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Volume 25, Number 50a
December 10, 2018
 
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Storm Cancels Thousands Of Flights
 
Russ Niles
 
 

The nasty mix of ice and snow that blanketed the Southeast on the weekend is expected to linger through Monday, cancelling thousands of flights and causing a ripple through the whole system. Charlotte Douglas International Airport appeared to be the hardest hit major airport. Although the temperature increased to just above freezing late Sunday, it was supposed to drop by early morning and allow a new dump of snow and freezing rain to coat the area. A winter storm advisory is in effect until 2 p.m. on Monday and if big airports like Charlotte are affected, smaller airports are sure to be.†

The good news is the storm appears to be continuing on an eastward track and not heading toward Washington, New York and Boston. High pressure appears to be building behind the storm and sunny weather with above-freezing temperatures are forecast for Tuesday.

Sleep Is Underrated
 
Paul Berge
 

Time to quit worrying about flying inverted yield curves and stay awake long enough to reignite virtuous ire over the Piper Navajo pilot†who allegedly fell asleep on a November trip between Tasmania and King Island, two places that, if you’re like me, you had to Google.

The backstory in a conch shell: The pilot drifted off, but not off-course … except inadvertently overflying the destination by 29 miles. Big flying deal, right? Who hasn’t done the same? When I was a low-time pilot in Hawaii, I was flying a Grumman to Kauai and managed to miss the island despite being awake and distracted by a passenger who kept asking if I really had a license. I did but still bypassed the only land mass in that stretch of ocean. Apparently, pilotage, the dying art of navigating by landmarks, isn’t best practiced over open water.

In my defense, Kauai’s not that large. Bigger than a poi basket but not, say, Australia. I wouldn’t have missed finding that island. Still, the passenger got all huffy-like when he pointed to Kauai well to our seven o’clock and approaching half-past six, while I insisted it was hiding behind a cloud at a quarter-to-twelve. I attribute this confusion to the difference between UTC and HST, adding he could take a boat home if he felt so strongly about gross navigational errors. He did.

Back to sleep, which is considered essential to a healthy pilot’s whatever, so why should we get judgmental over taking a restorative nap as the Tasmanian flier allegedly did? It’s not like he didn’t wake up. He did and gently arced back to his destination with--I’ll add in no one’s defense--plenty of fuel on board. How much I don’t actually know in terms of having the facts, but as any loose interpretation of FAR 91.167--or the Tasmanian equivalent--makes clear, “Plenty of fuel includes enough to reach the intended destination and taxi thereafter to an FBO that’ll accept out-of-town checks.”

Running out of fuel is so passť that such incidents (or accidents) rarely make it into IFR magazine’s annual Stupid Pilot Tricks review. As the tired adage goes, “When it comes to operating on aviation fuel, there are those who have run out of it, and those who get caught running out.” Show of hands: How many readers have run a tank dry and lived to not tell anyone about it? Thought so. Your secrets are safe … with mine.

Enough with skinny fuel scenarios and back to the pros and cons of sleeping enroute. While “good safety practices” include remaining awake for most of the flight, it’s not entirely uncommon for pilots or air traffic controllers to drop their lids for just a second, only to lurch wide-eyed and foggy-brained, struggling from the arms of Morpheus while pleading, “Where in blazes am I?” For a controller, that’s particularly weird. I know, because I’ve dwelt in the land of Nod on midnight watches.

I worked in four ATC facilities (Center and tower/approach) in my inglorious FAA career, and two were open 24/7 like a Las Vegas tattoo/wedding parlor. Shift work messes with all that good sleep rhythm stuff the FAA promotes, so by the waning hours of the mid-shift (8 AM) my controller brain was mushier than usual, especially when alone, working clearance delivery, ground, tower and approach/departure control.

And, adding to the charms of all-night ATC, the secondary radar (transponder processing) would frequently go down for routine maintenance--greasing the approach gate’s relative bearings and such. Luckily, traffic was usually light, so reverting to 1950s semi-radar conditions was no big thrash. Plus, at night the freight dogs came out to play, and there were no better participants than cargo pilots--awake or otherwise.

Long ago everyone wrote checks, millions per day, and all that floating paper had to get to far-flung banks for payment. Enter the check-hauling freight dogs in anything fast with wings and no back seats. Des Moines, Iowa, was a freight hub, where at 3 a.m., the empty radar scope would pulse with handoffs from eight points on the compass. Mostly twin Cessnas, Cheyennes and a Lear that launched from Minneapolis into the stratosphere, then throttled back and dropped like an ICBM lawn dart at speeds exceeding daytime 91.117 limits. Night freighters seemed to know two power settings: full and idle. And they all arrived at once, because they had to land, taxi to the ramp, swap mailbags and call for their outbound clearances while taxiing out again to the nearest runway. And they were always ready to go, launching in turn-on-course starbursts into the night.

Inbound, they’d request direct to the nearest runway regardless of winds. As with the FARs, the rules of physics didn’t apply to the night hawks, and once I learned that they would provide better self-separation and sequencing than I could from the tower/approach, I just sat back and said, “Approved … follow company (aircraft), cleared visual approach, clear to land, taxi to the ramp.”

If weather dictated using the ILS, they’d request slam-dunk intercepts at the marker, sometimes inside of that. I obliged. Procedures turns (rare) resembled crop-duster reversals rather than time-sucking PTs. This was ATC improv night rock-and-roll. And, one night a somnolent freight pilot in a Twin Cessna pulled a Tasmania fly-over until 30 miles north of Des Moines, the intended airport, when the sound of a sputtering engine must’ve caused him to wake, switch tanks and stammer, “Airport in sight!” Not off course, just slightly off the nighttime rhythm.

By dawn, the blue-jeaned rodeo-fliers would vanish to wherever sleep-deprived freight dogs went when the sun shines, and the daylight regs returned as I’d stumble from the tower, flop into my pickup and catch a steering-wheel nap, driving home.

Miss it? Nope. At least not the unhealthy ATC lifestyle, but I miss the rush of hell-bent traffic blasting through our otherwise FAA-prescribed skies. Too bad no one writes checks anymore. PayPal isn’t nearly as inspiring, plus, these days I can’t stay awake past 9:30.

Video: Stemme S10/12 Touring Motorglider
 
Larry Anglisano
 
 

Powered by a Rotax 914 turbocharged engine, the Stemme S10VT and the in-development S12 represent the latest in touring motorglider technology. With a 50:1 glide ratio, 18,000-foot service ceiling, and day and night VFR capability, the aircraft can be used for competition and long distance travel.†Aviation Consumer†magazine editor Larry Anglisano took a closer look at the aircraft at the Soaring Society of America's national convention in Greenville, South Carolina.

FAA Cracks Down On Illegal Charters
 
Russ Niles
 
 

An Oklahoma helicopter company has been fined more than $50,000 for dodging FAA regulations and illegally chartering fixed-wing aircraft. Interstate Helicopters and its owner James Paul Johnson were caught in an FAA enforcement effort to curb illegal charters. The company pleaded guilty to passing off charters as dry lease deals. On paper, customers leased the aircraft without pilots and fuel but part of the deal was that Interstate’s pilots and support be required. The passengers were directed to enter into pilot service agreements with company and the end result was a full-blown charter.

The lease agreements were supposed to have been reported to the FAA aircraft registry and were not. The National Business Aviation Association says it’s important to ensure all charter operators are properly registered and monitored for safety and regulatory compliance. There is a hotline (888-759-3581) to report illegal charter operations. “Aircraft charter is a highly competitive business,” NBAA Senior Manager of Flight Operations and Regulation Brian Koester said. “Passengers want the most expeditious option that fits their schedule, and operators are eager to assist them. That said, it’s everyone’s shared responsibility to ensure that such flights are carried out lawfully.”

Virgin Galactic Plans Space Flight This Month
 
Russ Niles
 
 

Virgin Galactic CEO Richard Branson says the company will return to space before the end of the year and he’s looking forward to a trip there shortly afterward. The company essentially had to start over after losing its spacecraft SpaceShipTwo in a crash in 2014 that killed one of the two pilots onboard. There will be a series of test flights before the new spacecraft heads to the edge of space with paying passengers aboard the new craft, named Unity, and Branson said he’ll be on that flight. "I'm not allowed up until the [test pilots] have broken it in a few times, first," he said. "I would love to have gone on this very [first] flight, but [pilots] are incredibly brave people.”

Like the original spacecraft, Unity will be carried to the high flight levels by an aircraft before being dropped and the rocket engine is fired to carry the vehicle to 100 kilometers above the ground. Branson said the flight control system was assessed and redesigned after the 2014 accident. It was determined that SpaceShipTwo’s air braking system was prematurely deployed causing the inflight breakup of the vehicle. Branson considered abandoning the project but said he was convinced to carry on by a massive outpouring of public support. There are about 600 future astronaut hopefuls who have reserved the $200,000-$250,000 tickets for the brief flight.

Buzzy The Drone Leads FAA Kids Campaign
 
Russ Niles
 
 

Children haven’t traditionally been the target of FAA compliance efforts but Buzzy the Drone will lead the agency into the holiday drone-giving season to keep kids from flying their new treasures where they shouldn’t be. The agency rolled out a YouTube video earlier this week featuring the cheerful cartoon creation with the somewhat daunting task of teaching kids the regs regarding drones. “Too many times, we at the FAA hear sad stories about what happens when inexperienced flyers take their drone out for its first flight,” the agency softly explains in its introduction to the initiative. It will produce a series of fast-moving animated shorts that use catchy rhymes to address the worst of drone pilot behavior. The first reminds young pilots that “When Buzzy goes out for a flight, the number one rule is keep Buzzy in sight.”

The agency hinted at what’s to come in its announcement. “Sometimes a nasty tree will jump right into your flight path. All too often, the drone gets scared and flies away if you let it out of your sight,” the announcement says. “And upset neighbors may knock on your door if you fly over their backyard while they’re outside.” The video also encourages kids to visit the FAA’s unmanned aircraft website for more drone safety tips.

Distracted Flying Cited In Landing Accident
 
Russ Niles
 
 

Distracted flying has been cited in the dynamic rollover of a light helicopter in Ireland in July. The country’s Air Accidents Investigations Unit said the pilot of an Enstrom 280FX helicopter was landing on a beach near Ardfert when his cellphone, which was mounted on the control panel, rang. The pilot told investigators he glanced at the phone to see who was calling just as the skids settled into the soft sand. While he was looking at the phone, a gust of wind blew the aircraft sideways.

With one of the skids stuck in the soft, wet sand, the wind gust tilted the helicopter enough to initiate an unrecoverable dynamic rollover. The pilot told investigators that in a moment the helicopter was on its side, causing severe damage. The AAIU didn’t issue any recommendations but it did lecture pilots on the double-edged sword of taking personal electronic devices into the cockpit. “Many pilots now carry portable electronic devices (PEDs) such as mobile phones, tablets, GPS units in the cockpit; all of which may provide useful functions, but are also a potential source of distraction,” the report said. "Any distraction during landing can contribute to an upset unless a prompt intervention is initiated.”

Starr Companies - - Click to read about aerial application
Tuskeegee Airman Takes Birthday Flight
 
Russ Niles
 
 

Old habits die hard and when retired Air Force Col. Charles McGee took the controls of a HondaJet last week, he banked gently left and right, getting a feel for the ultramodern business jet. It was the day after the former Tuskegee Airman’s 99th birthday and the HondaJet ride, arranged by the National Business Aviation Association and Glenn Gonzales, whose company Jet It owns the aircraft, was part of a daylong series of celebrations to mark the milestone and McGee’s remarkable career. A loop over the Virginia countryside with McGee at the controls of the business jet was a highlight for the veteran of three wars and one of the most experienced combat pilots, and the Washington Post went along for the ride.

McGee earned his wings at the Tuskegee Army Airfield on June 30, 1943, flew P-39s, P-47s and P-51s for the 332nd Fighter Group in Italy in 1944 and flew 137 missions in the Second World War. He stayed in and did a stint as a B-25 instructor back in Tuskegee after the war. He flew 100 missions in a P-51 in Korea and 172 missions in the reconnaissance version of the F-4 in Vietnam, ending his flying career with a total of 409 combat missions. After landing at an executive airport in Hampton Roads in the HondaJet, he met with current military members, including Maj. Paul Lopez, an F-22 demo pilot, and reflected on a life in aviation and service. “Folks say, ‘You’re a hero.' I don’t see it like that,” McGee said. “I just say life’s been a blessing."

Report Cites Maintenance Issues In Fatal KC-130 Crash
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

The inflight breakup of a U.S. Marine Corps-operated KC-130T on July 10, 2017, was the result of “deficiencies in the propeller blade overhaul process,” according to a report released by the Marine Corps on Thursday. The report (PDF) states that a corroded propeller blade broke off in flight, sliced through the left side of the fuselage and impacted the interior of the right side, triggering a “catastrophic sequence of events resulting in the midair breakup of the aircraft.” Fifteen Marines and one Navy sailor were killed in the accident, which occurred near Itta Bena, Mississippi.

Investigators identified the source of the blade failure as fatigue cracking. Additionally, they found that the cracking had been present at the time of the aircraft’s August 2011 overhaul at the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex (WR-ALC) in Georgia. The investigation also explored whether operational and intermediate level maintenance inspections would have been able to detect the crack, but concluded that there was no way to know if those inspections could have identified the issue prior to the accident.

After the accident, a Navy engineering team conducted an audit of the WR-ALC propeller blade repair facility. The audit found deficiencies in areas including procedural compliance with technical publication requirements, borescope inspections, quality assurance checks and standardization of Air Force and Navy repair processes. Blade overhauls at the facility were temporarily halted in September 2017 to “allow all parties involved with the propeller overhaul process at WRALC to make the necessary changes in an attempt to fix all known deficiencies and begin better practices.”

The investigation found that the conduct of the crew was “professional and in accordance with standard operating procedures.” In an assessment of the accident, commanding general of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing Brig. Gen. Bradley S. James stated that “Neither the aircrew nor anybody aboard the KC-130T could have prevented or altered the ultimate outcome after such a failure.”

Further details of the accident scenario can be seen in the U.S. Navy video below.

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New RV Airshow Team Formed
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

Although its team members have been flying airshows together for more than five years, the Lightning Formation Airshows Team was officially formed just this December. As seen in the video below, the team performs with eight RV aircraft, featuring a six-ship core with two solo aircraft. The 12-member Lightning flight crew includes current and retired Navy and Air Force pilots, Reno Air Racers, aerobatics experts and test pilots.

Headset manufacturer Lightspeed Aviation recently announced that it would be sponsoring the Lightning Formation Airshows Team. “We are incredibly excited to be partnering with this team of exemplary pilots,” said Lightspeed Executive Vice President Teresa De Mers. “Their focus on professionalism and safety as fundamental core team values, and their ability to showcase the incredible capabilities of general aviation with their RV aircraft, demonstrate their alignment with Lightspeed’s commitment to aviation at [its] best.”

The team says it is currently in the process of booking appearances for 2019.

Top Letters And Comments, December 7, 2018
 
 

Southwest 737 Overruns Runway

I was once taught (by my friend who turns 50 today), don’t think ‘how could they,’ think what got them to that place. That is how accident reports make you a better pilot. The first just makes you dismiss the incident. The report places weather at 1m vis, 1300 ovc, wind 9 gusting 13. Oh, and at an airport SWA previously overran so you can image its part of indoc/local training to discuss the overrun.

Unlike airports you're thinking of, BUR's minimum visibility is 1 mile... on the ILS, RNAV-Y. Its higher for other approaches (RNAV-Z = 1.5). So visibility is at minimums for this airport. Circling requires 1500 or 1600 ft ceilings - so circling's not available. Assume OpSpec limits to 10mph tailwind... wind check - 9. OK, we're good, let’s get on our game... Except you missed, came in 5 kts over minimum and floated.... into the EMAS. In fact, they may have landed exactly where they land every time and at the speed they land every time... except the runway was wet... Other options? Divert - a possibility, but weather officially within minimums... Chief Pilot's not going to be happy about that... Go around? You realized too late you were too late. [For those learning from this experience, think about going around when you cross the numbers 5 kts too high...]

So, think about the pilots and how you could be in that situation. It's within OpSpecs at an airport you land at consistently (Likely given the # of pilots I flew from OAK to BUR at the end of their runs). Seems like a busy day, but not a crisis. It can change in an instance. It doesn’t look like they went far once they hit the EMAS. My guess, they almost made it. ‘What now’ is a different question.

Karl S.

Implement a "NO TAILWIND" policy at KBUR. If not, then just except the occasional/reoccurring overrun and pray nobody gets hurt.

Tom O'Toole

Sumping Fuel Tanks

I've had water show up in the fuel samples several times; purging it can be problematic because you don't ever really know if you got it all out. Leaky vented caps in rain/storms and overnight condensation from aircraft parked outside with near-empty tanks is usually the culprit. I check it every single time unless it's a hot turn-around. But 150 gals in the underground tank is ridiculous.

A. Richie

I only sump the tanks every couple of months and at condition inspection. I have been buying gas at the same place for 20 years and have never had a problem with it or heard of anyone having a problem. The plane is kept indoors and I have never found an anomaly.

Steve

Several years ago, I flew my son to a paradrop area in our 1974 C172. It was located on a grass strip and the taxiway where I parked was on a slight incline, so I turned the fuel lever to off to prevent any cross feeding. On departure, we were in a bit of a hurry (ain't it always the case), so I skipped the pre-flight, fired up, taxied to the runway and took off. Halfway down the runway and at an altitude of around 50 feet, the engine died. Thankfully, this was in my pre Alzheimer days and I, without thinking, quickly reached down and turned the selector to BOTH. The engine surged back to full power and we continued our climb. I don't think we lost any altitude. I instinctively lowered the nose and we stayed pretty much level with the tree tops. I don't think I was even breathing hard. But I sure was on the flight home when I thought about how close we had come to ending up in the trees. Time from engine start including a 30 sec taxi and maybe 15-20 sec at full power--maybe a minute. That's with a 150 HP C172

Peter Millard

I sump all tanks before the 1st flight and after any re-fueling, but not on subsequent flights the same day when there has been no change in the fuel status.

Stephen C. Field

I never skip the sumping, maybe because I have found water in my fuel tanks. After refueling my 210 at a decent-sized airport in Illinois I drained three full testers of water. Something about the appearance of that first tube made me suspicious. If you're in a hurry it wouldn't be too hard to mistake 100% water for 100% fuel. Beyond just the color, which isn't that obvious in a small fuel tester, the surface tension is different, and contaminants act differently. Tiny bubbles of water in fuel fall to the bottom, but tiny bubbles of fuel float up in water.

David Finamore

Years ago my company was assessing different aircraft to fulfill a feeder freight role. One aircraft considered was the Cessna 402, so the company entered into a lease agreement to evaluate a 402 in daily operations. The aircraft was delivered and the next day it was my job to go fly the plane, check out what we have to work with. Preflight didn't go well. The first fuel sample from the left sump filled my fuel tester with...mud. The second and third samples were mud also. The fourth sample was not mud and I thought, "Finally, fuel." Nope. Water. Got to fuel after 2 more samples of water. The right sump was the same story. End of preflight, the airplane was turned over to maintenance to have the tanks and fuel system drained and flushed. Obviously the sumps hadn't been checked in some time, and the scary part was that the airplane had been in scheduled part 135 passenger ops right up to the day before it was delivered to my company.

Bob Bostick

Volvo: Self-driving Cars Will Compete With Air Travel

Riding in a train, bus, or shuttle along with the great, unwashed masses, in non-ergonomic seats, dragging bags into overheads or stuffed under the seat, doesn't come close to riding in your own car, with your own A/C controls, your own snacks, and your own music. Personally, I think autonomous cars are farther away than most people realize. As one Toyota engineer put it, "the more we work on self-driving cars, the more impressed we are with how well people drive." But, once they 'solve' the problem, even if it's only for limited-access highways and major cities, then short-haul airline flights are in serious jeopardy.

Kirk Wennerstrom

Airline companies need to think of themselves as transportation companies, and extend themselves into rail, bus, and auto. Intra-urban trains are much more convenient and efficient than schlepping to some airport an hour or more away from a city center, the same could be said for intra-urban busses if the highways weren't so inadequate. The real problem is too many people occupying too little space. Human population is exceeding it's natural limits. And in the process, consuming and destroying the very planet on which it depends. Yeah, I know off topic, but heck, this is an issue which underlies many of the problems society faces, and which sits like the elephant in the room that no one talks about.

Richard Katz

Unless there is some big breakthrough in the next couple years, self-driving cars are not likely by 2021. Just too many variables. Designing a car to self-guide down a freeway is one thing, but dealing with all the idiots on the road and the unexpected things that pop up is another matter. Also, I'm not sure how large their design must be if it could be used as a "living room". Sounds larger than a Lincoln Navigator is today. Not exactly fuel efficient.

John McNamee

"The car will come in several versions--a sleeping pod, mobile office, living room and entertainment space--enabling travelers to spend their time en route as they wish." Can you imagine the condition of the sleeping pod, mobile office, living-room and entertainment space after John Q Public has inhabited them for a few hours? Each pod will become a science project. I can't hardly wait to climb into the sack of a sleeping pod depending upon some sort of attendant to clean everything prior to me. Oh, I forgot...their will be autonomous cleaning to take care of autonomous driving pod, over-seen by an autonomous dispatcher, after taking one's money autonomously via credit card I wonder if we can autonomously work? Then we don't have to do anything thereby not have any need for travel...problem solved...No one does anything...life will be autonomous!

Jim Holdeman

Instructor Gets A YouTube Code Red

Before making the switch to flying GA, I flew and instructed in hang gliders for 30+ years and 2,000 hours. Tandem flights were a regular occurrence for either advanced instruction or to help demonstrate maneuvers.

Rule number one was ALWAYS HOOK YOUR PASSENGER IN FIRST! This basic failure should indeed warrant a Code Red for that instructor, IMNSHO.

Ric Lee

I can only hope that the Swiss officials who oversee hang gliding throw the book at the pilot that failed to make sure his passenger was clipped in before taking off. The pilot has proved himself unfit to either teach or carry passengers and should be banned for a very, very long time if not for life.

I started flying hang gliders in 1974 first in Kansas (yes, in the state statistically proved to be flatter than a pancake) and then later in Washington and all over the Pacific Northwest. Even in the PNW I often flew alone using a small motorcycle stashed safely where I intended to land to retrieve my vehicle after landing.

I very well remember the Saturday morning in the spring of 1978 when I walked my glider up to launch at Dog Mtn. and asked the Observer who had signed off my Hang IV rating to give me a hang check. As Chuck grabbed the nose wires of the glider I went down on my knees and promptly lay down in the dirt. I wasn't clipped in! My fellow pilots who saw the incident ridiculed me no end and I was suitably chastised and embarrassed.

It did get me thinking about what would have happened had I been at some cliff launch site by myself and I determined that I would never commit this sin against gravity again. I came up with the following rules for myself.

1: Never take the glider off the racks if I didn't intend to set up immediately.

2: Never set up if I didn't intend to fly immediately.

3: Never don my harness unless I intended to take off immediately

4: Always do a walk-through hang check immediately after clipping in. Never rely on another person for a hang check.

5. If, for any reason I needed to un-clip (forgetting to attach my instrument pack, not having my post flight materials, or just to wait for better conditions), take my harness off and restart the process at step number three.

6. After a walk-through hang check, pick up my glider, check to see that the wings path for the take-off run was unimpeded, yell "Clear" as loud as I could even if alone, and take off.

In all the years since that Saturday morning in 1978 I never violated these rules and never again had the rude surprise of readying for take-off without being properly attached to the wing.

In the intervening years, two of my friends ran off a cliff without being clipped in. Both lived, one with an ankle injury that left him with a lifelong limp, and the other fell 75 feet into a tree and escaped with only scratches and scrapes. Both had ridiculed me at least once for taking off my harness while being number one in line for take-off.

Rick Girard

My just before takeoff unpublished ritual in the Mach 2 F-105 Thunderchief (aka The Thud): "Throttle, Bottle, Visor, Blow, and Go". i.e. useful things to remember to do INSTANTLY before punching out. While refueling at 14,000 ft. on a KC-135 tanker, unbeknownst to me, my Thud was on fire. Wingman firmly commanded; "You are on FIRE, EJECT, EJECT, EJECT." Throttle (off), Bottle (intentionally skipped), Visor (down), Blow (the canopy), Go (squeeze ejection handle). A memorable experience being shot out of a cannon plus decelerating instantly from 425 mph to zero. But back to the plot. Total time from wingman noticing fire resulting in a 20,000 lb. JP4 FIREBALL was a scant six seconds. Wingman says I beat the explosion by one second. Analysis; Cost vs Benefit. The ritual cost nothing but 3.5 seconds of mental discipline. The benefit; age 83 and going strong.

Gary Barnhill

Since the hang point is a single point of failure, and there have been quite a few deaths over the years, most hang glider pilots are paranoid about checking they are hooked in. You'll see pilots check their hang connection three, four, five times before launching - as Paul says he does with other items. It becomes a before-takeoff nervous tic - "wind is cross from the left, I'll wait... - yes, I'm hooked in - Lull now, be ready for the gust behind it... nothing yet... - yes, I'm hooked in - leaves rustling, here it comes, whoa too much, nose down and wait, it's crossing from the right, slowing now - yes, I'm hooked in - there's the lull, wait for it - yes, I'm hooked in - here it comes... straight in and steady... clear! launching!" People have invented various hook-in alerts, from dangling flags (like "remove before flight") to electronic alarms, but most pilots rely on old-fashioned paranoia and fear. It's entirely likely the instructor in the video has himself reminded students, over and over, to check their connection. Two observations, then: - Sooner or later you will forget to check any given item. You just will. You already have - but you got away with it. I don't have a fix for this. - There is simply no excuse for launching without having hooked in the passenger.

Thomas Boyle

County Vote Forecasts Airport Closure

There were two supervisors who utilized common sense in the meeting. One of which is whose district they want to move operations to (San Martin). He said, if lead is an issue, why are you moving it elsewhere... One of the supervisors in an interview said the site is a "Gold Mine" and it would essentially be foolish to not mine there. As we all know, it's about $$$. I think it's foolish to remove a community asset like this. SJC won't take the aircraft, other airports are full, and San Martin is in no way a realistic location for those of us in the bay area. Watching the deliberations on the live stream were quite interesting.

Michael Luvara

RHV is an extremely active GA airport. That is why the measured lead levels are high. It's busy because the only alternative in the "South Bay" is San Jose International. San Martin is much smaller and quite far away and is really not an alternative. For many years the "lead" issue at RHV was pushed by a single individual. Most took him for a crank! But he persisted and eventually gained a following, then a sympathetic administrator at the county, then real estate developer money.... Now that the tactic has proven itself, we can expect to see it used at other localities whose runways will be bulldozed just as leaded avgas disappears.

Kim Hunter

No doubt closing a multi-million dollar airport facility, doing extensive demolition, and then erecting 'affordable housing' makes perfect economic sense....only if you are taking advantage of the legalized marijuana available. This ranks right up there with 'I'll sell you the Brooklyn Bridge'. It's difficult to argue against ideas that are this ridiculous because the other side of the table isn't thinking in a rational way.

Steven Morton

Short Final: Twilight Zone
 

My wife and I departed Deer Valley Airport in Phoenix in our Cessna 177RG. Before departing we received a complicated taxi clearance to what looked like a parking lot at the end the active runway. Deer Valley calls itself “the busiest general aviation airport in the country” with lots of flight training. The “parking lot” was just a runup area, able to handle lots of planes.

There weren’t that many planes when we were departing but for my wife and me it was like “The Twilight Zone” in that the tower would clear an airplane we could see ahead of us to the active runway with either a “line up and wait” or “cleared for takeoff ” using a different number other than the plane’s N number. It was confusing.

After we took off, I couldn’t help myself and asked the tower what was going on. He didn’t understand my request at first, so I repeated. He came back laughing and said that they have an agreement with the local flight school that since so many of their tail numbers are so similar, they’ve assigned special numbers to avoid confusion. Well, so much for “The Twilight Zone.”

Brian Gately
Brooklyn, NY
Brainteasers Quiz #250: Still Teasing After All These Years
 

This 250th Brainteaser Quiz builds on a legacy of over 2500 questions -- some, admittedly, with questionable answers -- and asks not what the quiz can tease for you, but what you can do to ace this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

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