AVmail: October 8, 2012 »

Letter of the Week: Going Clubbing Regarding the " Question of the Week ": I am a firm believer in flying clubs. I started flying in the early '70s [and] belonged to an active flying club in South Africa, and it was a marvelous and supportive experience aviation related. I emigrated. The club scene there continues to flourish, but here in the States there is little if any such involvement, and I think it is a great pity. Flying overseas is far more expensive than in U.S.A., but there is more enthusiasm and activity [abroad], and that proves the point. Dr. Peter Foox Click here to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: October 1, 2012 »

Letter of the Week: Boxed in at the FAA Regarding the Pearson Box : The air field I used to fly from, White Waltham in England, is close to London Heathrow and when the wind is from the east, is often overflown by airliners turning on to final at 2,500 feet. Our circuit height is 800 feet, with an overhead join at 1,300. We knew that our activities would trigger TACS alerts, especially when a Pitts or Sukhoi was practicing aerobatics, yet this wasn't and isn't seen as an issue. Perhaps the FAA should contact U.K. NATS (National Air Traffic Services) and find out how we safely manage this in the U.K. Mik Butler Click here to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: September 24, 2012 »

Letter of the Week: Secret Shopper I've always heard the aviation industry isn't welcoming to newcomers. Let me tell you a story, and see if you agree. Recently, I walked into the local flight school. I had briefly instructed there a few years and changes of ownership ago. No one knew me. I waited patiently for the three employees to finish their conversation. No one greeted me. Finally, I asked if they gave introductory rides. I also asked if there were any restrictions, because I thought having an ATP might be disqualifying. I was told there were no restrictions, and no questions were asked. I booked a flight for the next day, because no one seemed interested in going then. I arrived on time and was told: "The instructor isn't here yet." After 45 minutes, I gave up and walked out. And we wonder why student starts are slow. Roy Adams Click here to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: September 3, 2012 »

Letter of the Week: Pilot Currency Regarding the " Question of the Week ": I belong to the "I-get-an-IPC-every-six-months-whether-I-need-it-or-not" club. I always do ("need it," that is). I'm discovering that even with the every-six-month constraint, I find the need to really "exercise" a skill which is difficult to put into words — for lack of a better term, I'll call it "problem solving," — and it's virtually impossible to do this alone. The rote procedure of establishing oneself on a final approach course, keeping things centered and landing is a skill which, admittedly, needs regular polishing. The "higher level" skill is the ability to deal with the curve ball, the distraction. I'm absolutely convinced that the bulk of morbidity out there, practiced by pilots who have the training to know better, is the result of misdirected attention to unseen traffic, GPS knob fiddling when a simple twist of the VOR OBS would do, or just generally missing the forest for the trees. One of the rewards of IFR flight is the smooth handling of these challenges. It's one of the hardest skills to practice, too. I like to rotate through a couple of instructors at IPC time, just to make the experience a little less predictable. I think that helps shake the rust off the problem-solving machine. Anthony Nasr Click here to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: July 16, 2012 »

Letter of the Week: Pants on Fire When non-disqualifying conditions requiring additional documentation reached the point that I found myself making six medical clinic visits to get all the reports that I needed, I decided not to play this game anymore. I looked at the stack of paperwork I had accumulated and knew two things: If I submitted it, I would get a medical certificate after referral to the FAA, and I am not willing to face this hassle and invasion of privacy every two years to get my government's permission to pursue a hobby. So I canceled the physical and, when LSA aircraft are available to rent in my area, will take up flying again. The path of lying to my doctors would eventually lead to poor medical care. Now I don't have to worry about admitting that I snore or whatever and am perfectly free to accept or reject proposed work-ups based on my personal judgment after discussions with my doctor rather than the doctors in Oklahoma City. Name withheld Click here to read the rest of this week's letters. More

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. Name Withheld AVweb Replies: 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. Russ Niles Editor-in-Chief Click here to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: June 18, 2012 »

Letter of the Week: The Way to Oshkosh (Whew) Regarding your " Question of the Week ": About every second year, myself and a few mates leave Geraldton, Western Australia and drive four hours to Perth, overnight and then fly commercial six hours to Sydney. There's usually a four-hour wait and then we fly to L.A. (just 15 hours). Then we wait four hours before we're on to Minneapolis (another four-hour flight) and then on to Appleton. It's a long way but worth every bit. I would come every year if I could. Rick Pederick Click here to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: June 11, 2012 »

Letter of the Week: It Adds Up to an Overrun Regarding the story on the Jackson Hole overrun : With more than 15,000 hours in the B-757 I can state that it is not uncommon to have the reverse levers (one or both) tend to hang up while selecting reverse. Also, if the speed brake is not set all the way into the "armed" position, it will not activate properly on touchdown but will activate when reverse is selected. (In this case, they were unable to get it into reverse in a timely manner.) And last (a major pet peeve of mine) is the FAA's mandate that an aircraft (whether VFR or IFR) be "at or above the visual or electronic glide slope." This has created a generation of pilots that have found "security" in being above the glide slope during approach, thus always touching down long of the touchdown mark. One only has to go to the observation deck of any major airport and count the number of jets that land on the mark. It will be less than one in 100. These guys just got caught in a "triple whammy" of failures, one of which was pilot error. Keith Weiland Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: June 4, 2012 »

Letter of the Week: Emergency Kit Regarding your question about emergency equipment : The first plan of emergency preparedness takes place prior to lift-off. Check the weather, including winds aloft, general forecast, detailed forecast, long-range forecast, icing conditions and the list goes on. File a flight plan. Use flight following. If mountain flying is encountered (which one should know beforehand) when planning a trip, go around. Gas and time are cheap compared to death. Stay away from those mountain peaks if at all possible, day or night. They're fun to look down on and fly next to but can kill you via mountain wave, winds, storms, up and down drafts, icing, etc. Use common sense. Don't get get there -itis. Think SDPTC ( S low D own, P lan, T hink, C alculate). Do an honest weight-and-balance. By the way, none of the above adds weight to the aircraft. Have cell phones charged, buy a tracking device or personal locator, have first aid supplies on board and prepared meals. Have cold weather gear, emergency signal devices and emergency supplies. Be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Brief all crew on emergency protocol, who hits 911 on Spot, etc. Everyone should have a responsibility during an emergency and know it. Remember to dial 911 on cell phone if going down and leave the line open. Don't worry about talking unless you have time -- and, lastly, stay calm! Lt. James G. Feiler Wyoming Civil Air Patrol Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: May 7, 2012 »

Letter of the Week: The Third Class Medical Question Regarding your " Question of the Week ": Perhaps the reason that more have not commented in favor is that not as many people agree that it is necessarily a good idea. The cost of a medical is peanuts compared to the cost of actually flying an airplane. So what does extending the exemption accomplish? It allows people with medical issues to fly larger aircraft and carry more passengers. Getting a medical exam every two years is a small price to pay for the privilege of flying. It may also just save your life, or that of your passengers. If you really want to increase the pilot population, increase the maximum gross weight limit for LSAs to allow the use of legacy aircraft such as the Cessna 150/152. An outright increase would be great, but even an exemption for flight training and the check ride would help. Potential LSA customers could learn to fly more inexpensively, as well as increasing the availability of training aircraft for them. LSA manufacturers may not like competing with legacy aircraft for sales, but in the long run, more pilots means more potential customers. I'm sure the 150/152 cannibalized some sales of the 172, but in the long run, it probably helped by getting more people into aviation. John McNerney Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More