Time on their hands

June 1, 2012

Editor at Large Tom Horne and Senior Editor Dave Hirschman debated the merits of expensive analog versus cheap digital watches in their last “ Dogfight.”

“I still have my solid-gold, 12-diamond Rolex, which I wear when I feel the need to impress folks who value style over substance. BTW, I bought it for $12 from a street vendor in Philadelphia.”

John Corradi, AOPA 2656039
Rixeyville, Virginia

I have to agree with Tom Horne: Anything mechanical, or even anything man-made, with parts that fit together and function with elegant synchronicity is inherently beautiful (“Dogfight,” April 2012). A Ferrari, Breitling, 787, Mooney—any number of such objects are mechanically gorgeous in my opinion. The art of such functional devices you cannot overlook. A digital LCD bracelet is on the velvet Elvis end of the scale. Dave Hirschman, where is your soul?

Larry Charneski, AOPA 1290235
Vancouver, Washington

I agree with Dave Hirschman. I work for an international cargo airline. I find that my $40 Timex does a superb job of telling the time (its purpose, after all), through multiple time zones, and I can read it when I am cross-eyed tired. The analog industry was virtually dead a few decades ago, until a dedicated marketing effort was made to create a market for a pointless product. When I see a pilot wearing an analog watch, I presume the individual is impressionable, or not confident about his image. As for the historical and aesthetic arguments that such people make, I will believe them when they show up for work in their Model T or their Curtiss Jenny. Nice to look at, a hobby for some, but long past usefulness or utility.

Daniel Garner, AOPA 1163985
Marion, Indiana

Good medicine

For those of us who closely witnessed/experienced the events at Reno, “ Bouncing Back” (April 2012) is truly a gift. A group of us were there and experienced things we were totally unprepared for. We have been meeting once a month over some beers and burgers, and we’ve been talking our way through it. Jolie Lucas’ article makes perfect sense. I’m passing it on to the guys. I think this is good medicine for all Reno survivors, especially those of us who are pilots.

For the first couple of weeks following Reno, it was tough being out at the airport and not ducking every time an airplane flew over. It was totally involuntary. We all plan on returning to the races this September. I’m hoping we don’t look like a bunch of fools bobbing up and down each time a Mustang takes a lap. But we’re not returning for us, we’re returning to honor those who were watching with us who lost their lives. We’re returning to support an event we enjoy.

Scott Peterson, AOPA 6073639
Santa Rosa, California

Thanks for the memories

I read “ Fly-Outs: First Flight Airport” in the April issue with no small amount of nostalgia. First Flight Airport (FFA) holds a unique place in my heart, and allows me to claim something very unusual: Just after noon on Saturday, January 11, 1992, I landed there on the first leg of my long solo cross-country training flight. At the time I had 30.4 total hours and was thrilled to visit the Wright Brothers Memorial for the first time. After parking the airplane and tying it down, I walked the 120 feet that Orville covered in his first flight with a lump in my throat. It was a pristine CAVU day, and I still remember the feelings of awe as I literally walked in the footsteps of the fathers of flight. Every pilot should put a flight into FFA on his or her bucket list.

Randal Tart, AOPA 1559149
Norcross, Georgia

Center the line?

The Kitfox on large tires sounds like it is a wonderful airplane to fly (“ Flying Big Foot,” April 2012). But I disagree with this sentence: “I was advised to land and take off beside—not on—the centerline....” A pilot learning to fly a tailwheel airplane—and even the skilled tailwheel pilot—needs to develop and maintain the skill to see out both sides using peripheral vision. Using peripheral vision is a skill tailwheel pilots must have. What happens when you arrive at an airport with a very narrow runway? What about the runway that does not have a centerline? What do you do when you land at that backcountry airport—isn’t that what the Kitfox is for?—that is short, narrow, and grass or gravel? How is the DPE going to pass you when landing on the centerline is a requirement of the PTS? Landing on the centerline, or the middle of the grass or gravel field (or where landings are indicated on grass and gravel runways), is the mark of an accomplished pilot. I could not sign a tailwheel endorsement if the applicant can’t routinely take off and land on the centerline!

David Faile, AOPA 200622
Fairfield, Connecticut

Globalization? What globalization?

In answer to Tom Haines’ question, “ The Implosion of Globalization?” (April 2012), I live on Independence Airpark, at Independence State Airport (7S5) in Independence, Oregon. There are a lot of airplanes from Cessna, Piper, Mooney, Beechcraft, and other certified manufactures. No Cirrus or Diamonds that I know of. There are also more than 35 Vans RVs, several Cub-likes, Sonex, and Lancairs. One neighbor built an RV–7 and sold his Bonanza, another built an RV–7 and sold his Skylane, another neighbor replaced his RV–6 with a 7 he built and exported the 6 to South America. The motive: less FAA, less cost of maintenance, less cost of operation, and some pretty good airplanes.

There are a lot of very good amateur-built aircraft registered in the Experimental category. I know kit sales do not equal flying airplanes but many are completed and they should count. We have a restaurant on the field and on a nice Saturday there are usually more amateur-built aircraft on the ramp than type-certificated aircraft. The other day I counted seven tailwheel airplanes and three tricycle gear airplanes on the ramp.

So, yes, there is globalization, but the number of amateur-built aircraft in the United States is probably more than anywhere else in the world—or maybe more than everyplace else in the world. And some of these even get exported.

Dick Wildman, AOPA 140084
Independence, Oregon