Christmas in Hawai'i. Cool nights, frolicking humpbacks,
fresh Trades, snow on the peaks, big surf. Christmas trees go on sale right
after Thanksgiving and Santa arrives by surfboard. And, of course,
the annual GACH Christmas Party.
So, where were you all? The GACH Board went to considerable
effort to set up our traditional Christmas Party. The hangar was
cleaned, food was prepared, tables set up, a great band (the Honolulu Blue
Devils, featuring no less than Burl Burlingame, Dale Machado, George Hurd,
Eric Nagley and Kevin Brown) played oldies, blues and original compositions,
and, with the notable exception of the Wilderns, none of you showed up.
Bud and Gladys, Peter and Jan, Addie and Tom, and Linda and I represented
the Board. And that was it. Fifteen people, including the five
band members. Am I torqued? Go figure. At least we had
a great time listening and dancing to some great music. Too bad none
of you wanted or were able to share it with us.
Splash and Dash
Among the cooler things you can do with an airplane is learn
to operate it on water. And who best to learn from than Pat Magie
of Island Seaplane Service. Pat is one of the most experienced seaplane
pilots in the world and getting your rating from him is analogous to getting
your aerobatic competency card from Duane Cole.
Seaplane flying calls up some underutilized skills and teaches
some useful new ones. You become adept at reading the surface of
the water to determine wind direction—not a frivolous talent if you fly
much here. Even more than taildraggers, seaplanes are at the mercy
of the wind. You learn to sail the plane, with or without power.
And, you learn to live without brakes. Think about that for
a minute. On land, if your brakes don’t work, that’s a show-stopper,
isn’t it? How are you going to hold short, do your run up or park?
On the water, you just plan ahead and use the wind. You do your run
up on the move and you try to estimate your drift correctly when you dock.
Dexterity is useful, since you may have to scramble out of the cockpit
and onto a float or dock in a hurry to grab a mooring line, especially
if no one is on the dock to catch you. Seaplanes are much slower
than their land-based counterparts, but it doesn’t seem to matter at all.
Earning a new rating is good for the mind, and earning the seaplane rating
is good for the soul, too.
countless people (even in Florida…sorry; bad joke) who have always wanted
to fly, but never could muster the needed combination of time, money, and
effort to actually make it happen. That’s why it is so gratifying when
someone is able to finally realize their dream. My older brother
recently slipped the surly bonds and joined the ranks of those who fly
and can witness the world from a whole new perspective. As with most
new student pilots, regardless of age or gender, he has opened up a whole
new well of experience and passion, which is refreshing to share.
Right on, bro’!
One of the lesser-appreciated joys of flying are the check rides
you have to face as you pursue ratings and certificates. When you fly professionally,
check rides become a fact of life. Annually or semi-annually, depending
on the type of flying you do, you have to take a comprehensive check ride.
It may be with a company check airman or it may be with a Fed. And
like most check rides, the results will stay with you for a long time,
and move with you wherever you go. A professional pilot, then, has
a lot riding on any given check ride, and the pressure is there.
Everyone approaches a check ride their own way. I find that I
usually do stuff I never do on my own when I have an examiner, check airman
or inspector in the other seat, and I’m probably not alone in that regard.
Stupid, little stuff, usually, and I’m not sure where it comes from.
Probably from allowing my desire to do well and impress that other pilot
to dilute my focus on the task at hand. The experienced flight examiner
knows when you are doing something because he or she is there and not because
you don’t know any better. And if it is not an egregious act it shouldn’t
affect the outcome.
I’d be lying if I said I look forward to check rides. I don’t.
I don’t enjoy doing things I know are stupid. But, I have never taken
a check ride that wasn’t also a major learning experience. A good
check ride will probe your knowledge and skills. It will get you
into the corners of the envelope and shake off any vestiges of complacency
that may have crept in since your last ride. After a recent ride,
rather than damning the guy for throwing something completely unexpected
at me, I thanked him for it, and someday my passengers may, too.
The Great Hawaiian Air Race, 2001
One of the most exciting aviation events of the year is coming up again,
soon. The next Great Hawaiian Air Race will run February 15 – 19.
Racers will again spend two nights at Hana and there will be another Madam
Pele rally from Hana. There will again be an Air Service fuel truck
at Hana, thanks to Bob Fraker and Young Brothers. As in previous
races, you have the option of racing in the Proficiency or Speed categories,
or both. It looks like we’ll again be using the Reef Runway for our
departure and Ford Island for the finish. We have lots of activities
scheduled or available, and all proceeds go to benefit Make-A-Wish Hawai'i
– a truly noble cause. Download a Race Kit from the GHAR web site (www.flyhawaii.com/GHAR.html)
or call Greg Marshall at 373-1889. Also, we are looking for volunteers.
Please call/email Greg (RACEPILOTGREG@compuserve.com) or me at 836-1031,
Into the Millenium
Like all years, 2001 will bring a whole set of challenges to aviation.
Some are foreseeable to a degree: fuel prices and insurance rates will
remain high, parts will be expensive, and new regulations will be promulgated.
Also lurking will be repeated misguided attempts to impose a user fee
structure (tax, by any other name) to pay for a privatized ATC system that
would turn aviation in the U.S. into the unmitigated disaster that it has
become throughout Europe. Pressures to eliminate 100-octane avgas
will mount, more from an economics standpoint than an environmental one,
and work to find an adequate substitute will grind on.
On a local level, we will still operate under the Administrative Rules
of the State of Hawai'i and have to constantly “check six”. Battles
for fair treatment for all of GA will have to be fought on every island
by all of us.
You have people and organizations looking out for your interests,
but it ain’t a free ride. Your active support is badly needed by
the folks at AOPA and EAA and GACH. Your voice is crucial and must
be heard. You must be ready to educate the non-flying folks around
you, articulate and uphold your rights, and communicate with each other
and us. Or, you can sit back and let it all crumble around you. The
choice is yours. 2001 promises to be a key year. With your
help, it will be a good one. Happy New Year!
Tweet Coleman, the indefatigable, is back! This time, she’s
the head FAA person in Hawai'i, with a nice office in the Federal Building.
Tweet understands General Aviation well and we are all indeed fortunate
to have her back.
Be careful out there.