Top Letters And Comments, November 12, 2021


Veterans Day: Thinking Past Thanks For Your Service

Beautifully written, thoughtful piece, Paul.

As you describe, my adding years is also one of those waypoints on the chart of life that just seems to allow for more mental space to step back and turn more freely in thought when looking at issues like, in this case, war. My biggest mental change about war was when my son was born, and together with the influence of my Army service back in the day, worked up my present-day view of the sacrifices of self, country and family that I think necessarily confront every parent and patriot the world over.

I respect those who venerate the gatherings, commemorations and parades on Veteran’s Day, but my involvement has usually been limited to my personal experiences as described. Your wonderful piece has now given me another opportunity to mentally pause, step back and look around for any thoughts I need to refresh.

Thank you.

Dave Miller

I still remember sometime back not long after 9/11 when I was in the local grocery store and someone said something to me that I didn’t quite catch so I asked her to repeat it. She said ‘Thank you for your service’ and nodded at the USMC tee shirt I was wearing. I was a little taken aback because no one had ever said anything like that to me before and I have to admit it felt good to have someone say it and say it so sincerely as she did. It was such a contrast to what I heard when I came back to ‘the world’ after serving with MAG-12 in Vietnam which included epithets like ‘baby killer’, ‘war criminal’, etc. especially when I returned to college to finish up my degree. I agree that perhaps some folks don’t fully appreciate what it means when they say it but I have to say it sure beats the hell out of what I used to hear.

Rolf Grandstaff

Extremely well done, Paul. I am uncomfortable with the “Thank you for your service” response, though it’s admittedly better than being treated as a pariah as we were back in the 70’s. Your great writing really helps define my thinking.

Robert Schindler

Excellent points Paul. Some time ago I saw an interview with a Japanese journalist who, as a young boy, survived the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima. “Wars are easy to start, but very difficult to end”, he said, referring to his country’s involvement in WWII. “Perhaps if our leaders thought more about that, they could find another way to accomplish their goals”. On the eve of WWI, as the German troops were being deployed to the field, Kaiser Wilhelm asked his generals if there was some way to recall the armies and avoid the war. His generals replied that it was too late. To recall the men would greatly disrupt the train schedules. As a result, 11 million men perished.

Growing up, I came of draft age right at the end of Viet Nam when the military was changing from the draft to a volunteer force. I remember being shocked at the shabby way Viet Nam vets were treated as they came home from the war. I decided that military service was not worth it, and got on with my civilian life. Fortunately, since then, the American public has realized that soldiers don’t start wars, politicians do, and punishing the soldiers is wrong. To all of you who have served, you have my thanks and eternal respect, not just on Veterans’ Day, but every day.

John Mc.

Flaps In A Gusty Cross?

This is a great article, but it misses one little detail… roll yaw coupling. Adding rudder will always create a bit of roll, but when it creates a lot of roll it makes crosswinds (especially gusty crosswinds) hard to handle.

The amount of roll yaw coupling is not necessarily the same for all flap positions. In my airplane, roll yaw coupling actually goes down as flaps are extended. So, it’s easier to land in gusty crosswinds with more flaps rather than less.

A great place to start is by measuring your phi/beta ratio for various airspeeds and flap settings.


Another useful trick is to land slightly across the runway. Landing on the centerline is not a must. In a crosswind (gusty or not) landing diagonally reduces the crosswind component. Trigonometry rules. Remember that at 30 degrees off the runway the crosswind component is half the wind’s velocity. In a lightly loaded aircraft or one with a low crosswind threshold, a few degrees into the wind makes for a meaningful reduction in crosswind component.

Serena Ryan

Poll: Should A Medical Be Required For Commercial Balloon Pilots?

  • As the object is to protect the unsuspecting public (the fare-paying passengers) it would make sense that it should be required for for-hire balloon operations carrying passengers.
  • On the one hand, why should commercial balloon pilots be exempt? On the other hand, it’s a solution in search of a problem.
  • Yes, because there is no reason to have it be any different from a 182 flying charter. The excuse for government interference is consumer safety. Why should anything that flies virtually the same number of passengers be different?
  • Medical, license, ratings. Perhaps the government’s tender ministrations should be removed altogether from aviation.
  • No, unless there’s been a problem that needs to be fixed?
  • Hard to say as I don’t know much about balloons. I’m curious to know what balloon pilots think.
  • Four passengers or more.
  • Only for commercial operations – not for private ops.
  • FAA medicals are a joke.

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