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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day of Remembrance- 25th anniversary of the loss of the Challenger

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the loss of the Challenger. I wanted to share with you this letter from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden noting that today will be a Day of Remembrance for NASA.

Day of Remembrance – Jan. 27, 2011

The last week of January every year brings us the opportunity to reflect on the sobering realities of our space exploration enterprise. Each time men and women board a spacecraft, their actions carry great risk along with the opportunity for great discoveries and the chance to push the envelope of our human achievement. Today, we honor the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia crews, as well as other members of the NASA Family who lost their lives supporting NASA’s mission of exploration. We thank them and their families for their extraordinary sacrifices in the service of our nation.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the loss of Challenger -- a tragedy that caused us to completely re-think our systems and processes as we worked to make the shuttle safer. The nation will never forget Jan. 28, 1986, nor its indelible images. The astronauts in that crew were personal friends of mine, as were the astronauts aboard Columbia when it was lost. The Apollo I crew perished while I was studying at the Naval Academy, and I mourned their loss in the line of duty with the nation. These brave men and women will always be a part of us, and we are still building on their legacies.

NASA has learned hard lessons from each of our tragedies, and they are lessons that we will continue to keep at the forefront of our work as we continuously strive for a culture of safety that will help us avoid our past mistakes and heed warnings while corrective measures are possible. In memory of our colleagues, I ask the NASA Family once again to always make its opinions known and to be unafraid to speak up to those in authority, so that safety can always be our guiding principle and the sacrifices of our friends and colleagues will not be in vain.

On this Day of Remembrance, as we honor our fallen heroes with tributes and public ceremonies, I will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

Across the country, flags at NASA Headquarters and the NASA centers will be flown at halfmast in memory of our colleagues lost in the cause of exploration.

The legacy of those who have perished is present every day in our work and inspires generations of new space explorers. Every day, with each new challenge we overcome and every discovery we make, we honor these remarkable men and women. Please join me in working to fulfill their dreams for the future.

Charlie B.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Virginia Aerospace Day next week at the General Assembly

The 6th Annual AeroSpace Day (reception and meetings) at the Virginia General Assembly next Wednesday (Feb.2) and Thursday (Feb. 3) to increase awareness of how vital NASA and the aerospace industry are to the economic well-being and future of the Commonwealth. Specific information is as follows:
Reception – The Virginia Aviation Business Association and the Virginia Department of Aviation are once again partnering with NASA to host a Legislative Reception with exhibits, from 6 p.m.- 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the Library of Virginia, 800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA. POC: Lynda Penland, 540-825-9660 or

Meetings – Senior leaders from NASA, the aerospace industry and academia will meet with state senators and delegates to emphasize the importance of the aerospace industry to the future of the Commonwealth. This year, we are scheduling meetings from 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m. Wednesday and from 8:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Virginia General Assembly. POC: Donna Lawson, NASA Langley, 757-864-2505 or Keith Koehler, NASA Wallops, 757-824-1579.

Meet & Greet – Senior leaders from NASA, the aerospace industry and academia will participate in a Meet & Greet with representatives from 10:30 a.m.- 11:30 a.m. on Thursday in the 4W Conference Room at the General Assembly. The Joint Commission on Technology & Science is hosting the event, which includes a news conference at 11 a.m.

Aerospace Education Showcase – Chairs of House and Senate Education Committees will co-sponsor a breakfast forum on successful student programs for building the Commonwealth’s future aerospace workforce needs. General Assembly members, governor’s office and aerospace industry leaders invited. The interactive student forum will be held Thursday, 7 a.m .to 8:30 a.m. in House Room 3, Capitol Building.

Other Activities – NASA Astronaut Dominic Antonelli will sign autographs at the reception and Meet & Greet. Live demo of NASA’s Digital Learning Network from 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m.Thursday outside of 4W Conference Room at the General Assembly. NASA Science Cafe “Green Aviation” is being planned for February 10 (location TBD).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Richmond Airport Connector Road Opens

The Richmond Airport Connector Road opened today, offering many southside Richmonders a shorter, more direct route to Richmond International Airport.

The 1.6-mile Airport Connector is an extension of Pocahontas 895 and links directly to Airport Drive at Charles City Road. The new road can save travelers about 10 minutes or more on a trip to the airport - especially those coming from Chesterfield County and the Tri-Cities area.

Customers who use the Airport Connector and pay the toll at the Pocahontas 895 Main Plaza, including those traveling to and from Chesterfield County, do not pay again at the Airport Connector ramps. Only customers using the Airport Connector and traveling between the airport and Interstate 295 will pay $1.25 at the ramp linking the connector to Pocahontas 895. This toll will be collected electronically, with payment made by E-ZPass® or Visa/Mastercard credit or debit cards.

Transurban, the long-term manager that operates and maintains Pocahontas 895, agreed to finance and construct the nearly $50 million Airport Connector Road as part of a public-private partnership with VDOT established in 2006. The project did not require Virginia taxpayer funding and was supported through a loan provided by the federal government and backed by Transurban.

"The Airport Connector Road is a showcase of how the commonwealth can use public-private partnerships to create jobs, improve our transportation network and strengthen our economy," Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton said.

Construction put an estimated 450 people to work and engaged more than 50 contractors. Transurban and its partners exceeded all goals to use small, disadvantaged, and women- and minority-owned businesses as subcontractors as part of the construction of the project.

"As a long-term operator, Transurban is always looking at ways to improve service for its customers and work collaboratively with its partners, "said Tony Adams, Transurban's vice president, major projects. "This project will benefit the airport, local travelers and businesses and fulfills a long-term goal of VDOT and Henrico County."

Over the last decade, Richmond International Airport has been one of the fastest-growing airports in the nation. "The Airport Connector is part of a package of projects designed to significantly improve access to the airport, which will ultimately benefit the city of Richmond and prepare it for future growth," said James B. Donati, Jr., Henrico County Board of Supervisors and member of the Capital Region Airport Commission. "More immediately, the Airport Connector project infused money into our local economy, and it will provide more convenient choices for local travelers."

Construction of the new road, designed and built by American Infrastructure - VA, Inc., was completed approximately two months early. The project, which began construction in early 2009, boasted more than 665 days without a lost-time accident - the entire two-year length of the project.

The project includes the placement of historical markers along the road to recognize and provide public access to information about the significance of the region in American history. Transurban has created a new online center - part of the Pocahontas 895 website - to spotlight eastern Henrico County's important Civil War, Native American, Colonial and agricultural history. The website features essays by local historian Dr. Louis Manarin, and images from various sources, including Henrico County's own collections.

Monday, January 17, 2011

VAHS to hold annual Spring Party and Fundraising Auction in April

The Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society will  hold its Annual Spring Party and Fundraising Auction on Saturday, April 9 from 5:30–9:00 p.m. at the Virginia Aviation Museum.

In 2010, more than 200 members and guests enjoyed an evening filled with food and fun while providing much needed support for the programs of the VAHS. This event is open to everyone, not just VAHS members, so plan to bring a guest to enjoy the open bar, heavy hors d’oeuvres and some friendly bidding competition during our silent and live auctions. Again this year, the acution will feature “Fast Tongue Al”, aviation’s finest auctioneer, as he provides both entertainment and excitement during the voice auction portion of the evening.

Tickets for the evening are $15 per person and include the open bar and heavy hors d’oeuvres, plus a raffle ticket for a chance to win several door prizes. Tickets are available from Jennifer Melton at the VAHS office 804-222-8690.

 Aviation-related items are great but any type of item is welcome for our auction. Last year the auction raised a record amount to support the VAHS in its mission to preserve Virginia’s rich aviation history.
Contacts for auction donations or questions are:

Scott Gross:
Charlie Williams:
Tom Woodburn:
VAHS office 804-222-8690,

Call if you need help transporting a donated item. VAHS requests that all donated items be at the museum by April 1. All donations are tax deductible. Receipts will be provided.

Newport News/Williamsburg International celebrates record passenger traffic with a free trip to Disney

The Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (PHF) increased passenger traffic by 4.2% in 2010. 1,062,007 passengers used the airport from January 1 through December 31, 2010 compared with 1,019,336 passengers in 2009. This year’s total passenger number is also an all-time record for the airport; the previous record held in 2005 served 1,058,839 total passengers. This year the airport surpassed that record by 3,168 passengers or a 3% increase over 2005.

To celebrate the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport is giving away a free trip to Disney with airfare on AirTran Airways! The trip is a 3 Day/2Night getaway including hotel accommodations, airfare and passes for Disney. Like us on facebook from now until February 13, 2011 at midnight to be registered for a chance to win. The winner will be selected at random on February 14, 2011.

“2010 was a great year for the airport; we celebrated the grand opening of a new $13 million concourse, achieved numerous facility upgrades and welcomed a brand new airline to our community. Frontier Airlines added non-stop service to Denver with connections throughout the west coast in May, making it easier than ever to go west from PHF. The year ahead looks promising and we remain committed to serving our business, leisure and military/government travelers with exceptional customer service. What better way is there to say thank you to our community for their continuing support, than by giving away a trip to Disney” stated Kenneth R. Spirito, A.A.E., Executive Director of the Peninsula Airport Commission (PAC).

The Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport is served by four airlines: AirTran Airways, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines and US Airways with non-stop service to seven domestic destinations (Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Denver, NY-LaGuardia, Orlando and Philadelphia) with connections throughout the world.

For more information visit us on the web at or follow us on www.facebook/FLYPHF and twitter (flyphf).

Monday, January 10, 2011

Virginia's Aerospace Industry Economic Impact Study Completed

Governor Bob McDonnell released today the results of a new study to measure the economic impact and value of Virginia's aerospace industry. "Virginia's Aerospace Industry: An Economic Impact Analysis," describes important contributions that the aerospace industry makes to the economy of Virginia and highlights areas of expected growth.

Speaking about the analysis, Governor McDonnell noted, "The aerospace industry plays a vital role in the economy of the Commonwealth of Virginia and is a source of well paying, highly skilled jobs. As progress continues in this area, the entire Commonwealth will benefit. This study provides valuable information that will serve as a baseline to measure future growth."

The study is the first comprehensive economic study of Aerospace in Virginia and includes supplemental information on the contributions from Virginia's strong presence in aerospace military, education and tourism. It was sponsored by the Virginia Department of Aviation (DOAV), and conducted by the Performance Management Group at Virginia Commonwealth University in partnership with Chmura Economics & Analytics. Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) convened experts from all of Virginia's public universities and colleges and relevant state agencies to develop the Commonwealth Economic Impact Research Model which guided this study. It is one part of a three part analysis that will include an airport economic impact analysis and a workforce development study for aviation and aerospace.

The study identified that Virginia's aerospace industry contributed $7.6 billion per year to the economy of Virginia and supported 28,110 jobs in 2009 through direct impacts and ripple effects. Aerospace directly employed 9,029 workers and created $4.3 billion in annual economic output in 2009. The study noted that aerospace workers are highly skilled and highly productive and are paid higher wages than the average in Virginia.

Virginia is home to the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport, one of four spaceports in the nation. It will begin commercial operations to the International Space Station from the Wallops Island Flight Facility beginning in 2011. The Commonwealth is also fortunate to have facilities such as NASA Langley and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility which have a long history of supporting and advancing the aerospace industry. In addition, Virginia has three public universities; Old Dominion University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VA Tech), and University of Virginia, that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in aerospace-related fields. Virginia's cooperative legislative and economic policies and practices, aided by its competitive workforce, have been driving forces behind an increase in the presence and investments of private aerospace firms to the Commonwealth at a time when many mature industries are declining both nationally and in the state. Because Virginia has four times the concentration of space research and technology industry employment, when compared to the national average, it holds a clear, competitive advantage compared with other states in the nation.

*The study can be downloaded from the Department of Aviation's Website at

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Spera renews Master CFI (Certificated Flight Instructor) accreditation

The Master Instructors LLC takes pride in announcing a significant aviation accomplishment on the part of Robert J. Spera, the owner of Liberty Flying Service and a resident of Wise. Recently, Spera's accreditations as a Master CFI (Certificated Flight Instructor) was renewed by the Master Instructors LLC, the international accrediting authority for the Master Instructor designation as well as the FAA-approved "Master Instructor Programä." He first earned this national professional accreditation in 2002, has held it continuously since then, and is one of only 26 worldwide to earn the credential five times.

To help put these achievements in their proper perspective, there are approximately 93,000 CFIs in the United States. Fewer than 700 of them have achieved that distinction thus far. The last 15 national Flight Instructors of the Year were Master CFIs while Spera is one of only 14 Virginia aviation educators who has earned this prestigious "Master" title.

In the words of former FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, "The Master Instructor accreditation singles out the best that the right seat has to offer."

The Master Instructor designation is a national accreditation recognized by the FAA. Candidates must demonstrate an ongoing commitment to excellence, professional growth, and service to the aviation community, and must pass a rigorous evaluation by a peer Board of Review. The process parallels the continuing education regimen used by other professionals to enhance their knowledge base while increasing their professionalism. Designees are recognized as outstanding aviation educators for not only their excellence in teaching, but for their engagement in the continuous process of learning -- both their own, and their students'. The designation must be renewed biennially and significantly surpasses the FAA requirements for renewal of the candidate's flight instructor certificate.

For more information about the Master Instructor Program and to locate other Masters, please visit the "Find a Master Instructor" section of

Virginia Soaring Society meets with Dept. of Aviation

Representatives of the six soaring organizations that formed the Virginia Soaring Association earlier this year met December 11 with Virginia Department of Aviation Director Randy Burdette in Richmond to discuss how the VADOA could be a resource to the organization.

The Virginia Soaring Association (VASA), was created in the spring of 2010 to provide a more unified voice for promotion of the sport of soaring, to address regulatory and governmental issues the clubs have in common, and to increase cooperative efforts among the clubs.

The six organizing member organizations of VASA are all chapters of the Soaring Society of America (SSA) and represent almost 450 glider pilots carrying out nearly 20,000 flight operations a year. Also, foundations associated with three of the soaring clubs have been added as members of VASA.

Jim Kellett, of Skyline Soaring in Front Royal  was named the coordinator of the association at the April 2010 organizational meeting in Charlottesville. Kellett is the outgoing SSA Region 4 director.

The association plans to produce a brochure promoting soaring in Virginia to the general pilot population and the general public listing information about the operations and locations of Virginia soaring clubs. A VASA website is under construction at The association will work with the Virginia Department of Aviation to identify upcoming aviation events and coordinate static and flight demonstrations by member clubs. The Virginia Soaring Association will take an active role in educating lawmakers on issues important to the soaring community in the Commonwealth and will work with the Virginia Airport Owners Association to keep soaring sites viable and open.

The member soaring organizations of VASA are Blue Ridge Soaring Society, New Castle, VA; Merlin Soaring Association, Amelia, VA; Shenandoah Valley Soaring, Inc., Waynesboro, VA; Skyline Soaring, Inc., Front Royal, VA; Springwood Soaring Association, Inc., Buchanan, VA; and Tidewater Soaring Society, Windsor, VA.