Top Letters And Comments, January 31, 2020


Kobe Bryant, Eight Others Killed In Helicopter Crash

Unfortunately, and tragically, the accident investigation in this crash will likely yield a rather mundane result – pilot disorientation and CFIT. Aeronautically there may not be much to learn. Even the motivation of choosing to launch into marginal conditions after weighing the risk versus pilot experience and the reward of getting around the LA traffic while arriving in style at the venue could be examined. If it had not ended in tragedy, it might have made a good “Never Again” story.

The aviation lessons learned from this accident may not have to do with aviation at all. The insidious issue here is the temptation for someone famous to choose, or be persuaded into, taking a risk that would not be available to someone of lesser means. It’s hard to feel sympathy for a rich person who suffers an accident because they felt themselves to be invincible, but by all accounts, Kobe was not only a role model, but an active force for good in this world. He may have just assumed, as always, that his pilot weighed all the facts and made the safest choice at the time.

As a pilot, part of the go/no go decision process involves thinking about whether a risk might affect the people whose lives you affect. That one extra little item in the risk evaluation process might be enough to tilt the decision over to going by alternate means or not going at all, even if that means being late or disappointing someone. Unfortunately, the rewards of success go hand-in-hand with the responsibility for those who now depend on you for their own livelihood. Like it or not, that’s the reality.

Granted, the responsibility for the safe conduct of the flight rests with the pilot in command, but pilots are human. And sometimes the aura of one’s power and celebrity obscure the visibility even more than fog or low clouds. Maybe from this, it’s possible to come up with the idea of personal minimums for passengers so that they could be more active participants in the decision to launch, especially if one has enough power or influence that those around him or her might not be thinking as clearly as one might hope.

James F.

MAX Costs To Exceed $18 Billion

Shareholders in Boeing need to act now and replace most if not the entire board of directors. The BOD hires the officers and set long term strategy for the company. Firing the CEO and replacing him with a board member will do absolutely nothing. And $18B is just the tip of the ice berg. That $18B could have been spent to develop at least 2 clean sheet products which now will be delayed by years. And add in the incalculable cost to the company’s reputation.

Scott D.

Boeing is reaping what it has sown. Unfortunately, workers, suppliers, investors, airlines and contractors are paying the price. All the while the truly guilty get golden retirements worth many millions, other culpable bean counters get big bonuses and are told to shut up and forget everything. This mess has been going on for a long time at Boeing.

How sad it took the inexcusable deaths of almost 400 people for it to come to roost.

Bruce P.

Poll: Do You Like Winter Flying?

  • Once the tie-down access is clear of snow, if the engine starts, once the cabin heat cuts in and if you don’t mind skulking around at 1000 feet AGL, its better than not flying at all.
  • Aircraft performance is better, fresh snow is beautiful, but it’s cold!
  • Easier than our thunderstorms.
  • It can provide extreme smooth, there can be incredible visibility, the performance provided by dense air is gratifying, but the list of negatives is profound.
  • Depends on the weather.
  • Only if I’m headed south!
  • Yes, provided it is cold enough for our soft field to freeze.
  • I do enjoy the performance advantage and I fly when I can in the winter.
  • Good flying, extra effort.
  • Mixed bag, improved performance, no need for air conditioning, but tougher to get motivated and preheat engine.
  • I like it when it’s VFR, but much of the winter where I live is IFR with lots of ice, so even having an IFR rating isn’t useful.
  • The hardest part of winter flying is pulling the plane out of the hanger over the ridge of snow and ice the snow plows leave.
  • Mostly at 32 degrees F and up.
  • It is the norm in MI. You just have to adjust your flying, like any other environmental hazard.
  • Tough to get up because of the weather.
  • Although there’re no bugs and the aircraft performs well, limited cockpit heat means extra clothing while having to deal with cold engine starts during short or long stopovers is a pain…
  • Open cockpit prohibits my winter flying. YMMV
  • I live in Canada, therefore no option. No bugs, great performance, fantastic scenery, coffee tastes better.
  • Between fronts when it’s not too windy it’s great.
  • Yes. I like it because you don’t have to wash bugs off the plane and the air is a lot smoother.
  • I like it a lot once the airplane is started but I like all seasons. They are just different.
  • Can be great. Just more limited opportunities.
  • I prefer to do my winter flying in Florida, the preference is appreciated after years of winter flying in Ontario, Canada.
  • Flying is flying – t-storms in summer, ice in winter.
  • Way too windy & rarely VFR in Buffalo, NY so mostly impossible for light sport.
  • It can be challenging. Especially if de-icing and anti-icing’s necessary in heavier precip.
  • Like the winter scenery.
  • I live in a warmer climate where “winter” flying is the best in the year.
  • Here in Florida it’s like summer in other, horrible, parts of the US!
  • Yes. It’s not the best time of year to fly overall but it’s the most beautiful.
  • I love the aircraft performance.
  • Winter cuts down on my flying.
  • Any day flying is a good day.
  • In Minnesota, it’s BRAGGING RIGHTS!
  • Love the performance, but dislike the reduced comfort.
  • I like flying whenever the weather allows it.
  • Good time, dress appropriately.
  • I don’t go as often.
  • Density Altitude -4,252 ft.
  • Enjoy the performance not the weather.
  • It’s got its good days and bad…
  • Not my favorite, but I exercise care and fly on.
  • I would if I had an airtight airplane. Small plane is too cold.
  • Complacency check.
  • I hate winter.
  • Fall is the best. Winter is good in the Southwest Mountain West.
  • Great flying in winter but not the best in the NE area.
  • If I can get to the aircraft what is the difference?
  • No bugs on the windshield…

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  1. Technically the local flight met regulations and did not violate SVFR when the pilot asked for and received SVFR authorization. Asking and receiving SVFR clearance allows flying right to the edge of imc. Unfortunately, from most accounts and initial NTSB findings (until a final determination is made), inadvertently flying into imc conditions and possibly not ifr current may have presented a false sense of security. Complacency from routine flying and dealing with local low cloud and fog while still remaining in vfr may have allowed this high time pilot to assume higher risks instead of accepting company policy to fly only in vfr weather.