AVmail: January 2, 2012 »

Letter of the Week: It's the Little Things ... I am totally amazed!! I watched the trailer for Red Tails , and, to my surprise, there he was! I had a neighbor when I lived in New Hampshire who flew with the Tuskegee Airmen. It was quite difficult to get Ed to talk of the war and the happenings, but once in a while he relented and told me of a German fighter pilot who would come at the B-17s in a line abreast formation. This particular pilot would roll inverted and manage to wound at least one B-17 on each pass. He was very difficult to shoot down because when he completed his pass he'd be able to split S away and reposition for another pass. In your trailer, there he was, just as Ed told me! This is a great portrayal of these heroes. Pete Chestnut Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: December 19, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Digital Chart Fees This week's question is a great one. I'm pretty sure that I'm in the vast minority of Americans on this issue, but we see it time and again. Using our tax dollars, the Government takes over a segment of our nation and then argues that the users of that segment need to pay to enjoy it. To my mind, this is akin to Disney Corp. buying, building and operating a theme park on my buck and then charging me for admission. The FAA, an agency of the U.S. Government that is wholly dependent on the tax dollars coming out of the pockets of all U.S. citizens, mandates that pilots carry and use its charts whenever flying in American airspace. Then, citing budgetary constraints (e.g. they're not going to get the number of tax dollars they wish), they charge taxpayers, again, for the privilege of using their product. These sorties into our pockets are always steeped in terms of the "fairness" involved in having those who use the services pay for them. This argument fails the sniff test when we remind [people] that the government is 100 percent funded by all of us already and that the expenses incurred by the government are mandated by the government. So no, I don't think we should have to pay extra for FAA e-charts. Bob Greene Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: December 12, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Did Babbitt Have to Go? Regarding Randy Babbitt's resignation : Randy Babbitt was the head of ALPA for years and a former airline pilot. One of the wonderful accomplishments of ALPA over the last two decades was the realization that alcoholism is a disease and pilots who have run afoul of laws concerning driving, flying, and alcohol may actually be suffering from an addiction that affects health and judgment. Airline pilots that I know who have gone through "the program" and returned to duty are the some of the safest, driest pilots on the line! Instead of a rush to judgment that resulted in an early end to Randy Babbitt's career, I wish the FAA had used this incident to further raise public awareness of the fact that addiction can hit anyone and of the avenues available to help those who have problems with alcohol. Let's treat Babbitt the same way the airlines treat pilots now: treatment for the addiction in a HIMS program, resulting in an FAA administrator who is much wiser and experienced! John Hanson Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: November 21, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Online Chart Fees With budget deficits in the trillions, no one can deny that our government has a problem with spending. So the ruckus in the aviation community because the government wants to cover its costs in producing and distributing aeronautical data seems to me a symptom of what got us here. Everyone is for cutting the cost of government, so long as it doesn't affect their benefits. At the end of the day, that attitude will not solve our budget problems. It is hard to argue that we in aviation don't benefit greatly from the government. From the millions spent on infrastructure at the 5,000 GA airports to data, weather, FSS, ATC the list goes on. While we do pay for some of that with the tax on avgas, I am confident that it doesn't come close to covering the total benefit we receive. To solve the budget crisis, funding changes will have to be made. Rather than fight every proposal for change like it is the end of the world, I would encourage the flying community and AOPA, EAA and NBAA specifically to proactively evaluate and choose which changes are most palatable and affect the least number of users. They should offer those up, while fighting to save [us from] those that have the most negative impact to flying. I will gladly pay another $75 per year to have IFR data if it means I can avoid user fees on every IFR flight. AOPA and EAA need to show leadership in helping to solve this problem rather than blindly objecting to every proposal. Change is coming; we can either embrace it and try to manage it, or we can be run over by it. Don Ward Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: November 14, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Laser Tag I was on approach to Ontario, CA one night in a Pilatus PC-12 with all the lights on. For those of you that have never seen a PC-12 with all the various lights on, it is a wondrous sight. From the ground, I'm sure that a non-aviation person would mistake it for a much larger aircraft. Shortly after turning final, I was hit by an intense light. I immediately reported it to the tower, and, as luck would have it, there was an Ontario PD helicopter flying close by in contact with the tower. The tower relayed the location of the light to them, and they raced off to look for the source. To me, this is a perfect example of how serious the authorities take this very real threat. I'm happy that the FAA takes this problem seriously and know that the more the public knows about the threat, the better off we will be. Bill Campbell Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: October 31, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Experience Makes a Difference At some point (my guess is around 3,000 hours) additional flight time matters little. Until then, the learning curve is pretty steep. Even highly and expensively trained military pilots struggle in high-density airports at peak hours while many low-time pilots are struggling with both the high-performance airplane and radio traffic even in relatively low-traffic situations. As is true with flying at many different levels, the individual tasks are often not particularly difficult, but the multitude of tasks across a wide range of disciplines is much more difficult to accomplish, especially while maintaining good overall situational awareness. Ask any training or check pilot in the commuter industry what they face with low-time pilots (even from good college programs), and they will tell you a few individuals make the transition with relative ease but most are behind the power curve. Only experience with hard work will eventually overcome this. Ask the captain of an airliner what pressures fall on him or her with a 300- or 500-hour pilot in the right seat in and out of airports like JFK, ORD, or LAX with less fuel than comfort would require during rush-hour operations, especially with low visibility and ceilings, and I expect you'll appreciate the difficulty of their job and the potential dangers involved. Capt. John Snidow (retired) Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: October 24, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Single-Engine Jets Viable Regarding the blog about the future of Piper's jet : Single-engine jets? Heaven forbid! Why, for that much money, you can have a ... In my worthless opinion, it's all about cabin comfort and access to the technology at a price that the potential buyer can afford. In an age in which people (albeit fewer than in the industry's heyday) are willing to pony up three quarters of a million dollars for an unpressurized high performance single, there's a real market out there for a low-seven-figure "personal" aircraft that is pressurized, can fly above much of the worst weather, has enough speed and range to cover half of the country in one hop and is comfortable. ... Arguably, jet engines are the most reliable component of a jet aircraft (the avionics companies would do most of the arguing). They're also unarguably the most expensive component. Single-engine jets are defensible, rational, and cost-efficient. (Ask the USAF.) This is a market niche that is just begging to be filled if the product is compelling. So far, Cirrus is the only product that looks like a winner. Tom Yarsley Click through to read the full letter and others from our readers. More

AVmail: October 3, 2011 »

Thanks to all those who elaborated on the third class medical " Question of the Week ," but there isn't enough cyberspace to run all of your responses. Here's a sampling, starting with two letters that make the point and counterpoint. Click through to read this week's letters. More

AVmail: September 19, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Cost Is the Issue Regarding the " Question of the Week ": AOPA has stepped around this before and will likely continue to do so. Not too long ago, AOPA reached out to members requesting ideas and suggestions on how to get people interested in flying. AOPA specifically stated it was interested in hearing ideas other than lowering the costs associated with flying. What is wrong with lowering the cost of flying? Lowering the cost will open the door for many more people to participate. Unless someone can explain how this is bad, I stand behind it. John Galouzes Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: September 5, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Flying the Airplane I had been flying the Airbus A320 for a supplemental 121 carrier when I was furloughed and had to scramble to find any flying job. I interviewed for a job which required a sim check in a B727 simulator. I had not flown an aircraft with manual thrust levers, a yoke or a trim switch for several years and had never flown a 727 or a 727 sim. My hand-flying skills were atrocious. I could interpret the steam gauges okay, but I couldn't keep up with the trim, and I ham-fisted the thrust levers badly. Needless to say, I didn't get the job, and I didn't blame them a bit. Jerry Hart Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More