Happy New .....

From The South Ramp --Hank Bruckner

Article from the January 2001 edition of the GACH newsletter 

Happy New Year!

It finally happened, for real: the cyber version of  “the dog ate my homework”.  The byte-eating dog was my hard drive and it swallowed virtually everything, including the nearly-finished January article.   It was a great one, too! Trust me.   So, here we go, again.

As the year/century/millennium closes and a new one opens, it might be useful to remember some of the highs and lows from the year that was and see how they might impact the year that is.

Y2K started out just fine. 
* The World As We Know It didn’t end.  
* We sported a successful Great Hawaiian Air Race, raising considerable funds for the Make-A-Wish Hawai’i Foundation, having a hoot in the process. 
*  Legislation known as AIR-21 passed through Congress and was signed by a reluctant administration. AIR-21 allows billions of dollars collected from ticket and fuel taxes to be spent on the aviation-related purposes for which the money was collected, rather than sequestered and manipulated to make other debt figures look good. 
*  Efforts by the administration to impose user fees again failed in Congress, though that beast is far from dead. 
*  Dr. Ed Lu went back into space to ready the International Space Station for its full-time occupancy and performed a spectacular space walk of over six hours. 
*  Closer to home, the state brought a few AWOS on line around the islands and did a generally good job of keeping the state’s airfields well maintained. 
*  Honolulu CERAP moved into the new facility at Hickam, at the foot of the HNL tower, which, although transparent to most users, will enhance efficiency and allow you to actually see the terminal and en route facilities in one visit. 
*  Flight Service brought NEXRAD on line, providing pilots useful, timely data on precip around the islands. 
*  Major progress was made in establishing a world-class Military Aviation Museum of the Pacific at historic Ford Island, where some of the fanciful, but action-filled Pearl Harbor was filmed and where Gene Armstrong walked away from the potentially fatal crash of his VAL replica.  
*  An RV-8a was born, and many of you got your wings, and a lot of us did a fair amount of flying.

 On the down side, 
*  The aviation insurance industry precipitated a crisis when Avemco pulled out of the commercial aviation business and started a ball rolling that has only made a bad thing worse in Hawai’i. 
*  The state legislature again failed to bring us out of the “deep pocket” insurance quagmire, further reducing the incentive for insurance companies to write in this state, and it is extremely difficult or even impossible to get insurance on many types of aircraft and operations. 
*  Obtaining a hangar at Hilo and Kona continues to be a frustrating experience as General Aviation at these airports is treated like an unwanted love child come home to claim an inheritance.  
*  There are still no facilities at Kala’eloa.  
*  Washing an airplane at HNL has become an actionable offense unless you use the only wash rack on the south ramp, and that is usually covered with cargo containers and unreachable. Similar problems exist at other locations. 
*  Good people, like Montaine and Daniel, died but live on in our minds and lives.  Airplanes came to grief for any number of reasons and 
*  SFAR-71—the rule that keeps air tour aircraft 1,500’ from anything--failed to produce safer skies. Based on its dismal performance here, it will likely spread to the mainland. 
*  We continue to suffer under the arcane, antiquated, and arbitrary Hawai’i Administrative Rules that govern our access and use of hangars and tie down spaces.   

We are still awaiting your inputs so we can move forward on addressing this issue with the state.  Efforts to again try to impose user fees for aviation services are likely to surface in Congress that, if adopted, would turn us into the unmitigated disaster that GA faces throughout Europe.  Century Aviation management decided to charge an obscene $3.25-3.50/gal for avgas at OGG and KOA because they have no competition and thus can do whatever they like. Circle Rainbow stopped selling avgas at HNL, leaving the Air Service fuelers stretched thin indeed.

 So, what’s the outlook?  We’ll continue to fly, but it won’t be getting any cheaper.  What can we all do?  Nothing new, here.  It begins with getting or staying involved.  Join or renew your membership to AOPA, EAA and GACH.  Join a local pilots’ group or form one and let us know what your issues are and what you are doing to address them.  There really is strength in numbers (want a recount?) and we need to be strong. There are dragons to slay or at least tame. We will all have to become fully engaged if we want to protect our piece of the sky from those who would stifle us through arrogance, ignorance, or both.  If you wait for someone else to do it for you, the outcome may be ugly indeed.

LAHSO on Hold
The Honolulu Control Facility (that’s the new consolidated one at Hickam) advises that air carrier, including air taxi, Land and Hold Short (LAHSO) operations at HNL have been suspended since January 1st and will remain so until sometime in mid-March. Under the rules, pulsating lights were required to be operational by the beginning of the new millennium and have yet to be installed.  LAHSO for GA, military, and foreign air carriers will not be affected; however, if the U.S. carriers can’t accept a hold short, expect delays and unusual maneuvers.  That means, in addition to holding at the H1/H2 Interchange and the Sugar Mill, you should be ready to do a 360 ,270 or other maneuver on downwind, base, or even final, and be primed for a go around. When was the last time you practiced slow flight at gross weight?  It’s even more important than ever for pilots to listen well and respond promptly to ATC. I’d recommend those of you who don’t fly into/out of HNL much reacquaint yourselves with the arrivals and departures and reporting points.  

 Some time ago, a gate was put into the fence by the AFSS parking lot to facilitate pilots’ access from the T-hangars.  Naturally, pilots also started parking there. Now, it seems the FSS has had the gate chained to prevent pilots from parking, and, in the process, cutting off access to the facility from the T-hangars.  Making access to Flight Service less convenient is likely to cut down on its use, and that doesn’t sound to me like a good thing to do.  Perhaps the AFSS could reserve two or three spots in front of the building for their customers and leave the rest as open parking, and reopen the gate.

And Mahalo to…
As we pursued our various aviation interests across the state last year, there were some folks that really helped make it all work.  I’ll begin with the men and women who manage the traffic at our airports, terminal areas and en route. Keeping things flowing smoothly is challenging even on a good day, and as a group, these pros do an excellent job of it. And then there are those standouts (you probably know who you are) who have elevated the art to a higher level, playing the system like chess masters.  You are a pleasure to work with.   Thanks.

The pros who keep watch over us, file and amend our flight plans, provide weather and a number of other services at the Automated Flight Service Station also deserve a big Mahalo. The AFSS specialists just got a bigger toolbox with the advent of NEXRAD, and they have been of immense help in making those pilot-in-command decisions we face on a daily basis.  

Know Thy Craft
As we wing our way into the next century and face the myriad challenges ahead, it’s important to keep a firm grip on the basics of aviation and common sense. Do you know how all the systems on your plane work? Someone recently landed gear up after an electric failure because he didn’t know how to use the emergency gear extension on his airplane.  Are you ready if the electrons stop flowing, the gear won’t come down, or the prop RPM runs away?  How about if only one flap goes down or up or the elevator won’t respond?  When did you last review emergency procedures and key airspeeds?  When you fly, are you counting on everything working or are you prepared if something goes south at the most inopportune moment?  When was the last time you read through the Pilot’s Operating Handbook for the aircraft you fly?  And then there was the guy that started his airplane, got out and left it running.  The airplane, with no one to mind it, chewed another airplane almost in half.  No one was hurt, this time, but it could have easily been a bloody mess. Flying is not like driving a car—it’s so much more, and it requires so much more from us.

Great Hawaiian Air Race 2001
 This year’s charity air extravaganza will start on February 15th and run through the 19th.  Like the two previous GHARs, participants will race to Hana via a circuitous route on the 16th and race back to O’ahu on the 18th, with a follow-on optional race on Monday the 19th.  Those who have flown the GHAR in the past know the fun and adventure awaiting and the tremendous amount of work and cooperation required to pull it off successfully.  If you’d like to participate in this worthy event as a racer or volunteer, please let us know.  You can check out the race web site at www.flyhawaii.com/GHAR for a race kit and other info.

Please,  careful out there.