AVmail: January 4, 2010
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: Spin Recovery
Unfortunately, I don't think most pilots would be able to react to a stall/spin situation. Most pilots I talk with fear spins and spin training. Some are actually reluctant to do stalls. Thus they don't have the opportunity to experience a spin until they inadvertently enter one, at which time it is too late.
It's difficult to find an instructor today who will teach spin recovery from an actual spin, as many instructors have not experienced an actual spin. A pilot flying light aircraft today would benefit themselves and their families by taking spin recovery training from actual spins from a qualified instructor.
The Good Old Days
In reading Rob Stultz's letter concerning closure of FSS facilities, I laugh and I cry. I "grew up" in aviation during the fantastic 1960s, when one could rent an almost new airplane, single or twin, at virtually every airport in the country. One could walk over to the FSS, get a good briefing from someone who knew the area and who cared, and make a flight.
Now we have "modernized." We listen to a computer — at least it isn't done from India (yet) — and end up talking to someone employed not by the FAA, but from a profit-making company, who may be in Seattle or New York, one who knows nothing about the area and one who is so busy taking calls from all over the country that he has no time to learn the local area, or to care.
I've been on the phone for 45 minutes trying to close a flight plan, only to receive a later call of admonition because I had failed to close my flight plan. I've taken off from St. Petersburg, called St. Pete Radio for more than 10 minutes on all three frequencies, never receiving an answer, thereby being unable to activate my DVFR flight plan.
On landing, I've called the Flight Service Station, only to be told that "...we were talking to 10 aircraft at that time. What can you expect?" Now we are losing even this? Why don't we just close them all, feed everything into one big computer in India or Thailand, and hope for the best? It certainly would be cheaper, and would give us just about as much personal service as we are getting from Lockheed Martin.
Oh, for the days of the one-man Flight Service Station at Purdue Airport, and at Crestview Airport. They may have been archaic, but they gave excellent service.
Mastery as Mayhem
I announced airshows for about ten years in the 1980s and '90s and had the pleasure of working with Jimmy Franklin, Bobby Younkin, and so many other talented performers. Kyle Franklin is right up there with the best, and I thoroughly enjoyed the video.
Seeing Kyle's drunk act also brought back some great memories. Dave Slaybaugh was doing a similar act one time, and he was so convincing while he worked the crowd that one of the CAP cadets' mothers came up to me and asked me to page a police officer to deal with him since she didn't think a teenager should have to. It took a bit of convincing that it was an act, but she went along with it and promised not to blow Dave's cover.
Well, some officers did in fact handcuff Dave and put him in the back of the squad car. He never broke character until they were headed for the gate and he told them, stone sober, that they really needed to get him back so he could fly his act. Really messed up the cops, but they were good-natured about it.
Like all good performers with this kind of act, Dave made use of the terrain and just disappeared for a few minutes. I had no idea what he was up to. Somehow he snuck around the airport and came in from a completely different direction and surprised us all. Great showmanship, and Kyle is carrying it forward.
There were several schemes for the errant Cub pilot routine at air shows: There was a drunk from the crowd, a wayward hick farmer, and such as that.
Back in the early 1950s, there was a pilot named Bob Peters. He flew out of the old Rubinkam Airport at 167th and Kedzie south of Chicago. (It's all a housing development now.) Bob also did an errant pilot act, but he used a standard 65hp Cub. He would be "arrested" and have his hands placed in handcuffs behind his back. Then he'd "break away" from the distracted arresting officer.
He'd jump into the front seat of a Cub that was already running (no need to swing the prop to get it started), and he'd takeoff with his hands behind his back! The doors would be open, of course, and the crowd could see him using the stick and throttle in the rear seat to fly the plane from the front seat.
One of his stunts was to bounce the wheels on the ground, do a loop, and then recover with the wheels once again bouncing off the ground. It was, to say the least, quite a performance.
Carl B. Jordan
While I understand the concern for through-the-fence issues, in sheer numbers of people and cultural impact, it does not compare to the FAA proposal concerning hangar use. I believe the statement was "not even couches" in hangars.
Porch piloting is an essential element of the aviation community. Not to mention this would be devastating to my wife: It would mean I would be hanging out around the house on weekends instead of the hangar.
Follow the Money
I have one question about the poll regarding flight plans for 2010. Most people who have quit flying for one or another reason probably don't bother to read aviation-related articles. This would really skew the poll results.
Another thing: Most people quit because of the monetary cost. In 38 years of GA flying, I've never heard of any quitting because of overregulation. It's always money.