AVmail: Dec. 12, 2005

Reader mail this week about flight service, the JATO Ercoupe, bottle-rocket attacks on airliners and more.


Lockheed Martin FSS

I’ve had a little different experience with Lockheed Martin FSS than Ted Anderson (AVmail, Dec. 5).I retired from the Oakland, Calif., FSS in 1998. One reason was that I could see the “handwriting on the wall.” The FAA was pouring millions into updating FSS equipment. But between management ineptness and foot dragging — and union haggling — it is resting on a shelf somewhere … probably next to the Advanced Automation System.Lockheed Martin took over FSS services in October. My sources told me morale was low and service was suffering. Like any governmental operation, FSS has its share of “deadwood,” so that wasn’t surprising.In October I flew our Cessna 172 from the Bay Area to St. Louis and back. The flight consisted of 16 legs over a week and a half. On all but one I filed either a VFR or IFR flight plan, obtained numerous standard briefings from FSS, and used Flight Watch on most legs.Yes, some of the briefings contained extraneous information, and they’re still bogged down by FAA bureaucracy. But the services I received from the men and women of Lockheed Martin were nothing less than excellent.Keep up the good work, Lockheed Martin. My sincere hope is that you will keep this invaluable service — that the FAA has let deteriorate over the last decades — up and going at a professional level.Terry Lankford

The Poor FAA?

Once again we hear the FAA plead poverty: “We have no money,” (NewsWire, Dec. 1). I ask you to check this FAA link.Meanwhile, three developmental controllers were fired today for wanting to work on a holiday. The scandal! Wanting to serve the public when they had the opportunity to be at home with their families.By your readers own accounts, service at the “new” flight service stations is dismal (AVmail, Dec. 5). Traffic throughout the system is well above that of 9/11, but the number of controllers is less. Instead of streamlining the system, the new FAA has added several more layers of management. New projects? There are no new projects now or into the foreseeable future. It is a smoke screen to scare the public. But it is the FAA that should be scared … scared of being found out that the poverty they claim is in reality the waste of taxpayers hard-earned money and the abusive policies now in place to silence its workforceJames Berman

Weather Services

The U.S. Weather Service turned aviation weather over to the CAA/FAA, whereupon the FAA had such a workload that weather duty had to be drastically reduced . The response was to summarize all information unless the pilot insisted on detailed data .This resulted in terms of “VFR flight not recommended,” “VFR not advised,” “Marginal VFR” and so on. Aviation weather was dummied down for the level of street people. There were comments of, “If I was you, I wouldn’t go.” This destructive activity ruined a fine art of weather knowledge. Air Traffic Control simply could not relate to Weather Support . This all depended on how busy the Controller was and weather came last in importance . Weather was an unwanted child of ATC. Hope you can understand government priority rules.James Lee
(Retired FAA employee)

Airspace Over VP Residence

How many weeks before Congress decides we need protected airspace over every home of the Senators and Representatives (NewsWire, Dec. 1)?Sign me: Disgusted
(Name Withheld By Request)

Smoke Trail

Some suggest that the aircraft climbing out over the ocean from LAX saw a smoke trail from a bottle rocket (NewsWire, Dec. 5).Most aircraft climbing beyond the shore are near 2000 feet or higher and I’ve never seen a bottle rocket that could come close to that altitude.Maybe someone else knows of one.Bill Wyse

Electronic Cockpit

Your story about the aircraft that lost all the glass cockpit function for about two minutes should be a reminder that electronic gremlins are the worst (NewsWire, Dec. 5). Electronics just love to take a break whenever and for no apparent reason and then come back as if nothing ever happened. And what’s even worse, they never leave a trail for you to trace for a reason as to their unexpected break. Whatever their route, they just seem to fall off the tracks sometimes.Barry A. Stark

JATO Ercoupe

I understand that the JATO Ercoupe (NewsWire, Nov. 24) is currently in the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field in Dallas. Texas.Bob Everett

Picture of the Week — Corfu

You asked whether this picture is for real (POTW, Dec. 8).Having been there two months ago, I can confirm that the runway starts just to the left of the road, and 757s and 737s come over the road at a similar height. When I was there, the stoplights were not working, and the police had to physically block the road each time an aircraft landed this way. Most movements seem to arrive and depart the other end over the sea, allowing excellent pictures from the terrace on the hill there.Ian Press

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