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AVmail: September 19, 2011

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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: Cost Is the Issue

Regarding the "Question of the Week": AOPA has stepped around this before and will likely continue to do so. Not too long ago, AOPA reached out to members requesting ideas and suggestions on how to get people interested in flying.

AOPA specifically stated it was interested in hearing ideas other than lowering the costs associated with flying. What is wrong with lowering the cost of flying? Lowering the cost will open the door for many more people to participate. Unless someone can explain how this is bad, I stand behind it.

John Galouzes


... So Is the Third Class Medical

The absolute number-one priority is the elimination of the third class medical. That alone would drastically improve [the] pilot population and help with all the other issues.

Also, NextGen should be stopped. It won't work properly, will cost way too much, and [will] ensure user fees.Rod Pollard


Expand Light Sport

Work to make Sport Pilot truly affordable by including such aircraft as the Cessna 150/152 in the LSA definition. Aircraft such as this are inexpensive (both to purchase and maintain) and, with their relatively benign handling characteristics, are a good fit for an entry-level pilot certificate.

It may compete with sales of new LSA aircraft but in the long run would mean more pilots and thus be better for industry.

At the very least, there could be some sort of exemption so a Sport Pilot candidate could complete training in such an aircraft. It would help spark pilot starts. In many parts of the country, there are no LSAs for rent at local airports.

John McNerney


Post-9/11 Flying

Regarding the "Question of the Week" [from last week]: Since 9/11, all of my flying is under IFR only. VFR is too risky for long-distance cross-country, which is 90 percent of my flying.

Bill Hefron

Since 9/11, we confine our recreational flying to Canada. We will not cross that border into the U.S.

Over the years, we have flown various small aircraft to Dayton, Lock Haven, Lancaster, Buffalo, Geneseo, Rhinebeck, Harrisburg, Binghamton, New Haven, and Oshkosh.

It is simply too much hassle to attempt a border crossing. Customs and security agencies have shown a moronic fear that small aircraft pose a threat, and until attitudes change, we don't need to fly into the U.S.

Homeland security has clearly allowed an enduring victory for the terrorists.Mike Ronan

I fly just as much as I would have otherwise. The only difference is that I have only flown commercially three times since 9/11.

Cory Carlson

I fly GA more and avoid airlines as much as possible. If the trip is 1,000 miles or less, I'll fly my own plane or drive.

Randy Coller


Hand-Flying the Airbus

I totally agree with your letter writer about his "lack of handling skills after flying the A320." I was a very happy pilot on B757 aircraft, totally enjoying the automation, which did need me in the loop. I regularly hand-flew the B757 without the flight director on departure up to about 10,000 feet and the same on arrival using manual thrust and no flight director as a way a keeping my handling skills polished, workload permitting. Then came the dreaded A320 conversion.

My check pilots/flight managers actively discouraged any form of manual flight and always threw their arms up in horror at any suggestion of doing so. My handling skills started to fall off a cliff when I started operating the A320, and I always felt I was not really part of the automation loop but an interested outsider looking on. I used to joke that if I turned up late for work it would have gone without me!

After an autothrust problem that gave me uncommanded go-around power during the flare and touchdown, I vowed that I would use manual thrust from then on. I soon felt that I got on top of the airplane, and, as before, I hand-flew departures and arrivals using basic modes or no modes except hand and eyeball. My handling skills returned, and I actually came to like flying the airplane with no automation. Obviously, there were times when workload and weather made it difficult, and I would never intentionally overload my First Officer because of my preference to fly manually.

I always encouraged my FOs to try to fly the airplane manually, and some were excited at the chance whilst others did not want to know; I left it for them to decide. Regrettably, I was one of only a handful of captains who encouraged them to do so.

Line-check pilots always picked up on my manual thrust lever operation and used to quote chapter and verse about the benefits of automation. My reply was if you do not want me to fly manually, issue a directive banning it, but of course that never happened.

One directive did point out that most pilots' single-engine handling on simulator rides was very poor when using manual thrust. Is it surprising when possibly the last time they used manual thrust was six months previously?

The only way to use automation is make it do what you want it to. It can be a good and valid tool but never a complete substitute for accurate manual handling. Do not let it take over and start using you as a tool, as your hard-earned handling skills will quickly vanish.

I know; it nearly happened to me!

Ash Bourne


Pilots Passing

In your article on aviators that have been lost recently, you missed Peter Twiss, who died on August 31.

According to Wikipedia, "He worked for two years on the Fairey Delta 2, a supersonic delta-winged research plane. On 10 March 1956, this aircraft, flown by Twiss, broke the World Speed Record, raising it to 1,132 mph (1811 km/h), an increase of some 300 mph (480 km/h) over the record set the year before by an F-100 Super Sabre, and thus became the first aircraft to exceed 1,000 mph in level flight."

Surely he is worth a mention in your august organ.

Steve Kay

Someone wrote in the article about Betty Skelton that she soloed at age 12, "far from the eyes of the FAA." Since the FAA didn't exist at that time, it was indeed very far from their eyes.

David M. Gitelman

AVweb Replies:

We've actually heard the FAA is powerful enough to bend time and space, but we're glad Betty escaped its omnipotence. Thanks for the note.

Russ Niles
Editor-in-Chief

Remote Control Everything

Remote control towers? What's next? Remote control pilots? Then we'll have remote control passengers!

Just think: You won't have to even leave your office to conduct business thousands of miles away.

Marv Donnaud


First and Last Words

Words alone cannot express my deepest thanks for the insight to the last minutes of the lives of those who went first on the darkest day for Americans. I went to the Rutgers Law Review site and found even more.

Their voices will live forever. It's a very moving podcast that I will always have. Thank you very much. You guys are the best.

John W. Jaeger


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