AVmail: April 13, 2009
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Letter of the Week: Bird Problem
I am a long-time pilot and co-own a Bellanca Viking. This aircraft, with my partner at the controls, encountered a large bird shortly after departing Montgomery County Airport (GAI) April 5. We are all very fortunate that Jean Yves maintained his composure and managed to bring the aircraft back safely, a very impressive feat, considering the circumstances!
We all are, of course, very aware of the consequences of bird encounters, especially since Capt. Sullenberger's experience. Now the FAA is telling us that birdstrikes are indeed happening more often these days. It's not our imagination!
Now that this has been brought so close to home, the confidence that my family and friends had when flying with me has been badly shaken. I have to admit that it has shaken me as well.
Is there more that we can learn about the migration of these large birds, and is it at all predictable? Also, perhaps it's time to try to convince our government that something has to be done to trim the ever swelling goose population. The TSA is charged with regulating aviation security and does this with ever-broadening strokes. Nobody seems to get that these birds pose as big a threat as a terrorist might. After all, they managed to bring down an Airbus in the middle of a huge city.
What [Textron CEO] Lewis [Campbell] fails to talk about is why the company is so top-heavy; Senior Leadership Team, Program Managers, Program Engineers, Dept Project Engineers, Assistant Project Engineers, and Group Leads — this is just a list from the engineering department.
When other companies have executives reducing their pay and giving back their bonuses and employees taking a pay cut to help those at the bottom to make it through the hard times by not laying off (Honda Jet), what sacrifices have Lewis Campbell and all his cronies made to prevent [layoff] notices from going out? To date, Cessna has laid off about 3,600 employees and have announced layoffs of 2,000 more, while for the fat at the top, the bonuses keep coming.
I have been at Cessna for six years and in that time have seen dramatic changes. The one overlying theme is that Cessna, once a family-owned company built around community and kinship, has dwindled to a self-absorbed corporate greed giant. How can a company provide top-of-the-line customer service and focus when the ones who make decisions are self-absorbed and self-centered?
I ask you once again, Lewis, "What sacrifices have you made to prevent [layoff] notices from going out?"
This stolen 172 hysteria is the latest manifestation of our national obsession with fear. This used to be a country of risk-takers and pioneers. Since the Bush-induced terror following 9/11, we have become a nation of cowards instead.
We lose 50,000 lives each year on our highways, over one hundred 747s full of souls, but are focused entirely on the 3,000 or so we lost on that day seven years ago.
We let just about anyone who can fog a mirror buy a handgun, but have to take our shoes off and get our private parts probed to travel by air?
Folks! What are we thinking? This isn't who we are. Let's get over it and get back to living our lives without fear.
In your story about the helicopter pilot who had a quickie with a porn star while flying near SAN, you said that the judge recommended that his "right" to fly be permanently rescinded.
I think you meant "privilege." Nobody has a "right" to fly. You are born with a right. You earn a privilege. Too many people are discovering too many "rights" all the time.