Top Letters And Comments, March 20, 2020


Midway Tower Closed for Decontamination

I was one of the few VFR pilots that flew into MDW the other day and took full advantage of the unique Class E airspace in a 172 before the 7-day TFR was issued. Several users on aviation forums have posted comments … that this operation was “Dangerous” and “Risky.” Hardly…

The conditions within this unique tower-free airspace were typical of any other GA airport without the presence of a busy flight school. At any given time, there were roughly 3 airplanes announcing intentions inflight and a few folks taxing to/from the terminals. Incredibly easy to keep track of with the severely reduced traffic flow.

Everyone was communicating on the Tower/CTAF, and the folks from C90 were incredibly helpful in ensuring proper procedures were followed – we even had compliance from the local airport vehicles! The published NOTAMs helped a lot.

Some of the highlights:

  • It was funny to hear SWA state that they were flying a 737 😀
  • I’m glad to hear that the airline folks are going to make “Full Stop” landings. Though, touch-and-goes would be exciting to see!
  • Very funny to hear airline and corporate pilots make calls for “Any traffic in the area, please advise.” Maybe this is a sign to brush up on uncontrolled airport communication procedures? A local pilot said that I should have replied with “Buy low, sell high.” 😀
  • About 250+ people tuned into MDW’s LiveATC feed on Wednesday.
  • Transitioning from the southwest side of Chicago to the lakeshore for a skyline flight couldn’t have been easier.

Sadly, I’m assuming that facility closures like what happened at Midway will continue to happen (Ex: LAS) and yet even more TFRs will be issued. When we checked NOTAMs, we were surprised that they decided to leave crossing runways open (4R and 13C). For traffic flow, it may have been simpler to leave parallel runways open (4L and 4R, or 13L and 13C). I wonder if other airports (if they close) will adopt a similar procedure.

Eric S.

FAA Modernizes Guidance On Flight Expense Sharing

This poses almost as many questions as it answers.

A careful reading of the AC repeatedly references “Private Pilots”–but does ALSO references “exercising Private Pilot privileges.” Does the fact that I have an ATP, but also fly personally for fun, affect my ability to share expenses with passengers?

“Common purpose with passengers who are part of their family or social circle”. I fly a King Air as a corporate pilot. For 30+ years, my employers and I have had an arrangement–I can fly the airplane for my own use for simply the direct operating cost–fuel, navigation, landing and customs fees, hangar, etc.–but nothing for the aircraft. In addition to my own domestic trips, (about a dozen a year), I go to Canada a lot–hunting and fishing. I live in a SMALL CITY, and take friends with me–we all split the expenses. Over the years, some have dropped out–moved–or died. We–as a group–have found people known to members of the original group to replace them. Since I do not have an “ongoing, pre-existing relationship (e.g., family friends or close acquaintances)” with the “New Guy” on the fishing trip (but the rest of the group does), can we bring him along? Or do I need to make sure I “interact” with him for an unspecified period of time before the trip?

Both Canadian and U.S. Customs routinely ask “how do you all know each other?” It has never been a problem for Customs. (but then, Customs is NOT the FAA–they hardly acknowledge each other.)

The group (including me) shares the cost of the hunting or fishing trip–the food, lodge, boats, guide. Is this sufficient “common purpose?”

Reverting to my corporate pilot role–the owner of the King Air is very generous in the use of the airplane–he lets almost any charitable organization use it–sometimes for free–sometimes for the cost of the fuel (and no charge for me). I have no idea what the relationship of each passenger is to the company–only the charitable organization. I don’t even see the internal accounting. Do I have to have a company employee along to ensure that it is “common purpose”–and that the others are either going for free or sharing direct operating costs?

Oddly enough, it would be easier for all of us to rent the local Baron for the trip and have me fly that instead–we can then qualify the entire cost through the rental rate on the aircraft–as opposed to Direct Operating Costs Only for the King Air. That may make it legal, but is it as safe?

“There aren’t enough words in the English Language to cover every scenario”–but that doesn’t keep the FAA from trying.

Jim H.

Poll: Can You Shift to the New Sun ‘n Fun Date May 5 to 10?

  • Considering we are still on the upswing of reported cases of the virus, it is doubtful that the crisis will be over by early May. The odds of holding Sun ‘n Fun this year are pretty slim. If we are lucky, Oshkosh will still be a go.
  • Maybe, a lot of events are being rescheduled and it depends on how they all line up.
  • Attendee. Maybe.
  • Yes, but it will be canceled.
  • How can anyone realistically answer this? The corona virus restrictions are not known at this time. I appreciate this is hypothetical but useless.
  • Will wait and see.
  • Doesn’t matter; no way it’s happening.
  • Possible but it’s cutting it close with another event.
  • Yes, but it will be delayed further…
  • I’m a retiree, so yes. But, if I were working, no way. Leave schedules are finalized months in advance.
  • CDC recommend that for the next 8 weeks, cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.
  • Game day decision.
  • Sure. At this rate of cancellations my schedule will be wide open.
  • No plans to go.
  • It still might be too early to have it; we may all still be in lockdown.
  • Postponement is entirely inadequate. Will coincide with peak virus!
  • Disinterested anymore with the carnival.
  • Yes, but that date may be too soon for the virus to abate.
  • There is no way this event will be held. The CDC has said there should be no events with more than 50 people planned for the next 8 weeks. Be responsible, and cancel this event.
  • Snowbirds have flights booked home end after April 5/20.
  • I can’t make either date range this year.
  • Too early to say.
  • Yes. I live in Lakeland.
  • Won’t ever go again.

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