AVmail: February 16, 2004

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Reader mail this week about pilots breaking airplanes, acquiring deadly weapons, buying lots of planes and more.

DC-9 Hard Landing

The aircraft in the video was Ship 909 (NewsWire, Feb. 9). I worked at Douglas Aircraft back then and remember watching this video right after the event. Ship 909 was repaired but never sold to a customer. 909 ended up being used for a number of flight test purposes, one of which was the integration and flight test of a single GE UDF (Unducted Fan Engine). Just thought you might want to know a bit more about that aircraft.

Jim Davidson
President - FAA DER
Davidson Engineering Resources

Better Stick-and-Rudder Pilots Needed

Your article on the sensitive rudders of the Airbus (Newswire, Feb. 9) brings to mind a couple of comments.

First, many, if not most, airline pilots think of the rudder pedals as "the place where the brakes are installed."

The rudders are used with great sensitivity by all aerobatic and/or tailwheel pilots, even though the leg muscles are "very strong."

This is not to say that a PIO [pilot-induced oscillation] couldn't have caused the problem, but to suggest some tail-dragger time for the heavy iron guys!

Bud Weisbrod
Flight Instructor

Route Out Bad Habits?

Regarding your blurb for "Instructional Methods for Flight Instructors," one doesn't "route" out bad habits, he "routs" them out. Sorry, spell-check won't catch that one; it takes a human. (That is one of very few typos that I've found here!)

Pat Donovan

AVweb Replies

You're referring to an advertisement that appeared in the Feb. 9 AVflash email and wasn't written by our news team. Nonetheless, we should have caught that. However, the consensus of the editing team is that the word should be "root" -- as in, animals digging out roots.

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Features and AVmail Editor

Media vs. GA

It never ceases to amaze me that anyone is surprised that the controlled media continues to issue anti-GA propaganda (NewsWire, Feb. 9). Our freedom to fly, in fact any and all our freedoms, are a threat to those who would, if given the chance, control every aspect of our lives from cradle to grave. The controlled media is the biggest threat to our liberty -- far worse even than Congress or the courts -- since it controls the information Americans use to make decisions about how to elect those who make the laws we are forced to obey. People should be asking, "Who controls those who control our information?"

Denny Jackson

Pilots and Weapons

The recent story on arming cargo pilots (NewsWire, Feb. 4) refers to pilots who had "command of nuclear weapons" in the military. While pilots may have had custody of those weapons, they could not have detonated them. Our weapons have special codes locked into them which must be entered in a cockpit control panel before the weapon will arm. Those codes are not known to anyone who has access to nuclear weapons. Further, the people who load the codes (done under the supervision of armed guards and other officers) do not even know the full code -- it's a two part number with each part entered separately by the two members of the coding team who each know only their half of the code.

Not even the President knows those numbers, whose two parts must be accessed separately by two people in response to an order from the President in order to create the coded execution order, which includes the full bomb code and is transmitted to the crew. Not until the execution order is received and decoded by the crew does the crew have the ability to arm the weapon. And the movie "War Games" was correct about one thing -- at any step along the way from President to the crew, any one person can stop the show.

The closest you could equate this to the armed pilot on the airlines would be if the clip and ammo were kept in a locked box with two combination dials on it, and the combinations were set by two different people (neither of whom was allowed unescorted access to the cockpit), and the pilots weren't told the combinations until the president of the airline convinced two other people on the ground that the gun should be used.

Thus, the situation is not comparable. U.S. nuclear weapons cannot be detonated unless a lot of people agree to do so. Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) handguns can be used instantly and with immediate deadly effect if the FFDO alone chooses to do so. That is a very big difference, and why cops undergo different screening than pilots.

Name withheld by request
Former Nuclear-Weapons-Qualified Military Pilot


I have been a pilot since Feb. 1939, spent 14 years in the U.S. Army Air Corps and USAF, and hold a multiengine-land certificate and instrument rating. I am 87 years old now and have not actively flown since 1975, but I still love airplanes (the P-38 was my favorite). During my Air Force career I checked out and delivered 55 different types of a/c and was one of the first 100 Air Corps-trained pilots stationed at Santa Monica, then later at Long Beach, Calif.

My reason for giving you this background is because I want to express my appreciation and thanks for being able to read your Internet AVflash newsletter for the last two and a half years (approximately). I might be considered an "old geezer" by many, but I still enjoy keeping up with the most interesting and challenging business there is.

As your editor says each newsletter, Be Careful Out There!

Dr. A.W. Adkins Jr.

Widow of UAL 93 flies F16

I believe Jason Dahl was the Captain of UAL 93 not the First Officer (NewsWire, Feb. 12). Leroy Homer was the First Officer. Leroy was a friend of my wife's family. Also, Leroy was a USAF Pilot with Gulf War experience.

Captain Jim Carney, NWA

GA Delivery Statistics

I always enjoy reading latest AVweb news. In your recent article on GA deliveries (Newswire, Feb. 12), you do not include kits sold and kits completed. To us EAA'ers, the ancient spam cans that you mention are borrrriiing. EAA reports that 650 builders requested a special centennial plaque for their completions last year alone. Total number of all completions probably exceeds this by quite a margin. The total number of completions of all Van's aircraft now exceeds 3600. This is the good news in GA deliveries!

Kent Misegades

Clearance, Clarence? Roger, Roger

Last Monday, AVweb wrote (Short Final, Feb. 9):

Tower: Cessna XXX can you land and hold short 31-13.

(brief pause)

Cessna: You bethca.

Tower: XXX is that a roger?

Cessna: Roger. Land and hold short 31-13.

The tower erred. They should have asked for a "Negative" or "Affirmative" response, not a "Roger," which simply means that the pilot received the message.

Hal Olson