AVmail: Oct. 3, 2005
Reader mail this week about fuel prices, FSS closures, SIC type ratings and more.
Your Question of the Week (QOTW, Sep. 21) regarding how high avgas prices need to go before I give up flying leaves one important point out: the cost of other modes of transportation.
If auto gas goes to $11 and avgas $12, it still may be cost-effective to fly rather than drive. Similarly, if an airline ticket price doubles, then the cost of personal flying would need to double too to make it relatively more expensive than it is now.
We live in a mobile society. I suppose if you can take Amtrak from NYC to Boston you have an alternative to paying whatever the fuel prices are. For much of the country, when you need to attend that wedding, funeral, job interview, business function or whatever, you'll have to choose what means of conveyance makes the most sense at the time. We'll pay more for all types of transportation.
That said, 99% of my flying these days is to get somewhere. With the current prices, I don't have as much enthusiasm for just flying around on a nice day or the $100 hamburger (or is it $200 now?)
A follow-up on the story written two years ago about Wiscasset Airport (NewsWire, Nov. 25 , 2003). The taxiway extension is in progress; but more importantly, the hangar development to accommodate the very light jets that are rapidly knocking on our industry door is in progress. So even hidden in the corner of the northeast to remain viable in this industry, your thinking is five to 10 years ahead.
Milville FSS Closing
I am writing you concerning the closing of the Milville Flight Service Station. On July 31 while planning for a flight down the Hudson River corridor, I called for a weather briefing. Instead of Milville, I got Altoona FSS. After the weather briefing I asked for NOTAMS and any TFRs along the route. I was told there were none and my route was clear. While in the corridor and giving position reports, a tour helicopter informed me the corridor was closed north of 79th Street due to a Yankee game. I had asked the FSS briefer three times specifically if the Yankees were playing and he said, "No." The helicopter pilot told me to be careful of the briefing you get because the briefers now covering for Milville "Don't know anything."
Then a friend of mine was planning a trip from Old Bridge to Atlantic City and was getting a briefing. He got Delaware FSS. He asked if McGuire's (AFB) airspace was active. FSS assured him it was not and a flight through would be no problem. He asked for a frequency to contact McGuire Approach on and they gave him one. When he approached the airspace, he could not reach the controller on the frequency FSS had given him. Soon he was joined up with by an A-10. He monitored 121.5 but was not contacted by the aircraft. On approach into Bader Field, controllers from Atlantic City told him to contact the Colonel -- and gave a phone number. When he spoke to the Colonel he said the A-10s were conducting live-fire exercises and he was lucky. He asked my friend what steps he took to plan his flight. After my friend explained, the Colonel was satisfied with his planning and said he would not report it. His only comment was, "Delaware FSS [the guys covering Milville] don't know anything about what is going on here."
We fly some of the busiest airspace in the world over here in the tri-state area. We should get some good briefings or it will get dangerous for everyone.
SIC Ratings For First Officers
It should be noticed with some interest that First Officers in many regional jets of major U.S. carriers are now more qualified than the captains flying left seat (NewsWire, Sep. 29). Due to "flow back" rules and "regional airline" agreements within major carriers, First Officers often have thousands of hours more experience than Captains in the cockpit. They not only have 8,000 hours or better in many cases but often have to explain procedures and make flight suggestions to Captains who not only don't want to be flying the regional jets but have a massive disadvantage in the equipment being flown. The airlines are taking every shortcut available to keep first officers sitting right seat who should have become captains years ago. Many are quitting due the extreme low pay and the frustration of the inequity. This should be called to the attention of the aviation public that may be contemplating a future career with "the majors."
My God, where have I been? AVweb is the best thing I have found on the Internet for aviation in a long, long time. Just signed up last week, and I can't wait for the next issue. Good work. We have to stop privatization and user fees. How about an article about what GA citizens can do (letter writing, congress, state levels, etc.) to stop this from happening? Just an idea. Keep up the good research and writing.