From the South Ramp
--Hank Bruckner: 

 February 2002

Security Jitters
 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. Ka’ala facility.

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 aircraft. 

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 tower).
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.

 Timeless Beauty
 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.   Cool.

 Kalaupapa Fly-in
 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.

 100th Birthday
 This month marks the 100th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s birth.  Best remembered for his aviation pioneering and skill, he was 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. 

 “Gabby” Gabreski
 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 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.