Letters

The 'meaning' of aviation

April 1, 2011

Tom Haines really hit the nail on the head with his recent article “Waypoints: The ‘Meaning’ of Aviation” (February 2011 AOPA Pilot). It isn’t just aviation, but our whole society that seems to have gone crazy with criticism.

I have never written before, so consider me part of a much larger silent majority when I say we love you guys and gals regardless of your haircut or weight. Thank you and your staff for providing a top-notch magazine that I look forward to reading each month.

Jim Jellison, AOPA 4258187
Pleasanton, California

I’m so sorry to hear of the poor behaviors of some of our clan. Most pilots know how to act, as demonstrated by unlocked country FBOs, crew cars with keys in them, etc. We were walking to town from a little Pennsylvania airport and a guy in his yard near the field insisted we drive his Caddy—which wasn’t a junker, either! Don’t let this stuff get you down; consider the source(s) and stay on the high road.

Maynard Resen, AOPA 716882
Wolcottville, Indiana

It is unfortunate that we all can’t tolerate disagreement without being disagreeable, and that our criticism be confined to issues and not individuals. I’ve been an AOPA member for 43 years, and, in all that time, I’ve never experienced any negative feelings that would make me feel less than proud of the organization. Perhaps your column will awaken the awareness of the few who have been so rude, as to the crudeness of their comments.

Bill Wardle, AOPA 363819
Punta Gorda, Florida

I am in a business where providing good service is paramount and I agree that customers seem to be more disagreeable now than at any other time I can remember. The examples show how some people become irrational in difficult situations. It may be more than the economy. Maybe we are seeing a cultural shift in how we interact with each other. I hope not. One thing I have learned in many years of customer service is that customers will grow increasingly vocal and angry if they feel like they are not being heard. I caution you to not be too quick to discount the comments you receive from members; they may be right.

I’ve had more interactions with AOPA in the past couple of years than in my entire 30 years of membership and I have found the interactions to be almost universally disappointing. I’ve been told someone would call me back about my concern, which never occurred. I’ve talked with AOPA representatives who have not been able to answer my questions, and I’ve sent e-mail messages and comments without a response. So, before you discount us all as kooks, I suggest you take a close look at the internal operations of AOPA to ensure you are meeting the needs of the entire membership. Now, about those haircuts....

Lee Layton, AOPA 1008862
Lenoir, North Carolina

Pilots are passionate people...passionate about aviation. We want to see aviation flourish as much as you do. The bickering and whining about the situation does not do anyone any good. I saw opportunity in your article. Opportunity for AOPA as the major pilot advocacy organization in the country and opportunity for us as pilots. The question is, what are you (AOPA) going to do to help alleviate our frustration? And how can we as pilots channel our frustration to have an impact at the local level?

Dave Courey, AOPA 657926
Dimondale, Michigan

In this day and age of electronic communications, one can very quickly write an opinion and blast it off via e-mail or in a forum without taking the time to think about what is really being said. With snail mail one has to write on paper, address an envelope, affix postage, and then find a mailbox. That gives plenty of time to ponder what was actually said. I’ll bet that many letters have never been mailed because of second thoughts. Please don’t let a few whiners stop you from writing exactly what you feel and please don’t succumb to political correctness.

Jay Meinen, AOPA 1225976
Tomball, Texas

Eyes above the forest

My pulse raced as I discovered the article on our agency Partenavia ( “Eyes Above the Forest,” February 2011 AOPA Pilot). The article is very descriptive and a pleasure to read. The photographs are absolutely beautiful. I greatly appreciate the opportunity you provided us in doing a story on our agency’s work. As an AOPA member since 1978 you continue to make me proud of the AOPA organization and AOPA Pilot magazine.

Kevin Vislocky, AOPA 0645522
Havana, Florida

I am a conservation officer pilot from Minnesota and we are very proud of the type of flying that we perform for the citizens and resources of the state of Minnesota. This type of flying requires very good coordinated flight skills and a good working knowledge of natural resources all rolled into one person. Throw in law enforcement duties/training and it makes for a very professional flight unit. Thanks for shedding some light onto these units; hopefully this will cause some pilots—and future pilots—to think about entering this profession.

Jason Jensen, AOPA 2868335
Stacy, Minnesotas

It is interesting that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission uses a two-man twin at some pretty huge total annual cost to fly around at night looking for poachers who might kill a deer worth perhaps a hundred dollars. The airplane is cool, but the cost/benefit analysis is completely ignored, a sign of the times where the bureaucracies of the local, state, and federal governments are running huge deficits.

Angelo Mancini, AOPA 1124978
Ogden, Utah

The nation’s quirkiest airports

A few years ago when I got bored with my flying I decided I needed a challenge and so I decided to land at every public use airport in the state, which let me discover some cool airports ( “The Nation’s Quirkiest Airports,” February 2011 AOPA Pilot).

I think Copalis Beach Airport is worth mentioning as quirky since it is the only airport in Washington where the runway is under water at high tide (and I’ve heard, but have not verified, that it’s the only such beach airport in the country). In Oregon, perhaps the most noteworthy airport is Memaloose, because it’s the only airport where I’ve descended (deliberately) right after takeoff. It’s a 6,700-foot elevation grass runway and you take off uphill to the north, with the end of the runway terminating in a cliff that drops off several thousand feet into Hell’s Canyon. And in Hawaii, I think that Kalaupapa on Molokai could count as quirky because of the advice that I received that one must take care on upwind to avoid getting hit by the waves that crash against the lava at the northeast end of the runway; apparently the ocean has reached up and smacked more than one airplane over the years!

Eric Berman, AOPA 1304079
Woodinville, Washington

The Alaska Department of Transportation operates Lake Hood seaplane base located in Anchorage. It is a seaplane base in the summer and has ice runways in the winter, which is maintained year-around and has airport management staff. The waterways and ice runways have landing lights. It is the largest seaplane base in the world. Plus it is the only seaplane base that is a primary airport in the United States, which makes it eligible to receive $1 million in Airport Improvement Program funding per year from the FAA.

Rich Sewell, AOPA 5967175
Anchorage, Alaska

Rock ’n roll

I read “Challenges: Rock ’n Roll” (February 2011 AOPA Pilot) and viewed the accompanying video. Great stuff. I always worried about spins but never went out of my way to experience spins with an instructor. Then I had the opportunity to fly with Ben Freelove of Team Oracle and the Tutima Academy. He taught me to perform loops, rolls, and other maneuvers. The most valuable maneuver was spins. As student pilots we are taught the procedures for spin recovery but it feels more like a theory, as if it might not actually work in practice. Experiencing a few spins and successfully using the techniques to end the spin were invaluable. My aerobatic experience gave me greater confidence in my piloting skills.

Todd McClamroch, AOPA 5559890
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Erratum

From Rod Machado: “I made a reference to a Polish immigrant pilot reading an eye chart in my column ( “License to Learn: The Limited Flight Instructor Certificate,” February 2011 AOPA Pilot). The joke was a play on the consonants shown on the eye chart. It was not in any way intended to poke fun at a person of Polish nationality. It appears that some readers were offended by my remarks. I’d like to sincerely apologize to those who took offense at my humor.”