January 1, 2002

After the terror

Compliments on a great November issue of Pilot magazine. You struck just the right tone in dealing with the aftermath of September 11.

I was particulary touched by the thoughtful, heartfelt, and beautifully written sidebar stories by Brian Schiff and Vincent Czaplyski. Thanks to AOPA for its effective representation.

Bill Stanley AOPA 1325567
Albuquerque, New Mexico

I read with interest your articles regarding the attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the immediate and residual effects on flying in the United States (" America Under Siege: An Aviation Perspective," November Pilot). Clearly, everyone has been affected by these acts of terror, and while the general population only hears about the delays and problems with the airlines, I wish that these articles could be made available to everyone. I have shown them to some of my coworkers, and they had no idea how GA had been affected. Nor were they aware of many of the details given in your coverage of the flight paths the doomed planes took or of the involvement the air traffic controllers had in recognizing and reporting the hijackings.

While many of the proposals that Barry Schiff outlined in his article (" Hijack!" November Pilot) have been circulating through the office here, as well, I am sure, in offices around the country, I shudder at the thought of a fully loaded airplane landing with all of the passengers dead because some hijackers could not get the pilots to give up their office in the front. I still think it would be worse to have a repeat of the events of September 11.

Alan Z. Fromm AOPA 1709421
Plainview, New York

It's not often that I get the opportunity to read AOPA Pilot from cover to cover. What a great magazine and a wonderful service AOPA provides to our nation's pilots and to aviation. The magazine is a fantastic source of information about flying, products that assist us, and the system our country has created to enhance it and make it safe. Keep up the good work!

President Phil Boyer, in his article about protecting GA, describes a wonderful plan for protecting our rights and freedoms as pilots (" Protecting GA is in Our Roots," November Pilot. I wholeheartedly agree with all the strategies and positions he describes. I could not be more proud of Boyer and what he does for AOPA.

Ralph Antolino Jr. AOPA 2578562
Columbus, Ohio

Barry Schiff's article "Hijack!" in the November issue makes mention of a scheme whereby controllers on the ground could wrest control of a hijacked airliner away from cockpit intruders and then guide the aircraft by remote control to a safe landing. Schiff notes that such a scheme "would meet with disapproval of cockpit flight crews." As well it should!

As someone who works in information network security, I am aghast at the suggestion. There would be no way to ever fully secure such a remote-control link. Currently, acts such as we saw on September 11 require a suicidal investment. To open up our airliners to the possibility that someone could gain control of one, or perhaps many, aircraft while sitting comfortably on the ground is an unconscionable lapse of common sense. Please, let's keep the humans in the loop!

Patrick Bryant AOPA 4075745
Sunnyvale, California

Busting clouds

Your article on flying in thunderstorms made my hands sweat (" WxWatch: Cloud Busting," November Pilot). I experienced the same conditions in a thunderstorm in my Cessna 120 on Mother's Day 1994. All I can say is that it was the most terrifying experience I've ever had.

We almost went inverted several times, and my wife got sick and vomited. It was raining so hard I couldn't see ahead. All I could do was look down at the ground 3,000 feet below. All of my control inputs were useless; the airplane was on its own. Needless to say, I did a lot of praying. That was the most terrifying flight hour I've ever had and I learned a great lesson. I hope there are many people out there who will read your article and heed your warning.

Larry C. Miller AOPA 1217892
Prattville, Alabama

Living in Missouri has given me some exposure to fast-building clouds, especially in summertime. Your November "WxWatch" story included a clue I have learned to look for: "a hard, sharp edge of billowy white." This often seems to identify high rates of growth.

The story reminded me of a time when my wife and I flew through a shower of miniature ice balls, quite clear and spherical. They ricocheted around the front of the cockpit, creating quite a show for a few minutes. They made a sound like it was being sandblasted, though I could find no damage, even to the paint, when we landed. I assumed they were hailstones and was very glad we were not flying through that cloud 15 minutes later.

Dwane Koppler AOPA 450816
Springfield, Missouri

The kickout method

I am one of the few pilots who actually learned the kickout method of crosswind landings before learning the slip method (" Proficient Pilot: The Kickout Method," November Pilot). It is only now that I am beginning to learn how rare that was. I was told that the idea was to keep the wings level for passenger comfort. Hindsight today shows me that the reasons are more sophisticated than I thought. Keeping the wings level helps the pilot develop a more intuitive sense of the relative wind. The upwind wing rises when the crab is kicked in and an almost automatic aileron control input follows.

Philip Plewa AOPA 728343
Burbank, California

I found the article about kicking out of a crab interesting. Landing from a crab is the better way to land a Piper Cherokee in a crosswind. For a really severe crosswind, try an approach I learned when I owned a Forney, a version of the Ercoupe. Simply start the approach quite a bit upwind from runway alignment, then fly a circling approach to touchdown. Since the upwind wing will be down, it is essentially a wing-down approach with coordinated rudder. It works great in a Forney, and I can attest that it works great in a Cherokee and a short-coupled Mooney as well. It's no help in a jet with low pods, though. Stick with the crab.

Russ Shreve AOPA 949766
Troy, Michigan

License to learn

Rod Machado's article in the November issue of Pilot ("License to Learn: Tao Over Chow") reminded me of my initial flight training and my thoughts of giving up. In 1990, my children gave me a gift for my "big six-oh," and arranged for nine flight lessons. After the last landing of my ninth lesson, I pulled off the runway, cleaned up the aircraft, thanked my instructor, and said I was not continuing. My instructor asked why and I told him that I would never learn the flare. My landings were good to awful, with everything in between. He admitted that my assessment of my landings was correct but said that I had "never had a life-threatening landing." I agreed to continue. I went on to get my private certificate and instrument rating, and I am now flying my fourth airplane — a new Piper Meridian. Obviously I was not too old to start, and I'm not too old to keep flying now.

John T. Mielach AOPA 1114052
Edison, New Jersey

Diesel dawn

I wanted to encourage you to continue coverage of the new diesel engine technology (" Diesel Dawn," November Pilot) and low-cost composite airplanes such as the Liberty XL 2 and the Fascination D4. I am very hopeful about the promise of lower per-hour costs and total cost of ownership. Hopefully someday soon I will be able to realize my dream of owning a two-seat composite airplane that cruises at 140-plus knots, carries two people with full fuel plus baggage, and costs under $20 an hour to operate. Keep up the good work.

Adam Silverthorne AOPA 3831884
San Francisco, California


Because of a printing error, the final sentence of "Waypoints: A Tale of Two Flights" (December Pilot) was cut off. The complete sentence read: "Such moments diminish the hassles of TFRs and changing notams, and they make the efforts to fly general aviation seem very worthwhile indeed."

We welcome your comments. Address your letters to: Editor, AOPA Pilot , 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701. Send e-mail to [email protected] . Include your full name, address, and AOPA member number on all correspondence, including e-mail. Letters will be edited for style and length.