From The South Ramp --Hank Bruckner:

Article from the January 1998 edition of the GACH newsletter

As the 1997 GACH Christmas Party slips into that place we have for fond memories, I'd like to thank all of you who not only shared the spirit of the season with us but also brought such ono grinds (food was good, too...) and gifts for the exchange. Hope to see the rest of you next time. Hauole Makahiki Hou! 1998 should be an exciting, though challenging year for us. We should have a clearer idea of how the new crew at the State DoT Airports Division is going to impact aviation in Hawai'i fairly early in the year. We received a positive response to our position paper from Airports Administrator, Jerry Matsuda (see below). It certainly is a good start. We'll keep you up on things as they develop. As for the Feds, you can expect greater interaction on a number of fronts: with a significantly enhanced FSDO, you can look forward to more scrutiny in the name of safety (of course). The up side is that people who do stupid things with and around aircraft are more likely to get caught. On the grand scale of things, lowering the overall stupidity level is a good thing, especially where safety is concerned. The down side? More scrutiny is more scrutiny. Better get used to it. Flight 2000 should be either coming together or coming apart in the new year--it is an expensive project! We'll keep you abreast. Sure could use that new, IFR-approved GPS! Here's an area where common sense and fair play have all but been drowned out by the noise of a grinding bureaucracy: Many of you who tie down or hangar your aircraft at HNL have to pay property taxes to the City and County of Honolulu. Tenants on State-owned land paying property taxes. Is this ridiculous or what? If you rent out your home to someone, try and get them to pay your property taxes on top of their rent, and see what kind of reaction you get! It would seem to me that if the State has to pay the City property taxes, that should come out of their revenue. We already pay way too much for hangar and tie-down fees. Why not take some of that $230 million the state is going to pay for airport improvements (from the surplus) and pay the taxes with it? And while they're at it, how about providing fire extinguishers for the T-hangars and tie-down areas, rather than insist we provide our own? Oh well, at least the new trees lining Lagoon Drive are pretty. On the national as well as state level, look out for continuing efforts to curtail where you can fly. If Bruce Babbit survives his latest scandal, expect a continued push to limit or prohibit overflights of national parks, especially with the support of the Hawai'i congressional delegation. I cannot overemphasize the importance of maintaining the FAA as the single manager of domestic airspace. Once that door opens, even a nanometer, it will become a floodgate. Guaranteed. And that, folks, would pretty much kill general aviation. Other issues that you should follow closely include aviation fuels--how long will avgas still be available, and at what price. EPA would like to be rid of all leaded fuels, of which avgas is the last remnant. Unfortunately, there is no good substitute in the pipeline. The cost of refining unleaded gasoline to 100 octane would be prohibitive, and most research is focused on additives. While autogas STCs work in lower compression engines (except in Hawaii, of course, where you can't legally carry the stuff to your airplane on a state airport), higher power engines really need high octane fly juice. It's vital that legislation and/or regulation be timed to follow research and not jump the gun. Again, it's going to be up to us to ensure such decisions are grounded in fact and not pooled ignorance. As people begin campaigning for office this next year, pay close attention to where the candidates stand on issues of importance to aviation in Hawai'i: airspace management, reliever airports, fees, and the like. Kalaeloa (Barbers Point) is still on track, but far from a done deal. We have a gubernatorial mudslinger coming up, and not all the candidates were supportive of the reliever airport. What is more or less certain (how's that for a concept?) is that the Ford Island runway will close in the next couple of years, and we really need an alternative other than Dillingham Field. On the plus side, the 1997-1998 edition of the Hawaii Airports and Flying Safety Manual has been published. It has a few errors. First one to catch them all gets a free copy. If you need a copy, I've got plenty, as does the FSDO and FSS. I've also got extra copies of the FAA's special Hawaii edition of the FAAviationews (Oct 97). This year, plan on the GACH fly-in at Kalaupapa in March, Hana in June, Port Allen in September, and maybe more. Of course, also plan on meeting each afternoon by the airshow aircraft parking area at Oshkosh '98.

Although it had been some time since he'd last flown, his clear eyes didn't miss a thing on takeoff--the slight drift to the left after full power, a little more as the tail came up (I should have corrected sooner, smoother)--and he took it all in as we climbed out and headed for the practice area. When he was ready, his right hand circled the grip, and his eyes visibly brightened as he began to explore the aircraft's personality. Steep turns, dutch rolls, accelerated stalls, a quiet, deep smile. Old muscle memories came flooding back, synapses flashed, and the old pro was again doing what he loved--flying. Introductions out of the way, we did hammerheads, loops, rolls, half-Cubans, reverse Cubans, immelmans. All too soon, it was time to go home. After a barely acceptable landing (mine)--for which I was awarded a "3"--we slid open the canopy and began our taxi back to the hangar. Frank looked at me and said, simply, "Thanks. You took 10 years off my life." Although he has over 10,000 hours of military and instructional flight time under his belt, he doesn't get to fly much anymore. I've been lucky to fly with him perhaps once a year or so, but it always leaves me feeling great to help keep someone young at heart. Thanks, Frank. It works both ways.

New Year's Resolutions. It is that time again. I guess I should print these again in December, just to see how I did, though I probably won't. These aren't ranked in any special order. I you like any of them, by all means help yourself:

1. I will never be a passenger in an aircraft I'm supposed to be flying.

2. I will do all I can to maintain my situational awareness.

3. I will treat others sharing the airspace with respect and consideration.

4. I will treat any airplane I'm flying with respect and consideration.

5. I will treat Air Traffic Controllers and Flight Service Specialists with respect and consideration, even the grumpy ones.

6. I will treat aviation maintenance technicians, avionics technicians, and everyone else who keeps my aircraft flying, with respect and consideration.

7. I will seek to become a better aviator.

8. I will share the joys of flight with someone.

9. I will try not to make a habit of doing stupid things in an aircraft.

10 I will try to stay legal, especially if it's also the safe thing to do.

11. I will file a flight plan anytime I go beyond the local area, and include in the remarks section whatever survival equipment I have aboard.

12. I will fight complacency wherever it raises its butt-ugly head.

13. I will try not to take myself too seriously.

Be careful out there.

CFI Corner Hank Bruckner, CFI/I/ME, ASC, DNRC

Preparing to depart an uncontrolled field, the pilot made his calls on the CTAF (122.9). On the ramp, he first monitored the frequency, then announced his intention to back-taxi down the runway for a departure into the prevailing wind. No one else seemed to be on the frequency as he announced his takeoff. Just as he broke ground, his windshield filled with a large cargo aircraft descending out of the overcast, opposite direction, apparently on an instrument approach. Quick reaction by the pilot and a sharp left turn prevented a disaster, and no one swapped paint or aircraft parts. But only just. How did such a potentially-deadly situation develop to begin with? Easy. Only one of the two professional aircrews was following accepted procedures. It is called Common Traffic Advisory Frequency for a reason. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, it is only a "common" frequency if everyone in the airport environment uses it. Assuming (dangerous practice, but bear with me) that the arriving, but silent aircraft was in fact flying an authorized approach and talking to Center (CERAP), the crew still had an obligation to announce position and intentions on the CTAF as they approached the airport. Center will normally clear you to the CTAF while you are still some distance from the airport. Even if they don't, I'll bet the large aircraft had two comm radios and the ability to at least monitor a second frequency. Even just monitoring would have let them know that an opposite-direction departure was in progress. Not too much to ask for, especially considering that the arriving aircraft had at least two crewmembers up front. Sloppy? Careless? Creeping complacency? A momentary lapse? If the two aircraft had merged in a fireball, raining shards of burning, twisted metal, fiberglass and flesh, it really wouldn't have mattered which, would it? Except to the rest of us, of course, trying to make some sense of it all afterwards. It's quite simple, really. Stealth is not a virtue in the pattern. If you are flying into or out of an uncontrolled field, VFR or IFR, use the CTAF as it was intended to be used--to enhance everyone's situational awareness. Otherwise, it could get really ugly.