Above New York

November 1, 2011

Above New York

“Above New York” is the best piece of writing on the vibrant and historic New York City rotorcraft scene I have read (September 2011 AOPA Pilot).

Julie Summers Walker captured, in a remarkably brief piece, the range and diversity of helicopter operations in the city: the heliports, the bread-and-butter air tours, and corporate operations that contribute so much to New York financially and culturally, the Eastern Region Helicopter Council that serves so well in relations with residents and politicians, even a nod to the utility and wildlife operations most New Yorkers never see.

Entrepreneurial spirit is still the soul of the rotorcraft industry, and this comes through loud and clear in her piece, too. In my opinion, civil aviation, and the rotorcraft industry in particular, are perfect reflections of all that is good about the United States: the freedom to dream and the means to achieve.

Joe Corrao, AOPA1194608
Fredericksburg, Virginia

As a private pilot as well as a lifelong resident of the New York metropolitan area, I enjoyed the article about helicopter sightseeing over New York City. These rides provide a unique and valuable perspective of the area not otherwise available to anyone other than pilots. I was concerned, however, by the aggressive attitude displayed by some helicopter operators (“If you want quiet, you gotta go somewhere else”) regarding their noise issues. Sightseeing helicopters present a particular challenge because they travel the same route, hitting the same locations with their rotor noise over and over again. Living along the bank of the Hudson River, where I am treated to the ongoing whup-whup-whup of their descending turns, even I sometimes have to confess to a diminished enthusiasm for rotary wing aircraft. No matter how much we like the unique benefits of helicopter operations, they remain an irritant to much of the general population and the industry simply must do more to silence rotor blades, and do it quickly.

Michael P. Boland, AOPA 423087
North Bergen, New Jersey

Walker’s writing talent shines in this well-put-together perspective of the helicopter activity in New York today.  We live in New Mexico, but we need to know what’s going on in the rest of the world.  The perspectives from the different players, the pictures, and descriptions are just great. 

Brad Kressin, AOPA 954642
Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Mission accomplished

I enjoyed “Above New York” and “Waypoints: Mission Accomplished” in the September issue of AOPA Pilot. As a pilot in the Ohio Army National Guard, I have done the Hudson River Transition a few times while ferrying aircraft to a maintenance facility in Groton, Connecticut. Like Tom Haines, I feel a sense of accomplishment every time I have flown the river. It’s not every day that I get to pilot a helicopter over the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Ground Zero, and other famous sites. I also appreciate the helicopter shot on the cover—we need more of those!

Paul Tumidolsky, AOPA 5982389
Pickerington, Ohio

Adjusting to a changing world

Thanks for the great article concerning 9/11 in the September 2011 issue of AOPA Pilot (“GA Remembers 9/11: Adjusting to a Changing World”). However, it may leave some to believe that only the military and Air Force One were permitted to fly on September 11 after most aircraft were instructed to land. A number of FAA aircraft were called into service throughout the day to provide transportation for stranded dignitaries around the country. It was my good fortune to be able help on that day.  My manager, Bill Tyre, served as second in command for the flight and did most of the coordination with NORAD, air traffic, and FAA management in Oklahoma City. The aircraft we used was a part of the fleet used by a little-known part of the FAA to maintain all navigation facilities in the National Airspace System in the United States, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

Frank Dalton, AOPA 1111796
Douglasville, Georgia

I was commander of the Rhode Island Wing, Civil Air Patrol on September 11. We were put on alert and activated by noon. Our first aircraft took off that day with supplies of blood for the use by emergency medical staff at the disaster site. I cannot begin to tell you what a sight that it was to fly into the New York area and to see the devastation. It reminded some of us of our military days in other areas of the world. A very sorry and emotional time for us all.

Col. Anthony L. Vessella, AOPA 252383
West Warwick, Rhode Island

Renter no more

Jill W. Tallman’s article about the purchase of the Cherokee 140 is great (“Renter No More,” September 2011 AOPA Pilot). If more people used the same approach that she did when deciding and shopping for an airplane there would be more owners out there.  When I was interested in purchasing an aircraft, it took months to find one that fit the parameters that I had set. But it was worth the wait. I purchased a 1955 Cessna 170B and have been very happy with it. It’s stone simple so there isn’t much to go wrong. I’ve found that if I keep it clean and change the oil once in a while that it’s like the old Timex watch. 

John Sand, AOPA 1663689
Waukesha, Wisconsin

 I got my private certificate in 1971 at El Monte Airport in Southern California flying 1965 to 1970 Cherokee 140s. I loved those airplanes and still do.  Last year I got my flight review at DuBois Aviation at Chino Airport because they operate a fleet of Cherokee 140s. They have several of these great airplanes, all immaculately maintained with the 160-horsepower upgrade.  The Cherokee that I got my review in was a 1965 model but to look at it inside and out you would swear it was a new airplane.  With all of the airplanes I have owned and flown, I have never lost my love of the Cherokee 140. I love the instrument panel in Tallman’s airplane—it is so original that looking at it I could be 20 years old again (I wish!).

If I were ever lucky enough to find a Cherokee 140 as original as Jill’s I wouldn’t change a thing. 

Bill Byles, AOPA 1436232
Sun City, California

I turned 50 this year and passed my checkride, and have been looking for my own airplane for about six months. Jill Tallman’s article was very well written, enjoyable, and really helpful to me in defining search criteria for an airplane. Oddly enough, after reading her thoughts and experiences, my search has returned me to the airplanes I really like— the vintage 140s. I hope you’ll consider more articles related to her experiences with vintage aircraft ownership, and perhaps some more of her perspectives. Please tell Jill’s boss that I felt that her article alone was worth more than the meager cost of the subscription to AOPA, and look forward to other articles in the future.  

Curran K. Porto, AOPA 6952120
Tampa, Florida

Experimental versus Standard

I just wanted to give two thumbs up to Tom Horne and Dave Hirschman on the recent “Dogfight: Experimental versus Standard” (September 2011 AOPA Pilot).My experiences as a young lineman pumping avgas out of Cobb County-McCollum Airfield exposed me to a wide variety of airframes, both Standard and Experimental, and opened my eyes to the many possibilities of the Experimental category. As the years have passed, I have been fostering a dream to build a composite aircraft. I have never, ever, worked fiberglass or composites, but I did recently completely disassemble my old 1997 Honda Accord and successfully pieced it back together—and it is still road-worthy, thank you very much. 

For my personal record, guys, I’ve got Dave up two-to-one against Tom. But that could change, I have to go back and scan through the previous issues that I may have missed! Please keep the Dogfights coming gents, they are a great addition to the magazine! 

Mike Yaneza, AOPA 3531242
Gretna, Louisiana

Live in a house built of sticks that somebody built at home? No way. It might collapse. Drive an AC Cobra down the road that somebody built in their garage? No way. The wheels might fall off. Take a boat out on the water that someone put together piece by piece in their garage using just screws and epoxy? No way. It might sink. Climb up into the far reaches of a tree, swaying in the breeze, and sit in a tree house made of scrap two-by-fours and plywood? No way. It might fall. Ski down a hill with just a board on each foot and a sharp pointed stick in each hand? No way. You might hit a tree.

Unless you’ve spent time with a homebuilder—who in many cases is building an airplane that is far safer than one of the commercial Spam cans—don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it. Just because it’s built in a factory doesn’t make it safe. I’d rather fly an airplane that was built very carefully over a period of years than always depend on one that was assembled in 30 days by people for whom it was just a job.

Neal Hornung, AOPA 1235432
Lima, Ohio

One angle that neither mentioned was owner maintenance versus “certified” maintenance. Tom, do you know a mechanic that you trust, who is always there, who understands your airplane, and has it very high on his priority list whenever it breaks, and charges you reasonable fees for maintenance? After years of dealing with negligence, incompetence, and high cost I felt the investment was worth the return—particularly when coupled with the stellar performance that’s unavailable at any price in the certified world. I just flew a Lancair Legacy that I built, my first kit airplane. It’s had several bugs, all of which I addressed immediately and the only cash outlay was for parts. And I have the confidence of seeing that the work was done right.

I’ve seen lots of bugs in the homebuilt world, but they’ve been no worse than I encountered at the hands of A&Ps and avionics techs in the certified world.

Charley Brown, AOPA 1358665
Coppell, Texas

We welcome your comments. Address letters to: Editor, AOPA Pilot , 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701. Send email to [email protected]. Please include your full name, address, and AOPA number. Letters to the Editor may be edited for length and style before publication.