AVmail: July 26, 2004

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Reader mail this week about Sport Pilot and AVweb's coverage of it, skydiving photos, potential closure of the Hudson River VFR corridor and much more.

Sport Pilot Praise and Problems

This is just a quick note to say thanks for your prompt and positive coverage of the Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft rule (NewsWire, July 22).

We appreciate your even-handed, yet entertaining style. I check your page daily (or oftener) for the latest and greatest.

Stop by for a visit to the Sport Pilot Center and say "hi."

Dan Johnson
EAA - Marketing, Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft

Thank you for you coverage of the Sport Pilot rule. I believe that this rule will help reinvigorate general aviation, and I plan to fly under the new rule.

Not normally being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I have noticed one part of the rule that nobody seems to be talking about: the 10,000 ft MSL restriction. I realize that this rule is mainly intended as an entry-level rating for new pilots, but the restriction also closes out vast areas of the Rocky Mountains to anyone operating under the Sport Pilot rule. There are many aircraft that are Sport Pilot qualified and are capable of flying in the Rockies, but those capabilities will not be able to be used, even by pilots who have mountain flying experience, because of the 10,000 ft restriction.

(Name withheld by request)

It appears that the Sport Pilot reg. is going to be nothing more than bureaucratic paperwork. All of the people I know who were or are unable to get at least a third class medical are still out of luck. That means that those of us who are on special issue of our cert. will still be out of luck if we can't get it renewed. And I can't see anyone who's never had a medical or never flown before being interested.

R. B. Johnson

I have read with deepening trepidation the inevitable licensing of Sport Pilots. I was neutral on the issue at first, but now I just don't like it. I have been a pilot for over 35 years and I fly about three times a week in my Comanche 250. Perhaps it is because I fly in the very busy Los Angeles Basin, but I do not relish the thought of sharing the sky with this type of aircraft and "pilots."

The area around here is crowded enough. With a flock of small, hard-to-see new aircraft starting to compete for the services of airports, parking spaces, air traffic control, etc., I think this will cause more problems for our already over-burdened facilities. If we can barely get funding to keep the current services active and up-to-date, what is going to happen when a whole new group of people start competing for these resources?

I admit I am being stingy with what we have now, but introducing a new crop of Sport Pilots without increased funding to handle them in the crowded airports in Southern California is a little scary!

Thank you for letting me air my concern.

Jim Shear

Responsible Skydiving Photo

In a recent letter, Ed Heick wrote (AVmail, July 19):

"The recent picture you show of a skydiver hanging on to the tail of a King Air (Picture of the Week, Jul. 15) should never have been taken, and never published."

First, I'd like to ask what he considered stupid about the photo? The pilot was well aware of the situation, the aircraft was well within CG even with the subject on the tail, and the aircraft was equipped specifically for skydiving.

As the photographer, I can assure you that I am not stupid, that most skydivers I know are not stupid, and that the pilot sure as heck was not stupid.

As for referring all of us to the FAA -- on what grounds? What specific violation was committed?

I expect pilots to be a bit closed-minded about jumpers crawling outside of aircraft in flight, but this was overstated.

I am proud of the photo -- and equally proud of the nearly 3000 jumps I have made.

Lighten up: The sky is a wonderful playground for all of us!

Robbie Culver

PATCO Complaints

PATCO still doesn't get it (AVmail, July 19). They all signed the same piece of paper I did when I first went to work for Uncle Suger back in 1975. The one that said that I would not strike against the Federal Government and that if I did I would be fired. They struck and President Reagan upheld the law.

Get over it! You broke the law and you were fired.

Ghery S. Pettit

Legendary DC-7

Regarding the Legendary DC-7 in your July 22nd article (NewsWire):

The DC-7 did not have 'turbo charged ' engines,, but rather had 'turbo compound engines'. The term 'turbo charged' means having 'super chargers' driven by exhaust gasses, to boost the air pressure going into carburetors or master controls for more power at high altitudes where the air is thin. Turbo compound engines, on the other hand, have "PRTs" or power recovery turbines, which are powered by the exhaust gasses, but are geared into the engine reduction drive to provide more power to the prop, which in the case of the DC-7 consists of 3 turbines per engine, which together add 450 horsepower to each engine, which otherwise would have been wasted out the exhaust system. The nickname for the PRTs in the airlines were "Parts Recovery Turbines", due to the engine not being as reliable as the Pratt & Whitney engines used on the DC-6, though much more powerful! But it was (is) still a great engine!

William E. Killmer

Closure of Hudson River VFR Corridor

Below is a copy of a letter that I sent to Senator Schumer in response to his call to close the Hudson River Corridor to VFR traffic.

As a registered Democrat who voted for Senator Schumer, a long time resident of New York City and a General Aviation pilot, I was dismayed by Senator Schumer's call to permanently close down the Hudson River Corridor to General Aviation traffic. It is just hyperbolic fear mongering and reactionary behavior to clamp down on a minimal threat simply because it is publicly dramatic to do so when so many other more significant threats exist. The destructive force of a small plane is nothing compared to a U-haul truck filled with whatever and rented without regulation to anyone who wants and driven down any block in the city. Especially when ABC News Primetime has managed to sneak depleted uranium into the country twice, once right into Port Elizabeth just across the harbor from the Statue of Liberty.

The reality is that General Aviation has never been used as a terrorist weapon, as opposed to commercial aviation and ground bound vehicles, yet is remains the obsessive focus of Washington politicians to the detriment of the security of the country.

Security of this city is obviously of the utmost importance. I watched the towers collapse from my office on Fifth Avenue on 9/11. My wife worked downtown and was among the tens of thousands who fled uptown covered in grime. I understand the need for security for my family more palpably than the rest country outside of New York City and DC. However, the VFR corridor down the Hudson is not part of that need. The VFR corridor is an important link in the North East airspace network. And, more importantly, it acts as a postcard-like welcome to thousands of visitors each year who use it to travel to the New York area GA reliever airports (like Westchester County Airport) and spend their dollars in New York State. To close it without specific threats is an over-reaction. Especially when, in the few unfortunate examples of GA planes being used to commit suicide by flying into buildings (Tampa, Fl for instance) the damage done to the building was significantly less than had the person driven a car into the lobby.

A much better use of the Senators influence would be to guide the Energy and Natural Resources Committee towards an "Apollo Moon Mission" like challenge to the nations energy companies to develop alternative fuels and relieve the need for this country to support the epicenters of radical Islam like Saudi Arabia. The only way New Yorkers will be truly safe is when the desire to hurl violence at America is eradicated at the roots. Democracy in the Middle East -- something that won't come when crude oil prices are still $40 a barrel -- is the only long-term solution to our security.

Peter Levine

What About the Other Wheel?

One wonders why the pilot of that ill-fated Archer that lost its yoke didn't just use the other one (NewsWire, July 15).

With a passenger, you engage the autopilot and swap spots -- or throw him out the door there on the right. Without one, turn on the AP and just move over.

Greg Bullough

Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own letter to the editor with this form.