AVmail: May 17, 2004
Reader mail this week about the start of firefighting season, housing developments at airports, FSS privatization and more.
Firefighting Season (and Controversies) Begin
Every summer the fire season kicks into gear with all the fury of World War III. The scenario repeats itself every single year. The same questions are asked, the same data used, the same (or increasing) cost to the taxpayer in fire-related losses (not to mention the lives lost). There are plans and more plans but no real solutions. Nothing changes. Politics and internal (or eternal) infighting will never allow a solution to the problem ... or even reasonable discussion.
There are some solutions being proposed using existing military aircraft at least in the initial strike mode (think A-10) that, regardless of what the naysayers would portray could provide some real answers. But politics will kill real discussion, as it always has in the past. Turf wars, personalities and funding will win every time over burnt houses and body bags. I think the bigger question is why this has to be the case.
All the white papers, studies, 10-year aircraft replacement plans, and strategic firefighting excellence plans are nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Personalities and politics will continue to drive the boat as buildings burn around us, until the taxpayers (that would be those footing the bill) become fed up with the politics and make things happen. Problem is, we have been trained to believe that the so-called experts have the answers and we shouldn’t question.
And the trees and houses keep burning!
Sure, Evergreen's monstrosity of an air tanker is news (NewsWire, May 10), but you are missing the real story, and that's the role SEATs (Single Engine Air Tankers) will continue to play in the firefighting business. These first-responder aircraft extinguish the fire before it becomes a raging inferno fire storm. They are more affordable for the taxpayer, more effective than other aerial firefighters and basically make more sense (read logic).
Between effective helicopters and SEAT fixed-wing aircraft, there should be no concerns about needing a Supertanker or losing 33 heavy tanker firefighter aircraft. First responder SEAT aircraft (this includes helicopters) is the logical answer to America's wildfires.
I have read with interest the various controversy surrounding the aging and expensive fleet of fire fighting aircraft. Your story regarding the company developing a Boeing 747 as a fire bomber causes me to think of an aircraft developed at the other end of the spectrum, which could also greatly benefit from the interest for water bomber alternatives. Wipaire --based at Fleming Field, S. St. Paul, Minn (KSGS), my home airport -- developed and is selling the "Fire Boss." Selling points appear to be the low acquisition and operating costs, and flexibility to refill on the fly, allowing more sorties in less time.
How about a link to "the other alternative" that is less than 50 years old and somewhat less expensive?
I recently attended the annual N.J. Aviation Conference the focus of which was "Women in Aviation." A panel of three women spoke on the future of aviation and how women can participate; at least two did -- one a 747 captain, and one an airport owner. The third was from the local FSS who gave a 10-minute rant on why we need to save the FSS system (she had three years until retirement.) These FSS people are in danger of having their careers terminated by privatization in part because of the attitude of many of them in dealing with pilots. I would much rather brief myself off of DUATS than have to call, wait, and then pry out the information I feel is needed for a safe flight. Privatization for the FSS is overdue.
Career Info on AVweb
Great Web site. I have recently got my CPL and I went to your Careers section. As of tomorrow I will start building up a network and I will also start visiting some companies. Thank you for your help and keep up the great work.
Warnings Won't Stop Development
Good luck to the City of Scottsdale and its plan to warn prospective home buyers (NewsWire, May 13). Perhaps they should check in with San Diego County and the Navy. Once there was a place called Miramar Naval Air Station (Fightertown USA), with F-14s practicing for night carrier landings into the wee hours, out in the empty countryside. Think of two really big jet motors with no noise suppression at 600 ft., over and over again, all night. Developers wanted the land off the departure end of the runway. The Navy fought this insanity and lost. The condos were built. The Navy put up billboards. Who in their right mind would want to live under that traffic pattern? People bought. They had to sign a paper that they understood what they were getting into. The Navy drew an oddball, dogleg departure procedure and cut off night carrier landing practice at 10 p.m. People moved in and sued immediately.
And the Navy is gone.
The city fathers have to do a lot more than put up billboards if they are serious about keeping an airport. There is no aircraft built that is quiet enough or safe enough for every single person underneath it, so the only thing to do is the hardest and earliest: Have a no-resident zone in your city plan, and fight off the developers who will take the money and leave you with headaches forever more.
Better Check Your Performance Charts
[Regarding the Bombardier marketing person who said, "Give me empty fuel tanks, a 160-pound pilot and a headwind and I'll show you 3,000 fpm," (NewsWire, May 13).]
I'll show you a crash fairly close to the lift-off point. I do understand what he is saying but it sounds a little funny.
Yes, we suspect it was marketing hyperbole, but he should have known better. Headwind will increase your climb angle (feet per mile) but not your climb rate (feet per minute).
Features and AVmail Editor