Pilots always complain about the price of fuel–but if they could buy avgas for $1 a gallon, would that really change their flying habits? That was the question the owners of Redbird Skyport, in San Marcos, Texas, set out to answer in October. Sales soared to 30 times normal, their staff wore down, and the supply chain started to suffer hiccups. They ended the experiment two weeks early, after collecting reams of data from pilot questionnaires and selling 90,000 gallons of fuel.
Aeromobil, a Slovakian company that has been working on a flying-car design since the 1990s, flew its prototype for the first time, in October. The online video shows a somewhat shaky takeoff and a low pass above the runway, but also reveals a sleek auto design that can maneuver nimbly in and out of normal parking spots. The airplane that flew is the third-generation prototype. It burns mogas in a 100 hp Rotax 912 engine and, in its airplane configuration, has a top speed of 124 mph and a range of 430 miles. The wings fold and unfold with the touch of a button from the cockpit.
Mooney, the venerable Texas aircraft company whose production line has been silent for the last five years, has attracted new investment and will start to build airplanes again in January. The new owner, Soaring America Corp., is based in California, but has ties to China. New CEO Jerry Chen told AVweb the company plans to build Acclaims and Ovations in the Kerrville, Texas, plant, for both the U.S. and Asian markets.
Shortly before this year’s AOPA Summit in Fort Worth, Texas, the new president of the organization, Mark Baker, said this will be the last event of its kind. In its place, he says, AOPA will host a number of regional fly-ins next year, focused on offering educational opportunities and bringing new members into the fold while promoting better interaction between the organization and its members. The announcement met a mixed reaction–vendors prefer one big show where they can meet a lot of customers, and some pilots say the concentrated venue is easier to navigate than big air shows.
Preliminary figures released by the FAA showed fatal accidents involving aircraft registered in the experimental category fell 25 percent from 2012 to 2013, EAA said in October. For 2012, 73 accidents involved fatalities in the category, and dropped to 55 in 2013. The number of lives lost to accidents was also down by 18 percent. EAA has been promoting transition and recurrent training and hopes the figures reflect those safety initiatives. However, the preliminary numbers don’t include an estimate of hours flown, so the lower numbers might not translate to a lower accident rate.
The Red Bull Air Races, which were placed on hiatus after the 2011 season, will return in 2014. Seven races will be held in six countries on three continents, starting February 28, in Abu Dhabi. During the three-year break, changes were made to enhance safety and improve the overall race experience, the organization said. Pilots now will compete with standard engines and propellers, and the rules have been modified to prevent any pilots from exceeding the set limits. The tour will include two races in the U.S.: Dallas/Fort Worth in September, and Las Vegas in October.
A new Arizona company is offering seats in a capsule that will be carried to 98,000 feet by a helium balloon, for $75,000…Forty-nine RV aircraft flew in formation above Kansas City, to set a record…A team of warbird enthusiasts in Australia is trying to raise money to search for Spitfires that may have been hidden after World War II…Red Bull released new video from last year’s record-breaking skydive, from Felix Baumgartner’s point of view…A 15-day shutdown of the federal government in October delayed FAA rulemaking, aircraft deliveries, and accident investigations…Breaking news in general aviation can be found at www.avweb.com.