Letters

'Safety Pilot Landmark Accident: Pointing Fingers'

November 1, 2012

AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg detailed the 2003 crash of a Cirrus SR22 in night IMC. His opinion? The pilot in command is the final authority.

What a sobering look back at the events of January 2003. I’m personally connected with this accident, as I grew up and graduated high school with the pilot and passenger’s older children. I distinctly remember a conversation I had with the pilot just a few weeks before the crash. He was about to take delivery of his SR22 and was very excited. If only we knew what the future would hold. At the time of the crash I was attending the University of North Dakota, working on my instrument rating, and the accident was a real reminder of how easily one can find oneself in a less-than-desirable situation. Thanks for all the excellent reporting and work you all do.

Eric Hoolihan
AOPA 3767759
Houston, Texas

With all due respect to the pilot, why is a manufacturer training curriculum responsible for poor decision making by the pilot? It would be like if a guy went out and bought a new Ferrari and crashed because he was speeding around a corner and lost control. Imagine an attorney saying, Well, the owner’s manual doesn’t say you shouldn’t speed around a corner and lose control, so it’s Ferrari’s fault.

As pilots, regardless of experience, you are responsible for the safety of your flight. Barring a mechanical malfunction, it is up to us to stay out of the clouds while VFR, or avoid any other unsafe behavior. How can this be the responsibility of the airplane manufacturer? How can it be the responsibility of the training facility? That would be like suing your local driver training school every time someone has an accident. The training facility surely didn’t teach the pilot it’s a good idea to scud run under marginal VFR with airmets for IMC and look for an opening through which to climb. I never cease to be amazed at and irritated by such claims by the legal system. Somewhere it has failed.

Tim Anderson
AOPA 945412
San Luis Obispo, California

Look, Ma, no elevator

I’m a CFII, have more than 1,300 hours, have read numerous issues of airplane magazines in almost 30 years of flying, and nowhere have I ever seen any aviation writer or instructor describe a way to survive the loss of primary flight controls as Barry Schiff (“Proficient Pilot”).

First, I never knew there are two cables that control the elevator, and for both to fail is a virtual impossibility. A revelation, and useful to know. Second, the article describes a practical, doable method to handle the failure with authority (trim max, up or down, depending on which cable broke). Three decades of flying, and plenty of hours and lessons—and now, after this article, I can feel a whole lot better about the possible outcome in case of an elevator failure.

Brad Kurlancheek
AOPA 1294890
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Practice good strokes

My husband reads AOPA Pilot, and is wonderful about saving me interesting articles he thinks I’ll enjoy. I really appreciated this one (“Fly Well”), since this subject is very near and dear to my heart. As a stroke education nurse, the biggest challenge I face is the lack of public awareness and recognition of stroke signs and symptoms, as well as getting immediate emergency medical help to combat this life-threatening event. 

Dr. Jonathan Sackier covered so much of the important aspects that the public needs to know to recognize stroke and act quickly. I was especially impressed by his addressing the situation with pilots who have suffered a stroke but have recovered and persisted enough to regain their medical certifications to fly, even with limitations. This article gives me a whole new possible direction to pursue in getting the word out about stroke awareness!

Mary Tinzon
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Flight before Christmas

I wanted to thank you so much for the amazing job in capturing the essence of both Patient AirLift Services and Joe Howley in the video and article. I saw the video on AOPA Live and was brought to tears by the emotion and impact it evoked. Then I got my copy of AOPA Pilot and was once again blown away and brought to tears. I called this our “Sophie’s Choice” flight and said to the staff that no mother should have to choose being with one child over another, and that we should do our best to fly her other son out there as much as we could. Awareness articles like this will help us to connect with more pilots who might want to join PALS in an effort to help other mothers like Jamie.  

    We consider PALS to be a team, a fraternity, a sisterhood, and AOPA has become a great part of the PALS team.  

Eileen Minogue
AOPA 7231607
Executive Director,
Patient AirLift Services
Massapequa Park, New York

This was a beautifully written article. I thoroughly enjoyed the gentle interweaving of aviation and a touching human-interest story.

Gabriel Scherzer
AOPA 3011202
Medina, Washington

Correcting a bad attitude

One winter several years ago I was on a return flight in my Beechcraft B33, which has an S-Tec Fifty-Five autopilot. I had a pretty good tailwind and had made a fuel stop, and planned on making it to my destination nonstop from the fuel stop. The weather was good and I was VFR at 9,500 feet. Suddenly I noticed the outside air temperature plummet. I have never been at a level altitude and actually seen the needle moving. The temperature dropped 40 degrees as I watched, dumbfounded.Then the attitude direction indicator tumbled in a manner I have never seen before. It didn’t just die, but did everything except depart the instrument panel. 

However, as Tom Haines mentioned (“Waypoints”), the S-Tec is rate-based and runs off the turn coordinator so the aircraft didn’t wiggle a bit. After pondering the two events and marveling a bit, I just continued on uneventfully. The next flight, the attitude direction indicator worked perfectly and has ever since. Amazing.

Bill Zollinger
AOPA 569727
Memphis, Tennessee

An aviation ecosystem

Bruce Landsberg is way overthinking the cause of the relentless decline in American GA (“Foundation Focus”). It’s not the overreaching bureaucracy or some spooky failure of American nerve or vision. The entire issue can be distilled by one simple and depressing fact: $6 per gallon gas.

Mr. Landsberg, don’t let this toxic political environment cloud your vision: GA would come roaring back with all of the optimism of the 1960s and ‘70s with 48-cent gas. Of course, don’t hold your breath for that.

William H. Corwin
AOPA 539875
Princeton, New Jersey

Thank you for the article, which enthuses on the French flying clubs. Our politicians would have to be also optimistic on the subject. I am not certain that all the members of our clubs realize what luck (chance) they have. I passed on your article to my club. Thank you very much indeed.

Philippe Berchoff
AOPA 5615621
Orléans, France

Erratum

In “Jet A for Your Skylane,” October 2012 AOPA Pilot, the cross-country flight time for the T182 T versus the JT-A was 1.3 hours, not 3.2. AOPA Pilot regrets the error.

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