A recent Friday evening found me liberating my airplane from its hangar for a short local flight designed to warm the oil before draining and sampling it.
Home plate, the Venice (Fla.) Municipal Airport (VNC), is afflicted with a common ailment: anti-airport activism. Since noise is a common complaint, Runway 22 is preferred in “calm” winds; its even in the AWOSs remarks. On this day, winds were something like eight knots from 290, and two aircraft were in the pattern for Runway 31, which intersects 22.
Choosing a safe interval between other traffic, I launched, climbing above the pattern and leaving the area. Since I wasnt really going anywhere, I left the local Unicom frequency active. At this point, a student/instructor combination in a 152 had the airport to themselves.
Enter Mr. Cherokee, a transient departure. Mr. Cherokees first considered action was asking Unicom which runway was the active. A woman at the FBO responded, correctly, the last few aircraft had used 31. His belligerent response was to suggest everyone was an idiot: It was obvious 22 was the active, since the winds were “calm.”
Shortly, the student in the 152, not a native English-speaker, reported downwind for 31. Mr. Cherokee, whose headset Ill charitably suggest may have been malfunctioning, took it upon himself to note VNC had no runway “two-one” and questioned the students intelligence. The instructor stepped in to re-broadcast the 152s position in unaccented English. Of course, Mr. Cherokee then chastised the instructor for using the wrong runway, restating Runway 22 was the correct runway to use.
Someone-Im not sure who, but it was a male voice-chimed in about this time, correctly pointing out the obvious: Since VNC is a non-towered airport, all runways should be considered “active.” But Mr. Cherokee, his voice and anger rising, would have none of it. Confident his interpretation was the only correct one and questioning everyone elses intelligence, he declared there was a huge risk of mid-air collision and compared the male voice to a certain annular-shaped part of the human anatomy. On the Unicom frequency.
Everyone else stayed quiet at this point, listening as Mr. Cherokee declared someone was going to get killed and looking forward to the day he didnt have to use VNC. On that point, at least, we agree. Soon, he snarled his way out of the pattern.
There is so much wrong with Mr. Cherokees behavior, Im not sure where to start. One place would be to point out eight knots of wind, while not a hurricane, isnt “calm,” either. In fact, the VNC AWOS will report calm winds, but theres still no regulation, local or otherwise, forcing Runway 22s use.
The basic issue, though, is attitude, and this pilots demonstrates he shouldnt be outside without a leash. Ironically, he is the reason we have traffic patterns and procedures at non-towered airports.