AVmail: May 8, 2006
Reader mail this week about the GAP diesel engine, fuel prices and more.
GAP Diesel Engine
A lot has been written (from 1998 onward) and promised (from 2000 onward) about the new diesel project that was a joint venture between NASA and Teledyne and that would result into an aircraft engine of the new age.
From NASA it seems to be very successful, as all goals were met, but the project was ended 2002. From Teledyne, no answer even in 2006.
What happened to the success story of the famous GAP (general aviation propulsion) engine that was built as front engine into a Cessna Skymaster push-pull?
Scott Crossfield Accident
Let me start out by saying that I mean no disrespect to the deceased, but I am having real difficulty with all the coverage of this accident and the comments from "both sides." This is not about Chuck Yeager, whatever you might think about him personally or professionally. This is not about Scott Crossfield as a competitor to Yeager or anything else. There are only two pertinent issues here:
First, it is very unfortunate that someone as important to aviation history has passed, and even more unfortunate that he did so in such a violent and unnecessary way.
Second, that having been said, I have real problems with all the people who talk about Crossfield as if he were super human -- such as one comment that I heard on NPR which ended, "... and if something failed, it was the aircraft that failed Crossfield, not Crossfield who failed the aircraft." The fact is that this is an egregious case of the failure of good judgment as a pilot and ignoring of personal minimums (or not having any).
Mr. Crossfield had no business being in that kind of weather in any kind of aircraft, and should have diverted and gotten on the ground. Get-there-itis, perhaps, or a sense of invincibility? Your own article today also suggested that he had asked for a diversion because of the weather, and been turned down by ATC (NewsWire, May 1). Since when does the PIC give up that authority to ATC when a potential emergency is imminent?
Unfortunately, this is a poor example of ADM (Aeronautical Decision Making), which has lead to the death of a true "hero" of aviation. But there is a lesson for us all in this. No one is immune from the ravages of a bad decision once made, and even "heroes" can be brought to earth!
I truly mourn the passing of this great man, and I take it as a renewed call to make sure that I tell other pilots, and remind myself, even more often and more strongly, about pilot responsibility and ADM.
It is too bad some of the media, including this site, slanted General Yeager's gracious words re: Scott Crossfield in order use Scott Crossfield's tragic death and General Yeager's name to sell copy. General Yeager's words re: pilots shouldn't fly in bad weather, about which Mr. Crossfield knew before he took off, was an attempt to have something positive -- a learning experience for other pilots -- re Mr. Crossfield's death. that is a true tribute to a fellow aviator.
Others were quoted saying the same.
Other words were quoted from his book written in 1984. He's not going to change his opinion -- which many shared -- just because someone died 22 years later. We're glad many had a nice experience of Scott Crossfield. General Yeager and Scott Crossfield were always cordial.
As to the T-6 incident, it was mechanical failure at a very dangerous airport, and Gen Yeager is one of the few aviator's who could have, and did, save his and his wife's lives.
As to the woman who felt put down, Gen Yeager was most likely teasing her to see how she stood up (AVmail, May 1). She didn't. Gen Yeager signs items for kids all the time. He goes to Oshkosh each year primarily to fly Make-A-Wish kids and their siblings. Must he stop what he is doing every time a kid asks -- every time someone in a wheelchair asks (there are millions who unfortunately are in such conditions) -- he would not have a personal life, which he has earned.
General Yeager gave the San Fernando Valley Engineers Council Chuck Yeager Award to Col. Dawn Dunlop, whom he says is one of the best pilots in the Air Force today. It was his choice. He also talks about the WASPs, the approx 1100 female pilots who flew in World War II, who were as good or better than the male pilots. His words. He started an endowment fund with Women in Aviation International to support education and women. He has two scholarships for young girls to Air Academy at Oshkosh, Wisc.
Anyone who criticizes Gen Yeager: We wonder if you have given as much during your lifetime as he has and is doing quietly after retirement to the community and to the world. Go to this website and click on the Foundation link.
Further, often people misconstrue events. Like most aviators from World War II, General Yeager has hearing loss and mis-hears questions. People assume all sorts of negative things instead of, "He didn't hear me." And many people expect Gen. Yeager to drop what he's doing because they have made an effort to see him. Gen. Yeager didn't ask them to make that effort. And if he dropped everything for every person who made an effort, he would not have a personal life to which he is entitled. We plan a book on all the incidents in which people completely forget their manners. They'd scold their three-year-old for behaving so badly.
As to making money off his fame? He was doing his duty; he did not seek fame like most celebrities, it found him. He lives on military retirement pay. Most of any money he gets today for doing more work while retired goes to charity. So again, people don't know the facts and make wrong assumptions to suit their attitudes.
You mention about the high price of avgas in the U.S. (Question of the Week, May 4). Spare a thought for the U.K. pilots who are paying the equivalent of around $7.91/gallon. We would be delighted if we had prices similar to the U.S. at the moment!
How about a "flying somewhat less" response? I think twice before flying practice approaches and other practice maneuvers these days. (Safety impact?)