From the South Ramp

--Hank Bruckner: 
 
 
 
 
 

 January 2002

Hauoli Makahiki Hou
 What will you do in Two Thousand and Two? Fly, I hope.  Let’s all work to make it a good and happy year.  Your editorial staff has gotten off to a late start. My apologies.  

Local Issues and the State DoT
 The long-awaited meeting with the Airports Division and the new Acting Director, Roy Sakata, has finally occurred.  From the outset, the meeting was not designed to provide answers/solutions, but rather, get an update and get the major issues out in the open. About fifty of us were there. To keep things friendly and under control, the meeting was professionally facilitated by L.A. Burke.
 After brief introductory remarks by Roy Sakata, Ben Schlapak, chief engineer for DoTA, briefed the status of projects at Kalaeloa (JRF).  Some highlights:
The current construction program at JRF will address runways, taxiways and markings, but not T-hangars.  Roy informed us that T-hangars are at least 5 years away, indicating they enjoy a very low priority within the Department.  
Rates have been established for lease lots, tie downs and aircraft storage in Hangar 110. Although proposed in July 1999, we’ve only now received them. Tie downs will go for $34.00/month (which seems ridiculously high for what is offered).  Hangar 110 may become available for occupancy in four months.
The fuel situation will supposedly be resolved in three months.
The Raceway Park will be just off the approach end to Runway 4 Left.  A positive aspect to this is that racecars will be noisier, by far, than aircraft, so maybe people won’t complain about us so much.  
The DoT is working to iron out the permitting process to allow individuals to build facilities such as hangars.  This process is currently so badly broken as to be completely dysfunctional.  Roy promised resolution is in the works.
The state is working on the provision of utilities, including bringing them up to City/County standards.
Ben Schlapak, the chief engineer for the Airports Division, stated, “we need to get people out there.”  It was pointed out that before aircraft operators can/will move out to JRF, there have to be adequate facilities, including fuel, aircraft storage, maintenance, security, and other things such as oil disposal and various amenities.  Just having a tie down won’t fill the bill.
We all wrote issues down on Post-Its, stuck them on the board and they were read off.  No surprises here.  Again, some highlights:
Security garnered the most comments—especially the fact that it is done differently at each airport.  One especially irritating example mentioned by several is the need to call security to exit the AOA at Kahului; however, no phone number is posted, nor is any phone handy.  The state owns all the airports and all the airport administrators.  This really is a management issue, not a Federal one.
Lack of facilities, especially hangars, was important to many.  Hilo and Kona have critical hangar shortages.  At Lihue, the public restrooms at the CAT are now off-limits unless you can find someone with the key.  
The difficulty of obtaining permits to build anything at virtually every airport was another hot item.
Access, or lack of it, is also a major irritant.  GA facilities tend to be remote from all services; access to/from aircraft is difficult and burdensome at most airports.

Now, for what was not said:  We were unable to get Roy Sakata to state that people would be enticed to JRF rather than forced off HNL.  This is a major issue, and one that will command our attention until it is resolved.  Once JRF is a full-service airfield, it will be attractive to many operators, especially for flight training.  However, it will never be convenient to the business flyer who works in Honolulu, or lives in east O’ahu and we will actively resist any attempt to force people to relocate.
The issue of heavy-handed treatment of GA at several state airports was also not addressed.  This, too, is a management issue and very solvable.  It just needs top-level attention.
Roy Sakata stated that T-hangars are a low-priority item because of their low return on investment, indicating that one of the key problems at most airports is not going to be addressed.  This is basically unacceptable.  The state is the owner/landlord.  There are no options available to state-provided facilities and the state needs to step up to their responsibility to provide them.  We understand fully the financial repercussions of the increased security mandated since the September terrorist attacks; however, the prioritization of funding must reflect the needs of General Aviation as well as the airlines.
The meeting was positive in tone, and it was refreshing that the Director (acting) was willing to listen to us and take items for action.  A special mahalo goes to Morris Tamanaha, the GA Officer, for his invaluable help in bringing it off. A follow-up meeting is scheduled for April 11, 2002, where progress will be measured and possible solutions explored.
Roy Sakata and his staff deserve our thanks for finally acceding to this meeting and agreeing to a follow-on.  It should be noted that Roy Sakata brings considerable aviation experience to his new post, having both military and commercial time in his logbook.  His apparent willingness to listen to us and take action is refreshing.  The position of  Airports Division Director has tremendous potential to effect positive change. It is the leadership and top management position for the entire state airports system.  I hope Roy, even as Acting Director, will make full use of this potential, and GACH stands ready to assist in any way we can. Stay tuned.
  
 Winter Weather, Hawaiian Style
 We’ve had about three weeks of almost unbroken Kona weather that have brought with them a set of challenges for the unwary as well as experienced aviator. Dense mist, low visibilities, heavy rains, high surf, and very strong winds have all made their presence known and felt.  
Those huge waves that enabled the Eddie Aikau Memorial Big Wave Meet to occur also made the approach to Kalaupapa quite thrilling, and, in one instance, actually shut down the field.  When the waves cover the runway with debris, they are large indeed.  The big waves, characteristic of our winters, make Kalaupapa challenging and require the pilot to do some serious assessing.  With only 2,600’ of runway, aircraft with limited climb can face flying through a wall of water on climb out from a runway 5 departure.  That wall of tossed ocean can bring an airplane down.  Several years ago, a Grumman AA-1 ditched after a big wave put both its forward motion and fire out.  
Worst case combines heavy surf with light winds.  Take note of where the waves are breaking.  Often, a right turn after lift off will miss the bigger fountains.  Kona winds make landing even more of an adventure as the big surf can obstruct your glide path to the runway.  Landing long is not a real option with only 2,600’ of runway.  You may have to do some low-level maneuvering to bypass the surf and still land near the numbers.  The wiser choice may be to wait for a better day.
 When strong southerlies or southwesterlies blow, such as occurred several times over the past few weeks, the Moloka'i cliffs set off some ugly turbulence as well as a nasty downdraft just as you lift off from Kalaupapa’s runway 23.   One clue that 23 might be the favored runway at LUP is if your fillings get jarred loose as you descend on the north side of the cliffs.
 Kalaupapa is one of the most picturesque and special airports in the state.  It can also demand you use your skills and your aircraft’s capabilities to the fullest. 

Fly Akamai (Fly Smart)
 General Aviation, all aviation, in fact, has come under public scrutiny like never before.  Scrutiny tinged with fear.  A well-meaning skywriter puffs out the intended uplifting message, “GOD IS GREAT” and folks on the ground panic because they think it’s an Islamic terrorist. A local pilot pops some smoke over a friend’s house (previous owner of the airplane) and people panic, thinking they are being sprayed with anthrax.  A disturbed kid emulates the terrorists and drives a 172 into the side of a building in Tampa.  A pilot apparently runs out of gas short of his destination and puts the plane down in someone’s back yard in Honolulu.  A student pilot, along with his instructor, enters the pattern at Kalaeloa by flying right over Ewa Village, and another flies right over the Villages of Kapolei on her pattern entry.  
 All these things focus public attention on us in a negative, unhelpful way.  When GA was locked down after the terrorist attacks, we were included in the public’s mind as part of the threat largely by decision makers who have little understanding of GA nor the time and inclination to develop any.  As I’ve noted before, we’ve been demonized.  Whereas our detractors used to consider us merely a nuisance, now we’re seen as a threat.  
 When people feel threatened, they react viscerally.  Logic and reason dim in the face of rhetoric and political expediency.  The stakes are huge.  Our very ability to exercise the freedom of personal flight is now under constant assault, and our constituency is not very large.  
 So, what can we do (other than roll over and hope it all gets better somehow)?  Quite a bit, actually. We can begin by not doing stupid plane tricks.  Running out of gas in most cases is a stupid plane trick. Flying low over people and houses and scaring or annoying the populace is a stupid plane trick.  Flying beyond our or our aircraft’s capabilities and scratching the paint is a stupid plane trick.  The unavoidable is, by definition, just that.  It’s all the other stuff we do or cause that maybe we should reconsider.  Fly akamai.
 Instructors, you hold the key, because you shape attitudes as well as content.  When you check someone out, or teach someone from scratch, make sure they understand how we do things here.  Preferred transitions and altitudes need to be taught, as well as areas and practices to avoid.  A mid-air is never a good thing, seldom survivable, and guaranteed bad press of the worst type, especially if people on the ground are hurt or even endangered.  
 What else can we do?   Positive things.  Educate people on the benefits of GA to the community, the state, and the individual.  Use airplanes in community service, such as flying with the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the CAP.  Introduce people to aviation with a nice ride.  Enter events like the Great Hawaiian Air Race. Support the local and national organizations that are looking out for your rights, such as AOPA, EAA, and even GACH. 
 I’ve said all this many times, but it’s way more critical now than it has ever been before.  Un- or underinformed decisions are seldom good ones.  Nor are those made in haste in reaction to public clamor and outcry.  We cannot afford to be part of the problem, even unwittingly.  If we want to continue to fly, we must fly akamai.  

Goodonya’s
 At the end of each year, or sometimes at the beginning of the next one, I like to thank people who have made things work for us.  The list is long, fortunately, and I’ll leave too many out, unfortunately. But here goes, anyway.
 After the terrorist attacks, our airspace was sliced, diced, homogenized and cauterized and the upshot was we were all playing in a different field with new and changing rules.  The good folks at ATC who had things pretty well worked out in the past had to throw the old game plan away and come up with something new in a hurry.  New Temporary (right!) Flight Restrictions over Pearl Harbor, Ford Island and Hickam AFB robbed ATC of a lot of airspace, and with it, much of the flexibility they depended on to keep the flow going.  On top of all that, they’ve continued to support activities such as the Great Hawaiian Air Race.  They’ve done admirably, so, to the controllers, I say, Good on ya’.
 In the same vein, FAA management has been stellar in trying to get us back in the air  and keeping us there.  Tweet Coleman, the FAA’s Pacific Representative, has been tireless in supporting all of us.   Bob Rabideau, who runs the Honolulu Control Facility, has also bent over backwards to help out.  Good on ya’.

  Time to Take A Second Look
 As you approach or depart Honolulu International to or from the north, east or west, you get funneled between the TRA over Ford Island to the south and the Ko’olau Mountains to the northeast.  This narrow corridor is frankly unsafe, especially when the clouds are low over the mountains and visibility is reduced in the showers so typical of the trades.  Cramming inbound and outbound aircraft into such tight confines is a tragedy waiting to happen.  Moreover, aircraft are now stacked up all over south central O’ahu waiting to enter the gantlet, making the transition to and from Kalaeloa and to the North Shore hairier as well.  This TFR desperately needs to be revisited before aluminum and people are showered on Aiea, Salt Lake and Halawa Heights.
 The other thing that needs to be reexamined is the current practice of requiring a discrete transponder code anywhere between Moloka'i and Kaua'i to avoid being intercepted.  Yeah, I know, it isn’t required—just “highly recommended”.  Fact is, it’s counterproductive.  The other day, the F-15’s were set to launch on a helicopter approaching HNL.  The helo was squawking 1200, outside the Class B (no longer “enhanced”) and he was still going to be intercepted.  As I recall, the terrorists turned off the transponders on the hijacked jets so that they’d be harder to track.
 It’s time the aviation community, ATC and the air defense folks sat down to see where changes can be made that will increase safety while still preserving security.  

 Be careful out there.
 

(Hank’s Ratings:   Brett Iseke,  CFI Spins)
ut there.