Top Letters And Comments, September 23, 2022


Diamond Rollover: Freak Accident Or A Design Flaw?

Quite many years ago, I landed at a S. Fla airport with a thunderstorm rapidly approaching and very near the airport. I landed just fine and was cleared to taxi to the ramp that was approximately a mile away. I got about 1/3 of that distance when the gust front hit and the heavy rain was not far behind. I was in my first plane, a Tri-Pacer and realized I probably wasn’t going to make it to the ramp the way things were going. So I called ground and requested to hold position at a fairly large taxiway intersection. I turned into the wind and used down elevator along with enough power to counteract the wind. Basically, I was flying the airplane while the wheels were well planted on the ground. When needed, I adjusted power for the wind and changed direction to always be headed into the wind. It took about 15 minutes, but the storm finally subsided and I could continue my taxi to the ramp. Haven’t had to use that technique since, but it is there if needed. Can’t help you with hail.

Skip D.

re: microbursts. Four summers ago, a friend and I were flying locally in his Lancair 235 to check out some instrumentation problems. It was a typical Virginia summer day, with pop-up thunderstorms developing here and there. I kept an eye on a small cell to our west that seemed to be slowly making its way toward our home airport, and we decided to call it a day.

After we got the bird secured in the hangar, sure enough it began to rain. The day was so hot and sticky that we left the rolling doors partly open to enjoy the cool air. Without warning, the wind began to pick up, whipping the rain inside the hangar at full force. Within seconds it must have been sixty miles an hour or more. We struggled to roll the doors closed; the wind whipped one door off the track and down toward the airplane. Steve stood there under the end of the derailed door; Atlas, holding it off his Lancair. Almost immediately, a huge gust came into the hangar and stripped the entire roof off the frame – all of it – every piece. I thought this might be all for us.

But as quick as it came, it was over. The cell passed and we were standing in brilliant sunlight, soaked to the skin, but the airplane was unharmed. A 150 on the field was not so lucky; it had broken its tethers and tumbled end over end about a hundred yards.

We checked with the National Weather Service, which told us we had almost certainly got an up close look at a microburst. I hope it’s my last.

James W.

Hmmmm. Sleepy warm summer afternoon New England ramp and we were all in the airport diner. Planes sitting in the parking spots. None tied down. As I was getting ready to leave the roiling dark mess to the north presaged a summer pop-up.

With no intention of going flying – I still fired up and taxied into a clear spot on the ramp. My mariner instinct kicking in – seeking clearwater to maneuver.

I spent 5 mins flying the plane on the ground with her head to wind and a couple of times was light on the tires as the gusts tried to fly her. The popup didn’t hit the airport – but it skidded by just outside the airport fence and as the wind veered I was able to taxi head to wind again and ride out the hail and hammer blows – still light on the tires and still flying her on the ground.

The wind veering is what caused the issue in parking. Planes were rotated off their parking spots, rocked, rolled, and a couple of wingtips bruised each other. An empty Cherokee ended up on its back.

I know this because 5 mins later it turned into a lovely summer afternoon again and I got out to join others inspecting the damage – after which I departed.

So who was stupid? Those who hunkered down in the restaurant (NO!) or the guy who got in his plane and flew it on the ground. (PROBABLY). But my plane was undamaged. We all KNOW that there is always insurance. But we still have a tendency to try and protect property. I may even have been subliminally influenced by many a marine policy I had sailed under. First clause – “You shall act at all times as if uninsured”. An interesting way of asking you not to take unnecessary risks but which then predisposes you to take them when close to marginal situations – if even only to try and get out of them.

Graeme S.

Mesa Orders Pipistrel Trainers For Pilot Development Program

While all these companies are training and hiring pilots, no one talks about the real elephant in the room…you can have all the pilots you want, full staffing 100%, but when there are NO A&Ps to work on the aircraft, all the new pilots and passengers will be left sitting at the gate with no maintenance personnel to fix anything. People are always talking about the pilot shortage, and rightfully so…BUT…the shortage of mechanics is the far greater threat to aviation, GA and Commercial, that will not be able to recover. The shortage of mechanics is so severe, GA will not have the manpower with actual GA experience. The airlines are hiring any and all graduates from A&P schools leaving GA gutted for personnel.

Ronnie S.

Poll: Was The FAA Right To Render Harsh Penalties For Flight Disruptors?

  • It is hard to answer these by checking a box—so as a retired airline captain of, some 34 years, dating back to 1965 the answer would be—”It’s about time someone with authority in the FAA woke up.” These disruptions have been going on for years. I can’t go into it all here, but on their tickets should be strict statements of enforcement action, not just a threat.
  • Airlines make bad behavior inevitable by treating passengers like prisoners.
  • it should be evaluated case by case basis and appropriate penalties according to the level of severity of the offence.
  • Fines and punishment should be consistent across the board. There is no room for disrupters on any form of public transport. Further, they should be required to take anger management courses.
  • Cases should be judged individually.
  • If there is assault or other criminal behavior, they should be charged and prosecuted as such with jail time as appropriate.
  • Airlines need to be held accountable for poor service and mistakes, there are reasons passengers get mad!
  • Disruptors should get fines and permanent restriction from commercial air travel. You shouldn’t get three strikes for this level of inconsideration and stupidity.
  • It should depend more on the situation, in some cases it was the flight crew that instigated the issue.
  • Certainly some of the issues can be traced back to the flight crew getting into the “because I said so!” mode. Trivial issues can quickly escalate. I can’t say I’m knowledgeable about all issues involved, but I’ll bet a large number were over masks. No reasonable person would argue that seat belts are a good thing, masks however, have, are, and will continue to be a point of contention. Let’s look at the numbers after a year and see if the removal of the mandate doesn’t lower the numbers. Foremost, these are civil cases, and should be dealt with in civil court, not by a federal agency. Of course, expanding federal agencies power is a topic for another venue.
  • The current air travel environment is unbearable.
  • It depends on the mitigating circumstances.
  • Seems like mental illness (temporary or otherwise) is a major factor here. Fines that they probably would never be able to pay won’t fix it. Temporary or permanent bans seem like the more appropriate response.
  • Fix the root cause like uncomfortable seating.
  • The passenger removed from the flight because it was over booked was in his right to protest, yet could be labelled unruly and a danger to the crew. For some other examples, I sometimes thought ‘serves them right’.
  • Life-time ban, significant monetary penalty ($75k), and minimum 3-month prison time. Non-negotiable. Keep the self-centered bastards off airlines.
  • The government and airlines have made flying a miserable experience and should look in the mirror for who’s to blame.

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  1. Above was a comment about the lack of A&Ps.
    Way back, I had a PHL overnite. (DC9)
    Next AM, taxiing out to DTW, an electrical crosstie check failed.
    The MEL said a no go if the destination airport was IFR,
    which DTW was.
    We had no maintenance at PHL. Taxied to the gate & told the folks to hang in there as we may not have to cancel.
    I found an EAL maint shack, & as luck would have it, they
    had a crosstie relay box for a DC9.
    Went back & told the folks that we should be leaving in about 20 min
    The box has about 60 wire connections, 30 each side.
    Used masking tape to solidify the wire positions prior to disconnecting.
    Installed the new box (on bulkhead behind Capt seat)
    Fired it up & checked out OK.
    I did have a current A&E ticket.
    Not the first time I bailed the company out of HUGE expenses
    & pax inconvenience – happy to have done it!

    Oh yes, I have always carried several tools in my bag.