AVmail: Jan. 10, 2005

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Reader mail this week about frost contamination, lasers, and still more about controller and pilot retirement ages.

Frost Contamination

Regarding recent stories about frost on a wing (NewsWire, Jan. 3):

Often proven is the fact that an aircraft with hoar frost on its wing will fly in ground effect at a given airspeed, but upon leaving ground effect at that same airspeed the wing will be stalled. Due to the now-higher angle of attack, the wing will not unstall and a crash results.

While one should not fly with a compromised wing, the wing can become somewhat compromised between de-icing and getting takeoff clearance.

The answer, if one decides to go, is to provide a margin of safety: Keep the aircraft on the ground for extra speed, rotate more gently and have a solid amount of extra speed before leaving ground effect. While this procedure probably cannot be approved by officialdom, it works well and all pilots should at least least be aware of it.

Doug Scott

Lasers Aimed at Aircraft

Before we all get up in arms about the recent rash of lasers being shined into cockpits of aircraft (NewsWire, Jan. 3 and Jan. 6), doesn't it strike anyone as strange that they are all green lasers?

Well, it turns out -- if you bothered to Google -- that there are some new laser pointers with -- you guessed it -- green lasers. They are much brighter than red ones and the beam, not just the dot, can be seen at night. They can project the dot as far away as 10,000 feet. And what might be 10,000 unobstructed feet away? Right again! So it's not terrorists, it's just idiots.

The only good thing is that they cost a lot more than the red ones (~$100) so the average cheap idiot won't be trying it, only the relatively rich idiots.

Frank Stadmeyer

This Year in Aviation

Wow! You guys missed a biggie (2004 Year in Review)! Eclipse flew the first and second flights with the Pratt & Whitney engines on December 31, 2004 to become the only VLJ manufacturer with a fully type-conforming aircraft in the air. (Adam's plane is simply a non-conforming prototype.) Also, Eclipse made good on its promise made almost two years ago to fly by the end of 2004, also making it the only VLJ manufacturer to keep it's promises.

Linda D. Pendleton

AVweb Replies:

Yes, you folks at Eclipse managed to slip that flight in after the publishing deadline for that article but before the end of the year. Give us credit, though: It was our lead news story on the next available NewsWire (Jan. 3).

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Features Editor

Builder's Center and Assistance Facility

We are pleased to invite the readers of AVweb to the grand opening of Kitplane Builders, the first integrated Builder's Center and Assistance Facility in Canada, on January 22 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The new Builder's Center has all the tools, space and resources you need if you're finishing your kitplane or contemplating building one. With professional tools and assistance, warm, well-lit and spacious work areas, a resource centre and a meeting room, Kitplane Builder's offers you the best place to finish your aircraft.

For more details on Kitplane Builders, please see our Web site or call us at 416.453.5396.

Paul Fleming

Trying to Close Pine Mountain Airport

Callaway Gardens and Resort officials Tuesday asked Harris County commissioners to permanently close the county airport (Pine Mountain Airport -- PIM) operated by Callaway west of Hamilton, Ga. (See this story).

Most interesting to me is the fact that Callaway Gardens Resort Agency is offering to pay back the $13,275 of the FAA grant money given to Harris County for airport expansion.

It seems to me that it would be a miscarriage of justice if the FAA allowed a commercial entity to undo the federal protection awarded to a public resource just by "paying back" the federal money involved.

I base at Covington, Ga., airport (9A1), approx. 65 nm from Pine Mountain airport in Harris County. Admittedly, I believe that most of the use of Pine Mountain airport is for weekend getaways and Sunday brunch trips to Callaway Gardens' resort by local pilots. That being stated, it would be a shame to lose access to this beautiful fixture in central Georgia for the commercial interests of a resort builder.

Callaway Gardens has stated that they are working to have a decision before March, so if we are going to take a position on this airport we had better act quickly.

Kenneth "K.C." Budd

UAL Retirement

What has gone largely unreported by the media, a fact I find deplorable, is how United is abdicating its responsibilities to its retirees (NewsWire, Jan. 6) but stillmanages to find about $100,000/plane to repaint their fleet.

Talk about messed up priorities. And still they ask for government handouts.

Thomas Gray

Retirement Age

I have to answer Bert, John and those others who think age means something (AVmail, Jan. 3).

I recently heard a professor on NPR defend age as a good proxy for ability for airline pilots. Although he sounded very authoritative, he obviously wasn't aware of the two medicals (and the randoms), two sims, route checks, peer reviews/ union committees etc that each pilot undergoes annually. Not to mention the little microphone in the cockpit to point the way to honesty.

If ever there was a profession not in need of a proxy of any kind, this is it. I think the same is true for controllers. A supervisor stands over their shoulder all the time. Am I correct to assume they can also work back down the ladder? If their extremely superior ability got them to O'Hare, maybe they can back off to Santa Fe and give the system more years of safe productivity.

In any event, for both professions, let the system work, meaning let ability be the determinant. Sure the clock will win in the end, but let the medicos and especially supervisors who have almost constant contact, read the darn thing. That's what they're paid for.

Mike Hudgins

Tsunami Relief QOTW Results

I am appalled at the results from this week's Question of the Week (Jan. 6) regarding member contributions to tsunami relief charities. How could so many of us feel that it is appropriate to sit back and take a wait-and-see attitude in the face of the worst natural disaster of our lifetimes? While they dither, thousands suffer and die. Shame on those rich, cheap, over-privileged pilots who sit back complacently on their ample behinds, content to let others shoulder the load. Get up and write a check to the Red Cross. You'll never notice the absence of that $100, but it just might save a kid's life in Sri Lanka or Indonesia.

Jon Klayman

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