AVmail: March 18, 2013
Letter of the Week: Question from a Midair Veteran
I have read your interesting article on mid-air collisions, but I cannot agree totally with it. I am the lucky survivor of an actual mid-air, where my Twin Comanche at 150 kts cut off the fin of a Cessna C172RG at 125 kts, losing most of my left wing tip in the crash. Luckily, nobody was hurt, but it still puzzles me how such an event may have occurred.
In perfectly clear weather, I was on my toes knowing that traffic at the same altitude (2,000 feet) was heavy and having been warned by ATC of traffic on the opposite heading. Unfortumately, I had just passed another aircraft on opposite heading and thought that was it. Despite what I believed to be an accurate scan, we only saw each other at a distance of about 1,000 feet. I dove sharply to the right, but the other guy also dove without turning, so I pulled up hoping to avoid him. Well, I didn't make it.
My question is: In case you really are close, is it better to dive, to keep him in sight, or to pull up?
Regarding the "Question of the Week" on sequester: I instruct at KANE in Minnesota. Our contract tower is on the list to close. We are a reliever airport for KMSP and have six instrument approaches from three different directions, a significant amount of flight instruction, corporate jet traffic, and cargo haulers as well as about 400 GA aircraft based on the field.
With the mix of aircraft and pilot experience and skill, operating with no tower is a huge safety concern. Unfortunately, the FAA isn't considering safety as one of the criteria for keeping the contract towers open. I find this rather ironic considering the millions of dollars the FAA spends on safety awareness and instruction.
Ours is not a unique situation. Many of the towers scheduled to close are in busy air space, creating a very hazardous situation. There must be a better way than this to cut the budget.
Of course I'm still going to fly. I'm a young pilot living off a modest budget, with a loving wife who also lives off a modest budget. Quite frankly, I'm tired of listening to a lot of older pilots wishing things would go back to the way they were in the '70s. We do ourselves no favors bitching about how bad things are to everyone, then wondering why no one's starting. Maybe if a few of the "doom and gloom" pilots hung it up, a few more people would be interested in starting.
I'm based at FDK, where the new contract tower is on the chopping block. All of my flying is IFR because of the adjacent SFRA and Camp David. I expect significant delays in clearances and releases, so it will affect my flying, most of which is for Pilots N Paws.
I see AOPA is asking the government to keep the low-volume towers open. They are behaving like everyone else who is getting cut: "Cut the other guys, not me." It is time for us all to bite the bullet and cut back. We operated nicely without towers, and we can do it again. Not that big a deal.
Certified for ADS-B
I recently purchased a new LSA aircraft and installed a Garmin 796, a GTX-330ES, and a GDL-39 thinking that I'd be receiving all ADS-B information on my 796. The aircraft dealer thought the same. I didn't want to wait until 2020 to be compliant with the "out" mandate and wanted to have the weather and traffic picture now.
If you read the manuals on the above equipment, you'd think that you'd be all set with the latest, but the manuals are deceiving.
What you must know is that in order to talk to the ADS-B ground stations you must have a certified GPS unit. As of this time, the GPS 796 is not [certified]. So The cheapest fix now is to install a standalone certified GPS unit to talk to the GTX-330ES to be able to send and receive the information that I thought I was getting.
What would be great, and makes perfect sense, is that a certified GPS should not have to be used in an experimental or an LSA, as long as the GPS unit is WAAS-capable.
The 796 fits the WAAS requirement.
Isn't it better that we all, certified and non-certified aircraft alike, have the same picture of weather and traffic?
I've been an AOPA member since 1978 and an EAA member since 1990. I think AOPA does a decent job with national issues, but both organizations stabbed their memberships in the back with the purposeful elimination of legacy aircraft such as the C-150/152 or Skipper from the LSA category.
So they wanted to "nurture" a new industry? Maybe they should change their names to GAMA and stop pretending to represent member pilots. The proposal to eliminate the third class medical shows how weak they perceive themselves to be. No night flights? Horsepower restrictions? Did the FAA draw up this proposal? I am on the verge of dropping both memberships.
With $6.00 gas, you will continue to see pilot training decline. I have several friends that drive expensive cars [and] can afford a plane; however, [they] refuse to become involved in flying due to the price of fuel and hangar rent. They do not share their car and have no interest in sharing a plane. AOPA cannot solve this problem.
Drones Are Irresistible
Welcome to the hysteria around UAVs, also known as drones. Please don't add to the alarmist uneducated public reaction.
I see drones frequently because I fly one. It's a three-pound hexacopter capable of carrying a one-pound payload consisting of a camera and camera gimbal.
Since I hold a commercial pilot's certificate, I can claim superior knowledge of FAA rules over most drone hobbyists. Almost all hobbyists fly according to AC 91-57. Few want to risk their craft that cost well north of $500 with out-of-sight GPS-guided flight, and believe me, at 400 feet, a typical hobby drone is just a speck in the air.
That said, the electronics in a $500 drone are just short of amazing. Mine has GPS, altimeter, inertial navigation, and an autopilot for stabilization. The autopilot even knows to return to launch if it loses the RC link.
I fully expect that when the FAA releases the NPRM for allowing drones into the NAS, licensing will be the minimum requirement. Drones are coming. The commercial pressure to permit them is just too great to resist.
The drone incursion near JFK is a "shot across the bow" of the traditional aviation community. Drone usage should be licensed and only to qualified persons who are aware of the risks and responsibilities. These are not toys.
An NAS form came to our ATC regarding several instances where drones had lost data links and made altitude changes during flight. These changes happened between flight levels 350 to 180 and were several thousand feet. Also, one drone controller deviated his drone around weather without advising the center. In another instance, a light aircraft had to deviate while in the traffic pattern. Don't know about you, but this scares me.
"Short Final" Sensitivities
Regarding the letter about "Short Final": I have been flying since 1972. I learned to fly in a USAF flying club. My ex-husband was AF, not me. I found that "Short Final" to be funny, not derogatory to women. We need to lighten up and not take ourselves so seriously. I flew single-pilot night freight in the late 1970s and most of the 1980s, when I was the only woman in the area I was flying in. When I got picked on (and I did, big time!) I turned it back on the man with humor. I got accepted rather quickly.
Lighten up all, please.
Carol Bittner Collins
As in Stan's case, for purposes of full disclosure, I am not and have not been in either the Marines or the Navy. Like Stan, I taught in college/university aviation programs and was the director of one during the 9//11 time period. I am also very sensitive to the issue of women in aviation, especially since my daughter pursued a career in aviation both as a pilot and in ground functions.
I think that Stan missed the point of the joke in the Feb. 25 "Short Final." The reference was to men's vs. boys' departments, not men vs. women. I agree that we have to do all we can to make sure that women do not have to put up with discriminatory things in pursuit of aviation careers, but in this case we might well do more harm than good by trying to make a truly "innocent" joke into something that it is not.
I compliment Stan for his sensitivity and willingness to speak out — but in this case it wasn't needed.