Aloha, 495

From The South Ramp --Hank Bruckner: 

September 2000

--Hank Bruckner 

Summer is about over, the Port Allen Fly-In (formerly known as the Poor Man’s Fly-In) is nigh, and many of you will have a whole set of Oshkosh memories to share.  For the first time in several years, we didn’t get to go to the aviation Mecca.  Did get up to Alaska, though.  I also bade a sad farewell to a trusted friend.

Aloha, 495

We met seventeen years ago, in Virginia. Together, we crossed the entire breadth of our great country, visiting friends and family, seeing things I’d never seen before.   She taught and I learned and became intimately comfortable with every nuance, line and curve, sound and scent and touch.  I knew what she could do and how to ask.  I introduced her to others and let them discover and share the joys of her power, comfort, and spirit.  We covered almost every square foot of these blessed islands looking for errant radio waves or enthralling with the unmatched beauty so prevalent around us.  We probed the atmosphere, festooned with scientists’ gadgets, and we saw whales and rainbows and waterfalls and the breathtaking forms and shapes of clouds and cliffs and valleys painted in sunlight and shadow.   We sped many on their way to careers in the sky and brought many back who’d been groundbound too long.  I pampered her, and bought her things and she rewarded me in her own way.   Ultimately, however, things happen and change comes along.  In this case, too many harsh neophyte landings took their toll and her nosegear collapsed, damaging her props, engines, and nose to the point where she was no longer economical to repair.  I talk about N56495, my Seneca, in personal terms because, though just an airplane, we had a seventeen-year relationship and it was quite personal.  An airplane is much more than the sum of its parts, largely because of what an airplane can enable.  I’m thankful for the seventeen years of adventure and excitement enabled by N56495.  Aloha.

Northern Exposure

It’s a land of superlatives and excesses. Nothing is on a small scale in Alaska.  You can see many of the 25 species of mosquito from across the street.  And the few small ones leave a welt the size of a quarter.  The growing season is short, so Nature compensates by making it furious.  Daisies are the size of small sunflowers.  Every nook and cranny explodes with color as plants and flowers seek to erase the months of darkness and cold.  One-fifth the size of the entire Lower 48, Alaska has relatively few people and even fewer roads. What it has is about 3 million lakes and countless airstrips, making the airplane the favored (and sometimes only) way to get around.  Someone there told me that a fourth of all households has an airplane.

Lake Hood is the largest seaplane base in the world, by a huge margin.  We walked around a portion of it and saw everything from Cubs and Aeroncas and Taylorcrafts, to Aztecs and Beech 18’s on floats, as well as Beavers and Otters and Twin Otters and Norsemen, and Gooses (Geese?) and Widgeons, and of course, every single ever made by Cessna.  This time of year, there are about 18 hours of daylight in Anchorage (more as you go further north, until you reach Barrow, where it doesn’t get dark at all in the summer) and fliers take advantage of every minute of it.  And there were racks and racks of floats waiting to be reattached to craft that were converted to skis or wheels (or both) for the winter. 

Merrill Field, also in the heart of Anchorage, is a General Aviation haven.   One of the first things I noticed was the overwhelming preponderance of high-wing aircraft, most on tundra tires.  If you have a low-wing monoplane with the tailwheel up front, you’re really limited in your destinations.  Most of the airfields in the state are gravel or turf and run from 1,200 – 2,400’ long.  Not a place for that Bonanza or Baron, or even Cherokee (although I did see one on floats).  If you have the right plane and skills, of course, virtually any little clearing, sand bar or wide spot is a place to land and take off.   Wheels or floats, the possibilities are endless.
What struck me most, of course, is the hugeness of the Alaskan countryside.  Even with generally overcast skies, visibilities were generally well over a hundred miles, and the panoramic views were breathtaking.  We drove almost 1,200 miles in a week and saw but a tiny fragment of Alaska.  You really need wings unless you have a lot of time on your hands, and even then, the roads will only take you so far. 

 Alaska and Hawai'i are products of the volcanic “rim of fire” that created such majestic natural beauty in both locations. In Alaska you need an aircraft to get around because it is so immense and roads are so limited.   In Hawai’i, of course, roads are limited by the ocean around us. In either case, the aircraft is the best way to get around.  In Alaska, aviation is promoted at all levels of government, state and federal, and it is healthy and vibrant and a major economic factor, in spite of harsh weather and often treacherous flying conditions.   In Hawai'i, with our near-perfect weather and flying conditions, many pilots believe only lip service is paid to fostering non-airline aviation and feel fortunate to be just left alone. Management’s attitude toward GA at some of our airports ranges from luke-warm to overtly hostile. Maybe our Hawai’i airport managers and staff should visit Alaska and see what is possible. 

LAHSO Revisited

The pilot unions and the federales have decided on a compromise on Land And Hold Short Operations (LAHSO) in an attempt to keep it alive. Under the latest order (7110.118, dated 7-14-00), the FAA agreed to let private pilots and pilots of foreign airlines continue LAHSO, but endanger only each other. Controllers will be able to ask two airlines to land on intersecting runways, or two private planes; but they won't be able to mix and match.  As of today, ALPA will lift the recommendation that its members refuse to comply with LAHSO clearances.  The new order is effective on August 14th.   What does it mean to us here?  First of all, nothing will change immediately.  In-pavement lighting will have to be installed—hopefully by January 1, 2001.  At present, LAHSO clearances are only given for arriving aircraft.  For an arrival/departure mix, an approved Rejected Landing Procedure (go-around) will have to be developed for 8 Left since the arriving aircraft is converging on the departing one and that makes folks nervous in the event of a go-around.  The airlines don’t want to trust the local controller to issue separation instructions and want a canned procedure that will always work. We GA’ers cannot be trusted to stop our airplanes in the 6,250’ of runway available on 4 Right prior to the intersection with 8 Left, unless another of us is on the intersecting runway. Since GA is seldom seen on Runway 8Left at Honolulu, you will essentially not be doing LAHSO when you land or take off from HNL for the time being.  GA will be able to participate fully once we’ve been trained in LAHSO procedures. Unfortunately, what that training will consist of and how it will be documented was not defined, so don’t expect too many LAHSO clearances in the near term. You can expect more delays, since limiting LAHSO will limit the traffic flow in and out. As I’ve noted in the past, fly heads-up and be prepared for extended downwinds, modified bases, and delaying turns of 270 or 360 degrees anywhere in the pattern.  And, be ready for a last minute go-around if all else fails.


This year has been a rough one on aircraft and occupants in Hawai’i.  When good pilots fly good aircraft into the terrain, we should perhaps reflect on our own practices.  While each circumstance is unique to some extent, the fact is that we operate in a designated mountainous area and virtually each island makes its own local weather to some degree or other. The wind flows over and around features producing often-unique local phenomena and conditions that can vary widely with a shift of a few degrees in wind direction or a few knots in intensity. Additional moisture from an often-unforeseen upper low can make all the difference in the world to ceilings and precip.  You fly here and you know all this.  I would urge two things: don’t assume that the norm will repeat itself this time, and always have an out when it doesn’t.   Also, please take a close look at your survival gear and make sure it is in good condition. Any of you still using naturally-buoyant vests or belts, such as ski-belts off a boat—don’t!  The only acceptable type in an aircraft is an inflatable. Insure your passengers know how to use it and stress that they not deploy their vest until outside the aircraft.


Morris Tamanaha, the State General Aviation Officer, advises some progress on the statewide installation of Automatic Weather Observation System (AWOS) units.   The latest are:
       1.  Waimea Kohala Airport:
            a. VHF - 120.0
            b. Voice - (808) 887-8127

       2. Hana Airport:
            a. VHF - 118.325
            b. Voice - (808) 248-8471

       3. Kapalua-West Maui Airport:
            a. VHF - 118.525
            b. Voice - (808) 665-6101

Access to the latter two will require a newer VHF receiver (25Mhz spacing), but you’re all supposed to have those anyway, right?  Waimea Kohala, a.k.a. Kamuela, used to have an instrument approach, when Island Air flew in there.   When they left, and took their approved weather observer with them, the approach was decommissioned. Now that AWOS is up and running, I wonder how long it will take to re-institute the approach.  Hopefully, the AWOS at Lana’i will follow soon.   Pilots should be aware of AWOS’ limitations.  The most valuable and accurate data provided, at least for the IFR pilot, is the altimeter setting.  For all, the winds should be of use, as well, although several airports, such as Lana’i can have very different winds at one end of the runway or the other.  Other useful data provided are temperature/dewpoint and density altitude.  Some AWOS also provide visibility and ceiling/cloud data. These latter are often misleading as the ceilometer may be looking at the only hole in an overcast, or the only cloud in an otherwise clear sky.  Bottom line?  Some data is better than none, as long as you keep an open mind, and these systems should add to the overall safety of flight in the state.


Dr. Ed Lu is set to launch back into space on September 8th, if all goes according to plan.  His mission, STS-106, will be docking with the new International Space Station (ISS) for about ten days. The goal of the flight is to prepare Zvezda for the arrival of the first resident crew later this fall and the start of a permanent human presence on the new outpost.  Ed and his crew mates (two Russians and five Americans) will spend a week inside the ISS unloading supplies from both a double SPACEHAB cargo module in the rear of Atlantis’ cargo bay and from a Russian Progress M-1 resupply craft docked to the aft end of the Zvezda Service Module.  Zvezda linked up to the ISS on July 26, Ed Lu and Yuri Malenchenko (Col., Russian Air Force), both making their second flights into space, will conduct a 6½-hour space walk on the fourth day of the flight to hook up electrical, communications and telemetry cables between Zvezda and the Zarya Control Module. They will also install a magnetometer on the Zvezda.  This is Ed’s first space-walk.   Just think on that for a moment—being your own spacecraft.  That has to be a most incredible experience! He again graciously offered to take some GA-related memento into space with him (last time he carried a GACH patch), and a patch from the French Connection, showing Montaine and Daniel’s aircraft in their signature canopy-to-canopy formation, will fly with him.  We’re going to the launch, so we’ll have more to report next month.

Kala’eloa Transition, Revisited

After receiving complaints from residents in Villages of Kapolei and Makakilo regarding low-flying aircraft, a group was convened to explore revising the VFR arrival procedure to Kala’eloa (JRF) to reduce the aircraft impact on airport neighbors.  The Villages of Kapolei lie on the current approach to the downwind for Runway 4Left from Makakilo.  The revised procedure, which will become effective October 1, 2000, should avoid this area entirely, as well as a currently vacant area that is slated for development in the near future.   Rather than enter a 45-degree from Makakilo, the revised procedure will have aircraft transition from Harbor View (intersection of Kunia Road and the H-1) right over the H-1 at 1,500’ until past Makakilo.  Follow the H-1 to the water slide park and then enter a modified base leg, remaining East of the canal that separates the airfield from the refineries at Campbell.  Once past Makakilo, you can begin your descent so as to arrive at pattern altitude upon reaching the pattern.  Continue to contact JRF Tower at Harbor View as you do now.  Don’t wait until Makakilo to contact tower, as that won’t give the controller time to juggle traffic.  On departure from either of the 4’s, make a climbing left turn over the power poles between the Villages of Kapolei and Ewa to 1,000’ until North of the HNL approach corridor to Runway 8 Left.   Then, fly direct to the Sugar Mill, climbing to 1,500’.   This is the current procedure and has not changed.  While in the pattern at JRF, keep the downwind to 4 Left inside (South) of Roosevelt Avenue to avoid overflying schools and Kapolei.  The procedures are really quite simple and it is really important that we follow them.  JRF is the third busiest airport in the state in terms of daily operations and we need to be good neighbors.  Flight Instructors: It’s riding on your shoulders to make sure your students and visiting pilots learn and follow the procedure.   On Kona wind days, the pattern entry will resemble a reversal of the normal departure procedure and the Kona departure from 22R will entail a crosswind departure toward the H-1, again remaining East of the canal.  Departure from 22 Left can be either a crosswind East of the canal or an extended upwind until past the Campbell Industrial area.  Please see the attached graphics.  If you need your own copy contact me at or 836-1031.

Poor Man’s Fly-In

A reminder: September 16th is the GACH fly-in at Port Allen, Kaua’i, from 1000 – 1400.  There’s a great beach nearby, so plan accordingly.  We’ll be parking toward the beach (west) side of the airport to remain clear of the helo operations ramp. 

Be careful out there.


1960 Beech Travelair B-95, 700SMOH, L/R, New props, full IFR (Collins), HIS. $75,000. Call Dale, 833-7855.

1970 Cessna 172K: New paint and interior, IFR with dual navcoms and DME, PS6000 Audio Panel/Intercom.  Asking $38,000.   Call Monty, 737-3861.

1972 Piper Arrow II PA28R/200.  3350TT with 200 HSFO/H Lycoming.  Imron paint, full King Silver Crown Digital IFR, standby vacuum, A/P and many extras.  Great airplane.  Below book.  $62,000.  Call Jim Lutter @ 808/885-0311.

Monerai S sailplane/motorglider kit.  39' wingspan, 33:1 glide ratio w/o engine installed, 23:1 ratio with engine.  All factory mods included, 22 hp single cylinder engine can be removed for non-powered flight.  Wings and tail surfaces assembled and ready for skin.  Aileron and flaps unassembled.  Fuselage welding all complete, ready to attach tail boom and fiberglass shell for finishing.  Excellent workmanship throughout.  No instruments or radios included.  Workbenches built for wing skinning included.  All plans and builders newsletters included.  Plans include design for trailer.  Tinted one-piece canopy and easy access to instruments when canopy opened.  Estimate 75% completed.  Sailplane boxed and ready for shipping.  Cost  new with all mods over $7,000.  Sell for $4,500.  Call Scott Christiansen at 837-8348 M-F, 8-5pm, leave message anytime of day. Will include '76 Toyota Celica, original owner, with tow hitch, or  sell separately for $500.


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