Letters

December 1, 2007

FAA funding debate: Airlines attack

I just finished reading the article regarding the FAA funding debate with great interest (" FAA Funding Debate: Airlines Attack," October Pilot). I want to congratulate you on your complete and accurate assessment of the current situation. The airline industry is trying to make everyone else pay for its mistakes. I have worked at a major airline here in Atlanta and can tell you from firsthand experience that the amount of waste and poor leadership (on the part of senior management) is singularly responsible for the current situation.

Senior management is not held responsible for their actions and receive enormous compensation regardless of the performance of the airline. At a recent stockholder meeting, a referendum was introduced requiring senior management compensation be tied to company performance. It took about 15 minutes to defeat the resolution by a margin of something like 300 million against and 250,000 for the referendum.

While working at this airline, I watched as the company wasted more than $200 million on an inventory management system that still doesn't work today. I am willing to assist in any way possible to defeat the airline-sponsored FAA funding bill (S.B.1300) and feel that a grass roots effort (as AOPA is doing) is the only way to defeat it. Our current government is not at all concerned with the well being of the citizens of this great country but has been bought lock, stock, and barrel by major corporations. Anyone who doubts this just needs to stroll around downtown Washington, D.C., and look at all the major corporations that have headquarters there.

Thank you for your clear and accurate reporting. It is encouraging to know there is a voice out there that is willing to speak out against the ineptitude of our government in aviation-related matters.

Mike Lutman AOPA 1224382
Woodstock, Georgia

Old dog, new trick

I was pleased to see the review of the Sparrow Hawk gyroplane (" Old Dog, New Trick," October Pilot). Gyroplanes are perhaps the greatest secret in fun aviation. The article revealed many of the unique attributes of gyroplanes. However, in my opinion, the article technically misrepresented characteristics of one model gyroplane as applying to all gyroplanes generically. The article states that gyroplanes are less stable than airplanes and get more unstable with speed. True for many gyros, but gyroplanes with adequately effective horizontal and vertical stabilizers can be much more stable than airplanes. The article states that gyroplanes require hands-on attention. Owing much to their insensitivity to wind disturbances and high control power, strongly stable gyroplanes can be easier to fly than airplanes, requiring very little attention even in gusty winds. The article implies that "centerline thrust" (CLT) is the only answer to old issues of instability such as pilot-induced oscillations (PIO). Propeller thrustline is only one component of properly addressing the old "gyrocopter" issues of PIO and buntovers [forward pitching resulting from pitch instability]. No aircraft is perfectly CLT throughout its full loading range, and perfect CLT can provide only near-neutral static stability—not strong positive stability. True longitudinal stability in any aircraft is accomplished by the horizontal stabilizer. The article also implies gyroplanes are difficult to take off and require long takeoff runs. This does not necessarily apply to gyroplanes equipped with a prerotator that achieves high rotor rpm prior to the takeoff run. The discussion of the height-velocity (HV) diagram implies the possibility of inadequate airflow through the rotor to maintain rotor rpm and lift. The rotor of a properly stable gyro, one that avoids the old "gyrocopter" instability issues, inherently prevents inadequate rotor airflow in flight. The HV issue is purely an energy management issue; you must have enough height and/or velocity in order to have enough energy at landing height to raise the nose for a good flare—if the engine were not adequately available to do so. Again, thanks for the article—more please!

Greg Gremminger, AOPA 2645439
Ste. Genevieve, Missouri

Wildlife vs. airplanes

I spent many years using a grass strip that was beloved by deer on an island near Friday Harbor, Washington (" Flying Seasons: Wildlife vs. Airplanes," October Pilot). These deer could ruin a pilot's day. My routine was to buzz the strip, making the deer scatter, do a quick 180, and get down before they returned. On takeoff, it was taxi down the strip making lots of noise and make a quick takeoff. Someone told me about the ultrasonic deer-repelling devices that are designed for cars and trucks. Because attaching them to the wing would have an adverse effect on airflow, I called the inventor about possibly attaching them to the landing gear. He said he had something 10-times better—an electronic one that worked on a 12-volt battery. I bought one and here was the result of the experiment: Deer on the runway, device activated from a car. Deer looked up and went back to eating. Concerned that it might just be our deer device, it was tried in another setting. Result the same. Conclusion: Not useful for intended purpose.

Hal H. Hunt, AOPA 354733
Walla Walla, Washington

Errata

In " AOPA's Airport Support Network America's Airports: Promote, Protect, Defend," October Pilot, ASN volunteer Jack Tunstill was quoted as saying the national airlines started in St. Petersburg, Florida. The airline company National Airlines started in St. Petersburg. Pilot regrets the error.

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