Top Letters And Comments, August 11, 2023


The Biggest Aerospace Story Ever (Yawn)

Incredible visual phenomena, classified military operations, or alien beings? I have to go with the first two. In addition to having over 25,000 hrs flight time, I probably have an equal amount of time working outdoors in remote regions around the planet, much of it at night. Many of those nights were in California or Nevada either inside or near the Nellis AFB range complexes, Desert and Reveille MOAs, Tonopah, Fallon, Indian Springs, Twentynine Palms, Barstow, and Edwards AFB. My flight time is split roughly 80% airline pilot, 10% military, and 10% GA. Most of my military time was in the F-15 and F-4. In both environments, I’ve experienced countless visual phenomena and incredible events, most of which I could not explain at the time. Not one of these events, however, ultimately led me to conclude that I had seen anything alien, i.e., something not from this solar system.

Atmospheric conditions can trick you. Electronic instruments are fraught with anomalies. Both can produce incredible visual phenomena, especially during twilight hours and at night. While in high school I was walking home from football practice one evening when I observed a very large rocket ascending in the western horizon. This was no model rocket. My first thought was that World War III had just begun because active ICBM silos surrounded the region. But WWIII had not begun. After some research, I’d seen a rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Vandenberg is in Santa Barbara County, California. I was in Tucson, Arizona. A similar phenomenon occurred one evening while driving east on I-10. A strange object appeared on the eastern horizon. It didn’t look like anything I’d ever seen. As it filled the horizon, it got brighter and moved toward me. I was scared. It continued to grow and accelerate toward me. I had the urge to duck. Then the object intercepted a thin cloud layer. A tiny sliver of the object protruded above the clouds. The moon. It was just the moon magnified by an atmospheric lens, a lens so powerful that I could see more surface details than I’d ever seen before.

I’ve also seen dozens of objects that zipped around the sky, apparently defying the laws of physics. Some appeared to be taunting me. During a high-altitude night intercept sortie in the F-15, one such object seemed to be attacking me. I initially thought it was one of my squadron mates acting as a surprise aggressor to test our situational awareness. I broke and tried to get away. No chance. There it was right next to me. Impossible, I thought. It turned out to be a weird reflection in the Eagle’s canopy that produced a 3D image, my imagination happy to fill in details that weren’t there.

Although it is highly unlikely that we’re the only planet in the universe with living beings, I find none of the evidence compelling enough to conclude that aliens have found us regardless of the credibility of the observer. We are too easily fooled. I expect, though, that it’s just a matter of time. If our species survives long enough and that time comes, an alien visit would probably be obvious. Regardless, is the evidence compelling enough to take action? If so, what would that be? I, for one, see no reason to do anything other than enjoy the show.

Mitch W.

Thank you for addressing this, Paul. I think we should all keep an open mind. A FLIR image or radar return displayed on a screen is not a sighting; it’s an image on a screen. Electronic spoofing is and has been a big business and there might be companies testing such technologies in our airspace. Also, the distances between stars (around which some of those habitable planets exist) is truly vast, which alone would keep visitors to an absolute minimum, but maybe not zero. Some physicists believe it’s possible for other dimensions to coexist with us, though we may not have the ability to see what’s there. One other possibility that troubles me is that a small group of NRO types could claim something exists, put it in a place to secret to ever discuss, and pull in years of funding to study that something. I’m open to all of those possibilities and am hoping for high-resolution go pro or maybe Nikon images before my time is up here.

Lynn J.

Don’t hear much about professional astronomers seeing UAPs…they’re the people “watching the skies” the most. It’s probably because they understand what’s up there. Yes, I know, they don’t peek through tiny viewfinders in huge telescopes anymore, but still….

When I was in the Air Force in the ’70s, I was an on-duty operator for an early warning satellite outfit. UFO calls would be routed to us, since we were the local “space operators.” Came in for a Mid shift one night, and the duty officer was taking a UFO call from a citizen. The report said they’d seen a glowing light flickering across the sky, moving jerkilly at low altitude. The report matched perfectly with what I’d seen coming into work…a bunch of low clouds, lit by a searchlight circling at a local car dealer.

Ron W.

It’s curious that supposed ETs have the technology and wherewithal to travel from their home planet to ours, presumably at faster-than-light speeds, only to somehow crash once they arrive…

Joseph B.

National Museum Of The U.S. Air Force Acquires PT-17

I can’t say enough about the USAF Museum. Do look at their excellent web site. If you can’t get up there for a visit, one day is not near enough, then their website will give you a virtual tour and even give you fantastic looks inside many of the aircraft. You can’t do that yourself up there. Google USAF Museum. You will be astounded at what they have and how it is all displayed.

Roger A.

A high school friend, class of ’69 and I was ’70, who was 22 years Air Force and was once stationed at Wright-Pat, as he calls it, told me that eventually they put a B-36 indoors! I saw the one that was at Chanute Field in Rantoul. Illinois in ’85 before they closed the base and was positively amazed that the Air Force Museum doesn’t have theirs outside. I WILL eventually go for a visit.

Richard B.

Poll: What’s Your Current Attitude Toward Unleaded Avgas?

  • I think it is the right choice, but it’s a hard sell until its price is comparable or lower than 100LL.
  • Not as good.
  • It needs to happen now. Listening to Jay Obernolte interview it seems to me that consensus could be on the GAMI product. The amendment could as easily have supported ANY fuel available now. Does it matter if a UL100 fuel that works for all aircraft in the GA fleet but is limited by a PROCESS to meet a ASTM spec or an acceptable STC? It seems that if there is a UL100 available now the process should support any fuel and not bias to any lobby group.
  • Get it done, but get it right.
  • Will it help the environment? For me, at 77 and in my latter years, whatever is done isn’t going to mean a hill of beans. But for my grandkids and great grandkids I worry what is going to happen. So, in retrospect, yep, I do have an opinion. If it helps the environment, it is needed.
  • As long as it will work as AVGAS 100LL, it is fine for me.
  • Have the Feds pay GAMI for the “full property rights” and give 100UL to the public. Everyone’s happy.
  • Need to start phasing it in before a government order for a full change, on a set date, with a short period to comply.
  • I’d use it if the cost was the same. From what I’ve read it seems to be better for the engine but I’m confused about that. The minimum environmental impact between the two doesn’t concern me.
  • We need more than one unleaded gasoline source. Pilots are already gouged by high fuel prices. Another nail in GA’s coffin strikes me as a bad idea.
  • Just another heavily politicized and “coulda been done sooner if it weren’t for the politics of it” thing. Greed shows its legal corruption again this time through unleaded fuel solutions. But are we really surprised? Sorry guys, I don’t think the AOPA or other alphabet orgs are much different in their representation of us.
  • Bought the GAMI STC, looking forward to it being available in the northeast and hoping the cost comes down.
  • I go out of my way to avoid 100LL. My engine is much better off without it.
  • Way overdue. Shame on the alphabets.
  • I have been using unleaded, non-ethanol premium mogas for years and only buy 100LL when I have to. I’m not holding my breath waiting for unleaded 100 avgas and don’t have plans to use it accept when I can’t get mogas.
  • Alcohol is the best fuel.
  • No reason these 50s-technology engines need leaded gas.
  • I would buy UL94 and be so happy paying up to a dollar less a gallon.
  • My glider doesn’t burn it but since I have to pay for somebody’s fuel to get into the air, I’ll vote for the cheapest possible option, unleaded or not.
  • Let’s see if it works. It may have advantages of less lead fouling.
  • When it works as well as 100LL at same price the transition will happen.
  • I will buy it when the price matches 100LL provided no degrade in performance.
  • Don’t need it ever.
  • I’d buy it now, but I don’t want to pay a dollar more a gallon. I would buy it at the same price as 100LL.
  • Bring it on, my engine loves lead-free mogas.
  • If fuel prices go up any more I’ll have to quit flying.
  • Lycoming has issued a service bulletin (1070 AB) allowing the majority of their engines to run on 93 AKI meeting specification ASTM D4814. It should be mandated that this fuel is available at any airport receiving federal funds.
  • It should be available without an STC. Let the buyer decide.
  • We need it ASAP, but it’s purely due to politics and junk science. The battle was lost when the alphabet groups threw in the towel.
  • It needs to happen soon, but an increase in price over current 100ll should be a real concern.
  • 100LL is EXCELLENT in all regards, and is NO health threat to anyone. There is no need to get rid of it!!
  • I’ll use G100UL when it’s available in CA.
  • My MOGAS STC solves the problem for me and 90% of the rest.
  • It’s leverage to put GA in the grave, once and for all.
  • We need to switch as soon as practical. The amount of lead being put into the atmosphere by GA is a miniscule amount of lead that was in the air before the Clean Air Act but we still need to eliminate it.
  • I fly a turbine.
  • 100 low lead is fine, quite whining.
  • It has to be competitive or priced lower and it will get used. If the government can keep from mandates, then the market will work.
  • Need mogas in more places.
  • I fly behind a Rotax 912iS engine. Unleaded fuel is preferred.
  • I’ve been using 94 UL for 5 years with no problems.
  • Convert the fleets over time to jet fuel burning compression ignition engines.
  • Expensive.
  • Should ne cheaper to stimulate the changeover.
  • Meh.
  • I’d like 100UL, but don’t want to pay any more.
  • I use MoGas. No lead, lower cost. What’s not to love?
  • These answers seem a tad biased, h-e-double-hockey-sticks no to 100UL. If there were cheap diesel planes, then I would be interested (hint hint, Cessna, maybe if you did not charge near $600k for the diesel 172, you could have made it a success).
  • It should be offered now. The price of both UL and LL should be similar.
  • Get it right before mandating it.
  • If the FAA keeps unnecessarily allowing RHV to ban it, we need something fast.
  • Should have a choice to use it.
  • It’s simply NOT needed!
  • We should have switch from 100LL decades ago.
  • Now is the time.
  • If I have no other choice.
  • Terrible list of choices! We should be moving that toward and UL fuel, but there are no immediate cost competitive alternatives. When that occurs, hopefully the market will support it.
  • Refine more of it and lower the price.
  • Using MOGAS exclusively.
  • You should not need an STC. We don’t need one if we switch motor oil. It needs to be as easy as buying gas for your car, every station sells a product that works the same.
  • A DOLLAR MORE … are you nuts??
  • Should have started the transition to Jet A 20 years ago.
  • It’s time for better engine solutions that use Jet A, etc.
  • My aviation career will be long over before anything is actually done.
  • I can barely afford fuel now, We need conversions for existing engines to use ethanol car fuel.
  • Why is the AOPA President on the EAGLE Board? Serious conflict of interest!
  • BP/ARAL has 100 UL ethanol free automotive fuel for cheap in Europe (ultimate)!
  • Allow market forces to proceed unencumbered.
  • Total scam by the government.
  • Price needs to come down!
  • We’ll be switching.
  • It is more about killing GA than protecting the environment.
  • The switch to unleaded is way overdue. But it should cost about the same as 100LL.
  • DeltaHawk Diesel
  • I would much rather have 100LL.
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • We had unleaded av fuel, it was called 100/130 and it was green. Tasted like apple. This 100LL stuff is blue and tastes like raspberry which I don’t like.

Other AVwebflash Articles