classified airborne imaging systems in the world, according to CAP officials. It provides high-resolution and hyperspectral imaging capabilities through two advanced sensors on board each CAP Airvan.

CAP sent aircrews from Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin to the Fargo mission base. The aircrews flew 160 still photography and ARCHER flights, delivering 1,100 images and 1,270 gigabytes of ARCHER information to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the North Dakota Emergency Operations Center, U.S. Geological Service, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

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TSA completes LASP revisions

The Transportation Security Administration has completed the revision of the large aircraft security program (LASP) and the legislation is about to move to the Department of Homeland Security and Office of Management and Budget for review, according to a report at Aviation International News, which notes that a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) is expected to be issued this fall.

The report quotes Brian Delauter, the TSA’s general manager for general aviation, as saying:

“What I would tell you is the NPRM process worked. We got public comments, and we listened to the industry. We’ve implemented a lot of those suggestions and we’ve retooled some portions of it that I think make better sense for security and for business.”

Nurturing the next generation



When Laura Rusnok (above) took over the lead position of the Student Aviation Association on the campus of the University of North Texas, she began making plans that went beyond available resources. She contacted the US Flight Academy, part of US Aviation, to explore the possibility of some kind of sponsorship. Encountering a response that she described as “enthusiastic,” Rusnok was able to map out an aggressive program of field trips for her peers.

UNT students try out the sims at FlightSafety

UNT students try out the sims at FlightSafety

The most recent activity brought a group of UNT students to the headquarters of Flight Safety International in Dallas, where they were given a tour, engaged in discussion and took turns flying a number of simulators. “It was a great evening,” said Rusnok. “Fortunately, US Flight Academy provided us with a van and driver to make the trip. They have been wonderful assisting us with aviation-related experiences outside of Denton. These trips helped draw more students into the new aviation program at UNT.”

The Sporty’s Foundation offers maintenance training scholarships

The Sporty’s Foundation has launched a new program for aircraft mechanics enrolled in Great Oaks Institute of Technology and Career Development.

Scholarships will be awarded to the top three students completing the airframe portion of the training curriculum. The scholarships, in the amounts of $3,000, $1,500 and $750, will be awarded and used for their second year of study, powerplants.

“General aviation aircraft owners know there is a huge demand for good mechanics,” says Sporty’s President Michael Wolf. “These scholarships are a way to provide three students with a boost to complete their study while the industry as a whole benefits from three new well-trained mechanics.”

Great Oaks is one of the largest career technical school districts in the United States and serves as the Career and Technical Education Department for 36 affiliated school districts in southwest Ohio. Four campuses serve the needs of its students.

For more information:

Mistral starts taking pre-orders for experimental engine

Testing continues at Mistral Engines in its efforts to receive FAA certification for its new, 300 horsepower, G-300 rotary aircraft engine.

“We are extremely pleased with the progress that our engineering and development team has made in recent months on the G-300 engine,” said Philippe Durr, CEO. “We have the engine mounted on a Maule MX-7 flight test aircraft and it is currently undergoing ground power tests at our U.S. base in DeLand, Florida.”

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Stewart Systems classes come to you


JasonCan’t make it to Stewart System’s location at Cashmere-Dryden Airport (8S2) in Cashmere, Wash.? That’s OK, because instructor Jason Gerard is ready to travel.

Gerard, who has been using Stewart Systems for several years now and does all of the company’s class instruction, will take the class anywhere in the U.S. or Canada. “All he needs to schedule a class is enough students and a sponsor that can provide a hangar and spray booth,” company officials said.

Stewart Systems training classes are hands on. Each participant will cover a false part from start to glue through painting. Students learn gluing techniques, rib stitching, how to make patches, how to work around corners, and how to apply EkoFill and EkoPoly top coat.

For more information: 206-930-2332 or

Sierra Hotel Aero launches repair services program

Sierra Hotel Aero (SHA) has initiated a new aviation repair services program designed to reduce insurance company expenses associated with the cost of repairing aircraft skins, structural damages and other repairs.

SHA, which has 25 years of structural experience repairing metallic and advanced composite aircraft assemblies for single and multi-engine aircraft, holds a variety of STCs and PMAs for Cessna and Navion aircraft. According to officials with the company, which is based at Fleming Field Airport (SGS)  in South St. Paul, Minn., the program is designed to reduce aircraft out-of-service repair time, increase aircraft owner and insurance customer satisfaction and reduce aircraft repair costs.

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