AVmail: March 24, 2003

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Reader mail this week about the Wright stuff, the FAA information network and more.

The "Wright" Stuff ... And A Kiwi's Accomplishments Are Still Remembered

In the early Kiwi airplane piece in your March 20 issue, your writer shifts time frames without explanation. The result appears to imply that the 1903 Wright (Kitty Hawk) Flyer benefitted from a catapult launch. It didn't. The 1903 Flyer made its total of four successful flights (all on December 17) from its rail on level ground. The weight-dropping catapult was used first on Sept. 7, 1904, to launch the 1904 airplane at Huffman Prairie in light winds on a short "runway," the wood rail. To imply that the 1903 Flyer used a catapult is to perpetuate a myth nearly a century old.

Dave Martin

In Thursday's NewsWire, AVweb writes:

"With Amanda Wright Lane and her brother Stephen Wright, both descendents of Wilbur and Orville Wright ..."

"Relatives," perhaps, but not (at least as far as Wilbur and Orville ever admitted) "descendants." I am not aware of either Wilbur or Orville having any children.

I always enjoy your NewsWire -- Tuesday and Thursday would not be complete without them. Thank you very much for all your work.

Wayne Cochrane

AVweb responds ...

You're correct. We should have massaged that language a little.

Paul Bertorelli
Editorial Director

Pilot Life Insurance -- The State of the Industry

Excellent article about life insurance.

Years ago, I worked in the underwriting department at Met Life. Once my boss learned that I was a pilot, I started to get involved in the underwriting decisions on pilots.

I was responsible for ATPs getting a further reduction on premiums than those pilots with lower ratings (I taught my boss about the different types of certificates).

While going through files one day, I came across a case where the underwriters felt that a pilot was flying a "modified" glider, since on his underwriting application, he stated that "he uses thermals" to find more lift.

Apparently thermals were considered to be a component of some "modified" gliders. Ouch.

Keep up the good work.

Thomas Lembessis

FAA Information Network Geared Up

Your coverage of new ADIZ and TFR restrictions quotes the FAA as saying they're doing all they can to get the word out at a moment's notice. If that's the best they can do, we're in trouble. Take a look at the website that links to the new special NOTAMs and you find its host page still carries a Sept. 27, 2002 date! If someone came in the "front door" to the site they'd never know where to look.

Also, the NOTAM "identification system" -- a true oxymoron -- makes it utterly impossible to tell by inspection if the NOTAM you're seeing is the latest one. And now, 2-1/2 years after the original event, FAA still hasn't figured out how to graphically show people where not to fly. Private enterprise and the Bureau of Land Management -- of all people -- had to fill the gap. FAA arm-waving and gum-flapping has done little to soothe my concerns that it is surrendering much of its airspace stewardship to cities, sports interests and myriad security officials whose concerns don't include the health of the aviation industry.

Rick Lentz

Sierra Approach Becomes Norcal Approach

In the March 13 AVmail, Mike McHugh wrote:

"I just received my latest Jepp chart updates, and effective 3/20, it seems that Sierra Approach will become Norcal Approach."

NACO IFR charts have the same change.

The interesting thing is that no NOTAM announcing the change has been published. So IFR pilots have been informed via chart updates, but VFR pilots calling for Class B/C services or flight following might not have a clue about the latest radio call change. The San Francisco VFR charts aren't due for an update for a while yet. The March 20 AF/D should show the change though.

Garth Cummings