AVmail: June 25, 2012
Letter of the Week: Test Jitters
Regarding the FAA's written test revisions, I am a student pilot, and I first and foremost put aviation safety to at the top of the list of my training priorities. I believe the written test is fine. I do have concerns about the oral and practical test standards that are not adhered to by the FAA examiners.
They are the ones who sign the final papers to allow the certification to be issued. They make the decision as to a pilot's ability to fly safely and responsibly. I feel that once again the government is laying fault some place else other than where it belongs, with itself.
The student pilot has a great deal of money and time invested into his or her training. If a student takes a practical test and is passed, then he or she must feel that they are ready for the task.
I have not taken my practical test yet but will in two or three weeks. If I fail a task, I will expect to fail the test, but we will see. Perhaps you will be interested in the result. If I feel that I failed a portion of the test but yet passed the test, it will be interesting, and the point will be made.
I will say that a good pilot is always learning and should improve with every hour as pilot in command. I have not heard the statement about a private pilot's license, but I have heard a statement from a sport pilot instructor that a sport pilot license is a license to learn.
We've withheld your name so as to eliminate any chance of skewing your practical test results. Examiners are not the enemy, and the vast majority are looking out for your best interests and the best interests of your fellow pilots. Your stress is appropriate if a little unconventionally expressed. Welcome to flying ... and always learning.
F-22 Safety Factors
I am surprised that the only focus with the problem on the F-22 is on the proven oxygen system. These systems have matured over the last 60 years and very seldom have faults now.
I believe a stronger possibility is the toxic "paint" coating that is applied frequently for stealth radar dispersion and absorption. Also, flight uniforms have been treated with special chemicals to reduce infrared signature.
Hopefully Lockheed Martin, their subcontractors, the military, and others have considered these other possibilities, or that they would look into them upon suggestion.
Capt. Thomas Carey (Ret.)
JetBlue's Turbulent Ride
If you get a blog going on the crew's decision on the JetBlue flight, I would like to add that flying around for three hours with only one hydraulic system working was not what I would consider a smart thing.
If the third one fails, is the plane flyable? Why wait? Land the plane and let the mechanics determine the cause.
The Airline Experience
Regarding your "Question of the Week": [Commercial air travel] keeps getting worse to the point that I will almost always use my plane (Citation) in spite of the cost. The service has markedly declined over the past few years, even in first class, that is really no better than coach should be.
On your last-airline-experience survey, none of the available choices provided a good answer.
My last airline experience was better than outstanding. I looked forward to the ride as much as I looked forward to the time spent at my destination. However, that ride was in Singapore Airlines' Long-Haul Business Class. It was sheer luck that got my wife and me into that part of the aircraft, and will be more luck if we ever get to sit there again. But given the opportunity and the necessary money, I'll gladly do it again.
I had traveled from Tokyo to Vancouver and had a couple of hours in Vancouver before my connecting Air Canada flight to Edmonton. At first, the flight was delayed about a half hour and then delayed a second time for about a half hour.
When we eventually boarded, we just sat there for about another 20 minutes until we were told the flight attendants had "timed out." It was no problem as there was a "fresh" crew of attendants onboard that were dead-heading to Edmonton. They got up, and the others sat down.
Still, nothing was happening to get the flight off the ground. About a half hour after the flight attendant crew change, it was announced that the flight crew up front had timed out, but it would not be a problem as there had already been a call for a fresh flight crew who were expected in about 30 minutes.
About 45 minutes later, the new flight crew arrived and began their pre-flight checks. Eventualy, after another half hour or so it was announced that we were ready to go!
Still nothing happened! After waiting for another 10 minutes, it was announced that we were now waiting for a ground crew to do the push back!! Eventually we were pushed back and had an uneventful flight to Edmonton.
Simply the Best
A few months ago, a friend of mine from Wisconsin e-mailed me a photo of a Capital Airlines DC-3 Number 234C from AVweb, knowing that I began my flying career with Capital Airlines, and that I once flew 3s.
Capital Airlines hired me on June 21, 1957, and after spending a couple of weeks in ground school at Washington National Airport, I was thrust into the right seat of 234C and flew it for the next three hours at BAL, making several types of approaches and doing three landings and take-offs to qualify as co-pilot.
Man, that was a big step up, as the largest plane I had ever flown was a UC-78 Cessna for about eight hours. For the next three years, I was dual-qualified in the Viscount and DC-3 and flew both during that time.
I flew A/C 234C on many line trips during the next three years. Some trips had as many as 30 landings and take-offs in three days, with no autopilot.
I loved the old bird, though us pilots would get wet in the cockpit when it rained and freeze when it got cold in the winter. I have seen it get -4 in the cockpit.
We would land at the Michigan cities in the winter and plow through snow drifts on the rollout. In the summer, we would fly with the windows open to stay cool.
Believe me, flying a DC-3 will teach you more in one hour than you can ever learn in a classroom.
Capital's 3s had Wright single-bank 900-horsepower engines, with no cowl flaps. We carried 21 passengers and a crew of three.
In 61 years of flying and more than 20,000 hours of flight time, I have lived the best flying has to offer and flown and met many great people, including Charles Lindbergh.
A Landing to Remember
Even though it has been about 45 years, after reading Allen G. Weisner's description of that text-book landing by the crew of the Beech Queen Air at Randolph AFB I knew that we both saw the same landing, of which I have slides somewhere down in the basement. Amazing!
Donald W. Stephens