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Space About To Get Funky! ERAU To Use Virtual Reality, And The NTSB Will Scrap TWA 800 Reconstruction

Plus, the FAA warns about COVID after effects, a well-known aviation personality killed in Texas plane crash, the NTSB to search for ditched 737 black boxes, and much more!

Just the Facts, July 9, 2021

Wally Funk, 82, is getting a ride on the Blue Origin rocket ship heading to space July 20th. Funk, who was one of the Mercury 13 aviators who passed the same screening as NASA candidates did but never got the chance to space, is a 30,000-plus hour pilot with a resume that rivals anyone in aviation. Congrats, Wally Funk!

Aviation personality Brad “Launchpad” Marzari was killed in the crash of the 1960 Focke-Wulf FWP-149D single-engine plane near Killeen, Texas. There were reports that Marzari reported engine trouble before crashing short of his destination, Killeen’s Skylark Airport.

The FAA’s Federal Air Surgeon Dr. Susan Northrup in a safety letter warned pilots who had COVID-19 to come clean to their Aviation Medical Examiners about any lasting effects of the disease. Northrup said that any cases that required hospitalization would require documentation.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University will use virtual reality, among other tools, to help cut training cost and time invested for its students. The university said the plan would greatly speed up its first-year students’ progress toward their Private Pilot certificate while also cutting costs for them and allowing more students to go through the program.

The NTSB says that it will scrap the remains of the reconstructed wreckage of TWA Flight 800, a TWA Boeing 747 that exploded over the Atlantic Ocean in 1996. All 230 aboard were killed. Relatives of victims are being given a chance to see the wreckage one last time, though a spokesperson said that very few have done it.

The FAA says that it will take a case-by-case approach in granting certification to Urban Air Mobility vehicles, this according to an article in Aviation International News Future Flight news site, by Kerry Lynch. The agency said that it was concerned that having certification standards set in stone might inadvertently prevent safety advances from reaching market.

Two pilots were killed when the Beechcraft Bonanza they were flying (it wasn’t clear who was at the controls) crashed into high terrain after taking off from Aspen-Pitkin Airport in Colorado. Flight tracking shows the Bonanza, after climbing over the airport, departed toward higher terrain than the recommended departure procedure.

In other NTSB news, the Board says that it will use sonar to locate the black boxes (for later recovery, if possible) that were aboard the Transair Boeing 737-200 that ditched in the Pacific Ocean over the weekend. Both pilots (the only occupants) survived the ordeal, and the NTSB wants to find out what happened that a twin-engine jet couldn’t make it back to a sea-level airport.


Gulfstream delivered the final G550 wide-body business jet, one of more than 600 Gulfstream turned out. With a max operating speed of .885 Mach and a max range of nearly 6,750 nm, the $62 million (for the later versions) twinjet was in a class of one when it was launched in 2003.

The EAA’s popular Pilot Proficiency Center will have a virtual component this year. Pilots who want to participate will need to have access to a Redbird flight simulator and Zoom. The Center will also, of course, be operating as normal at Show Center at this year’s AirVenture, which takes place from July 26-August 1 at Wittman Regional in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.


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