AVmail: Jan. 24, 2005
Reader mail this week about digital pictures, security awareness training and aerotoxicity, plus more laser controversy.
Picture of the Week and Digital Edits
In response to J.T. McDuffie (AVmail, Jan. 17):
Yes, Ansel Adams made the most of his photographs in the darkroom. But he didn't "move mountains," he enhanced them. His photos represent an actual vantage point, a real moment in time.
Remember the uproar in 1982 when National Geographic "moved" the pyramids of Egypt so that they would better fit on the cover?
A photo-montage or digital-collage of an airplane super-imposed on a mountainous background is not a photograph and should not be judged as such. If the scene wasn't happening when the photographer pressed the button, then s/he didn't take a photograph.
Most people would agree that digital editing to enhance colors, subdue shadows, or even simply remove "red-eye" is acceptable. But to rearrange the physical elements of a scene or create a new one entirely is not photography ... it's art. Perhaps the answer is to have "AOTW."
Mystery Plane -- Picture of the Week
That is a great photo that Rock Swanson has submitted (POTW, Jan. 20). It is of a 1932 Stinson R, possibly of NC 447M, serial # 8521, a model R-2. My research shows approximately 30 model Rs built and two or three R-2s. Most of the differences between the Rs and R-2s were not discernable from the outside -- the biggest difference being the increase in horsepower in the R-2. They were also built under different type certificates, with the Stinson R built under A.T.C. #457 and the Stinson R-2 being built under A.T.C. #489.
Daniel J. Hanson
Congratulations to Mr. Hanson (also to Gary Wilson, Carl Stidsen, Todd Matthies, and two anonymous airplane aficionados) for correctly identifying the Stinson R shown in Rock Swanson's "POTW" entry.
Laser Lights and General Aviation
Gotta agree with Bruce & Kevin (AVmail, Jan. 17).
This laser thing is no big deal. For the last few years I have seen lasers being pointed at everything and everyone right after Christmas ... including lots of playful pilots pointing them at each other. The only difference this year is the press making a big deal out of it. The batteries and interest fade fast and the press moves on to the next thing we're supposed to be afraid of. Yawn.
On December 27, while on a "Christmas Lights" night flight at 1200 AGL, the undersides of my (high) wings were suddenly illuminated with what I initially thought was another aircraft's anti-collision strobe lights. To say the least, it got my immediate and undivided attention trying to find who was that close to me. I did not do any abrupt turns, but initiated a slow climb and very gentle turns, hoping that whoever was that close to me at least saw my strobe lights and was going to stay clear of me. It lasted about 20 seconds, and then stopped suddenly. I never did see another aircraft. I continued my flight, and about 10 minutes later I was returning through the same area. The exact same thing started again! This time, I had my passenger also looking and he spotted a green light source on the ground (good moonlight that night).
I "wrote off" the experience as some kid with a new, high-power hunting light. Two days later, I see the story on network news of aircraft being lased with red and green lights.
I contacted the local FSDO. I even went back to the area, located the spot, and took aerial photos and lat/long. I sent those on to the FSDO. They told me it was going to have to be a "local matter" but never said I should call the local sheriff. I then called the FBI, gave them the same information, and never heard another thing.
- A ground-based green laser light can make a significant impact upon the pilot, causing them to take evasive action;
- How evasive or violent that action is will depend on the pilot's experience and interpretation of the situation;
- The Feds don't care about General Aviation being lased, in spite of their public statements. (Or, in fairness, they may have acted upon the information and never followed up with me, key witness, on their findings. The tooth fairy told me to always be fair.)
Dr. Charles E. Truthan, D.O.
One company even promotes the ability of their laser to signal airplanes, although they emphasize it is for use in emergency rescue situations.
EMS Night Vision Safety
I agree with your article and FAA concerns regarding EMS safety when flying at night (NewsWire, Jan. 17). I would like to add that -- in addition to night vision goggles (NVG) as a aid in night situation awareness --infrared Enhanced Vision Systems (EVS) have surfaced over the past two years. EVS alone provides flying safety during periods of darkness, inclement weather, or other vision obscurants. In some cases EVS and NVG compliment each other. The EVS-1000, offered by Max-Viz of Portland, Oreg., is now STC'd on several EMS helicopter types.
Hiring Rules For Controllers Eased
Why does one have to attend out-of-state college and pay high tuition cost to become an air traffic controller (NewsWire, Jan. 17)? This is a government position and all should have equal right to apply!
Charles A. Williams
Flight School Security Awareness Training
I feel I must comment on the TSA requirement for CFIs to take the security awareness training (NewsWire, Jan. 17). It was fortunate for me that you provided the info that we had to do this; otherwise I would have had no idea. There was no notification by mail. Are they trying to pull a fast one? What would be the consequences if I had failed to discover the requirement and complete the online course? Don't get me wrong, I agree that it is a good idea to raise awareness, but the TSA should have raised our awareness that our awareness needed raising. How many will fall through the net?
Besides all that, you mentioned the course would take a half-hour. Well, we out in the boonies with good-old dialup connections spend three hours completing the course, most of that time spent watching the "loading -- please wait" fuel gauge.
Thanks for being there.
Terence A. Mason
I just went through two plus hours of training that was a complete waste of my time. It becomes scary when you realize that these people are in charge and hold the future of aviation and general homeland security in their hands. When was the last time you saw steel bars/rods welded into a wheel well of the C182 or your Mooney? This clearly shows you how inept TSA and homeland security are!
F. Robert Marshall
The "steel bars" Mr. Marshall mentions are from a section of the training where CFIs are advised to look for unusual modifications to airplanes, such as strengthening landing gear -- which could be an attempt to increase their load-carrying capacity.
Transatlantic Flight In A Beech Baron
I am planning a trip around the world and would like to get any info from those of you who have been crossing the big ponds; re: preferred routes, planning and any other advice that you can provide. This trip is dedicated to what is common in mankind and what makes us human. I am planning a part of this trip to consist of a charity medical camp in a third world country. I am a physician with 28 years flying and hold a Commercial, CFI, CFII and MEI. I would like to use a Beech Baron for this flight, originating in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and heading east via North Atlantic and re-entering the U.S. via Alaska. I would be much obliged if any of your readers would help with this planning.
Any readers who have suggestions for this intrepid world-flight pilot can write a message here and we'll forward the info to Imtiaz.
Your article today concerning the first officer who was smelling "dirty socks and vomit" in the BAE 146 (NewsWire, Jan. 20) reminds me of when I used to fly another British Aerospace aircraft, the Jetstream. When we turned on the bleed air after takeoff, sometimes we would get that very smell, especially after the aircraft came out of maintenance or if the OAT was very low. It usually dissipated in about 10 minutes. The mechanics said that it was normal for the type of air cycle machines used in that application. I just got used to it.
It smells like it might be a combination of Synthetic Oil and Skydrol. Nothing like the smell of old Mobil Jet II, and hot atomized Skydrol with your coffee.
David E. Wackerling
Related to your story about better drugs (NewsWire, Jan. 20):
Go have a chat with an independent Psychiatrist. They'll tell you what I am about to.
I keep a prescription for Provigil in case I have to work one or two days in a row. I can attest that occasionally used, in just the right dose, it does take the edge off.
But I will not fly when using Provigil, nor would I willingly fly on an aircraft where the pilot was using Provigil.
When used over-long or over-much (and I mean just a tad), it makes one jittery and not just a bit aggressive.
Extended use (just a few days) can bring on psychotic episodes according to my doctor.
I've never wanted to try that!
Name withheld by request
Disabled Persons Flying
Regarding people flying that have had limbs removed (NewsWire, Jan. 20): This is not as significant as those who have no use of their legs and are still flying.
I flew with and maintained a specially equipped Mooney for a doctor who worked for the Social Security office and flew out of TLH. He had a mechanism bolted to the right co-pilot rudder pedal so that when he pulled the handle it was activating the right rudder and pushing activated the left rudder. The mechanism was complete with a squeeze-type brake lever that activated both brakes simultaneously.
Now there is an accomplishment.
The ag pilot who died Tuesday in the mid-air with an Air Force T37 was misidentified in our story (NewsWire, Jan. 20) because the initial reports we researched had the wrong spelling. Our apologies and condolences go out to the family and friends of Dierk Nash.