Top Letters And Comments, December 23, 2022


Smarter Than Direct

I have discovered recently, using the electronic aids such as foreflight and fltplan, that accepting what must be the accumulated knowledge of what gets issued as clearances versus what WE think we’d like to do…in many cases give you a routing ‘as filed’ even here in the DC/BOS corridor.

I’ve noticed over the past few years that my clearances have included that phrase more often than it did back in the 80s when I first earned my IR and was filing routes out to the midwest from the east coast (albeit in a Malibu in the flight levels, using a KLN88.)

I’m never adverse, when being given an amendment, to ask for the spelling of the fix or navaid if it doesn’t make sense. AM radio transmissions, by their nature, even with high-end headsets, are not hi-fi, and it never hurts to ask.

Good pointers, Tom, and thanks from a fellow CFII. Some new info to feed forward to my IR students.

Bryan B.

I teach a both ends toward the middle planning methodology. You look at where the Departure procedure, ODP, or SID dumps you off, then go to your destination and look at where you would logically join the STAR or approach and then join the the 2 points.

Often this will be a direct leg, but as the article pointed out it can sometimes be advantageous to put a kink in it. Avoiding weather is a good example where some more track miles can pay off with a much better ride and does not get enough emphasis in IFR training.

Really good point about how difficult short flights can be and the importance of having everything set up before you launch. I would add that if it all starts to fall apart and you are getting behind the airplane, fess up to ATC and tell them you cannot continue with the approach and need to be vectored around for another try.[…]

David G.

NASA Retires 747 SOFIA Airborne Observatory

I had the great honor of being able to photograph SOFIA in 2006 at L-3 Communications in Waco, TX. The telescope was a marvel of technology which produced astounding results in its time. Sorry to see her 11-year mission end, but the baton has been passed to a far more capable instrument – the James Webb Space Telescope.

Richard F.

Poll: Has The Young Eagles Program Been A Good Idea?

Our goal at our airport isn’t to start flight training for YE Riders. It is to expose kids in all circumstances to the possibility of flight as a career or avocation or just to see the world from a different perspective. We understand most will just go on to never fly again in a small aircraft, but that is OK. The objective is to turn on the passion for maybe 1 in 50 that might never have considered flying a realistic option for themselves. We do offer follow-ups if kids return or come back and reach out, but the goal of the program is exposure, not calling it an initial flight lesson…

John M.

I am a YE Pilot and coordinator for our Chapter. We don’t do the assembly line, YE Days with the apparent goal to see how many kids we can fly in a given day. I prefer the teen with an interest in flying and conducting a 1-1 flight. Starting with opening the hangar door, pulling the airplane out of the hangar to pushing it back in the hangar and wiping the bugs off and cleaning the windshield off so it is ready to fly the next time.

That is quality over quantity. I have flown maybe 20 kids that have been introduced in that manner and 3 have gone on to flight lessons and one was selected for the Ray Scholarship and holds a PPL now!

Pay it forward, we have been given the gift and it would be a shame if we don’t try to spread the experience of the majesty of flight.

Tim S.

A good idea, but still in the development stage. It’s one thing to introduce kids to aviation–quite another to actually train and allow them to develop into pilots, mechanics, and other aviation careers.

To be effective, there needs to be FOLLOW-UP–no “here’s your ride, Kid–maybe we will see you next year. Giving a ride is the EASY part–the follow-up requires commitment–both from the sponsor AND the kid.

Sporty’s generous offer of ground school has been snapped up by thousands–it not only keeps them involved, but gives them actual training–moving them along on their path to becoming pilots.

Perhaps the best example of KEEPING kids involved might be found in Iowa–where for the past 40 years, a group of glider pilots (they call themselves “Silent Knights”) has been providing not only rides, but almost FREE flight training to kids. Unlike an airplane, NOBODY flies a glider by themselves–gliders require someone to bring them out of hangar–(some, stored in trailers, require assembly)–they require someone to get them out and put them together–someone to wing-walk and tow them to the flight line–someone to run the tow rope-someone to watch for other traffic-someone to run the wing for launch–someone to retrieve and reposition the glider for another launch. All of these require PREPARATION, TRAINING, AND COMMITMENT–valuable things for any pilot to have. Gliders can be launched behind a vehicle–making it incredibly cheap. A big plus is that gliders can be soloed at 14, and a Private license obtained at 16–and that time aloft can be credited toward a power rating.

The program requires commitment from both the pilots AND the student–it’s far more than a “here’s your ride, kid.” The result? After all of these years, they’ve trained hundreds of kids–a great number of whom have gone on to aviation careers–and who continue to “pay back” the generosity of the Silent Knights.

I’ve seen a variation on this theme for power pilots–a group of individuals buys a simple trainer, and makes it available for very low cost (often for only the cost of fuel) for QUALIFIED students–to qualify, a student must be enrolled in or have passed a ground school program–and they must be available to assist other students with getting the aircraft ready for their own training.

Something “free” is often viewed as “having no value”–but this is a valuable opportunity for kids to explore a career. The common element in each of these successful programs? It requires COMMITMENT–on the part of the student and the sponsoring organization. It’s more than just an airplane ride–it is a “contract”–“if you do THIS, we will do THIS.” That’s good business!

Jim H.

Additional comments:

  • Yes, I’m sure it has encouraged those with a propensity for flying to continue the pursuit. Unfortunately, there are too few youth interested. Now, absolutely it helps to give those who do have the propensity a motivation to continue.
  • I think having programs for high school students would be better. I asked a teacher in a very small high school to teach a ground school 3 of the 7 students became pilots.
  • Yes, but the same effort should go into making affordable flying pathways.
  • It’s been good for the kids and good for the pilots. The smiles are about equal at our chapter YE events.
  • I flew a LOT of Young Eagles. Not ONE ever continued on to get a license. So it spent a lot of time and fuel to accomplish almost nothing. Their flight training scholarships are MUCH more productive.
  • Yes. But the failure to follow up and produce pilots has made me lose some faith in EAA.
  • It is said that the proof is in the pudding. How many people involved in the aviation industry as a profession or hobby, today, can trace some level of their initial interest back to a YE event?
  • EAA’s requirement for (among other things) pilot background checks ruined the program.
  • It should generate an interest in aviation, and an interest in pilot training.
  • Depends on what constitutes “Good Idea” and relevance to Experimental Aviation.

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