I had hoped that the main thing the general public and officials
would take away from the tragedy of a misguided kid impaling a Tampa office
building with a 172 is that a Skyhawk or similar aircraft just doesn’t
do a whole lot of damage, and therefore doesn’t merit losing much sleep
over. Sadly, I was wrong. In the post-September eleventh world, imagining
the worst is now the norm and fear looms tall.
Here in Hawai'i, that event precipitated a big meeting at Schofield
Barracks, chaired by a two-star general and attended by a who’s who of
police, fire, disaster, Guard, military, FAA, and state officials.
Sixty people considered what to do about the security of light aircraft
at such places as Dillingham and measures to prevent their unauthorized
use. The overall lack of understanding about General Aviation among
various officials present was both evident and disturbing, and led to some
outlandish suggestions. We agreed to take the issue to the folks at Dillingham,
and, thanks to Morris Tamanaha’s urging, operators there have agreed to
take additional measures to secure their aircraft. Hopefully, that issue
will be put to bed.
Seems that folks are also nervous because gliders are getting close
to the radar on Mt. Ka’ala. The Air Force has requested that we not
get within 1,500 feet of that facility, and we really ought to comply.
Although a glider really doesn’t pose much of a threat to anyone or anything,
it’s still a good idea to stay a healthy distance from that (or any) radar.
The big radar on Mt. Ka’ala puts out a major dose of RF energy, and that
isn’t a good thing to absorb with a human body. So, do yourself and
the air defense folks a favor and stay a healthy distance from the Mt.
All this highlights the fact that deep changes have occurred in the
way we go about pursuing our affinity for the sky. It isn’t enough
to be safe and considerate and legal when we fly. We must also go
out of our way to not spook people who suffer from a severe case of the
jitters—people who now are more likely to perceive us through fear-tinted
lenses, and act based on those skewed perceptions.
Ignorance and fear generally don’t lead to sound decision-making
and we all now have a responsibility to educate those who don’t share our
interests and passions. Nothing dispels fear better than knowledge,
and we must do what we can whenever we can to shine some light into the
dark recesses where fear lurks and prospers. We owe it to ourselves.
AOPA Town Meeting
Well over 150 of you attended the AOPA Town Meeting with Phil
Boyer on January 16th. His excellent presentation revealed some of
the extent to which AOPA took the defense of General Aviation in the aftermath
of the terror attack on America. If anyone had any doubts about the
worthiness of this organization, I hope they’ve been thoroughly dispelled.
I was struck by the narrowness of the line that divides being a strong
and effective advocate on the one hand and being dismissed as a shrill
nuisance to be discounted and ignored. Boyer is very perceptive and walked
that fine line with tremendous skill. Under Boyer’s leadership, and I use
that word to its fullest meaning, AOPA has been extraordinarily effective
in standing up for us all in a very challenging environment.
Hank Bruckner greets Phil Boyer at the AOPA Town Meeting
Phil stressed the importance of working local issues locally to the
extent possible, and AOPA has established the Airport Support Network
(ASN) of volunteers to carefully monitor issues at specific airports and
report back to AOPA. The goal is to have an ASN volunteer for every
public-use airport in the country. The ASN’s become the eyes and
ears and early warning sensors for AOPA and this allows the organization
to tailor its efforts in the most effective and efficient manner.
We currently have ASN volunteers for LIH, JRF, HNL, and KOA and could definitely
use representation at ITO, OGG, MUE, MKK and LNY as well—especially OGG
and ITO where there are significant populations of pilots and owners and
I had the good fortune to spend some time with Phil as he set up for
his presentation, and I came away very impressed. AOPA is in very
good hands. I just hope he doesn’t wait another 11 years to come back.
South Practice Area Etiquette
Ray Laughingouse at the Wheeler tower has asked that pilots be
considerate when they use the area and the Wheeler frequency. Specifically:
1. Keep transmissions short and concise.
2. Do not establish or carry on two-way conversations with other pilots
on our frequency.
3. Keep good situational awareness as aircraft arrive and depart the
SPA (I know this is difficult when training).
4. Remember we do have an ATIS on 119.675.
5. Do not call Wheeler at the H1/H2 interchange if your destination
is Kalaeloa, go directly to their frequency (they now have radar in the
6. While operating in the SPA do not call Wheeler Tower for other aircraft
positions or make unsolicited position reports.
Please remember that Wheeler monitors the area more out of public service
than necessity. Their only obligation as a Class D, VFR tower,
is to keep people from scratching paint on the property itself. The
services they provide area pilots are above and beyond, and we owe it to
them and ourselves to not jam up their frequency.
The term “timeless” usually connotes something enduring, something
that never goes out of style. “Timeless” ages well. Howard Word’s
1949 Luscombe 8F Silvaire fits the word to a T. Recently afforded
the chance to briefly caress this beauty through O’ahu skies, I was impressed
by her simple grace, understated elegance and straightforward honesty.
She handles nicely, even on the ground, where she’s developed a bit of
a reputation for unruliness. This clean little airplane embodies
the essentials of flight with few of the frills. They don’t come much more
economical to keep than the Silvaire, and as long as you are not in a hurry
to get someplace, you will arrive in style. Thanks, Howard.
By the way, if you’d like to own your very own new Luscombe 8F, Renaissance
Aircraft will be building an updated version in Missouri soon.
Kalaupapa is one of the most naturally-beautiful places on earth,
and on March 16th, from 10 am to 2 pm, we’ll have our annual fly-in there.
Bring your own food and drink. If you want to take the tour,
you’ll need to make your own separate arrangements. The tour usually begins
at 9:45 am, so plan accordingly. See you there.
This month marks the 100th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s
birth. Best remembered for his aviation pioneering and skill, he
a complex, uncompromising person of great intelligence with interests as
varied as medical science and nature and conservation. It is gratifying
indeed that the Lindbergh’s Kipahulu, Maui, house, Argonauta, is being
preserved, thanks largely to the tireless efforts of Greg Marshall.
Erik Lindberg, Charles’ grandson, plans to replicate the famous Atlantic
crossing this May in a single-engine plane dubbed the “New Spirit of Saint
Louis,” to mark the 75th anniversary of that milestone.
Fighter ace Francis “Gabby” Gabreski passed away January 31st,
2001. Hailed as the U.S. “Greatest Living Fighter Ace,” Gabreski
was credited with downing 28 aircraft in WWII and another 6.5 in Korea.
After graduating from pilot training in 1941, he was stationed at Wheeler
Field on December 7th. He later volunteered to serve with a Polish
squadron of the RAF in England and then transferred to the 56th Fighter
Group, flying the P-47. Shot down in 1944, he finished the war as a POW.
Gabreski flew F-86 Sabre jets with the 4th Fighter Interceptor Squadron
in Korea, downing six MiGs and sharing another kill, becoming one of the
few pilots to make ace in both conflicts.
Sport Pilot NPRM
The FAA has finally released its Notice of Proposed Rule Making
for the Sport Pilot certificate. The new Sport pilot certificate,
which would allow pilots to fly light-sport aircraft, could be obtained
with about 20 hours of training. Sport pilots would need either a third
class medical certificate or a valid state driver's license to fly. Two
new aircraft category and class ratings would also be created — weight-shift-control
and powered parachute.
Light-Sport aircraft are simple, low-performance aircraft limited to
1,232 pounds maximum weight, a single non-turbine engine, stall speed of
39 knots, maximum airspeed of 115 knots, and fixed landing gear. Of currently
certificated aircraft, J3 Cubs, Aeronca Champs, and early model Taylorcrafts
would likely fall into the Light-Sport category. Cessna 150s and Aeronca
Chiefs would not.
If you wish to comment on the NPRM, you can log on to the EAA website at
www.sportpilot.org and follow the leads. The comment period ends on May
6, 2002, and you can submit your comments either by mail or over the internet.
The NPRM is Docket No. FAA-2001-11133.
Be careful out there.