AVmail: Jan. 31, 2005
Reader mail this week about security awareness training and young pilots, and lots of fighting about where to put those cockpit controls. Plus a few travelogues from North Dakota.
I am a flight attendant and have experienced that odor on the B-747-100, B-727 and also on G-IVs (NewsWire, Jan. 20). I don't believe I have suffered any illness from it. I remember numerous times telling the pilots it smells like dirty feet. I thought I must be the only one smelling it. At least now I know the reason.
Green Lasers in the Cockpit
I think the problem with these lasers (AVmail, Jan. 24) is that astronomers don't realize that their lasers (Class III) are reaching that far up in the sky. Besides, this is the time of the year when astronomers are out with their telescopes because of clearer night skies in the winter months. This is only my opinion, though.
I assume you're referring to amateur astronomers, the ones out on the sidewalk trying to point out the star Betelgeuse to the neighbor kids. (That one always gets a laugh -- at least it did when I pointed it out to kids.) Up here in the damp, overcast Northwest, however, we have to put our telescopes away for winter.
Hello from Europe.
I just read your info about the Airbus 380 and skepticism seems to be your "password" (NewsWire, Jan. 20).
- We have to wait until the maiden flight to be sure, but I am pretty sure it will fly.
- In the very end, it is just a little bigger than a 747. The impressive thing is the "800 passengers" figure. If they built a larger Airbus with 400-people capacity nobody would be so interested. Imagine a cargo plane that could load the weight of 800 persons -- it would not even make the news. But people have fantasies about a crash with 800 dead!
- As to airports: If it takes off and lands in Toulouse, it can land in many other airports.
- Boarding: Two gates for two flights in a 747 equals one gate for the Airbus 380, so it is no big deal. Certainly it will take time, but so it takes to board a 10-seat regional with all the security and antiterrorist hysteria all over the world.
- Least but not last: The Airbus 380 burns less than a car: Fully loaded, that means 3 liters (less than a gallon) per Passenger/100 km. For this reason I think it will be a success, both in Asia where they are overpopulated and airline traffic is rising, and in Europe where companies are losing a lot of money.
I am not giving any importance to the American-European debate on aviation leadership. I like to judge the products, not where they come from. By the way, I have been flying a Piper Seneca for the last 12 years and I am absolutely pro-American as far as GA is concerned. Now, if Airbus builds a new interesting plane, let's recognize it!
TSA Instructor's Course
As opposed to many of your reports (NewsWire, Jan. 24), I had no trouble with the course. I took it after the first AVweb told me to, downloaded it and completed it (with cable Internet) in about 45 minutes, and printed the certificate -- no problem. I thought it was sort of cute the way it was designed.
I was struck by the lack of security to access the CFI security awareness test. I would have thought that there would have been a requirement to sign on with a CFI number, perhaps crosschecked to the FAA records. Then they'd even have a record of compliance. Not that there is anything particularly sensitive presented; but gee, if I were a bad guy, I'd like to know what the good guys are saying. It's nice that the TSA makes that simple.
It is not my intent to be unkind or anti-youth.
The story about the 11-year-old did catch my attention (NewsWire, Jan. 24). If/when this kind of story becomes public knowledge, it will be read by a public at large that has no idea what "PIC" means. We've had enough tragedies from children "flying" airplanes while the CFI is "PIC." My dog can put his paws on the control wheel but he can't and never will "fly."
I wonder if the aviation community is doing us all a disservice by even acknowledging this type of story?
Robert J. Ovanin
I think flying early is definitely a good thing. I can't remember when I took my first ride, but I know I started taking lessons when I was 12 (I had two cushions). It's definitely one of the more expensive things to do when you're younger though, so after logging only 7.1 hours in three years, despite being able to do takeoffs and landings without assistance, I had to give it up for awhile. I'm 21 now and after I finish up my ASA home ground school course, I should have enough saved up to go back and get my license in one straight run.
One of the stories I thought would be interesting, though, is my first lesson. I was so nervous thinking that we would fall out of the sky, even though I knew that -- structural failure and flat spins excluded -- that probably wasn't going to happen. My instructor at the time told me that even if we lost the engine we would still be gliding. I told him that I was aware of that but it was a different thing to know about it and to feel comfortable with it. So without hesitation he pulls the throttle all the way out to the idle position. I think my heart skipped a couple of beats but once I relaxed I no longer feared losing the engine.
Interestingly enough, I went back to that airport to see if the instructor still worked there, and he has since moved on, but while discussing with a woman in the lounge area I told her that story. She said that the instructor shouldn't have done something like that to me, but I think he knew that at least for me, I just needed to experience it. I was actually kind of glad he didn't work there because it had seemed for a second that I had gotten him into trouble and it would have been a shame. I used to be afraid of heights too, but I was dying to fly, and he helped me get over thinking I would fall out of the sky.
It took me another lesson or two though to feel comfortable with steep left turns (although by the end of the first one I loved to do them to the right), a seatbelt and a door that opens like a car doesn't make you feel secure when you're a couple of thousand feet up.
I read with alarm the confiscation of John Salamone's aircraft (NewsWire, Jan. 24). If this does not raise an alarm among pilots, they are asleep at the controls! Mr. Salamone should be punished severely for his actions, shot even, but what offenses can a District Attorney use to take away your aircraft? Would buzzing do the trick? How about flying with a nav light out, or just because he wants your aircraft? Don't think this can happen? Look at the dealings in Illinois with death row inmates. The DA fabricated cases to further political ambitions, and put 20 men on death row! Wake up guys, you may be next!
I don't know why everyone is so excited about using all of the altitudes above FL 290 (NewsWire, Jan. 27). We used to do that years ago, before positive control.
H. L. Mize
Protection From Shoulder-Fired Missiles
I read the article about protecting the airlines from a shoulder-fired missile and the fact that it would be too costly to protect an aircraft and lives (NewsWire, Jan. 27). Are you people kidding? One jumbo jet costs around $10 million and up. The cost of loss of life ... I cannot put a price on it. The first things I would do are:
- A "dead or alive" for the capture of people who sell shoulder-fired missiles.
- The death penalty with no appeal for people using shoulder-fired missiles and destroying or downing a civilian aircraft in order to kill passengers.
- A law for the airport police and city police to be able to shoot to kill anyone with shoulder-fired missiles in an airport area, including outside the fenced-off area.
- An order to increase the area of the fenced-off area to reduce the chances of a fired missile from hitting an aircraft.
- Stop and ban supporting countries that sell shoulder-fired missiles or equipment.
That is just for starters.
Stick or Yoke
You left out the two most important options (Question of the Week, Jan. 27): stick, either hand; or yoke, either hand.
I regularly fly both an RV-6 (left-hand stick) and single-place or tandem (right-hand stick). Either is fine as long as it is a stick!
It just seemed logical to me that on a single-place airplane (in the U.S.) you prop-start the plane from the right side of the plane and get in on that side -- especially handy if you are pulling the prop from behind. The door is on the right, so the side mounted throttle and carb heat had to be mounted on the left. On early side-by-side two-place aircraft without a starter, the above also applies, except that the pilot in command can remain at the controls while the passenger props the plane and then enters on the right side. The throttle, etc., are then moved from the left side to the center so that both occupants have access to them.
I wish I could have had two choices. I like a yoke in my left hand, but joysticks should have the throttles in the left hand. I think it's a law ... maybe mentioned in a scroll somewhere.
In understanding preferences in stick-throttle relationship, you must also understand the type of flying. Are those who prefer the "right stick left throttle" primarily sport pilots or former military? Are those who prefer "left yoke right throttle" people who write a lot of instructions and calculations that use the right hand?
Good survey idea that can be taken for so much more!
As a "lefty" I have always felt comfortable with the arrangement in the light aircraft I fly. There is no reason a right-handed person cannot become comfortable with this standardized arrangement just as us "south-paws" have had to become comfortable with the many right-handed tools and conventions. I just dread the day I start working on an Instructor's Rating!
"Traditional" yoke? Gads, man ... read the book. It's titled, "Stick and Rudder," not, "Yokes and Flatfloors."
Greetings from North Dakota
In last week's Brainteaser, we invited readers to share their stories from flights to North Dakota. So to finish up this week's round of letters from our mailbag, we provide the following wonderful reasons to visit the Peace Garden State.
I learned to fly in western North Dakota, which is actually not only a wonderful place with wonderful people, but is also an incredibly good place to get lots of crosswind landing experience. Unlike eastern N.D. and the Grand Forks area, it is not completely flat.
Anyone who lives there will tell you that it can be a windy place at times. One day flying with my instructor in a 172 out of Pietsch Air Service of Minot, we flew north and west of Minot. She asked me if I thought that the 172 could fly backwards? After looking at her and realizing she was being serious, she explained. There were pretty decent winds aloft that day and there is a valley slightly north and west of Minot where the winds tend to pick up and accelerate substantially in a sort of vortex effect (my explanation, not hers). We flew out there and she had me gradually reduce my airspeed and slow the airplane down. The wind was so strong in this area that I was able to easily keep the 172 flying, slow the plane down eventually to zero, and then actually start flying backwards ... relative to the ground, of course.
It was a ball. It was also an excellent illustration of the importance of wind on groundspeed. It is also something that I have never forgotten and have never had the opportunity to experience again.
Just one of my North Dakota flying stories, but a fond one.
Two years ago my partner in my current plane and I flew from Phoenix to Minot to look at a used Mooney (a plane he used to own). It was a wonderful trip. We flew up late in the afternoon so half of the trip was at night. We landed at about 9:00 p.m. I was amazed at how many bars and clubs (exotic and otherwise) they had for a town that size -- and they were all packed! What a party town.
While taking the long way home to SoCal after visiting Oshkosh in '91, we landed the Cardinal at Hettinger, N.D., for an overnight stay and visit with my flying partner's (Deke's) dad. J.B. Lindquist -- the FBO operator, specializing in every aviation function I could imagine including cropdusting -- was a wonderful host. We found the key to the pickup he loaned us right where Deke expected to: in the ignition switch. A phony person would stand out like a sore thumb amongst these genuine people.