AVmail: Jan. 30, 2006
Reader mail this week about killer kites, radioactive instruments, the new look of AVwebFlash and much more.
Re: Hitting a kite (NewsWire, Jan. 23):
I was the Captain on a B727-200 inbound to LAX Runway 25R several years ago and on short final we noticed a kite flying just short of the approach end of the runway and could not avoid it without causing a traffic conflict. We continued the approach and advised the tower of the situation. We landed and a PSA flight behind us informed the tower and my flight that a kite and some string was trailing behind and caught on our horizontal tail surfaces We taxied into the gate where it was removed.
There was a person who did not like the low flying jets so he used to fly kites at the approach end of the runways on occasion.
I was pleased to see that you published an accurate story about the radium dial frenzy (Columns, Jan. 22). About a year ago the Washington Post did a story on Ray Johnson, director of the Radiation Safety Academy and formerly the chief of the EPA's radiation surveillance. His hobby is collecting radioactive household items including clocks, dinner plates and smoke detectors. He showed the Post reporter that, in a room filled with 800 radioactive objects, the radiation level was insignificant.
Aircraft Parts Quality
Bill Novelli's letter on the poor quality and high prices of aircraft parts (AVmail, Jan. 23) may illuminate another factor driving the experimental market: When you can buy a glass cockpit for an experimental for $2000 - $3,000 and the same hardware costs $20,000 certified, there is something amiss in the supply chain.
The purpose of the program is to reduce the number of wolves that prey on moose (NewsWire, Jan. 23). Alaska had a predator control program in place starting the 1940s. We lost that ability in 1984 because of the political pressure of animal rights groups. There has been a steady decline in the moose population since. It is an internal matter and does not warrant interference by outside parties unaware of our situation. Predator control is practiced in virtually all of the western states; if you are taking an anti-predator-control stance, perhaps you should investigate the coyote control programs as well. The Department of the Interior is conducting a wolf control program in areas adjacent to Yellowstone Park as we speak. Investigate that instead of publishing animal-rights propaganda as news.
I think you should stick to aviation matters in this publication. I have enjoyed reading this column for some time, [but] this comment should be in the opinion section instead of your news section. This brings up questions in my mind of any past and future news items that may be editorializing instead of news. I would be happy to provide more information in support of predator control if you are interested in a balance report.
It wasn't us, but an Alaskan judge who banned the wolf hunt. Whether that was an "anti-predator-control stance" or not we're not sure, but it seemed to have to do with his interpretation of the law as it stands in Alaska. We just reported the information, without our opinions.
You're right that wolf hunting (or not) is not really an aviation matter ... but shooting guns out of an airplane is, at least if the airplane is flying at the time.
If anyone can hit a wolf from the door of a Cessna 182 or a Piper Apache, go for it.
FAA and ATC
Once again we see a side of the FAA that is utterly wrong (NewsWire, Jan. 26):
1. Mr. Johnson states that the New York TRACON is under control. What he failed to mention is that 12 controllers, that he fired, were returned to duty. If that facility is so overstaffed, why was $73,000 spent on overtime for December?
2. During Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Aviation Administration wrote a check for $36 million to have buses move people. Buses? Of course the company paid does not own a single bus. The Inspector General states that $32 million is currently unaccounted for. Other recent reports show the same waste of our money. These are the same people who want user fees?
3. When the FAA talks about the controller contract and how much it costs (NewsWire, Jan. 26), what they don't say is that all government employees have seen their pay go up. Cost of living alone is responsible for the majority of that. In addition, what the FAA doesn't say is that those controllers who are making so much are working at facilities that are hard to staff. Why? Because the cost of living in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco (and many other cities) is so high that these controllers (as well as managers and staff) are given a higher cost-of-living adjustment.
Congress can smell a rat. Legislation is now on the floor that will require the FAA to negotiate in good faith with its unions. Clearly, Congress and the American people can smell a foul odor.
Losing a Propeller Blade
Re: Optical illusion in Picture of the Week (POTW, Jan. 26):
Actually, it isn't an optical illusion; it's a digital illusion. It all depends on what parts of the propeller were where when the camera scanned that part of the CCD. That is also responsible for the drastically bent-looking blades; the tip of the blade was being scanned while it was still higher in the propeller arc than when the root was scanned.
You can sometimes see the same effects on much slower moving objects when using a really cheap, digital camera.
AVweb's New Look
Just want to drop you a line about your new format. Looks really nice and refreshing to the eyes. Thanks for your efforts.
What's happened to today's AVflash? The text is so small and so faint that I am having extreme difficulty reading it, even with my bifocals. The email version and the online version both have this same problem. You need to go back to the old text size with bold lettering. Thanks.
I really hate the new format for [the text-only] AVflash with the plethora of embedded links in the articles. Makes it very difficult to read -- the publishing equivalent of speed bumps. If I want more info, I can always go to the Web site version and follow the links from there.
Thanks to all of you who took a few minutes to drop us a note and let us know what you think about the new format for AVwebFlash.
In the text-only version, the embedded links are a by-product of improved technology on our back-end -- not so much the look we were going for as an unanticipated side effect. (Our primary efforts were geared toward improving the look and navigation of our HTML-rich newsletter, but that naturally involves some spillover to the formatting of our text-only version.)
Some of you noticed that the graphic-rich, HTML version of AVwebFlash no longer widens to fill out the width of your email reader. This is because AVwebFlash now has a fixed-width design. The decision for this format change wasn't made lightly -- but it does allow us more control over the layout and display of our content, which means we can prevent some problems that used to crop up with the old design. For example, you won't see ads and pictures overlapping in the new design, and you won't see as many orphaned lines of text floating on their own above or beneath ad copy.
Another factor in the decision was, ironically, scalability. Today's browsers allow users to increase font sizes and even zoom in on graphics much more easily than they have in the past. And the next version of Windows (due out later this year) will make it even easier to zoom in and re-center Web pages. With that in mind, we wanted to make the new AVwebFlash very modular -- with every story and element contained in its own area of the page. That way, when you zoom in on the page, the layout remains as consistent as possible; you don't see various elements overlapping each other and pushing images aside to give the page the look of a badly-assembled jigsaw puzzle.
Now that we're starting to hear from readers, we'll definitely take your words under advisement. Please bear with us, as it may take some time to gauge everyone's reaction and see what's best for the majority of our readers -- and in the meantime, please don't hesitate to send us your comments, requests, and criticisms. The more we hear from people, the better we can make our finished product. Many reader requests and feedback went into the development of the new design, after all!
My old classmate Jim Coyne represented a Pennsylvania district in the House for one term, but I don't recall him ever being a Senator (NewsWire, Jan. 23). I'll bet he doesn't, either.