Top Letters And Comments, September 4, 2020


Tie ‘er Down, Mate. Chocks, Too.

Years ago I did a hand-propping demonstration at the annual Cessna 150-152 Fly-In. Since I was also skydiving into the Fly-In (yes, from a 150), my theme for the demos was “The dangerous can be done safely with proper training”. Both demos went off without a hitch. And were well attended, though the cynic in me wonders about the motivations of some of the viewers for attending….

Anyway, as part of the hand-propping portion I researched the NTSB reports to see how dangerous it really is. The range I searched revealed no lost limbs or fatalities, but lots of runaway airplanes. One plane took off like a full-scale free-flight model… and disappeared over the horizon (gee, just like my 1/4-scale free-flight models). It took a week to find that one.

The only injury I found was actually rather humorous (NTSB Report NYC97LA106):

…A witness reported that he was intrigued by the airplane and had come over to watch the start, taxi, and takeoff. He said he was immediately impressed with the pilot and passenger [husband and wife] of N4832H. He stated that the pair was extremely thorough and conscientious. The witness said he was impressed by the woman hand-propping the airplane and that it was clear “…she really knew what she was doing.” He said that after approximately three attempts to start the airplane, the woman started turning the propeller backwards. He further said:

“At that point the victim came over. He was fairly insistent, kind of take charge … intimidating. The pilot waved him away but he pulled the prop through. I was shocked he just walked over and did this. I think maybe he suffered from complacency. Maybe he couldn’t handle that a woman was hand propping the airplane.”

[The pilot/husband said] “At this point a guy walks up and says, ‘I’ll take it from here.’ The guy yelled, “Mags off!’, and I yelled ‘Mags off, but wait a minute!’ He was way too close to the spinner. He pulled it through, I heard this ‘clunk’, and he fell down out of my view. The airplane did not start. We got out of the plane and saw that it hit his left knee.”

The [husband] reported that he gave his [wife] formal instruction on the hand-propping of his airplane and that she had performed this job successfully for 2 years.

Kirk W.

Urban Air Mobility

I always have to smile whenever I hear some proponent say that UAVs will alleviate ground-based traffic congestion. In the Houston area, over 100,000 people move in and out of the downtown corridor on a weekday, most of them in single passenger cars. At a bare minimum, UAVs would have to replace at least 10,000 of those vehicles to have any measurable impact on road traffic. Ideally about 30,000 would be much better. So:

1) How long will it take to manufacture all those UAVs? If Houston needs at least 10,000, how many would Los Angeles or Chicago need?

2) Who will be able to afford them, considering they will cost more than a car that the person will still have to own for normal non work-related transportation? Taking the UAV to the mall or movie theater complex is probably not going to happen.

3) Where will they land and where will they park all those UAVs every day?

4) How will we manage the flow of that many aerial vehicles converging on a small area at the same time?

In order to be truly effective, we are talking about a transportation revolution that would make the switch from horse to automobile seem simple in comparison. And, that change took almost a half-century. In reality, the change from gasoline to electric ground vehicles with autonomous capability is much more likely to have a significant impact. I’m not saying that UAVs are a waste of time, they will definitely have application in merchandise delivery or similar non-passenger carrying roles. I just don’t buy the hype that we will all be flying like the Jetsons in a few years.

John M.

Poll: Are You Taking Any COVID-19 Flying Precautions?

  • Absolutely. No PAX and skipping those $100 hamburgers for now. Still flying, just having to come up with other excuses to do so.
  • None, my flying has actually gotten busier since COVID.
  • Following NBAA guidelines for masks, sanitizing, and providing hand sanitizer to pax.
  • Wearing a mask only when required – on 135 legs.
  • Not needed, PERIOD!
  • Flying solo. Delaying BFR/IPC.
  • Yes. Clean surfaces. But private aircraft used only by me and family.
  • None, flying as usual.
  • Coronavirus is BS.
  • Disinfecting controls on rental.
  • Not at all.
  • Flying alone.
  • Nothing has changed for me. Still fly every day.
  • Only using a mask when greeting customers.
  • We wipe down controls, knobs, anything touched on our shared aircraft, but we don’t wear masks. The occupants are usually family or friends who came in the same car anyway.
  • Nope, fly on!
  • Yes. I rent and my club currency ran out. So I can’t fly until I take an annual flight check ride with a CFI. I’m not ready to do that, even with a mask.
  • No, I haven’t worn a mask, do not wear a mask, and will not wear a mask while flying.
  • Flying w/ family only. Using masks at FBOs and around others at airports.
  • Other than washing hands, NO!
  • Have not, will not, fly often.
  • Not flying because I need a BFR. Masks and sanitized cockpit are not good enough for health safety in a closed environment with two people.
  • Was wearing a mask in view of passengers…company policy. Just received furlough notice so no more mask.
  • On airlines.
  • PPE and post flight disinfection.
  • Never have, never will.
  • NO. Not effective or needed.
  • Yes, using mask at all times.
  • Any mask short of N-95, which itself is only 44% effective, is like trying to control mosquitoes with a chain-link fence. Virtue signal, I just “feel” like I’m doing something, etc. Only time will put this virus and all the “Chicken Little” nonsense behind us. Please make it soon. We’re destroying the economy of the entire world!
  • Not giving flight instruction during the pandemic.
  • Yes – not flying with other people outside my immediate family.
  • Only when required to.
  • I stopped taking non-essential flight training and limit who I fly with.
  • No – I fly my regular routine; both commercial and private.
  • Picky when flying with other pilots (CFI), wear masks as appropriate, not travelling to states where I’d need to quarantine on return, masks in FBOs.
  • Yes, temperature checks for all and masks during boarding/deplaning.
  • Wearing a mask results in rebreathing CO2, lowering blood O2 levels. How can that be safe? I don’t wear a mask when flying.
  • Spraying an approved disinfectant after each flight.
  • Masks only when required by others, such as comfort flights.
  • Not carrying passengers.
  • The airplane is currently down for an extended annual inspection, so my COVID precautions are with the mechanics and IA, rather than a flight instructor.
  • Fly only solo or with family.
  • No, unnecessary.
  • Yes, masks and cleaning surfaces (club airplane).
  • Pilot & passenger 2-week self-quarantine.
  • No and still flying.
  • My airplane is a single seater.
  • Sure am, flying OVER the COVID!

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