Top Letters And Comments, June 4, 2021


Keep Up The Good Fight

Great article, Tarrance.

I flew 35 years for American/USAirways and 17 years with Navy Reserves. The controllers always helped me, if I explained to them what I needed. Once I was in a holding pattern with about 7 company planes ahead of me and was getting ready to divert due to fuel. I asked the controller if he could get me in. He asked each plane in front of me about their fuel and would they mind if I went ahead. He moved me to number one and 100 passengers made their connections instead of ruining their day.

That is just one story, but there are many more. It always came down to the same thing. Talk to the controller and let them know what you need.

I loved it when they were on the jump seat.

We were all on the same team.

Thank you for such a great article.

William Bellinger

What a great article on weather and options–from both a pilot’s and controller’s viewpoint! I especially appreciated having the graphics, depicting the storm and the takeoff and landing options.

All too often, pilots are given the option of flying through questionable weather–and the fact that it IS the pilot’s option is as it should be. All too often, pilots are swayed by the fact that “others are doing it, and getting away with it”–when in fact, if they are #1 for takeoff, they might reject the clearance.

I especially liked the reference to the crew that said “We would like to line up and wait on the runway, while we check our onboard radar.” That extra 30 seconds is valuable.

I encountered this very same scenario years ago, flying a King Air out of Philadelphia. The departure weather was ominous–yet airliner after airliner accepted the clearance. When it came to my turn, I asked for a delay “position and hold” while I checked my own radar–and rejected the clearance. I fast-taxied down the runway and turned off. Still monitoring Tower, I listened as airliner after airliner did the same thing. Finally, a Middle East national airline said “We will go!…” and took into the storm. There were no other departures for 15 minutes–I got back in line, and we had “some bumps” on departure–with ATC allowing large deviations.

All it took was ONE AIRCRAFT to reject the takeoff, and others also took the same action. Don’t let “peer pressure” or pressure from ATC affect your decision when it comes to weather. As the old saying goes, “WHOSE chair is bolted to the metal–and WHOSE CHAIR IS BOLTED TO CONCRETE?” (smile).

Thanks for posting from ATC’s point of view–and how far they will go to accommodate arrivals and departures.

Jim Hanson

United Orders Boom Supersonic Airliners

Long term planning (8 years out) and public relations kinda get fused together here. The “demonstrator” has yet to fly! Seems like the real need is for local flights from local airports, distances of 200 to 400 miles, with the option of connecting to hubs. Unless you live in a major city and are going to another major city, you are still out of luck. Aside from the sonic and carbon emission impacts, the price of building and maintaining these will be high, which translates into a very small market.

Rich K.

I really hope they can pull this off. I know the chances are not great, but before I follow Chuck Yeager west, I want to say, like him, I flew faster than Mach1. Considering I missed my chance with Concord, (too expensive for my level of income at the time) I am really trying to think positive and ignore history. Call me a glass half full guy…

Joe P.

Poll: Have You Seen An Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon?

  • I’ve seen lots of odd things in 50 years and 31,000 hours of flying, but nothing that I couldn’t identify with a little effort.
  • Yes. But as Penn Gillette put it, there are things in my refrigerator that I can’t identify. That doesn’t mean they are space alien leftovers.
  • Three times. Two of these were later identified. One being an F-117 two years before the USAF admitted that there was such a thing. But the third?
  • Yes, but always have learned or figure out later what it was.
  • Does a VC-10 count?
  • Sure, but no data is no data. Unidentified does not equal aliens.
  • I was a control tower and radar operator from 1956 to 1994; constantly watching the skies for UFOs, and never saw anything I could not identify. Very recently there have been a rash of contrails misidentified – but I also have some time in jets at jet altitudes and can instantly identify contrails from below, from beside and from above, and am aghast at the number of contrails seen from same or similar altitudes that are clearly, to me, just contrails.
  • Yes, twice, 1000 miles and decades between, each one looked and moved completely different than the other. No assumption on my part as to their nature or origin therefore Unidentified and nothing more.
  • I was once asked by ATC if I had seen an object (night in Northern Canada) which they were following on radar at some incredible speed. No joy.
  • Nope, never saw anything like that while flying, but I used to know of some “enthusiasts” who saw them often. Usually at night, from their favorite vantage point in the Southern Nevada desert Northwest of Las Vegas!
  • I’m not good at aircraft recognition.
  • Yes, but I’m positive who owned it. Man’s technological capabilities were redefined for me on that assignment.
  • No. But hope springs eternal.
  • I have seen “aircraft” flying with my night vision that are illuminated with lights that aren’t visible to the naked eye. Also visible with my generation 3 pvs14 night vision monocular is a light source like a flame coming from its engine. What really struck me as unusual is its lack of flashing lights. All other aircraft I’ve ever seen have a flashing light. It’s entirely possible that what I’ve seen is a plane that simply had its lights off. But I’ve never seen any other plane that had an infrared light on.
  • Many.
  • You mean UFO…NO…
  • No, but have heard of at least two cases where drivers on a lonely road in what is now Zimbabwe saw a bright light rush at them from about 20 degrees above the horizon.
  • Yes, but I had a few too many that day.

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