AVmail: December 29, 2003

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Reader mail this week about security level Orange, the attempted replication of the Wright Brother's flight, Enola Gay protestors and more.

Security Level Orange

I for one am irritated with the tone in which "Welcome Back to Level Orange" was written (NewsWire, Dec. 22). Let us not forget that the security restrictions are a direct result of people who would rather wipe all Americans off the face of the planet because we are the only force that stands in the way of their domination of the planet. If this means we are restricted from the skies over Washington or other locations of vital importance, then I am happy to fly as close as I can get to my destination and drive the rest of the way. It is a small price to pay for our defense

Jay Lamb

Attempted Flight Dec. 17

Perhaps the real reason that the Wright Flyer flight was so short (41.6"?) on December 17, 2003, was not the lack of wind, nor the lack of power from the engine in the high humidity, as widely claimed (NewsWire, Dec. 18). Perhaps the real reason was uncertainty in the mind of the pilot over whether or not the Presidential TFR was really and truly lifted yet. Nobody wants to be blasted out of the sky by his own government, in the name of security for the most arrogantly anti-GA president in our nation's history.

Bruce Liddel

Air Tour NPRM

Gotta add my two cents on that Air Tour NPRM (NewsWire, Nov. 17). I couldn't agree more with the EAA/AOPA that the whole project needs to go back to the drawing board. The wrong thinking in that document would take a thick manuscript to address, but here are a couple of stray thoughts.

It may be, as the FAA says, that "most" air tour operators could move over from Part 91 to 135. However, there are plenty who could not -- two-man operations come to mind. Where are they supposed to find a chief pilot with 2 years in the last 6 of 135 experience? Let alone pay him/her? Director of Maintenance for one, two or three airplanes? Come on! For good measure, the FAA "anticipates" that no exceptions to the requirement will be granted. The idea seems to be to put a bunch of small operators out of business, no matter how safe.

There is a lesson in the Hawaii accident briefs. While you can still get a hot debate around here, it certainly appears that the two helicopter CFITs were caused by pilots doing exactly what the SFAR 71 was designed to prevent. You just can't regulate this kind of pilot error out of existence, and you certainly won't save lives by requiring an ops manual. The reason most small operators don't crash is that they are consciencious, careful and safety-minded because their livelihood depends on it. The SFAR went to a great deal of trouble to define terrain/ people/ water/ cloud avoidance limits, ignoring completely the reality of Hawaii weather. The best safety tool is still something a pilot must learn very early in his career -- don't push it.

Mike Hudgins

Enola Gay Protest

Not just the paint was mis-directed (NewsWire, Dec. 22). The entire protest fails to recongize the true saving of lives that resulted from the atomic bombings.

I was on Tinian at the time of the bombings. I operated a radar bombardment simulator. A quarter mile from my tent area they were in the process of building housing for 700 nurses. This facility was only one of the many needed to for the invasion wounded.

Aditionally, the 800 B-29s were destroying a city the size of Berkeley, Calif., every day at that time. In two months we would have been using 2000 bombers carrying even larger bomb loads due to the capture of Okinawa.

The Enola Gay protestors fit the definition of ignorance in action.

Gene Whitt

Contract Towers Redux

The recent congressional debate on the FAA's reauthorization for the coming year made lots of noise over potential contracting of more FAA control towers (NewsWire, Nov. 24). Though NATCA (the union representing FAA tower and en route center controllers) disagreed, public discussion showed that contract towers provide safe and efficient air traffic control at a lower cost than FAA-staffed facilities. One reason existing contract towers across the U.S. provide safe and efficient air traffic control is they comply with the standards of FAA Order 7110.65, which gives rules for separating air traffic.

During the congressional debate there was very little information about the FAA's ongoing A-76 study of Flight Service. This study is examining the possibility of flight services being provided by either private contractors or by FAA Flight Service Stations reorganized into what's called an "MEO," or Most Efficient Organization. Flight Service personnel also have rules for doing their jobs safely -- found in FAA Order 7110.10. And interestingly, the FAA official ramrodding the FAA's A-76 study, Joann Kansier, does not want contractors who provide flight services to be "burdened" by FAA Order 7110.10.

Since this FAA Order lists requirements FAA Flight Service specialists must fulfill to do their jobs safely, why doesn't Ms. Kansier want it to apply to private contractors? Realistically, the use of computers has changed the way Flight Service does its job. And it has been hard to keep 7110.10 up-to-date with advances in information technology. But is the FAA expecting private contractors to provide safe, thorough services out of the goodness of their hearts? The reason private contractors exist is to make money for their owners or shareholders. And such businesses often cut corners and ignore safe practices if it will improve their bottom line.

Why is Ms. Kansier unwilling to require businesses to comply with safety rules that guide the FAA's own employees? It's a question that needs to be asked by general aviation flyers and clearly answered by Ms. Kansier and her bosses.

Steve Collinsworth, AUS