Letters

Adventure by Remos

July 1, 2010

I have flown into Shelter Cove for more than 20 years and have never driven there (“ Fun to Fly Sweepstakes: Adventure By Remos,” May 2010 AOPA Pilot).

One time my wife and I landed and were greeted by two bull elks chewing their cud about one-third up the runway from the south end about five yards off the runway in the rough of the golf course. When we departed a couple of hours later we taxied by their massive moss-covered racks and they just looked up and continued munching.

I fly from Ukiah Municipal Airport (UKI) in California where we operate an historic hot springs resort that many pilots fly in to. We recommend they fly to Shelter Cove and many have. I also recommend they keep one eye on the fog. We have almost been caught three times. Whale season is great and they can be seen all the way up the coast in late fall and spring. Stop by some time here.

Gilbert Ashoff, AOPA 1425097
Ukiah, California

Alton Marsh did a great job describing the wild, natural beauty of Shelter Cove, California. Unfortunately he failed to mention that this spectacular airport can also be unforgiving. Surrounded by the deep Pacific Ocean, there are few if any alternatives in an emergency than ditching in the deep, rough, and frigid waters off the coast. In 1971, 17 people died when a chartered DC-3 plunged into the ocean after an aborted takeoff from Shelter Cove. Others have died here when their airplanes went down in the Pacific or crashed on the shoreline after a stall/spin following the desperate effort to return to the runway. If you lose an engine here survival may depend on you and your passengers wearing proper flotation gear during approach and departure. Like everything in aviation, it’s your risk to manage. But it would be a mistake to assume this is just another pretty airport.

Jack Swanson, AOPA 3571226
Greenbrae, California

General aviation’s watchdog

It was reassuring indeed to hear that there are some on Capitol Hill who have GA’s interest at heart (“ Exclusive Interview: General Aviation’s Watchdog,” May 2010 AOPA Pilot). With all the mud-throwing in our democracy these days we tend to lose sight that there are still dedicated civic leaders, with integrity, doing the traditional work of government and are knowledgeable and passionate about their respective subjects.

Patrick J. Mathews, AOPA 1134012
Indian Wells, California

I’ve been a member of AOPA for more than 20 years and I am having a tough time with your choice of bedfellows in the context of our current political environment. I’m disappointed with your portrayal of Representative Costello as a protector of GA’s interests and that you could parrot his contention that job creation is his priority. 

One of the greatest threats to my business at this time is the recently passed health care reform legislation, which Representative Costello voted for along with the majority of his party. I currently employ more than 100 people and the leftovers from that business are what provide me with the means to fly. Representative Costello and his peers believe that threatening the profitability of business via unconstitutional government takeover(s) of the same (health care, automotive, banking, et cetera) is no big deal. 

I couldn’t disagree more. At the least, the law of unintended consequences will crush our economic engine and ultimately the freedoms we’ve all enjoyed (including general aviation). We need much less government—not more! 

Please know that as I watch our elected officials disregard their oaths to “preserve, protect, and defend” the document that our founders drafted, it has made my thinking evolve. I’ve become less and less convinced that single-issue special interest groups (i.e., AOPA, NRA, et cetera) are in the best interest of their constituents. My support (and my money) increasingly point toward those who have consistently voted to protect the freedoms and to conserve the structure of our republic, which the founders intended and which most of our ignorant citizenry is so willing to fritter away.

John M. Gebhard, AOPA 940678
Hartland, Wisconsin

Author Thomas B. Haines replies : Thank you for the thoughtful reply. As you know, AOPA supports many congressmen who look favorably on general aviation and strive to support it. However, those same politicians may at times have points of view on issues that don’t relate to general aviation or that relate only obliquely to GA that are in conflict with the interests of some AOPA members. Unfortunately, that’s the way it works in Washington. There will be no politician from any party with whom everyone will agree on all issues. I do know that Chairman Costello was opposed to the health care reform bill and only reluctantly signed it late in the process, probably under a great deal of pressure from other party officials. That may not matter to you, but I am sure he is feeling the heat from his Illinois constituents.

Look ma, no lead

The phase-out of tetraethyl lead from American automotive use began in 1976 and was completed in 1986. As a member of the GA community “ Look Ma, No Lead,” May 2010 AOPA Pilot). I understand that there are logistical and technical hurdles to overcome in the elimination of lead from avgas, but come on, folks, this is no moon shot. 

Instead, I smell institutionalized foot-dragging. In the article’s sidebar, AOPA states that it, “Has been involved in avgas policy and research since the 1970s.” Why so long? Why is GA still spreading this toxic heavy metal over the countryside after all these years? This is a serious problem that we create, and we therefore should be responsible for its elimination. 

According to the article’s author, Dave Hirschman, “Traditional avgas [is] under siege from both economic and environmental forces.” Well, if that’s the case, then I don’t blame those outside forces for being upset, because, apart from a few forward-thinking individuals and companies, the GA community apparently hasn’t stepped up to the avgas plate. Frankly, if it takes EPA action to finally solve this problem, then this pilot welcomes their involvement, because the less lead in my environment, the better. 

Stuart D. Smith, AOPA 2137728
Olympia, Washington

No lights, no alternate

Dave Hirschman’s “ Never Again: No Lights, No Alternate” (May 2010 AOPA Pilot) points out a problem that I believe is common with Cirrus aircraft and perhaps with other composite aircraft as well—they don’t like rain. I have had all kinds of problems because of static build-up in precipitation. Loss of engine data is currently driving me crazy. Other issues have been the ELT going off in the rain and communication difficulties. There are service bulletins regarding these issues, but in talking to mechanics these fixes are not the compete solution.

It would be interesting to find out from other readers if this is as widespread a problem as I believe it could be. I know the feeling that Hirschman had when he had his difficulty.

John Pavese, AOPA 811100
Hertford, North Carolina

I have had an instrument rating since 1967 and have had quite a bit of experience with p-static. I am also a CFI/CFII and a former instructor with the Cirrus Standardized Instructor Program. It has been my experience that the Cirrus is much more susceptible to p-static than an aluminum airplane. I understand that the Cirrus has conductive material embedded in the composite matrix, but I suppose it doesn’t work as well as an all-metal surface. By the way, Mr. Hirschman, did the Stormscope light up like a Christmas tree?

Charlie Haubrich, AOPA 212816 
Williamstown, New Jersey

A pioneer passes

Thanks to Tom Horne for a thoughtful and thorough piece on the passing of John L. Baker, former AOPA president (“ A Pioneer Passes,” May 2010 AOPA Pilot). As it often is with men of this caliber, I marvel at how much he achieved in his life, which reads like an adventure novel. No doubt he will be missed by GA and we will all be forever in his debt—and considering all of his other outstanding achievements and stellar military service, the country will be less without him as well. My condolences to his family.

Karl M. Zahn, AOPA 1059076
Milford, New Hampshire

Errata

Jabiru S-LSA aircraft are not imported to the United States (“ A Little Bit Different,” April 2010 AOPA Pilot). Engines and airframe kits are sent from Australia and assembled in Shelbyville, Tennessee.

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