Letters

Dogfight: Say It Right

September 1, 2011

Thank you for the article on radio terminology standardization ( “Dogfight: Say It Right,” July 2011 AOPA Pilot). I am a furloughed airline pilot working overseas and I have been responsible for training pilots for operations with our local companies in Asia. This is a huge subject area for those of us working outside the United States.

Dogfight! Say It Right poll resultsWhile the actual flying skill and practicality of the U.S. pilot is excellent in most cases, there is one main weak area—radio terminology. It is absolutely essential flying in areas where English is not the first language and/or where ATC is poor. The slang and shortcuts used by almost all U.S. pilots and even airline pilots is not acceptable to companies hiring pilots overseas. Listening to many flights taking off or landing in Hong Kong, China, and Japan I cringe when I hear some U.S. flights on the radio. Many times it is followed by “say again” from ATC.

From day one, pilots learning to fly should be taught ICAO English as the standard. This is especially true for organizations training career pilots. I agree you can go too far because you still need to be flexible in case ATC requires you to change. My experience overseas is that ICAO English will serve you well more than 95 percent of the time. Thank you for covering a subject that receives little attention in the U.S.

Gordon R. Slater, AOPA 3737615
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

As a CFII (and former Army RTO) I am a believer, teacher, and practitioner of clear, concise, communications.

What I got from Tom Horne was “When in Rome do as the Romans do” (can’t really argue with that, as long as it helps promote clear concise communications!) and that “fife”, and “tree”, are silly—an opinion myself, Dave Hirschman, and, apparently, many controllers agree with. (I do think “niner” is very cool however, and say it every chance I get.) I agree with Hirschman that proper phraseology shows professionalism, and implies that we probably take all the rest of this pilot stuff seriously. I don’t think anyone can argue that controllers notice and appreciate this, and treat us accordingly. Thanks for your interesting and relevant repartees!

Gary Oaksford, AOPA 665101
Bellingham, Washington

Mumble-mouth pilots in the non-towered environment not only drive me nuts, but they really scare me. When they are so casual and imprecise in the terminology they use, I have no confidence that they really know where they are and what they are really doing. At least in the controlled environment the controller usually has some form of radar tracking in place, so even if the pilot can’t say it right the controller can usually figure it out (even if it slows down the process).

Dan Curtis, AOPA 1376649
Mesa, Arizona

My son, an Air Force pilot, and I fly together in my Skylane often. We both use, as much as possible, proper phraseology. Keeping it short and simple with the proper phraseology will get us preferred and preferential treatment from ATC. But I think there is a time when good old plain English is appropriate—it could be an emergency or a request that doesn’t fit the proper phraseology and you need to explain in a little more detail what you are requesting.

Robert Kelly, AOPA 1050719
Anchorage, Alaska


Hawaiian surprise

I enjoyed reading “ Never Again: Hawaiian Surprise” in the July 2011 issue of AOPA Pilot. The author should be commended on his handling of the problem. I can say without reservation I would not have lowered my altitude as requested by air traffic control to make myself more visible to his radar. I would have instructed him to accommodate my plan and not have accommodated his. I was glad to read the controller finally let the author fly the coast. With more altitude and visual ability he could have safely accommodated the controller. Without visual contact his GPS could tell him where the coast was, or the controller could have helped. Air traffic control is not in charge. Emergency situations require the pilot to take control.

Janet Willis, AOPA 1106534
Ormond Beach, Florida


60 at 60

Craig Fuller is losing weight by doing what Charles DeGaulle did when he quit smoking: announcing his intention to the world ( "Fly Well: 60 at 60,” July 2011 AOPA Pilot).

One of my favorite things about flying gliders is when the instructor says, “Oh, you don’t weigh enough. We have to add ballast.” So when my weight crept up, and I almost didn’t need ballast, I had to lose. May I also suggest a food diary? I use one online ( MyFoodDiary.com but there are many) that calculates everything, such as sodium and fats and protein and gives lots of reports, like BMI. I am scrupulously honest about what I eat, as well as how much I exercise, and in two months have lost 19 pounds. So tell Craig, good luck, and if it gets hard, this really helped.

Huldah Taylor, AOPA 6151615
Chalfont, Pennsylvania

Good on Craig for his willingness to be a test pilot for weight loss as his high visibility clearly makes him a role model for other older AOPA members, fair or not.

But if Craig really wants success and/or you want your coverage of it to do so, in my judgment there is so far too much emphasis on weight and too little on health. As we age, range of motion, strength, endurance (physical and mental) and other physiological features relevant to flying will erode, so they all require intervention. Losing weight only marginally impacts those other physical changes, so focusing on them to the exclusion of a comprehensive health improvement plan is going to send an incomplete, inaccurate message. Besides, we’d all like our president to be healthy in fact, not just in appearance.

Jack Tyler, AOPA1030903
Jacksonville, Florida


Walking the walk

The story about Jamie Beckett winning a city commission seat in Winter Haven, Florida, and acting as a tireless advocate for the city’s airports was very interesting and inspiring ( “Rally GA: Walking the Walk” July 2011 AOPA Pilot). I did take exception with the statement regarding “years of watching the city mismanage one of the local airports.”

While I cannot speak to the specific situation in Winter Haven, I have observed that those with an interest in their local airports are often too quick to claim “mismanagement” on the part of the local airport authority or governing body. However, public-use airports, especially those that receive federal funds for airport improvements, are bound by a number of regulations and stipulations that do sometimes restrict what actions their governing bodies can take regarding development and management of their airports. What looks like mismanagement to the layperson may in fact be prudent airport management in compliance with federal, state, and local laws. Do not assume that just because you aren’t in agreement with the course your local airport is taking on a particular issue that there isn’t a clear plan in place to ensure that the airport continues to exist, grow, and thrive. As a municipal airport manager, I want what all pilots want—a safe, successful airport that continues to be there to serve pilots for years to come.

Lisa L. Murphy, AOPA 6221728
Las Cruces, New Mexico


Fleeting beauty

From the H1 Racer to the H4 Hercules, I have been fascinated by all things aviation/Howard Hughes ( “Fleeting Beauty,” July 2011 AOPA Pilot). One day I read that the H-1 Racer was going to be at Reno. So, there I was in line for a T-shirt, which Jim Wright signed and I got a chance to look at and touch the most beautiful piece of art I had ever seen. Then a year later, there it was again right in front of me on the ramp at Oshkosh and, by pure luck, I’m wearing the shirt from Reno. Jim Wright saw I had the T-shirt on with his autograph. I think he thought I was somebody else as he started talking to me like I was a crewmember. I was there in heaven with one of the nicest guys I have ever met. What a day. Then, just about the time I landed my Mooney back home after AirVenture, I heard the news that Jim Wright and the Racer 2 were gone. Thank you Ken Scott and AOPA for bringing back this wonderful memory. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who stares into space for a few seconds when the subject of Jim Wright and Racer 2 comes up.

Doug Dwyer, AOPA 1321302
Fallbrook, California


Back to basics

I just wanted to thank Barry Schiff for his exposé on the benefits of flying gliders ( “Proficient Pilot: Back to Basics,” July 2011 AOPA Pilot). The power community needs to hear these helpful suggestions. In the same vein as understanding glide speeds and sink-rate, most power pilots get about a five-minute explanation of how to accomplish an off-airport landing. Most experienced glider pilots are well versed in off-field landings...for me it provides great confidence knowing exactly what I’m going to do when the engine in the 172 quits. I teach an off-field landing course where GA and airline pilots generally leave wide-eyed with a newfound understanding of the elements of a safe off-airport landing.

Bob Lacovara, AOPA 1686386
President, Philadelphia Glider Council
Perkasie, Pennsylvania


There’s no place like home

Kudos for the articles “There’s No Place Like Home” and “Field of Dreams” (July 2011 AOPA Pilot). Having spent much of my youth in Wichita, these articles took me back many years. I’ve always dreamed of living in a residential airpark and found myself drooling while reading about Lloyd Stearman Field (my father worked for Stearman Aircraft Co. in the 1930s). AOPA Pilot articles are top notch and keep improving with each issue—keep up the good work.

William McCutcheon, AOPA 1274837
Mercer Island, Washington


Erratum

In “There’s no Place Like Home” (July 2011 AOPA Pilot) Rebecca Fairall’s mother was misidentified. Charlotte Nuessen is Fairall’s mother. AOPA Pilot regrets the error.

Write to AOPA Pilot

We welcome your comments. Address letters to: Editor, AOPA Pilot, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701. Send e-mail to pilot@aopa.org. Please include your full name, address, and AOPA number on all correspondence, including e-mail. Letters will be edited for length and style.