From the South Ramp

--Hank Bruckner: 

  • June,2001
  • Live and Let Live at Lana’i
    One of the neat things about an airplane is that it often allows you to go directly where you want.  That isn’t always a good thing though.  The Big Sky Theory for Not Scratching The Paint (it’s a big sky and airplanes are little and they likely won’t hit each other) doesn’t have a good track record near and around airports.  No big surprise here.  Airplanes tend to congregate there, and Big Sky can become Aluminum Overcast in a Lana’i minute. What we need, and curiously, what we have, is an orderly way to approach and depart an airport not sporting a control tower in such a way as to minimize the risk of scratching paint and maximize the opportunity for all involved to see and avoid.  Nothing new here, so why even mention it?  Well, it seems enough of us have chosen to ignore proper procedures and put us all in jeopardy.

     Lana’i is the case in point.  If you want an idea of just how busy this rural airport can get, just listen to 122.9 for a while.  Lana’i is served by scheduled and unscheduled passenger and cargo carriers and has also become a favorite instrument training playground with the advent of an ILS complete with a DME arc and step-downs and lead radials.  Lana’i is a great VFR stop as well, both for the crosswind training value it offers as well as its convenience in meeting student cross-country requirements. And, it’s a nice place to go. It is busy and getting busier and has an eclectic mix of IFR and VFR traffic, pistons, turboprops, and jets. 

     The Airport Facilities Directory lists a traffic pattern altitude (2,100’ for smaller guys) but doesn’t mention left or right traffic.  It doesn’t have to, right?
    FAR 91.126(b) states that “When approaching to land at an airport without an operating control tower in Class G airspace—(1) Each pilot of an airplane must make all turns of that airplane to the left unless the airport displays…markings indicating that turns should be made to the right...”  There are no such markings at Lana’i. Lana’i is sometimes Class G and other times Class E.  FAR 91.127 (a) says that unless otherwise required by ATC, each person operating at a Class E airport must comply with Part 91.126, above.   In short? Left hand patterns.  Just like it states in bold face type in the State Hawaii Airports and Flying Safety Guide.  Note, I’m talking FAR’s, and not merely the recommendations found in the AIM.

     Some pilots coming in from the east over Manele Bay enter a right pattern for Runway 3, usually the base because it’s convenient.  Please, don’t. It is neither prudent nor legal.  Cross over and enter a standard left pattern.  Coming in from O’ahu?  Try a left 45 to the downwind.  Leave the straight-ins or base leg entries for the IFR folks coming off the ILS or VOR approaches.  Same goes for arrivals from O’ahu or Moloka’i on a Kona day.  Cross over and enter a left pattern for Runway 21.
    All aircraft, VFR or IFR, should announce position and intentions on the CTAF (122.9) as succinctly as possible.  Sometimes Center is a little late in releasing an IFR flight to the advisory frequency and that can reduce the time a VFR and an IFR pilot have to learn about each other’s existence and whereabouts. This happens when there’s a target Center is not talking to that might affect someone on the approach, so they hold them a little longer to provide traffic advisories.  If you have two radios, and especially, a copilot or flight instructor, use them to advantage and cover both CTAF and Center.

    Using common terminology and reference points enhances everyone’s situational awareness.  Conversely, announcing that you are at EYEPO or OJOVU won’t mean a thing to a student pilot who is still trying to figure out which of the two wind socks to believe (both—it’s called wind shear, Ed).  Range and bearing from the airport or VOR should work for all, especially if you also include your altitude and brief intentions.

    Lana’i, in hawaiianaviationspeak means “land of the opposing wind socks” and that has led to some interesting take offs and landings as well as some way-too-close encounters.  Tempting as it may be to land on Runway 3 and depart on 21, make sure you’re the only one around when you do.  Remember, the guy on the approach may still be on Center frequency when you announce on CTAF and you both may get a really ugly surprise momentarily.  Scenario:  Pilot at ramp is ready to depart and announces back taxi for a Runway 3 take off.  Another pilot announces inbound to Runway 3, so first pilot figures he’ll just depart on 21 instead so he won’t have to wait so long.  Now, they are aimed at each other with a significant closure rate and setting up for an aerial game of chicken. Good idea? Nah. It worked for Ben Affleck, but the circumstances were a little different. 

    I’ve mentioned this before in this column, but unfortunately, it bears repeating.  If you are flying an instrument approach into Lana’i, please work with Center. If you just fly it VFR on your own, you may very well be in the way of an IFR flight and Center won’t know who you are or what you are doing.  If Center cannot accommodate you right away, it is because there is other traffic.  With a field like Lana’i, IFR traffic is limited to one at a time, and if Center can’t fit you in, is it really a good idea to just do it anyway but not tell anybody?

    Using proper etiquette in and around Lana’i may be a little less efficient at times, but it does two things for you:  it can keep you safe and legal.

    Pearl Harbor, The Premiere
    When you ask Willy Schauer to be some place at a specific time, that’s exactly what he does.  In this case, he was to be at Show Center—abeam the USS John C. Stennis’ superstructure at precisely 1806 in the L-19, leading a procession of “vintage” aircraft in a fly-by for the 2,000 guests invited to attend the world premiere of Disney’s Pearl Harbor.  He was followed by Bruce Clements and Bob Carney in Bruce’s two PT-17 Stearman bipes in loose trail, Bob Justman in his non-vintage but evocative YAK-52, Jerry Jackson in the Beech-18, and Steve Dunn in Harry’s C-47.  Initial point was Harbor View.  At 100 mph, Willy had timed the course down West Loch and over to East Loch and past Ford Island and the Stennis at 4 minutes and 40 seconds.  We had all aircraft at 100 mph to make things simpler, which meant the Stearman and L-19 were at high cruise and the C-47 at low cruise.  The procession was waivered down to 250’ and looked impressive as they roared by.  Yes, radials roar, even at 100 mph, especially big ones.  And each of the L-19’s 213 horses was singing its song.  They had been preceded by a Coast Guard rescue demo with a beautifully-flown HH-65, and were followed by a UH-60 diamond formation fly-by, eight SEALs doing a hop-‘n-pop parachute insertion and culminating in a lump-in-the-throat HANG F-15 Missing Man formation, right at sunset.

    Timing for the whole event was critical, as the Missing Man had to be precisely at sunset, and we had several planning meetings, and one full dress rehearsal for all participants, plus individual practices, to make sure it went off on schedule. Which it did, mostly, thanks to the professionalism of everyone involved. 

    Earlier, all the stars, honored guests, beautiful people, military leaders and assorted politicians got the red carpet treatment up to the flight deck where a P-40, B-25 and F/A-18F were on static display.  As the air show proceeded, the guests made their way into the stadium seating erected on the center/aft portion of the carrier deck for the rest of the evening’s extravaganza.  Survivors of both the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo were present and honored, as well as those who perished on December 7th, 1941.

    Disney had been concerned that some of you errant flyers would spoil the movie by flying over the carrier in your noisy craft, so they obtained a Temporary Flight Restriction.  They need not have bothered.  The sound system was so powerful I doubt you’d have heard one of Hawaiian’s older DC-9s taking off from Ford Island. I mean, it sounded as if those machine gun and cannon rounds were hitting the Stennis all around us!  Following the movie, Disney put on the most impressive fireworks display I have ever witnessed.  Two barges and one shore location (Ford Island) sent up crescendos of rockets choreographed to the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra on deck for about 25 minutes solid.

    The after-movie party on the Hangar Deck went on until at least 2 am, catered by Indigo Restaurant, complete with live period music.  Riding down on the aircraft elevator was a rush.  Lots of people, lots of good food and drink. Disney is reported to have spent about $5 million on this bash. Kind of takes “dinner and a movie” to a new level.

    As for the movie itself?   I enjoyed it.  The story is very Hollywood and I don’t think there’ll be too many Oscars handed out for acting, but the special effects are truly spectacular and the flying is superb.  It is an important film, because it dramatizes a time and series of events that are sadly being forgotten or never learned.  Definitely worth seeing. 

    And the aircraft carrier?  That is a lot of metal! I was struck by the size of this ship in two ways.  First, it is huge.  It towers over the pier like a metal city.  It can carry 70 aircraft, fuel, munitions, stores and equipment and a complement of some 4,000 personnel.  Second, it is one tiny place to try to land an airplane. 

    Hangin’ in the Breeze
    Ever had that dream where you can fly around on your own, without an aircraft?  Just you and the breeze.  Well, you can almost live that dream--specially the breeze part.  All you need is a Breezy.  Aptly named, this aircraft features a Cub wing mounted on a truss fuselage, with a pusher engine.  Pilot and passenger perch on the forward part of the truss on tandem seats.  Whatever you are wearing is your cabin and your glasses or goggles are your windshield. 

    The Breezy distills flying to its basic elements—stick, rudder, aileron, wind-in-your-face.  If you just must look at a dial or two, there, between your legs is the airspeed indicator.   Further aft are an altimeter and tachometer and the oil pressure and temps.  The thing will fly as slowly as you want and as fast as you can stand (it’s like wing walking, sitting down).  It’s one heck of a lot of fun, and just possibly the best way imaginable to see the island. 

    The take off roll is very short, and the airplane just levitates.  The view is spectacular as there is absolutely no structure to either side or in front of you to block your vision.  Handling is docile and a little truckish, but thoroughly conventional. The real rush is on landing.  Since you sit less than two feet off the ground, watching the runway come up gets the juices flowing indeed!   Cruise is at, oh, say 40 or maybe sixty or, well, do you really need a number?  Stall is down under 30 so pick a speed you’re comfortable with.  Bring something for your eyes and body and let it all hang out.  Mahalo, Darryl!

    This time of year spawns aviation events around the country.  Here in Hawaiÿi we have the Hana Fly In on June 16th and the Poor Man’s Fly In at Port Allen on September 8th.  We also have an air show over Kailua Bay on the 4th of July (CAP-10 and Extra 300).  Big air shows occur all around the country, most notably, of course, AirVenture at Oshkosh at the end of July.  A lot of  you are going and I hope to see some of you.  If you want to let people know where you are at Oshkosh, sign into the Hawai’i book at the Women’s Activity pavilion.  We also congregate at air show time near where the air show planes park.  And, of course, at Bud and Gladys’ RV and at Parnell’s.   Which is a long way of saying that the Airscoop won’t be published in July and August.

    See you at Hana, Oshkosh, and Port Allen. And, be careful out there.

    Hank’s ratings:   Randy Villanueva   CFI Spins endorsement.

    Remember the Hana Fly-In and Aviation Event! 
    Saturday June 16, 1000 - 1400.  Admission is FREE!