AVmail: June 20, 2011
Letter of the Week: Egos Shot Down
Regarding the story about the Pakistani F-16s beating the Typhoons in air-to-air combat: I used to run an Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation and Electronic Warfare Range. We had many instances of older airframes with crews that had prepared meeting with the latest fashion airframes with crews that showed up expecting a cake walk and didn't prepare [only to have] their hats handed to them.
I remember one exercise where a group of ANG F-16 Air Defense Fighters from Duluth, Minnesota cleaned up a group of active-duty F-15Cs, much to their dismay and distress. The 15s were escorting a strike package of mixed aircraft. They never made it to the range on day one. The F-16 ADF guys had been to the ACMI/EW range practicing employment every day for a month. When the starting bell rang, they employed flawlessly. The AD Eagle drivers showed up expecting to walk all over them, and they hadn't practiced. If it was for real, they would have died on day one, with no chance for improvement. As it was, they got a second chance, then a third and midweek started to turn things around. By the end of the week, they were winning, bombs on target, getting home alive.
Training makes all the difference. If you're an ego driver, not an efficient fighter pilot, you may not notice that until the ego has taken a few shots.
Lt. Col., Ret.
The Long Way Around
I have had the opposite experience of the pilot that regularly found smooth air flying the spine of the Sierra range. One particular night trip from Las Vegas to SFO that was direct to Coaldale VOR direct Modesto vectors to SFO, the MEA was 14,000, and I was in my Navajo 310. I started getting rotor turbulence along with a high sink rate that I could only stop with 100-knot indicated airspeed and full power. I was in that situation for a very long 20 minutes as I had a 65-knot headwind. I have never used that route again and go the long way around to Bakersfield and then up the valley.
When Steve Fossett disappeared, I was not surprised that he was found in that same area, as the Citabria would be pretty weak to go against a prolonged downdraft [such as the one] that I had encountered.
Carl Martin Gritzmaker
"Turn Off All Electronic Devices"
Regarding the story about cell phone interference: I have to agree with John Nance. It sounds very anecdotal and very possibly biased or even manufactured by pilots who don't want to run the risk of having devices interfere with the plane.
I believe that there are many iPad users that don't even realize their iPads are cellular devices. In fact,other than my wife, whom I had to tell, I've never seen an iPad user put the device in "airplane mode."
I travel frequently and on many flights see wi-fi phones and "mi-fi" devices which are turned on. I see people sneaking text messages.
Clearly, cell usage, inadvertent or not, is quite rampant on commercial flights in the U.S. As the article states, if cellular devices were really causing issues, I'd expect there would be more real and probably confirmed instances.
I'd also add that if these devices can cause issues, I'd also be concerned about being on a plane on the final approach segment near high-powered radio and TV transmitters, cell towers, and the plethora of other RF hash found in any city. The RF field strength has to exceed that of a cell phone or two inside the aircraft.
Said another way, aircraft avionics and systems need to be robust enough and well-shielded enough to tolerate broadband interference, including nearby cell phones. If a cell phone can potentially bring down a plane, we must harden the planes, because it's impractical to assume we can eliminate unintentional or intentional cellular device usage.
Should We Fly Them?
Regarding the "Question of the Week": There are plenty of non-flying B-17s already in museums. The same can be said about other types. What point is there in maintaining an airplane in flying condition if it's never going to leave the ground? I say if it's in airworthy condition, fly it.
Isn't it about time all the worldwide aviation regulators got together and we had a workable worldwide set of interchangeable regulations? My suggestion would be to base them on FAA regulations. Over here in Europe, EASA is trying to re-invent the wheel.
Pictures and Passions
This is just to thank you for choosing that picture and to mention the chills it gives me seeing her passion for what she does in the U.S. Air Force.