AVmail: Jan. 9, 2006
Reader mail this week about the TSA chasing airplane ''hunters,'' IFR vs. VFR, airline pilot woes and more.
TSA and Hunter's Threats
I sent the TSA an email regarding the Missouri hunter that voiced death threats to the pilots at Smartt Airport (NewsWire, Dec. 26).
The TSA has been very good about making sure shampoo bottles and nail clippers are harmless. Now they need to step up to the plate and go after the guy that pointed his rifle at an aircraft.
The local TSA office called me the very next morning and ensured me they knew all about the incident and were investigating. He says the incident is considered a serious threat to aviation security because it could have been a terrorist "testing" the aviation security system.
I was a little nervous about initiating contact with the TSA. However, the man who called me was very professional, and after some chatting we discovered that we knew some of the same people through the Civil Air Patrol. So that made me feel much better.
I am always pleased to receive my newest issue of AVweb, and look forward to Mondays and Thursdays. The contents are informative and entertaining. When reading the Monday issue, I enjoy finishing with the humor found in Short Final. However, the Jan. 2 issue of Short Final was irritating for several reasons.
If the written verbal exchange is accurate, it is a sad statement of the mindset of pilots today. The pilot of the 180 obviously was trying to land in conditions that he was not comfortable with, yet continued an already unstable approach even though the margin of safety was degraded due to encroaching with another aircraft.
The pilot of the aircraft rolling out should also spend few minutes reflecting on his conduct. Was he taking more time then needed on the runway? And certainly his attitude and comments to another pilot -- who is admitting that he has his hands more than full --calls for some self review.
I have been flying for more than 30 years, and am fortunate to fly everything from wide-body jets to my PA-20, and even hot air balloons. It is always my desire to make my presence the least obtrusive to others as I possibly can.
Mark A. Ohlau
IFR vs. VFR
There's no question in my mind: If you're an IFR rated pilot, you should go IFR any time you're on a cross-country (Question of the Week, Jan. 5).
With today's seemingly random TFRs, being in the IFR system helps you avoid losing your ticket. Being in the IFR system also keeps you sharp with procedures, so on the rare occasion when you do need to fly in hard-IFR conditions, you're not fumbling to remember the right radio procedures. And it sure is nice to have a controller watching your every move.
You do need to remember, however, that when you're IFR in VMC, you still need to watch for VFR traffic that may not be talking to a controller. Otherwise, why would anyone not want to go IFR?
Airline Pilot Woes
I wasn't really surprised at the content of the newsletter regarding airline career opportunities (NewsWire, Jan. 5). But, I wonder if you might not check beyond "news sources" that have a vested interest in the subject at hand? Get both sides, maybe? I am constantly amazed at the numbers these people come up with for "average pilot salaries." What planet are they on? I have been at a "legacy" carrier for 28 years, and I barely make the "average" salary. I can assure you the first officers I fly with aren't making anywhere close to that "average," and they have to constantly worry if the house will be foreclosed.
I believe strongly that young people who are smart enough, and industrious enough, to qualify for a major airline job can pursue other fields of endeavor and do much better for themselves, and their families. The turmoil of the industry is not likely to abate. Next up: cabotage. Whatever it takes to pressure salaries down.
I think government airline policy, if not rationalized soon, will do to the airlines what they did for railways and the American maritime industry.
With disgust and a shudder for the future I finished reading the section regarding the thousands upon thousands of "quality" pilot jobs that are to be available this year. I'll save my opinion on what Kit Darby does for the industry and just suggest that it is nothing more than projected necessity to separate money from a bunch of intimidated job seekers. That having been said, I'd love for Mr. Darby to describe these "quality" jobs in a greater level of detail than just "lifestyle jobs."
"Lifestyle job" would suggest that people who are otherwise successful should be willing to take less-than-fair wages, or even encouraged to do so, predicated on the perception of "cool factor" (to over-simplify). I will whole-heartedly contend that this is precisely the reason that so many of us are desperately searching for a way out of the business. To back up a little bit, this is the attitude that has enabled airline management to ratchet down pay scales and speed up the race to the bottom. For those of you who don't know, you'll never break $30,000/year until you've been at the same airline for an average of probably 4-5 years, and let's just say that from there on it doesn't get nearly as good as it used to, when people thought airline pilots were rich.
The pilot group in this country has never been treated so poorly, and to get right down to the bottom line: I can no longer afford this job. To the folks whose "attitudes need to be adjusted" a little bit: Remember, it's only somebody's profession you're ruining; it's a lifestyle job! Quit ruining my profession! This is a little more than just fun for me.
Over the years I cannot help but come to the conclusion that you folks must have contempt for professional pilots. You just love to point out that top airline pay is in the $160,000 range (an illusion), while neglecting to mention that most major airline pilots have taken close to 50% pay cuts, along with having their pensions raped. I suspect that you derive smug joy at the thought of pilots losing their homes and declaring bankruptcy. I also suspect that you are working in collusion with the likes of Kit Darby to keep the pilot pipeline full of chumps, all willing to plop down $35,000 for flight training for a job that, if trends continue, will pay less than a truck driver makes. From what I have seen, I believe nothing would make you happier than to see professional pilots knocked down to making a max of, say, $65,000/year, while cheering on skippy doctors and businessmen filling the skies with Cirrus and, God help us, Eclipses.
Another Great Day at SXM
Assuming this picture is on the up and up, they cut it pretty close on extending the gear (Picture of the Week, Dec. 29).
We wonder if you're noticing the main wheel bogies are tilted backwards and that you think that means they aren't completely extended yet. Actually, most modern, large-airliner main wheel systems are designed that way. That Air France A340 probably extended its gear many miles before touchdown.
Youngest Dual-Rated Pilot
I was glad to see your story on the youngest dual rated pilot (NewsWire, Jan. 5).
My son, Eric I. Bromschwig, of Bloomington, Minn., also soloed a glider on his fourteenth birthday, November 12, 2002. He then got his Private Pilot Glider on his sixteenth birthday in 2004; and this past November he received his Private Pilot -- Single Engine Land on his seventeenth birthday. I was his instructor for Airplane only. He already has 150 hours and hopes to have his instrument rating within 90 days.
Kurt F. Bromschwig
Southern Pines and its airport KSOP is right next door to Pinehurst, North Carolina, not South Carolina as we reported in the story about the youngest dual-rated pilot.