From the South Ramp

--Hank Bruckner:


Climb in the airplane, fire it up, fly to Port Allen, have lunch, go swimming, save a life...all in a day of the life of a general aviation pilot--at least one. OK, I'll rewind for a moment. The occupants of ten aircraft braved the near-perfect weather across the Kaua'i Channel to Port Allen for the Poor Man's Fly In. It was an interesting mix of aircraft: four Pipers (three with the same fuselage)--a Seneca, a Saratoga, a Lance, an Apache--two Mooneys, three Cessnas and a Bonanza. Greg Marshall updated us all on the Great Hawaiian Air Race that will roar into life on 13-14 February 1999, and then most of us hiked to the beach. (Next time, guys, let's park closer...) It was there that Chris Ferrara noticed a swimmer in serious trouble. He dove in, and brought him to shore. The swimmer eventually recovered, but had Chris not responded as he did, the man would have drowned. Good on you, Chris. A successful fly-in, all around.

Wish I could say the same for the last Aviation Safety Program meeting. Ten of us, including three from the FSDO attended. Ten, out of a pilot population in this state of about 3,000. The same ten, I might add, that go to all the safety meetings. I have to wonder why the flight schools aren't requiring their flight instructors and students attend the Safety Program meetings. Granted, we had a fairly good turn out at the Wings Weekend, but, c'mon folks, let's support the program. Two hours out of your life once a month is not an unreasonable request, especially given the likelihood you may actually learn something that may keep you or your students from becoming a smoking hole or minor debris field. I know I'm not the only one who learns something every time.

While I'm in this mood, I'll aim another barb at the flight schools. The other day I was in the pattern at Ford Island in the CAP-10. Joining us were a Katana and a C-152. All three of us were on downwind (we were departing the pattern, actually). The Katana flew out to West Loch, and very wide, before turning what presumably was a base leg. The C-152, with a solo student, turned his base sooner, at mid-peninsula, and inside the Katana. We were unsure who saw whom, and as the two aircraft turned final together, we advised them of each others' presence. The Katana went around, and no one swapped paint. Who was wrong? Both, actually. The C-152 should not have turned inside the Katana. It just isn't proper to cut someone off in the pattern. The Katana, however, had absolutely no business flying such a huge pattern. We all have to remember, at least until July 1999, that the Ford Island traffic pattern is low and small. There is no reason for a one-mile final when you are descending from only a 600' pattern altitude. The downwind leg must be over water, and not over the Navy pier. Base leg for runway 4 at Ford Island should begin as soon as you cross the Middle Loch channel to the Waipio Peninsula. Turning final as you re-cross the shoreline will still give you a 1/2 mile final, which is plenty. Keep it tight, and you'll keep it safe. You chief flight instructors are key players here.

I guess it is about as official as it's going to get--Flight 2000 is dead. In its place is Safe Flight 21, wherein a few members of the Cargo Association will equip a few aircraft to test which method of data link is best. Turns out there are alternatives to the FAA's Mode S to be evaluated as a data link. At some point, then, Alaska may still get some equipment. Hawai'i? Not in the picture anymore. Oh, well. If you were putting off getting that IFR GPS because the FAA was going to get one for you, wait no longer.

If you'd like a close-to-home example of how a corporatized ATC will work, you need look no further than NavCanada. They have just announced that GA will also pay for the privilege of navigating in Canada. If you weigh (your aircraft, actually) less than three metric tonnes (or about 4,400 lbs), you get to pay $60 (Canadian) a year. If your bird weighs more than that, you get to pay from $30 to $1,500 (again, Canadian) per day. As Shakespeare said, " Methinks that doth stink." Will this make Canadian skies safer? Probably not. Possibly the opposite, if people forego using nav services to save money. Or, if they can't, some may be forced to cut other corners to make up for the increased operating costs. Bright idea? Probably not. Happen here? Could , if we are not careful.

Excitement is starting to build for the Great Hawaiian Air Race. I've had at least a dozen inquiries from mainland pilots who are looking to come over and rent aircraft to participate. If you are a renter, you may wish to get your bids in early with a participating flight school for the 13-14 Feb '99 event. Race kits should be completed by the end of October, including a complete fee structure. Remember, the race is to benefit the Hawaii Make-A-Wish Foundation, and all proceeds not required to run the race will go to this worthy charity. If the event is as successful as we envision, it will become an annual event and a major draw to our fair islands. You can contact me via e-mail at for information. We should have a GHAR web page up soon, as well. This is going to be a big one...

If we were on the mainland, my next words would be on the hazards of winter flying. However, we're not, and so I'll bend your ears on another seasonal issue. November through May is humpback whale season in Hawai'ian waters. Those magnificent creatures come down from Alaskan waters to breed and frolic, primarily in the area between west Maui, Moloka'i and Lana'i, although they also frequent the shorelines of O'ahu, Kaua'i and the Big Island. Aircraft must maintain a 1,000' slant range from any humpback. This used to be in the FARs, where a pilot could be expected to find it, but it isn't any more. Still is a rule, however, and one we should follow. With the establishment of a Sanctuary in our waters, monitoring will be way up, as will your opportunity to pay the piper if you transgress. Also bear in mind that sanctioned whale-counting operations will be out there, with an attendant collision risk. Enjoy the humpbacks, but from a safe and legal distance.

Those who are on-line and wish to see the most recent weather radar returns can now access it from or the University of Hawai'i Meteorology web page, You'll get radar imagery from the NEXRAD on Moloka'i that is usually well under an hour old. Good for trend spotting and seeing just how much shower activity is out there. While it isn't enough as a sole source of weather info, it certainly helps make the go, no go decision.

The state is still working on the relocation plan for Kalaeloa (the airport soon to be formerly known as Barbers Point). There's a lot of detail work still to be done--such things as fees, hangars, facilities, relocation plan and timetable all must be determined. We expect to remain fully engaged in the process and will keep you informed.

Be careful out there.