AVmail: Aug. 4, 2008

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Pilot Leaves Controls

I enjoy your Web site a great deal, but the fact that a pilot recently left the controls to untangle a 'chutist (AVwebFlash, July 20) is a bit similar to the typical news article where the airplane that crashed had no flight plan. Leaving the controls is not that big of a deal, particularly since he probably had an autopilot. Thanks for the publication otherwise. Jack Shackelford

Metal Thieves

Congratulations to Wingspan on finding their wings again (AVwebFlash, July 23). With metal prices at an all-time high, it's become quite popular around here to steal anything they can get their hands on, including sculptures, telecom infrastructure and live, overhead power lines. Maybe time to bring a couple of big dogs in at night? Bram Smits

Airport Security

GA airport security -- like airline security -- will only ever provide an illusion of security (Question of the Week, July 24). Determined criminals will always find a way to continue their profession. Just as just as medically unnecessary colonoscopies given to airline pax have failed to prevent any known hijacking attempts, neither do I favor much more security for GA airports. I remember how intimidated I was many years ago by those signs that read "Authorized Personnel Only." Shove a rent-a-cop with a gun in the face of a young, prospective, student pilot today and I expect the student will turn tail and run for a far less hostile hobby. Still, it would be nice if we could effectively keep non-thinking people (including a student pilot who hit a Cessna Citation with his SUV) from taking a shortcut by driving their cars across the airport via the taxiways ... Bruce Liddel

Oil Speculation

I'm sorely disappointed with the view expressed by Mr. Jack Ellis in the latest edition of AVmail (July 21). What he fails to understand is AOPA knows what they are talking about ... and just won't jump in a crowd of people on a witch hunt. They are smarter than that. Oil speculation is the reason prices are what they are: Speculators drive prices up. I implore everyone to take a day-to-day look at oil prices, and the news, and you will find that when the president of Iran sneezes, speculators will buy-buy-buy, prices will go up-up-up, and companies who actually use the oil to make gas are forced to pay artificially high prices just to get the product because of it. I find it rather annoying that people would verbally attack an organization that has done its homework. Robert Hasiak
The commodities markets are driving oil costs out of control. Let me offer some proof. Since the end of 2003, paper trading for oil that will never be consumed has climbed 250 percent while actual demand is up only 8.5 percent. The two largest oil-price spikes of 2008 followed predictions by Wall Street banks that oil prices would raise significantly. The day after Morgan Stanley predicted $150 oil by July 4, oil spiked $11. On July 10, oil prices increased $5 a barrel in the last 20 minutes of trading, thanks to speculation game-players, not as the result of a supply- or demand-related event. There is no question that rampant, unregulated speculation is driving market irregularities. But this is just one piece of the problem. We also must address supply issues and our dependence on foreign oil by increasing domestic oil supplies, furthering oil exploration in the United States and investing in alternative energy sources and conservation. Together, we should insist that Congress take immediate action to end abusive speculation and support efforts to create new supply. Worldwide daily demand for oil has increased about two percent during the past 12 months, while prices have increased more than 100 percent in that same time period. Supply-and-demand fundamentals alone do not explain the price increases and volatility experienced in the energy markets. Being an airline employee, I have been hammered by pay cuts to the point where I had to sell my aircraft ... I just can no longer afford the price of ownership. Airline management has done everything it can to raise prices to cover expenses, but when prices don't stick because overcapacity demands lower prices, the airline and the consumer in the long term will lose. Soon you will see huge pullbacks in seats for sale in many markets, and many markets having service terminated, all due to the outrageous cost of fuel. As far as the comment about airlines needing to muck out their own manure first, where have you been? The airlines have slashed employee head-counts and services, rolled back pay to 1995 levels and done just about everything one could think of to "muck out our own manure" prior to going to Congress to stop the paper-trading speculators from running up the price of oil. Jeff Gabrielson

Cirrus Jet

Ask the Cirrus Jet people what the glide ratio is (AVwebFlash, July 30). They'll need it when the engine fails. As a USAF and Simuflite instructor, training was given for total engine failure/flameout landings. I've done them in T-33s, T-39s and Learjets. My question is: Why would anybody fly in a single-engine jet as a passenger? Norman Frank Gracy

Radium Dial Check At Border

After reading Radium Dial Checks at the Border (AVwebFlash, July 28), I've come to the conclusion that the TSA has become our American version of the Gestapo. They do whatever they want, whenever they want to, and can do it in secret. Nobody wants to mess with them because they can make your life hell, or even throw you into jail and bypass all of our supposed constitutional protections. Robert Kaliski
I'm not surprised. I don't know how the rule reads, but there will always be some government employees who will read the rules to cause the most trouble to any and all innocent parties. Example: The BATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms] supervisor for the Northeast tried to make the State of Massachusetts pay around $1 million in fines for nine "destructive devices" the state had in its possession and which had not been deactivated. They were the 16-inch guns on the battleship Massachusetts. Allen Wiesner

Garmin and Piper -- What Were They Thinking?

Two quick notes about new items you've posted: 1. Nobody loves Garmin more than me, and I currently have two I use regularly and wouldn't trade for anything. However, while the new G600 is incredible (AVwebFlash, July 29), it's also five or six times more expensive than a 430, another fine Garmin product! If the price were even a bit more reasonable -- say $12-15,000 -- I bet they'd be back-logged for years! But when the new units cost more than my total aircraft, there has to be a line we won't cross! 2. My congratulations to Piper for not just making another first-flight today (AVwebFlash, July 30), but also for taking one of the sexiest aircraft designs ever (the Malibu) and turning it into a Shrek-like beast with a tail from a DC-10, and looks that only Antonov could love! I've seen the concept model that former Piper Chief Designer Karl Bergey did for them several years ago, also based upon the Malibu, and it would make you weep with joy compared to this jet-powered bigfoot! Please ask him to show it to you, and please start over! Dan Stroud

Oshkosh Video Interviews

I love the video interviews (AVweb Exclusive Videos)! I was only able to attend the first couple of days at Oshkosh. Your newsletters have let me attend the rest of the week. Jake Peters
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