From The South Ramp --Hank Bruckner:

Article from the December 1997 edition of the GACH newsletter

Relativity is cool. Consider, for example, the distance between Honolulu and Hilo is about 200 nm, depending on routing. That translates to about an hour and twenty minutes by Seneca, and a whole lot more in a C-150. The distance to Mir can be about 215 nm, and it took about 42 hours to get there by Space Shuttle, and that's at speeds of over 15,000 knots. It's all relative. Of course, STS-84 travelled a great deal further than 200+ nm on its way to Mir, so the analogy breaks down. Point is, I guess, that there is a world of difference between 200 nm straight ahead, and 200 nm straight up. Ed Lu was kind enough to share his incredible experiences with about 40 of us on November 13th. He also presented the GACH patch that flew with him and orbited Earth 145 times (that's about 3.8 million miles (3.3 million nm)! Dr Lu held us spellbound as he described highlights of the flight and his training, with some great slides and video. We were his sixth speaking engagement of the day, and we really owe him for putting out so much effort on our behalf! Astronaut must rank right up there in job satisfaction. Again, thanks, Ed. We really appreciate it. Thanks, too, to the Honolulu FSDO and the Community College for making it all happen. The display is temporarily at our FSDO, and will be available for viewing at the GACH Christmas Party on 13 December. After that, drop by my office.

What's the difference between a pilot and an aviator? Both pilots and aviators fly. Many dictionaries and thesauri treat the two words as synonymous, but that doesn't fly. It boils down to one thing--passion. Those who are passionate about the whole idea of flight tend to be aviators. Those who just fly are pilots. At least in my book. It's not even a matter of relative skill. Aviators are not necessarily better flyers than pilots. They do, however, enjoy it a lot more. As a flight instructor, I get to fly with all types. How do I tell them apart? It's not what they say, but how they say it. And the eyes--they're a give-away. You can find them tooling around in a C-150, nailing an ILS to minimums with one engine at zero thrust in a Seneca (didn't think I'd say Apache, did you?), even herding a B-747 around. They'll hesitate before answering if you ask them which they'd rather do, fly or (eat, sex, whatever). They don't consider waiting around at an airport a waste of time, not when there are airplanes to look at. They do tend to congregate around aerobatic airplanes, regardless of what else they fly. That makes sense, really; you've got to have some passion to subject yourself to that kind of abuse and love it! There is ample room in the sky for pilots and aviators; however, aviators are more fun. You know who you are.

To those of you who flew with me this past year--thank you.

If you cruise Lagoon Drive, you've likely noticed what has to be the prettiest DeHavilland Beaver on floats you're ever likely to see (especially in Hawai'i!). Pat Magie brought it in from Alaska and will be operating from the seaplane base he has built in Ke'ehi Lagoon. He's also bringing in a C-206 (on floats, of course). He'll do sightseeing charters. It looks like Runway Eight Wet will finally get some traffic. I had the opportunity to see the Beaver up close, lending a hand to put it together and get it back on its water wings. That bird is immaculate! Pat has had extensive float experience up north. I hope Hawaiian waters and skies are good to him, too.

Nineteen Ninety-Seven was a harsh year in aviation. Good people died while pursuing their avocation, leaving huge voids in too many lives. As we reflect on the year that's receding relentlessly and look toward the year that's on the horizon but closing fast, let us remember that aviation is not without risk--though well worth it--and demands our full attention, to the aircraft, the environment, and, most critically, ourselves. Let us make 1998 kinder, gentler, safer. Let's live through it. Peace be with you.

Be careful out there.