AVmail: August 23, 2010

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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Letter of the Week: Third Class Medical Outdated?

After a couple of years flying without an FAA medical, I would like to join the growing crowd who support expanding this freedom beyond Sport Pilot privileges. History has shown that the third class medical certificate does little or nothing to promote flight safety. I think this is because pilots self-certify their own health for each flight with better judgment than the bureaucracy provides in the medical certification process.

I think the key to inherently safer flight lies in the mission for the flight. Those who fly solely for recreation or other personal reasons are naturally more safe than those who fly with business schedules in mind.

The current set of rules prevents any private pilot from getting most additional ratings without a medical certificate. I think additional training for instrument flight or multi-engine rating should be encouraged for those flying without a medical certificate. They could still benefit from additional training and development of new pilot skills.

It makes sense to limit sport pilots to day VFR operations because of their limited training and experience. They are also limited to the simple systems of LSA and non-business flight missions. For private pilots flying without a medical certificate, I think the best choice is to limit only the missions they can fly to non-business ones. I would encourage private pilots to continue training to get instrument ratings and multi-engine as well. Perhaps a limitation on night flight to multi-engine aircraft or those on an IFR flight plan would make sense.

Paul Mulwitz

Perhaps the focus for both EAA and AOPA could be the use of self-certification as used in the LSA rating for both recreational and private pilot ratings. With the data from LSA to substantiate how safe this decision has been it is time for this change to take place.

Roger Bailey

Put Limits on RC Size

I'm glad the pilot of the biplane at Brighton, CO didn't lose the aircraft, but I'm glad he took out that giant radio controlled toy. If this RC owner went to jail, maybe these RC enthusiasts would understand that we who fly real aircraft and actually get off the ground are in danger every time RCs invade our airspace.

Over the years, I've encountered RC flying helicopters, fixed wing aircraft and paragliders. Most of the time I've been able to avoid them. But lately it seems these guys want to build nearly full-scale UAVs approaching the size and weight of ultralights, not model airplanes.

Either RCers need to fly those damn things in separate airspace, or they need to spend the time and money to get licensed like those of us who actually leave the ground. Maybe a weight and size limit should be in effect.

Chuck Leathers

Biden's Trail of Destruction

O.K. You started the conversation with the AVweb article about Air Force Two and the unfortunate Cub.

What were the other three incidents/accidents involving aircraft alluded to in your closing paragraph?

John Townsley

AVweb Replies:

As we said, John, they were motorcade accidents.

Two New York City police officers on motorcycles escorting Biden were involved in a minor crash, The New York Times reported, last week.

On Feb. 14, Peggy Fleming and Vonetta Flowers sustained minor injuries after being involved in a collision while riding in a Biden motorcade, according to MSNBC.com.

In November 2009, a police car escorting Biden's motorcade crashed into a cab in NYC.

Russ Niles

Regarding your story beginning, "The Vice President's C-32 transport, a modified Boeing 757 dubbed Air Force Two ...":

Air Force Two is a call sign, not a specific aircraft. Whether a T-52 or a C-5M, if it's got Mr. Biden aboard, it's Air Force Two. The same with Marine Two, Army Two, Navy Two, and Executive Two.

Scott Janisch

Protecting Students and Schools

While it is difficult to argue that any prospective student deserves due diligence in selecting a flight school, the California "solution" seems a trifle overkill.

Seems as though a regulation that requires that schools keep student money in a trust account, separate from their operating account, just like real estate agents and many others are required to do, would solve the real problem that generated all the fuss. That would require some additional expense for the school, but not a lot.

Joel Ludwigson

Students should be very wary of posting cash up-front. That's a great big red flag.

I almost made the same mistake myself, committing to pay for 65 hours of flight training. I switched schools and was licensed in only 41 hours.

I deplore more regulation because it is invariably written with a one-size mentality. Still, every time another flight school goes under, taking deposits with it, it is another black mark on an industry that is dying from bad press, TSA, over-regulation and closed airports.

Bruce Liddel

Regarding the article about Cirrus accidents: It seems to me the pilots have learned to fly the all-glass panels quite well but in the process have forgotten the basics of take-offs, landings and go-arounds. Maybe instead of spending hours going cross-country with the AP in control, spend an hour a week at the local field reviewing the act of flying instead of playing computer expert.

Elias Vujovich

Flying Distracted

People flying into AirVenture or other busy air shows should practice approaches and landings with another pilot giving last-minute changes in the landing instructions and doing their best to distract you at the same time. Only when the pilot can make drastic last-minute changes, deal with the distractions, and keep situational awareness should the pilot consider himself ready to go.

Above all, pilots must always be ready to admit early in the process that they are not comfortable, and say "unable" or "going around."

Getting low and slow or being out of ideas and altitude at the same time can be fatal. An instructor once told me, "If a pilot doubts the situation, it is past time to leave the situation behind."

Jim Morgan

EAA Losing Touch with Members

I think Kent Misegades makes several excellent points regarding EAA. I have been a member for decades and was a chapter president at one time. I was also a member of a chapter on the East Coast that simply died on the vine. It had lost too many elderly members and, despite the best efforts of well-intentioned officers, we simply could not attract new members. I agree wholeheartedly that the heart of EAA is the chapter. Many are having a hard time continuing.

Having just returned from OSH, I must say that the costs associated with going to this event are getting out of hand. The prices are escalating faster than taxes in Democratic states! To take a family of four to this event today would be a major expense. A vacuum goes in your pocket from the morning you arrive until you depart.

Despite many years of membership, I am feeling less a part of this organization [rather] than more. There is a great divide between those running the EAA and the individual member. I think Paul Poberezny grew the association by making people feel they were an important part of it. Today it seems the "money people" have taken over and are bent on maximizing the dollar intake.

While a lot of good work is done by the EAA, I fear it will be quite difficult to replace the old white-haired guys (myself included) that have made up this organization to this point. You have to make the "little guy" feel like he belongs rather than like an exploited customer.

Bill McClure

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