AVmail: January 12, 2004

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Reader mail this week about commenting on the Air Tour NPRM, getting to FSDOs, the Young Eagles and more.

Air Tour NPRM

Part 135 certification for rides, eh? (NewsWire, Jan. 5.) What's next -- same for sky-diver and glider-tow pilots? After all, sky-divers pay for their ride, and so do those who get sailplanes hauled aloft. I'm afraid to pose this question to the FAA, because they just might think it's a good idea.

Bob Falconer

I went to respond to the call to comment on the FAA NPRM limiting antique/classic aircraft owners from charging for airplane rides to maintain their airplanes but you did not include the docket number. You conveniently placed a URL to access the FAA comment page but it's hard to do without the docket number. You need to do a follow up email with the necessary information so we pilots can respond.

Art Lindstrom

AVweb Responds:

Sorry for the confusion. Read the NPRM here, and make comments here. (You don't have to "register" to submit a comment.) The docket is numbered FAA-1998-4521, and titled, "National Air Tour Safety Standards." So far, over 900 comments have been submitted.

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Features and AVmail Editor

Prepared for Winter Flying?

As both a former mountain rescue instructor and CFI at a small airport in Vermont (6B0), I was continually amazed at the number of GA pilots who would fire up their aircraft in the dead of winter and take off for a short flight down the road clad only in street shoes, blue jeans, and a modestly inslulated winter coat. Knowing that engines sometimes fail, every winter pilot should depart equipped to spend at least one night exposed on the ground at any point along their intended route of flight.

It takes only a few minutes to pack a small bag with extra clothing or a small sleeping bag and toss it into the back seat. If the unanticipated forced landing in a remote area doesn't seriously injure you, there's still a good chance that the search team will recover only a frozen carcass the following day. Hypothermia is called the "killer of the unprepared", because it numbs not only the body but the mind and reasoning ability as well. Yes, you can likely drain some fuel from your damaged aircraft to start a fire and even get it lit with a spark from your aircraft battery, but wouldn't a $1 Bic lighter have been a better idea?

Cotton, when wet, is a killer; wool, wet or dry, can save your life. Make yourself a small winter survival bag containing extra clothing, perhaps a sleeping bag, some fire-starting materials, and a small tin can to melt snow in or to drain fuel as a firestarter. In New England, you're likely never far from a birch tree, and birch bark is the greatest fire starter ever known. Throw in a couple of candy bars or even a MRE, and the following morning when the SAR team locates you, you can say, "Hi, guys - join me for breakfast?"

Jim Peden

And we thought the FAA was OTL

Let's see. Almanacs are dangerous according to the FBI, since they contain data on targets of opportunity.

Light planes must be banned from lots of airspace because of [whatever whim you care to add].

Now a clerk at a Staples big box store has decided to take the war on terrorism to a new level, by ratting off to the cops some poor mom trying to buy flight simulator software for her 10-year-old:

An innocent inquiry to a Staples store clerk about a computer software program that teaches how to fly an airplane by instrumentation brought a surprise visit this holiday season to a local family from the state police.

The Recorder, Greenfield, Mass., Jan. 6, 2004

Name withheld by request

FSDO Secure But Open for Business

This is in response to a letter written by Steve McDonald (AVmail, Jan. 5) in which he expressed difficulty obtaining directions to the Orlando FSDO. Directions to the office are clearly displayed on the Orlando FSDO web site. Links to all FSDO web sites are available from the FAA Home Page or through any internet search engine, such as Google.

We in the Orlando FSDO are committed to customer service, and we work hard to foster a positive and safe aviation environment. If Mr. McDonald experiences any difficulties with future phone calls to the FSDO, I encourage him to ask for me, or any supervisor on duty. We assure that Mr. McDonald will receive a prompt, courteous response.

With regard to Mr. McDonald's comments about security in Federal Government offices, procedures have long been established to ensure the safety of everyone who enters a Government facility. The tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001 has forced us to strengthen security at all levels for employees as well as the public; however, in no way does that diminish our commitment to customer service.

Joseph R. Hunt
Manager, Orlando FSDO

Young Eagles Still Flying

In his letter to the editor (AVmail, Jan. 5), Bill Rirchie states:

... when we had the opportunity to fly many "Young Eagles" for the EAA. When that program ended after the millionth young person was flown and the celebration of 100 years of powered flight was observed ...

Bill's attitude is to be commended -- but the fact is that the Young Eagles program is alive and strong.

Robbie Culver