I think the flying weather has been great so far this year, and the increased airplane performance resulting from the cooler air has been impressive from my vantage point in a small, light airplane. Now is the time to take someone interested in aviation for their first airplane ride. Without having to get an early morning start, the air is solid, and generally smooth as glass. Even the most apprehensive rider should return from a flight pleased and excited about the new experience. It’s also a good time of the year to start learning to fly for the same reasons.

2019 2 executive director report personal locator beacon

Everyone who owns an airplane knows that you must have an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) mounted on the airplane, and if it’s an older airplane it most likely operates on the 121.5-MHz emergency frequency. Be aware the Federal Communications Commission has recently published a rule designed to speed up the switch from 121.5-MHz emergency locator transmitters to digital 406-MHz ELTs by prohibiting the certification, and eventually the manufacture, importation, or sale of 121.5-MHz ELTs. The new rule, which took effect on January 11, 2019, does not prohibit aircraft operators from continuing to use the 121.5-MHz ELTs now installed in aircraft, nor does it cut off the availability of batteries or other replacement parts. The FCC said it provided a six-month transition period before the manufacture, importation, or sale of 121.5-MHz ELTs is prohibited in part to help manufacturers avoid the burden of “stranded inventory.”

The FCC said the rule was designed to enhance the ability of search-and-rescue personnel to locate and bring aid to the victims of airplane crashes by accelerating the switch to the newer 406-MHz technology ELTs that transmit a digital distress signal with a variety of information identifying the beacon and the nature of the emergency, and sending out a homing signal that provides far more accurate location via satellite technology. When combined with a GPS source in the aircraft, it can provide location information within a few feet.

By contrast, 121.5-MHz ELTs transmit only an analog signal containing an aural alert that can only lead search teams to the site using direction finding ground or airborne antenna and radio equipment. The agency noted that the satellite system that once monitored 121.5-MHz ceased doing so in 2009 “because of reliability and false alert concerns with the 121.5 MHz ELTs, and it urged 121.5 MHz ELT users to switch to 406 MHz ELTs.”

With the proliferation of personal locator beacons (PLBs), Spot Trackers, ADS-B out, and cell phones with imbedded GPS chips, is an ELT really necessary anymore? The ELT rule was implemented at a time before any of these newer systems existed. From experience, a number of catastrophic airplane accidents have been located by cell phone GPS information only, rather than the ELT, which was not able to transmit a signal, often times due to damage of the unit or its antenna during a crash. With all the latest technology, and items currently in general use, I guess I would pose the question, should ELTs still be required on all general aviation aircraft? 

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Despite the government shut down, the tower air traffic controllers I have encountered during the shutdown have been considerate and courteous. I haven’t had the need for their services, but I would hope the TRACON controllers have been equally understanding. Thanks guys and gals for your patience.

A side benefit of the government shut down, - there have not been any GPS Interference Testing notices received during the shutdown. It would be good if it stayed that way.

Boeing has advised they still have CH-47 Chinook Heavy Lift Helicopter testing at Gateway, (IWA), and Falcon Field, in addition to their usual Apache testing. Check your charts for the helicopter test areas and use caution. 

We want to bring to everyone’s attention there are very noise sensitive residents in the northeast area of the valley that is bounded on the north by Stage Coach Pass Rd., (Approx. 1 mi. south of Carefree Airport), to Happy Valley Rd. on the south, and from 1/2 mi. east of Pima Rd on the west to 144th St. on the east. In an effort to discourage low flying aircraft in this area, available aviation apps., and ADS-B out information are being used to identify what they believe to be aircraft flying too low over them. This information is being passed to a law firm who send letters to the alleged offending pilots stating they were observed flying over a sensitive geographic area, disturbing the wildlife feeding and nesting areas, and should not fly over the area at altitudes of less than 2000ft AGL. I have been told that legal counsel has suggested pilots receiving the warning letter, it is without merit, and to ignore it. To help address the resident’s concerns, instructors and area flight school members of the Arizona Flight Training Workgroup (AFTW) have stopped doing ground reference training and engine out procedures, or other potentially low altitude operations over the area, and would suggest others do likewise. Remaining above 2000 ft AGL may be a bit excessive, but please try to fly friendly over the area.

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As part of an ongoing effort to raise pilots' awareness about avoiding landing on the wrong surface, which could be the wrong runway, a taxiway or even the wrong airport, safety meetings addressing the problem are being presented by the FAA’s Runway Safety Action Team. Per the FAA, wrong-surface landings occur at a rate of approximately one every other day, with about 86 percent of these events attributed to general aviation pilots. All pilots are encouraged to attend these seminars when available.

Once again, we want to remind you that many airports around the entire state, and most airports in the Phoenix area, are either planning or starting construction projects. So, as we keep telling you, always check for NOTAMS at your destination airport, and always fly informed.

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It doesn’t appear that aviation safety may have gotten off to a very stellar start for the new year, but it’s difficult to know for sure with the NTSB caught in the government shutdown. This results in the lack of a comprehensive or reliable source of detailed information on what has been happening regarding general aviation accidents. I have been able to prepare a February report based on information that came from Aviation Safety Network reports. Unfortunately, with the current situation, it will be a while before we get a final year end look at what happened in 2018. See my February Aviation Accident Summary for the available details.

By the way, want to make a few bucks? If you recall, we reported on a WW II Grumman Avenger torpedo bomber that went down near White River on the Apache Indian Reservation on May 6, 2018. The owner hasn't been able to locate the airplane wreckage and is offering $20,000 to anyone who is able to tell him where it is so he can retrieve it. That’s the good news, the bad news is, it’s probably on the Apache Reservation, and all roads and trails are closed because of the snow, and when they do open, a permit from the tribe will be needed to access these trails. Start looking and be careful.

As you are aware, APA is working with several airports around the state to update their Airport Master Plans, providing the pilot and aircraft owner’s perspective in the process.  Falcon Field (FFZ) is entering the final stage of their master plan update program. Page Municipal Airport (PGA), Lake Havasu City Municipal Airport (HII), Superior Municipal Airport (E81), Sedona Airport (SEZ), Flagstaff (FLG), and Grand Canyon Airport (GCN) airports are currently in their Master Plan update process.  


2019 2 executive director report breakfast


  • The fly in breakfast at Coolidge Municipal Airport (P08), is on the first Saturday of the month.
  • The Falcon Field EAA Warbirds Squadron fly in breakfast and car show is on the third Saturday of the month. Starting this year they will also have a Fly Market during the breakfast. If you have an aviation item to sell, bring it and sell it, or come and see what’s for sale that you must have.
  • On the third Saturday, the fly in breakfast at Benson (E95) at Southwest Aviation is now on a quarterly basis and the last one was on Oct 20, 2018. (There are still special fuel prices for breakfast attendees.)
  • The Grapevine Airstrip (88AZ) next to Roosevelt Lake is open to fly into any time, but the BBQ lunch hosted by APA is on the third (Saturday) weekend each month. 
  • The last Saturday of the month there is a fly in breakfast at Casa Grande Municipal Airport (CGZ). The Airport’s restaurant, Foxtrot Cafe, operating in the air cooled Terminal Building, is open 6:30am to 2:00pm Monday thru Saturday. On the last Saturday of the month they have a “Fly in Breakfast Special” available on the menu; the price for adults is $8 and kids $5. 
  • At Tucson’s Ryan Field Airport, Richie’s Cafe, is serving breakfast and lunch daily. The hours are 6:00 am to 2:00 pm 

Check with the APA Getaway Flights program
and online calendar for fun weekend places to fly.


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