AVmail: Sep. 15, 2008

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Sikorsky Fly by Wire UH60

The first fly-by-wire helicopter was a UH60 (AVwebFlash, Aug. 31), but it was developed by Boeing back in 1985. I know because I was the Flight Test Engineer. The system was called ADOCS and it contained not only a fly-by-light, fiber-optic control system, but also a fly-by-wire backup system as well. Here is a link. Scott Foster

Homebuilts Flying From Urban Airports

Your poll and the response from the GA community are framing the debate the wrong way (Question of the Week, Aug. 28). We should not be discussing whether certain "types of aircraft" can fly from urban airports but rather which "flight activities" should take place at more remote airports. Flight testing of any first-time aircraft or engine major components should take place away from urban areas. That's why Edwards AFB and Groom Lake are out in the middle of nowhere. Even new Cessna 172s are first flown in Liberal, Kan., from an airport in the middle of wheat fields. According to AVweb's report (AVwebFlash, Aug. 27), the Velocity that crashed in Nevada was making the first flight with a supercharger connected; flight test of that engine setup should have taken place at a more rural airport. The good news is we don't need any new rules. DARs assign flight limits to homebuilt aircraft during the first 25 to 40 hours of operation. The DAR should look at the aircraft/engine combination and assign a rational set of limits for testing based on his professional assessment of the risk, not on what is convenient to the builder. Let's debate "flight activities" not "types of aircraft." A fully tested aircraft should be able to fly anywhere. Truly experimental and untried airframes and engines should be flight tested in open areas where the risk to people on the ground is small. John McMurray

Santa Monica Airport Noise

After listening to your interview with Santa Monica Airport Director Bob Trimborn (Podcast, Sep. 1), I had to swallow an entire bottle of anti-nausea medicine. I flew out of SMO beginning in 1985. I have actually been fined by the City of Santa Monica for taking off in a C182 at 11:02 p.m., two minutes after their noise curfew. Trimborn says this is not about noise? Come on! If it really is safety they are after, and they require a 1000-foot encroachment apron, then why don't they invoke eminent domain and tear down the offending properties? After all, the airport was there long, long before they were. We all know, and have known for many years now, that this is onlyabout money-period. Jerry Hawkins

Dead-Stick Landings

Those dead-stick landings Rick Durden wrote about (The Pilot's Lounge, Sep. 8) ... I've been teaching students to do that for over a quarter-century. It's in the PTS for gliders, where every landing is a precision, dead-stick landing! Jim Kellett

Alaska Air Equips Jets With GPS Navigators

Am I the only one whose jaw dropped after reading this story (AVwebFlash, Sep. 9)? $20,000 for software? I am most shocked because last year I paid $300 for a PDA, $125 for WingX software, and $75 for a Blue Tooth GPS that, together, will do practically the same thing. I could almost understand if there was hardware included in this price but, as reported, it's lines of code and nothing more. In GA, our glass cockpits will show us exactly where we are on the airport or, if not equipped, we take a look at a taxi diagram. I have been to many airports thus far, even complex airports like KMKE at night, and all I had or needed was a diagram and a pencil. If you get truly lost on the taxiway, there are always progressive taxi instructions that cost ... nothing. What is wrong with airline management? With the soaring cost of fuel, the last thing they should be frittering money away on is code that says, "Turn left at taxiway Delta." Gadgets and whizbangs are nice, but 20k? Really? Robert Hasiak

Telepresence

I have been an auto dealer in Junction City Kansas and flying myself for 27 years. Your Telepresence article (AVwebBiz, Sep. 9) caused me to look at how my business and my aviation needs have changed over time. Ten years ago I was flying a twin to three auctions a week from Chicago to Dallas and Denver to St Louis. My 44-year-old ego was always fed well as the air-stair door lowered and I stepped onto the tarmac. This week my Used Vehicle Manager attended each of those auctions from his office on 32-inch LCD screens. With the shift to internet-based business, we just don't need a big, fast, company plane any more. I used to fly a Cessna 421 and my flying has changed considerably. Our needs, and our business plane, have really changed. We now have a late-model Cessna 182 that my General Manager and my family members can fly, so I'm not the Pilot on Call. I need not mention that we can fly it all year for less than the insurance and annual cost on the aging Cessna 421. My interest has shifted to the pure joy of flying, and removing the big twin made room in the hangar for a '46 Piper Cub, a '55 Piper Pacer (Oshkosh award-winner), a '98 Starduster Too, and the most recent project that will fly in the spring, a '39 Custom Cabin Waco EGC-8. I tell my friends that my interest has shifted to planes that are older and slower than I am. Has e-commerce changed my business and my flying? Absolutely, and I couldn't be happier. Jim Clark

A Somber Anniversary

Thank you for writing to remind all of us that the tragedy cannot be forgotten (AVwebFlash, Sep. 11) and, even though we continue to recover from that day, it changed aviation forever. Paula Raeburn
I was a member of a U.K. RAF AWACS that was redeployed to the North Atlantic to assist with the returning tide of diverted civil airliners from the U.S. and Canada. An eight-hour training mission was turned into a 15-hour mercy mission, but the miniscule discomfort we experienced was obviously very trivial compared to those who lost their lives or loved ones. I very much agree with your thoughts shared with AVweb subscribers; however, it is written as if the tragedy/crime was an abhorrence felt only by aviators and people of the U.S. Since that horrible date, I and many of my former colleagues have been at the front line of the "War Against Terror" in Iraq and Afghanistan, side by side with U.S. forces throughout. I therefore felt it necessary to reply to remind you of this continuing fight and that the U.S. is not alone both in this fight and what was suffered seven years ago. Jim Hall

AVweb Replies:

You make an excellent point. We deliberately stayed away from the oft-used comments about how "9/11 changed the world" because, while it was a shocking event for us in the U.S., there have been many shocking terrorist attacks on other countries as well, and for them it was not a world-changing event at all ... if you see my meaning. But your point is also well-taken, that 9/11 certainly has had an impact well beyond the U.S. shores.

Thanks for writing, and thanks for your service as well.

Mary Grady
Contributing Editor

Secure Yet?

Regarding the latest QOTW (Sep. 11):
  • Airline travel: My feeling is the terrorists have won. Every time I go through airport security, I get p*****-off all over again. Instead of profiling, the American traveling public is still treated like the enemy.
  • We have seen how much damage small planes can inflict on a sizeable building -- not much. Yes, if someone packed a 172 full of explosives and crashed it into a skyscraper, it could potentially do serious damage. But certainly no more damage and probably far less than if someone loaded up a car with explosives and detonated it in any shopping mall or the lobby of any office building. But in their wisdom, the government has now effectively walled off GA from the general public. It was absolutely not necessary to do this, and having done so may spell the beginning of the end for GA.
George True
Being a Texan, I grew up from childhood with guns in my hands. I was also a federally licensed firearms dealer. I am halfway between 82 and 83 and have been very active in aviation since 1944 (over 21,000 hours). I have more licenses and awards from the FAA than most people have ever seen. When the FAA came up with those air security rules, I told them they were a bunch of fools. I used to ferry planes, either airworthy or on ferry permits, all over the country. I never went on a ferry flight without taking a loaded pistol in my carry-on baggage. I was not about to risk a forced landing out in the woods without a means of protecting myself! The airlines were made aware of it when I did so. You should have seen the expressions that arose when I carried a 'chute to bring an out-of-license experimental biplane back to Florida from Texas! I had to put it in the baggage compartment, but I told them it had better arrive in Texas when I arrived, or there would be some big problems. I told the FAA that if a person is qualified to carry a concealed weapon, he should be allowed to carry it in flight. I also am totally in favor of airline personnel carrying arms. Without guns aboard, every person is a potential victim. The FAA has made them to be such! Do you really believe that 9/11 would have occurred had there been several armed passengers on those planes? The two times I have ridden an airliner since 9/11, I told the "agent" who told me to remove my boots that he had two choices: Provide me with a boot jack to remove the boots easily, and boot hooks to help me put them back on, or go to the devil! At my age and physical condition, I don't need that kind of crap. When I told that to an inspector in Florida, he got the jack and hooks! When I told it to an inspector in Texas, he laughed and said, "Get on that airliner." I told the FAA that, if we were allowed to carry guns, all a highjacker had to do was rise and say, "Hi Jack," and a dozen armed passengers would stand up and say, "Bye, Jack!" A bullet hole from a handgun will not bring down an airliner, or cause explosive decompression. Lastly, that law is depriving us of our constitutional rights to own and bear firearms! Any politicians who don't like that should be hung! Grover Summers

Correction

AVweb wrote (AVwebFlash, Sep. 10),
"Pilots can attend the ground school about formation flying for $50 in St. Louis on Sept. 22 ..."
Unfortunately, the location is St. Paul, rather than St. Louis. Someday we might expand to St. Louis, but for now we are only operating at STP. Stan Ross

Kudos

Just a note to say keep up the good work. One of the more enjoyable emails I get! Thank you. John Winter
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