AVmail: Mar. 7, 2005
Reader mail this week about lying to the FAA, growing military airspace, more NTSB accidents and much more.
Lying to the FAA
It's interesting that the FAA would be so serious about lying on a medical application (NewsWire, Feb. 28). I do not justify or condone any form of dishonesty, and I do not object to liars being prosecuted. It's strange, though, that when lawyers openly lie in court, it is not considered to be perjury jury unless they are "under oath." Even then you can get by with it if you are President of the United States (Clinton). I think honesty needs to be put back in our schools, government policy, and family life. Lying is portrayed as normal or necessary -- even on "family TV programs." Of course, if we start teaching honesty in the public schools, we would have to fight the ACLU since honesty could be construed as a religious issue, and it's not politically correct to even mention God or America's Christian heritage anymore.
I heard a story about a Sunday School teacher who asked, "What is a lie?" One little boy answered, "It's an abomination to the Lord, and a very present help in time of trouble." Unfortunately, that seems to be the norm.
Re: Sun and Fun (NewsWire, Feb. 28):
It is not the first airshow of the season. That honor goes to the Valiant Air Command at the Space Center Executive Airport, Titusville, Fla. (KTIX), on March 11, 12 and 13, 2005. It will be the 28th annual show.
Armed Airline Pilots
Will Yocom highlights an absurdity of those who oppose arming airline pilots, and also oppose arming the general public (AVmail, Feb. 28): They have taken the means to defend society away from the good guys!
Most opposition to the Second Amendment's guarantee of arms for all citizens comes from well-meaning people who claim to believe in the basic goodness of man. They will readily agree that only a small percentage of the population does evil, readily agree that most people would never harm another human being unless threatened with drastic bodily harm or death. Yet these same good-hearted folks become total idiots when confronted with the truth that if all the good guys had guns, we'd outnumber the bad guys so dramatically they wouldn't dare continue to do evil!
Fuel-Short (Maybe), Fossett Presses On
AVweb wrote (NewsWire, Mar. 3):
"... When it looked like Fossett might not complete the flight, Conference and Record Board reps got together via conference call and voted to give him the record. His first available airport after reaching the point of no return beyond Hawaii is Catalina Island."
The phrase "point of no return" is no longer used. The point is now referred to as the "Equal time point." "Point of no return" went out with John Wayne and "The High and the Mighty" (1954). At least that's what they called it (equal time point) when I was flying the Pacific for American Airlines.
We also mistakenly noted that GlobalFlyer had lost 2600 gallons of fuel. Because it was carrying a total of about 18,000 lbs of fuel, we doubt they could have made it even halfway around the world after losing almost all of it. We meant to say -- and did say later in the article -- 2600 pounds of fuel. It's still a lot to lose (almost 15 percent) and, if they did in fact lose it, shows what an amazing feat it really was.
Steve Fossett needs to be congratulated for flying that long non-stop; however, if flying around the world means crossing 360 longitudes, then he fell short (remember Amelia Erhardt?) What he did is equivalent to flying around the world at an average of 6 degrees 42 minutes North latitude. He could do the same at 85 degrees North for less time.
Flying around the world assumes crossing 360 longitudes at the equator (the earth's maximum circumference) not at the North Pole. He could have achieved the same results flying back and forth between S.F. & N.Y. In my mind, he started from San Francisco, Calif., and ended his trip at Hilo, Hawaii.
According to the GlobalFlyer Web site, the record is considered set if they "... start and finish at the same airfield and cross all meridians of the globe. What's more the course must not be less than the very precise figure of 36,787.559 kilometers (around 23,000 miles), which is equal in length to the Tropic of Cancer." Apparently, "around the world" doesn't mean around the equator.
The picture of the week series included one titled, "Disposable Airplane," showing broken wings in a dumpster (POTW, Mar. 3). That is the result of an AD on the American Champion Aircraft with wooden spars. You need to cut the first foot of spar off and send the pieces along with the fuel tanks back to the factory. I'm certain the debris wasn't the result of a crash or a project gone bad.
Your answer choices were poorly designed (QOTW, Mar. 3). You owe it to your readers to present a better balance. The issue is not only the size of various special-use airspace areas but also the amount of time that a particular area is needed. True there are fewer aircraft and units, but tactics and weapons have changed. Setting up a simplistic approach of "dividing the airspace equitably" is inappropriate. Rather, the focus should be on finding ways for GA to understand real-time current and projected use of specific areas and make appropriate choices. As one of your options suggested, MOAs are not restricted airspace.
Col. USAF (Ret.)
It amused me to see that pilots were getting nervous about creeping military airspace in the U.S. Spare a thought for us in the U.K. I fly from Manchester, northern England. The airspace above (generally) 3,500 ft. AMSL is airway or TMA, across the whole of the northern chart area. It's the same in the south, too. There is one, five-square-mile area where you can go up to the stratosphere, but I only managed 10,450 ft in a Thorpe T211. Still, my co and I rolled back the cockpit and steered it by sticking our arms out of either side, which worked well, but whatever we did, it was going down! Plus, now, you have to look out for Eurofighter Typhoons from Warton spoiling the party!
New Reno Airport Tower
Lessee if I understand this news correctly: Reno has $25 million of government money to spend on a new control tower, but the old tower is adequate (NewsWire, Mar. 3). This sounds like exactly what's wrong with our government. Reno's thinking is, "If we don't spend the money allotted, whether we need the control tower or not, we'll lose this $25 million." So the taxpayers get soaked for another unneeded government project, $25 million in this one example.
We also noted in the story that Reno is on a rapid growth curve and the new tower will be needed in the future, when it would almost certainly cost more money and the golfers might be more militant.
The FAA and the Reno Airport Authority may not have heard the end of the public giving up Brookside Golf Course for a new tower. A year or two ago when the Reno Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission decided on a small raise of greens fees at the popular Brookside, there was a public rumble that turned into an earthquake. Seniors, and others, by the hundreds turned out for the next two Commission meetings. Hours of public comment took place. The RPRCS quieted the roar and left the rates as they had been. The FAA and the Airport Authority might consider getting earplugs, and soon.
Loyal Robert Hibbs
Member of the RPR&PSC
NTSB's Broader Definition of "Accidents"
While the NTSB is undoubtedly interested in aviation safety (and a bigger budget for itself), its push for broadening the reporting requirements for "accidents" will do a lot more than give the NTSB more data (NewsWire, Mar. 3).
First, as you pointed out, the number of (GA) "accidents" will increase. While nothing really changes, the "increased accident rate" will provoke anti-light-aircraft people to scream louder than before, and they will point to the new statistics to make their points. The dim-bulb (non-aviation) press will jump on this (especially after so many years of progress), somehow couple it to the LSA movement, and demand stricter federal controls on everybody ... and we'll have to live with them.
The insurance industry will feel this two ways: obviously, with more accidents' being reported, they'll have grounds to raise rates. (Note that most claims are not for reported accidents, they're the wingtip (hangar) damage, the mowed-down runway lights, etc.) The second effect on insurance companies will come from their less-educated underwriters, who, like the general public, will see that their investments have become suddenly "riskier." That will make aviation insurance even more expensive. As a result, expect to see a slowing in new-airplane sales, and an increase in peoples' willingness to fly ever-older (cheaper, less-well-equipped, more-worn-out) airplanes.
The feds will love it, though, as it will give them yet another reason to control even more people -- all in the interest of "safety," which won't experience any substantive improvement. In fact, with the slowed replacement rate (between old and new aircraft), actual safety will likely decline somewhat, even as the "accident" numbers and public opinion press harder on personal aviation.
The NTSB's push for a greater budget won't get us anything good -- it'll just get us.
NASA De-Emphasizing Aeronautics
In reading your article "NASA Moves (Farther) From Aeronautics" (NewsWire, Mar. 3), I couldn't help but look at the NASA logo again. Seems like the red swoosh might be modified slightly to become a pair of scissors ready to cut the first 'A' out, or maybe a pair of forceps getting ready to pluck it out.
Name withheld by request
We asked for it, and we got it -- stories about UFOs after our Question of the Week two weeks ago (QOTW, Feb. 24). We don't want to start a fight about "belief" vs. "science" so we'll just run a couple here; trust us, we did get some letters we'll forward to the Project Blue Book people.
In your question of the week you asked had we seen a UFO but the answers only allowed us to say "Yes" or "No," etc. Maybe if you allowed us to give a description with questions like this it would add to reader interest. My experience was when I was a lad in about 1943 in the suburbs of Perth, Western Australia, at about 17:30. I happened to look into the eastern sky and saw about five silver balls that looked to be about the size of a cashew on a wedding cake. They were traveling south in a straight line and disappeared one after the other at the same spot. The sky was blue and cloudless and there was no sound, as they appeared to be some distance away. No, I had not been drinking -- I was only eight years old.
I've never seen a UFO, but I did see the space shuttle in flight once, near Albuquerque, N.M. Just 500 ft. above me and less than a mile lateral separation.
OK, it was on the back of the 747 that was transporting it from Edwards AFB to the Cape, but it makes a nice story.