Letters

Pride of WWII

November 1, 2010

It was impossible not to finish the article “Pride of WWII” written by Barry Schiff ( September 2010 AOPA Pilot). This was by far the best article I have ever read in AOPA Pilot. In the movie, Pearl Harbor, I was skeptical whether the [story of the] Doolittle Raiders was true. Reading the article made me realize that those pilots truly put their lives on the line when they knew there was a good chance they would not survive the mission. It makes me appreciate the limited stories my father would tell me before he died when he was a pilot in the Philippines in World War II. I am disappointed that such an important piece of history that was the turning point of the Pacific war didn’t receive a mention on the cover of the magazine.

Eric Kramer, AOPA 580772
Dix Hills, New York

Thanks for Barry Schiff’s mouth-watering piece on the “Pride of WWII.” I fully agree with him on the noise factor. I learned my painful lesson from outside the cockpit at the Sussex, New Jersey, airshow in 1982 about two seconds after I took a photo in a location down the runway approved by the FAA. It was worth it!

Fred Robbins, AOPA 499622
Hopewell Junction, New York

I read with interest Barry Schiff’s article in the September edition of AOPA Pilot. Since I live about a two-hour drive from Fort Worth, I find myself tempted by the chance to fly this bird. A fool and his money are soon parted; I’ll probably get over this urge by a sudden attack of fiscal responsibility. I’m quite comfortable in a Cessna 150, 152, 172. I don’t have a multiengine rating (working on instrument). The idea of a clean stall speed of 120 mph I find a little intimidating.

John David Luker, AOPA 1248709
Comanche, Texas

Advice that sticks

I own a TBM 700 and have about 2,000 hours. I enjoyed Al Marsh’s article on pilot tips (“ Advice That Sticks,” September 2010 AOPA Pilot). I made this one up, but I live by it more than anything else: Always have a Plan B. I tell myself this all the time. If I find myself down to only one option, it’s time to make a change because I won’t fly without a Plan B. Pretty simple, but it applies to so many different aspects of flying.

Albert G. Marquis, AOPA 881809
Las Vegas, Nevada

I’m sorry I missed the call for “best advice you ever heard.” I loved the article and thought of some I have heard in my 40-plus years of flying:

  • “Don’t let the aircraft get there before you do.” Interpreted as always be thinking about the next phase of the flight before it happens.
  • From Ron Donley, CFII: “Fly every instrument approach as if the missed approach was the planned outcome and the landing was the alternative.”
  • Dick Lake, CFII: “Attitude is as important as altitude.”
  • “You can never have too much fuel, unless you’re on fire.”

And one that I have developed and that takes precedence in my decision- making: “How will this read in the NTSB report?”

Jim Stevens, AOPA 1082619
Mooresville, North Carolina

I have always held that with things mechanical, “you never know what it will do until you know what it will do.” As an example, there was a fellow based at our airport who flew a Bonanza. His approach speed on final had to be in the 120-plus mph range. He would never touch down until halfway down the runway! It used to drive me crazy watching him. I can assure you that he never took the airplane up and practiced stall recoveries. I know what my airplane will do (a Bellanca Viking) and if I were in trouble and had to make an off-field landing I think my chances of doing it successfully are good.

One more thing that is very important in mountain flying, which I did not see in the “ Top of the World” article by Steven Coonts in the same issue: There is a 100-percent sure way you know you are going to be above that mountain ridge over which you are trying to fly. This is it: As you are approaching the ridge from, say, 15 miles, if you see more terrain beyond the ridge you are approaching, you are higher. If you see less of the terrain beyond, then you are lower. Combine this with your altimeter, the winds, etc. and you are in good shape. My dad told me that if flying up a canyon and you are not 100-percent sure you will clear the pass, stay to one side of the canyon and monitor the room you have to do a 180 turn.  

David Alger, AOPA 356960
Lago Vista, Texas

Why your next engine may be a turboprop

I loved Tom Haines’ piece about turboprops in the September issue (“ Waypoints: Why Your Next Engine May Be a Turboprop”). He did a nice job of poking fun at prognosticators who’ve rung the death knell for them over the past 20 years. While he cited several advantages to turboprops, he missed one—the turboprop is not “a step backward, at least from an overall efficiency…standpoint.” 

The fact that the turboprop engine utilizes a much larger diameter fan (i.e., a propeller), a smaller-core engine can be used to generate acceptable takeoff and climb performance, which provides for more fuel-efficient cruise operation when compared to the turbofan engine. As fuel becomes ever more expensive, this only helps to make Haines’ case for turboprops even stronger.

Mike Disbrow, AOPA 4667022
Piqua, Ohio

The author is senior vice president of marketing and customer services for Hartzell Propeller.—Ed.

I agree with most of Haines’ logic, but unless someone finds a way to chuck a zero or two from the price of a turboprop engine I’ll not be affording one for my Cessna 180. I’m good down to 80 octane, so I’m just hoping there’s an acceptable fuel to be bought at a reasonable price—and enough of our freedoms retained so that my children can enjoy flying as I have.

Jim Densmore, AOPA 701868
Colorado Springs, Colorado

A small fry to fly

Thank you for the article on Rod Machado’s Land-O-Matic Cessna 150 (“ License to Learn: A Small Fry to Fly,” September 2010 AOPA Pilot). I am a quarter-owner of a Cessna 152 Aerobat. Three of us bought it initially back in 2000. There are now four of us. Like Machado mentioned, partnership in such an airplane is very affordable, even on my salary. You don’t have to be rich to own an airplane! And these simple airplanes require lower levels of stress to fly. We can cruise low and slow for sightseeing, too. I have been whale watching recently and have seen many blue whales not far from the coast of Palos Verdes. And a high-wing airplane is perfect for that mission. In addition, my wife and I have taken it for many trips. I even proposed to her in the little airplane and our honeymoon was on one of our trips.

Tony Sun, AOPA 925866
Garden Grove, California

Sgt. Michael Blair—sport pilot

Dave Hirschman’s work bringing along his student, the wounded Marine, is to be commended (“Sgt. Michael Blair—Sport Pilot,” September 2010 AOPA Pilot). Although I’m sure Hirshman benefited as much as he did from the experience, I want to thank him for his efforts to recognize Blair’s sacrifice with his effort and acknowledge the debt we owe that Marine that is far greater than we Americans can ever repay. Please pass my thanks for his service, and my personal congratulations and a warm “Semper Fi” from another flying Marine.

Patrick Shaub, AOPA 1165132
Marble Falls, Texas

I have been reading Dave Hirschman’s story on Sgt. Blair, USMC, in the last couple of AOPA Pilot magazines. My son, Gunnery Sgt. Milledge Wilson Jr., USMC, was seriously injured in the Bagram, Afghanistan, attack on May 19, 2010, and was in Bethesda Naval Hospital for a while. We saw and met Sgt. Blair while we were up there, and I am fascinated by his story.  I want to thank him for getting into flying, and for his service to our country. My son and he are so very lucky that they are alive.

Milledge L. Wilson Sr., AOPA 1140370
Prosperity, South Carolina

Erratum

In “ Safety Pilot: Balance of Power,” October 2010 AOPA Pilot, it was incorrectly stated that the Cirrus parachute was activated at 900 feet. The correct activation was 200 feet. AOPA Pilot regrets the error.