Air Race Fever

From The South Ramp --Hank Bruckner

Article from the February 2000 edition of the GACH newsletter 

Air Race Fever
It's February, Valentine's Day is rapidly approaching, and the Great Hawaiian Air Race is hot on its heels.  Planning is down
to the nitty-gritty, entries are being finalized, and the gin will be going under the ti plants (for the menehunes, of course--
worked last year).
Some of the salient features this year, in addition to a second day in Heavenly Hana will be the wide range of aircraft, in size
and speed, that are participating:  all the way from a Taylorcraft to a DC-3.  This year, the HCC/UND aviation program will field five
entries, entitling them to a special trophy category, in addition to the others.  They've recognized the tremendous training and experience value
of cross-country air racing for their students.

This is a major event for the state, for aviation in general, and general aviation in particular, and involves a lot of
cooperation and kokua from the entire community.  It is virtually impossible to have several aircraft fly anywhere in the state without the
possibility of inconveniencing someone or other, and we've tried to design the route to have as low an impact on the rest of the flying and
non-flying public as possible.

Just remember, on the eighteenth of February, about 50 airplanes will be flying in the vicinity of Moloka'i (North and South
shores), Lana'i, Molokini, Kahului, and Hana.  Most will be down low, but they could be at any altitude.  On the 19th, there will be several
aircraft flying around the Big Island from Hana, and on the 20th, about 50 aircraft will be flying back to O'ahu, up the Windward side, across the
North Shore, and down the Wai'anae Coast to Ford Island.  They will then be returning to HNL.  Presidents' Day will see a Mystery Race for
several aircraft.  Bottom line is that there will be a lot of general aviation activity throughout the state, from O'ahu to the Big Island. 

If you are not a participant, please be on the lookout for more aircraft than usual.  Race aircraft will be using the appropriate frequencies, including CTAF, and will also make calls on the air-to-air channel-- 122.75--in the vicinity of each checkpoint.

The Great Hawaiian Air Race is a major fund- raiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Hawaii and draws a lot of attention to
aviation and the Islands.  Let us all work to ensure it is a safe and positive one. Did I mention FUN?

Airport Access
For years, general aviation pilots, except for those Part 135 operators with specific permission, have been denied access to Kapalua West Maui 
and Princeville airports.  Though the circumstances of the denial differ at each location, they ultimately revolve around the local communities
and their perceptions of both the value and liability of a local airport.  The visitor industry understands full well the value of having convenient air  access to their resorts, but that is a message that is often counterproductive, especially to those who favor less development and fewer tourists.  As the state attempts to promote itself as a venue for high-technology, non-polluting  industries, the issue of convenience takes on added importance.  It's amazing what a runway will do to enhance an area's suitability.  The hard, but necessary sell is the inescapable fact that communities are enhanced by the presence of a local airport.  A local airfield allows a much wider range of living hoices for those who work (or play, for that matter), and it is those folk who must be brought to understand the value of a local airport.  Noise and safety are the big issues.  And Big Issues tend to be Emotional Issues.  As anyone who sat through the three years' of hearings and meetings on Barbers Point can verify, Emotional Issues do
not lend themselves to logic and reason easily. The goo is thickened further by political and other agendas masked by the Big Issues.   Thoughtless operators just make matters worse on both counts.  The fact that most GA aircraft are not noisy, especially when flown considerately,   and are also quite safe is not going to be accepted at face value.  If we want access to Kapalua  and Princeville, we need to get busy and educate people on the value of their local airport.  We must.

 Speaking of Which...
As we gain operational experience with Kala'eloa Airport (JRF), we must remember the folks over whom we fly.  It is tough to do the West Arrival
to HNL in normal  weather conditions without getting close to the communities of Makakilo and  Kapolei. Tough, but necessary.  It's hard to approach JRF from HNL and depart back to HNL without getting near Ewa and Waipahu as well.  When approaching from the east, I stay over
the freeway until the Makakilo intersection, and then angle over to enter the pattern.  By remaining over the freeway, the noise signature is greatly diminished to the folks just up the hill.  On departure, I like to fly along the power lines, thus avoiding the residential areas, especially until clear of the approach corridor to HNL's 8 Left.   We worked hard to keep the airport.   We need to work hard to keep the airport.  Fly nice and fly smart.

Tough Work But Somebody's Gotta...
Flight by its very essence is memorable, but some are more so than others.  We had to sniff for vog in the Seneca the other day, and that required flying at 200' from near Kaho'olawe to Upolu Point, all the way down to South Cape, and back north to Kona, with a brief excursion to 7,500'.  The weather was clear, whales and porpoises were frisky, and the scenery breathtaking.  My main concern was to steer around any and all surface vessels (easy to do on that beautiful day) and not make an off-airport landing (watering?).  The seas were near calm and boats were easy to pick up in plenty of time to miss.  A little up-trim kept me from wandering any lower than I wanted; any slacking on my part would result in a climb.  Close to the surface is the one time I don't trim out all control pressures.  Having to constantly apply a  little forward pressure also tends to keep me focussed on matters at hand, which is probably a good thing.  South of Kona, the vog got quite thick, and climbing through the inversion layer into the bright, crisp and clear air above was astonishing.  The layer became a new surface from which arose the islands of Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Haleakala.  All else faded into murky oblivion below.  There are a lot of cool things you can do with an airplane. 

 Aviation Safety Program
 One of the challenges of the Aviation Safety Program is that we end up largely preaching to the choir.  Not that the choir won't benefit, but 
we really need to reach the rest of you.  Why should the choir have all the fun?  Although it is easy to think that "I've really  heard all that stuff before, and I don't have the time," the fact is that aviation is a dynamic process and I haven't heard it all before (or maybe I wasn't listening, or  maybe I just forgot).  I've found that there are many right answers in aviation, and a few stark wrong ones.  But there are lots that could go either way, depending on perspective and circumstances.  Everyone has a different perspective, and I have yet to attend a Wings meeting where I didn't learn (or relearn) something important.  The January meeting was no exception.   We had Bill O'Brian from FAA Washington talk about some basic things in a new, attention-getting, and clever way.  Bill is not shy by nature and had some very important things to say about experimental aircraft, flight testing and airworthiness that impact aircraft owners and renters alike.  Bill kind of reminds me of my high school biology teacher.  That
was a long time ago, but I still remember him and even some of what he said very well.  Powered flight has been around for almost a century.
Support your local Aviation Safety Program, and you may be, too.

Be careful out there.