Top Letters And Comments, September 20, 2019


Borescopes Are So…Intrusive

Years ago I was performing an annual inspection for a friend of mine. As was our routine, the inspection was owner-assisted. That day I was looking over the busy bits forward of the firewall, as he was doing some kind of open-up in the cabin. Suddenly, from inside the airplane, he exploded with, “What now!?”

“What?” says I.

“What did you find out there?”

“Nothing, why?”

“You said ‘huh’. Every time you say ‘huh’ it means you saw something that’s going to cost me money.”




“Don’t say that!”

David B.

How Smart Is Your Cell Phone?

If you’re routinely and regularly flying “hard” IFR using vacuum system powered steam gauges and are concerned, why would anyone use a cell phone running a dubious app as a backup? There are plenty of other potential items of portable equipment that’d do the job MUCH better and don’t take up much space in a flight bag these days. They’re no more ‘legal’ than the cell phone but do offer better performance, larger displays and were originally designed for aviation use.

The updated Dynon D3 w/ a suction cup mount would be an excellent backup worth having. The Garmin Aera 660 along with a GDL 50 would offer a full up six-pack panel like display PLUS ADS-B TIS-B traffic plus maps. I’m in love with that thing … SO much so that I’m considering buying a second and hard mounting one and using the second on the yoke. And, I never fly out of the local area unless I have a hand held radio at the ready; the new Sportys PJ2 with headset connectors is on my wish list soon. With it and the Aera 660 / GDL 50 pair, you could navigate, keep the grass under the airplane and see some traffic while you communicate in an airplane with complete electrical and vacuum system failure. If you own the airplane, installation of a new Aerovonics AV-20 would be a VERY wise backup safety investment for less than a grand. Just this week, Paul B did a superb in flight video on the Aerovonics products in his non-electrical, non-vacuum powered Cub elsewhere on Avweb. The AV-20 doesn’t cost much more than a cell phone.

Another point of consideration is a backup position source IF the primary source for a non-GPS capable iPad failed. I carry a BadElf but the Aera 660 will communicate via Wifi OR Bluetooth to do the same job. Not mentioned, a backup USB power source would be a good idea and doesn’t take up much space.

The cell phone would be the last item I’d consider for primary backup instrument use. It’s a great way to call for help after the fan stops running IF it comes to that. Unlikely that it’d survive a crash mounted in the open. I know people that now carry an inReach device full time for emergency communication, too.

Larry S.

I’ve been active in flying clubs and FBOs that do rentals for years. With the exception of 1 available Cirrus SR20 everything else is steam gauge. I utilize Seattle Avionics FlyQ efb which was first available for my iPad and then later for the smart phone as well. I use a portable suction mount for the iPad which has been rock solid staying in place on the windscreen and obviously travels from aircraft to aircraft as needed. All the basic attitude instruments are right there on the screen of the iPad so it indeed is an awesome backup of the primary aircraft instruments. And yes, one of the aircraft I flew recently still had a working NDB. In the old days the NDB was an asset to bring local AM broadcasting to the cockpit as well. This was before music streaming and smart anything in the cockpit.

William B.

Poll: Was Your Flying Directly Impacted by the 9/11 Attacks?

  • I was running Flight Test Ops at Northrop Grumman St Augustine. At THAT time, SGJ only had a UNICOM and NG took over that function any time we had test airplanes aloft. When we heard about SCATANA, we had to look it up to figure out what to do. When I heard other airplanes calling in, I got permission from the boss to tell them there was a Nat’l Emergency and all A/C were directed to land ASAP safely. About a half dozen airplanes wound up being stranded at SGJ because of it … I felt bad for them but … SCATANA is just that.
  • Everyone’s flying has been directly impacted.
  • I opened a new FBO within weeks of 9/11. The prospective tenants scattered like rats and I lost that business after 4 years of trying to get it back. Cost me well over a $1m. And it changed the direction for my dreams in aviation forever.
  • DCA – SFRA decreased GA flying 50% or more.
  • I was able to fly the next day with a student working on his instrument rating.
  • Yes. Was about to taxi on a training flight in college, but ground control suddenly advised us to stay put and shut down.
  • I was about to board an airliner for a business trip when the jetway door was closed and all flights were cancelled.
  • Had to inform and brief my passengers, many of whom worked in the WTC.
  • Freight company I flew for had stranded pilots and cancelled checks scattered all over. I was first pilot to fly after recovery began.
  • Ultimately, it caused me to get rid of the plane and quit flying.
  • I own POTOMAC airfield. The airspace was closed for six months. The legacy procedures endure, while the threat does not.
  • Yes, I had just contacted Ground for taxi instructions, The reply I received was “We have an emergency. Shut down, put your aircraft in the hangar and turn on a TV” When I asked what happened I was told that no specifics were available…turn on the TV. The aircraft departing just before me was told to return immediately. Nor reason given…spooky!
  • I was flying with a student in the local practice area when the tower called and told me all flights in the USA were ordered to land immediately.
  • Ever since. The wife is from DC, and flying there is much more difficult.
  • I was flying as the buildings were struck but I was allowed to proceed to my destination as a/c were directed to land.
  • Yes. I had just gotten approval and inspection of my rebuild of me 1939 J4A on Sept. 10 so I couldn’t take my 1st flight until the restrictions were lifted.
  • Here in Australia we had no direct initial impact, however subsequent security imposts and over reaction by government has dramatically increased costs and inconvenience for pilots and aircraft owners for no measurable improvement in security.
  • I was a student pilot & my flight training airport was near a nuke plant, was shut down for weeks.
  • Flying job terminated due to resulting economic impact.
  • I was an EMS King Air pilot so I was out and about very soon after the event.
  • Yes. Look what has happened to airport security and passenger screening as a direct result.
  • My sister’s flight was cancelled. It took her two days to get home.
  • I had a lesson that morning. Changed my career path.
  • Fly in the DC area we are still affected by it.
  • I lost 10 years seniority with the airlines.
  • I was scheduled for my seaplane add-on checkride the next day and it was postponed for a month.
  • My job with Sabre was terminated, ending my GA flying $$.
  • I was working on IFR at TEB. Think Flt 11 flew over my head. Ramp shut, then airport, then airspace. Finally got rating in 2002.
  • Intro flight cancelled, have finally begun again.
  • Military. Flying empty sky on 9/12 sunrise.
  • My career changed forever.

As a CFI, I was flying with a student in the local practice area when the tower called and told me all flights in the USA were ordered to land immediately, so I RTB’d and landed. My income stopped that day until flight instructing was allowed again, several weeks later.

Russell M.

I was on my way to Hudson’s Bay in the King Air for some goose hunting. We saw the first building on fire before departure. In northern Minnesota, ATC came back with “Well, guys–things have gone from bad to worse out East–an airplane has hit the second tower as well–this is a national emergency, all aircraft will be grounded.

They started out with the airlines–“Northwest XXX, can you land at Aberdeen?” Response was “negative–and how do we know this is a valid directive?” ATC responded with “You are cleared Direct Minneapolis (no arrival)–and went on to do the same for every airline on the frequency before starting out on non-airline aircraft.

By this time, we were within 60 miles of the Canadian border–I altered course to the east as the border runs southeast–in order to get into Canada first–ATC usually hands off to Winnipeg about 30 miles south of the border. Each private aircraft received the same query–“Can you land at KXXX?” Finally, it was our turn–“Would you like to go to Grand Rapids, or Duluth?” I replied “stand by”–hoping he would take the hint and just hand us off to Winnipeg. ATC eventually came back with “The Air Force has decided for you–you’re going to Duluth.” On the way to Duluth, ATC contacted Air Force flight XXX–“you’re cleared direct Duluth”–to which they responded “Negative–we’re a Looking Glass flight” (the Air Force used to keep a command and control KC-135 airborne in the event of a national emergency–one wonders why it was in northern Minnesota that day?). ATC replied–“you MUST land Duluth–we have F-16s on the ready pad for an intercept.” Looking Glass replied calmly–“We need to go back to Offutt (Omaha–military field)–we have lots of fuel, we will hold while you work that out.” Fifteen minutes later, they had their clearance.

We landed at Duluth (on the approach, ATC sent the local police to escort the ILS construction crew off the airport). ATC thought the hold would last “a few hours”–and FSS took our new flight plan to Canada. Tower advised us to “contact us at 1400 local with engines running”–when we did, they told us “Sorry–they just cancelled your clearance.” We stayed in limbo for nearly 3 days–then rented a car and drove home.

Jim H.

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