June 1, 2011
'AOPA Pilot' magazine readers
The article and video by Jill W. Tallman covering helicopter flight training were well done (“ Challenges: Fling-Winging It,” April 2011 AOPA Pilot).
As an ex-Army Blackhawk pilot and long-time AOPA member, I have for years been disappointed by the lack of rotary-wing coverage at AOPA (although I’ve loved every other aspect of the organization). In the past few years, though, you folks have been doing an outstanding job of covering helicopters. GA covers a lot of aviation operations and both airplanes and helicopters play important roles.
I so often read how “difficult” helicopters are to fly or how “unstable” they are in reference to fixed-wing. Although comparatively speaking this may be true, please remain sensitive to the ideas you instill in others by these descriptions. I would respond by noting the smoothness of flight compared to a fixed-wing in windy weather. As a dual-rated ATP I still remember the long flights in a Cessna 182 Turbo RG getting beat around on windy days and then getting into my AS350 A Star for the forest service for a notably less bumpy and more pleasing ride. Just look at how many fixed-wing aircraft are flying around on windy days versus helicopters.
Lastly, one of the biggest safety comparisons comes in the form of emergency engine-out landings. Whether fixed wing or rotary wing, both require quick decision making, fast judgment, and a bit of luck. The landings, however, offer significant more options in the helicopter world. Helicopters don’t need a landing strip to set down on, just a very small portion of terra firma. Most important, though, helicopters completing an autorotation can land with little if any forward airspeed. That lack of forward movement and limited momentum make the survivability and aircraft damage potential significantly less than an airplane traveling between 40 and 60 knots upon touchdown. Keep the great helicopter coverage coming!
Dan Dudeck, AOPA 1109436 Stevenson Ranch, California
The author missed the opportunity to not only accurately describe how the flight controls work on a helicopter, but in so doing, she also missed out on explaining why the controls are called the “cyclic” and “collective” sticks. It’s true that the collective “controls the pitch of the rotor blades.” But it does it “collectively” (all blades at once), while the cyclic changes the pitch of each blade “cyclically.” This action then “tilts the main rotor disc.”
Paul M. Steele, AOPA 6880227 Fort Rucker, Alabama
Jill Tallman’s article made my day. Too often AOPA focuses solely on fixed-wing aircraft. I’m in a double minority. Not only am I a female student pilot, but I chose to start with helicopters instead of airplanes. Her article inspires me to continue my flight lessons and earn my helicopter pilot’s license. Thanks for not forgetting about the rotary aircraft.
Karen Fischbein, AOPA 5857266 Pasadena, Maryland
It was interesting to read the article concerning anxiety issues (“ High Anxiety,” April 2011 AOPA Pilot). I started taking flying lessons in 1996 and dropped out, started again in 2003, and didn’t complete even a solo. Anxiety kept me from completing the course and obtaining my license. I have learned a lot about dealing with anxiety in the last few years and now am about to start flying again. I hope to completely resolve the anxiety issues and be able to enjoy flying and life in general. Thanks for letting everyone know it can happen, and it can be overcome.
Dave Massey, AOPA 4743352 Houston, Texas
I am disappointed to see Cessna’s management double talk printed in AOPA Pilot (“ Cessna Skycatcher: Fulfilling its Promise,” April 2011 AOPA Pilot). Cessna states that the “best way to meet” the target price on the Skycatcher was to outsource the manufacturing to China. Management then states that they “aren’t contemplating any such moves” to outsource other models overseas. Today’s CEOs care about one issue—stock price. Sure as hell, if they can outsource cheaper overseas and convince the American public that Cessna is still an American icon, they will.
The airplane is made in China, disassembled, crated, taken to port and loaded, shipped thousands of miles, unloaded in port, transported to rail to travel another 1,500 miles, unloaded again, and trucked to Yingling, reassembled. and then flown to Independence, Kansas. If this truly is less expensive than manufacturing in Kansas then either Cessna is exploiting cheap labor in China or it is Cessna’s way of busting the unions or looking for deep concessions. Time will tell, but I am willing to bet a new 172 on it, as I would not want to own a Chinese Skycatcher.
Jim Cowen, AOPA 936799 Lake Villa, Illinois
I enjoyed Barry Schiff’s article about when to consider a turn back to the runway and really appreciate the guidelines he gave for improving the odds for success (“ Technique: Unconventional Wisdom,” April 2011 AOPA Pilot). I get a little miffed with some of the “unwritten” golden rules of aviation, such as “land straight ahead after a departure engine failure.” What if there is a mountain straight ahead? I think the best golden rule is to be a prepared pilot and use your best judgment for the emergency and conditions at hand. I am glad to see AOPA publish articles that talk about using good judgment and not just citing regulations or popular wisdom.
Gerard Randolph, AOPA 6367285 Warren, New Jersey
I started flying gliders long before power. The rule with gliders is to call out 200 feet on takeoff. That signifies that a turnaround and landing at the airport should be successful. Anything below that 200 feet would be an automatic straight-ahead landing. To get a glider rating involves much practice with “rope breaks” at 200 to 300 feet involving a turnaround back to the airport and a landing downwind. I feel relatively comfortable turning around with an engine failure at an appropriate altitude because of this training. It is almost automatic upon a rope break (or engine failure) to drop that nose. As airspeed quickly resumes, a coordinated 45-degree turn is not a problem as long as you keep that nose down.
I would encourage pilots to get a glider rating. When that engine quits, you now have a glider and it is no big deal. I have never had an engine failure, but I have had engine trouble during flight and my glider training really takes the edge off the emergency.
Naomi St. Julian, AOPA 1221535 Botkins, Ohio
I am a senior airman (E-4) in the United States Air Force currently deployed at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait. After reading the article in the February 2011 issue, “ Waypoints: The ‘Meaning’ of Aviation” I felt inclined to email you about how much that amazes me. Spending time abroad makes me realize that we need to refocus more on the positive, more important things. More than anything, I’m just so happy that you can first-class mail me my missed issues of AOPA Pilot.
I’ve been flying as long as I can remember—I swear my dad put a child seat in the airplane to take us kids flying. I got my private certificate in June at 41 hours and total time of 64 days. I cannot wait to fly when I get home. My father has been a member since 1979 (I think), and I joined the day after I got my slip. The most I can say is my outright appreciation for what you all do for GA. People tell me all the time, “Thank you for your service,” and I don’t know if you all hear that enough. So I personally thank you for your service for GA. I leave you with a picture of a happy pilot in the desert with his AOPA magazine.
Benjamin Ayivorh, AOPA 6427362 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
I read Rod Machado’s apology (“ Letters,” April 2011 AOPA Pilot) and frankly was disappointed. I was born in Poland and immigrated to the United States with my family at a young age. We lived in a neighborhood that had very few Poles as residents. Growing up, I took a lot of abuse for being Polish. I heard lots of derogatory name-calling and jokes. The joke Machado wrote was in no way offensive. It was a play on a fact, as demonstrated by my own last name, Slodyczka.
I grew up having to help people pronounce and spell my last name. I was never offended when people joked at the difficulty of my last name. I learned to recognize malice in jokes. It’s really a shame that this is what it has come to. I just wanted to show some support after what must have been a negative situation. Mr. Machado, keep writing the way you write and in the future I hope you don’t have to check yourself about every little comment.
John T. Slodyczka, AOPA 6647940 Bridgeview, Illinois
We welcome your comments. Address letters to: Editor, AOPA Pilot, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your full name, address, and AOPA number on all correspondence, including e-mail. Letters will be edited for length and style.
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