AVmail: December 15, 2003

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Reader mail this week about the pilot stuck in Antarctica, airport closures in Florida and Denver and more.


Naples Airport

Regarding an effort to close the Naples Airport and force all users to outlying fields, AVweb wrote (Newswire, Dec. 8):

"It means they get in their limousines and have one more martini," [city council candidate William Willkomm III] said.

This is yet another example of the kind of ignorance that endangers all our airports nationwide. I sure hope the people of Naples don't elect this wizard to any public position.

Claude von Plato


Toronto City Centre Airport

Kevin Psutka's remarks are bang on (NewsWire, Dec. 8).

David Miller ran a "single issue" campaign to stop expansion of TCCA and so I must reluctantly agree that he has something of a mandate.

What bothers me is that, while he has generally portrayed himself as an environmentalist, he has a reprehensible record of supporting colossal condominium projects that have had significant impact on the Toronto waterfront (and other neighbourhoods). I consider myself to be a committed environmentalist (as well as a pilot who trained at TCCA). I consider David Miller to be a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Incidentally, it's been a while since I've seen a report that mentions that TCCA is a very busy medevac centre that is necessary to bring fixed-wing flights from the North close to Toronto's "Hospital Row" and "Sick Kids" medical centre and is a downtown base for Toronto's air ambulance.

Peter Mendell


Airport Closures

From our experience here in the Denver metropolitan area, the closing of an airport only because somebody could make a ton of money from the land sale sounds very familiar. But I can't understand the logic of closing any publicly owned facility which the taxpayer has paid for and is presently producing revenue.

Here in Denver the pols ripped down a multi-million dollar exposition hall to create --- wait for it -- a parking lot.

Stapleton got closed over noise and air pollution. A lot of us here feel it should have been kept open but downsized to fit GA after Denver International was up and running. But that idea was nixed as NIH and not fitting with the maximum use of the land.

Sky Ranch airport -- a really niffty little field -- got shut down and turned into an outdoor steel storage yard.

Up in Jefferson County there is suit and counter-suit going on between county commissioners and a lowest-bid contractor for airport improvements, because they don't like each other or some such nonsense.

South of town is Centennial. If the residents who bought property arround the airport and under its flyways have their way, it too will get the axe. And then there is the constant bickering over how big an aircraft is too big and who should be allowed to operate into and out of the field.

The city of Aurora has a small field east of town called Aurora Municipal, and if you think this burg is at all interested in aviation and any benefits it could bring to the community, you would have to see it to believe it. I wouldn't allow coyotes to roam through there, let alone an airplane. And DIA airspace sits right on top of it.

I really wish there was some way to sue politicians for something called "breach of trust." I'm not a pilot and I'm not involved directly in aviation at present. But as a taxpayer, homeowner and businessman active in my community, I can see the value of GA -- its infrastructure and tax base -- to my community.

In some states, we now have the laws to put CEOs and CFOs who gut their publicly held companies for their own profit into jail. Why can't we do this with politicians and public officials who do the same with the public trust? And if we can, why haven't we?

I do realise that this sounds very simplistic, but there it is for comment.

Jim Zalanka


Stranded in Antarctica

Australians and the world's aviators should be disgusted at the treatment of Jon Johanson (Newswire, Dec. 11).

Pioneers, explorers, adventurers ... it doesn’t matter what you call them, the world needs them. Fortunately, Australia has a history of having many, and more importantly, some of the world's best. Jon Johanson is one of the modern era’s aviation pioneer adventurers. He has a history of meticulous planning and a string of achievements that all Australians would and should be proud of.

To say that his trip across the South Pole was irresponsible is insulting to all freethinking Australians and I hope all the worlds’ normal people. There is ridiculous bureaucratic small-mindedness that is going on over a few litres of fuel and a petty power struggle over who is in charge. In the meantime, think about the resultant damage to the prestige of New Zealand and the United States, who are looking pretty silly at the moment. They have in their past and present ranks many great adventurers, who at some time have probably been helped in their endeavours by Australians and others, who know the meaning of friendship and mateship. Have these administrators forgotten that the only reason that they are down there working is because of past pioneers (Australian) testing their limits so that all the world benefits from their spirit of adventure and their search for truth?

Antarctica New Zealand says he should have been better prepared, that he had kept his plans to fly over the South Pole a secret, and that allowing him to buy the fuel would set a bad precedent. The only bad precedent here is being set by New Zealand!

Jon filed his flight plan legally with the aviation authorities -- you can hardly call this secret.

There has not been a rescue by the authorities. There will be no cost to the public, and he will pay for the fuel. Oh, very irresponsible -- politicians and bureaucrats should try being this responsible.

Shame on Antarctica New Zealand (small print for small minds) and the U.S. administrators at the McMurdo Station in Antarctica.

Jim Crocker


Too bad the RV is stuck at the South Pole. He should have looked up in his Jeppesen -- McMurdo doesn't stock 100LL.

It would cost approximatly $30,000 U.S. to charter a plane from New Zeeland to fly in two 55-gallon drums of 100LL.

He is lucky to be alive. I hope anyone else foolish enough to attempt a flight would at least have the financing to plan for contingencies. As it is, the American taxpayers will end up footing the bill to remove him, and he will have to fork out the $10,000 to have his plane shipped back by ship.

Stunts like this do not help the cause of aviation.

Jim Pratt