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Cool Video Of Stratolaunch’s “First Flight.” Here’s The Backstory!

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Screen Shot 2022 01 18 at 1.50.57 PM 640x358 - Cool Video Of Stratolaunch’s “First Flight.” Here’s The Backstory!
Photo via u/stratohornet on Reddit

When the huge, twin-fuselage purpose-built mothership Stratolaunch made its “first flight” last week, it wasn’t, as we all know, the aircraft’s first flight. But in some ways, it might just as well have been, because as the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia once sang, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” The thing Garcia left out was, it’s likely to get even stranger.

Stratolaunch, technically the Stratolaunch Model 351, presently nicknamed Roc, was designed by Scaled Composites starting in 2011. The plan for it was to carry rockets to altitude to air launch them for paying customers. Stratolaunch first flew in May of 2019, a year after the death, in 2018, of company founder Paul Allen. Shortly after that first flight, the company went up for sale and, surprising the industry experts, was rather quickly purchased by Cerebus Capital Management.

Operations started up again, but the company announced that it would change its focus, and the focus of its giant aircraft, from launching air launch rockets to launching a new family of orbital vehicles, called Talon-Z. Roc could carry as many as three up to 35,000 for launch. It’s also reportedly developing a larger orbital vehicle that can carry larger payloads and humans, too, into orbit.

The video is undeniably cool, but this is not the first flight of Stratolaunch, just the first flight under new management and with a new mission on the horizon.


Hero Cops Rescue Trapped Pilot From Speeding Train: 5 Takeaways

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Screen Shot 2022 01 11 at 1.35.33 PM 640x463 - Hero Cops Rescue Trapped Pilot From Speeding Train: 5 Takeaways
Photo courtesy of Luis Jimenez on YouTube

When Los Angeles Police officers arrived on scene shortly after a 172 on approach to Whiteman Airport in Los Angeles lost power and crash landed onto railroad tracks, they knew immediately that they needed to act fast.

A speeding LA Metro train, its horn blaring, was approaching. It looked to be traveling at 60 mph or so. There was zero chance it was going to be able to stop. The first responders had to get the guy out of the plane, and they had seconds to do it.

How bad was it? Really bad.

Takeaway 1: The officers had a matter of seconds to free the pilot. They got him out with exactly 3.5 seconds to spare. They made no bones about it. They dragged the injured man as fast as they could as far as they could. By the time the train hit the plane, still on the tracks, they’d managed to drag the stricken man about a dozen feet away from the tracks. They could have all been killed by debris being hurled by the train as it passed and plowed through the 2,500-pound chunk of metal that was the plane. But they got lucky.

Takeaway 2: Had the officers not succeeded in freeing the pilot, almost certainly they all would have been killed. We counted four cops and one civilian. As they were moving the injured pilot away from the tracks, the train did hit the plane. And it was no glancing blow. It destroyed it, including the front seat section, where the pilot had been trapped and where the hero cops were working to free him.Screen Shot 2022 01 11 at 11.48.47 AM 369x600 - Hero Cops Rescue Trapped Pilot From Speeding Train: 5 Takeaways


Takeaway 3: The officers might have known, or at least suspected, that it was a case of successfully freeing the man or dying in the effort. Can you imagine any of those officers saying, “Well, we tried our best, but we’re out of here.” We can’t. Which makes the rescue all the more remarkable. We are in awe of their courage.

Takeaway 4: The guy who shot the video from the side of the ride came THIS close to getting sliced in half. As the train made impact with the plane, it sent chunks of metal flying. One of them, which looks to be part of the engine cowling, flew forward at a 45-degree angle at the same 60-mph clip the train flung it at. It was essentially a flying all-sided axe coming the videographer’s way. It missed him, and everybody else, thank goodness. But was close. We estimate it missed him by three or four feet.

Takeaway 5: Avoid crash landing on railroad tracks. ’Nuff said. Two of the officers have been identified by local media. They are LAPD Officers Damien Castro and Robert Sherock, who told reporters from the local NBC affiliate, “I think this guy needs to buy a lottery ticket because he pretty much cheated death twice within 10 minutes,” Sherock said. Castro added, “Training and experience kicked in. The adrenaline helped. When things like that happen, you just go and do it. You don’t really have time to think.”

@77_trains Yeah that’s something new… I do not own this video #fyp #foryou #railroad #trains ♬ original sound – Cam

Shocking Photos: Commuter Plane Hits Bird, Prop Separates And Slashes Through Passenger Cabin

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prop strike 1 640x480 - Shocking Photos: Commuter Plane Hits Bird, Prop Separates And Slashes Through Passenger Cabin

An SA Airlink JetStream 41 on approach to South Africa diamond mining area Venetia Mine hit a large bird and shed one of its starboard-side propeller blades, causing the wood composite blade to penetrate the passenger cabin, after which it travelled through that space and impacted the opposite sidewall, coming to rest on the floor in front of one of the passenger seats. Miraculously, no one was killed or injured in the incident, and the plane landed safely. No word on what kind of bird got struck.

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The British Aerospace Jetstream 41 is a 29-passenger twin-engine turboprop commuter plane that has been out of production since 1997—100 were delivered—but which is still used around the world for such regional flying. It was a development of the 19-passenger Jetstream 31, but by the time the 41 arrived on the scene, larger, faster and more capable regional jets from Canadair and Embraer had begun to dominate the market.

The photos were posted and reposted on Twitter, and many commenters were surprised to see that the prop was made of wood—but even today many propellers are made of composite material with a metal hub and wood core. While one might argue that had the prop been made of metal (aluminum with a steel hub), it might have survived the bird strike intact. On the other hand, if it had been lost and penetrated the cabin, there’s no telling what addition damage a metal prop might have done.


The flight had originated in Johannesburg. The airline said that there was “significant” damage to the plane, as is clear in the photographs.

Community Comes Together To Light Up Nighttime Medevac Takeoff

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Here’s the common takeaway: When an emergency medevac flight had to takeoff from a dark runway in Honduras, the locals pulled together and helped light the runway so the pilot could see to take off and bring the patient somewhere they could receive life-saving care. Only thing, it’s not really like that at all.

By the time the video begins, the Cessna 206 is either freshly catapulted carrier-style or it’s been rolling for a while, because it is already speeding down the runway. That airstrip, reportedly in Utila, Honduras, is unlighted, so the local residents went to the strip to use vehicles, flashlights and phones to create improvised runway edge lighting.

The video is undated, but it might have been around for a couple of years, at least according to one poster. The folks lining the runway are dressed in a way that no one in the northern climes can pull off these days (early January), but in Honduras, the weather rules are very different, and January, while the coldest month of the year, has an average daytime temp of 65 degrees. Clearly not typical for International Falls!


To the question of the framing of the story… that is, locals gather to help out by providing runway illumination. It doesn’t hold air. While we have no doubt that might have been their intention, or at least some of the folks there, the truth is, the Moon, which is in frame, looks very bright, and the 206 has a working landing light. All you really need in that situation is to know the runway is clear, that the length available is sufficient and where the centerline is. All those things the 206 pilot could easily have done with no help.

In fact, we’d argue that the presence of so many people and vehicles made the takeoff significantly riskier! The pilot, likely an experienced bush flyer, surely has done night takeoffs from similar, unlighted runways, and with the nearly full moon, it would have been pretty easy to see that there were no obstructions. At worst, the pilot could have taxied the full length to check that that was so.

Regardless, the video made a lot of viewers happy to know that small planes can be used to do good and that it’s really cool when the community comes together to support such flying. Regardless of how justified that view is in light of the truth behind this video, that’s a good conclusion for our non-pilot friends to have.


The world of aerial rescue is older and richer than you’d imagine! Read up on it here.

Redbird Has Cirrus SR22 Controls For Home Flight Simulators!

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Flight simulator maker Redbird is offering flight simulator controls for the popular Cirrus SR-22 and SR-20 singles. The offering is in the form of two products, a side yoke that can be placed by itself away from the rest of the controls and a throttle quadrant (coming soon) both of which replicate the functionality and look and feel of the real deal.

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As you might know, in creating its SR-models 20 years ago, Cirrus wanted to do a side controller, but it went with a side controller that’s not a joystick style model but one that is very much a small yoke mounted on the side. Like a conventional control yoke, it moves in the two axes independently, so you pull it back, instead of tilting it as you do with a joystick, and you rotate it side to side to use the ailerons. It’s an odd approach that works really well and takes approximately six seconds to get use to in the air while freeing up the space in front of you. Redbird’s yoke, the Alloy YK2, nails the look and the feel of it, even integrating the trim and switches atop the handle.

The power controls on a Cirrus are less unusual but still unconventional. There’s no prop control (at least no direct prop control or prop lever). Instead, the power lever controls the pitch of the prop through an ingenious mechanical linkage that Continental came up with a million years ago but that never took off, so to speak. Cirrus resurrected it and pilots, 8,000+ Cirrus models later, clearly love it. The Redbird product, called the TH4, which the company says is coming soon, replicates all of that, down to the friction lock on the side of the console, the TOGA button on the side of the throttle lever and the fuel selector and boost pump.


The new products aren’t cheap. The YK2 goes for $999, and the TH4, while there’s no price given for it, won’t be cheap either. But Cirrus pilots will delight in the availability of controls that put them, look, feel and functionality, into the cockpit of their favorite plane.

The Top Aviation News Stories Of 2021

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Here are the biggest aviation news stories of 2021!

1. Pandemic Continues:

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By far the top story this year, again, was the coronavirus pandemic, the impact of which affected aviation in countless ways. At this writing, more than 800,000 Americans have died from the disease caused by the virus since it hit early in the year in 2020, and there have been more than 50 million cases of the disease. Longtime AOPA Pilot journalist Mike Collins died from complications of COVID-19 last spring. Numerous events were cancelled in the wake of the pandemic. On the other hand, the use of chartered planes and private bizjets is through the roof, as travelers shun the airlines and get there their own way.

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Longtime Flying columnist Martha Lunken got whacked by the FAA for her admittedly impulsive decision to fly under a bridge near Cincinnati, Ohio. The agency pulled all of Lunken’s pilot certificates as punishment for the stunt, and the news ignited a fiery debate among pilots about both Lunken’s and the FAA’s actions in the matter.

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It came to light in 2021 that the FAA was using ADS-B data to bust pilots for flying illegally in some way. Not only did the agency use the data to support ongoing enforcement actions, but it reportedly used it to initiate enforcement actions.

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The real title here we’d argue should be, “Santa Clara County Airport Board Uses 100LL As An Excuse To Close Reid-Hillview Airport.” Following a report that it had commissioned showing higher concentrations of lead in the environment close to the airport, the Board announced that it would close the airport as a result. They did not address the fact that several board members had been trying to shut down the airport for years before the County got the Board’s report. The story also brought to light the fact that the FAA and general aviation groups have been unable to solve the leaded fuel problem despite having decades to do so.

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Usually, a story that has the word “midair” in it has tragedy in the next clause, but not in this case. In May, a freight-carrying turboprop twin collided with a Cirrus SR22 near Centennial Airport near Denver, Colorado. The pilot of the Cirrus activated the whole-airplane parachute ,and he and another occupant alighted safely in a nearby park. The pilot of the other airplane, a Swearingen Metroliner, landed that plane safely despite it missing a huge chunk of its rear fuselage!

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In all fairness, the real news here is that autonomous planes are coming faster than we ever thought they would. This is a result of the FAA’s clearly indicated willingness (if not “eagerness”) to work with developers of autonomous flight, as well as airframers who want to implement the technology in their planes. The economic incentives to this happening are great, as we wrote earlier this year.

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Perhaps the big takeaway is that airshows happened this year at all, after both Sun ‘n Fun and EAA Oshkosh AirVenture were cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic. That the airshow experience was so mixed this year, with Sun ‘n Fun being challenged to emerge just as restrictions were being lifted nationwide, with Oshkosh running a highly successful show in the period between the initial infections and the emergence of Delta and Omicron, and the High Sierra Fly-In having its biggest year ever, in a wide-open setting where nary a mask was to seen. Everyone’s fingers are crossed that next year’s events can run smoothly!

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2021 was the year everyone had been warning about for ages—the aging of the GA fleet became an undeniable fact with the FAA publishing major and costly ADs on Piper PA-28s and Cessna 182s, among several other models from both manufacturers and others, too.

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Not only are used planes getting used-er, but they are also getting way more expensive and harder to find. The values for popular models, like the Cessna Skyhawk and Piper Warrior, for example, have more than doubled over the past two years, and those planes that do go up for sale are getting bought in record time.

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Speaking of automation, Garmin International won the Collier Trophy, the most prestigious award in aviation, for the invention and successful certification of its Autoland safety utility. It had help from several partners—Piper, which put Autoland in its M600 flagship turboprop single, Cirrus, which fielded Autoland in its SF-50 single-engine jet, and Daher, which installed it in its TBM 900-series turboprop single.

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While it’s not close to news about light GA, the multiple, successful space tourism flights conducted by Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin were remarkable achievements and deserve note. Bigger things are on the horizon in private space flight, including Elon Musk’s SpaceX program to launch a Mars mission by 2026, a date that nobody believes is possible but toward which the company is diligently working.

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NASA’s journey to Mars to snoop around for signs of life was significant to aviation nuts like us because a side project, the tiny helicopter known as Ingenuity, actually flew! The tiny copter had to be specially designed to fly in the thin Martian atmosphere, and the aerodynamicists and engineers behind its design nailed it. While Ingenuity was planned as a minor experiment with few flights planned, it has proven to be a valuable scout for the mission and continues to fly to this day!

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Famous ex-fighter jock, airshow pilot and warbird guru Dale Snodgrass was killed in the crash of his small taildragger, a SIAI-Marchetti SM.1 (sometimes referred to as the Italian Bird Dog), while taking off from Lewiston, Idaho. Video of the crash, with tower audio, including the pilot’s last words, went viral, igniting further controversy about the public sharing of such materials.

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The big news in electric flight, really, was that there was a ton of “news” and very little actual news, with perhaps one noteworthy exception. The emerging segment continues to be challenged by low power storage capacity of existing batteries, long charging times and weight challenges. One bright spot, arguably, was that Joby Aviation, which flew a one-hour, 17-minute demonstration flight of its as-yet unnamed (c’mon, people) multicopter. The flight was done solo (so very light) but suggested that practical air taxi routes are possible for such craft.

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The CEO of pilot supply and avionics manufacturer MyGoFlight was killed in the crash of a company owned Cirrus SR22 in Knoxville, Tennessee, in December. Schneider was an innovator who drove the development of MyGoFlight’s subsidiary SkyDisplay’s lightweight, small and relatively affordable head up display.

Garmin Acquires AeroData, And It’s A Bigger Deal Than You Think

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garmin acquires aerodata 640x428 - Garmin Acquires AeroData, And It’s A Bigger Deal Than You ThinkIn a quietly announced deal this week, Garmin International acquired AeroData, Inc. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, and to most of Garmin’s General Aviation customers, the implications may be missed.

AeroData, Inc. is the vendor that countless airlines, corporate and charter operators use to compute performance, load planning, and weight and balance solutions. AeroData’s products often account for much of the stack of paperwork you might see jet captains clutching as they head out to the airplane. They’re a critical service provider for air carriers—and when their network fails, it can disrupt the entire industry. A 40-minute hiccup on April 1, 2019, delayed nearly 1,000 flights. A press release announcing the deal claims that AeroData provides solutions to more than 70% of all North American airlines.

“AeroData provides aircraft performance data for more than 20,000 commercial flights each day, and we are excited to further expand this reach to commercial and business aviation customers worldwide within the Garmin aviation ecosystem,” said Terry McDonough, AeroData, Inc., president. “Garmin’s leadership position in flight deck and digital technologies make it an ideal fit for AeroData and our customers. We are excited to work with the entire Garmin team to continue innovating and serving the needs of our growing customer base around the world.”

Garmin’s acquisition of AeroData gives the company a firm toehold in the airline industry—a segment where they’ve had little, if any, market share. Industry giant Jeppesen dominates the airline business, with their Jepp FD Pro app being used by many airlines as their EFB solution. And just as Jeppesen/Boeing’s purchase of Foreflight has ushered in vast improvements to that company’s app, it’ll be worth tracking to see how the AeroData acquisition affects the Garmin product lineup—and how its presence in the airline and corporate aviation segments may grow. AeroData will continue offering their services as AeroData, Inc., under the new ownership.

FAA Adopts Pilot Record-Keeping Rule. Here’s Why It Happened And Why It’s Problematic.

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Over objections from pilots and the groups that represent them, the FAA has adopted a sweeping new rule creating a pilot record database. The 232-page rule will go into effect in 60 days after its publication, so around the end of July 2021. Within one year, companies affected by the new rule will need to start using the records database, and within two years, the FAA will require “complete historical record reporting,” though in this case, “complete” mercifully means “for the last seven years, or, since 2015,” by which point operators will need to have a complete historic record for every pilot they’ve employed since that time.

This database, to be maintained by the FAA, is called the Pilot Records Database (PRD), and it makes it both possible and required for operators to share records of the pilots they employ.

The rule would presumably wipe out labor agreements between pilots’ unions and their airlines that put limits on the kinds of data that operators keep (and share with other operators). 

What outfits are subject to the new rule? You might think it’s mainly the airlines, but you’d be wrong. It does include most air carriers but also encompasses business aircraft flight departments, air tour providers, shared ownership operators…along with any “entities conducting public aircraft operations” or “holding out to the public.” So far as we can figure, that means just about any kind of commercial fight operation, with a few noteworthy carve-outs. Flight schools would be exempted, as would the military, helicopter logging and similar operations, and agricultural spray plane operators. So, that’s a relief.

Still it’s a wide net, one that will catch up in its regulatory requirements many thousands of small fish who today have little or no legal requirement to maintain such databases. The FAA is said to be readying an advisory circular clarifying the rule and attempting to give answers to the thousands of questions that will soon arise from pilots and operators. We’re girding ourselves for the release of that document, which will presumably attempt to make sense of one of the most ill-advised rules in the FAA’s history.

But why did this rule even happen? What was the impetus to create such a sweeping new web of regulations? The answer is, it’s all about Colgan Air 3407, the Q400 on its way from Newark to Buffalo in 2009 that crashed after the crew failed to recover from an aerodynamic stall that they inadvertently entered. All 49 aboard the plane were killed, as was one person on the ground, when it crashed into a house in Clarence Center, New York, on the plane’s approach path to Buffalo. Thirteen years later, it is the most recent U.S. carrier crash with mass fatalities.

The NTSB’s statement of probable cause in its final report on the crash mostly called out issues related to the specific flight control issues, that is, the crew’s flying of the airplane leading to the stall and after it, all of which were shockingly poor and never should have happened.


But there were also concerns raised over the crew’s presumed fatigued state, though the final report is noncommittal on that issue, as well as the captain’s poor performance on previous training sessions.

In its commentary on the new record-keeping rule, the FAA wrote,

“Additional safety issues the NTSB identified included deficiencies in the air carrier’s record-keeping system and its analysis of the flight crew’s qualifications and previous performance. Specifically, Colgan Air’s check airman stated that the captain had failed his initial proficiency check on the Saab 340 on October 15, 2007, received additional training, and passed his upgrade proficiency check on the next day; however, the company’s electronic records indicated that the second check was conducted 12 days after the failure. The NTSB deemed these discrepancies in the captain’s training records as noteworthy because the captain had demonstrated previous training difficulties during his tenure at Colgan Air.”

So, today, we have a rule that mandates that such poor performance be documented and recorded so that such events wouldn’t be lost as a pilot moves from one airline to the next.

It happens. Such was the case with Atlas Air 3591, a Boeing 767-300 that crashed while on approach to Houston (IAH) in 2019, killing all three aboard—the captain, first officer and a jump seat passenger who picked the wrong flight to deadhead on. In its final report, the NTSB found that a major factor in the crash, in addition to the first officer’s catastrophically bad flying, “…were systemic deficiencies in the aviation industry’s selection and performance measurement practices, which failed to address the first officer’s aptitude-related deficiencies and maladaptive stress response,” which were detailed in the report and is parroting what the NTSB said in its report on Colgan Air 3407, a crash from 10 years prior. The report makes clear that Atlas Air didn’t know and couldn’t have known about the poor performance of the pilot on previous training events, though how its own training could have missed such glaring deficiencies calls into question not only that company’s hiring practices but those of every operator who welcomes aboard a pilot who failed a checkride or got fired for something related to safe flying practices.

The rule is inherently anti-pilot, and that’s not to say that inept pilots shouldn’t be held accountable for their poor performance, but that many good pilots will surely be caught up in this new reporting system. We are familiar with a pilot who was busted on a commercial checkride early in his career for landing “six inches short” of the imaginary threshold in a low-wing airplane (which is of course impossible to determine by the naked eye) by an FAA examiner who had expressed that he was unhappy to have been asked by the flight training provider to do the checkride on a Sunday. Abuse of authority is a very real thing, and this rule will give such abusers the additional power to ensure that negative events, however specious, will follow a pilot around forever.


Well, not literally forever. The rule will let operators skip over pilots who are known to be dead, as well as those who might still be alive but would be older than 99 years old, which will keep future generations safe from centenarian airline pilots who did poorly on a line check 70 years earlier.

The new reporting rule takes a system already heavily weighted against pilots and tilts that even further toward employers and regulators, not only giving the ability to share pilot data but requiring them to do so. And while the FAA went to some pains to try to limit what data can be shared, it admits in the rule that operators will have certain discretion. For instance, can and should a pilot who is fired for harassment of coworkers be cited on the record for those actions? The FAA says it’s up the employer, as such behavior can and often does have a negative effect on the safe conduct of a flight crew. The agency also made clear that it would not detail what infractions should get reported, instead leaving it to the operator because there are circumstances that would doubtless arise that would be report-worthy but not mentioned in a specific list.

And it has a point. If it were to say that pilots can be reported for A or B behavior, when C happens, it will be argued that C is exempt because it wasn’t mentioned. The flip side is that the regulation opens itself to the legal argument, and you can bet it’s coming, that it’s overly broad, allowing employers to cite pilots for any behavior they can reasonably argue can lead to poor crew performance. So, in effect, employers can report pilots for a vast number of potential infractions so long as it then argues that such actions were counter to safe ops.

But would an operator ever use that power in order to retaliate against a pilot who, for instance, called into question its safety management practices? It’s a rhetorical question. Of course, some would. In fact, it happens today, and the extent of this management behavior is unknown though probably greater than most suspect. And that kind of suppression of safety reporting and retribution against the reporter is by definition an anti-safety move. The new rule might not give such retaliatory moves carte blanche but it almost certainly allow them far wider latitude. 

We can expect lawsuits and arbitration actions by the many hundreds to follow the implementation of this rule, because reporting events that are in dispute, even if it’s mandated by the FAA (which it seems to be), will open reporters up to legal action, some, though surely not all of which, will be justified. And all of this new law and new requirements is based on one crash more than a decade ago in which 50 people were killed. And let’s maintain some perspective. One death is too many, but let’s put that loss of life up against a backdrop of 40,000 Americans killed every year in road accidents.

Let’s just hope that the FAA’s in its zeal to create a reporting system to catch bad pilots doesn’t adversely affect the very safety picture it says that the rule is trying to improve.

Video: No-Engine Beach Landing With Person Walking Just In Front of Plane

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no engine beach landing 640x308 - Video: No-Engine Beach Landing With Person Walking Just In Front of Plane
Click the image to watch the video.

There’s lucky and there’s good. This guy is both. And the plane appears not to have a scratch on it. Joshua Saunders, who along with his wife run a flight school in Narrabeen, Australia, a suburb north of Sydney, was flying with his wife and infant son when, for unknown reasons, the engine on the Tecnam P2008 he was flying quit. The area is very densely populated, but since it’s late fall in Southern Hemisphere Oz, it was chilly-ish and the beach was sparsely peopled.

So, Saunders, a seven-year pilot but already an experienced CFI, had nearly the whole of the shoehorned but plenty long-enough South Narrabeen Beach to make the landing. Except for that one person walking ahead of the landing path of the plane. Then again, it’s hard to blame them. Even if they weren’t rocking out on the Walkmate to a mix tape of Crowded House, the Bee Gees and Men At Work, the crash of the surf would have near-a-been loud enough to drown out the noise of a gliding light plane coming in from behind. Had it been an actual runway, or even a hard packed beach, it might have been an issue. and Saunders might have had to swerve to miss the pedestrian, but as so happened, the sand was soft enough that the landing roll was miniscule.

The story by local news station Channel 7 is very well, done, short and to the point with few missteps. Great work! It even includes a rare bit of coverage on how they got the plane off the beach. See if you can guess before you watch, but if your guess includes ping pong balls or Skycrane helicopters, you’re way off. And the plane? It appeared to be as safe in the forced landing as the family aboard it. The Australian Aviation authority is investigating what caused the engine to fail.

Video: Helicopter Buzzes Boaters At Trump Parade

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helicopter buzzes trump parade - Video: Helicopter Buzzes Boaters At Trump Parade

Point of view of a helicopter flying very close to other boats and water (Lake Travis Trump Parade) from r/Austin

If you’ve heard about the ill-fated boat parade in support of President Trump over the Labor Day weekend, during which several boats sank in the wake of other larger boats—no one was hurt, thank goodness—you might be surprised to learn that it wasn’t the only story that happened on Lake Travis. There was a little helicopter buzzing of those same boats, and some folks are none too happy about it.

In the video, taken by someone on a speedboat, the helicopter, a Robinson R-44, approaches the back of the speeding boat, and gets within 50 feet or so at what appears to be 10-20 feet off the surface before accelerating, veering off and then getting very close over the top of a personal watercraft. At this point, the video ends.

On the Subreddit in which the video was posted, commenters included people who identified themselves as pilots, and several of them claimed to know who the pilot was and that he had done similar things before.

The question of the legality was brought up, and while we wouldn’t go into that subject, the FARs are less than clear on the subject of what’s too close for helicopters, which are exempt to some vague degree from the restrictions placed on fixed-wing aircraft to maintain respectable distances from people and structures.

The FARs also include, however, a catchall reg, 91.13, that prohibits “careless and reckless” operations.

How mad were posters on the forum? Several of them said they were tempted to call the FAA about the matter. And it takes a lot for most pilots to get to that point. What’s your take on it?