Letters

Epic Flights: Coastal Maine in Autumn

January 1, 2011

I can’t think of enough superlatives to describe the astonishing scenery and the gorgeous airplane photography gracing Dave Hirschman’s November 2010 article, “ Epic Flights: Coastal Maine in Autumn” in AOPA Pilot.

But, I am at a complete loss as to why the front seat of that Waco YMF–5C didn’t have at least one body in it. I’m betting anybody (including me!) would have absolutely swooned at the chance to fly along. An empty Southwest Airlines seat is one thing, but an unfilled perch from an open-cockpit biplane is a huge opportunity lost.

Certainly the right occupants—the mayor of Bar Harbor, the governor (OK, maybe a stretch), or some other key decision maker—would have become instant believers and advocates for all of our general aviation issues. And even if no political points could have been made, a kid—and future pilot—watching from behind the airport fence would also have been a perfect choice. He would still be sitting in it 30 years from now. Three-seat biplanes equal three fliers. Share the magic—call me next time!

Tom Curran, AOPA 1167313
Gig Harbor, Washington

I have been an AOPA member for five years, and I have yet to read an AOPA Pilot piece as inspiring and serene as Dave Hirschman’s. I can only imagine how amazing this flight was in real life, as it is often hard to convey the feelings we take in on a memorable flight such as this.

I have had some similar flights in autumn over the east coast of Lake Michigan—truly breathtaking. Thank you, Dave, for your beautiful words (and Chris Rose for the beautiful photographs).

Stockton M. Schultz, AOPA 5170977
Scottsdale, Arizona


Technique: Sit back and relax

As an IFR pilot, I totally agree with what Ian J. Twombly describes in “ Technique: Sit Back and Relax, It’s Going to Be a Nice Flight” (November 2010 AOPA Pilot).

I would even go a little further: I explain to my “new” passengers my own checklist and I give them a “co-pilot” checklist, printed as mine is. It includes aircraft call sign, extinguisher location and use, safety belts, how to open and unlatch a door, as well as surveying the Garmin screen for the TAS-indicated airplanes—and the eventual lightning shown on the Stormscope.

I give them, too, a kneeboard, so that they can copy the clearances and more easily follow the flight. They feel involved in the process and part of it, and I can tell you they fly in confidence, because they just understand what is happening.

Bertrand Butin, AOPA 3258495
La Celle St. Cloud, France

It is certainly very important to be careful of what you say to your passengers, even with someone who has grown up with you and has known you all of their life. I was a newly certificated private pilot some seven or so years back on a mission to visit some family members with my sister. This was her first ride with me as a pilot of a small airplane, and I had carefully explained to her what to expect to put her at ease. 

Things were great, but then I saw something as we began to cross the Appalachian Mountains, and wanted Barbara to see it too. 

“Look over there. There’s Jesus!” I pointed to the area where Jesus was. “That’s amazing!”

She gave me this puzzled look. She wasn’t seeing Jesus. 

I pointed the nose of the Skyhawk in the direction she needed to look, and indicated to her the mountainside where some clever person had gathered every white rock in the area to spell out the five-letter word perfectly for folks like us who were able to read it only from our vantage point of 5,500 feet. “Isn’t that neat?” I asked.

“Oh,” she said with a sigh of relief, finally looking in the right direction. 

“What did you think I was talking about?” I said, laughing.

“Well, let’s put it this way,” she said seriously, “It’s never a good thing when your pilot tells you they see Jesus!”

I enjoyed the article and especially the memory it brought back.

Sharon Archer, AOPA 4905604
Mooresville, North Carolina


Dog déjà vu

This past weekend my wife and I and two of our good friends each separately read “ Waypoints: Dog Déjà Vu” (November 2010 AOPA Pilot). All of us
are members of the New England English Springer Spaniel Rescue, and I am a 400-hour private pilot based in Maine. 

Tom Haines’ story brought a tear to the eye of each of us. It was especially poignant because that same day we were handing off a rescued Springer Spaniel to his “forever” home, which is always a teary event. But (there is always a but), Haines missed an opportunity to plug Pilots ’n Paws as a way for GA pilots to enjoy their passion for flight with a bonus of the satisfaction from helping rescue a dog in need. 

The same week we read Haines’ column, a pilot in a Bonanza from Waverly, Rhode Island, flew to Potsdam, New York, to pick up a dog and turned around and delivered him to foster care in Worcester, Massachusetts—for nothing more than a thank you. A bit more expensive than a $100 hamburger, but way more satisfying.

Tom Edwards, AOPA 987413
Newport, Maine


I always assumed Tom Haines was a good guy, but his latest article in the magazine adds to his goodness immensely. Simply put, I love dogs. My dog, Fuzzi, plays with AOPA Senior Editor Dave Hirschman’s yellow lab, Yolo, frequently on weekends at Maryland’s Frederick Municipal Airport. Dogs are all wonderful creatures, and it is a shame to see so many of them abandoned by their owners or who end up in shelters for various reasons totally undeserved.

I am glad to see guys like Haines helping out to give them a nice home. The picture of his dog, Tyson, immediately melts your heart, and I hope the Haines family has many wonderful years with him. Thanks for the story. Hopefully it will be an inspiration to many to find a nice home for a dog.

Brian Turrisi, AOPA 465787
Potomac, Maryland


Stall commandments

As a recently retired designated pilot examiner after 50 years of having the hell scared out of me (not really), I rarely read articles such as Rod Machado’s “ License to Learn: Stall Commandments” that appeared in the November issue of AOPA Pilot. However, I guess what attracted me was the title. And I knew without reading a word where Machado was going in the article—and may I add he was right on target. His article should be mandatory reading for any pilot—private, commercial, and CFI, particularly the latter. At least it is a start.

But, Machado should know as well as I that reading how it should be done only has a cursory impact on the actions of a pilot once airborne.

I call this weakness, demonstrated by most contemporary-trained pilots, the “Lazy Rudder Syndrome.” Simply stated, they simply don’t use the rudder and attempt to control the airplane’s yaw and roll with the yoke or stick with nary an input with the rudder. This can prove disastrous in a stall, as well as when landing with a gusty crosswind.

Why? It is a natural response from conditioned reflexes. In other words, one doesn’t react in the manner described in a book. One’s reactions are those that have been developed and conditioned in daily life, such as driving a car. Unfortunately the reflexes developed from driving a car do not serve one well when flying an airplane. When suddenly an obstacle appears on the highway, instantly turning the steering wheel in a manner to avoid the obstacle is an example of a conditioned reflex. In an airplane when the nose suddenly yaws off center, this same reflex comes into play. Unfortunately, in an airplane it doesn’t give the same results. In fact, it only contributes to the very situation the pilot is trying to avoid.

Years ago tailwheel aircraft dominated flight training. Just learning to taxi the beast required one’s feet to constantly dance on the rudder pedals in order to keep the aircraft going where one wanted it to go. This was the beginning of the conditioning process of the pilot’s rudder reflexes. This simply doesn’t happen when learning to fly in an airplane with tricycle landing gear. Pilots who learned to fly in a taildragger generally use the rudder properly.

Myron W. Collier, AOPA 146153
Canonsburg, Pennsylvania


Errata

In “ The Baron Turns 50” (December 2010 AOPA Pilot), the Baron design was wrongly categorized. It is certified in the Normal category. AOPA Pilot regrets the error.

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