the South Ramp
"Mele Kalikimaka, The Year That Was,
South Practice Area, Hauoli Makahiki Hou"
The trees are already here and Christmas time is nigh upon us. This season, the GACH Board reluctantly decided to break with tradition and not hold our annual Christmas hangar party. The increased security complicates attendance, and, based on last year, few if any of you would show up anyway. There were more people in the band than partying, and it’s just too much effort to organize and coordinate and set up if no one is going to be there. It’s supposed to be your party, after all. Maybe next year. Have a very Mele Kalikimaka
As officials try desperately to cram the monster back into the dark recesses from which it sprang, actions sometimes have been filtered and flavored by fear and ignorance in the name of security and expediency. Such has been the case with the restrictions on General Aviation following the terrorist attacks. Without the continued intercession of the major aviation advocacy groups, especially AOPA and EAA, most of us wouldn’t be able to fly. Sadly, some still cannot.
While at the national level, the FAA, with strong encouragement and assistance of AOPA and EAA is planning on the elimination of the “enhanced” portion of the Class B airspaces around the country, security officials are still leery of GA and the threat they perceive we pose. Here in Hawai'i we’re still supposed to have a discrete transponder code anytime we’re airborne between Kaua'i and the east end of Moloka'i and Lana'i, effectively extending the Honolulu Class B to an area over 280 nm long! This is not only unnecessary, but it puts heavy burdens on the system, wastes resources and keeps some people grounded. Note that I said, “supposed” rather than “required”. It is “highly recommended” that we squawk a discrete code in the above area (outside the Enhanced B), but it is not mandatory. As best as I can determine, that means that you won’t be violated for not having a discrete squawk outside the Enhanced Class B, but you may well get intercepted by someone who is authorized to shoot you down. This would be just plain silly if the potential consequences were not so high. Several years ago, a Baron off the East Coast was intercepted by an F-4 who overshot the approach and hit the Baron. All aboard the Baron died. The F-4 recovered safely. The Baron was on an IFR flight plan and was communicating with ATC at the time.
As I was approaching Moloka'i the other day, tower was trying to contact a twin Cessna that was eastbound along the south shore of Moloka'i and squawking 1200 on his transponder. Apparently, F-15s were about to launch on this aircraft, even though he was headed east—away from Honolulu. He was making position reports on 122.9 and I was able to relay ATC’s concern and have him call Moloka'i Tower and obtain a transponder code for the remaining ten miles until he was east of Moloka'i. Turns out he was headed to Kahului. How does an aircraft sixty miles away and heading further away constitute a threat all the while making position reports on the common traffic advisory frequency and with an operating transponder? He wasn’t being stealthy at all. ATC knew where he was and what direction and at what speed and altitude he was traveling. They just didn’t know who this receding target was. Just doesn’t make sense, does it?
Incidentally, should you get intercepted, it is important to know the procedures to follow. The AIM has the info you need; however, some of it is in error. Table 5-6-2 has the titles of the left and right columns reversed. “Intercepted Aircraft” should read “Intercepting Aircraft” and vice-versa. Here’s the actual language:
1/1016 - AERONAUTICAL INFORMATION MANUAL, TABLE 5-6-2, AIRCRAFT INTERCEPTING SIGNALS, SERIES 4, 5, AND 6, THE COLUMN HEADINGS ARE INCORRECT. THE LEFT COLUMN CURRENTLY LABELED INTERCEPTING AIRCRAFT SIGNALS SHOULD READ INTERCEPTED AIRCRAFT SIGNALS AND THE RIGHT COLUMN CURRENTLY LABELED INTERCEPTED AIRCRAFT RESPONDS SHOULD READ INTERCEPTING AIRCRAFT RESPONDS. THIS NOTAM REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 02/21/02. WIE UNTIL UFN (The FAA believes in Upper Case)The Honolulu Control Facility is well aware of the shortcomings of the current situation and, hopefully, a meeting with the air defense folks later in December may bring a little more rationality. Let’s hope so, before someone gets hurt. In the meantime, if an F-15 or a Blackhawk joins up on you, tune to 121.5 and communicate.
The government unwittingly demonized aviation to the general public with the big grounding and subsequent restrictions on GA, and continues to do so, with avid assistance from the media. Since 9/11, aviation has come to be viewed as a threat by a lot of people, including many who are decision-makers. It is our duty and obligation to do what we can to lessen that perception wherever and whenever we can in any way we can. One way is to support the efforts of AOPA and EAA on our behalf. Another is to be mindful when we fly of how things have changed and not to engage in stupid human tricks. Another is to educate the general public and our decision-makers by both word and deed. Participate in GA events, write letters, make calls when necessary. (It wouldn’t hurt to become active in GACH either.) Get involved.
The second opportunity arises on January 16th, when the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) will have one of their Town Meetings here in Honolulu at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort, 2552 Kalakaua Avenue, at 7:30 p.m. AOPA president Phil Boyer will conduct the meeting, and it should be an interesting evening, especially coming on the heels of the DoT meeting. It’s free, too!
If you are looking for a way to combine flying with doing a good thing for GA as well as needy folks, the Great Hawaiian Air Race is all that and more. We’ve got some 40 teams signed up but are looking for more local owners/pilots to participate. Have fun, raise money for a great cause, and help show how GA makes a positive contribution to society. How can you lose?
The Great Hawaiian Air Race, 2001
Winter Flying, Hawaiian Style
I’ve found that when the wind at 3,000 exceeds 25 knots over Honolulu, the Freeway 4 Departure can become unpleasant to downright hazardous. As the big winds roll over the Ko’olau Mountains, you can wind up with a sizeable downdraft over the freeway. I’ve been in a C-172 at best climb speed, full power and showing a 900 FPM descent rate over the freeway. I hadn’t even reached 1,500 feet yet. Not a good place to be. Ka’ena Point, Lana'i becomes really rough, as does McGregor Point, Maui. Anyplace downwind of high ground is bathed in turmoil. The channels tend to accelerate the air, venturi-style, especially the Alenuihaha and Pailolo Channels, where the actual wind speed can be 20 knots higher than the measured free-air flow.
It’s eye opening to fly in turbulence in an aircraft fitted with a G-meter. The magnitude of some of those bumps is surprising. I can recall hitting almost 3 positive and over 1 negative G (which is 2 Gz less than normal flight) in turbulence just flying level in the CAP-10 over central O’ahu. It’s stressed to +6/-4.5 Gz. Your normal-category steed is only stressed to +3.8/-1.52, and likely doesn’t have a G-meter. If you hit turbulence while in a moderate or steep turn, you could easily over-G your bird. Add a 2 ½ G bump to a 1.4G 45-degree banked turn and you get 3.9 Gz.
Some aircraft, like the C-150/2, cruise at or below Va, so that’s not a big issue. Others may have a cruise speed significantly higher than the maneuvering speed. The C-172, which nominally cruises at about 105 knots, has a Va ranging from 97 KIAS at gross to 89 KIAS at a reduced weight of 1,950 lbs. A sudden bout of turbulence at cruise could bend or break something, especially if you’re light. If you are not sure what Va (maneuvering speed) is for the airplane you fly at your given weight, now is a good time to remind yourself. Remember, too, that Va decreases as the aircraft gets lighter.
Fortunately, the National Weather Service home page on the web can give you access to NEXRAD radar data as recent as six or seven minutes and lets you see trends by putting it in motion. This was really useful when the big storm/front roared through here in late November. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much junk cluttering up the screen. The weather was intense and streaming up fast from the southwest carrying very low ceilings and heavy rain, with occasional breaks (read: sucker holes). The radar data allowed me to judge how long those breaks were likely to last and I was able to make a well-considered go/no-go decision. (I didn’t go). Try it at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/pr/hnl/index.shtml.
South Practice Area, et al
Kahe Power Plant Transition:This last one is a minor modification to the long-standing practice of transiting northbound from Honolulu to the North Shore at 2,000’ on the east side of Wheeler and southbound along the west side of Wheeler at 2,500’. The trouble is that it only works when everyone does it. Most of the tour helicopters transition southward east of Wheeler at 2,000’ and most seem unfazed at the prospect of oncoming co-altitude traffic. Know that it isn’t Wheeler Tower’s responsibility to keep you from merging in the air.
Remember that arrivals to HNL from the north and west will be sequenced at 2,000’MSL on the H1/H2 Interchange Arrival and departures out of HNL will be at 1,500’on the Tripler Departure. Also, remember that aircraft are asked to hold by ATC in the vicinity of the Interchange and the Sugar Mill at varying altitudes and may overlap into the South Practice Area. Please keep your heads on a swivel.
Tweet Coleman Scholarship
Be careful out there