I was very interested in the checkout story, and how different mine was in 1943. I had just finished operational training in Avengers and transferred to Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, and was told, "Forget the Avenger, you will fly the SBD." So with only a cockpit checkout and a tower clearance I was to know and love this wonderful plane. There is nothing like diving from 11,000 straight down to 2000 (or a little lower) and a 9g, 2-hand pull out.
This is an open letter to the person at the controls of a Mooney that flew below the rim of the caldera at Crater Lake National Park on Monday, June 16th. I wouldn't use the term "pilot" to characterize him/her. This person flew a circuit around Wizard Island below the top of the cone, then made a circuit of the caldera below the rim, exiting at Sun Notch. Hopefully, the National Park Service got his number.
Don't you have any idea of the tenuous position of general aviation in this country at this time? We GA pilots are fighting constantly to improve/maintain our image with the general public as airports and back-country landing strips are being closed weekly. Who did you think you might impress with your stunt? If I'd had binoculars and had read your number, you'd be without a certificate by now, if you even had one to begin with.
Let me tell you for sure, you don't want to brag about this trick to other pilots, as anyone who appreciates the privilege of flying will turn you in. We're too rapidly losing our privileges as it is, without people like you.
I find your joke on Reagan Intl Airport misplaced. Here in Europe, we look with respect at the one president who effectively handled ATC strikes for a long-lasting solution. Look at the mess that ATC strikes make of our airspace! How I wish to name a European airport for one politician who takes a stand against this abuse of power.
Peter De Ceulaer
The challenge in publishing anything other than bland humor is that, like many of our Short Finals, some readers liked this joke, and some didn't. Hopefully we can lighten your day more often than not.
Features and AVmail Editor