Letters

Guns, snakes, and LA airspace

October 1, 2012

Senior Editor Al Marsh ventured into some of the busiest airspace in the world to help other Easterners with their technique navigating in big airspace.

What a great article! I got my license in 2004 in Nashua, New Hampshire. I flew the Hudson River Corridor, around the Statue of Liberty a couple of times, and went through the Class B in New York to Philly a couple of times. I moved to Los Angeles and continued flying out of Van Nuys. One Friday night I went to Van Nuys to pick up the airplane that I was going to fly out to Palm Springs the next morning. It was a clear evening and I took off, feeling like I was thoroughly aware of the route I was taking, with my flight plan well prepared. Just after takeoff, ATC told me to head northeast when I was planning to fly southeast. This was not an IFR flight—I’m not yet instrument rated—and I was suddenly heading in a direction I did not know.

I turned southeast, watching the TAWS display, and realized that I was heading toward mountains that were much higher than I realized; my secondary display was awash with red—mountains in my flight path. I remembered what my instructor had taught me about flying into clouds: “CCC: Climb, Circle, Confess” and I figured that if I did enough climb and circle, the red would eventually remove itself from my display. At 9,500 feet I could see a corridor through the mountains and I decided to take it.

The next day, my son and I took the airplane to Palm Springs. We had a lot of fun with the trip until we got back to Los Angeles in the afternoon and I had to navigate my way back into the Class C around Burbank to get to Van Nuys. I got into a situation where the airplane was ahead of me, ATC was irritated with me, I was stuttering on the radio, and I completely panicked. It was the first time in 185 hours of flying time that I hated flying and could not wait to be on the ground.

We landed the airplane safely, got in the car, and drove home—and that was the last time I flew there. I realized that I was not ready to cope with Los Angeles airspace without a lot more training, and I wasn’t sure I was ready for that.

While New York/Boston is the busiest airspace in the United States, L.A. is by far the most complicated and dangerous. You really need some serious flight training to find your way around that airspace.

Bruce Gruenbaum
AOPA 7552084
Sammamish, Washington

Tragedy in Mexico

Thanks for such a great report on such a terrible tragedy (“Tragedy in Mexico”). I am a pilot who has flown through the islands performing missions in a Cessna 172 and am planning a trip to the Dominican Republic and Haiti, probably in a Cessna 310. This tragedy doesn’t minimize my desire to continue, but gives beautiful tribute to those involved in missions.

Dr. Danny O’Keefe
AOPA 4288616
Flowood, Mississippi

My daughter Julia was in the airplane as a volunteer on the medical mission trip. This was her third trip with LIGA. I was very disappointed to see the lack of focus on the effect of this incident on the life of the three teens who were passengers in the airplane, trusting the judgment of the pilot for their safety. AOPA downplayed the extent of the injuries experienced in the crash so I would like to let you know what my daughter has suffered.

She experienced a concussion and a fracture of her right orbital bone that resulted in the orbital bone collapsing into her sinus passage; titanium plate and screws were used to piece the bone back together. Her right clavicle was broken. An artery was severed in her upper right arm/shoulder in connection with a large, deep laceration that runs across her chest. She had a lacerated spleen. Her back had compression fracture of the vertebrae and completely severed spinal ligaments. Her right knee has three severed/torn ligaments that will require surgical reconstruction. She has multiple, deep lacerations all over her legs. Her left foot is broken and both ankles are sprained.

She missed the last two weeks of her senior year of high school and graduated from her hospital room. We question whether she will be able to begin college (pre-med) this fall. Add to this the upheaval of our family life, loss of earnings from our business, and round-the-clock care. This is just our family’s story; each of the teen’s families have their own similar story. This is a plea for all pilots to not assume that the safety rules do not apply to them—the cost is just too great.

Deborah Tower
Encinitas, California

Road warrior

Great article on saving airports ( “Road Warrior”). I go through the same hoops at my local city council as Bill Dunn does with the big airports. Stafford Municipal at Stafford, Kansas, was dedicated in October 1946 and has been in continuous operation since. We have three grass runways and eight aircraft based here. The Kansas Department of Transportation Aviation Division has a great program to help little airports such as ours, which the FAA won’t consider for aid.

Bill and I walk in the same shoes, selling the same product. It is a constant sell to the city council to keep up the interest in the airport, and I feel just as Bill does when he goes to city council meetings. It is hard to sell the local airport in the limited time available at the meetings. I really hope general aviation survives the current times and the youth of today have the same access to aviation that I have had for many years.

Phillip T. Schulz
AOPA 362303
Stafford, Kansas

On wet wings

Kudos to Tom Haines: “I never go anywhere by GA when I have to be home at a specific time” ( “Waypoints: On Wet Wings”). Those are words to live by. I remember thinking how nice it would be to fly to Baltimore/Washington International Airport from my home on the Eastern Shore to catch a flight to Phoenix. For the next month I would take notice of the weather conditions as I drove across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in the morning. It soon became apparent that this scheme would not work, as frequently, the weather was atrocious. I also noted how tired I was on the drive home. After four full days of flying, the last thing I wanted to confront was bad weather and fatigue. The pressure to make it to BWI to catch that flight would be enormous. My Bonanza is a fine machine, but it is not an all-weather, anytime airplane. I realized the folly of such thinking and never put that scheme in practice. Haines’ quote should be repeated often.

David Heberling
AOPA 1035356
Greensboro, Maryland

Erratum

From reader Henry Brecher: The answer given to Question 1 in the August 2012 “Test Pilot” says the first air-to-ground photo was taken in 1883 using a kite. The Professional Aerial Photographers Association’s website says, “The first known aerial photograph was taken in 1858 by French photographer and balloonist, Gaspar Felix Tournachon.”

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.