Archive for May, 2011

“Piston” pack reaches 5,000 feet

Monday, May 30th, 2011

The Martin Jetpack, really a piston-engine pack powered by a derivative of a Mercury motorboat engine, has reached 5,000 feet above New Zealand with a mannikin simulating the pilot. It should be ready for delivery, the company says, in 18 months. However, it came to Oshkosh in 2008 able to hover at only a few feet with two assistants to steady it, and the promise then was that it was ready for delivery in 2009. See it fly here, and parachute back to Earth. I recall doing an interview with the developer’s high-school-age son, then the company test pilot, and asking him why he didn’t fly higher than a few feet. “Because I don’t want to fall and I don’t want to hit the ground,” he said then. The developer’s first test pilot was his dedicated and supportive wife. It descends under a parachute, although the design calls for it to land under its own power. The developer, Glenn Martin, said use of the chute was a test of the emergency landing system, but the video was cut so as not to show the actual impact of landing. The machine was damaged–the mannikin had no comment.

Gulfstream 650 test flights resume

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Gulfstream Aerospace has resumed testing of its new 650 flagship after the April 2 crash of a 650 test aircraft that took the lives of the pilots and engineers aboard. An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board is continuing. Tests will be conducted with a limited flight envelope while the investigation is in progress. The reduced envelope will limit use of low speeds and increase V speeds. The crash occurred as the aircraft was performing a single-engine takeoff–simulating loss of an engine after liftoff. The test flight took place May 28, with Serial Number 6001 flying for 1 hour and 39 minutes. The crew included senior experimental test pilots Jake Howard and Tom Horne, and Flight Test Engineer Bill Osborne. The company still anticipates certification in 2011, with entry into service in 2012, as originally announced in 2008.

Extra, Commander, playing waiting game

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Two firms are making important decisions this summer. For Commander Premiere Aircraft, the decision either continues or ends the effort to bring the Commander back into production. The company has been ordered to vacate the factory at Cape Girardeau, Missouri, airport by the city. The city was able to pay off the bonds it used to construct the facility by using casino money, and it now wants the tenant out. Premiere Commander was nearly sold to Ron Strauss of Canada until he ran into difficulty raising the money in Europe for the purchase. He is back there, now, talking with potential investors. This should all play out in 30 days. For  Extra Aircraft, the pending decision is not as serious. The factory in Germany is doing well, but the United States distributor wants to open an assembly and distribution facility for the company’s single-engine turboprop. That was going to be in Montrose, Colorado, until the county government’s previous legal troubles with the local airport threatened the deal. “We’ll go elsewhere,” Extra officials said, and cities in Colorado and around the country responded. One of them called me and I forwarded the information to Extra. But now the company says it will wait 60 to 90 days before deciding to leave Montrose.

UPDATE: Commander Premiere Aircraft has declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and is looking for a new buyer.

Flight Dispatch Schools – Jeppesen Approved to Issue Visas

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
Jeppesen flight dispatcher training logo

Jeppesen’s flight dispatcher training program now has authority to help international students apply for student visas

Jeppesen recently was formally approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to issue Form I-20 documentation for training students, the first step required for obtaining a student visa for non-U.S. residents interested in participating in Jeppesen’s FAA dispatcher certification training program.

For corporate flight departments, airline operation centers and other aviation professionals that require essential FAA dispatcher certification training, this student visa designation helps to simplify the often complex visa acquisition process.  Previously, Jeppesen training participants were limited to apply for a business visa, a process which frequently results in a denial of the application.

Jeppesen is now able to assist with both the business (B-1) and student (M-1) visa acquisition process, for participation in Jeppesen’s FAA dispatcher certification program in the United States.  Jeppesen also has been approved to track students using the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), to help ensure only legitimate foreign students or visitors gain entry into the U.S.  The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), a part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, uses this system to monitor foreign students and exchange visitors in the U.S.

“This approval means that Jeppesen training participants no longer are limited to apply for a business visa for U.S.-based training programs, a process which has been problematic from an approval standpoint,” said Thomas Wede, Jeppesen senior vice president and general manager, Aviation.  “Now, potential Jeppesen training students are able to gain the essential Form I-20 from Jeppesen as the initial step of gaining a category M-1 student visa for entry into the U.S., as we help our student customers navigate the visa application process.”

The licensed aircraft dispatcher will need to pass written, oral and practical examinations from the FAA or National Aviation Administration, which the Jeppesen training course prepares students to complete.  FAA-certified aircraft dispatchers are equipped with a body of knowledge that is applicable to many aviation careers.  Jeppesen training officials note that the visa acquisition process can be complex and lengthy, so potential students should begin the process at least two to three months in advance of the training course starting date.

Jeppesen provides numerous training programs for flight instruction, navigation, operational enhancement and careers in the general, business, commercial and military aviation markets.  Many of the training programs offered are held onsite at the Denver-area headquarters of Jeppesen, in Englewood, Colo.

For more information, please view the Jeppesen Flight Dispatcher page.

Source: Jeppesen press release

More Women Pilots Flying

Monday, May 23rd, 2011
female student pilot doing preflight inspection

Women student pilot numbers are up dramatically in the past few years - photo Brandon Farris

By Gaby Merediz

In 1934, Helen Richey became the first female commercial pilot to be hired by a major airline. Since then, women are slowly but surely gaining more influence in the industry. It’s true that in the largely male-dominated aviation field, women are gaining numbers and credentials more than ever before. The FAA recently reported that in the past 11 years the number of female pilots has increased by almost 20 percent, while the number of male pilots has decreased. In addition, the number of women with Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificates—the highest level of aircraft pilot license available—has increased by 35 percent. Although a year ago female pilots with ATP certificates still only made up 6.7 percent of the total number of certified pilots recorded by the FAA, the number is growing, while the number of men with ATP certificates is dropping.

This shows that women are advancing not only in numbers but in their expertise. ATP-certified pilots must have demonstrated their skill and ability on the flight deck and pass a written exam and a flight test. Only pilots with an ATP certificate can command large aircraft with more than nine seats.

The beginning of the 21st century has also seen more women enter fields related to aviation. In ground instruction, for example, their numbers increased more than 14 percent. The number of female flight instructors also increased. One of the largest leaps was in the number of female dispatchers, which increased by 71 percent. The number of women holding jobs in aviation mechanics and repair has also risen dramatically.

However, it may be a long time before it becomes common to hear a woman’s voice come over the intercom when the captain welcomes the passengers to a flight. Flight training is a long and demanding process; it can take women away from their families for extended periods of time, making it a less desirable option for many women. In addition, pilot training is expensive. Many pilots get their start in the military, which means they don’t have to put as much money into their training. But women account for less than five percent of the pilots in the U.S. Air Force. Many of the men in the industry who were part of all-male pilot unions have retired, and many women who are pilots today explain that the industry is welcoming and accessible to both women and men. Women are breaking records in the field, and if current trends continue, the numbers will continue to soar.


Bio: Gaby Merediz is a freelance writer located in Wilmington, NC. With a background in journalism and art, she can spin any story into an informative news article or a creative, witty commentary. In addition to writing, her passion for the arts has led her into a successful career as a portrait painter. When she isn’t at her computer writing for her clients or working on commissions, she’s either playing with her two young sons (or trying to get them to take the ever-elusive nap) or blogging about natural living, parenting, and the chaos that is being a work-at-home mom at

Terrafugia plans flight for Oshkosh

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Will there be a flying car at AirVenture 2011? Terrafugia officials are building two prototypes and hope one of them will be done in time to fly for the big EAA Oshkosh show. It is hoped, assuming all goes well during testing, that production can begin by the end of the year. The Terrafugia Transition, as it is called, is intended to cruise at 93 knots carrying a useful load of 460 pounds. Useable fuel is 23 gallons. On the road, the company predicts the two-place car, with its wings folded vertically like a bird, will get 35 miles per gallon. The high center of gravity created by the folded wings will bring interesting challenges when driving in high winds. A Rotax 912S powers it, and a full vehicle parachute is available.

Update 6/10: Schedule slips — Terrafugia said it will not have one of its prototypes done in time to fly for EAA AirVenture. Instead, the earliest a test flight could occur is March 2012, and deliveries will occur no earlier than late 2012.

Utah School Invites Students to Explore Careers in Helicopter Aviation

Friday, May 20th, 2011
Click to learn more about Upper Limit Aviation

ULA’s Open House will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m, May 28th, 2011

Upper Limit Aviation (ULA), one of four accredited flight schools in the nation, recently announced that it will hold an Aviation Career Day on Saturday, May 28th, exclusively for local High School, Jr. High and Middle School students interested in aviation careers.  Attendees will have the opportunity to talk with flight instructors and student pilots, watch videos, and even take the controls of a helicopter on introductory flights.

“We find that many young adults are very enthusiastic about helicopters,” says Lois Reid, school director, “and are surprised by the numerous career paths available to them.”

Helicopters play an essential and unique role in fields such as search and rescue (SAR), emergency medical services (EMS), military, law enforcement, oil & gas exploration, tourism, film/TV, firefighting, agriculture, utility, scientific survey and electronic news gathering (ENG).

Helicopter Association International (HAI) has donated a large number of videos, literature and gifts to be given to attendees.  Food, tours and giveaways will be provided throughout the day.

The Open House will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

ULA is uniquely partnered with Salt Lake Community College (SLCC), the 2nd largest community college in the country, to offer students a Professional Pilot program. The Veterans Administration (VA) approved courses in the Professional Pilot Program allow Military veterans the opportunity to use their education benefits towards a college degree which includes all their FAA pilot certificates and ratings. Students can choose an Associate of Science degree or a Commercial Certificate of Completion. ULA is further recognized as a “Patriot Partner” by the State of Utah, for the large number of veterans they hire as flight instructors from among their graduating students.

As a Part 141 / Part 61 flight school, Upper Limit operates out of Salt Lake International Airport’s Class B (Bravo) airspace, and in turn affords students practical experience with air traffic control in busy, highly regulated space. ULA’s flight training program introduces students to flying at high-density altitudes (above 5,000 ft), mountainous terrain and the wind and weather conditions associated with it. In addition to training for flight ratings from Private Pilot through Certified Flight Instructor – Instrument (CFII), special courses such as External Load, Mountain Flying, and Turbine Transition are also available.

The Accrediting Commission for Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) has recognized ULA as a School of Distinction, demonstrating that ULA displays “a commitment to the expectations and rigors of accreditation as well as a commitment to delivering quality educational programs” said Michael McComis, ACCSC Executive Director.

Learn more about Upper Limit Aviation’s helicopter training programs


Upper Limit Aviation press release

Alaska STOL competition

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Each year the nation’s best tailwheel pilots and manufacturers compete for the shortest takeoff and landing at the Alaska STOL Competition at the Valdez Fly-In, Alaska. Reputations are on the center line. Suffice it to say these aircraft will land on any average home driveway without hitting the car already parked there.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems – UND Graduates Professionals

Thursday, May 19th, 2011
UND - uas-grads-2011

University of North Dakota’s first graduates of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems program

Among the nearly 1,500 receiving degrees from the University of North Dakota during spring commencement on Saturday, May 21st, will be the first graduates in the nation with degrees in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations.

“It’s truly the first and only kind of its major program in the country at this point,” said Kent Lovelace, chair of the aviation department at the UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences. “These are the first graduates from anywhere in the country with a degree in UAS operations.”

The five students eligible for graduation are Christopher Burger, Ritzville, Wash.; Jeremy Duke, Everett, Wash.; Adam Julson, Flandreau, S.D.; Alexander Gustafson, Vashon Island, Wash.; and Brett Whalin, Rapid City, S.D. The commencement ceremony will be held at 1:30 p.m. in the Alerus Center at Grand Forks.

“Unmanned aircraft are having a profound impact on aerospace,” said Bruce Smith, dean of UND Aerospace. “We’re on the leading edge of UAS development. We now have 44 students signed up as majors and 78 students signed up for our UAS introductory course.”

Julson is excited about the opportunity to be part of an emerging aspect of aviation in which the sky is literally the limit. “What attracted me is that it’s the next big thing,” he said. “You’re on the forefront of the unmanned portion of aviation.”

For Duke, who worked for 10 years in the auto body industry before coming to UND, the attraction was the potential to apply UAS technology to weather research, which is the career direction he hopes to pursue.

“I flew weather modification missions for a summer and could see the application,” he said.

All the UAS majors are finding great interest from potential employers, and some have already lined up jobs. The field is expected to explode when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) opens airspace to civilian applications.

Learn more about UND’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems programs.

Source: University of North Dakota Press Release

Utah Flying Schools Team Up for “Int’l Learn To Fly Day” Event

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011
Mountain Ridge Helicopters fleet

Don't miss "Learn to Fly Day" at Logan Cache Airport, Logan, Utah, May 21st.

Aviation lovers of all ages will be able to experience the joy of flying, either in the air or in a simulator, for the second annual Learn to Fly Day at Mountain Ridge Helicopters, with Leading Edge Aviation on May 21.

Mountain Ridge Helicopters and Leading Edge Aviation have teamed up with the EAA to bring awareness and interest in flying and to encourage the aviation community to reach out to those with a passion for aviation and get them involved.  The event will go from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Mountain Ridge Helicopters at the Logan Cache Airport.

Both flight schools will be giving presentations on Learning to Fly, free simulator flights, tours of the flight schools and giving people the opportunity to fly a helicopter or airplane for only $59! Other goodies include a free lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and mingling with pilots, flight instructors, industry professionals, and Mountain American Credit Union.

Other participating organizations include the Logan City Fire Department, Air Med, New Air Helicopters, Southwest, and the Logan Cache Airport Authority.  Advanced reservations are required for the introductory flights.

“We want everyone who has ever been interested in becoming a pilot, either helicopter or fixed wing, to know that they can do it!” said Brett Reeder, the event’s organizer and an instructor at Mountain Ridge Helicopters. “Learning to fly is accessible and pilots are needed all over the world!”

The event is free to all ages although there may be age restrictions on the flight lessons. For more information, go to, or call (435) 752-3828 to make an introductory flight reservation.

For media inquiries…
Brett Reeder