Xiaomi Launches Low Cost Drone to Challenge DJI

It’s often said that if something seems too good to be true, it’s because it probably is. Read on about Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi’s first ever consumer drone, launched today, and make your own mind up on this one. Xiaomi new quadcopter, called ‘Mi’, will come with a three-axis gimbal and a choice of two cameras, high […]

The post Xiaomi Launches Low Cost Drone to Challenge DJI appeared first on DRONELIFE.

Source: Quadcopter/Drone newsXiaomi Launches Low Cost Drone to Challenge DJI

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Is this the Solution to Drone Racing’s Spectator Problems?

Maker Faires don’t usually disappoint when it comes to exhibiting the latest in innovation and technology. At the Faire in California earlier this week, drone racing was one of the events to make a big impression, with an added twist that could be a smart solution to arguably the sport’s biggest problem. It’s been suggested […]

The post Is this the Solution to Drone Racing’s Spectator Problems? appeared first on DRONELIFE.

Source: Quadcopter/Drone newsIs this the Solution to Drone Racing’s Spectator Problems?

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Picture of the day: The embodiment of grassroots aviation

Dyer

Frequent contributor Albert Dyer sent in this photo, with this explanation: “Brodhead Wisconsin has an airport (C37) that is perhaps the embodiment of what grassroots aviation is all about. There is a very active EAA chapter (EAA Chapter 431). It also has a small museum housing some very, very rare aircraft and cars. It’s also known within the Hatz & Pietenpol Air Camper community as the place to ask questions, build and fly these types of aircraft.

Dyer“In May, Chapter 431 held a pancake breakfast. I overheard that 1,100 people were served. The museum too, opened its doors and brought out some of its aircraft and cars, which just added to all the other antiques and classic cars that drove in. The majority of aircraft that flew in had a tail wheel and were older than most of their pilots that flew them to breakfast.

Pictured in the photo front to back are two Curtiss-Wright Travel Airs, a Franklin Sport and a Stearman C3-B.”

Source: http://generalaviationnews.comPicture of the day: The embodiment of grassroots aviation

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Air Racing From the Cockpit: An ethical dilemma

The plane to beat: Team Ely’s Race 55 Grumman AA5A Cheetah. Although Race 53 doesn’t fly head-to-head with the Elys, both planes compete for points to win the season champion trophy in the Factory Category. (Photo by Lisa F. Bentson)

Dispatch from KIYA, Abbeville, Louisiana: As I turn off the taxiway for the hold-short line, I glance back over my left shoulder to watch the parade of Aeronca 7 Champions move forward. Each a different shade of yellow and red, with their stubby noses high in the air, their tails low, they look like a pack of eager puppy dogs begging for a treat.

I sigh. For me, in this race, they would have been easy pickings. Even though they rolled off the assembly line about the same time my plane did, they are a whole order of magnitude slower. Even on a bad day I could beat them all.

That is, if they actually were flying against me, which they aren’t. 

A Champ heavy race: Three vintage Aeronca 7 Champions were among the race planes at the Race for Heroes at Abbeville, Louisiana. (Photo by Lisa F. Bentson)

A Champ heavy race: Three vintage Aeronca 7 Champions were among the race planes at the Race for Heroes at Abbeville, Louisiana. (Photo by Lisa F. Bentson)

Flying through the rules

The Champs are all Factory planes, in the same Class as I am: FAC6. But they also meet the FAA’s definition of Light-Sport Aircraft, and can be flown as “legacy” light sports. Accordingly, Sport Air Racing League rules allow pilots to enter them as either FAC6 or LSA for racing.

The night before the race, as I was looking at the lineup of planes, I saw that all the Champs had registered as LSAs. Like the Champs, my particular Ercoupe also qualifies as an LSA, so I can race as an LSA if I choose to.

And there was good reason to consider it.

My big competitors for the first place factory trophy at the end of the season, Team Ely, were already 20 points head of me, and to make matters worse, they were flying against two planes at Abbeville that I judged they would be able to defeat. As things stood, by the end the race I’d be 40 points behind them.

The plane to beat: Team Ely’s Race 55 Grumman AA5A Cheetah. Although Race 53 doesn’t fly head-to-head with the Elys, both planes compete for points to win the season champion trophy in the Factory Category. (Photo by Lisa F. Bentson)

The plane to beat: Team Ely’s Race 55 Grumman AA5A Cheetah. Although Race 53 doesn’t fly head-to-head with the Elys, both planes compete for points to win the season champion trophy in the Factory Category. (Photo by Lisa F. Bentson)

But if I switched to LSA, I had the potential to tie with the Elys again — in addition to the trio of Champs, there was also a modern Sky Arrow LSA flying the race. If I beat all the other LSAs, I’d rake in 140 points. If I stayed FAC6 I’d only gather 100 points.

Dance with the girl you brought, or win at any cost?

The rules allow planes that qualify for more than one Class to change Classes once per season. So I could do it, and I could do it at the last minute, but then I’d be locked into that Class the for rest of the season.

There was every reason to do it. In most races I’m the only FAC6 and there aren’t any LSAs, at least not in the Factory Category. So in most races the most I can hope for is 100 points.

Team Ely, however, often has one or two competitors, and they are pretty much the fastest plane in their Class. To beat them at the end of the season I have to fly more races (at least two more, maybe three) to trump their point total.

The problem is that the Elys are signing up for every race in sight. They are wonderful people, but, you know, they’re kinda competitive.

Of course, if you’re not competitive by nature, you wouldn’t be an air racer.

I was looking at a golden opportunity here that I knew was unlikely to come along again. Plus it would move me from a very wide Class where at least half the planes I might fly against can beat me, to a Class where I would likely be the undisputed king of speed.

Going with the gut

I agonized long and hard, and tried to convince myself to do it, but switching Classes just didn’t feel right.

Despite all the seeming advantages of switching, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I don’t know why.

Partly it felt Benedict Arnold-ish. Partly I was afraid of making a bad call.

And while flying loops through race rules is a tradition that goes back to the earliest air races, that doesn’t mean it’s universally admired. I guess I worried that switching might somehow affect my status in the League.

And lastly, flying the fastest plane in a Class doesn’t seem as challenging and fun. I know that in upcoming races I’ll be head-to-head with planes with better speed. Winning against a faster plane by out-flying its pilot would be sweet indeed.

Of course, I could also lose, and fall yet farther behind the Elys.

Race 53 pilot William E. Dubois and Race 118 pilot Ken Krebaum review their course notes shortly before the race.  (Photo by Lisa F. Bentson)

Race 53 pilot William E. Dubois and Race 118 pilot Ken Krebaum review their course notes shortly before the race. (Photo by Lisa F. Bentson)

Flying against myself, with others in the way

Well, it’s too late now. The ramp marshal is signaling me to take the runway. Our launch is an hour behind schedule due to a long briefing: We have a large number of rookie racers in the field and the race director wanted to be sure everyone understood what to do.

I slide my canopy halves closed, pull onto the numbers and advance my throttle to the firewall. In the thick, dense air at 15 feet above sea level, Race 53 jumps off the ground in three heartbeats.

As I cross the numbers, I bank sharply to the left and roll out onto course. It will be the only left-hand turn of the day. This race is all right-hand turns, a tricky arrangement in a side by side plane like Race 53.

Something’s wrong. The sky’s empty.

We are launching in 30-second intervals. There should be planes in front of me. But there are none. I double-check my heading. I scan the sky around me, then triple check my heading. I’m dead-on the racecourse, but all alone.

Race 53 turns onto the racecourse after crossing the start line. (Photo by Lisa F. Bentson)

Race 53 turns onto the racecourse after crossing the start line. (Photo by Lisa F. Bentson)

Finally I spot the two planes that launched ahead of me, both rookie racers, high and off course to the right. They are wasting speed by climbing abruptly to altitude. Our first turn is a full 18 miles from the start line. I set up a slow climb to ensure that I reach the 1,200 MSL passing altitude by the time I get there.

The trouble begins

The plane immediately ahead of me is a Piper Warrior. Once he gets his altitude, he pulls smartly away, passing the plane ahead of him, which we’ll call a Skymusher to protect the identity of the pilot I’m going to rag on.

The Skymusher should have had a commanding speed advantage over me, that’s why he launched two planes ahead of me. This is a plane that should have been able to do 140 mph, easy. And maybe it did. But first the Skymusher was to my right. Then he crossed the course and was off to my left.

As we closed in on Turn 1 there was very little space between us, but there was no getting around him right then. He took the turn way wide. I took it on the dime seconds later.

Turn Two was above the bridge over the Bayou des Cannes river at Lake Arthur. At first, I thought the new racer had missed the turn. I was in position, right over the turn point, about to key my mike to announce my turn when he announced, “Race Zero (not his real race number), Turn two!” and banked into the turn. I had to extend outwards to make sure I didn’t hit him.

On the next turn I nearly would.

Collision course

Now on the longest leg of the short course, the Skymusher drifted so far to the left of the course that I could hardly see him, and I began to edge up on him. Slowly, painfully, I gained on him.

When I was at his three thirty, I called him on the race frequency, “Race Five Three to Race Zero, passing on your right. I’m just behind your three o’clock and 50 feet below you.” The altitude was a guess; he was too damn far away to really judge.

The radio was deafeningly silent.

“Race Five Three to Race Zero, do you have a visual?”

Again, silence. Then it occurred to me that he might not know his race number. “Skymusher, do you have a visual on the Ercoupe?”

This time he came back at once, “No. Where are you?”

“Passing on your right, below you, abeam your wing.”

“I don’t see you, where are you?”

I got exasperated and spat out, “Right off your wing!”

So that plane can fly fast, after all

We were now nearing Turn Three, a sharp doubling-back on the course where we departed from the long course. The Skymusher was slightly behind me and wide, but closing in on me. I radioed him and told him I was taking the turn inside of him. But he abruptly changed direction to an intercept course, and in an astonishing burst of speed pulled right in front of me, radioing, “I’m taking the turn!” Then, as Skymusher filled my windscreen, asked, “Is that OK?”

I responded with a snap turn to the left to avoid taking his tail off, and let out a long litany of expletives. I went wide around the turn, then told him I was clear.

I don’t know if it was the near miss or the loss of seconds that made me madder. On a 89-mile race at my speed, losing a mere 24 seconds adds up to a full one mile per hour loss in speed for the course.

Seconds are serious business.

I was unable to pass him by the next turn, so again we took the turn almost in formation, with me just behind him, but way to the outside, a maneuver that made me particularly uncomfortable, as this was the turn where the short and long courses merged again, and I knew going wide put me into the path of the faster planes.

Across the finish line

On the home stretch we were in loose formation, with the Skymusher two plane lengths ahead and well off to my left. In the end, we crossed the finish line within seconds of each other, and when he announced his finish, he let out of whoop of pure joy on the radio that couldn’t help but make me smile, even though I’d wanted to ring his neck for most of the race.

Race 53 crosses the finish line above Le Gros Memorial Airport, Louisiana.  (Photo by Lisa F. Bentson)

Race 53 crosses the finish line above Le Gros Memorial Airport, Louisiana. (Photo by Lisa F. Bentson)

I pulled up, banked right to get the hell away from the son-of-a-bitch, then wagged my wings, part low-end victory roll, part greeting to the timers on the ground.

Back at Abbeville, after landing, I was still second-guessing my decision to stay in my Class. My official speed was 114.14 mph, my second-best of the season.

Had it not been for my troubles with the rookie on the course, I’m sure I would have clocked in excess of 115, maybe even beating my best time of 115.45 at the Axsom race.

By comparison, the champion of the Champs I decided not to take on directly posted a speed of 88.77 miles per hour for the racecourse.

As I said, easy pickin’s.

A victory deserved

But in the end I’m glad I didn’t change, and for a reason that I confess I never considered in advance. The official name of the Abbeville Race is the “Race for Heroes,” and it was co-sponsored by the Louisiana Military Hall of Fame and Museum.

Remember that Sky Arrow was flying in the LSA Class against the Champs? Its pilot was Chris Sullivan, a disabled combat vet who lost the use of his legs after being shot in the neck by a sniper in Iraq. The Sky Arrow has been modified to let him fly with his hands. He was right behind me the whole way, and took first in LSA at 109.68 mph. To me, having a real hero win the Race For Heroes seemed fitting.

Paraplegic combat vet Chris Sullivan, Race 60, is lifted from his Sky Arrow LSA by a lineman from Vector Aviation following the Race for Heroes in the skies around Abbeville, Louisiana.  (Photo by Lisa F. Bentson)

Paraplegic combat vet Chris Sullivan, Race 60, is lifted from his Sky Arrow LSA by a lineman from Vector Aviation following the Race for Heroes in the skies around Abbeville, Louisiana. (Photo by Lisa F. Bentson)

If I’d been Benedict Arnold to my Class, I would have defeated him and robbed him of a hard-fought victory he deserved. So I feel pretty good about my decision, even if noble sentiments had nothing to do with my decision-making on the ground at the time.

Chris Sullivan, Race 60, receives his First Place medal in the LSA Class from Deb Viator. The Iraqi combat vet lost the use of his legs after being shot in the neck by a sniper. His Sky Arrow, which he shares with another paraplegic pilot, has been modified to allow him to control the rudders with one of his hands. (Photo by Lisa F. Bentson)

Chris Sullivan, Race 60, receives his First Place medal in the LSA Class from Deb Viator. The Iraqi combat vet lost the use of his legs after being shot in the neck by a sniper. His Sky Arrow, which he shares with another paraplegic pilot, has been modified to allow him to control the rudders with one of his hands. (Photo by Lisa F. Bentson)

Of course, if I end the season in second place, I might feel differently, and instead of the rookie in the Skymusher, I’ll be directing that long litany of expletives at myself.

My League Points: 410

My League Standing: I remain in second place for the Factory Category, but the first place Race 55 team has pulled farther ahead with 450 points. They are now in second place overall in League standings, while I’ve moved up into a three-way tie for third place.

Air Racer William E. Dubois showcases his First Place medal for the FAC6 Class on the tarmac at KIYA following the awards ceremony for the Race for Heroes at Abbeville, Louisiana. (Photo by Lisa F. Bentson)

Air Racer William E. Dubois showcases his First Place medal for the FAC6 Class on the tarmac at KIYA following the awards ceremony for the Race for Heroes at Abbeville, Louisiana. (Photo by Lisa F. Bentson)

Source: http://generalaviationnews.comAir Racing From the Cockpit: An ethical dilemma

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Black Box aviation app simplifies maintenance tracking

2016-05-25 14.34.22

Search the words “aviation logbook” in the app store and you’ll find a wide variety of apps that provide digital logbook capabilities right on your iPad. Pilots love these apps, since they allow you to enter flight times quickly on an iPhone or iPad, and all the data is backed up securely in the cloud.

What’s been missing up to this point though is an app that offers the same capabilities for aircraft owners, to track individual aircraft tach/hobbs time and maintenance records right on the iPad. A new app called Black Box Aviation recently hit the app store and does just that, allowing you to easily maintain and backup your aircraft records right from your iPad.

Black Box Aviation is designed to create maintenance records that are searchable, easily shared, securely backed up in the cloud, and that contain more robust information than traditional paper. The app has three core features:

2016-05-25 14.34.22Logbooks

The logbook portion of the app is a place to create and store entries for airframe, engine, propeller, avionics, or APU maintenance. Logbooks stored in the app can be shared with maintenance providers electronically in order to minimize the risk of losing records during transport.

Logbook entries created within the app can have pictures attached directly to individual work items, diminishing the mess of parts approval forms or any question about what work was accomplished. Maintenance personnel can sign entries and send them to an owner for review directly within the app. There are also built-in folders for 337 forms, AD logs, discrepancy logs, and tracking forms. Paper logs can be uploaded so that old and new records will be stored together in the cloud.

Network

The app’s network is built to connect maintenance providers with aircraft operators in a way that benefits everyone in the community. Maintenance providers can advertise their services and expertise. Owners can search for shops or services, read reviews, and even leave a review when they have an exceptional experience. Operators can share records with a shop prior to and during a maintenance event, as well as messaging directly within the app during maintenance.

Search

Searchable records are a major benefit of electronic logbooks, making it simple to find information quickly. Black Box Aviation has gone one step further by also making it possible black box 1to search all of the records that are created by its users, and then displaying them without any personal information so that privacy is protected. Once the app collects some data, the goal is to make it easier to troubleshoot and identify common problems, and to catch trending maintenance issues early in order to save time and money.

The app is fairly new so the search results are pretty slim at this point, but this will be a handy feature once more pilots and aircraft operators start storing their records in the app.

There are no catches here–the app is completely free and there are no subscriptions to buy. You’ll notice a few advertisements at the top of the screen, but they don’t seem to get in the way. You can download the app here: Black Box Aviation.

Source: Ipad appsBlack Box aviation app simplifies maintenance tracking

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FAA, NATCA Reach Tentative Contract Agreement

The FAA and its largest union, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, announced today they have reached a tentative agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement covering air traffic control specialists assigned to terminal and en route facilities, traffic management coordinators/specialists, controllers assigned to the flight service option and Notice to Airmen specialists.

The tentative agreement culminates a swift and very effective interest-based bargaining process that began in January. It reflects the strong collaborative relationship that FAA and NATCA have established over the past seven years. The current collective bargaining agreement was signed in 2009 and extended in 2012.

Source: FAAFAA, NATCA Reach Tentative Contract Agreement

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Airplane Involved In Accident Had Been Idle At Least Five Years

Had Been Purchased At An Estate Sale, Went Down On Check-Out Flight This is a cautionary tale with the message that, in the case of an airplane that has been sitting for a long, and indefinite amount of time, you can’t just gas it up and go. Fortunately both people on board the Beech Sierra survived the accident with minor injuries.
Source: aero newsAirplane Involved In Accident Had Been Idle At Least Five Years

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FAA, NATCA Reach Tentative Contract Agreement

Negotiations Started In January The FAA and its largest union, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, AFL-CIO (NATCA) announced Wednesday they have reached a tentative agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) covering the air traffic control specialists assigned to the terminal and en route options, traffic management coordinators/specialists, air traffic controllers assigned to the flight service option, and Notice to Airmen specialists (NOTAMS).
Source: aero newsFAA, NATCA Reach Tentative Contract Agreement

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