AVmail: March 21, 2016
Letter of the Week:
Frequent Reporting Best
Anyone who flies on VFR weekends knows that CTAFs are awash in squealing verbal garbage, making it often impossible to announce a position or identify the cluck who's announcing every stinkin' leg of the traffic pattern or that he's taxiing to the runway at your airport so you can confiscate his microphone and return it only after he learns that the radio does not produce lift.
While I agree that many pilots do not effectively communicate on a CTAF, complaining about a pilot reporting his/her position on every leg or when taxiing onto the runway is way off base.
Your comments may lead pilots to believe that this is inappropriate, and it is not. I'd rather have frequent reporting rather than have a plane magically appear on a one-mile final or report he's now taking off when I am half a mile from the threshold.
Take a look at the AIM -- Table 4-1-1 (SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDED COMMUNICATION PROCEDURES), which says reporting before taxi, and on downwind, base and final are all appropriate.
If done properly, frequent reporting beats the alternative.
I am a snowbird from Canada and I have always enjoyed your frank and pragmatic writings with respect to GA flying. However in your last rant regarding frivolous CTAF calls (which I don't particularly disagree with) you used the example of one particular Canadian pilot as the worst example of com etiquette you've heard.
It's very hard to believe in my opinion as I have enjoyed flying to your beautiful state for many years, and I have heard far worse from your homegrown pilots. Since most of us are IFR rated and we are compelled to us our full call sign it is understandable we may use it in VFR flights; not forgivable but not extraordinary either.
I enjoyed Paul Bertorelli's take on pattern language etiquette. I catch a lot of flak from the local airport bums because when ATC gives me a directive I can easily comply with, I push the button and simply say, "Wilco 7 Delta Mike". ATC knows what was asked and now they know I will do whatever it is. Simple. Many ATC communications have no need for tying up the airways with a complete read back.
One of my all time favorites heard in the pattern is the aviator who diligently calls out the legs of his or her pattern and then dutifully follows up with "Cessna 1234 turning left final." I'm not sure who started this idea but it seems ridiculous to me. Final is final no matter how you got there.
Even When You're Wrong
I agree with almost everything you comment on but I have to disagree on several points made in a recent blog.
Regarding single-seat aircraft and the LSA industry, I think if you look at the stats you will see four-seat and two-seat aircraft always outsell singles. We all want to take someone flying. I seldom go just for a ride. I usually have a purpose and most times I want at least one other person with me.
Selling a single seat aircraft is very hard, they are usually much cheaper even though the performance is better. Nobody wants to fly alone.
I winter in Palm Springs and have been scouring the area for affordable flying. I saw (on SocialFlight) the Perris Valley Ultralight Sport Pilots of America had their monthly get together. This is a great bunch of people doing amazing things. One thing I noticed right off was that nobody was under 50. Some new guys just learning were older than that.
On the same field is a really active skydive club. Skydiving is at least as hazardous and exotic as ultralight flying. I asked why skydiving was thriving and ultralight was not. The answer came very quickly that it was a problem with instructing.
The LSA industry was supposed to make it easier for more people to fly but the only people buying $100,000-plus airplanes are those who sold their Bonanzas because they were afraid of losing their medicals. Young people are not coming in droves as envisioned. What the LSA regs did was killed affordable aviation by banning two-seat ultralights. Getting an instructor rating is not easy.
I teach ultralight in Canada and in my humble opinion we are way ahead of you in affordable aviation. Our ultralight regs are much simpler. We have basic which are very easy to do and advanced which can be very affordable and factory built. The primary difference is in basic ultralights helmets must be worn. All aircraft need to register which costs $100 but the license is pretty easy to get and the instructor license is almost as easy. A few more hours and you can carry passengers. We are very self regulated and have access to excellent resources through helpful Transport Canada or the Ultralight Pilots Association of Canada.
We also have owner assistance where you can actually shove a credit card under the hangar door and six months later pull out a brand new RV-8 or whatever homebuilt you might want. There is also an owner maintenance category for simple certified aircraft. I drive the grumpy guys on the Grumman forum crazy with some of the things I'm doing to my Cheetah.
The last point is a shot back in defence of that talkative Canadian pilot. We are taught to say our whole registration as we have C-Fs, C-Gs and ultralight C-Is and apparently somebody wants to know the difference. As far as repeating the call out I hope I am to blame for that. For years I have been doing just that.
The way I say it at our normally un-congested un-towered airports is (slowly) "Traffic vicinity of Fort Vermilion Grumman Golf Romeo Golf Golf is five east, inbound,,,,,,,,,, call Fort Vermilion Golf Romeo Golf Golf". Click. I don't say it several times but I assume someone else has the same issue and has devised his own remedy!
I look forward to and enjoy your commentary, even if you are occasionally wrong.
Keep it up.
Excellent discussion by Rick on the hazards of buzz jobs. Made me think of the A300 that flew into the trees. I agree completely with Rick that much more graphic examples need to be presented when covering this subject.
Warren Webb Jr.