AVmail: Aug. 30, 2004
Reader mail this week about the great threat to the North, security in the bush, spin training, and much more.
A Few Comments
Regarding recent aviation news ...
1. I have not seen the obvious big plus in the light sport aircraft (LSA) program mentioned anywhere. That is for the new young upcoming pilots. Renting solo a tailwheel or float airplane is just not practical (or available) to the low-time pilot. The LSA program allows a pilot to buy a complete tailwheel or float plane or a 51% kit and be the mechanic and pilot right away and get those magic 300 hours in type -- just as long as the plane has full conventional 3 axis controls.
2. For us seasoned "steam gauge" pilots who only want color screens in the cockpit for safety and direct clearances, the portable units or PDA's are the answer. Just don't take them along on an instrument checkride. Keep the pressure on to have terrain and linked Doppler radar available in these units.
3. Today's gasoline fuel is booby-trapped. Lead shorts ignition spark to ground and we have learned to use TCP and extreme leaning techniques to keep the engines running. Now with no 80 octane, a switch to car gas with "any kind of alcohol" (normally added in the winter) I firmly believe that the burned alcohol coats the combustion chamber with a residue that causes pre-ignition (dieseling) on warm and hot days. I have seen this in all forms of air-cooled engines from lawn and garden engines through radial aircraft engines.
4. I have heard of single lever controls for aircraft throttles and controllable propellers. A nice feature, but the pilot must have an RPM reduction control for fuel economy during instrument holding and emergencies.
Keep them honest out there.
Saving Americans From the Great Threat to the North
Thanks for the twice weekly newsletter which I have received for years. It's always good to see it and particularly when there is the tongue-in-cheek aspect as in this recent article (NewsWire, Aug. 23).
While most of us here in Canada understand the United States' need to protect its borders, it is always a concern to see increased patrols and longer waits at border crossings when visiting your country. My biggest concern is our nation's sovereignty and what will happen when American aircraft -- knowingly or accidentally -- do violate Canadian airspace. Being a Canadian, we sometimes benefit from being your northern neighbour, but all too frequently it is a matter of the giant rolling over in his sleep and crushing the sleeping child next to him. In Canada, we know that if the U.S. gets a sore throat, Canadians sometimes die of pneumonia.
As to your reference to "B.C. bud," it's production and increased sales to Americans might necessitate increased patrols on our side of the border -- to keep our neighbours out! (Not that we would know.)
Maybe you could contact the Homeland Security office and ask why the Civil Air Patrol couldn't do some of that patrolling; they could use Homeland security money to buy some new aircraft and the members are volunteers, with no payroll money to be used.
It costs about $75 to $80 an hour for a Cessna 182 to fly with CAP members not getting paid. What is the cost of a Blackhawk per hour and the pay of the crew?
LTC John E. Butler
Just saw your reporting on the destruction of the restaurant, several other business's and lots of smaller hangars at the Palomar Airport (NewsWire, Aug. 23). We have landed there several times in the last month or two and use the restaurant often.
What the city and developer are doing is a travesty of justice! Evidently they have been trying to "clean up the airport" (Their way of saying that they do not want the restaurant and some of the non-FBO repair operations on the field) for years now and have evidently now found a legal way to push anyone they do not like out of the way.
I hope that the businesses and aircraft owners in the area can band together and stop this from happening. The restaurant is packed every day of the week and repair facilities ramps are always full, so these business's are a vital part of the airport. There are already two full service FBOs at the airport that do a fine job so the last thing that they need is another FBO for more jets. They cannot handle all the smaller airplanes they have based there at this time so eliminating their tiedowns is not a valid reason for this power play.
Someone is either mad at these business's or trying to line their pocket with money from the new FBO owners, or possibly both. Neither is a reason for what is happening and hopefully in the end the real reason for this power play will be exposed and someone will lose their job. Unfortunately it will probably be too late to save the airport and keep it like it is today ...
Air Traffic Problem at O'Hare
Weird as it sounds, do you think that closing an airport (Miegs) that could handle lots of corporate aircraft had any effect on the number of planes using O'Hare (NewsWire, Aug. 23)? Then again, maybe this is just the aviation God's payback.
Altitude Over Parks
First I'd like to thank you for your continuing effort on behalf of the aviation community, it's nice to know that your out there! Regarding the Park Service and their supposed regulation regarding altitudes above the parks (NewsWire, Aug. 23): 2000 feet is the published altitude on Sectional Charts that you are requested to observe while in and around various parks, wilderness areas and marine sanctuaries defined by not only the park service but also NOAA . Finally where the park will get you is to have the Fish and Wildlife Service file on you for harassing the wildlife The bad part of all this is that it is not published anywhere for the average pilot to find.
Thanks again for the your very informative read.
Consider us even better informed, now, Jim. Pilots all over the country, not to mention moose, bears and antelope thank you, too!
Midway FBO's High-End Deice
Regarding the opinion piece "De-Ice Debacle" (ATIS, March 7, 2004):
The solution is simple: Send the FBO a check for the $85 the bill should have been, then invoice for your time waiting. You clearly asked the aircraft be prepared for departure way ahead of your arrival back at the airport.
Your time is worth every penny their overpriced Glycol is, isn't it? Say $1200 an hour, for two hours of "Excess ground time due to noncompliance with instructions" is $2400. Fight incompetent management with brainpower! Plus, even if you wound up paying, wouldn't it be fun to think of that guy's face when he got your invoice?
King Air Foundation
Thank you so much for the coverage you gave the King Air Foundation last Thursday in AVweb (NewsWire, Aug. 19). We have received quite a few emails offering support after your piece appeared.
The King Air Foundation is just getting started and we need all the exposure we can get, so thank you so much for your help.
King Air LJ-1 Project Manager
Glad we could help, Alex. Keep up the good work.
Prop Problem Blamed For Crash
Please let me comment on this article (NewsWire, Aug. 26): According to the news, the plane was hired by three young men on a stag party (one was getting married).
According to the Danish language accident report, the transponder code -- assigned to the aircraft after takeoff (3742 mode C), was changed (to 3742 mode C off) several minutes before the aircraft arrived at the coast line. Aircraft followed the coastline on a southwest heading over the beach until crashing four minutes later.
Hundreds of witnesses saw the aircraft hit the water with one wing during a low-level turn. Wing was ripped off. Aircraft went down on 25 ft. of water.
My guess is that the propeller link broke on impact.
According to the English language report by the Danish authorities, "The preliminary investigation indicated the propel [sic] blade failed before the aircraft hit the water."
Here's a copy of the letter I wrote to the author of The Arizona Republic's article questioning his terrorism report (NewsWire, Aug. 26). If more GA pilots would do likewise, we could nip some of this in the bud:
I found your story on scheduled charter airlines a rather "tabloidian" example of capitalizing on the public's fear of terrorism and lack of understanding of aviation to cause undue alarm (ostensibly to "protect the public" from a perceived threat, but in reality, just another effort to sell more newspapers). Why? Because the limited effects of small aircraft crashes are well documented, yet never mentioned in your report: airplanes of this size have crashed into buildings many times, and rarely, if ever, has there been significant loss of life or property damage on the ground. A simple search of publicly available FAA/NTSB accident databases and newspaper archives would have revealed this. Some questions:
Would you agree that the goal of terrorists is to cause the most terror in the public as possible, and in their twisted minds, the more lives lost, the better?
Isn't it likely that potential terrorists have noticed reports in the press about the limited loss of life that results from small plane crashes, even if you have not?
Meanwhile, the much greater effects of truck bombs are even more well-documented: Doesn't logic therefore dictate that it is far more likely terrorists would choose a truck bomb over a small plane crash as the best means of meeting their evil objectives? If so, does this mean we can look forward to your next report on terrorism threats to be on the security efforts of rent-a-truck facilities and retailers of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and diesel fuel?
And if you don't write such a story, aren't you doing Republic readers a disservice by reporting only on the obviously smaller threat posed by small planes?
Marc C. Coan,
As I write this, I am looking at the results, so far, of the poll on spin training (Question of the Week, Aug. 25). I am, quite frankly, appalled. So far, 97 people have chosen to answer that spin training is unnecessary because it is "dangerous." What sort of moronic approach to training is this?
I am an ATP with over 10,000 flight hours under my belt, and about 3000 hours of dual given. I have also participated in accident investigation teams. Stall/spin accidents continue to be one of the top killers of GA pilots -- certainly an inadvertent spin can be dangerous! That's exactly why we need to train for it. Pilots who believe spins are "easy to avoid" have probably not flown anything more unstable than a Cessna Skyhawk -- there are many high performance planes out there that give very little indication of an imminent stall, and my experience is that the majority of GA pilots fly uncoordinated a great deal of the time -- what is this a recipe for, I ask?
Even if I were to accept the premise that spins are "easily avoidable," what about that period of time when a student pilot is expected to intentionally stall the aircraft solo? He performs both power-on and power-off stalls, in various configurations, with nothing but a small bit of verbal training to count on if he were to inadvertently spin the aircraft. Ridiculous.
Spin training is not dangerous -- no more dangerous than any other training maneuver. I've been flying and teaching aerobatics, from beginner through unlimited, for nearly 20 years. Most pilots are very disoriented for the first few spins, but quickly acclimate and even begin to enjoy them. However, the student pilot who accidentally allows his aircraft to spin out of a power-on stall and has no instructor sitting beside him to talk him through the recovery -- the chances are he will stop the spin, but he will very possibly overstress the aircraft in the process. This is due to the inherent stability of training aircraft, not in any way to his actions.
Personally, I require three hours in the Super Decathlon for all of my private pilot applicants -- prior to being released to solo -- for thorough training in unusual attitude recovery. If a student doesn't want to do this, I will not be his instructor. The very fact that so many "pilots" answered that spin training was dangerous proves my point: Anyone who was trained in spins and spin recovery would find that claim to be ludicrous. Any person who flies an aircraft without being comfortable in all potential flight attitudes is not a pilot -- he is a marginally talented passenger.
I don't normally take the time to write letters like this, but this ... silliness ... got my goat. If the FAA reinstituted mandatory spin training, the resultant drop in traffic pattern accidents would, I have no doubt, vindicate me.
Thanks for listening, and I would like to say that I enjoy AVflash immensely -- keep up the good work!
Why is Gliding Not An Olympic Sport?
While stamp collecting is on the way to be an Olympic sport -- well, almost! -- soaring is not, although its kin (sailing and windsurfing) are already accepted and practiced.
Soaring was accepted during the Olympic games in 1936 in Germany, where a Hungarian engineer and builder flew his glider (type "Nemere") on August 12 for a declared route between Berlin and Kiel. He flew the distance of 326.5 km taking 3 hrs and 53 minutes to complete the task. He received the ISTUS Ring for his achievement. (Hitler was plenty mad for the guy not being German, hence the best, but thems the breaks, eh?) I have met this gentleman -- Lajos (Louis) Rotter -- and know his son, who is also a glider pilot, alas as old as I am. We started to fly together at the same place and same time in 1953, Farkashegy, Budapest, Hungary.
Anyway, what better place and conditions for an Olympic sport flying than Greece: plenty of good thermals and excellent flying conditions.
My question is: Why soaring is not an Olympic sport? Who decides and when? Surely it would be one of the most graceful events of any international meeting for which there would be plenty of takers. Oh, yes, one other thing: While the Olympic games -- for obvious reasons -- concentrate on young competitors, soaring may be flown by all ages, including me! Soaring is not an age-limiting sport but is very demanding. Just ask any pilot after a 5 to 6 hr. flight!
Could you find out more about the possibilities of Olympic soaring? (I know soaring is not exactly in your most important subject but it is flying in its most pure form. Give us a break.
Perhaps one of our readers can tell us what it would take to make gliding an Olympic sport.
Columns and Features Editor