AVmail: January 5, 2009
Each week, we run a sampling of the letters received to our editorial inbox here in AVmail. One letter that's particularly relevant, informative, or otherwise compelling will headline this section as our "Letter of the Week," and we'll send the author an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you" for interacting with us (and the rest of our readership). Send us your comments and questions using this form. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail (just in case your letter is our "Letter of the Week"); by the same token, please let us know if your message is not intended for publication.
Letter of the Week: Flying and Alcohol
I want to compliment you for creating a forum to discuss alcohol (AVweb Insider Blog: Patty Wagstaff, Booze and Flying). I am writing because I am so impressed with the intelligent self-examination this discussion has elicited in the comments posted. It is another reason I admire the flying community so much. One of the posts used a phrase I like very much: "examine our relationship with alcohol." It seems strangely appropriate to think of this in the context of a "relationship." I have never seen such an open and honest discussion of alcohol and personal performance among my colleagues in medicine. As a surgeon, I would love to see my colleagues have a heartfelt discussion like this. Lost opportunity is hard to quantify, but you have managed to bring its relationship to alcohol into an open discussion.
Thank you again.
I think you are using Patty Wagstaff's misfortune to advance your career. Encouraging public discussion of her mistake on AVweb is just wrong. This is not a gossip rag, it is an aviation news resource. Joe Pilot's hypocritical comments on Patty are not news. Here is the rest of what I wanted to post [in the comments section] but it would not fit:
There is a lot none of us will ever know about this sad experience that Patty has had to endure very publicly. Perhaps with very few exceptions, on some less-than-stellar day of our lives we all have driven after a few too many. I am not a fan of drinking and driving, but I think the comments here are way out of line, and many are probably hypocritical. The EAA can shoulder the blame for a measure of this sad postscript to AirVenture 2008, and AVweb can surely shoulder all the blame for perpetuating the public humiliation of one of aviation's true heroes by posting this item so prominently and encouraging public comment, which they certainly could anticipate would be negative and inflammatory.
Such is the diabolical nature of public life. People like Patti give us their souls and risk their lives to make our lives more exciting and interesting. They take risks and demonstrate courage and dedication that the rest of us cannot begin to equal. If they make a mistake, the absolute worst in us creeps out of the woodwork to chastise and humiliate them. Patti may be paying a price for what took place that evening, but it is loathsome to pass judgment on those without a full understanding of the circumstances and without complete innocence with regard to any wrong of that type, caught or otherwise.
Pull this off AVweb. It does not belong there.
If I were to get charges such as Patty Wagstaff got, my pilot's certificate would be gone for a minimum of two years. What makes her different?
Ice Techniques at Odds
We need to get on the same page (NTSB Warns Pilots To Use De-Icing Boots Early; NBAA Counters NTSB Icing Alert). I fly a Silver Eagle, an O- and N-modified Cessna P210 with the Rolls Royce turboprop conversion.
Since it is a single-engine turboprop with a high wing, I went ahead and took the Caravan deice course mandated by the FAA for Caravan pilots. It isn't what the NTSB is recommending at all. Specifically, they make multiple references to waiting until enough ice accumulates to allow it to break off cleanly. There is no mention, nor the option, in either plane for continuous boot cycling.
It should be noted that Cessna just modified and updated their Caravan course this year, with a several-month delay in its availability.
What is a pilot to do when the FAA-mandated course doesn't correspond with NTSB recommendations?
Is There an Avgas Replacement?
I read every day that the jet fuel biotechnology is advancing slowly but surely. In the meantime, what is happening with viable avgas replacements? I hear nothing more about the Purdue University biofuel. With the scrutiny on lead emissions, avgas may soon receive a terminal prognosis from the EPA. Will we all have to buy new engines, or is there viable ongoing research into replacements? (AVweb Insider Blog: Avgas — Why Isn't It Cheaper?)