The western wildfires, which continue to expand at a rapid pace, are the biggest story, period, and this on a week when there was a new plane certification, news of a future supersonic Air Force One, a Midwest airshow that’s actually going to happen and much more in our weekly news roundup.
The wildfires rampaging through a half-dozen western states are far from over. As of Friday, September 11, there are 26 major fires and nearly 15,000 firefighters working heroically to… forget extinguish them, to stop the rate at which they’re spreading. Among those putting their lives on the line are many hundreds of pilots and support crewmembers of firefighting aircraft.
Helicopters of the California National Guard rescued 200 stranded campers from a campground in California’s Sierra Nevadas. The pilots of Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters were forced to use night vision goggles to battle the dark night and dense smoke.
An Air Spray Lockheed Electra’s wing hit tree tops when its crew momentarily lost sight of terrain during a fire retardant drop run. The crew then made a second run before returning to the airport for a closer look at the damage.
Today marks the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when terrorists commandeered four aircraft that they used to attack United States targets, including the Pentagon and both towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Thousands were killed, including hundreds of first responders, and for more than a week the skies were devoid of civilian aircraft. We think of all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice that day.
The Air Force, which has been home to supersonic planes since 1946, thinks it’s high time to get Air Force One up to Mach speeds. This week the USAF pegged Boom Supersonic to work on a design for a possible future Air Force One and other high-level executive government transport.
The Inspector General had issues with BasicMed, the FAA’s less rigorous medical certification route for pilots of light planes. In part, the office thought the FAA needed to get its act together on keeping track of which doctors were eligible to do the exams, among other bookkeeping kinds of concerns. The FAA said it was already on it.
Diamond Aircraft announced it had earned EASA approval for its sleek and roomy Diamond DA50 RG, a retractable gear five-seat diesel powered single. The plane boasts excellent fuel efficiency and decent cruise speed numbers, as well.
With Sturgis, South Dakota, and the National Football League going forward with live attended events, aviation was bound to follow, and we have. The Midwest LSA Expo, which takes place in Mount Vernon, Illinois, is underway as we speak.
AOPA and a handful of other aviation organizations have requested that the FAA extend the grace period for pilots to get certain certifications up to date, citing the coronavirus pandemic for the request. The FAA has already allowed two such extensions, and it is likely, insiders believe, that it will once again extend the grace period.