Top Letters And Comments, October 30, 2020


Your Analysis Of Priorities Matters

My first biological emergency almost five decades ago involved the FAA, fire trucks, an ambulance, the state police, and many hundreds of witnesses.

It was almost noon on a beautiful fall day with no wind or clouds. Chugging along in my tandem Taylorcraft, a weakening bladder compelled me to land on a deserted gravel road not too far from Dallas Center, Iowa. The landing was easy, but as the problem with my bladder was going to be resolved in just a few seconds, I decided to exit my airplane with the engine running. In a desperate hurry, I attempted to climb from my war-surplus tandem Taylorcraft, which even under the best of circumstances took a bit of flexibility.

On this hurried day, with my right foot firmly on the ground, I accidentally kicked the side-mounted throttle wide open with my left foot, and the Taylorcraft roared into action. I grabbed the nearest wing strut, but even with the added weight of a completely full bladder, I could not restrain my airplane, and my Taylorcraft took off, perfectly willing to prove to me that she could fly just as well without my help.

Well, that didn’t workout for either of us, and seconds later, she was resting on her nose in a shallow, water-filled ditch. It got perfectly quiet after that. I looked about, not a soul could be seen across that flat, treeless prairie horizon, but within the shortest amount of time a parade of vehicles with flashing red lights arrived, accompanied by an army of the curious.

To make a long story short. I walked a block or two up the road and sat down, trying to hide from the crowd, bladder still full. Eventually a man in a dark suit walked up to me and sat down in the grass, introducing himself as being from the FAA. He asked what happened. I told him. He nodded in apparent understanding, went back to my airplane, took off his jacket, and organized the firemen into a team to rescue my Tayorcraft from the ditch. Afterwards, he gave it a quick inspection, removed a dented wheel pant and put it in the back seat and then explained to me that I had experienced a miracle and that my airplane appeared to have escaped any serious harm. The powers that be then cleared the road, the FAA man swung my propeller, and I flew on to my destination, bladder issue still unresolved but smarter for the experience.

William N.

Velocity U: Learning To Fly A Canard

Way back in the day (early 90s…), I was involved with the nascent importation effort for the Speed Canard 2-seater from Germany. I think I’m one of the few people who are actually signed off to fly one, having been trained by the factory test pilot.

Fascinating comparison looking back over my notes (Yes, I’m a packrat…), especially about the landing. Was trained to ‘fly it on’ and not pull the nose up as in a CesPipBeech spam can. Once you “Got It”, you wondered why canards weren’t more popular. Stall bucks are fun, the main wing never really gets there (no doubt if you REALLY tried, you could get the main wing to stall…), and those winglets in place of an inline rudder let you do amazing things with coordination.

Disappointed the Speed Canard never caught on, and, like the wreckage of aviation companies along the timeline, was a great idea that cost too much and suffered from lack of interest and a bad economy.

Thanks, Paul, for reminding us that there are a lot of fun machines out there whose control surfaces are not necessarily where we expect them to be.

Bryan B.

Poll: When Asked, Do You Advise People to Pursue an Aviation Career?

“Emphasize the REALITY.” Gone is the “boosterism” of “It’s a great career–you’ll make more money than you can ever spend, have half of the year’s days off, and never have to worry about layoffs.”

It’s still a great career, but we need to be accurate in the way it’s portrayed. Yes, you can still make a lot of money–but money isn’t everything. Yes, you can still have the career that lets you live almost anywhere–that lets you schedule days off–and perhaps most importantly, to be able to spend your working life doing things you ENJOY.

That said, prospective career pilots should be made aware that there is more to working in aviation than working for the airlines. Corporate flying pays well, and it lets you LIVE “the lifestyle of the rich and famous” without having to pay for it. Yes, it pays less than the airlines, but it does let you live well–and often at the place you CHOOSE to live. For those who can stand the irregular hours, “night freight” can pay MORE than the airlines–while also letting you live pretty much where you would like. For those who value lifestyle more than money (provided you make enough money to support that lifestyle) there are many General Aviation vocations. Prospective pilots need to be aware of all of these options.

As pilots, we are often asked about careers in aviation. We do the person asking our opinion no favors if we don’t tell the COMPLETE story–“warts and all.”

– Jim H.

  • Yes, pilot slots might be an issue for years, but we need talented avionics and mechanics personnel.
  • I did not fly for a living, but used my plane for transportation and personal enjoyment. I counsel young people to pursue aviation if they love flying or working on planes, but not to pursue a career per se. You can enjoy aviation without making it your primary vocation.
  • Absolutely. The future need is great. This too shall pass.
  • No! Unless their heart was already in it, it would be a mistake.
  • If they have a passion for flight.
  • Only if they seriously bother to ask. If it isn’t already part of one’s blood stream it won’t work.
  • Yes, most people enter aviation for a love of aircraft, flying or travel and not money. I always encourage people to follow their dreams!
  • I never meet people who are interested in pursuing an aviation career.
  • Define “conditions” or maybe it should be warnings. Lol
  • NO because structure for pay and promotion is horrible.
  • Yes!! Chase the dream.
  • I have never been asked that question.
  • Only if they love aviation.
  • I’m a pilot and I can’t think of anything better than to be able to fly.
  • The degree requirement makes the up front costs to great… Breakeven is far too long…
  • I tell people that aviation is a great avocation, but a lousy vocation. Better to learn to do something to make money and play with airplanes for a hobby.
  • No. The same effort in any other career makes more.
  • Yes, as long as they accept that many aviation careers offer a view of the freedom of flight through a very narrow slit.
  • If it’s their passion. Then again, that’s true of any field of endeavor.
  • Do you want to be a bus driver?
  • Only if they have interest in space…otherwise it is a dead end.
  • YES! To achieve one of the greatest joys in life.
  • Yes, but only if you are young and intend to remain single for life.
  • Get a business degree, learn Chinese and after you make loads of money buy the plane you want.
  • *I’m* not in it as a career, so I cannot advise others.
  • Yes, but after hearing the conditions and stories, only an idiot follows. Hey, wait- just how did I get here?

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