From The South Ramp --Hank Bruckner:

Article from the February 1998 edition of the GACH newsletter

Flux. Transition. Change. Let's face it: life's a moving fluid, as is the air we fly in. It has its eddies, currents, still pools, treacherous narrows, and, certainly, some turbulence. Sometimes we dip a tentative toe into the flow, and sometimes we dive in head first. And, then, sometimes we leap up, tuck into a cannon ball, and try to make as big a splash as possible. Flux, transition, change. Nowhere is it more evident than in our own aviation community. Another light has been extinguished in our community. Duff King died in a hang-gliding accident on Moloka'i on February 5th. His aviation interests were wide and intense, and he was an integral part of aviation in Hawai'i. He didn't just dabble in the life-flow--he revelled in it. While it's true he died doing something he loved, that doesn't really lessen the loss to his wife, Rita, mother Lorraine, sister Alida, and all those that loved him, and to you we offer our heartfelt condolences. Tweet Coleman, our Aviation Safety Program Manager lo these many years, has been promoted and, unfortunately, moved to LA (FAA Regional HQ). As most of you know, Tweet has been an incredibly dynamic force here, tirelessly advocating safety and general aviation throughout Hawai'i. She has done absolute wonders enhancing our collective and individual awareness levels, giving much of herself in the process. She has been a true friend to me, as well to the entire aviation community in Hawai'i. She may have small feet, but huge shoes to fill. So, Tweet, Aloha. We will miss you. (If you wish to stay in touch with her, her new e-mail is tweets@IBM.net, and her new phone is (310) 725-7251.) More change. Aloha IslandAir accepted me as a new (old?) First Officer in the Twin Otter. So, if I can keep all the call signs straight, you may hear me as "Princeville..." from time to time. Talk about stepping from an eddy into a swift current! IslandAir runs an excellent ground school, although there is an incredible amount of material to cover (and learn!) Working as a crew is a very different way of flying to those of us used to single-pilot operations. Even as a flight instructor, the emphasis has always been on single pilot operations. True, we teach a form of cockpit resource management to pilots, but it is way different from the Crew Resource Management (CRM) so critical to safe multi-crew operations. The basic overlying principles are the same for one or more crewmembers, but the devil is in the details. The Twin Otter is a great airplane to fly. Designed for cold-country bush operations, it is rugged and relatively simple. One learns new concepts--such as Engine Failure, Takeoff Continued--that just don't apply to most GA aircraft. Fun. When I wrote about the difference between a pilot and an aviator, I inadvertently stepped on some toes. I was in no way referring to titles conferred by the different Services on their fliers. The fact that the Air Force calls theirs "Pilots" and the Navy, "Aviators," wasn't the point. Fact is, most military pilots are aviators, in the sense I meant in the article, regardless of their titles. I hope that clarifies. I apologize for any misunderstandings I may have caused. A recent security incident at HNL will result in all of us getting a letter from the State reminding us of our duties and responsibilities regarding access to the South Ramp. In sum, as a pilot was opening the gate to the ramp, two individuals pushed past him rudely and ignored his attempts to determine who they were and what they were doing. Given the brusque way he was treated, he called 911 to report a possible security incident. That led nowhere, and a long time expired before the right people showed up and it became known that the two induhviduals in fact had a legitimate reason to be on the ramp--though not to be rude. Bottom line: HNL is a major carrier airport with stringent security requirements, even on the GA side of the field. Don't let others through, unless you are their escort. And if someone persists, don't call 911. Call Airport Security at 836-6641. Sound draconian? Well, it is.

The American Association of University Women has announced their Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship winners for 1998. Congratulations to Shawna Yamashita and Laureli Lunn! Speaking of women in aviation, I had the unique honor and pleasure of flying with Betty Stewart. Betty flies a Pitts S-1 very well. Well enough, in fact, to be the only woman chosen for the U.S. Aerobatic Team to compete in Kiev, Russia, in 1976 and to become the Women's World Aerobatic Champion in 1980 and again in 1982, when she became the first pilot ever to win back to back world titles. She is now on the board for the IAC and is a national contest judge. She was visiting Hawai'i and asked if I'd like her to critique my aerobatics. It is really great to get a ground truth view of your flying, especially from an expert contest judge. She very graciously flew up to Dillingham with me and watched while I performed and then gave me an excellent debrief. At least now I know some of my consistent faults and have something concrete to work on. A real privilege. A reminder, now that El Nino will be replaced by La Nina. Trades will return, probably in full force, and that means turbulence, downdrafts and shear. Be cautious to the lee of any mountain, especially in relatively underpowered aircraft. When the downdraft exceeds your max rate of climb, the trend is unhealthy. If you are in an updraft, expect it to end rather suddenly. And, watch out for bumps downwind of any rock. I was flying to the North Shore the other day in the CAP-10. It was quite windy and we hit a single bump near the Aloha Stadium that registered a plus 4 on my G-meter. That's four instantaneous G's! Most of us don't have G-meters, and in the normal category, our airplanes are stressed to +3.8 G. Those of us who have flown here for a while know where to expect the worst bumps. Pass it on the new folks. Know Va for your weight (remember it decreases if you are lighter) and avoid bending the airplane or bruising the passengers. Be careful out there.

Yeeeehaaaaa!!!!

Hank Bruckner

It was a relatively cool Saturday morning in Louisiana, and I was standing on a two-by-four bolted to the bottom of a C-182, clutching the wing strut, and waiting for the jumpmaster to slap my thigh and yell, "Go!". There was a ninety-mile-an-hour breeze in my face and I was seriously wondering just what on earth I was doing there. That was thirty years ago, and it was my first jump out of an airplane. College, other responsibilities, and slim resources intervened, and I left the sport before ever really getting started. Fast-forward thirty years to a couple of weeks ago, as I found myself firmly strapped to veteran jumpmaster Bobby Sammis, sitting on the floor of a Shorts Skyvan on our way up to 12,000 feet. Only this time, I knew exactly why I was there. As we climbed, the 12-15-foot surf was perfectly framed in the aft cargo ramp opening of the aircraft, and I knew I was embarking on one of those experiences that would profoundly change my outlook as well as really strain my ability to capture it in print. (Besides, Carol Read celebrated her 50th by doing a tandem jump, so could I do any less?) Laureli, who set the whole event in motion for me, was jumping with us. As each group of sky-divers made their way to the ramp before leaping into ecstasy, we worked our way aft. Finally, it was our turn. Very nicely pre-briefed, I turned around, clasped my hands in my harness, and leapt off into space. I'd forgotten what 120 mph wind in the face feels like. Here's some insight--if you open your mouth at that speed, such as to say something intelligent like, "Yeeehaaaaaaa!", and forget to close it again, that air will try to inflate you like a balloon. Yep. Won't do that again. At least not until next time. "Yeeehaaa" is actually quite germane at the time, you know, and it's hard to close your mouth when you're having such a good time. Now let's get serious. See, you're falling at 120 miles per hour, but you can still fly aerodynamically, using your body for flight control. Turn left? Easy; bank left with your hand. You're the airplane. I can't describe how unbelievably cool it is to do that. After some turns in either direction, we turned to track Laureli, who was performing an aerial ballet. Her grace in the air--truly her element--combined with the heart-stopping beauty of the North Shore, and the rush of flying myself around sans airplane was almost overwhelming. All too soon, we reached our predetermined opening altitude of 5,000' and Bobby popped the chute. Suddenly, the crescendo of air was silenced and an incredible calm washed over me. But the flying was far from over. See, the chute is a wing, and is incredibly maneuverable. Under Bobby's expert tutelage, I practiced turns, both sedate and carnival-like, and, importantly, the landing flare. Closing in on the drop zone, we flew a regular pattern, turned final, flared and touched down no harder than stepping off a one-foot ledge. The PLF (Parachute Landing Fall) of thirty years ago went the way of the round chute. This was flare to land, stepping to earth at a slow walk. Seriously cool. Afterwards, my cheekbones started to ache, and I realized just how hard I had been smiling. The tandem jump is probably the greatest thing to hit sport parachuting. With an experienced, professional guy like Bobby Sammis, it's about as safe as jumping out of an airplane can be. Although I knew I was strapped to Bobby, he was above me as we descended, so it really felt like I was doing the flying by myself, yet with the comfort of knowing that he would make sure we both got down OK. Laureli, and Bobby--thanks. I really owe you, big time. The smile, by the way, lasted long into the next week.