August 1, 2004

Big brother watches over

Just wanted to thank you for the great article on sailplane racing and how GPS has changed it (" Big Brother Watches Over," June Pilot). I own a Mooney and a glider and like to see soaring-related articles in AOPA Pilot. They go along well with the powered aircraft info. Thanks again, and I hope to see another before too long.

Don Post AOPA 826719
Stowe, Vermont

I worked as a flight instructor 30 years ago in college. The owner of the school acquired a small two-place trainer, which I flew a couple of times. Everybody on his staff got their ratings except me. I enjoyed flying the tug more and towed them instead. The article made me interested in the need for ballast on higher-performance sailplanes, but I couldn't pick up the reason why it's carried, when it's dumped, and if it's dumped all at once. I checked the links, but didn't see it addressed.

Donald G. Henderson AOPA 326230
Bedford, Indiana

By adding water ballast, glider pilots can get the same glide performance, but at a much higher speed. Typically, they "fly heavy" during the early part of the day when the thermals are strong. Late in the day they can dump the ballast as the lift weakens. — Editors

Memories of an Adventure

Todd Roberts seems to have a very jaded view of tricycle-gear aircraft, making reference to Cessna "drivers" and to passengers "crawling out" of his Cessna (" Letters: Memories of an Adventure," June Pilot). I would like him to be aware that I am a Cessna pilot, and that I have given a lot of joy, wonder, and smiles to many passengers who didn't really care where the third wheel was on the airplane.

In a broader sense, what I see is a troubling sense of egotism that is familiar to the aviation world. Whether it's the taildragger endorsement, an instrument rating, or being the owner/pilot of a Citation, those with additional skills, ratings, or equipment should practice sharing their enthusiasm without putting down others.

Mark S. Puscas AOPA 1409841
Salem, Oregon

Checklist flows

I read with great interest your recent article on flows and checklists (" Checklist Flows," June Pilot). This is something I have started to do on my own as an instructor and have not heard talked about much before, especially training in light aircraft. There are two philosophies of checklist usage I have been exposed to. The checklist as a "Do" list and the checklist as a "Check" list after doing the task. For all of my training through commercial and instrument flight instructor, my instructors and my examiner were all very strong advocates of the Do-list philosophy. The designee has been known to, or at least threaten to, pink slip on a checkride for performing actions without reference to the checklist. My other life has been as a technician for airlines and business jets. Both are very strongly in favor of the checklist as a final check after doing what should be done.

David T. Ryan AOPA 1014212
West Suffield, Connecticut

I read with interest your article in the June issue of AOPA Pilot regarding checklist flows and found that by making my own it was much easier to perform the checks.

I thank you for a very fine article. I have just gotten back into flying after an absence of almost 20 years and have a little more than 100 hours flight time.

Bob Hoskins AOPA 4360443
Fresno, California

High fliers

The article on emergency descents from high altitudes was good but perhaps could use the following additions (" Waypoints: High Fliers," June Pilot). I used to be a simulator instructor at one of the major simulator training facilities in the United States and the new and accepted method of emergency descent is not to roll into a 30-degree bank and hand-fly the airplane down to a safe altitude. Rather, use the autopilot, engage the heading mode, and roll the autopilot trim knob forward to maximum nose-down pitch and use it to also control the indicated airspeed. This will allow the airplane to have a smooth push-over, which will prevent fuel unporting and, perhaps most important, will allow air traffic control (ATC) to know the course that you are on and to scatter the traffic under you safely. If the "old" method of turning off the airway (who flies airways anymore?) is used, ATC won't know where you really are going and what your final course will be. Remember, the guy or gal on the scope knows what your course and heading was when you started that high-speed descent and won't know what's happening initially because you're too busy and scared to call immediately. In addition, set the altitude alerter to a lower altitude that will give you minimum terrain clearance for the geographical area you are in, and set the autopilot to the Altitude Select mode just in case one or both of the pilots take an inadvertent nap on the way down.

Martin Karrer AOPA 522588
Basalt, Colorado

Hooray for Hollywood!

Just finished reading Barry Schiff's column in AOPA Pilot (" Proficient Pilot: Hooray for Hollywood!" June Pilot), and I can't tell you how elated I am to finally get some positive news about the two films based on Ernest Gann's books. Bravo to you for getting the word around, and also to BATJAC for finally doing something about it. I'm of the age that enabled me to see both films on a full screen and my memories of them are vivid, having been a Gann fan since Blaze of Noon in the 1940s. I hope you can keep us advised of a possible release date.

Dean Stoker AOPA 298493
Walnut Creek, California

I look forward each month to Barry Schiff's articles in AOPA Pilot and was especially intrigued by this month's offering. I am a 64-year-old CEO of a distribution company here in Louisville and flew general aviation for 15 years in all kinds of IFR weather. Even before I dreamed of learning how to fly, my favorite author was Ernest Gann. I have reread Fate Is the Hunter many times and viewed The High and the Mighty as a 14-year-old young man. What great news that the movie could be rereleased.

Robert Pfeiffer AOPA 936947
Louisville, Kentucky

Parlez-vous Français?

I read your article in the June issue with much interest (" Parlez-Vous Français?" June Pilot). I have been giving thought to the future when avgas may no longer be available, and this engine sounds like it could be a viable alternative. My dad and I own a 1966 Piper Cherokee 235 (which we just flew across the country from Salisbury, Maryland, to Palo Alto, California, and back). Maybe when our airplane hits TBO, we'll consider getting one of these rather than doing a rebuild of the current engine. You mentioned that an STC (supplemental type certificate) for the PA-28-236 Dakota may be available by the end of 2004. Do you happen to know whether such an STC might also apply to the PA-28-235?

Catherine Fairchild AOPA 792105
Pocomoke City, Maryland

We checked the SMA Web site for you ( www.smaengines.com/english/main.htm), and it is specific about the "PA28 Dakota." You might want to contact the company directly about the 235. The e-mail is [email protected]. — Editors

NWA vs. private planes

AOPA President Phil Boyer's column in the June issue (" President's Position: NWA vs. Private Planes") did an excellent job encapsulating the effort by some in the commercial airline industry to shift more airport costs to corporate and general aviators.

As the executive director of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, I greatly appreciate the support and leadership Boyer and AOPA have demonstrated on these issues. There is always room for dialogue and debate within the industry. Regardless of the size or type of airport, the challenge for its managers is to provide safe, high-quality, cost-competitive facilities and services.

Like other airport authorities, the Metropolitan Airports Commission achieves that without asking either general or commercial aviation to bear the other's costs. Neither do we receive general tax appropriations to cover our expenses. The individuals and businesses that use our facilities pay for them. The current airport financing system works for the good of all. I hope difficult financial times for some in the industry will not jeopardize the system as a whole. With the continued support of Boyer and AOPA, I am confident that will not happen.

Jeff Hamiel AOPA 831236
St. Paul, Minnesota

Too hot to handle

A comment on the June Pilot article by Vincent Czaplyski, " Turbine Pilot: Too Hot to Handle" — we used water/alcohol injection on the U.S. Air Force Boeing air fueling tankers and four Pratt & Whitney R-4360 engines to increase takeoff power to the piston engines during max load/temp flights. Injection was limited to three minutes (I think) to avoid exceeding engine performance limitations. In North Africa we used more than 12,000 feet of runway to get (stagger) off the ground and airborne.

D.M. Blum AOPA 5179036
Decatur, Georgia

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 number on all correspondence, including e-mail. Letters will be edited for length and style.