the South Ramp
Again, one of us has gone prematurely to that place that aviators go when their wings no longer provide lift here on Earth. Shawn died when the King Air he was piloting impacted the ocean following a sky diving run. Characterized by those who knew him as the "best pilot I've ever known", his passing is all the more tragic. He truly lived to fly. Also known for his kindness as well as his skill, Shawn was one of those rare people who touch many lives and leave nothing but positives behind. As of this writing, the accident investigation is well underway and far from complete. Scenarios abound, of course, and opinions flow like rainwater off the cliffs of Moloka'i. What can we take away from it all? Shawn was very experienced in a wide range of challenging aviating. Although there is no substitute for experience, that alone is no guarantee. His lesson to me will be to reassess how much I can rely on my experience in any given situation--not an easy or simple task, but a necessary one. Because I have done it before is no guarantee that I can do it again now. At least, I need to ask the question, to ensure that neither I nor the circumstances have changed enough to invalidate my prior experience. Easier said than done. Fliers will continue to fly, jumpers will continue to jump, and your friends will continue to miss you, Shawn. Godspeed.
Search and Rescue
The search for Shawn and the aircraft raises some questions. As a member of the Search and Rescue community (through the Coast Guard Auxiliary), I've spent more than a few hours looking at the ocean, hoping to find someone or something. Coast Guard Auxiliary aircraft participated in this latest search, along with Fire and Police helicopters and numerous surface vessels. Disturbingly, though, it took a private endeavor, using a hired sonar set, to find the wreckage. The general area of the mishap was known, and the search only took a few hours once the right equipment was brought to bear. Looking at the history of aviation mishaps in Hawaiian waters, would it not be a reasonable, prudent thing for governmental search organizations to have some similar gear at their disposal and use it early in the search, especially for a near-shore incident? Would such equipment have located the C-310 that went down off Hawaii Kai a few years ago? It is laudable that Shawn's friends arranged for and paid for the commercial search equipment, but they should not have had to.
As you read this, preparations are well underway to begin civil air operations at Kalaeloa (Barbers Point). As plans continue to be advanced for moving GA from HNL, it is a good time for us all to educate decision makers and the public at large on a vital segment of General Aviation we call business aviation. Simply, it involves use of an aircraft for business purposes--really a no-brainer. For business aviation to work, of course, it must be productive, and that entails convenience. Many of the people I know who own and/or operate aircraft at Honolulu fly for business reasons, as well as for the love of aviating. There is simply no way you could, say, meet a client in Moloka'i in the morning, another for lunch in Kona, and also take care of business back in Honolulu in one day were it not for GA and business flying. If you work in Honolulu, an aircraft at HNL makes that kind of utility possible. Business flyers who would have to drive all the way to Kalaeloa from Honolulu and back would lose much of the fantastic productivity a personal aircraft provides. It is necessary for those who make decisions regarding the course of aviation in Hawai'i have a good understanding of the value of all segments of General Aviation to the community. State planners need to see beyond the airlines and major cargo carriers and acknowledge the contributions and rightful place GA has in the overall scheme.
I've been reviewing Master Plans for many of the Hawaiian airports and there is an apparent mindset that suggests strongly that GA is to be tolerated-- barely--and relegated to the farthest reaches, away from any of the services available to airline passengers. In most cases, expansion plans involve improvements to air carrier and cargo operations, often at the expense of GA, or at the very least, ignoring GA. Hawaiian airports are unique in the country in that they are owned by the state. The state sets all the rules and rates and has a virtual stranglehold on the system. The Kona Master Plan, for example, mentions the need for an additional 12 GA parking spaces, but doesn't directly address the T-hangar waiting list issue and the desperate need for additional T-hangars. The plan briefly notes that the forecast of 20,000 GA operations by the year 2000 and 23,000 operations by 2015 has been already been exceeded by the 1997 totals of 37,549 GA operations. The new GA site development wouldn't begin until FY 2004. One positive note is to relocate Avgas fueling closer to the GA area (between FY '98 and 2003). The plan goes on to make the case for the desirability of locating GA facilities away from air carriers for security and safety. However, no consideration is given to the needs of itinerant GA pilots/passengers for basic facilities, and all the alternatives move the GA area further south. We don't mind not collocating with the big guys, but we need access to ground facilities--food, rest rooms, rental cars. The Hilo Master Plan shows that current GA operations have already exceeded the forecast for 2005 and plans space for hangars for 32 based aircraft and some ten tie downs. GA is a significant and growing part of aviation in the state and planners should embrace this fact and take the opportunity to facilitate and encourage the use of personal aircraft for intrastate commerce and travel. Spread the word.
AirVenture '99 (Oshkosh)
I can already smell the corvus oil and hear the engine sounds. There's nothing quite like the sound a 300+HP AEIO-540 makes at high power, tips flirting with the sound barrier, or that smooth, deep Merlin rumble-whine, or the throaty growl of a big radial, or the soul-shaking only scores of large recips passing overhead at once can provide, or...sorry. I got carried away (again). If you are making the pilgrimage to OSH this year, check out Forum Tent 5, July 28 at 0830. I'll be doing a thing on the Great Hawaiian Air Race. Kinda neat...I mean, it's Oshkosh, after all. Remember, if you want to meet up with other Hawai'i folks, meet at airshow time by the aerobatic show plane parking area just off the big taxiway where all the big iron parks. Also, sign in the Hawai'i book at the Women's Activity Tent.
Don't forget the Hana Fly-In and Aviation Event! Saturday June 12, 1000 - 1400, and admission is FREE!
Poor Man's '99
Mark your calendars for the Poor Man's Fly-In at Port Allen, Kaua'i, tentatively set for Saturday September 11, 1999. Park down toward the approach end of the runway--closer to the beach, and further from the helos.
Kalaeloa Pilots' Meeting
The state DoT will have another informational meeting on Kalaeloa (Barbers Point) on June 17, at 6pm at the Interisland Terminal (7th Floor)
Just a reminder: your GACH staff will take a break from producing the Airscoop during July and August. Write down your summer aviation experiences and send them to us to print up in the fall. Easiest way to get your articles to me is to email them (Select ALL , Copy, Paste, or as an attached file). Then, it's easy for me to format for publication. Or, send them on a floppy.
Most important: Be careful out there.