From the South Ramp
We’re closing out the first full calendar year since the bloody events of September 11, 2001 and the aftermath that has so severely affected all facets of aviation in this country. Many of the aviation businesses that were forced to shut down for seemingly endless weeks and months remain closed; some still struggle to stay alive.
We now have a state government led by an inspired, intelligent and articulate Governor who doesn’t seem to share her predecessor’s disdain and contempt for General Aviation aircraft owners and pilots. Governor Lingle has already stated that state airports are not going to close. All good.
Of course, the outgoing governor couldn’t leave without a parting shot. With less than ten days left in his term, he appointed a new Airports Administrator who has virtually no background in aviation or transportation, bypassing a very knowledgeable and competent acting Administrator in the process. We wish Davis Yagi all the best as he takes the helm of the Airports Division. He faces a daunting task learning enough to make the day-to-day decisions that affect us all. The General Aviation Council of Hawai'i is a resource I hope he will use to the fullest.
The Department of Transportation, and, by extension, the Airports Division, is a service organization. Its purpose in life is to meet the transportation requirements of the people of Hawai'i and the nation as they relate to Hawai'i. As a subset of the DoT, the Airports Division exists to insure that the state airports system fulfills state and national requirements. Neither should be a self-licking ice cream cone.
The nationwide retrenchment in the airline industry provides a golden opportunity for General Aviation to demonstrate to the public at large just how essential we are to the state and the country. I can think of no other state in the Union where airports have such a huge and largely unrealized potential to benefit the general public. Our Airports Division must encourage all facets of aviation here by expanding the state airports system capacity and use through inspired leadership and management. Failure to do so would be a major disservice to the people of Hawai'i. Let’s hope they’re up to the challenge.
Military Aviation Museum of the Pacific
The evening of December 6th slipped in on a blazing sunset punctuated by a few misty showers that moistened the array of aircraft and military ground equipment on static display at Ford Island for the annual Military Aviation Museum of the Pacific benefit dinner. Some three hundred folks gathered at historic Hangar 37 for an excellent catered dinner and evening entertainment that featured Wally Schirra as straight man for comedian Bill Dana. Among those present and honored were Senator Dan Inouye and Lt. John Finn (USN Ret), both recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor; former Vietnam POWs CAPT Jerry Coffee, CDR Bill Shankel and Pacific fighter ace (8 ½ kills) Major James B. Tapp.
Earlier in the day, Bruce Clements’ beautiful Stearman was flown in by Dave Simpson. The Army brought in a Blackhawk and the Coast Guard flew in a Dolphin HH-65. Between the Navy and the Honolulu Control Facility, the necessary waivers for the Temporary Restricted Area were obtained. We also had a T-6 that was trucked over from Hickam and the Aeronca that Ma Woods was flying when the December 7th, 1941 attack began. The Aeronca currently resides on the pier by the USS Missouri and was hauled over for the dinner. The Marines had an interesting display, and the Air Force sent over some prized pictures from the Air Force Art collection. The Air Guard displayed some excellent aircraft models, and the Hawai'i Historic Arms Association brought many of their prized military vehicles and clothing and was there in full period regalia. An event like this requires tremendous support from a large number of people and organizations. The assistance we received from the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marines, Army and Air Guard, Coast Guard, the USS Missouri Association and the Hawai'i Historic Arms Association was essential to the event’s success and greatly appreciated.
Ford Island has been labeled the “Gettysburg of the Pacific” and has been similarly hallowed by the blood of battle. What a fitting place to build a world-class museum to educate the generations about the role of military aviation in this vast portion of the globe! Progress is being made toward that end, and all those who participated in the benefit dinner are a part of it.
Freedom to Fly
An integral part of being an American is the right and ability to come and go as we please, and nowhere is this more precious than in the air. In spite of the plethora of often conflicting regulations and the ever-rising costs of virtually everything related to aviation, our system is by far the best in the world. If you have any doubts about that, read the article in the November AOPA Pilot magazine about flying in Europe—“From Bad to Worse”, by Nigel Everett. It’s not enough that everything is obscenely expensive—fuel, aircraft, landing fees, fees for services, instruction and check rides—but they’ve built a patchwork of conflicting, inconsistent, and seemingly mindless regulations under the laughably inaccurate title of the Joint Aviation Regulations (JAR) that applies to all members of the European Union. The thing is, the regs are interpreted and implemented very differently in each country. Imagine, if you will, trying to fly across the U.S. if every state had its own rules and regulations governing your flight. That’s pretty much what exists in Europe today, in spite of the overarching JAR. Disturbingly, there are those who hold up the European system (for lack of a better term) as a model we should aspire to.
Privatization fits awkwardly into this scene, as various countries seek to divest their governments of some or all of the responsibilities for air traffic control, weather reporting, and flight following in the name of economic efficiency. Frankly, it just doesn’t work, anywhere. Some places are worse than others, but even NAVCANADA has serious problems with its fee-based system. There is an inherent problem with fee-based systems: those who cannot or wish not to pay won’t avail themselves of the service in question. If the service is mandatory, such as buying a weather briefing in Germany, then people just stop flying. In Europe, fees are used to discourage pilots from participation, as a measure to provide capacity to the airlines. Increasing capacity would be a far better tack than limiting participation. Everybody wins, that way.
The latest fee-based specter to raise its ugly head is OMB Circular A-76, which considers “outsourcing” (read, “privatizing”) the Flight Service portion of the FAA. FSS personnel here have distributed an information leaflet on A-76 compiled by their national union (NAATS) that makes some good points. Commercially available weather products can enhance flight planning, but their costs can be quite high. If they were the only alternative, many pilots would simply forgo getting complete weather briefings and safety would suffer. Flight Service primarily serves GA, and goes well beyond providing weather information. Rather than “outsource” the FSS, which would all but eliminate needed services, the FAA should strongly consider making the FSS more user friendly, including improving access by the flying community. One positive step would be to overhaul the NOTAM system and make it easier to access.
Since September 11th, 2001, several states have attempted to regulate pilot activities and each time, the FAA has stepped in forcefully to uphold federal preemption in aviation matters. The FAA also weighed in very effectively on the issue of closing Hawai’i airports, along with GACH and AOPA. Watchdog organizations like the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) have played crucial roles in confronting such actions that would ultimately undermine our entire system. Each and every one of us who flies, used to fly, hopes to fly, or just likes aviation and freedom should be a member.
The Transportation Security Command (TSA) has implemented a toll-free hotline that the GA community can use to report anything unusual or suspicious. The line is operated by the National Response Center. Call (866) GA SECURE if you have anything to report.
Great Hawaiian Air Race 2003
The next Great Hawaiian Air Race is coming up quickly (February 14 – 18, 2003). Time to dust off the old charts and sign up for a fun and rewarding adventure. Contact Greg Marshall at 373-1889 and download the complete race kit from www.flyhawaii.com/GHAR.html.
As the year yields to the flow of time, I’d like to thank some of the folks that have helped keep things going. On a day-to-day, minute-to-minute basis, the skilled and professional ATC specialists throughout the state contribute hugely, especially when the weather turns dicey. I truly appreciate the flexibility and expanded thinking these pros harness and the extra steps they so often take on our behalf. Mahalo also to the Flight Service folks for all that they do. And, while on the subject of the FAA, we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Administrator’s Pacific Representative, Tweet Coleman and her excellent staff for their thoughtful and effective support of General Aviation.
On the state side, I’d like to thank Roy Sakata for the job he did as Acting Airports Administrator, and Morris Tamanaha, the General Aviation Officer for his continued support and advocacy for aviation.
There are many hard-working folks who service our aircraft and keep them flying, often under trying conditions. To all of you, mahalo.
And, of course, I’d like to thank each and every one of you who support GACH. This next year should be an interesting and challenging one. I urge you all to stay involved and help shape things the way you want them. Above all, be safe. Mele Kalikimaka and Hauoli Makahiki Hou.
Be careful out there.
Kale Logan CFI Spins
Kalahiki Chang CFI Spins
Steve Csigi CFI Spins