AVmail: April 11, 2011
Letter of the Week: Impromptu Not Necessarily Improper
The "Question of the Week" really doesn't match the heading. Impromptu off-airport landings don't automatically translate to "landing where you shouldn't."
The guy in New York should get his ticket suspended for a while at least for the simple reason that he misled ATC and (by extension) the emergency responders.
However, what isn't clear in all the noise in the media is what regulations, laws, etc. were violated in the landing. Was the beach closed to aircraft by regulation? Was the landing dangerous due to people nearby?
If the answers to the above questions are yes, then this impromptu landing should not have been made, and the pilot should be doubly scrutinized for misleading ATC. However, all "impromptu" off-airport landings don't trigger these issues. In many areas where I fly, the land is publicly owned, not closed to aviation activities, and, as long as one's skill and aircraft are suitable, off-airport landings are one of the really enjoyable aspects of flying.
Lessons to Be Learned
Thanks for posting the ATC recording of James Maloney, the 24-year-old pilot who landed on Rockaway Beach. I hope he does learn from this and grow in wisdom as a result.
I also hope the FAA pulls no punches. His gross misconduct, disrespectful radio style, and reckless disregard for his passengers, the beach-going public, and the GA community have all earned him a special place outside the flying community. The only positive is that, in a short ATC recording, he has given flight instructors a wealth of counter examples with which to teach!
Controller in Control
Just a kudo to the controller who handled the Warrior landing on the beach. He immediately checked to see if everyone was O.K., then advised the pilot of his options. This is the kind of help pilots want to have available when they need it. No fuss, no drama — just tell me everyone is O.K., and then we'll go from there. Great job!
Back in the 1960s, when I sold aircraft for Cutter Aviation in ABQ, we frequently landed on dirt roads at various places in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah as it was legal, as long as you did not interfere with traffic. In Texas it was illegal to land on paved farm roads, so you could only land there if you knew you could hide the airplane out of sight of the road, usually behind a barn or house.
The guy in NYC was an idiot and won't be flying for a while.
Carl Martin Gritzmaker
Intercept Was the Right Choice
The history of aircraft accidents resulting from incapacitated crews coupled with heightened security measures nationwide seem to support the actions of the controller and the Southwest crew, and they should be commended, not suspended, for their cooperative spirit in determining the well-being of another flight.
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt needs to remember from whence he came and whom he serves and get a grip on what he should know as a former pilot — that the maneuver was not inherently dangerous [and] was potentially life-saving and [that] the airport in DC does not need a nighttime tower.
To chastise a controller for having an airborne asset check on an airplane not responding to radio calls fails the smell test. It borders on the ridiculous to discourage controllers from seeking help from aviators who are competent to sight another airplane and fly close enough to assess a problem.
The same comment applies in the case of the air crew. I am immensely grateful for those individuals — controllers and airmen — who look out for others who may need help. Nearness among airplanes is not dangerous in and of itself. Witness the thousands of formation flights that occur everyday.
"Synthetic" Fuel Old Technology
Did you ever get the impression that it's easier to re-invent the wheel than look for something that's already in existence and proven to work?
Well, it's that story again regarding fuel for GA and octane rating boosters. I think it's great we have people interested in finding answers to our problems, but it's so disturbing to know it's a waste of time.
The oil companies know how to produce fuel of all octaines, and they are not limited to gasoline only. They can produce jet fuel and diesel, lubricating oil, paraffin, and every other chemical we use now from crude oil from coal and natural gas, using the Fischer-Tropsch method. This is a known and proven method of production of synthetic fuel in use since 1937. It also produces linear alpha olefin, the lead substitute produced by Ethyl Corp., Gulf, Chevron, Phillips Chemical Co., and Shell Oil.
This system is in use now in South Africa, Russia, China, and in the United States. (We use it in small amounts to satisfy the experimental programs by the United States Air Force.)
The first international Gas Technology Conference held in Moscow in September 2009 was attended and participated in by Shell Oil, Flur, Foster Wheeler, Chevron, Exxon/Mobil, Honeywell, etc. The conference was held to help Russia improve its domestic production and international sales of the synthetic fuel they have been producing since 1947.
As a word of explanation, the Germans proved it could fuel its military, including Me-109s and FW-190s that operated at 30,000 feet.
Fueling the Fear of Flying
What am I missing in the pilot decline/avgas discussion? Why would the average GA piston person be enthusiastic about learning to fly and buying old or new airplanes with the continuing uncertainty about the cost and availability of fuel? I think this is a major problem, if not the main impediment to an economically healthy GA community. Statements that avgas isn't going away soon certainly don't make me comfortable. We need a solution, and we need it now. Just some certainty would go a long way, even if the cost is high.
King Air Fit for a Governor
Former [New Mexico] Gov. Bill Richardson bought the state's Citation Bravo to fulfill his ambition to run for President, not to get around the state.
He already had a King Air, which is eminently better suited for in-state travel. I am a pilot in Albuquerque and understand the absolute need for airplane use in business and government. The purchase of the Citation was excessive spending in a state that can ill afford it.
As to how the new Governor will get around New Mexico without a personal jet, how about like I do, in a Cesnna 210 which can actually land and take off at all the airports in the state?
SNF Patrons in a Jam
Air shows like AirVenture and Sun 'n Fun benefit many people in many various ways. They're fun for everyone interested in aviation. They also allow vendors to showcase their products to potential customers, and they allow non-aviation people to be introduced to aviation.
I am a member of AOPA [and] EAA and subscribe to AVweb. I am constantly being told that we need to involve more of the non-flying public with aviation.My YouTube video is more than minutes long, boring, and sad. It is just a seven-minute drive past all the cars waiting to get into Sun 'n Fun.
In the video I suggest that we could have two to three times as many people attend Sun 'n Fun if we could get them in faster. Certainly getting them inside by 10am would be better than getting them inside later in the afternoon. This would give them more time to visit more vendors.
One effect of eliminating the long lines is that there would be a higher percentage of visitors who are only mildly interested in aviation. The most interested visitors arrive by plane or know to get there at dawn.
I think that letting anyone and everyone visit our flying world can only be a good thing. Ultimately there will be more people flying, and, yes, more jets will get sold (10 years on).
Fixing the problem is easy: Open up more gates to the parking area. You may have to create a new gate and "road" from the new gate. Lay down gravel on the dirt roads. If possible, open up another area for parking. Instruct the people who direct the cars to parking to wave on anyone going slow (anyone with a large gap between them and the car ahead of them). To see why this is necessary, go to SlowerTrafficKeepRight.com and read the paragraph on how milliseconds add up to gridlock. Of course we want safety, but some people nod off while driving the last 500 feet and need to be prodded.
Next, we need to triple the number of windows that are selling tickets. I am serious about the triple part. If you just fix the parking problem then the "waiting in line to get a ticket" problem will become painfully obvious.
I am sending this e-mail because I am hoping that you know people in high places (those who can make these changes) and will alert them to the missed opportunity. Feel free to use my video as you wish.
As I suspected, the video was made on Friday at 2pm, which is the peak time for entry into the parking area (immediately prior to the afternoon air show). While well-intentioned, the person who made this video seems to be quite uninformed. He fails to understand or fully incorporate into his video the fact that Sun 'n Fun was hit by a tornado and torrential rains the previous day. One of his suggestions is to "open up more gates to the parking area." The fact is that we already have more gates, but two-thirds of them were made inoperative for Friday only by the tornado and heavy rains from Thursday. By Saturday, after a great deal of work and expense (hauling in crushed rock and gravel, grading throughout the day and night, etc.), traffic flow went back to its normal operation, and the long delays from Thursday were eliminated.
We appreciate Mr. Wood's attempt to help. I wish he would have elected to visit us on Saturday or Sunday rather than the one day we experienced horrific traffic problems as a result of horrific weather the day before.
Thanks for my daily AVweb e-mail. It keeps me abreast of major events in the industry. I look forward to reading it every day. It's habit-forming.