AVmail: June 9, 2008

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Rising Fuel Costs; Falling Flight Hours

In your aviation news e-mail about this topic (AVwebFlash, May 30), your writer made this statement:
"There's an old saying that if you have to worry about the cost of fuel, you probably shouldn't be flying."
I personally find this offensive! Everyone should have the opportunity to fly if they so desire. When I first started to learn to fly, I was 17 years old and working in a grocery store as a bagger. I was able to pay for 2 hours per week. I was worried about the cost then as I am now and I am a twin owner. By the way, go tell the airlines that they should stop flying because they are worried about the cost of fuel. Making an arrogant statement like this does nothing more then tick off the flying community. Know this: With the lower amount of flying hours, the increase in accidents due to low proficiency is inevitable. It costs average pilots a lot of money to get their ratings, and when you spend that kind of money, you just don't want to throw it away or give it up. Telling us that we should stop flying because we are worried about the cost of fuel is ludicrous. Did you stop driving your car because gas hit $4 per gallon? Paul Bern
A phrase to never forget: "Fuel is cheap." With avgas rising in price, the latest that's being echoed all over the country is to "Lean, lean, lean." The answer to that is, "Wrong, wrong, wrong!" All this will get you is blown exhaust valves, detonation, blown cylinders and -- worst case -- no place to put your bird on without power. They are doing that out there, folks, blowing cylinders. This same message has been sent to AOPA. If you can't afford to fly safe, don't fly. Fuel is cheap! Joe Gawlikowski

AVweb Replies:

Pardon us, but we disagree. Proper leaning is easy to learn and it saves a bunch of gas and money without blowing cylinders. We've known for years how to lean correctly but, for some reason, we have to be retaught from time to time. See here for more.

Paul Bertorelli
Editorial Director

Although it's shocking that recreational pilots flew about 125,000 fewer hours in 2006 than in 2005 and 2.3 million hours fewer in 2006 than in 2000, there is still a larger picture to see. Simply put, it's that safety in the air is being adversely affected. The fewer hours flown means pilots are not keeping up their skills. That leads inevitably to rusty flying and more accidents involving recreational pilots. The result could be that the public might demand restrictions be imposed on those who fly for the joy of it -- like me. High fuel prices are affecting everyone except, of course, the very rich. What to do? I practice in my head; that's free, but it's certainly not the real thing. Manuel Erickson

User Fees vs. Fuel Prices

This week's Question of the Week has a faulty foundation (QOTW, Jun. 5). Rather than asking whether user fees or fuel prices are more damaging to GA, the question should have asked whether fuel price increases or fuel price increases along with new user fees are worse. Nobody in this country has control over fuel prices. The surge in fuel demand from China and India, and worldwide limits to petroleum production force the price higher. I believe this will continue for a long time. Even if the Greenies in the U.S. suddenly decide to allow drilling for new oil, the increased production would not happen for years. We can put a stop to new user fees. We just need to continue our political action in this fight until the administration in the White House changes. The airlines may not lose their interest in pushing FAA expenses on GA, but the next president is unlikely to support that effort. User fees are optional, but fuel price increases are not. The future of GA must be based on higher fuel prices. Paul Mulwitz
This is such a no-brainer that it amazes me that so many got it wrong. Theoretically, the cost of fuel could decline. When was the last time you saw a federal fee reduced? Chip Davis

Auto Fueled Lycomings

Interesting that only paperwork is needed to run O-360 and IO-360s on 93-octane autogas, which is said to be readily available (AVwebFlash, Jun. 4). Will this autogas have to be ethanol-free? And if so, how readily available is ethanol-free 93-octane autogas? Rae Willis

Model Rocket?

A lot of those "model" rockets that enthusiasts fly are no models (AVwebFlash, May 29). They are real rockets, as big or bigger than an AMRAMM or Sidewinder anti-aircraft rockets. The legal groups are supposed to have a spotter that avoids aircraft and a NOTAM issued, but illegal launches are not unheard of. While they don't carry explosive warheads, they could very well bring down an aircraft with a direct hit. Bill Lukens

Kudos

Thanks for your efforts to produce a truly pleasant news source. The decisions made on what to cover are right on and the format works for me. Keep it up. Dennis DeLong
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