AVmail: April 5, 2010
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Letter of the Week: History Lesson
It's exciting that Helldiver wreckage has been found recently, both from the aspect of perhaps identifying some long-lost crewmen and because of the aircraft's rarity. Thanks for bringing us this news; I was just at Tillamook last fall, and the blimp hanger alone was worth the trip from Connecticut.
Helldivers gave short-lived but critical service in the Central Pacific theater, and it was a great pleasure to see the CAF's Helldiver fly recently.
However, I take issue with the "some" who credit it with "causing the destruction of more Japanese targets than any other aircraft of the war." Well, Naval aircraft, maybe. Fifth, 7th, 10th, 11th, 13th and 14th Air Force B-25s (and Marine Corps PBJs!), plus the Doolittle raiders, flew combat from April 1942 to V-J day and struck at untold thousands of targets in all Pacific theaters, from the Aleutians to the Solomons and New Guinea, from Micronesia to Burma and China and everywhere in between.
A quick look at a globe will tell anyone that there had to be infinitely more targets hit by B-25s (the AAF's primary Pacific bomber) in the land-dominated CBI and SW Pacific theaters alone, not to mention the myriad ships hit by skip-bombing B-25 strafers, than in the tiny but admittedly target-rich islands peppering the Central Pacific. Please don't forget, like TV and movie productions have, that the Pacific war was not fought and won in the Central Pacific alone.
I can imagine that the application of transponders is a good [way] to upgrade safety, but the controllers should also follow.
Although we were flying with a Mode C transponder, the Dutch government made use of Mode S mandatory. The result is that, when flying in [a control zone] below 1,500 feet, where all GA traffic takes place, it is mandatory to turn off the transponder because controllers are not able to manage the traffic.
I totally agree. If you can afford an aircraft, whatever type, you can afford the necessary safety equipment.
I not only second that — I'd add the same requirement for comm radio for any aircraft using a public airport. If you can't report your position to other traffic, you shouldn't be allowed to use public airports. For the original Cub and Champ crowd — I love those planes — and similar, battery-operated works fine.
It's not necessary to make them mandatory everywhere, since they are already required in the busiest airspace, where midairs tend to happen. ATC personnel usually filter out squawk code 1200 because of the congestion, so more transponders wouldn't make for safer skies on that account. Now, if more aircraft had a TCAS, that would help. Add some fixed-position transponders on mountain peaks, and you create terrain avoidance as well.
I must respectfully disagree with Tim Hodges' letter regarding mandatory transponders for all aircraft. Yes, it would be ideal if everybody used both transponders and TCAS. In such a situation, the chance of collisions would be virtually nil.
The reality is that unless everybody is always in radar contact and/or using TCAS, there will still be chances for midairs, even if everybody has transponders. I routinely fly several aircraft built without electrical systems that have no transponder, much less TCAS. I do not operate these aircraft in very congested airspace. I keep a vigilant eye out for traffic and accept the risk. I've had some very close calls while flying aircraft equipped with transponders.
As most VFR operations take place without flight following and most GA planes do not have TCAS, mandatory transponders will do little to decrease danger. I can certainly see placing reasonable limits on non-squawking aircraft, but to say every aircraft needs a transponder is cost-prohibitive and will do little to decrease the risk of midairs.
Those flying with TCAS still need to be vigilant and keep their eyes out of the cockpit from time to time. Every Cub, Champ, and Taylorcraft owner cannot be expected to install an electrical system, transponder, and TCAS.
182 vs. 777
What I heard was an overly distraught 777 pilot. 1,500 feet of separation, albeit only 300 feet vertically at that altitude with visual confirmation, isn't that bad. Sure, it's trusting the 182 pilot, but dollars to donuts he has more experience than the 777 FO on the radio. I say the controller did a good job.
This is another good non-story to a Bay Area pilot who transitioned SFO as a student from Day One. That was in no way a near miss, as all the small planes knew exactly where the big guys were and where they were going. It's called sightseeing and self-preservation from wake turbulence — and how can you miss a 777?
I hope this doesn't put any pressure on SFO to decrease transitions, since the coastal route is dicey, especially on foggy days, and OAK is a long way around.
[You are] funny, bright, great again with the pattern-flying video. AVweb is a great institution. Thanks for all that you all do.