AVmail: May 26, 2008


Skip Flight Planning

Mr. Stephans:I am writing in regards to your article Skip Flight Planning, (Flying the System, May 19). I agree with you! I am a retired Army aviator with 26 years of service. I was an Instrument Flight Examiner for most of those years as well as an Instructor Pilot.Planning a cross-country instrument flight with all the minutia was a total waste of time. You never knew what route they would give you and would change it in midcourse anyway.I always taught my fellow aviators and students to do a quick route that you knew that you could fly (need something for lost communications procedure), figure the first two legs for general times, use en route winds — which were never accurate anyway — for time en route, give yourself a buffer so you do not run out of fuel and then go for it. Of course NOTAMS, weather and airport information needs to be checked.Once in flight, turn off the AM or FM radio station, put away your CD player and fly the d*** airplane. You know what your route is; start calculating your times for fuel and total time en route. Keep pace with your route, have out your VFR chart, and follow along your route with it as well. Lost comm does not mean that your are stuck out in the middle of nowhere without a place to go; It becomes a VFR flight instead of an IFR flight if you breakout into VFR conditions.Instrument flying can be fun, and relaxing … well, that is, if you have your act together. I would hand-fly the aircraft and never use the autopilot except on rare occasions. It is probably the reason why, after a 15-year hiatus, I felt just as comfortable flying instruments as I did contact. In fact, I could fly partial-panel after an hour better than the instructor could with a full panel.Flexibility and the ability to think on your feet is the phrase for the day. Keep thinking out of the box.Vernon Childers

I would have sworn you would have referenced the following Web site, which makes all of what you were talking about even easier on the PC: SkyVector. Try out this Web site’s planning features. The only thing I wish it had was a current Doppler radar overlay. I guess I’ll have to make do with the METARS and TAFs. Maps are all current and everything you need for both VFR and IFR flying.Reg Gast

Economic Uncertainty and Your Aviation Plans

Re: Question of the Week about how we’re reacting to economic nervousness (QOTW, May 21)With the way oil prices have risen over the last year, flying is almost unaffordable now, and there seems to be no easing in demand and no foreseeable increases in supply, what will oil cost and what will the cost to fly be in five, 10 or 20 years? That changes my confidence to make large expenditures that may soon be useless or worthless. My two cents.Marc Charron

Late Night Tryst?

I find it difficult to believe that the pilot and flight attendant would be suspended or fired for getting lucky … in the bush, no less (On the Fly, May 21). What’s wrong with that? I think the person or persons that found them should be charged with something like peeping Tom or something else.Thanks … keep up the good work.Steven R. Daly


Just wanted to thank you all for a fine publication that continues to serve the GA community with a wealth of useful information. Just received your notice about the NOTAM system failure on my PDA (AVwebFlash, May 23) and was reminded of what a valuable service you provide in keeping all of us up to speed. Many thanks, and keep up the good work!Mark Reed

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