AVmail: December 7, 2009
Each week, we run a sampling of the letters received to our editorial inbox here in AVmail. One letter that's particularly relevant, informative, or otherwise compelling will headline this section as our "Letter of the Week," and we'll send the author an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you" for interacting with us (and the rest of our readership). Send us your comments and questions using this form. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail (just in case your letter is our "Letter of the Week"); by the same token, please let us know if your message is not intended for publication.
Letter of the Week: Power Plant a Good Airport Neighbor
Regarding the story about California pilots protesting a power plant near their airport:
I regularly operate near a non-towered field that has a coal-fired power plant 3.5 miles west of its north-south runway (KVPC). It's really no big deal; just don't fly through the smoke, unless you like the smell of sulfur! I could see the problem if the plant were to be built on the extended centerline of a runway, but in looking at the airport in question this doesn't seem to be the case.
I think these folks should look at the big picture. At least it isn't a subdivision going in there! A power plant (or industrial park, water treatment plant etc.) makes a good neighbor for an airport.
They seem to be concerned about contrails turning into clouds. I saw a TV special recently where they were considering artificially making more clouds to reflect sunlight back into space and reduce global warming. Maybe those contrails are doing some good for the environment.
Clear as Mud
In the story about the recovery of a Second World War Hellcat you say: "A Navy Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat fighter plane that sank more than 60 years ago was lifted from the muddy waters of Lake Michigan on Monday."
Lake Michigan, as well as most of the Great lakes are solid sand bottoms, not muddy. Some pollution, yes, but Lake Michigan is sand from Gary, In. to the Canadian line.
We did say muddy waters, not muddy bottom, Bill — but your point is taken. However, Lake Michigan doesn't touch Canada. It's the only Great Lake entirely within the U.S.
Peggy Gilligan's remarks on pilot fatigue just go to show how out of touch the FAA has become with the real world. No rule dealing with fatigue should be allowed to be made by someone who has no experience with 16-plus hour duty days, flying six days, off one, and then another six.
The folks that have allowed the system to degenerate to what it is today are the ones that should be investigated. Delayed? What have they been doing for the last 20 years?
Your article stated Part 91 F was fractionals. Part 91 F is "Large and Turbine-Powered Multiengine Airplanes and Fractional Ownership Program Aircraft."
Your article is misleading by saying it doesn't apply to non-fractional operations. I read through the change and it certainly appears to me that it applies to all Part F aircraft, not just fractionals.
Flight 188 Protocol
Regarding the podcast of the air traffic control tapes concerning Flight 188, the controllers questions were not "curiosity or professional concern." The FAA has what is called the D.E.N. - Domestic Events Network that oversees any and all unusual or suspect aviation situations. There is a protocol in cases such as a NORDO airliner, passed down through the supervisor to the controller to ask the crew to explain their situation and broadcast in the clear that the cockpit is secure. The turns issued were also part of this protocol to show that the pilots were in fact in control of the flight. The D.E.N. and other agencies, committees, etc. are the result of post 9-11 recommendations.
Finding the Line Between "Picture" and "Photograph"
While certainly awesome, I strongly disagree with your inclusion of this image. It is artwork, not a photo. A photo is a single image that captures a single moment as we would see it. Sure, there can be processing (chemical or digital) to correct differences between what we see and what the camera sees, but anything more is art. Or perhaps your definition of picture in "Picture of the Week" is broader than I think?
At first I was shocked — shocked! — at the thought of digital manipulation of photographs. Then I realized that this was no different from the dodging, burning, and contrast variations practiced with film printing procedures, another of my hobbies.
There are enough dramatic and fascinating unaltered shots to make the publication/showcasing(!) of a tarted-up picture totally unnecessary. This is just another "Velvet Elvis." Give us the real thing, please.
I agree that the technique is acceptable, but I am not sure I would call it "compositing." It appears to be a single frame that has been processed with several exposure settings, and digitally combined with HDR (high dynamic range) software to bring out all of the information in the scene. I think it is simply a technique that compensates for the limitations of cameras to capture reality. I think this is an excellent choice for photograph of the week.
People sometimes ask why we like to stir the pot on the issue of what constitutes fakery vs. legitimate digital post-processing — and the answer, frankly, is that we get a mailbag full of great comments (both positive and negative) when we do it. Mr. Gardner has provided a great (pardon the pun) snapshot of the technique seen in last week's "POTW," but anyone wanting to learn more can check out this introduction from PhotoCritic.com.