Tag: Plane Facts

The Battle of Midway

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We recognize the 80th anniversary of one of the most significant battles of World War II. After months of demoralizing losses for the Allies, the Battle of Midway was the first major victory in the Pacific theater and halted Japanese expansion. The Battle of the Coral Sea, only a month earlier, holds the distinction of being the first battle fought entirely from aircraft carriers. However, the actions of the leaders, pilots and sailors on the carriers at the Battle of Midway shaped how future naval battles would be fought and the course of the war.

Prior to summer 1942, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) had enjoyed virtually unchallenged dominance in the Pacific. The Japanese had embraced the concept of carrier-based naval warfare for more than a decade before the war began. They invested in building and refitting their carriers, and their men had been sailing and operating carriers since the 1920s. The U.S. did not fully appreciate the strategic and tactical value of a carrier fleet in modern warfare until much later, leaving the U.S. Navy playing catchup in producing aircraft carriers and training men to operate them. 

At the outset of the war, both sides were learning the strategies and logistics of carrier warfare. The U.S. Navy was eager to try new ideas to close the gap between it and its more experienced adversary, while the Japanese, confident in their superiority, were slow to recognize that their years of carrier experience had been largely untested and the carrier battle playbook was still being written.

Battle dates: June 4-6, 1942

U.S. aircraft carriers: USS Yorktown, USS Hornet, USS Enterprise


Japanese aircraft carriers: Akagi, Kaga, Sōryū, Hiryū

Number of aircraft carried by fleet carriers: 35-55

Number of aircraft carried by light carriers: 30-50

Read “Plane Facts: Aircraft Carriers” to learn more about them.

U.S. aircraft involved: PBYs, Grumman TBF Avengers, SBD Dauntless dive bombers, TBD Devastator torpedo-bombers, F4F-3 Wildcats, Vought SB2U Vindicators, Brewster F2A Buffaloes, B-17 Flying Fortresses, Martin B-26 Marauders

Japanese aircraft: Mitsubishi A6M2 Model 21 “Zero” fighters, Nakajima B5N2 “Kate” torpedo bomber, Aichi D3A1 “Val” dive bomber, Yokosuka D4Y1 “Judy” carrier bomber, Aichi E13A “Jake” reconnaissance seaplane, Nakajima E8N2 “Dave” reconnaissance seaplane


U.S. admirals: Chester W. Nimitz, Frank Jack Fletcher, Raymond A. Spruance

Japanese admirals: Isoroku Yamamoto, Nobutake Kondō, Chūichi Nagumo, Tamon Yamaguchi

Missing from the action: Two Japanese light carriers, Zuikaku and Shōkaku, still in port for repairs and replenishing after being damaged at the Battle of the Coral Sea.

Missing from the action: U.S. Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey was not at the Battle of Midway but in a hospital bed recovering from shingles.

Surprise appearance: The USS Yorktown, the United States’ largest and most capable carrier at the time.

Reason for the surprise: Japanese intel believed the Americans had left it to sink at the Battle of the Coral Sea.


What they really did: Yorktown returned to Pearl Harbor for repairs.

Planned repair time: 3 months

Actual repair time: Just over 48 hours of emergency repairs.

Japanese losses: Approximately 3,057 men, four fleet carriers, one heavy cruiser and 248 aircraft.

U.S. losses: Approximately 307 men, one fleet carrier (Yorktown), one destroyer and 144 aircraft.

Japanese strategy: Bringing all its available sea power to battle.

Consequence: The Imperial Navy lost four of its heavy carriers at Midway.

Number of fleet carriers before June 1942: U.S.-4; Japan-6

Number of fleet carriers after Battle of Midway: U.S.-4; Japan-2

Number of fleet carriers produced during World War II: U.S.-13; Japan-9

Number of light carriers produced during World War II: U.S.-9; Japan-5

Even more costly to the Japanese:was the loss of experienced sailors and pilots at Midway.

Number of Japanese pilots trained per year before Midway: 50

Number of U.S. military pilots trained per year before Midway: Tens of thousands (27,000 in 1941)

Japanese pilot training time: 9 months

U.S. pilot training from zero time to commission: 6 months

Total combat aircraft produced during World War II: U.S.-306,000; Japan-67,000

Nagumo’s decision to rearm the second wave of aircraft:to attack the carriers rather than Midway Island caused a delay in preparing the second wave for launch, leaving the Japanese carriers vulnerable.

Damage control: The U.S. drained refueling lines and filled them with an inert gas (carbon dioxide) to prevent additional explosions and damage.

Magic bullet: One bomb dropped by SBD Dauntless pilot C. Wade McClusky hit the upper hangar deck of the Kaga, causing a fire that rapidly consumed the ship.

Flight deck: Typically, the top deck of the carrier where aircraft are launched and recovered.

Hangar deck: A lower deck where aircraft were repaired, refueled and rearmed.

Number of elevators used to move aircraft between decks: Three

The efficiency of launch and recovery cycle are critical to battle success: Spot, launch, recovery.

Straight flight deck: Such early aircraft carriers could operate one cycle at a time because the same strip was needed for takeoff and landing.

Spot: Positioning aircraft on the carrier to facilitate current operation and allow for refueling and rearming.

U.S.N. recovery technique: Spot returning aircraft on the bow of the flight deck during the recovery cycle while aircraft continued to land.

Order: Fighters land first, taking the most forward position. Then dive bombers and torpedo bombers.

Process: They are spotted, refueled and rearmed at the bow of the carrier.

Arrangement: Aircraft spotted at the bow of the ship are moved astern, fighters in front, bombers in the rear, ready for the next wave.

Japanese strategy: Carriers at Midway rearmed their aircraft on the hangar deck.

No room at the inn: Aircraft that could not land on their own ship would have to wait, land on a different carrier in the fleet, or ditch in the sea.

Complication #1: Carriers under attack cannot launch aircraft because of the need to maneuver and the hazard of having armed and fueled aircraft on the deck.

Complication #2: Carriers must turn into the wind for aircraft to take off, which limits maneuvering options during the launch process.

Wrecks discovered: USS Yorktown on May 19, 1998; Kaga on October 18, 2019, Akagi on October 20, 2019

Flight Simulators: Valuable Teaching Tools For Pilots

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Climbing into the pilot seat of an aircraft and powering it into the sky is an incredible experience, and, thanks to modern technology, it’s now one that can be simulated almost as realistically from the ground as from within an actual aircraft. Made out of real aircraft parts, today’s simulators contain exact cockpit replicas as well as vivid, three-dimensional visual displays of terrain, buildings and other structures. Adding to the realness factor is the simulation of live, real-time weather and traffic conditions and the ability for users to communicate with air traffic control. Even non-pilots can join in the fun these days using at-home computer programs, such as Microsoft Flight Simulator.

But their popularity isn’t just due to the coolness factor. Since their early days, nearly 100 years ago, flight simulators have been used as valuable teaching tools for pilots to learn new skills in a space where mistakes can be safely made.

First Official Flight Simulator: 1929

Developer: Edwin Albert Link

Prototype Materials: Pipe organ and piano parts

What He Called It: The Pilot Maker

Official Name: “Link Flight Trainer”

Purpose: Teach pilots to fly by instruments

Basic Setup: Pilot “flew” the simulator while instructor sat outside moving it in ways that simulated flight conditions


First Real Buyer: Army Air Corps

Reason: Airmail pilots kept crashing at night and during bad weather

Total Link Trainers Produced: >10,000

Ordered By The U.S. Military During World War II: 7,316

Countries That Purchased: 35

Cost Per Device: $3,500 ($69,000 today)


Years In Service: 30+

Pilots Trained: >500,000

Alternate Use: Amusement park entertainment

Reason Some Simulator Pilots “Crashed:” Heat exhaustion

Reason: Got very hot inside with no A/C

First Airline Company To Purchase: American Airlines, 1937

First Electrically Driven Computer Simulator: Curtiss-Wright Dehmel Flight Trainer

Advantage: Controls and instruments responded as accurately as in a real aircraft


Produced: >1,000

Cost Per Device: $165,000 ($1,700,000 today)

Name Given To Simulators Today: Flight Simulator Training Devices (FSTD)

Quality Standards Established By: FAA’s National Simulator Program (NSP)

Who Staffs The NSP: Aeronautical engineers, aviation safety inspectors and aviation analysts 

FAA-Qualified Simulators: 1,037

Primary Consumer: Airline companies

Most-Produced Airliner Models: A-320, B-737 and ERJ-170

Cost For Entry-Level Models: $50,000 to $120,000

Advanced Models: $5 million to $15 million

Able To Log Simulator Time: Yes, as “training time” and only if simulator is FAA-approved

Most Popular At-Home Simulator: Microsoft Flight Simulator

Percent Of World Covered: 100

Virtual Airports: 37,000+

Flyable Aircraft: 30

Most Difficult To Fly?:B-747-8

Cool Features: 3D topography and structures, live, real-time weather and aircraft traffic

Development Team Staff Who Actually Became Pilots: 60%


How Much Flying Stuff Pays/Costs

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Becoming a pilot, whether as a hobby or a career, is a dream shared by many, and rightfully so—defying gravity in a big metal bird is incredibly fulfilling! Unfortunately, achieving that dream can often require deep pockets and, for some, the costs are prohibitive. Earning a private pilot certification can run the average flight student well over $10,000, a number quadrupled, or more, for a commercial certificate. While scholarships and grants are available, they are generally reserved for those on the career track and aren’t easy to come by.

As a result, fewer people are taking to the sky these days, and some small airports are being forced to close up shop. Even the airline industry is suffering, with current predictions that it will be short more than 12,000 commercial pilots by 2023. But not all hope is lost! Many airlines are now offering incentive programs to help offset training costs. Plus, joining the military is always an option, and those in the service get to fly the faster toys! As for the hobbyists, cheaper alternatives exist, such as earning a sport or recreational certificate. 

Average Starting Pay For Commercial Pilots: $46,000

Median Annual Salary: $86,000

Airline Pilots: $147,000

How Most Get Their Start: A “discovery flight”

Cost Of The Average Discovery Flight: $100

Private Pilot Certificate: $11,000-$15,000


Ground School: ~$300

FAR/AIM Book: $15

Headset: $100-$1,000

FAA Knowledge Exam: $150

Check Ride Examiner Fee: $600

Hourly Aircraft Rental Rate: $120-$300


Instructor Rate: $40-80/hour

Tips For Reducing Training Costs: Study hard, fly often and pick a quiet airport

Most Affordable Flight Training Option: Join the military

Cost To Train: $0

Cost To Become A Flight Instructor: $40,000-$60,000

CFI Salary Range: $30,000-$60,000


State With Highest Salary: Wyoming

Average: $71,000

Lowest: North Carolina

Average: $49,600

ATP Flight School CFIs: ~$75,000

Amount Above National Average: 41%

Cheapest Pilot Certificate: Sport Pilot

Cost: ~$4,500

Hours Required: 20

Average Light Aircraft Rental Rate: $100/hour

Base Cost Of A Shiny New Cessna 172 In 1970: $15,500

In 2021: $432,000+

Aircraft Still Available For Under $20K: Cessna 150

Price Of A New Cirrus SR-22: $780,000+; as outfitted, many are well over $900,000

Average Hangar Rental Fees: ~$275/month

Annual Aircraft Inspection: $900+

Insurance: $1,200-$2,000

Fuel: $40-55/hour

Annual Maintenance: $1,500-$5,000

Landing Fees: Vary

Affordable Way To Own: Split cost via flying club

Want more Plane Facts? Read about MedEvac!

Plane Facts: MedEvac

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From rescuing wounded soldiers on the battlefield to extracting vehicular accident victims, air ambulances have been saving thousands of lives for more than 100 incredible years. Their ability to reach people fast and access remote areas even in challenging terrain gives them a clear advantage over ground EMS vehicles. Some hefty downsides exist, however—namely with steep costs and safety hazards. The pressure to respond and save lives, even in adverse weather conditions, has led to many tragic, and often fatal, incidents. Accident rates within the air medical service industry are almost double that of general aviation. This has led to a recent revamp of safety protocols and technology. Still, the life-saving benefits far outweigh the risks, with studies showing an almost 60% boost in survivability of trauma patients when transported by air vs. ground. 

On a personal note, if it weren’t for a life-saving helicopter whisking me away from a dark, remote country road many years back, I wouldn’t be able to share these interesting facts with you today! 

Air Medical Services First Conceptualized: 1870
Aircraft: Hot air balloon
Purpose: Transport injured soldiers during Siege of Paris

First Official Air Ambulance Flight: Turkey, 1917
Aircraft: de Havilland DH9
Operated By: British Royal Air Force 
Time It Would Have Taken To Drive To Hospital: Three days
Time It Took To Fly: 45 minutes
How Aircraft Was Set Up: Stretcher secured behind the pilot

Military Advantage: Significant reduction of troop mortality
Year This Service Became Available To U.S. Civilians: 1947

Primary Aircraft Used Today: Helicopters
Advantage Over Other Aircraft Types: Easier takeoff/landing access
EMS Helicopters In Service: 700+


Participating Medical Centers: >200
Key Services: Patient & donor organ transport, delivery of non-emergency medical services to remote areas

Typical Crew: One pilot, two medical personnel
Air EMS Pilots & Medics In U.S.: 21,000+
Flight Hours Required To Become Pilot: 1,000
Average Salary: $58,790/year
Average Medic Salary: $71,635

Cost Of A Single Ride To Patients: $15,000-$36,000
Compared To Ground EMS: $800-$1,200
Covered By Insurance: <30%

Amount Survivability Increases When Traveling By Air Vs. Ground: 57%
Average Flight Length: 52 miles


Flights Per Day In U.S.: >1,000
Patients Flown Each Year: ~400,000

Biggest Concern: Safety
Accident Rate: 5 accidents/100,000 hours
Fatal: ~40%
Safety Considerations: Weather, distance, terrain, landing site hazards
Recent Safety Improvement: Night-vision goggles required
Reason: Helps pilots avoid power lines, trees and other hazards

Motto Used For Flight Cancellation: “3 to go, 1 to say NO”
Patient Survivability Considered In Decision: No
EMS Pilots Who Say They Feel Pressured To Complete Flights: > 1/3 
Program Designed To Counter This: “No Pressure Initiative” (NPI)
Founder: National EMS Pilots Association
How NPI Works: Offers layers of protection, including risk assessment and other decision-making tools
Safety Recommendation Of NTSB: More simulation pilot training and greater investment in cockpit technology

Want to read more Plane Facts columns? Check out Accidental Pilots here.

Plane Facts: Accidental Pilots, Walter “Taffy” Holden And Helen Collins

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It’s rare when a passenger somehow ends up behind the controls of an aircraft they don’t know how to fly, but it happens. Most of the time, the results are tragic, but the chances of survival go up if the accidental pilot can figure out how to use the radio to reach out for help. In those cases, either another pilot in the area or air traffic control will attempt to talk them down calmly. There are at least seven known cases where an individual was able to land an aircraft they weren’t qualified to fly. One of the most incredible cases was in the 1960s, when an engineer conducting ground testing in an XM135 Lightning, one of the fastest aircraft in the world at the time, accidentally took off. Miraculously, he landed safely. So did an elderly woman in 2012 after her husband died behind the controls of a twin-engine Cessna 414. So, for those of you who have fantasized about heroically landing a plane, this one is for you. 

Engineer Who Accidentally Took Off In An XM135 Lightning: Walter “Taffy” Holden

Flight Experience: Some

Top Speed Of The Aircraft He Knew How To Fly: 138 mph

Top Speed Of The XM135: Mach 2.0

Time The Aircraft Could Reach 39,000 Feet From Ground Level: 150 seconds

How One Pilot Describes Flying It: “Like being saddled to a skyrocket”

Date Of Incident: July 22, 1966

Location: RAF Lyneham airfield in England

Why He Was In The Plane: Tasked with testing different electrical configurations

Testing Process: Rev engine to high RPM, taxi 90-120 feet, cut off engine, apply brakes, rinse and repeat

Test Pilot Typically Present: Yes


Test Pilots Available That Day: None

How The Takeoff Happened: Inadvertently engaged afterburner

Method To Disengage: Pushing gate keys behind throttle, which he couldn’t locate

Able To Disengage After Takeoff: Yes

Radios On Board: 0

Ejection Seat Operational: No


Failed Landing Attempts: 2

Method He Used For Successful Landing: Pretended to be landing the taildragger he trained in

Result: Successful, with tailstrike on runway

Distance He Stopped From End Of Runway: 300 feet

Age Holden Flew West: 90

Age Of Woman Forced To Land A Twin-Engine Cessna 414: 80

Name: Helen Collins

How Her Son Described Her: “As frail as frail could be”

Certified As A Pilot: No

Reason She Took The Controls: The pilot, her husband, suffered fatal heart attack

Time It Took Her To Figure Out The Controls: 90 minutes

Want to read another Plane Facts article? Learn Aircraft Carriers here.

Facts About Midair Collisions

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Near-Midair Collisions Reported Each Year: Approximately 200
Actual Collisions: Between 15 and 25

Fatal: 70%

Distance From Airport Most Occur: Within 5 miles
Average Altitude: Less than 1,000 feet
Typical Meteorological Conditions: VFC
Most Common Time: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., weekends

Percent Occurring Within Traffic Pattern: Around half

During Takeoff/Climb: 10%
At Non-Towered Airports: 78%
Cases Involving No Radio Communication: About half
Cases Involving A CFI: 37%
Average Experience Of Pilots Involved: 5,000 flight hours
Common Scenario: Low-wing converging on high-wing
Less-Common: Formation flying, air-to-air photography

Collision Avoidance Technique Pushed By FAA: “See and avoid”
Critical Aspect: Traffic scanning
Also Known As: Keeping head on a swivel
Recommended Method: Block system scanning
# of Blocks To Divide The Sky: 9-12
Size For Each Block: 10-15° horizontally, 10° vertically
Minimum Area To Scan Around Intended Flight Path: 60° side-to-side, 10° up/down
Average Seconds Needed For An Effective Scan: 20

Technology Designed To Prevent Mid-Airs: Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS)
How It Works: Monitors traffic, generates warnings (TAs) and mandatory actions (RAs)
Percent Of TCAS Advisories Ignored By Pilots: 11%

Deadliest Mid-Air: 1996 Charkhi Dadri collision
Fatalities: 349
Survivors: 0
Experience Of Captain At Fault: 9,200 flight hours
Aftermath: TCAS required on commercial flights worldwide

U.S. Midair Resulting In Sole Survivor (Initially): New York City, 1960 
Aircraft Involved: United DC-8, TWA Super Constellation
Fatalities: 134
On Board: 128
On Ground: 6


Weather Hazards

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When the subject of in-flight hazards comes up, non-pilots think of the kinds of things that one might see in a 1970s Hollywood blockbuster— explosions and hijackings and volcanoes. The truth is far less dramatic and far more insidious. For small planes, anyway, the things that cause flights to come to harm are usually associated with acts of nature, things like thunderstorms and thick clouds. And almost always, it takes a pilot not paying attention, not giving nature proper respect or flying into weather they’re not trained for, sometimes in planes not outfitted to fly in the condi- tions. That said, the most dangerous hazard to the safety of flight is the one packing the least punch, cloud cover. The most lethal hazards, such as microbursts and hail, are ones associated only rarely with accidents, perhaps because pilots can’t help but be impressed with the power of the storms associated with these phenomena and, therefore, give them a wide berth.

Annual Lethality Of Weather-Related Accidents: 74%

Private Pilot Involved: 66%

IFR-Certified Pilot Onboard: 52%

Most Fatal: VFR into IMC

Percent Of Fatalities Attributed: 25


Seconds It Takes IFR Pilots Become Oriented In IMC: Up to 60


Average Seconds It Takes VFR Pilots To Lose Control: 178 Common Results: Graveyard spiral, structural failure, uncontrolled flight into terrain

Safest Action When Faced With Unexpected IMC: 180 turn


Second-Deadliest Weather-Related Hazard: Icing

Most Commonly Encountered: Ahead of a warm front

Miles From Front’s Surface Position Icing May Occur: 200

Hazards To Aircraft: Reduced performance, loss of lift, altered controllability


Cloud Types Associated: Cumuliform, Stratiform

Temperature Range Structural Ice Forms: -4°F to 32°F

Typical Cause: Freezing rain


Weather Event Producing Most Hazards: Thunderstorms

Cloud Type Associated: Cumulonimbus (Cb)

Cb Characteristic: Flat, anvil-like top

What Creates The Shape: Wind shear near tropopause


Average Base Altitude Of Clouds: 700-10,000 ft

Top: 39,000-69,000 ft

Greatest Hazards: Extreme turbulence, hail, powerful up- and down-drafts, microbursts

Temperature Hail Formation Occurs: Up to 68°F Miles A Thunderstorm Can Launch Hail: 20 Safest Distance To Fly From Storm: >20 miles Distance Severe

Turbulence May Occur: 25 miles

Altitude Typically Encountered: 12,000-20,000 ft

Potential Altitude Displacement: 2,000-6,000 ft

Possible Impact To Aircraft: Structural damage

Miles Downbursts May Occur From Storm: Up to 15


Average Cross Section: 2-5 miles

Wind Shear Component: 6 kts/sec over 16 seconds

Aircraft Able To Counter Such Speeds: None

Localized Downburst: Microburst

Cross Section: 0.5-2 miles

Horizontal Wind Speed Range: 45-90 kts Potential Vertical Speed: 6,000 ft/min

Average Climbing Speed Of GA Aircraft: <1,000 ft/min

Other Wind Shear Causes: Temperature inversions, surface obstructions

Commonly Encountered: Approach to landing Signs: Sudden loss of altitude, airspeed reduction Best Course Of Action: Go around

Just the Facts Aviation News Roundup

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The blizzards and bitter cold that clobbered the South Central United States – especially Texas—were hard on airports and air travel in general. Houston, Austin, and San Antonio airports were all shut down for a time as snow and heavy icing ground flights. Airlines were scrambling to recover after the airports reopened midweek, but the ripple effect of stranded passengers continued for several days.

California-based Joby Aviation recently announced new government investment, and secured FAA approval for some regulatory concessions laying a pathway to Part 23 approval for its electric vertical takeoff and landing (EVTOL) craft. Joby took over Uber’s well-funded EVTOL effort last year, and promptly received investment from the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program and commitment from Garmin for its G3000 avionics suite. If the craft makes good on that ambitious timeline, it will almost certainly be the first craft of its type to earn the FAA okay.

Fifteen years into its flying-car development program Massachusetts-based The Terrafugia will wind down all U.S. business activity by year end and move operations to China. The company’s Evolution flying car (or roadable airplane) recently received light sport aircraft approval, but has yet to be granted authorization for the automotive phase.

Flying over a deserted Bahamian island on routine patrol, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter spotted three people desperately waving flags. Two men and a woman were stranded on the island 33 days after their boat capsized, reportedly surviving by eating coconuts, conchs, and rats.

Unlike Canada and the Bahamas, Mexico’s civil aviation authority (AFAC) does not use a standardized blanket flight authorization to validate U.S. homebuilts’ airworthiness certificates, leaving approvals up to changeable policy decisions. Since late 2020, a change has locked down many amateur-builts from cross-border flights. EAA and AOPA have sent a letter to AFAC asking the agency to correct the snag.

General Electric has mounted one of its Catalyst next-gen turboprops on the wing of a testbed King Air in Europe. The Catalyst will power Cessna’s Denali turboprop single and uses 3D printing along with other 21st century technology to reduce weight, emissions and parts count and increase efficiency.

Tech Mahindra will bring its expertise in composite airframe design, stress analysis, and optimization to Spike Aerospace’s S-512 supersonic business jet development program. The companies have signed a memorandum of understanding, formalizing plans to collaborate.

Among the most active units of the warbird restoration and preservation group, the Georgia wing of the Commemorative Air Force has been elevated to Airbase status. Now known as Airbase Georgia, the group has seven flyable World War II aircraft, including the ultra-rare Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless dive bomber.


The Aviation Electronics Association has pushed back its annual International Convention and Trade Show for 2021 and will now meet in Dallas June 22-25. “The health and wellbeing of attendees and exhibitors is our first priority,” said AEA president and CEO Mike Adamson. 

Following an industry phone meeting with new Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dropped consideration of a coronavirus testing requirement for domestic U.S. passengers. The testing is currently required for passengers inbound to the U.S. on all international flights.

P&P’s Weekly Aviation News Roundup

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Just The Facts Roundup Of Aviation News For The Week Of February 8, 2021

Learjet Brand Is Now History
After 58 years of production, there will be no more Learjets. Citing a crowded light-jet market along with economic challenges, parent company Bombardier has announced the inevitable—the Learjet assembly line in Wichita will shut down by year end and 1,600 will be out of work. Since the first Lear Jet (as it was known then) took to the skies in 1963, some 3,000 have been built.

Piper AD Set To Go Into Effect
The FAA’s airworthiness directive (AD) on Piper PA-28/PA-32 wing spars will go into effect next Tuesday (Feb. 16). The AD requires regular inspections of wing spars and affects around 5,000 airframes. First proposed in 2018, the AD stems from a fatal accident involving wing failure on an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University trainer.

Does The Federal Mask Mandate Cover GA Airports?
EAA is exploring whether the national mandate on protective face masks could impact general aviation. The January 21 order calls for masks on most public modes of transportation, but also calls for mask mandates at “airports” without specifying whether that includes non-commercial airports without airline service. EAA said it is “working to ensure that the implementation of the order remains limited to public transportation facilities such as airline terminals.”

Panel Upgrades Continue To Pace Avionics Sales
The surge in avionics updates, riding the wave of mandatory ADS-B installations (aka: the “MAW” or “might as well” effect) continued to surge through the fourth quarter of 2020, up more than 15% compared to 2019’s sales. Unfortunately for the industry, that was the silver lining in a gloomy year-end report from the Aviation Electronics Association, with overall sales down 26% for the year. AEA president and CEO Mike Adamson said, “We are hopeful the combination of innovative new products, the resilience of consumers who continue to focus on upgrades, and an uptick in aircraft production can fuel more sales growth in 2021.”

Skyhawk Emergency Landing Was Perfect…But then…
A Cessna 172 on a night training flight suffered an engine failure, but the instructor managed a smooth deadstick landing on westbound side of the Pennsylvania Turnpike with no damage. That didn’t last long, however, as not one, but two tractor-trailers clipped the Skyhawk, shoving it nose-first into a snowbank and twisting its tail feathers. The good news: No one was injured.

AirVenture To Feature Star-Studded Airshow Lineup
EAA has announced that at least 22 airshow acts have committed to nine airshows over the seven-day event (July 26 – Aug. 1), including two nighttime performances. Among the performers on the roster are the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team; the Geico Skytypers; Mike Goulian; Patty Wagstaff; Gene Soucy; Kyle Frankin; and Matt Younkin. EAA also announced it is offering free admission to attendees 18 and younger.

Proposed COVID-Relief Package Boosts Aviation
The battered aviation industry could get a financial lifeline if the Biden Administration’s $1.9 billion relief package goes through. The House version of the bill includes $100 billion for airports, infrastructure and a payroll support program for industry workers. It also earmarks $100 million for general-aviation and non-primary commercial airports.


New ForeFlight Traffic Feature Targets “Oh $#!+” Incidents
The first new release of the ForeFlight app this year includes an improved traffic alert function, designed to provide more timely and accurate traffic conflict alerts. The new format highlights the traffic targets first in yellow, then red if the present course and altitude will bring them within your danger zone.

Black Hawk Replacement Competition Heats Up
The Boeing/Sikorsky team behind the SB> 1 Defiant helicopter design has released a tweaked version called Defiant-X. Pitted against a competing design from Bell in the Army’s competition to replace the Black Hawk, the new Defiant X has a sleeker nose (likely for more speed), a redesigned, more-rugged landing gear, and a redesigned exhaust system to reduce thermal “visibility.” The Defiant concept features a rear-mounted propeller that increases cruise speed dramatically by countering the “retreating-blade-stall” limitation of a helicopter.

Eisenhower’s “Air Force One” Restoration Suffers Setback
When Dynamic Aviation ferried “Columbine—” the Air Force Lockheed Constellation that served as President Dwight Eisenhower’s global transport—from an Arizona boneyard to its facility in Virginia in 2015, vintage aircraft buffs rejoiced at the news the four-engine beauty would be restored. But Dynamic, which has multiple business units including firefighting and international contract surveillance operations, has confirmed that “a number” of staff members have been laid off. The fate of the restoration is unclear.


Plane Facts: Sole Survivors

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Fatalities In Crash Of Yemenia Flight 626 (2009): 152 (2009)
Survivors: 1
Name: Bahia Bakari
Age: 14
Hours Spent At Sea Clinging To Wreckage: Nine-plus
Injuries: Hypothermia, fractured collarbone
Last Memory Before Crash: Announcement to fasten seatbelt

Fatalities On Northwest Airlines Flight 255 (1987): 154
Fatalities On The Ground: 2
Lone Survivor: Cecelia Cichan, age 4
How She Was Found: Shielded under her mother
Gifts Received In Hospital: 2,000+
Cards: 30,000+
Special Attendee At Her Wedding: Firefighter who saved her life

Crash Where Sole Survivor Was At The Controls: Comair Flight 5191 (2006)
Cause: Incorrect runway/runway overrun
Runway Used: 26, 3,501 ft 
Length The CL-600 Required For Takeoff: 3,744 ft

Sole Survivor Left Stranded In Remote Mountain Range: Annette Herfkens
Crash: Vietnamese Airlines Flight VN474 (1992)
Fatalities: 30
Days Before Rescue: 8
Herfkens’ Injuries: Fractured hips, collapsed lung, broken jaw

Longest Time Before A Sole Survivor Was Rescued: 11 days
Location: Amazon rainforest
Crash: LANSA Flight 508 (1971)
Fatalities: 91
Cause: Lightning strike
Miles Survivor Fell From Sky: 2

Furthest Distance Fallen From Plane And Survived: 6.31 miles
Survivor: Vesna Vulovic
Occupation: Flight attendant
Crash Involved: JAT Flight 367 (1972)
Cause: Briefcase bomb
Fatalities: 27