My Trip to Sun N Fun

Just returned from spending several days in sunny … no hot …. Florida.  Each day was in the high 80s with lots of humidity.  I lived in the Tampa Bay area for almost 20 years but I was not prepared for the heat.  I started attending SNF in the early 80’s.  I have always enjoyed this particular fly in as it is the competitor to mega Oshkosh.  Not nearly as big which makes it a very easy show to get around and see everything.  Up until the price of avgas went through the roof … SNF was very well attended.  But that has changed !

My biggest disappointment with this years show was lack of attendance.  And this has been going on for several years.  I read recently that the SNF Organization has retired over $2 million dollars in debt and now claims to be debt free.  I spoke with the President of SNF … Lites …. who said the grounds are now being used outside of the convention.  “We are booked for car shows, weddings, conventions, etc … bringing in revenue.”  Smart move if you ask me.

The homebuilt parking area was at least 50 – 60% empty.  The camping area seemed to be relatively busy.  I was not on the streets nor in the auto parking area so not sure what the drive in traffic was.

I spent time in the exhibitors buildings and got mixed messages.  Some claimed to be having a good show while others said they have to question whether they continue to come back.  I hope the show continues and thrives … time will tell.

Learned something new this year …. if you go … you have to try camping in the homebuilt camping area.  They have there own special food tent, entertainment area.  I spoke to one pilot who has been camping in this area for 6 straight years and says there are days he never leaves.  It has everything you could want including a great view of the daily airshow!



Latest drone bill passes North Carolina House

 Triangle Business Journal

If you ask Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston, why drone legislation is important, he has an easy talking point for you: “We were first in flight, might as well be first in unmanned flight.”

A bill to get North Carolina’s drone regulations in line with federal requirements passed the House early Thursday. Torbett, the bill’s sponsor, says it is the next step in readying the state for what he calls “the future of aviation.”

“The commercial efforts will blow wide open once the FAA allows that,” he says. “We want North Carolina to be poised to capture as much of that as possible. If we don’t do anything, the other states will gobble it up.”

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International estimates the industry could create nearly 1,200 jobs and $600 million in economic activity in North Carolina by 2025.

Currently, flying an unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes, even for photographing a wedding from above or surveying a corn crop, are technically illegal without a special exemption from the FAA. But that’s temporary. The FAA is, eventually, expected to open the window for more pilots to use the technology.

House Bill 4, which next heads to the Senate, curbs regulations passed last year, lowering the operator age from 18 to 17 and allows the federal government, not the state DMV, to do the licensing – again, all moot until the FAA clears pilots to fly. The measure also gives the state chief information officer the ability to permit pilots, allowing government entities to use the technology.

But legislation isn’t the only way North Carolina can gain a drone foothold, Torbett says, pointing to the NextGen Air Transportation initiative located at N.C. State University. It’s a program with flight locations across the state, in Raleigh, Butner and Hyde County (“an interesting place,” notes Torbett).

Torbett, who serves as corporate vice president of business development for Defense Technologies, Inc., which has an FAA certification to operate experimental unmanned aircraft within the U.S. National Airspace, co-chairs the Committee on Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

Which States are Attracting Aerospace Companies?

| IndustryWeek

Florida ranked first in the U.S. for aerospace and aviation manufacturing attractiveness according to a new report by PwC.

Florida is home to more than 2,000 aerospace and aviation companies that employ more than 82,000, The sector has an annual payroll impact of more than $5 billion in the state.

The 2015 Aerospace Manufacturing Attractiveness Rankings ranked states on tax rates, industry size, operating cost and education. The study also includes global rankings

The top 10 states are:

  • Florida
  • Michigan
  • Ohio
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Georgia
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina

The report analyzed the rankings.

Florida maintained its #1 overall rank from the prior year. Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Georgia, and Missouri remained in the top ten. Ohio reported the #1 industry rank. Newcomers to the top ten included Utah, Virginia, New York, and North Carolina. New York had moderate rankings but was helped by an overall #1 rank in education. Virginia was #6 in taxes and #5 in education, more than offsetting higher operating costs. Utah had a strong industry rank and low taxes.

North Carolina ranked #9 in operating cost and overall competitive in other metrics. California fell out of our top ten list. California ranks #1 in industry employment and aerospace suppliers and #4 in education but its overall rank was dragged down because it was #43 in industry growth and #46 in operating cost.

Washington State fell from #3 to #12. Washington was #7 in industry rank and #10 in education, but in the bottom half in terms of operating cost and taxes. Pennsylvania and Arizona also fell out of the top ten. Both states rank well in industry and education, but have higher operating and tax costs, particularly Pennsylvania which ranked #46 in tax cost.

The firm advises states that in order meet the challenges of the new competitive landscape, they must provide a workforce that is able to satisfy both backlog demand for aircraft and meet future demand for the next generation of more efficient, sustainable aircraft.

NC State-This new man-made material could get rid of that horrible airplane noise

While airplane noise may not have any long-term effect on a person’s hearing abilities, many find the experience unpleasant. And the reason some of us have to suffer through this is because planes are built to be light.

The ceilings and floors of airplanes use a honeycomb structure, which provides strength without adding much weight. Sadly, this structure is also very effective in letting sound through. So all the unwelcome sounds of jet engines and rotor blades get plugged right in to your ears.

There are two options to deal with the problem: come up with something that’s more effective than the honeycomb structure, or find an insulator that does the job without adding too much weight. There’s probably nothing that beats the honeycomb structure in its strength-to-weight ratio, so Yun Jing and his colleagues at North Carolina State University set out to look for a new insulator.

Not for bees.(youkeys/Flickr under a Creative Commons license)

In a study published in Applied Physics Letters, they report developing just such a metamaterial, which are synthetically-created materials that have properties not found in nature. They are made by using regular materials assembled in such a way to grant them what physicists from a different era might have dubbed “miraculous properties.”

Yun’s metamaterial is made up of latex—yes, the same stuff used to make condoms—but it is tethered to the honeycomb structure in such a way that it has negative density. Yun told Quartz that the best way to understand negative density is to understand what happens at the surface of the metamaterial.

In the case of a normal material, when sound waves hit it, it will be pushed in the same direction that the sound waves are traveling. But Yun’s metamaterial moves in the opposite direction, reflecting the sound waves away. In this way, while adding only 6% weight to the honeycomb structure, the metamaterial is able to cut down noise by 20 decibels.

That, according to Yun, is the equivalent of reducing the noise of a busy road to the rumble of a washing machine.

Ping Sheng’s team at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology was the first to produce such an acoustic metamaterial, but at the time it worked to block sounds in only a limited range of frequencies. Ping told Quartz that he was pleased with the new metamaterial’s wider range, because it goes a step towards potential applications in the industry.

Those applications are still a while away though. Yun’s testing was done on a small scale. Nick Fang of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a metamaterials expert, told Quartz that he would be keen to see the results of a wind-tunnel test on an airplane model that incorporates the metamaterial.

And Yun admitted that he does not have a price estimate yet, but he is looking forward to speaking to airplane manufacturers. Travelers who hate the sound of airplane noise will desperately hope that he is able to convince the industry to at least try using his metamaterial.

Windecker Eagle to fly again

General Aviation News

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — The restoration of a rare Windecker Eagle is expected to be completed this summer. Once done, it will be the only airworthy example of the first composite aircraft certified by the FAA, according to the men working on the project. Reportedly, it was also the first aircraft certified under the rules for Part 23.


Designed and developed in the 1960s by two dentists, Leo Windecker and his wife, Fairfax, the Eagle first flew in 1967 and was certified two years later at a cost of $20 million. After building two prototypes and six copies of the Eagle, the company ran out of money and shut down its production line.

Commissioned by a Chinese entrepreneur, Wei Hang, the restoration team, headed by Don Atchison, and led by Mike Moore and Dennis Hallman, was able to purchase two copies of the Eagle that had been outdoors for many years and left in storage for decades.

Restoration underway

“Had it not been for a special UV coating on the fiberglass, the structure would have dissolved a long time ago,” said Atchison. “The fiberglass has actually held up much better than the metal components in the airframe. We’ve replaced most everything from the firewall forward, and refurbished to ‘better than new’ the landing gear, flight controls and mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and fuel systems. The windows, windshield and interior will be completely new and there will be a number of upgrades in the panel when it flies again.”

Resto new engine“Mr. Hang was attracted to the Windecker Eagle because of its historical significance, rarity, style and performance,” said Atchison. “He will own a truly unique aircraft when it’s finished and flying again.”

FAA releases list of instrument approaches to be eliminated in NC



By Dan Namowitz – AOPA

The FAA has published a list of 736 redundant or underutilized VOR and NDB standard instrument approach procedures that it proposes to eliminate as the agency moves forward with implementation of the NextGen satellite-based air traffic system.

The long-awaited list, published in the Federal Register in a notice of proposed rulemaking on April 13, was based on criteria established in 2014 by the VOR Minimum Operational Network Working Group, in which AOPA participated, said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of government affairs.

 “The goal of the working group is to ensure that a scaled-back VOR system is maintained well into the future, even as the system and operators move to satellite-based navigation,” Rudinger said. Members may submit comments to the FAA on the list by May 28 as provided below.

The FAA said “complexity and cost” ruled out maintaining all existing approach infrastructure during the transition to new technology. The agency originally set a target of reducing the number of VORs from approximately 967 operating in late 2012 to 500 in service by Jan. 1, 2020, the target date for full implementation of NextGen. However, based on industry feedback and coverage requirements, the FAA has revised that target to 867 VORs in service by Jan. 1, 2020, and 667 by 2025.

“As new technology facilitates the introduction of area navigation (RNAV) instrument approach procedures, the number of procedures available in the National Airspace System has nearly doubled over the past decade. The complexity and cost to the FAA of maintaining the existing ground-based navigational infrastructure while expanding the new RNAV capability is not sustainable,” it said in the notice.

Members may review the list of instrument approach procedures selected for elimination in the Federal Register notice, or on the FAA website.

To submit comments on the proposal by May 28, please cite docket number FAA-2015-0783. Comments may besubmitted online or by mail to Docket Operations, M-30; U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.

HondaJet Promises Growth For Emerging Aviation Industry

Charlotte has banking. Raleigh has state government, but for generations, the Triad has distinguished itself as the place where people make things. Honda Aircraft Company will deliver its long awaited corporate jet to its first client this year. And in doing so, it signifies a new emerging industry in the Triad.

Honda Aircraft Co. will deliver its first HondaJet, a revolutionary new corporate jet, built in a sleek state-of-the art manufacturing plant at the Piedmont International Airport sometime this year.
Honda Aircraft Co. will deliver its first HondaJet, a revolutionary new corporate jet, built in a sleek state-of-the art manufacturing plant at the Piedmont International Airport sometime this year.
Credit Photo courtesy of Honda Aircraft


Furniture, textiles, and tobacco have been the hallmark of the region’s manufacturing industry. But the times have not been kind lately. Cheap imports and new competition have taken their toll. Many of the home-bred companies are gone entirely, along with the jobs they once provided.

It has forced the region to reinvent itself, seeking new industries with more advanced manufacturing methods and higher worker skill levels.

Now aviation is taking center stage.

Mark Sutter, with the Triad Business Journal, says Honda is expected to produce 80 to 100 jets annually, and that could be just the beginning.

“I think one of the things long-term is–if it’s a success and there is every reason to believe it will be because there’s been some pretty good write-ups and reviews on it in trade magazines–there might even be a potential for them to go and develop other models, bigger planes or bigger configurations in the long run, so it really has a lot of growth potential in the Triad. It’s exactly the kind of industry that we want,” says Sutter.

Honda Aircraft currently employs more than 1,300 people at its manufacturing plant at the Piedmont Triad International Airport.

The Business Report on 88.5 WFDD is a partnership with the Triad Business Journal. You’ll find Mark Sutter’ stories and more breaking business news at

Justin Catanoso is director of the Journalism program at Wake Forest University and a regular contributor to 88.5 WFDD.

Eclipse and Kestrel unite to form ONE Aviation

General Aviation News

A new company, ONE Aviation Corp. has been formed, which will continue development of the Kestrel K350 single-engine turboprop, as well as manufacturing of the Eclipse 550 jet.

Alan Klapmeier, who founded Cirrus Aircraft with his brother, Dale, will lead the new company.

The Eclipse 550

“I feel privileged to lead this experienced team of aviation professionals as we increase production of the Eclipse Jet, further the development of the Kestrel turboprop, and build a suite of general aviation products second to none in the industry,” said Klapmeier, CEO of ONE Aviation. “I am particularly excited about the Eclipse 550. As our pilot experience and aircraft needs grow, we look to move up — to fly higher, faster, and safer. For many pilots and aircraft owners, the Eclipse Jet, with its incredible efficiency and safety record, provides that next step.”

The Kestrel 350

“Combining the synergies of Eclipse and Kestrel under the leadership of Alan Klapmeier is a perfect fit,” said Mason Holland, chairman of ONE Aviation and the force behind the resurrection of the Eclipse jet. “I believe that our current, as well as our future, customers will appreciate Alan’s vision and his prior experience in leading the design, development, and production of one of the world’s most successful aircraft programs. Alan knows our customers, he is a champion for them, and he is recognized throughout the aviation industry as an innovator and transformational leader.”

The Eclipse Jet is currently in production.

Development of the Kestrel K350 continues.

Small aircraft lands on Capitol lawn

Associated Press

Police arrested a man who steered his tiny aircraft onto the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol after flying through restricted airspace around the National Mall Wednesday.

One congressional official identified the pilot as Doug Hughes, a Florida Postal Service worker who took responsibility for the stunt on a website where he said he was delivering letters to all 535 members of Congress to draw attention to campaign finance corruption. Public records showed that Hughes is 61 and lives in Ruskin, Florida.

“As I have informed the authorities, I have no violent inclinations or intent,” Hughes wrote on his website, “An ultralight aircraft poses no major physical threat — it may present a political threat to graft. I hope so. There’s no need to worry — I’m just delivering the mail.”

The Senate aide said Capitol Police knew of the plan shortly before Hughes took off, and said he had previously been interviewed by the U.S. Secret Service. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the investigation. Capitol Police declined to confirm the man’s identity.

Capitol Police identified the open-air aircraft, which sported the U.S. Postal Service logo and landed about half a city block from the Capitol building, as a “gyrocopter with a single occupant.” About two hours after the device had landed, police announced that a bomb squad had cleared it and nothing hazardous had been found. The authorities then moved it off the Capitol lawn to a secure location.

Hughes flew to Washington from the vicinity of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, which took about an hour, said Ben Montgomery, a reporter with the Tampa Bay Times. Montgomery said Hughes discussed his plan in advance with the newspaper, had meticulously plotted his flight and considered himself on a mission that was “sort of a mix of P.T. Barnum and Paul Revere.”

House Homeland Security panel Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said the pilot landed on his own, but authorities were prepared to shoot him down if he had made it much closer to the Capitol. “Had it gotten any closer to the speaker’s balcony they have long guns to take it down, but it didn’t. It landed right in front,” McCaul said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the pilot had not been in contact with air traffic controllers and the FAA didn’t authorize him to enter restricted airspace.

Airspace security rules that cover the Capitol and the District of Columbia prohibit private aircraft flights without prior coordination and permission. Violators can face civil and criminal penalties.

The White House said President Barack Obama had been briefed on the situation.

Witnesses said the craft approached the Capitol from the west, flying low over the National Mall and the Capitol reflecting pool across the street from the building. It barely cleared a row of trees and a statue of Gen. Ulysses Grant.

John Jewell, 72, a tourist from Statesville, North Carolina, said the craft landed hard and bounced. An officer was already there with a gun drawn. “He didn’t get out until police officers told him to get out. He had his hands up” and was quickly led away by the police, Jewell said. “They snatched him pretty fast.”

Elizabeth Bevins, a tourist from Atlanta, said she was standing across the street from the Capitol when the little gyrocopter flew in around 20 or 30 feet high, and it “just sort of plopped down on the lawn.”

Police with rifles yelled at the pilot not to move and told bystanders to run with their heads down, said Nora Neus, 21, a junior at the University of Virginia who was in town for a job interview. “I thought it was a joke at first. My next thought was this is something really bad,” she said.

Amid the initial commotion, the small craft presented a strange sight sitting on the green lawn of the Capitol, its rotors slowly spinning.

The gyrocopter might qualify as what the Federal Aviation Administration calls an “ultralight” aircraft. These aircraft weigh under 254 pounds empty, have a fuel capacity of 5 gallons or less and aren’t capable of flying faster than 55 knots. The FAA doesn’t certify the safety of these aircraft and their pilots are not required to have a license.

GE Aviation Business Base Growing

By AviationPros

Production rates for jet engines and components from GE Aviation and its partner companies* continue at historically high rates, driving GE’s installed base of jet engines in revenue service to unprecedented levels.

The jet engine backlog for GE and its partner companies (mostly notably CFM International) exceeds 15,000 jet engines.  GE Aviation’s total industrial backlog now exceeds $135 billion for both equipment and long-term services contracts.  The value of the backlog has grown 25% in the past two years.

Annual jet engine deliveries (both commercial and military) for GE Aviation and its partner companies have grown from 3,000 in 2010 to about 3,700 in 2014.  In 2015, jet engine deliveries are expected again to reach the 3,700-engine range.

The most significant growth is in the commercial jet engine sector, where deliveries are growing from 2,600 units in 2013 to about 2,800 in 2015.  This includes more than 1,600 engines to be produced by CFM International.

GE Aviation and its partners are expected to reach 3,000 commercial engine deliveries by 2020. Between now and 2020, the number of commercial jet engines in operation from GE and its partners is expected to increase by about 10,000 engines.

Much of the engine backlog involves new engines under development.  For example, the LEAP engine, under development by CFM International for narrow-body aircraft, has a backlog of more than 8,500 engines.  The LEAP is expected to enter revenue service in 2016 on the Airbus A320neo.  The new GE9X, under development for the Boeing 777X, has a backlog of about 700 engines. It enters service at the end of the decade.

These large production increases contribute to the world’s largest installed base of commercial jet engines in service.  By the end of 2015, GE and its partner companies will have 36,000 commercial jet engines in service, growing to about 46,000 by 2020.

GE Aviation is preparing for high production volumes with a significant expansion of its supply chain through new facilities, upgrades of existing plants, new joint ventures, and acquisitions.  In the past eight years, GE has opened seven new U.S. facilities.  These plants are not only addressing higher production volumes, but are introducing several new advanced technologies.  The most recent investments include:

– Evendale, Ohio.  During 2014-2015, about $144 million is being invested to further upgrade GE Aviation’s world headquarters, including construction of a unique combustion test center and a ceramic matrix composite (CMC) laboratory.

– Asheville, North Carolina.  In late 2014, GE opened in Asheville the first factory in the world to mass produce CMC parts for commercial and military engines.

– Auburn, Alabama.  Later this year, GE’s new Auburn facility will begin mass producing the interiors of the LEAP engine’s fuel nozzle using the 3D additive manufacturing technology.

– Lafayette, Indiana.  Near Purdue University, GE is constructing a new 300,000 square foot LEAP engine assembly factory. It becomes fully operational next year.

GE Aviation is an operating unit of GE and a world-leading provider of jet engines, components and integrated systems for commercial and military aircraft. GE Aviation has a global service network to support these offerings. For more information, visit us at