Top Letters And Comments, July 23, 2021


I Could Teach My Dog To Fly

Excellent points Paul. To become a pilot, a person needs to learn how to operate the controls, not be directed how to use the controls. A person must learn the eye hand coordination. Forty some odd years ago, my primary instructor was a laid back Californian who never touched the controls during our flights except when demonstrating a maneuver. After one rather bumpy landing I said, “So Ricky, when do get involved?” He said, “If I grabbed the controls every time I saw something that you were doing incorrectly, you would never learn. If you are going to break something, I’ll stop that from happening but otherwise, it’s all you.” I will have to admit, I would have a tough time being that hands off. The result was I got my PPL in 40 hours.

Dana Nickerson

There is a big difference between transitioning to a new type of airplane and learning the basics—though they each only take a few hours.

Learning to fly requires learning what each control does—as well as “proportionality”— how much pressure to apply to controls—as well as how MUCH movement. Transition to different types of aircraft involves a sense of HOW to apply that pressure. Physically handling new types of aircraft isn’t hard—I recently flew my 350th unique type (one of the perks of aviation journalism!). HANDLING a new aircraft isn’t hard—it’s a “fur piece” from having total command of the systems—for instance, I had no problem Flying a DC-9 in the sim, but struggled with understanding the hydraulic system—until I realized it was much like a Falcon 10–THEN I began to understand. These “bridges” from the unknown to the known make transition easier. Similarly—a student often struggles with “round out” and flare until developing both the sight picture and rate of airspeed decay—but once you have it—you can relate newer aircraft to previous aircraft. Look at the progression of pilots in WW II trainers—from Cubs to Stearman to the BR SERUES TI T-6s to fighters—all in a couple of hundred hours (and including instruments, aerobatics, gunnery, and formation flying in those few hours.

Summary—teach them the basics so they have something to build on and relate to—verbally coach them—let them make mistakes (right up to nearly losing the aircraft) and they’ll likely not make THAT mistake again!

Jim Hanson

Short Final: POTUS TFR

That reminds me of a story of my own. In the fall of 1999, just a month or two before George W. was elected to his first term, I was a student pilot preparing for my check ride and flying out of Austin Bergstrom (KAUS.) Then-President Clinton had flown in earlier to give a speech or something but this was before the time of the all-encompassing presidential TFRs, as I recall there was only a small TFR or maybe just a ground stop during the time that the President was actually arriving or leaving. Since the President’s motorcade had already left the airport, it was operating normally.

Anyway, as I was rolling to take off on runway 17L, the tower called with a traffic warning. “Cessna 52Y, be advised your traffic is a Boeing 747, touch and go on the parallel.” I turned my head to the right just in time to see Air Force 1 — well, not officially since the President was not on board — touch down and almost immediately take off again on 17R.

“Traffic in sight, pretty hard to miss!” I responded to the tower, as Air Force 1 headed around for another T&G.

I figured that the pilots must have assumed they’d be coming to Texas a lot if Bush won, and were getting in some local practice! Anyway, that’s the first and last time I’ve ever seen a 747 doing a touch and go. I hate to think how much every circuit around the patch was costing us taxpayers!

David Troup

AOPA Report Sings The Praises Of The BasicMed Initiative

Having to renew a special issuance 1st class cert the last five years of my career was onerous and expensive even though I was a picture of health and the outcome was never in doubt. Now in retirement and on BasicMed I keep as fit and I take the same medical tests at the same intervals I always took for the special issuance but don’t have to go through an expensive FAA whisperer to get the FAA to bless the results. My specialist interprets and blesses the results now and I am better educated and no less safe than when I was renewing a SI 1st class.

John Kliewer

You aren’t likely to find many AMEs that will do Basic Med too. Kind of like sleeping with the enemy. The liability insurance issue seems to be a big deal with AMEs, but I know a few doctors who don’t feel it is a problem. And, from an actuarial standpoint, the actual exposure to an underwriter is not huge, given that in five years there have been few if, any, claims relating to accidents involving Basic Med where a 3rd class medical would have made any difference.

I was an early adopter of Basic Med because I was tired of jumping through the endless hoops for a special issuance for a 3rd class. The problem that dumped me into SI in the first place was more of a hang-up with the FAA’s definitions than an actual medical problem. My main concern was that if I was ever turned down for the SI, I would then be ineligible for a sport license to drop down to flying LSAs. This way, that is not a problem. I am fortunate that my personal physician (who also does DOT medicals) looked at the form and shrugged. “No problem” he said. The current Basic Med program is far from perfect, as others have said, but it does greatly simplify flying for a lot of us older guys whose health is not perfect (whose is anyway?). I feel better having my personal doctor in charge of the process than having some guy I see once every two years, for about 20 minutes, deciding whether I am fit or not.

John Mc.

Poll: What Did You Think of Last Month’s Report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena?

  • Overhyped. The news media made it sound like “this may be the expose’ they have hidden from us for decades.” In the end, there was nothing of consequence–no “smoking gun”–no “little green men”–no major conclusions were drawn–just more “unexplained phenomenon.” Given that so many were at sea, I’m guessing that they were military. “Us” or “Theirs”? “Quien Sabe”? – Jim Hanson
  • “We have a picture with a fuzzy blob in it, and upon extensive investigation have determined it is picture with a fuzzy blob in it” pretty well summarizes decades of UFO investigation. And indeed, what else can you say about these things? – John W.
  • Camera technology has improved exponentially in the last 50 years, but UFO video hasn’t. It must be mind control; when we see an alien spaceship, they force us to pull out our worst camera, get some out of focus, shaky shots, and then upload it to YouTube in 240p! Way more effective than a cloaking device! – Benjamin Brooks
  • The report was overhyped and under reported.
  • Only the acronym changed.
  • I just want to know what they were trying to divert the public’s attention from with this threadbare, overdone “nothing burger.”
  • Cover story for what we are really up to.
  • Still no answers.
  • Never gave it a thought.
  • It acknowledged there are events we don’t understand.
  • Fodder for the foil hats.
  • Interesting.
  • Slow news day.
  • Meh.
  • Didn’t read it.
  • Humans are easily amused…

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