AVmail: May 12, 2003

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Reader mail this week about silence of the lambs, a casino at Meigs Field and more.

As the Beacon Turns: The Silence of the Lambs

Mr. Maya Charles:

I found your story very interesting. I'm an A&P/IA professionally, and a glider pilot for fun (not at the moment -- I work in the Central Pacific for the U.S. Army, but that's another story).

I did think that perhaps you might have focused on something that I think is the most detrimental aspect of aviation folks -- we're trained to follow rules implicitly. Whether it's an ATC command, or a manufacturer's SB, we're taught from day 1 to "follow the book" at all costs.

This hurts us when we have to fight for GA: We, as a group, are far more likely to just follow the new rules than challenge them. We're just not set up for that! As a result, we start losing the freedoms a little at a time -- we've taken them for granted for so long that when the disappear, we just ... go on, rather than morn their loss.

I grew up on Long Island, N.Y., and I can remember a friend of the family taking me for a ride in his Bonanza. We flew into the midtown Manhattan area, at 1500 or so, and had a blast, crisscrossing the island 5-6 times. Odds are pretty good I'll never do that again.

Finally, your story reminded me of something that one of my instructors in A&P school told me once. He claimed that he could always tell who would stay in aviation, and who wouldn't, by a simple trip outside. He would arrange to bring the freshman class out onto the ramp to talk about parts and pieces of the aircraft early in September. Now, our school's ramp (Kansas State University in Salina) was right under the normal traffic pattern for the major runway, so there would usually be 4-6 or more aircraft of various sorts in the pattern -- mostly training aircraft, but some others, too. He'd get all the kids out directly under the aircraft, and just pay attention to what they'd do. He claimed, with 80% certainty, that those kids who looked up to see what aircraft were flying over, would stay in the field. Those that didn't -- would bolt the first time the money got tough (and we all know that would eventually happen).

I'm still looking up.

Richard T. Perry

AVweb responds:

Glad you enjoyed the piece.

I'm not sure I buy the "training" angle that you propose as a reason why we don't respond to the crisis in GA. I'm more inclined to believe it's simply laziness, apathy and perhaps a bit of that magical child thinking that says, "Aviation has always been around; why should we worry now?"

Thanks for the note -- and keep looking up!

Michael Maya Charles

Meigs to Become a Casino?

Mayor Daley has announced he's been talking to the state about Chicago having a casino -- possibly "near" McCormick place (which is next to Meigs) or the Sun Times tower. I have been telling people this for years, but nobody would listen.

Dave Leonard

On the Fly: Peter M. Bowers Died April 27

What sad news to hear about Pete Bowers! I have been flying for 39 years and have become accustomed to taking his historical accuracy for granted. I met Pete for the first time in person at the Northwest Aviation Conference in Washington this February. His presentation and slides were informative and remarkable. He provided all of us with a perspective unique to the Wright Brothers' experience. He was a Smithsonian unto himself. Thank you, Pete, for many years of setting the record straight. How accurate can history be? Seldomly more accurate than the meticulous detail and photos collected and shared by Pete Bowers all these years.

Eric Gourley

The FAA Global Agenda: Fractional Ownership

Fractional ownership a nightmare? Years ago I was involved in "fractional ownership" and it was a delight. Four of us bought an M-model Bonanza. We agreed on a monthly owner fee to cover maintenance/insurance, etc., and a per-hour use fee. Every four months the plane was "mine" for a month. Others could use it if they got the OK from me. As time went on, one owner moved, so the three of us bought him out, and in time the other two owners moved so I wound up the sole owner. During our shared (fractional) ownership time the program worked well. If it can work with four individuals with limited finances, surely big corporations can figure out a plan with all that gray matter and dollars at their command.

Martin Pillers

Eyes Front

Pilots should be aware of the fact that the Lasik procedure is not reversible; if you get a "bad" Lasik, the only remedy is another Lasik.

Richard Herbst