AVmail: January 2, 2012
Letter of the Week: It's the Little Things ...
I am totally amazed!! I watched the trailer for Red Tails, and, to my surprise, there he was!
I had a neighbor when I lived in New Hampshire who flew with the Tuskegee Airmen. It was quite difficult to get Ed to talk of the war and the happenings, but once in a while he relented and told me of a German fighter pilot who would come at the B-17s in a line abreast formation. This particular pilot would roll inverted and manage to wound at least one B-17 on each pass. He was very difficult to shoot down because when he completed his pass he'd be able to split S away and reposition for another pass. In your trailer, there he was, just as Ed told me!
This is a great portrayal of these heroes.
George Lucas's Red Tails opens Jan. 20.
"Question" Was Positively Lacking
Of the five choices given to readers opining on the most compelling 2011 aviation news story, the actual content of each one ranged from the bleak to the tragic. All five were dreadful, sometimes cynical, stories of the dark side of aviation. In a sense, and please don't take this personally, the choices reminded me the most of what all of us hate about the mainstream media's penchant for aviation disasters and the familiar rule of what's newsworthy: "If it bleeds, it leads."
How's this for compelling? Independent entrepreneurs, post-graduate students and whole college departments apply cutting edge technology to assail the holy grail of 100-passenger-miles-per-gallon by designing innovative new aircraft in the hopes of bringing a really new product to market -- and succeed. This year's CAFE competition introduced the world to a whole series of brilliant aircraft which genuinely expand both the physical envelope of aircraft efficiency as well as the philosophical envelope of what's possible.
To me, this was a story of technological optimism, made real in stunningly beautiful, creative ways. It deserves at least a prominent place on your list, if perhaps not the top spot, for one reason: This energy and innovation represent the last hope of general aviation looking into the future. Lose this, and GA is reduced to a hobby of toying with expensive antiques, a pastime as anachronistic and impractical (however entertaining) as collecting mechanical watches.
Safety in Diminishing Numbers
My fellow pilots and I just laugh at the so-called experts touting general aviation safety improvements!
Go to any GA airport on any given day and the answer is simple! It is the cost of aviation fuel. Everyone has cut back.
Paying for E-Charts
Here's how I would tackle the online chart charges:
Each individual who needs charts "subscribes" directly with FAA. They receive a "user code." Any service that needs to provide a digital chart for their application polls the FAA web site with the provided "user code" to see what charts may be provided. This will allow a subscriber to download multiple charts from multiple vendors, paying a single subscription and only buying what they need.
Will people share their subscriptions? Probably. Do people share their paper charts? Of course!
Another Cornfield Bomber
Interestingly, the Cornfield Bomber was not the only such occurrence. While I was flying for the Oregon ANG, we had one F-4C that was continuously being written up for being out of rig. Despite many attempts to re-rig the flight controls, it continued to feel "squirrelly."
Upset about being tasked to do this repeatedly, our CWO in Maintenance Control researched the aircraft records all the way back to its birth at McDonnell Douglas. He found that it too had made a "cornfield landing." It had been rebuilt at one of the depots, but in those days before laser alignment tools, it had a visually imperceptible bend to its frame. The result wasn't apparent visually, but every pilot could feel it!
J. C. Hall
Okay, we have rules that mandate the rest requirements for pilots. Now we need to look at the same for controllers. Eight hours between shifts is not enough to get the needed rest.