AVmail: May 16, 2005
Reader mail this week about ATC privatization, clarified rules about homebuilts, and a lot of controversy about the plane that caused the evacuation of the Capitol.
AVweb Wrote (NewsWire, May 12):
"Errant Pilots Cause Washington Scare"
While I enjoy the AVweb magazine, I think the proper headline should be, "35,000 People Terrorized By The Federal Government."
On Wednesday, 35,000 people were needlessly told that their lives were in danger and to run wildly into the streets because an incompetent government doesn't know the difference between a Boeing 757 and a harmless Cessna 150.
A. Ray Peach
I can accept that it might be easy to stray into some restricted airspace regions and how some navigational errors could place someone too close to a TFR, or even into one. I am still bewildered at how someone could "stumble" directly into the center of the nation's most sensitive airspace. At the risk of being labeled too harsh, I think the community of GA pilots should make sure these guys never get in the front seat of anything more airworthy than Microsoft's flight simulator.
C'mon guys! This type of blunder is exactly what it takes to get us grounded. If you aren't super-vigilant when flying this close to the D.C. airspace, why should we let you fly anywhere? I have no sympathy and I'd like to see some internal effort to keep this type of pilot on the ground. They're taking chances with the flying privileges of us all and they have demonstrated that they don't take their responsibilities seriously. Man, this makes me angry.
Does anyone else see the irony here? Only a few days ago our President stood in the Kremlin and reviewed Russian troops as wave after wave of jet fighters and bombers belonging to our former enemy roared overhead.
Then last Wednesday two Americans, flying a single Cessna 150 -- an airplane that would do no more than bounce off the cast-iron dome of the Capitol -- caused panic as the nation's capitol went to Red Alert and tens of thousands evacuated the White House and the Capitol building.
Granted, the CFI of the C-150 should have had enough situational awareness to stay out of restricted airspace, but isn't somebody here guilty of overreacting? There was no concern about our President standing in Red Square as Russian jet fighters flew overhead at low altitude, so what was it about a disoriented American pilot flying a single, small trainer over Washington, D.C., that knocked everyone into a flat spin?
Our information indicates that, although one of the occupants was a student pilot, the other was not a CFI..
I believe the unfortunate DCA penetration, as well as future such incidents, will have ramifications.
The day will come in the United States when flying anonymously, not on a flight plan (as is the case with most VFR flight today) will cease. Flying about randomly without a flight plan, without any idea of who is aboard and where they are going, will someday become a distant memory.
When flight plans become required for all flight, there will be expense and strain to the ATC system. The expense of this inevitable mandate will prove to be considerably less if Congress would only recognize the inherent ability of our existing Flight Service Stations to fulfill such a requirement.
When all VFR flights are required to be on an active flight plan, Lockheed-Martin will rightfully force the Agency to renegotiate its contract due to the increased workload. I believe that such significant changes to the system, and perhaps other yet unforeseen but necessary changes, will prove to be exponentially more expensive than to have simply assigned this additional task to its existing government workforce.
Additionally, the Agency could activate equipment already deployed at AFSS's permitting VFR flight following. This equipment was installed several years ago but lies dormant due to a lack of funding, guidance, and foresight.
In your story, "Errant Pilots Cause Washington Scare," you used the phrase, "... high-ranking officials, including former First Lady Nancy Reagan ..."
She's a noted celebrity, but Mrs. Reagan is not and was never a high-ranking official. She was married to one. I voted for him, so this isn't sour grapes -- just a plea for accuracy.
Homebuilt Pilots Face Currency Review
You may want to print another article that clarifies the new notice N8700.42 (NewsWire, May 12). The first, second and third time I read this it sounded like all experimental pilots would have to get a logbook endorsement and see the FAA to fly passengers. After a little research on the EAA Web site, I figured out what the rule was all about. I have had all of our pilots here at Velocity, Inc., read your article and all of them misunderstood it as I did. I am expecting I will get quite a few phone calls over the next few days by our customers who are worried about this new notice. By the way, AVweb is the one source that we can always count on to keep us the informed as to what is going on in the world of aviation. Thanks.
It should have been more clear in our article that as long as you are currently rated for the type of homebuilt you fly or intend to fly, the rule doesn't apply. We got caught up in explaining the process and neglected to adequately explain the intent. EAA's more complete explanation is here.
Come Oct.1, when the AFSSs get taken over by Lockheed-Martin, the next target for the mis-managers in the FAA will be a total privatization of the remaining parts of ATC, namely Towers & Centers. The privatization of ATC is not in the future: It is now! Flight Service is a part of Air Traffic Control and it's being privatized now. There are bills in Congress to make Flight Service inherently governmental. Tell your representative to support these bills. If they pass it will be even harder to finish the ATC privatization. The FAA lied about the costs of Flight Service to help justify privatization, and they will do the same with Towers and Centers. They want to privatize at all costs. They would love a privately controlled ATC system where Russ Chew's (CEO of FAA's ATO) buddies at the airlines call all the shots. When it's all private, user fees will follow like the guy with the shovel follows the elephants in the circus parade. Pilots: It's your ATC system; protect it while you can!
C5 Water bombers
Tom Donnelly suggested Lockheed C-5s be used as water bombers (AVmail, May 2). With Lockheed's reputation for wing cracks and failures (C-5, C-141, Electra, etc.), I find this a poor idea.
Just a note to let you know that the Alaska State Aviation Conference and Trade Show was not held May 6-8 (NewsWire, May 12), but was held this past weekend, May 13-15. As a 40-year pilot in Alaska, I am very interested to see if someone has finally come up with a viable replacement for the venerable Beaver! I have my doubts.
The Cessna, The Sky and the Cartoonist
Thank you for the book excerpts (Training). It has been the best thing you have done so far. It kept me coming back for more!