AVmail: Feb 7, 2005
Reader mail this week about the mid-air collision between an Air Force trainer and a crop duster, the FSS outsourcing contract, flying with alcohol and much more.
T-37 Vs. Air-Tractor
It would seem to me from reading the article (NewsWire, Jan. 31) that both aircraft were at fault, The AT502 was at 5000 ft. and unless he was under IFR (which he wasn't) then he was at the wrong altitude, as we all know. I don't know to much about military reg's; however, I would think the T-37 was also at the wrong alt. since he was moving in a westerly direction and I don't know that they were or were not on an IFR clearance -- however they were below 10,000 ft and traveling at 200 kts. If I'm incorrect on anything then I will stand corrected.
When I read your coverage of the mid-air between the T-37 & the Air Tractor, I was amazed by your final comment on the matter:
If the results of the investigation determine that no rules or procedures were broken in the process of a man's death and the destruction of two aircraft, perhaps it will be determined there is need to change the rules or procedures. We'll let you know.
New rules or procedures? Like maybe no flying in MOAs, period? Maybe we should just have a rule against airplanes colliding. That should solve the problem. Seriously though, have we become so risk averse that we must have a new rule or procedure every time something goes wrong & something bad happens? I hope not.
It just occurred to us that the alternative to changing a rule might be shrugging your shoulders and saying, "Eh, whatever, people die." Six one way, half dozen the other.
But if the people who make the rules believe those rules are there to protect us, maybe we'll see a change. That's all.
Lockheed Martin Wins FSS Contract
Here's something for your readers concerning the Lockheed Martin Flight Service contract (NewsWire, Feb. 3). All the parameters that Phil Boyer quotes about so many seconds per service are already being beat, at least at the Altoona AFSS. All our calls are answered within seconds. If you get four in-flight calls at the same time, it's first-come, first-served -- even for Lockheed.
But the real travesty is the fact that in my case I will be approximately two months short of a 20-year controller retirement and the FAA at present says "too bad." They are not even willing to help us find other government jobs we are qualified for.
So instead of quoting Phil Boyer, who gives out misinformation, try finding out the real truth.
David W. Vitko
Detecting Wing Frost
Here's a quick test I've used to detect and measure even tiny amounts of wing icing (NewsWire, Feb. 3). Shine a low-power laser pointer parallel to the surface to test. Even the smallest trace amounts of surface contamination will be immediately visible diffusing the light across the surface.
On my RV8 I can point from the tip toward the root. If there is no contamination the laser light shows up as a dot on the fuselage at the root of the wing. However, with frost the normally coherent laser light is dispersed by any surface contaminants, making them glow red. The light scatter shows the area and depth of frost coverage.
Depending on the wing shape you will have to modify where you point from, but parallel and adjacent to the surface is the key. A very low power laser is all you need, and with the recent misuse of lasers use extreme caution as to where you point.
Raising The Retirement Age For Airline Pilots
So now, when pilot salaries have been reduced dramatically, corporate contributions to retirement plans are virtually zero, and employees assume more of the cost of benefits ... and let's not forget the reality that APA and ALPA union dues income may dry up ... So now the time is right to again introduce legislation to raise the retirement age (NewsWire, Jan. 27) ... not because pilots are now medically/operationally stable past age-60 but because they should be allowed to work longer to make up the difference in lost pay. Politics at its worst. And why hasn't the age rule ever applied to Falcon, Challenger, Learjet, Gulfstream, etc., drivers?
Question Of The Week: Alcohol Impairment
Even more telling is whether anyone has flown hung over (QOTW, Feb. 3). Of questionable legality, since you are still impaired by the alcohol.
Picture of the Week
While I found the winning picture of the week (POTW, Jan. 27), referred to as a "Rainy Day in Tucson" interesting, I can guarantee that the picture was not taken in Tucson -- more probably in Alaska. There is no body of water in Tucson capable of handling either a Beaver or Twin Otter on floats, unless there has been some incredible flooding that we didn't get in Phoenix. Also, one would be hard-pressed to find a Beaver on floats in Tucson, although possible (if they are amphibs), and I can almost guarantee that you won't find a Twin Otter on floats anywhere in Arizona. Nice picture, though.
Personally, I like your theory that it's an Alaskan shot -- that makes it look even colder to those of us who are safely enjoying our mild winters.
More Airplanes Do Not Need More Airspace
This article (NewsWire, Jan. 31) ignores the fact that there are many underused runways at underused airports all over the country. We really don't need to build more runways. We only need to use the ones we have. It's time to re-think the whole hub-system strategy. In my region, airports like Toledo, Lansing, and Flint barely have enough traffic to keep busy. Yet, passengers are herded into Detroit and then have to drive or bus their way to Toledo, Lansing, and Flint. The hub system serves to funnel all the increasing traffic into one of the Class B airports, which compounds congestion. The non-stop, hub-to-hub flight plan might be great on the ledger sheet, but it doesn't get the passengers where they want to go. There has to be a better solution.
Where Did That Thing Fall?
AVweb wrote (NewsWire, Jan. 27):
A lump of "poop ice" fell from an airliner and wrecked a car in Leominster, England, on Thursday.
Ya know, between the Red Sox and the Patriots, I'd think that New England would be a recognized entity by now ... The poopsicle fell on a car in Leominster, Massachusetts, New England, in the good ole U.S. of A!
Donald J. Desfosse
Oops. Nice to know that so many readers are reading all the way to the bottom of our news ... !
North Dakota Experience (Brainteaser, Jan. 27)
I used to be the Associate Dean at UND. One day a mechanic at the airfield called me to report some damage to one of the school's Piper Cadet trainers. The tail had gashes on it that appeared to be made by a propeller. Suspecting a ground-taxiing incident, we inspected the other 50 Cadets and sure enough found evidence of impact. But strangely, when we positioned the two Cadets the markings didn't line up. In fact, it looked as if they had hit while airborne. Checking the records and questioning the pilots we discovered that the two students had experienced a mid-air collision while returning to the field (bright sunlight had blinded one of them) and said nothing. What further surprised us was that one of them had shot three touch and goes after the unreported collision.