AVmail: March 10, 2003

Reader mail this week about wascally wabbits, turboprop noises, Don Brown's columns and more.


Brave New World

Yesterday, while flying near the Washington ADIZ, Com radio 1 on the local CTAF and 2 on 121.5, I heard the following, in a clearly synthesized voice with an oddly foreign accent:

“Aircraft approaching Washington Air Defense Identification Zone! Turn away! Shiply(sic)!”

Ah, brave new world! Richard Matlick

Airline Training Academy

Your brief blurb regarding the “apparent” closure of Airline Training Academy certainly appears correct, if my conversation with one of the students is correct. Our school was contacted because this young lady lost some $50,000 in deposited funds when this company went bankrupt with no advance notice to students.According to her, some 400 students were enrolled at ATA, and most were compelled to pay the full $50,000 deposit up front, at the beginning of the training. Apparently, these students were promised immediate airline jobs without the need to become an instructor. These practices, if true, are inexcusable in my view, and cast a black cloud over the already-struggling flight-training industry. I can’t imagine how an organization could justify collecting the full course fee, in advance, for a 15-month course.Phil Auldridge

PT6-A-28 Turboprop

The grinding noise as cited in the AVmail by Ryan Heckert doesn’t sound like a buildup, but rather a turbine or compressor blade rubbing on the blade shrouds. This is caused by the blade shrouds cooling at a faster rate than the blade disks; thus there is a clearance pinch. This is not uncommon; how many Metroliner 1st Officers have you seen on the ramp rotating the propeller after shutdown? Shutting an engine down from high power can do this, as can tight build-clearances. Mr. Heckert states that after the engine cooled down, the problem went away, thus supporting the clearance pinch scenario.I would recommend that there be a borescope on the engine at the next maintenance interval to make sure that there is nothing amiss internally.I hope this helps.Pete Rouse

Wascally Wabbits Worry Miami

Just read on AVweb about the rabbit problem in Miami. Australia has been using the Calisi Virus to help rid us of a huge pest in rabbits. Highly successful in warmer parts and not so good in cooler parts such as Tasmania. Should do the job in Miami though! Bernie Samms

AVweb responds …

Release an unusual virus into the Miami area? Even if the science showed it would be safe, think of the PR nightmare!

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Features and AVmail Editor

Say Again? Columns by Don Brown

I’ve been reading AVweb for years now. I am also a newly minted Private Pilot (6 months ago), and an engineer in the aerospace industry. I thoroughly enjoyed this week’s article by Don Brown, “ATC 103 — VFR Cross Country“; kudos to Don Brown for writing it and AVweb for running it. Many publications clearly cater to either high-time, IFR, or professional pilots, and it is often difficult to find articles that are geared toward VFR pilots. All pilots continue to have questions, and low-time pilots obviously do not have a wealth of experience to draw on, so articles like those by Don Brown regarding VFR and ATC are a treasure.I encourage AVweb to continue to make an effort to write for pilots such as myself. (I dont know what your demographic looks like, but I would expect that it contains a number of VFR-only pilots.) It would be sufficient to have short articles (no more than a few paragraphs) covering uncommon but important questions, with experts contributing answers (CFIs, professional pilots, designated examiners, etc.) Darren Krakowski

Traffic Pattern Entry

Mr. Bernard is 100% correct in his assessment of pilots’ need to look outside more and not rely on the radio. I’m a 33-year veteran Ag-pilot, flying a PT-6 powered, 500-gallon-load-hauling Air Tractor from a small, rural Georgia public airport.I have never had a radio in any of my Ag planes. As a current CFI and instrument rated multi-engine pilot, I have tried, sometimes in vain, to teach my students to be vigilant first and communicate second. It’s the old, “You can lead a horse to water, but …” thing.Pierre Smith

Police Helicopters

Do police helicopters operate under a different set of rules or are they subject to the same requirements as civilian operators? I’m alarmed that a police helicopter was recently observed hovering very low over some surfers who got too close to the community pier at St. Augustine Beach, Fla.It seems there is a disagreement between the surfers and fishermen, and the helicopter was used to shoo away some surfers who were deemed too close to the pier. Hovering just over the waves (and surfers’ heads) seems dangerous and expensive. I wonder how much it cost St. Johns County to rid the area of these hooligans?At best this incident seems to be a foolish risk to the pilots and surfers.Bob Brooks