From the South Ramp
                              Aloha, Ron, Airspace squeeze, GHAR 2002, and more...
--Hank Bruckner: 

November 2001

Last Flight

They descended out of the gray skies, and touched down, one by one, at Dillingham field—a dozen airplanes in all, come to pay a flying tribute to one of our own. They ranged from a pristine C-140, a Twin Beech, Aztec, Apache, DC-3, L-19, CAP-10, Pitts S-2B, Navion, Beech Musketeer, C-402, and Piper Navajo to a Schweitzer helicopter, all flown to honor an exceptional guy.  Everyone makes a difference in somebody’s life, but Ron Haenel was one of those who made a difference in a great many lives—those of virtually everyone he knew.  Quiet witness to the breadth of his influence was the number of people who came together at Island Seaplane Base to celebrate his life. 

Some respected him for his mechanical prowess, others for his piloting skills, all for his generosity and uniqueness.  Mechanic, pilot, buddy, friend; he excelled at them all.  Ron did everything to the fullest. Sometimes it seemed that he virtually lived at the airport.  When he was done flying, he was usually working on one or more of the aircraft under his care.  He had a special affinity for round engines, and they for him.  More than that, he had an affinity for life and those that shared it with him, especially in the skies.

Ron died flying his beloved little Jodel on Sunday, October 21st in a field near Dillingham.  I was privileged to fly one of the dozen aircraft making a stirring fly-by as flowers and his ashes were cast to the winds off the North Shore.  Our hearts go out to his family and to Pam, and all those who loved him.  Blue skies, Ron.

The Big Meeting

Pilots and operators are urged to attend the meeting GACH has set up with DoT Airports to discuss issues affecting General Aviation around the state, including Kalaeloa.  January 10, 2002 at the DoT Conference Rooms, 7th Floor, Interisland Terminal at 6:30 pm.  Please come, ready to ask questions and discuss issues that affect you.  You folks on the neighbor islands are especially welcome—I know there are some serious issues affecting you all.  This is a great opportunity to ask questions and hopefully get some answers.  It is really important that we have a good showing.  Call me at 808 836-1031 or toll-free 877 316-2261 or email at acrobat@pixi.com.  This one’s important, folks.

NOTAMS and More…

As the security situation changes on a near-daily basis, NOTAMs keep coming that affect how we conduct aviation.  Currently (as we go to press), we at HNL are somewhat at odds with the latest FDC NOTAM that covers flight in the vicinity of the Enhanced Class B (FDC NOTAM 1/1474), which states that: “3) AIRCRAFT MUST OPERATE USING A CODED RADAR BEACON TRANSPONDER AT ALL TIMES WITHIN THE "ENHANCED CLASS B AIRSPACE", USING NORMAL VFR CODES, I.E. 1200.”

Here, we keep the code we’ve been issued at HNL until we land, and the 1200 code is only authorized east of Moloka'i and Lana'i.  This arrangement had been worked out between the ATC and air defense folks locally, prior to the issuance of FDC 1/1474, and continues to be in effect.  Unfortunately, a pilot could easily comply with all the requirements for preflight, including checking NOTAMs, and not know that.  Under current local procedures, if you want to fly to HNL, you need to have filed a flight plan with FSS to generate a beacon code, prior to takeoff, which you then pick up from ATC.  Under the conditions in FDC 1/1474, you would only need to squawk 1200 until approaching the HNL Enhanced Class B (ECB) and then request a code from Approach, as before.  The difference is important, because if you are flying between Maui and Kaua'i without a discrete code, you’ve earned yourself an armed escort by F-15s or helicopters.

Unfortunately, the pilot is now required to comply with some, but not all, the provisions of FDC 1/1474.  Moreover, the exception is not available to be read by the average pilot.  The NOTAM also requires aircraft to monitor 121.5. “4) CAPABLE AIRCRAFT MUST MONITOR THE GUARD FREQUENCY ON 121.5/ 243.0 AT ALL TIMES WITHIN THE "ENHANCED CLASS B AIRSPACE".”  Here, that requirement extends well beyond the Enhanced B—it really encompasses the entire area between east Moloka'i/Lana'i and Kaua'i.  If you’ve only got one radio, you’re obviously going to be on some other frequency while within and beyond the ECB.  Regardless of the number of radios you have, however, if a fighter or military helicopter joins up on you, switch to 121.5. That’s a conversation you’ll really want to have.

Monitoring the Guard frequency (121.5) raises other safety concerns, as well.  Specifically, if you are monitoring Guard, you aren’t monitoring some other frequency that could contribute to your situational awareness and help avoid an unwanted melding of aircraft parts (and subsequently scratching the paint). Chances are, then, that as you fly between the islands there will be fewer pilots using 122.9 and you may have a less complete idea of whom else is out there.

The Big Squeeze

One thing that is not likely to go away any time soon is the Temporary Restricted Area over Pearl Harbor.  This TRA has eliminated about 90 percent of the flexibility ATC used to enjoy in bringing aircraft into and out of HNL.  Not only are departures and arrivals squeezed into a narrow corridor that frequently has marginal weather, but there’s no place to hold close in to the airport for spacing, and the skies around the H1/H2 Interchange and the Sugar Mill are getting dangerously crowded at times.  The size of this restricted area is going to be revisited and hopefully reduced somewhat.  Don’t expect it to go away; the Navy has long objected to civil aircraft flying over Ford Island and Pearl Harbor, and now that they have the restriction, they are not likely to rescind it.  At some point, the safety issue may become larger than the security issue—when two aircraft collide over Tripler Hospital.  Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

We’ve talked before about the necessity to keep a heightened situational awareness, but the fact is that many pilots, especially student pilots, just aren’t there yet, especially when they don’t have the benefit of their CFI sitting next to them.  If it’s all you can do to keep up with what’s going on in the cockpit, there isn’t much room to develop situational awareness.  I hope CFI’s are doing their best to provide the tools their students are going to need to avoid scratching the paint in an ugly way. 

I’ve always admired and respected the folks that work Air Traffic Control.  The requirement for near-perfection is ever present, and that makes for a stressful job. The stakes are high—almost as high as for the pilot.  Almost. Many of the tools the controller had available to herd us all around safely have been taken away with the post-attack changes, and his or her job just got much harder.  And, that’s on a good day. Throw in some weather, a runway closure, a navaid outage and someone not communicating or complying and task-saturation is looming in the corner. I try to bear this in mind when things aren’t going the way I’d like. The sky used to be a lot bigger around Honolulu and that made it a safer, friendlier place. 

The Great Hawaiian Air Race 2002

Some 38 teams have signed up for the next Great Hawaiian Air Race (February 15 – 18, 2001).  This annual fund-raiser for Make-A-Wish provides a rare chance to do some precision flying over some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable with like-minded folks (well, to some degree, at least) and know that you’re making a positive contribution to the community.  That’s a good thing.  Once again, we’ll be completing the first leg at Hana, Maui and then continuing on to O’ahu.  Racers are welcome in either/both proficiency and speed categories and prizes and trophies will be awarded as in years past.  This is a good way to reconnect with an aspect of aviation that may have become clouded in recent times: fun.  Go to our web site (www.flyhawaii.com/GHAR.html) or call Greg Marshall at 373-1889 or email him at RacePilotGreg@Compuserve.com. 

Lookin’ Good

Sun and salt, the essence of life by the ocean, are no friends to an airplane, and there were a lot of faded, stained, and otherwise sad-looking planes around the ramp.  You may have noticed that’s all been changing, bit at a time.  The sun and salt are still here, but Jim Straube and his crew have been turning out some really nice-looking paint jobs on an increasing number of aircraft, fixed and fling-wing alike.  Jim’s been doing this for years, both in Hawai'i and the mainland (Kingman, AZ).  A good paint job is important to the health of an aircraft.  You have only to look at one that has recently been stripped to bare metal to see how pervasive corrosion can be and how much of it can be hidden from view beneath old paint and dirt.  A good paint job is a safety issue, and a pleasing one really does make them fly better.

Sixtieth Anniversary

December 7th marks the 60th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  This year’s observance is all the more poignant in light of the September 11th attacks, and many parallels are likely to be drawn by all sorts of people.  There are some fundamental differences, as well, that ought not be overlooked, but that’s too lengthy a discussion to enter here.
Survivors and witnesses are leaving us at an alarming and growing rate and it is important to appreciate them while they’re still around.  In a few years, none will be left to share their first-hand experiences and recollections, and it will be up to the historians to guide us. 

Preservation of historic artifacts becomes even more of an imperative as the people who used them fade into time.  When you look inside a sixty-year-old airplane and see it fly and hear it and smell it you can gain a glimpse of what it might have been like to go off to war and defend freedom in it. I’m not talking about nostalgia, which has its place, but rather about reflecting on the character and resolve and courage of those who went before to face unknown challenges during a critical time in our history.

Fly!!

All our worlds changed on September 11, 2001. Many things will never be the same again, and more changes will come.  Our nation’s battle with the sheer evil that was visited upon us will be long and arduous.  Rooting out and neutralizing this scourge will be neither easy nor quick.  There is, however no alternative whatsoever to success.  We either win this one, or we lose, big.  We’re all going to have to do our part, over and over again if need be, to insure our eventual triumph.  In so doing, it’s vital to not lose sight of the objective—the defense of America.  This country enjoys unparalleled freedom, even today, and that is part of the very fabric of our greatness.  That’s worth protecting.  Thomas Jefferson put it eloquently when he said, "Those who would desire to give up Freedom in order to gain Security, will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”   One of the freedoms we as aviators most cherish is flight. I urge you to exercise this freedom.  Fly. For currency, for transportation, for business, for the sheer enjoyment of it.  Much has changed in how we operate, but the fundamental wonder and beauty of flight is intrinsic and is still very much there.   Fly.  But, fly akamai.

Be careful out there.


 

(Hank’s Ratings:
Ken Field – CFI Spins
Chuck McCall – CFI Spins)