February 2002 Issue

Grow Up Already

TFRs are now a fact of life, so what good does it do to whine about it?

“Welcome to the new world, where freedoms are lost on a moment’s notice through vague Notams, backed by a fleet of fighter jets.” That’s something I would expect to read in a political editorial, not in a safety magazine. Who is the enemy here? What are you trying to say?

I’ve been a reader of Aviation Safety for several years and have found it a worthy publication. I have even recommended it to many of my pilot friends. However, I found the article “You Can’t Fly There!” [Risk Management, December] totally out of line. I gave myself a cooling-off period, but a day later I’m still as livid as I was when I read it.

I’m an experienced general aviation pilot and an active CFI. However, most of my aviation experience was flying fighters in the Air Force. In the military, we accepted complaining as normal behavior. (If we heard no complaining, something was wrong.) Whining, however, was treated with disdain. With this article, you crossed the line. In my opinion, it was mostly whining, having little to do with safety, and having no positive value.

Your intent, I hope, was to highlight the difficulties that have risen from the black day of 9/11. If so, you were right – it just didn’t come out very well. Those who fly, particularly general aviation, must pay more attention than ever before to obtaining “all available information” prior to flying and then paying more attention to where we are and what we do during the actual flight. So? That’s the way it is! Do you have a better answer? Stop your whining!

You said in the article “It is clear that general aviation will be forced to evolve.” Personally, I think it’s time for general aviation to grow up. Freedom isn’t free. We have to pay our share, just like everyone else.

-Paul J. Burns
Via e-mail

The restrictions that have been installed (and sometimes removed) since 9/11 make some sense in theory. We do, however, take issue with the application of theory to practice. For example, barring flight over public sporting events sounds fine, but how is one supposed to follow that Notam for events taking place two states away when planning a cross-country trip or when in IMC on an IFR flight plan?

The nuclear Notam is another case in point. The specific locations were removed from the NRC web site, the language describing the locations in the Notam is intentionally vague and sometimes wrong, yet pilots are supposed to avoid these areas. Based on what? What about those airports where half the runway was in restricted space and the other half wasn’t? They ended up using “land and hold short of the last 3,000 feet of runway X” and taking off and landing in opposite directions. Clearly this created a safety issue.

This isn’t whining. This is lousy public policy. It is true that general aviation has to learn to play by a new set of rules. Fair enough. Pilots have shown the willingness and ability to jump through whatever hoops the government decrees, and there’s been no shortage of them. But in our view many of the post-attack restrictions have been, despite their good intentions, poorly planned knee-jerk reactions that in many cases compromised safety for aircraft.


Spins That Bite
In the article “Yaw Come Back, Now” [Airmanship, December], you make a couple of statements on which I would like to comment.

First, you say new designs such as the Cirrus, Lancair and Eagle have “vastly improved anti-spin handling.” I don’t know which Lancair you’re referring to, but I know that the Lancair IV has nasty stalls. Several pilots have reported losing 8,000 feet before recovering from spins in Lancair IVs.

With the help of a second high-time pilot, I did a number of stalls in my Lancair IV with the wings tufted for videotaping the airflow. On all but one stall the right wing fell off rapidly. Immediate left rudder stopped the incipient spin within a quarter turn.

Second, it troubles me that the article did not mention “angle of attack” instrumentation.

In my Lancair IV with angle of attack indicator installed, I was turning base at an airport with traffic and a shorter runway than I had ever landed the Lancair on. In my headset, I heard “Angle, Angle, Push.” A most welcome announcement that the angle of attack exceeded 11 degrees.

To me the angle of attack unit and a radar altimeter are must instrumentation for this old pilot.

-Robert E. Froelich
Via e-mail

The aircraft we referred to were the Cirrus SR-20 and SR-22, the Lancair Columbia and the Eagle 150B. All use partial-span leading edge cuffs and other aerodynamic tricks to tame the stall. We have experienced dramatic wing-drop at the stall break many times when flying non-certified airplanes but, as the Lancair’s evolution attests, it is an attribute that is designed out to meet certification standards.


When Cold Means COLD
Remarkably, the circulation copy of the December 2001 issue hit my desk within the correct year, let alone the correct and current month.

I would like to add an important note to your article on winter operations [Weather Tactics, December]. The FAA is (or was) working on an Advisory Circular on corrections to the altimeter in cold weather, but it may not be making much headway. Your readers should start asking when this is going to happen, as it has a significant effect on improving awareness and hence safety.

-Shawn Coyle
Via e-mail

In fact, a cold-weather correction table appears in both the current AIM and the FAA’s recently revised Instrument Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-15).


Why Fly Ice on Purpose?
Am I missing something here, but were you suggesting that that pilot should have flown into an area of predicted icing as a solution to his dilemma [Accident Probe, December]?

I would have thought that an article published in Aviation Safety would have recommended that he should have stayed on the ground. But I’m a new pilot and may be missing something.

-Ira Hamburg
Via e-mail

It certainly is safer to test the clouds for ice than it is to try to fly through 8,800-foot terrain at 8,600 feet.

The pilot had several options for continuing the flight. Divert to the west to remain VFR, or file IFR and test the weather. Most pilots with his instrument experience would have gone up, with a descending turnaround or westward diversion as their out if the airplane iced up.

That may not be by-the-book legal, but it’s practical and, in our view, would not be excessively risky.


Practice Makes Perfect Landings
Thanks for the excellent article “Why Can’t We Land?” [Airmanship, November] We can only hope that most GA pilots read it and take it to heart.

The majority of private pilots do not accumulate enough hours each year to keep them current and safe when attempting a landing. Most consider touch-and-goes beneath them when they have a license that states they are pilots, but nothing can be further from the truth. While many consider a pilot practicing touch-and-goes on a regular basis the sign of an incompetent operator, to me it is the sign of a safe pilot. Constant practice is the secret to good landings, and like every other activity in life, practice makes perfect.

When I commanded a base in SE Asia during the 1960s, I always awarded a pilot four hours of touch and goes if he made a sloppy landing or failed to land on the first third of the runway. This not only advertised to other pilots that he made a sloppy landing, but it kept everyone on their toes regarding touching down light as a feather.

I held regular competitions among the pilots regarding smooth landings and it paid off handsomely, as one rarely saw a poor landing at the base unless the pilot had been shot up by the North Vietnamese.

Our pilots were flying almost around the clock at times, and 65 hours per week was the average flying time for the pilots involved. I think that if you fly less than 40 hours per month, you should practice touch-and-goes at every opportunity.

Thanks for a long overdue article on this subject.

-John Saxon
Palm Springs, Fla.

We’d take your suggestion to practice a step further and recommend pilots also practice go-arounds and rejected takeoffs during those training sessions.