AVmail: Nov. 1, 2004
Reader mail this week about pilot fatigue, TSA Chief comments, corporate tax evasion and much more.
Poor Flight Instructors
At the age of 79 and some 61 years of flying and 40 years of instructing before open-heart surgery and two heart attacks years later finally made me stop flying, now I see that the poorly paid flight instructor has to make a logbook entry certifying the pilot he's flying with is a citizen of the USA is one of the most stupid things I've ever heard of the U.S. government doing (NewsWire, Oct. 25. That all should be taken care of by the proper authorities who issue the student or other pilot's licenses.
What proof should be offered to prove the person is a citizen of the USA and who can detect if it's authentic or not? None, I doubt, and none should have to do so. My opinion. Thank goodness I do not have to deal with some of the many stupid FAA people any longer.
I really enjoy reading this page of data that you put out as it keeps me informed for what it's worth in aviation today. Thanks a lot.
Pilot vs. Controller Question of the Week
I voted for "Pilot" because I fly helicopters low level, VFR, and a controller is less important in "my world" (QOTW, Oct. 20). However, when I am IFR or traveling to new and strange places, I hope I have the above average controller. And usually I do.
TSA's Stone at AOPA Expo
I watched Admiral Stone's presentation and the question and answer period on AOPA's Web site from beginning to end. Maybe the feeling from being there was different than what I saw, but my interpretation of what he said was so different from yours (NewsWire, Oct. 25) that I urge all of your readers to go to the AOPA Web site and watch for themselves.
Yes, he said he would look into each of the issues raised by the questioners, but he also began each answer with, "I wasn't aware that was a problem." Where has he been? It would be impossible for him to both care about what effect his actions have on GA and not be aware of the problems raised by the questioners.
He certainly has a future in politics if he wants it. He tells a GA audience that he hasn't been paying any attention to any of the effects his agency is having on them, but "I'll look into it," and then he gets a standing ovation. Amazing!
I was in attendance at the meeting and was myself surprised both by the frequency with which Stone offered, "I didn't know that," and the subsequent standing ovation. What the meeting conveyed to me, however, was not the impression that Stone "didn't care," but rather that his agency wasn't at all focused on general aviation ... which clearly is both good and bad.
Relatively content to allow us to police ourselves through Airport Watch programs and other initiatives, GA appears to have been a detail overlooked in TSA's big-picture planning (the security of large commercial airports, large commercial aircraft, passenger and baggage screening, and government offices), not a target of that planning. Moreover, the message appears to have been conveyed that the agency's broad-stroke approach caused substantial collateral damage and the TSA now appears interested in working to rectify that damage.
Which brings us to the standing ovation. Stone's message (through his words and by showing up) conveyed his intent to move forward in cooperation and partnership with (wrongly) affected parties to fix those problems previously created by a macro-approach to a multi-faceted industry. In the end, it seems the audience was (slightly) more eager to embrace that message and hope for a better future than to vilify the TSA for its past mistakes.
AOPA president Phil Boyer said he'll meet with Stone in early November to detail the problems TSA has caused for GA and to begin work toward practical solutions. Stay tuned ...
Some Philadelphians might well take offense to the link in the Oct. 27 BizAv referring to Chicago as the "City of Brotherly Love."
In the Greek:
phileo = brotherly love
adelphia = city
In common parlance, Chicago is the Windy City, right?
CEO of the Cockpit: Aviation Museums
This is a funny, tongue-in-cheek commentary on what we enshrine in museums (CEO, Oct. 18). Maybe it's worth noting that in archaeology, more is learned about a culture from digging up what's in their garbage dumps than by finding the undisturbed tomb of a king filled with gold and treasures. Maybe the CEO is right about what we ought to see in aviation museums.
On the subject of the Smithsonian and the restoration of the aircraft and artifacts on display, my husband and I were lucky enough, some years back, to take a tour of the Smithsonian's Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage facility. I see from the Web site that tours are no longer offered to the public, which is a shame.
The docent guide who took us around discussed the philosophy the Smithsonian had in doing a restoration, and how that philosophy had changed. The restorers are caught in the dilemma of how far to go in restoring an aircraft for display. The extreme is restoration to the point where everything about the aircraft is shiny-new, clean as a whistle, and virtually sterile and pristine, with anything damaged replaced by new, undamaged parts. But as the CEO points out in his column, this isn't the way a "living," working aircraft is found. In real life, it probably has sooty oil stains on it, the engine smells of fuel, exhaust and oil, there's grease around the moving parts, it's probably dusty and dirty and has bug splats on the leading edges. If it's a military bird, it might have accumulated honorable "wounds" in service -- anything from bullet holes and shrapnel damage, or scorch marks from fire damage, to dents and dings in the skin and scuffs and scratches in the paint from being in a working environment where cosmetics weren't important.
The restorers have to walk a tightrope between doing what's best for preservation of the aircraft as an artifact, meeting the esthetic expectations of the public, and providing an educational experience. The docents who we talked to on the tour admitted that sometimes preparing an aircraft for display involved tough decisions about how far to go.
Personally, I think that the most god-awful example of aircraft butchery in the name of display was committed by the San Diego Aerospace Museum in Balboa Park. If you go there, right outside the museum is an SR-71 impaled on a post. There it hangs, the fastest and most awesome aircraft ever built, stripped down to a shell and covered with pin-strips on top to keep the pigeons from crapping on it. What a travesty.
OK. Let's see if I've got the picture. The NTSB acknowledges there were "peculiarities" with the rudder system (NewsWire, Oct. 28). The airline's training program was faulty. They called for modifications to the rudder controls and revisions to the training program. It was known the first officer had a "tendency" to overreact to wake turbulence, yet was allowed to fly through wake turbulence and the Captain did not act to take control of the aircraft. The plane's vertical stabilizer is so fragile it snaps off before the rudder itself fails. But, the first officer takes the fall. Interesting.
Your comments on the new tax bill (NewsWire, Oct. 28) raised old issues with me, as I recently had a conversation with a G-5 charter operator that revealed the extensive tax evasion inherent of corporate charter aviation. They were chartered to deadhead from the west coast to the east coast to pick up the corporate president's son and return him to L.A. for Christmas, then to return him the next day to N.Y. and deadhead back to L.A. They get this kind of charter all the time, many to Hawaii during golf events, all paid for by a corporate check. There is clearly no business purpose for these flights. The story today was over-simplified, and failed to recognize that we small aircraft owners are paying for this corporate largess. The IRS is incompetent to "discover" this type of fraud, which can easily be concealed. I'm tired of paying for what you label a corporate "perk"! How about a real story on misuse of corporate aircraft and corporate charters?
To the best of my knowledge, the legislation referred to in Thursday's story applied only to the operating expenses of airplanes owned (entirely or fractionally) by businesses and not to charter expenses.