Planes vs. birds

Landing on the Harbor Visual Runway 29 Approach into KPWM can be a 95-second joy ride if the time of day and the time of year are just right. For us, that flight, it was.

I flew the crowded 50-seat regional jet in a descending arc, starting at Elizabeth City, Maine. We traveled north along the Maine coast past the airport, giving the passengers views of the cobalt blue Casco Bay and the mossy green Ram and Peaks Islands, before we banked left and headed south along the coast, over the narrow, inky blue Portland Harbor.

“Glorious,” crowed the captain.

“Birds,” was my reply. I pointed to a small flock of large, brown waterfowl taking wing from the run-up area of Runway 29 off my starboard side.

“They’ll be gone before you cross the fence,” he assured me.

Cleared to land, I banked right into a smooth intercept of the localizer needle. Gliding over the airport perimeter, I let the jet drift left of the runway center line.

“What are you doing? Center line!”

“Birds,” I replied, just as three big birds arrowed straight for us. I evaded two before crossing the numbers. I swung back toward center line. I heard a resounding “THUNK.”

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Pilots appointed to House Transportation Committee

Two more pilots are joining the powerful U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee when the 114th Congress convenes in January. The Committee and its Aviation Subcommittee will play a vital role in setting long-term spending priorities for the FAA during the 2015 Reauthorization process.

Rep. Todd Rokita, (R-Ind.), is among the 12 new committee members announced on Dec. 10. Rokita is an active pilot and member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. He is also an original co-sponsor of the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act (GAPPA), which reforms the third-class medical certification process, as well as a member of the House GA Caucus and one of general aviation’s staunchest allies in Congress.

Also joining the committee is freshman Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), an inactive pilot and past AOPA member.

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GA turtle rescue continues

Rescuers who are trying to save the lives of endangered sea turtles stranded on Cape Cod beaches are hoping for more GA volunteers, especially pilots with roomy airplanes like a PC-12 or King Air, volunteer organizer Leslie Weinstein told AVweb this week. “We have successfully transported over 500 sea turtles thanks to all of you [pilots],” Weinstein said.

However, about 85 turtles are still in need of transport from the Boston Aquarium to sites in Mississippi, New Orleans, and Florida, according to a report by AVweb’s Mary Grady. A donor has offered to pay for the fuel for the flight. Each turtle is packed in a box, and no water is involved in the transport, Weinstein said. Two smaller aircraft also could handle the mission.

Stunning images a violation in the waiting, perhaps

Quartz magazine compiled a collection of images taken from the flight decks of commercial aircraft the world over. The post also dives deep into the violations of FAA and EASA regulations – potential or actual – taking these photos creates.

Images from “The pilots of Instagram: beautiful views from the cockpit, violating rules of the air” on Quartz.

VFR pilot descends into fog

Aircraft: Bellanca 7ECA. Injuries: None. Location: Tehachapi, Calif. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The accident occurred just before dusk. The non-instrument-rated pilot stated that prior to departure, weather reports indicated that clear skies prevailed at the departure airport with patches of fog at his destination. Despite the possibility of fog, he decided to attempt the flight with the intention of diverting to an alternate airport if the weather conditions deteriorated.

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