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AVmail: Apr. 14, 2008

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F-16 Intercept in the MOA

In listening to the two podcasts, it appears that the initiating factor for both the Pilatus and the bizjet were TCAS alerts (Podcasts, Mar. 31 and Apr. 4). For us "flibber" drivers, who do not have TCAS, we'd never have known there was anything going on until the F-16 appeared off our left wing. When I've flown VFR through MOAs (which I do only when they are "cold"), I've always been aware that I could be used as a "training target." I'm OK with that! The MOAs are military training areas and Lt. Col. Fred Clifton's comments are right on target. Especially the limitation on training time for our military pilots. The F16's only action that I find disconcerting is the wake turbulence they deliberately created for the civilian aircraft upon their departure. These highly trained pilots had to know exactly what they were doing, and they placed the civilian aircraft in a very hazardous situation. (On their behalf, I must also say that they may have zero hours flight experience in GA aircraft and therefore no first-hand experience in wake turbulence of a light aircraft.) I understand their frustration in the disruption of their training, as they are dedicated professionals. However, this wake turbulence is not the professional conduct I expect from our military pilots. Charles E. Truthan
I am a former military, GA, airline, and now GA again pilot. I believe that without regard to all the points made about (1) the need to train; (2) the skill of the F-16 jocks; (3) the "take your chances" theories; etc., the cogent point has been missed: I was taught in both military and civil training that all formation flying must be planned, pre-briefed and consensual among all participants in order to be legal and safe. There simply is no excuse for a military jet to join up on any aircraft by surprise, or to teach him a lesson. In doing so, he puts both aircraft at risk. Kim Welch
A MOA is not a Restricted Area, no matter how hard the Air Force wishes it to be such. GA pilots can fly through a MOA with the caveat that they should "exercise extreme caution," according to the AIM. Aircraft transitioning through a MOA are not a threat to military aircraft, should not be suspected of "smuggling drugs" and intercepted, nor should they be harassed or intimidated. The intercepts that occurred were extremely hazardous and unprofessional. F-16 pilots may indeed be trained to fly 10 feet apart for legitimate missions, but if one does that to me, he deserves to be grounded and evaluated as to whether he should continue to fly. Any intercept they do can be safely done from a 1/2-mile away; there's no need for such foolishness. I've been a military pilot (Army and National Guard) since 1979, and this whole incident raises red flags about the F-16 pilots' behavior. If the Air Force decides to circle the wagons, I hope those responsible will be publicly identified when the inevitable accident occurs. Jack Mucha
"Was it aggressive? Yes. Was it hazardous? No." Wasn't that what the Chinese pilot who crashed into the Navy P3 might have said? He flew equally close to the Navy aircraft with equal disregard for safety. The military pilots forget that many airports lie entirely within MOAs. For example, R49 (Ferry County's only airport) lies within the Okanogan MOA, as does Methow Valley State Airport (home of the first smoke jumpers and still an active smoke-jumper base); Twisp Municipal Airport; Omak Municipal Airport, Dorothy Scott Memorial Airport, and Okanogan Legion Airport. Military pilots have caused the unnecessary deaths of many civilian pilots by their aggressive maneuvering (recall the F-15 pilot who killed a C172 pilot in Illinois a few years ago, or the Navy pilot who killed a crop-duster near Moses Lake, Wash.) There are millions of acres of restricted airspace where military pilots have priority. Within MOAs, the military has to be good neighbors. Defensive posturing (oh my, waiting for a civilian aircraft to clear the MOA wastes millions of taxpayer dollars!) does not address the underlying obligation of the military to fly safely within unrestricted airspace. I've heard ex-fighter pilot friends say that there is no adrenaline high like the stick of an F-16. Perhaps the jet-jock kids need to learn a bit of self control. After all, those of us who must transit the MOAs just to get home pay taxes too. John Townsley

LoPresti Isn't Moving Offshore

I will probably not be the first to provide this correction regarding your story on LoPresti that stated "manufacturing will be done at the company's facility in Belen, Mexico," (AVwebFlash, Apr. 9). The town of Belen is in "New" Mexico, a long-lost province of the United States. I always enjoy AVweb. Ted Spitzmiller

AVweb Replies:

Years ago when I worked in New Mexico, I heard a coworker arguing with a shipping company in New York that kept insisting they couldn't send some package "internationally."

Thanks for catching that. We fixed our online versions of the story so this error won't carry forward.

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Features Editor

NBAA Light Airplane Conference & Exhibition

Hurray for Ed Bolen and the NBAA for their decision to hold the Light Airplane Conference & Exhibition (AVwebFlash, Apr. 9). While we worry that new pilot starts are down, we don't seem to be doing enough to improve the low end of the GA business where new pilots start. Most of today's GA FBOs are pretty sad places, reflecting, I think, poor economics. More than any time in my 40 years as a pilot, flying today seems to be a rich man's/ businessman's game. No wonder potential students get turned off. But can you imagine how this would improve if "big iron" folks start paying effective attention to the entry level? Can you imagine how potential flight students would react if their introduction to flying came in the corner of a jet center devoted to entry-level flight training? Wow! Bill Paulin
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