From the South Ramp
"Mele Kalikimaka, The Year That Was, 
South Practice Area, Hauoli Makahiki Hou"

--Hank Bruckner: 

December 2001

Mele Kalikimaka!
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

 Turning Point
 A turning-point year is about to close—a year in which our lives turned upside-down and performed an abrupt split-S.  We are left with the horrific images of ordinary people being destroyed burned into our very souls.  The world of aviation in which we danced and played and sang and exulted was shattered and grotesquely altered and we find ourselves at war with a foe that menaces like some hidden disease and whose capacity for evil appears boundless.  The front lines are nebulous and global and in our back yards and in our own minds and hearts.  And, I’m not at all sure how we’ll recognize when this war will have ended—if ever. 

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:

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.

Getting Involved
There are several great opportunities coming up for you all to get involved to whatever degree you want.   First, on January 10th at 6:30 pm at the Interisland Terminal 7th floor conference room is the big issues meeting we’ve set up with the DoT.  As I’ve mentioned before, we need to have a good showing for this one and come prepared to air our grievances and suggestions for improvement.  Feel free to contact me.

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?

 Green Flash
There are two types of people in the world:  those that have seen the Green Flash and those that have not.  The latter are further subdivided into those that don’t believe it exists, those who either don’t know and don’t care, and those who don’t know but want to believe.  For the twenty-something years I’ve lived in Hawai'i, I’d never seen it and wavered between the last two sub-categories, and then it all changed.   One evening I was flying back from Moloka'i in the C-402 and being vectored off shore.   The sun was setting and the horizon was clear.  I slowed a little so as not to land before the sun dipped below the horizon, and as we were vectored to the base leg, the sun set with a distinct, bright and glorious emerald flash. 

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 ( or call Greg Marshall at 373-1889.  Also, we are looking for volunteers.  Please call/email Greg ( or me at 836-1031, 

They’re Back…
The humpback whales are back, come to Hawai'i waters to frolic and breed.  A short reminder to not get within 1,000 feet slant range of one.  Also, watch for other aircraft looking for them, especially in the Pailolo and Au’au Channels between Moloka'i, Lana'i and Maui—their favorite playground.

Winter Flying, Hawaiian Style
Winter brings big surf and big winds to our islands and the occasional big storm.  As I type this, the winds at 3,000’ over Honolulu are 090 at 25 and at Kahului, 090 at 30 knots.  At HNL, it is gusting to 21 knots; at OGG to 28 knots.  Turbulence is the rule in all the usual places plus some unexpected ones.

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  

South Practice Area, et al
 Over 40 flight instructors attended a recent meeting to discuss several issues regarding the South Practice Area, transitions, and operating procedures in light of the crowded environment we operate under.  Several recommendations were made, including coming up with an offshore transition from JRF (Kalaeloa) to HNL, defining the boundaries of all the practice areas, and using certain altitudes when transitioning to/from the North Shore or east/west.  These will eventually find their way into the Pacific Chart Supplement and the State Hawai'i Airports and Flying Safety Guide.  Here are some highlights:

Kahe Power Plant Transition: 
West Bound--2000 feet over the freeway; contact JRF tower at Harbor View. 
East Bound--2500 feet over the freeway, contact HNL App (119.1) at Kahe Power Plant. Maintain 2500 until the H1/H2 Interchange. (Don’t over fly the power plant—ed)

Kalaeloa Transition
West Bound--1500 feet just north of the freeway; contact JRF tower at Harbor View. 
East Bound--2000 feet just south of the freeway, contact HNL App (119.1) at Harbor View. Aircraft departing Kalaeloa should remain at 1000 feet until north of the HNL 8L approach path and then climb to 2000 feet south of the freeway.

Wheeler Transition
Northwest Bound: 2000 feet over the departure end of runway 6, contact Wheeler Tower at interchange 
Southeast Bound: 2500 feet over the arrival end of runway 6, contact Wheeler Tower at North Shore 
Reason: Provides altitude separation, correct Hawaii East-West Rule, and the correct ATC function for communication; need corresponding artwork in the PCS and State book. 

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
 The 12th. Annual Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship deadline is Jan1, 2002. By the by... to be eligible for this scholarship you must be a female, a resident of Hawaii, a college student or college graduate. To obtain more information and/or application call Tweet 521-1515 or American Association of University Women at 537-4702.   

Be careful out there


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