|Article from the February 2000 edition of the GACH
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
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
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
North Shore, and down the Wai'anae Coast to Ford Island. They
will then be returning to HNL. Presidents' Day will see a Mystery
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?
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
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
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
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.