AVmail: Aug. 14, 2006
Teaching Young People To Fly
This week's articles (NewsWire, Aug. 7) did not mention the Civil Air Patrol, which also introduces young people to flying. As Cadets, kids (12-17) get five hours of glider training and five hours of powered aircraft training. This is another source for young people to be introduced to aviation and piloting.
I haven't read the chats, but I'm not the least surprised that young people are not entering aviation as a career.
Money: It is blanking expensive to learn to fly. Also, many of the old paths are closing up -- FBOs, small prop air tours, charters, check flying, night cargo. This makes the FBO who would let kids pump gas for lessons scarcer, and students for CFIs harder to find. Beginning pay is abysmal as always, but stays that way throughout the career, and many airlines charge for initial training and even the application.
Heroes: The Chuck Yeagers and John Glenns are my gen, not theirs. Who are their role models? What airplanes excite kids? All airliners look alike, and we are getting closer to making the pilot-and-dog story reality.
The Physical: I wonder if there is a relation here with the news that 30% of American kids are obese?
The Job: Like Rodney [Dangerfield], airline pilots get no respect from anybody. They get in the way at crowded security gates, take off their shoes like everybody else and get hammered in the press for every incident. Who would want a job with long, crazy hours, years of pay below that of the most menial computer worker, many nights in hotels, playing "you bet your job" with every sim, route and medical check, wondering when the next round of pay cuts will come from the millionaire executives (that is, if your airline survives at all), and how you'll live past age 60 with no retirement and years of social security, always sweating your 15 minutes of fame on CNN.
A Gen-X View: Techies are cool, and wear jeans and t-shirts. Nobody but "service people" -- burger flippers, hotel maids, pilots? -- wear uniforms.
I have had a great career, love to fly, etc., but I can sure understand why a kid would opt for a pair of wingtip shoes over shoulder boards. Things are way different from when I started almost 40 years ago. Maybe Emirates is hiring old guys.
Your articles concerning the declining number of pilots failed to mention the number one reason: It's the cost. The LSA rule eliminated the older trainers that can be purchased for a fraction of an LSA in order to force the purchase of an LSA. It also eliminated thousands of new and old pilots. The elimination of a medical for a recreation license and the 50-mile limit on those that have a private or above rating would have a tremendous positive effect.
C. A. Buzbee
In a previous letter (AVmail, Jul. 24), Henry Kivett opines a popular lament, namely that the current LSAs are too expensive and "... you can buy a good 140 or 150 between $20-30,000 ..."
This is an apple-and-oranges comparison. Used airplanes, just like cars and boats, are almost always cheaper than new. It's like saying there's no market for new cars because used ones can be had for much less.
What this argument forgets is that every airplane was once "unaffordably" new. Adjusted for inflation, my beloved 1964 Cessna 150 would cost $60,000 today. I couldn't afford that, but I could pay the $18,000 it cost me as a used plane.
And as much as I like it, I know my 40-year-old Cessna is not the same as a brand-new LSA. Sure, they both fly me from point A to B. But many people would rather have a "zero-time" airplane with modern advances, not decades of others' use and abuse.
Plus, at some point LSAs get sold as used aircraft. Then they'll likely be affordable.
So who's going to buy these "expensive" LSAs? The same ones who bought Cessna 140s and 150s: Flight schools and FBOs seeking rentals.
Plus a few well-heeled owners, the same people who drop $100,000 on a motor-home, or a couple of Harley's and a trailer to carry them, or a motor-boat ... or all of the above.
There is a market for LSAs ... Henry and I are just at the bottom rung of that ladder, waiting for the trickle-down!
Why Push When You Can Pull?
It was interesting to read Jack Romanski's letter (AVmail, Aug. 7) saying that single-engine performance in the Cessna 337 differed greatly whether the front or rear-engine was operating, and that the front engine did better.
I flew the Cessna O-2 as a Forward Air Controller in Vietnam, and concur with his view that single-engine performance differs widely depending on the engine, but I always felt the rear engine developed more thrust, and that single-engine performance was better using the rear engine.
In the configuration we flew (over-grossed with a full load of rockets, fuel and 800 lbs or so of radios), my experience was that I couldn't maintain level flight with only the front engine, while I could with only the rear engine running. (With only the front engine running, rate of descent was about 100-150 fpm, while I could just barely maintain a positive climb with only the rear engine.)
I was told that was because much of the air forced rearwards by the front prop first hit the engine cowling, windscreen, and wing roots and -- Newton's Third Law being what it is -- the impact of that air wanted to push the airplane backwards, neutralizing a portion of the propeller's forward thrust.
With the rear engine, all the air the propeller forces backwards is unimpeded and a larger percentage of the thrust from the prop actually contributes to pushing the airplane forward.
I was also told the rear prop is less efficient because of the disturbed air it receives coming off the front prop, wing, and around the fuselage, but that overall, the rear engine and prop produced more thrust.
Now his letter has my curiosity up, and I'm wondering why what I experienced 35 years ago, so much counters his experience.
I do know one thing: The single-engine performance of the Air Force's O-2A wasn't very good with either engine. It wasn't without reason that we used to call it, "A single-engine airplane with twice the chance of engine failure."
No one from Sen McCain, to AOPA, etc., has been willing to state that the proposed fee's are instead of the current gas fee's or in addition to the costs. There is a great difference in the proposed cost of operation if it's one cost or both.
Aviation Accident Causes
I believe there should be an additional choice in the list: Complacency on the part of the controllers, pilots, instructors, etc. (Question of the Week, Aug. 10). I haven't flown in six years until this summer, and I've been training for my CFI. A judicial amount of studying and recurrent training and now I feel adequate to take the checkride. I think, though, even if I'd been flying this whole time, would I have studied this hard? I doubt it, and I think that emphasis isn't placed upon the student, be it a pre-solo up to an ATP, to continue to educate themselves.
Too many of the 141 and 142 programs are pre-canned. They give you what you need to pass the written and practical tests, and get you the licenses; too many don't continue to learn. A perfect example is a commercial pilot applicant who doesn't remember to put crosswind correction in during taxi, or (this happened to me today) a tower controller who answered our request to take off with "... 705, Roger." Roger what? Hold short? Cleared to takeoff? How do you read that back? It isn't a miscommunication between pilot and controller; it's complacency on the controllers part, and with traffic turning final, it could have been an incursion.
Sorry to rant, but I feel none of the choices are correct, but they all fall under the higher category.
Maybe this can be turned into a new QOTW: How much do you review, re-learn or enhance your pilot skill and knowledge? I keep current and that's it. I plan on taking a new license or rating in the next year. And I continually challenge myself to be smoother, more knowledgeable and an overall better pilot.
Similar to your lost phone story in the latest issue (NewsWire, Aug. 10), I had a friend who lost his -- and then found it.
We were to meet two helicopters at Hillsboro Airport who were flying in from San Diego. One of the pilots discovered on arrival his phone, which had all his business contacts in it, was missing. Seems he had pulled over in a field about an hour before for an emergency relief stop -- one of the main advantages of flying a helicopter. He thought the phone might be in the field.
I looked at the "cookie crumbs" on his GPS295 and found where he had circled to check out the field. I set up a waypoint at the point he had landed.
Two hours later he's back with his phone. He had landed within eight feet of it and found it by calling it from another phone.
At $350/hour for an MD500, that makes this one of the more expensive phones in existence.
Privatization Of ATC System
Regarding the article about the eight Swiss air traffic controllers that have been charged with murder (NewsWire, Aug. 10): If the FAA privatizes the ATC system, will that make controllers and their companies subject to criminal prosecution if they cause or contribute to the death of pilots or passengers?