AVmail: May 15, 2006

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Reader mail this week about ATC, UFOs, ethanol in mogas and much more.

Kudos to ATC

I would like to commend the tower personnel at Smyrna, Tenn., (MQY) for the excellent service given on May 6. EAA was holding their Sport Pilot Seminar there and the Tower made every effort to accommodate these smaller and slower aircraft.

My primary reason for writing is that I was flying a powered parachute, which as you know (or may not know) has a ground speed of 30 miles per hour, plus or minus the wind. While we normally do not go into Class D airports, the Tower made arrangements for me to take off and to land during this period. They were willing to accommodate me in every way and requested what services I would like.

We normally do not use the regular traffic pattern, as the FARs state that we (helicopters and powered parachutes) will remain clear of other aircraft.

Again, I can only state how very helpful the Tower supervisor and personnel were in accommodating and assisting me during this period.

Jim Mac Leay

Position and Hold Clearances

As an NATCA member and air traffic controller, I hope that AVweb keeps abreast of imposed regulations the FAA is putting on veteran air traffic controllers (NewsWire, Mar. 9). In the dumbing-down of air traffic control and separation of aircraft, the FAA has and/or is determining that some airports will be able to use taxi into position and hold (TIPH) and some will not. There is no rhyme or reason to this issue.

Our facility has never had one operational error due to TIPH procedures; yet we will soon be penalized and restricted from using TIPH. In doing so, the FAA is forcing undue delays on arriving and departing aircraft. Please advise your pilots, our customers, that while we are sorry for the delays they will incur due to the FAA's removal of our shooting gaps and filling holes, we are/will be no longer allowed the ability to actually control air traffic in the manner we have done for many, many decades.

The best solution for pilots -- commercial, corporate and GA -- is too call their Congressman and ask them to please tell Ms. Blakey to let air traffic controllers do their jobs the way they know how, and get rid of the excessive TIPH restrictions implemented at hundreds of airports nationwide. We just want to do our jobs the way we know how, without the FAA telling us we are no longer allowed to separate planes on runways any more. Thank you for your consideration.

Donna Cole

Yankee Air Museum

Interested parties can also support the Yankee Air Museum (POTW, May 11) and have a unique keepsake by purchasing the DVD documenting last August's air show, Thunder Over Michigan, featuring a formation flyover of eight B-17s. Arguably the largest gathering of flyable B-17s since WWII.

John La Jeunesse


Of course, I absolutely believe the government's explanation for UFOs (Question of the Week, May 10). When has the government -- U.S. or U.K. -- ever lied to us? Name even one time, you anarchists!

Tim Kern

Kudos to Savvy Aviator

I just today discovered the "Savvy Aviator" series of articles. I'm an A&P Instructor at Spokane Community College and used the "But It Just Came Out Of Annual!" story and pictures for a whole lecture today. We are doing inspections right now and the pictures of that 320 really struck a chord with our 27 new mechanics. We have a 310 and a 421 for mock-up planes and they went at the 100 hr and annuals with new vigor. The series is the best thing I've read lately. Thank you, Mike Busch, for doing them.

Mac McLaughlin

Picture of the Week

Imagine my surprise when I saw my aircraft as the Picture of the Week today (POTW, May 11). What a great shot by James Wheyford (who I do not know). However, I thought I might correct your title. My plane is an O-2A carrying the B/N #67-21383, which saw service during the Vietnam War in Thailand and SVN from 1967 to 1974.

Karen Adams Brinkley

Ethanol-Mix Push Threatens Mogas Use

We note that one of the news items in AVweb (NewsWire, May 8) is:

It looks like the future of mogas use in airplanes is limited unless something is done to reduce the U.S.'s growing preference for ethanol as a fuel additive. Most states are considering laws requiring up to 10 percent ethanol in all or most automotive gasoline and the federal government seems poised to make it easier for oil companies to make the switch by reducing, suspending or even canceling a 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol (which is generally a lot cheaper than the domestic variety). That's bad news for aircraft owners who've obtained supplementary type certificates (STCs) allowing the use of automotive fuel in their engines. Ethanol-blended fuels are not permitted under the STCs.

It is time for us to look at and reflect upon the issues behind the drive to utilize ethanol as a gasoline additive.

The additive previously used -- MTBE [methyl tertiary butyl ether] -- offered (and still offers!) a number of advantages. It has a good octane rating. Unlike ethanol or especially methanol, it doesn't harm a car's or a piston airplane's engine.

Also, MTBE offers a great way to utilize methanol, which can be made at low price by locating methanol plants where natural gas is readily available. Said methanol may then be shipped to refineries, where it is reacted with butane to form MTBE and then blended with gasoline.

For years, MTBE did a great job in meeting legislated requirements for gasoline to have approximately 3.5% combined oxygen, as a pollution control measure.

Unfortunately mother nature threw a frustrating show-stopper at us when MTBE started turning up in water wells and surface waters. This problem could have been solved by: 1) replacing leaking gas tanks at gas stations; and 2) requiring motorboat owners to get rid of leaky, smog-generating, two-stroke, outboard motors. But the "green" crowd, who tend to dislike technology and our way of life in general, demanded that MTBE be outlawed.

I think everybody, whether they are part of aviation or not, would be better off if our nation were to have addressed the MTBE-water contamination issue by the measures I mentioned above, rather than replacing MTBE with ethanol.

There is another way we can use methanol (not to be confused with ethanol) in aviation: If aircraft diesel engines (and there are some now flying) can be certified to run on fuels containing "biodiesel" (made by reacting methanol with various fatty substances), that would reduce the aviation world's dependence on Middle East oil. We should also consider the possibility of using biodiesel in various percentages in fuels for turboprop and jet aircraft.

Alex Kovnat


I am the chairman of the Allegan Area Pilots Association (AAPA) and I wish to point out some factual errors in the article on the Michigan Fly-In (NewsWire, May 5).

The first Allegan fly-in was not organized by the EAA, nor is it organized by the EAA today. The first fly-in was organized exclusively by Dodgen Aircraft, the airport FBO.

The AAPA was organized later with the purpose of protecting and promoting the airport and, with time, became more involved with planning/manning the fly-in.

Your article states quite clearly that the "local EAA chapter and other groups organized the event..." This makes it sound like the EAA has a lead role in organizing/sponsoring the event, which it does not! The only portion of the fly-in that the EAA is involved with is the Young Eagles flights. As far as I know, we don't have a local EAA chapter (the nearest is in Kalamazoo).

The AAPA and Dodgen Aircraft have spent months planning and preparing for this event. Andy Millen has been the point-person for arranging for the FAA tower and participates in the Young Eagles flights; however, the bulk of the advance work has been done by Jason Blair of Dodgen and the AAPA.

We certainly appreciate and value the contribution of Andy and the EAA, but I think you need to set the record straight here.

Ken Appleman

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