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AVmail: May 11, 2009

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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: Tucker's Lesson One for Us All

First, congratulations to Sean Tucker for a successful forced landing. His candid interview and willingess to tell his story about running short of fuel has done aviation a great safety service. Wide publicity by such a famous pilot will make everyone more aware of the consequences of running out of fuel.

I will add a personal footnote to this story. According to my log, it was October 18, 1962, during an ovenight stop in Fernie, in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, on my way to Comox, B.C. in my Luscombe 8E: I filled the tank immediately upon landing to be ready for an early-morning take-off.

I developed the habit of sticking a finger in the tank before every flight, thanks to advice from my wonderful long-departed flight instructor, Charlie Graffo. Imagine my surprise when I stuck my finger into the Luscombe's tank that October morning and found no evidence of gas. It took another check with a stick of wood to convince me the gas was gone. Someone had drained my tank during the night. Imagine my predicament had I proceeded into the mountains with a couple of gallons or less of fuel. In this day of high-priced gas, this is a point to consider.

Joe Scoles


Cheaper WAAS Needed

Instrument-rated owners of small (and often old) aircraft have a problem: WAAS-enabled IFR GPS is simply too expensive. The only choices are the Garmin 400W series, which will cost a minimum of $15,000 installed. These are great instruments, but too expensive for many of us.

What we need is a simple, relatively inexpensive WAAS-enabled IFR GPS. No moving map is needed. We have that on the yoke-mount GPS most of us already have.

Garmin could do a great service for the rest of us by selling a basic, lower-cost WAAS-enabled line. Until they or someone else does, I will just fly behind my old NavComs. Dropping $15,000 into my old plane just doesn't make sense, and neither does buying a non-WAAS IFR GPS.

Carl Hensler


406 ELTs

In a recent article in the May 7 AVwebBiz, it states the Canadian Minister of Transport refused to sign a new rule making the installation of 406 MHz ELTs mandatory. There is one alternative. The aircraft owner (or his or her estate) or the Minister can pay for the search-and-rescue operations when an aircraft crashes somewhere in Canada. An even better solution is that Kevin Psutka, president of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) and his association, who have been fighting this rule (in fact, any ELT in general) should pay for searching for a lost aircraft.

Wilfrid Cote

AVweb Replies:

In fairness, Wilfrid, COPA and Psutka recommend installation of 406 ELTs, but what the organization objected to was the suspended rule's failure to include a viable alternative method of compliance, such as devices that make use of GPS to track aircraft and their occupants.

Russ Niles
Editor-in-Chief

I installed an Artec ME406 in my Cessna P172D shortly after they came onto the market. I fly over hostile terrain often enough that I think the extra "findability" of a 406 is worth it. If all one does is fly in the vicinity of airports or in areas where safe off-airport landings are relatively likely, then perhaps the old technology is acceptable, but it isn't for me.

Cary Alburn


Perpetuating The Myth?

You should know that not only the auto industry but also the aviation industry suffered severely for the Congressional criticisms on the use of bizjets. So why on earth would you perpetuate misperceptions about the use of the bizjets in your ride share article?

Your choice of words implies that three fat cats each took a bizjet alone. Each of those CEOs traveled with a staff of people that had confidential discussions en route. All three staffs would not have fit on any of the three planes used.

Besides missing the logistics aspect that should be obvious to an aviation publication, you also apparently don't realize that a certain culture of separation exists due to Congressional accusations in past decades of collusion among the so-called "Big Three."

Anyhow, continued intimations that it was wrong to have used those efficient business tools called jets only perpetuates the stigma and hurt for business aviation.

Gary Read

AVweb Replies:

We've repeatedly stated our support for business aviation, but we also think the Big Three bosses should have seen how their arrival in Washington might be perceived. We're not perpetuating myths, Gary, just reporting facts. What happened, happened.

Russ Niles
Editor-in-Chief

Wasserkuppe Photo

photo by Dennis Karoleski
Click through for the original story

Being German and a passionate aviator at the same time, I was delighted to see the Wasserkuppe picture with the eagle symbol watching over the area as part of one of your recent newsletters.

In Germany, we refer to this hill as the "Berg der Flieger," meaning something in the sense of "Hill of Aviation." The Wasserkuppe is not only the highest hill in Hessia (900m+); it also served as the cradle of gliding, with its roots leading back beyond the early 1920s. During the Cold War, it received a radar and various antennae to serve as an outpost against East Germany.

Still today, it is one of the most impressive airfields I am aware of. (I.e. landing uphill, departing downhill with dozens of gliders, motorgliders, and single-engine aircraft).

It's certainly worth taking a look at ... .

Greetings from across the pond and thanks again for posting it!

Tobi Baesch

AVweb Replies:

We got quite a bit of mail about this photo of the "Wassercapi Memorial to Fallen Airmen." We weren't familiar with the monument, but (like many of you) we were immediately captivated by its design and stark surroundings. AVweb reader (and frequent "POTW" contributor) Gary Dikkers was the first to put us on the trail of more information, telling us that "Wassercapi" is a variant spelling and the mountain plateau to which it refers is more commonly spelled "Wasserkupe."

Armed with Gary's info (and Wikipedia link), we were able to find quite a few German-language pages about the memorial, also known as the Fliegerdenkmal at Wasserkupe. For those who want to know more, here's the German Wikipedia page (and Google's English translation). And, courtesy of Gary again, a photo of the memorial's dedication in 1923.

Scott Simmons
Webmaster, "Picture of the Week" Editor

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