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AVmail: March 17, 2014

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Letter of the Week:
Flying to St. Barths

I watched with great interest your video with the Aztec landing in St. Barths and finishing on the beach.  I happened to be in St. Barths recently.  I fly there regularly in my Cirrus SR-22 but was there most recently flying an airliner.

Here are a few words about your commentary, which was mostly excellent:

  • You have to have a special qualification to fly there, delivered by a local instructor.
  • The airport is dangerous, no doubt, and difficult.  There's more to worry about than just a few poles and trees.
  • One of the biggest problems is wind shear, which you did not mention.  Therefore, it is extremely difficult to fly a slow enough approach speed to keep control of the aircraft without going too fast and not being able to stop!  Go-arounds are frequent, and that's good!
  • The runway is downhill.
  • Clear the hill too low, and you will be caught in a downdraft prior to the hill and hit terrain head-on.  You have to come in high, which makes it difficult to keep speed down.
  • The absolute rule of thumb is that you must touch down by the mid-taxiway (for most airplanes) or go around without hesitation, which the Aztec pilot obviously did not do.

It's a tough airport but good challenge and to be treated with lots of respect.

Capt. Matt Romana

Minting New Pilots

Regarding your "Question of the Week" on encouraging new pilots:  We manage and fund a youth aviation scholarship that pays for about half of their ticket training cost.  We mint from six to ten new pilots a year.

Jim Posner

With 35,000 hrs in the industry and as one who still loves to fly, I can't recommend it as a profession.

FAA has created a monster of regulations which even their own lawyers can't decipher.  The system has kept us with 1930s technology and no easy ways to improve the safety of these aircraft without great expense.

It has created an industry of inspectors that become nothing more than highly paid data entry people.

They do hire good people that can benefit the industry, but those don't last long and go on to more rewarding jobs.

Sandy Hamilton

As a former flight instructor, Part 135 pilot, and current regional airline pilot, I encourage people to learn to fly for "fun" but not as a profession (unless they can fly for the military).  The secret is out that professional civilian pilots go through a financial beating, and I won't encourage this job to my own children, nor others.

Name withheld

Start-Ups and Run-Ups

This is a great article.  I cannot remember ever seeing aircraft ground and pre-flight operations explained so clearly and accurately.

Keep up the good work, and thank you.

Bruce Bennett

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