AVmail: February 22, 2010
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: Austin Aftermath
After reading nine or 10 blogs referencing the intentional crash into some IRS offices in Austin, I noticed comments ranging from the advocacy of more restrictions on general aviation to an outright ban on GA.
The only relief here is the fact that Joseph Stack did not steal the Cherokee but was the owner. All pilots and others involved in general aviation need to be proactive in this matter. Be polite, but to the point, pointing out that there is no way to prejudge when any individual is going off the deep end and will take his plane, car, or truck and commit mayhem.
There undoubtedly will be many calls from our lawmakers and others to further hobble general aviation well beyond what is reasonable.
Lead Is a Money Issue
I don't think that tetraethyl lead will ever be unavailable. It is not a difficult compound to make. As long as there is a demand for it, somebody will make it. It would be difficult to get permission to build a plant in the U.S., but it could be built elsewhere. The risk is not that there will not be a supplier, but that the government will regulate it out of existence.
As far as biofuels are concerned, it is unlikely that they will ever be cheaper than petroleum-based fuels, and I am unwilling to pay a premium for biofuels. I have been reading about the biofuels industry for about ten years now, and I will believe their claims when I can pull my plane up to a biofuels pump and fill my tank for less than at the 100LL pump.
No Planes to Rent
I live in South Central Texas and not been able to find a plane to rent. Actually, I have not rented one in the last two years and therefore have not flown. There are a lot of really nice airports in the radius area from Austin to Houston, but there are not any planes to rent.
If we want to increase the number of pilots (and keep the ones we have flying), we need to address the lack of rental aircraft. I would love to own my own, but at this time I am unable to.
Flying is a passion that needs recurrent training. Without rental aircraft there is no ability to keep training or flying. This is a serious problem that no one addresses, and a very large portion of the pilot population is made up of renter pilots.
[The] "Luck of the Draw" comment by Scott Thomason in AVmail on February 15, 2010 was right on the money. Myself and four of my close friends decided to relinquish our memberships in AOPA a few years back because of the AOPA sweepstakes. We became fed up with only active pilots, who already owned airplanes, getting another one even nicer. In some cases, the active pilots were husband and wife and each already had their own airplane, so the comment about "hanging on to existing pilots" by Russ Niles apparently didn't work for at least five active pilots that I know of. I'm sure there are more.
I have to agree with Scott Thomason's comments about the AOPA giveaway airplane and at the same time disagree with your response. The purpose of the giveaway has never been clear to me. It seems like there are much better ways to increase participation in general aviation. Scott mentioned several. On the other hand, I don't see how giving away an SR22 or any other aircraft helps with pilot retention. If a pilot truly loves to fly, he or she will find a way to fit it into their budget. If there isn't enough budget to be able to afford to fly, giving someone an SR22 isn't going to solve the problem. Any pilot who can't afford to rent a 152 occasionally sure isn't going to be able to afford taxes, insurance, hangar, etc. for the SR22.
I don't know if AOPA keeps stats, but I wouldn't be surprised if most of the giveaway airplanes end up being sold by their new owners shortly after delivery. I would like to see AOPA pass on the giveaway airplane and find some other means of promoting aviation.
The Best Airline Pilots
Brian Hope hit the nail right on the head in his letter concerning airline pilots. I had an airline career from Pipers to glass cockpit jets for 36 years and considered myself very fortunate to be able to fly great airliners and take people safely to their destinations. What great training we had, and it was always amazing that my airline gave me training in $20 million simulators.
Brian is correct. If you are in it for the money and glory, step aside, because there are pilots out there who enjoy being an airline pilot and will continue to obtain new aviation-related safety information throughout their careers.
R Is for Replica?
Rest assured, the Gee Bee Model R in the photograph [fourth one down in the current "Picture of the Week"] is not an original. The R-1 was crashed at Indianapolis by Russell Boardman in 1933, and the R-2 was destroyed by Jim Haizlip at Agawam, MA not long after.
Parts of the two aircraft were put together by the Granvilles into what they called the Long Tail Racer. Roy Minor crashed it at Agawam, and it was sold to another party. It was destroyed at the start of the 1935 Bendix race in California.
I'd sure like to know who is building this replica. There are a few being built and I'm very interested.