|Article from the May 2000 edition of the GACH newsletter
The Miracle of Pearl
I don’t think he saw what hit him. Most of us did, after
the fact, in living color in our living rooms. And we marveled that anyone
could come out of such a crash alive. Gene Armstrong did, with just
a broken finger and a few cuts. His flight of three Tora Vals was
coming across the shoreline in a mock attack for the Disney shoot when
he apparently hit a tree, lost a wing, and tumbled to the tarmac.
A quick-witted rescuer brought a fire extinguisher, which kept the hulk
and its fuel-soaked pilot from going up in a blaze. So, two miracles, really.
The first, that he survived the initial crash and the second, that the
post-crash fire was put out so promptly. I guess if you have
to crash an airplane, the BT-13 would seem to be the one to use. The fuselage
and rollover structure cradled Gene and he’ll live to fly another day.
Even the dummy gunner seemed no worse for wear. Not so for the airplane,
of course. It got pretty well mangled. Interestingly, Art Wildern
flew that same airplane in Tora, Tora, Tora! back in 1969. The media, looking
for someone to comment on the “dangers of stunt flying” came out to talk
to me, and the KGMB reporter did a very nice job of not trying to sensationalize
the story. Sadly, we were preempted on the ten o’clock news by the Philippine
737 crash. Gene’s accident does highlight one thing: that kind of flying
is highly specialized and just because you or I fly airplanes regularly
(and well, of course), does not mean we’re ready for prime time.
Formation flying takes training and practice and discipline—all the more
so when you’re close to the surface. And, in spite of all the
preparation, training and experience that Gene and his cohorts have amassed,
things can still go awry. His guardian angel certainly earned those wings.
Aviation pioneer Gerald “Gerry” Weller recently made his last
journey. Weller, 80, established Paradise Air Tours in Honolulu in
the early ‘70s. Prior to that, he’d been an Army Air Corps pilot
and had assisted in the design of our first jet fighter, the Bell P-59.
He also helped found the National Aviation Hall of Fame and was a major
supporter of the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. He had been involved
with several airlines, including the country’s first commuter line in Cleveland
(Wright Airlines). Gerry Weller was part of the national and local
aviation fabric and it is fitting that we note his contributions.
Out of the Cold
There’s a used, slightly damaged Stearman sitting in a field
waiting to be reclaimed. The field is ice, and the location is near
the North Pole. That’s where Gustavus “Gus” McLeod had to leave it
when the engine died and he made a forced landing. He had already
made it to the pole, however, the first to do so in an open-cockpit airplane.
On April 17th, he circled the geographic North Pole, filmed, fittingly,
by the National Geographic. You can check out the details on his
web site: www.northpole2000.com/today.htm. Thirty-five hundred miles, 40-below
temps, wind in your face…ya’ gotta love it!
Seventy-Six, and Going Strong
Happy Birthday to Willy Schauer! He puts the smooth in
If They Build Them…
According to the General Aviation Manufacturer’s Association (GAMA),
the first quarter of 2000 had a total of 613 GA shipments adding up to
$2.1 billion in billings. This record quarter was also over 20 percent
higher than last year in shipments and 10 percent higher in value.
Almost 400 new piston-powered aircraft, 136 jets and 78 turboprops were
delivered. That’s a great trend. Not only are Cessna,
Piper, Mooney, and Raytheon (Beech) making brisk sales, but also some newcomers,
including Cirrus. And there’s an exciting new six-place jet on the
drawing boards that will sell for the same price (or slightly less) than
a Baron. It’s a little early to say whether this one is no more than
a pipe dream at this stage. If Williams is successful in developing
his new line of light jet engines, it, and others like it, just might fly.
But, Can We Insure Them?
Aviation legend Bob Hoover says he has cancelled airshow commitments
for the year because he could not obtain as much liability insurance as
he would like, according to the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS).
According to ICAS, Hoover and his family are thinking of donating
his famous Shrike Commander to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space
Museum. His famous “energy management” act includes feathering both
engines, then performing a loop, hesitation roll and landing and taxiing
back to the center stage—all with no power. Hoover is 78 years young
and has a current (and hard-fought) medical. He’ll be missed on the
The tightening of the aviation insurance market comes as GA completes
its safest year ever (1999). It’s a very complex issue, and I’m sure
I don’t have all the facts. Just seems a little odd, to say
the least, that insurance is harder to obtain when fewer people are crashing
Those of you who fly into and out of HNL will now have to request
a Shoreline Four or Freeway Four departure. There have been a few
minor changes, which can be found in the Pacific Chart Supplement (NOS)
under Area Notices for Honolulu. On the Shoreline Four, you are no longer
told to turn to a heading of 080 degrees until out of the Class B. Rather,
you are to turn left and remain within 2 miles of the shoreline until out
of the B. This one is still mostly for twins. The Freeway Four
has you following the freeway and then the Kalanianaole Highway until abeam
Koko Head. In the past, you were to fly right over the freeway to
the Waialae Golf Course and then turn left to 080 degrees until abeam Koko
Head. Both revised departures now include the term “own
navigation” to provide a little flexibility. Bottom line is that there’s
little actual change. The Red Hill Three remains as it was.
The federales have decided to stop dithering da kine. Now
your phenomenally accurate GPS will be even more so. With so many
commercially-available means to refine the GPS signal, there is no longer
any real justification for the DoD to degrade the accuracy available to
civilian users. There’s still the issue of frequency interference
that some sets are susceptible to. Many, for example, will drop off
when certain radio frequencies are tuned, depending on shielding and other
factors. My little Garmin 92, which is a superb set, will sometimes
drop off when I’m tuned to 119.3 (one of CERAP’s sector frequencies).
My only advice is to not depend entirely on the GPS. Don’t forget
how to flight plan in the traditional sense and use traditional navigational
tools like DR, pilotage, VORs and even the beloved ADF. No matter
where you go, there you are. It’s nice to know where that is.
Because It’s the Right Thing
I’m sure all of you have a list of things that others of us do
that really irk you. I know I have. Talking to other folks
in the aviation business, here are a few:
> Not being precise on a position report.
If you report you are at a common reporting point but you are actually
two miles east of it, you just aged the pilot who really is at the reporting
point by a few years.
> Running an aircraft so that the prop/rotor
wash blows into a hangar or onto a nearby aircraft. It’s damaging
and thoughtless and unnecessary. It’s also in violation of the FARs
(see 91.13 (b)).
> Cutting someone off in the pattern.
It’s rude and dangerous. Also, see FAR 91.13 (a).
> Not announcing on the appropriate frequency,
succinctly, your intentions when in the vicinity of an uncontrolled airfield.
> “High 45”. High five is good.
High 45 is dangerous to others in the pattern. High-wing and
low-wing aircraft have built-in blind spots. The 45-degree pattern entry
is designed to allow folks in the pattern and entering the pattern to see
each other. When aircraft are entering the pattern at different altitudes,
the chances of not seeing a potential conflict and scratching the paint
go way up. When entering the pattern, you should be at pattern altitude.
> Straight-in approach to an uncontrolled
airfield. Marginally Ok, if no one else is in the pattern
(although I still think it is unsafe). If someone is, however,
join the pattern on the 45. Let’s not replicate the recent spate
of mid-airs on short final.
If you have any you’d like to add to the list, send them to me and we’ll
99’s Fund Raiser
Aloha Chapter 99's Beer Tasting Fund Raiser, sponsored by Samuel Adams
Brewery, is scheduled for Saturday June 10, 2000, 4:00PM to 7:00PM.
Location: to be announced. Tickets available from Lois Russell at Anderson
Aviation or Debbie Lim at 681-0756.
The annual GACH pilgrimage to Heavenly Hana is approaching.
Make your plans now to be there on June 24th! We’re planning to have
an accuracy landing even, complete with trophies, again this year.
And, as ever, you get to behold beautiful Hana. Y’all come, hear?
Be careful out there.