AVmail: Nov. 27, 2006
Single-Engine Piston IMC
Solid IMC in a single-engine piston is considered a risk (Question of the Week, Nov. 16)? What is the message? Avoid IMC? Fly low, below clouds and hit the ground? Need a twin to fly IMC? If you cannot handle single-engine IMC (including usual failures), then you should not, never, even think about flying a twin!
The message should be clear to everyone: Yes, flight in IMC in a single-engine airplane is a risk. Depending on where your particular demons lie, it may be one you're willing to take ... or not. I know lots of seasoned airline pilots who wouldn't so much as consider flying in IMC in a piston single because they believe piston engines aren't reliable and the airplanes they're found in lack redundant systems. On the other hand, other pilots fly IMC in singles with few qualms. Neither point of view is right or wrong, it's simply a matter of perspective and personal risk tolerance.
We didn't have the problem [with runway incursions] when the CAA was in charge, or in the early days of the FAA (NewsWire, Nov. 16). The rule was one airplane on the runway at a time, and there were no incursions. When the FAA, in its infinite wisdom, invented the runway tango, we started having runway accidents. They found it convenient to blame pilots, controllers, and anything else, but the system (lots of planes on the runway at the same time). In my humble opinion, I think the old way was the best.
With all the talk about user fees and the determination of the Airlines/FAA to implement them: If they decide the publicity is too negative, what will prevent them from advocating raising the fuel tax to, say, $3 per gallon? The politicians seem to have no problem in raising taxes. No one has yet stated whether the user fee's being "discussed" are in addition to the current tax, or in place of the tax; it would make a great difference.
C172 Lands In Park
Regarding a N.Y. Times article, "Pilot of Plane in Trouble Finds Safe Place to Land in a Brooklyn Park." A pilot's opinion of the three fishermen's comments:
It was obvious the fishermen had been lost at sea for many days and were becoming delusional. I could tell because the boat was rocking back and forth and I could see they were drifting along with no mizzen-topsail set. They must have been hungry, because they seemed to be pawing through a bucket of worms or minnows. I was afraid one of them might poke his eye out with the pointed stick he was waving. (Pointed sticks should be banned from boats as a serious safety hazard.)
I'm sure their situation occurred because they didn't file a 'float' plan with the USCG three days in advance and they didn't appear to be in constant telephone contact with any wife or government agency. They're lucky to be alive.
I believe all boats larger than a rubber ducky not commanded by at least two TSA-certified mariners rated for all-seas/all weather operations should be banned from N.Y. waters as a safety and security hazard to the citizens of the U.S. What if they'd drifted into one of the concrete piers of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge with a lit cigar? What if they'd actually caught and gutted a fish, creating a potential bio-hazard for the entire city.
I know all about this boat stuff because my great aunt was a bridge toll-gate attendant.
I was planning on flying into NYC via KLGA this month but this sort of thing scares me. Does anyone in the news business have a clue about GA?
H. A. Hough
FSS Question of the Week
Your question of the week caught my interest, so I decided to answer the poll (QOTW, Nov. 23). I was surprised to see that the options for responding did not include a "fair," "average," or "OK" rating. There were three possible answers in the "good," "very good," and "excellent" choices, and only two in the "poor," or "very poor" choices. Since this issue is of such concern to the readership, I suggest that you remove the obvious bias and re-run the poll. A summary based on the existing poll that says that most pilots think that AFSS performance is good or better would be very misleading and publishing it would be "very poor" journalism!
I rated FSS as only good because of a low level of training of the briefers in instrument IFR terms. On a recent filing with Oregon, the briefer argued with the filer about putting "Will depart 2Q3 Rwy 34 via ODP" in the remarks section. The sad part is that the briefer said he was a pilot also. Obviously this pilot had not read the AIM pilot/controller glossary and any of the Departure section. Of course we wouldn't expect him to have read 7110.65 sec 4-3-2, from where these words arise ... that would be way too professional.
Photoshopping in Picture of the Week
We recently asked AVweb readers for comments on whether digitally altered photos should be accepted for the Picture of the Week contest. The last time we discussed this, the general consensus was not to accept Photoshopped pictures. This time ...
I "Photoshop" all my digital pictures.
The picture from the camera or scanner never meets my standards, i.e., shadows too dark, not sharp enough, weak contrast, off color, needs removal of dirt and scratches, needs cropping, preparation for a Web site or publication, etc.
People who don't color correct, sharpen, etc., are acquiescing to the limitations of their camera or scanner. They don't know how really great their picture can be as all cameras are compromises. They don't see what the eye sees.
I see nothing wrong with using filters or even constructing a picture from scratch. In my opinion, what you are showing is art. The images in Pictures of the Week are there to evoke emotion and/or awe. How those images are constructed is immaterial.
I do believe that altered or constructed pictures should be labeled as such. There is no reason to try to fool people into believing that you actually took an unbelievable shot.
But overall I believe that the pictures should stand on their own merit -- however they were created. I do not believe that you would be overrun with "constructed" pictures. There are very few things a person can create digitally that would measure up to reality.
I prefer the photos that don't have digital effects. I didn't enjoy the one in today's edition, for instance.
Filters I think, are OK, as long as they are used for normal photographic reasons, light, contrast, noise, cropping. If you are using Photoshop to put an alien bouncing off the windshield of a 747 ... um ... no.
I am against fancy filters or other aggressive manipulations in photographs for POTW submissions. If you begin to allow some manipulation in Photoshop, then where do you stop? After a while, people will be moving aircraft closer in flyby photos, adding additional aircraft or adding a more interesting sunset.
I am a professional photographer who works for a large metro paper, and the rules are: no manipulation. We are allowed to adjust brightness, contrast, and color balance, and "dodge" and "burn" as we did in the days of wet photography, but that's it!
The issue is credibility: When you start to make drastic changes, where do you stop, and at what point do readers stop either believing, or stop being impressed by, truly wonderful "straight" photographs?
I do feel it is a really important issue for news organizations, and AVweb is exactly that.
How about two categories, one with and one without Photoshop effects? (I recognize this may double your cap costs).
My night job, so to speak, is creating Photoshop art. I have a special place in my heart for the PS software. Nevertheless, too many people over use its filters in the same way people overuse fonts in their word processor software. Just because it is there does not mean it should be used.
If two categories are one category too many, then I would vote to keep the photos unfiltered.
Just to let you know I look forward to your newsletters more than anything else on the Web now. It's wonderful to open my browser and see your next contribution waiting. Fantastic coverage, well-written copy with excellent links to related stories. Great stuff, thanks very much.