AVmail: August 18, 2003

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Reader mail this week about commercialism at Oshkosh, spins and stalls, boycotting Chicago and more.

Commercialism at Oshkosh

I note that many people responding to your QOTW think commercialism is "way out of hand at Oshkosh." I beg to differ. Oshkosh has infinite potential -- what it turns out to be for you is exactly what you make it.

I camped beside a guy who was flying a Kitfox ultralight and had some great chats about grassroots flying.

I escaped the sun sitting on the grass under several wings and chatted with the proud builders of little (and some not-so-little) airplanes.

And, being almost ready to plunge into building a plane myself, I also spent a lot of time investigating potential purchases. Where else can you see, touch, and ask questions about absolutely everything you would ever want to own related to flying, from headsets to hangar doors?

I was especially impressed with the guys manning the Express Aircraft Co. display. They soldiered on in the most difficult circumstances imaginable. Great airplane -- great people. Typical Oshkosh.

I will concede one point on commercialism. Earth to EAA: Please dump that dumb Marketing 101 name "Airventure". It's OSHKOSH, and it will always be OSHKOSH.

Dave Newcombe

Emery DC-8 Coverage

I just wanted to second Mr. Pryce's comments on the Emery crash, and add a couple thoughts.

We learn from the mistakes and misfortunes of others, and that is the nature of the game. Only by reflecting on and discussing events like the sad loss of the Emery DC-8 and her crew do we move forward with lessons learned and shared that may benefit us all. From the tragedy of Columbia to an obscure off field landing by a light single on pastureland, there are lessons and opportunities for analysis that inform and improve us as we strive to be better, more responsible flyers.

Any breakdown in the system, any loss of an aircraft, deserves our respectful contemplation and reflection, for someday, it might be our fate to be in the same position. Maybe, those lessons learned on the ground will save the day. I know that in my own flying, those lessons have saved my life and steered me clear of trouble that others could not see. There are always patterns within patterns that leave us clues to understand what others call "a bad day."

A century after Kitty Hawk, we're all still on a learning curve-and there's no end in sight.

Thanks for being there and doing the great job you do of keeping us informed.

Roland Delhomme

Spins And Stalls Strike All Pilots

I can explain the higher Tomahawk spin rate (reported August 14).

I was amongst a group of instructors who worked for a Piper distributor when the Tomahawk came out, and we got one of the first ones. When we got the chance to fly it, there were several of us who sort-of challenged each other to be the first to spin the PA-38.

I was the second to spin it, and I had done 25-30 spins when the AD came out grounding the aircraft because Piper had used 3/32 rivets instead of 1/8 rivets to put on the tail (Whew!)

On the first spin, I noticed that the entry seemed OK, but within 1/2 turn the spin flatted out quite a bit. Although it was a little slow, the recovery was good and positive.

Being young in those days I went up and did it again several times, and I discovered that when you did a spin entry very easy and near level attitude, it would flatten out. If you rushed the stall and had the nose up higher, the spin would really be much more of a steep spiral and not flatten out.

I had done a lot of spins in that aircraft. It was the only spinable aircraft we had at that time, and I was always doing at least a spin demo with all of my students before I let them solo to the practice area. That was because I still remember my shock from my first spin, which was when I was going for my CFI. So I promised that none of my students would wait that long to see their first spin, and I never lost a student over that issue. In fact most of them wanted to do spins, and we did. That might explain why even high-time pilots with commercial certificates had a high rate of stall/spin accidents -- I wonder how many of them were CFIs with spin training? I was asked by several of the instructors I worked with to give them additional spin training because they were not comfortable doing spins themselves.

I can't say this is positively the answer, but it is surely a coincidence I can't discount.

Barry S. Canner

Chicago Redux

I was more or less forced to visit Chicago this week. I really planned to boycott the city. Not that my two cents would matter. But I walked myself silly over the parks downtown. It made me wonder, "Just how many parks does Daley want?"

Tom Lord