Letters: The Whales of Baja

Readers said thanks for the memories—and for inspirational flying stories during a long, cold winter.

February 12, 2014

“The Whales of Baja” article was great. I flew to Baja, Mexico, nine times in a Skyhawk and three times in an XP. I usually fueled at Guerro Negro and stayed there a few times. I landed at the old salt field in early trips and later at the newer paved field. I always flew over the whales there and further south at Ballenas, but at an altitude that wouldn’t disturb the whales.

One of the events the author missed was the Saturday night barbeque at Hotel Serenidad. A whole pig is roasted and about 200 people show up. Occasionally there is a group of local young people to liven that up with a traditional dance.

Thanks for a super article with wonderful photographs that brought back many memories.

Wayne T. (Tom) Worth
AOPA 382038
Gig Harbor, Washington

President’s Position

No one is more concerned about the state of the FAA medical examination system than older pilots. I am 82 and still currently flying. The flight review is a snap; it is the visit to the aviation medical examiner that is fearsome. Mark Baker is on speed and on spot with his statement that AOPA is “fighting for legislation that makes sense, and against rules that don’t.”  Please, stay on that path for us.

Dealing with a Congress-ional committee is often a challenge, but a welcome one. Dealing with a federal bureaucracy can be much more frustrating at times, but it must be continued because there have been successes. The introduction of the driver’s license rule and liberalization of special issuance policies are just two of the important results we have seen.

Flying was but a dream for Leonardo da Vinci when he drew his design for flight in 1488. Today, flying is a passion and we are fortunate to live in a country with the freedom to experience that passion. We are depending on AOPA to keep it that way.

As a director for a group of pilots who have flown as pilot in command over the age of 80, I believe I can say more than 1,400 United Flying Octogenarians support AOPA’s work, which has helped to make it possible for us to keep the passion alive.

Bob Barker
AOPA 1256872
Stamford, Connecticut

Last day to fly

I commend Tom Haines on a well-written piece that captures the essence of what is wrong not only with the FAA, but with our entire government (“Waypoints”). Not only must we citizens deal with the bureaucrat likes of Fred Tilton, but so many of our elected officials that are clueless.

I really thought most medical doctors could be trusted to have a reasonable head on their shoulders. Obviously, I was wrong; there is at least one that doesn’t! Tilton should be ashamed of himself.

As a 40-year business owner in Columbus, Ohio, we were fortunate to have aligned our manufacturing company heavily with the energy market prior to 2008 and have fared much better than the general economy. My heart goes out to the millions of American citizens who are either underemployed or unemployed as the result of government policies just as arcane as the FAA’s sleep apnea policy. Similar government rulings have absolutely ruined our economy. I find it hard to trust any agency that would release such an ill-supported policy.

I thank you for taking the time to write such an article and not be intimidated into pulling any punches.

Gary James
AOPA 888915
Reynoldsburg, Ohio

In my 50s, two of my best friends died. They were my age. One, who I had known since I was 22, died of cardiovascular disease. He looked obese to me but had claimed to be in good health. The other, a wonderful friend for 20 years with a physique I’d describe as at least bordering on obesity, died of complications from an episode of sleep apnea. Losing those two friends was traumatic for me. It affected my psyche. Not having them to laugh with, drink with, talk with—I still feel sorry for myself because of what they meant to me.

The 20-year friend loved flying. He flew his red, perfect Cessna 170 practically every day. He would have roiled at any attempt of the government to interfere with his ability to see the world from the sky. But I wonder, indeed selfishly, would he and I still be flying together had the FAA Body Mass Index (BMI) requirements been enacted 30 years ago?  Would his love of flying plus the BMI requirement kept him healthy, alive, and still a part of my life?

Although he wasn’t a pilot, my mind wanders through the same thought process regarding my other late friend. If he had been pressed into healthy habits, would he and I still be sharing laughs about the many dubious accomplishments of our youth?

Well-meaning suggestions about lifestyle modifications are often met defensively. But after they’re gone you’ll wish you hadn’t lost those friends. And, I’ll bet you’ll then think that if a little coercion could have kept those people in your life for another 20 to 30 years, the coercion wouldn’t have really been that oppressive.

Don Bogart
AOPA 659748
Long Beach, California

Hover like a hawk

This was a good article on slow flight (“P&E: Technique”). Bush pilots of Alaska take slow flight to another level. One of the most important cardinal rules in bush flying is landing your airplane at initial stall speed. This drains as much kinetic energy (energy in a moving aircraft) from your airplane prior to landing as possible. Landing this way allows short landing areas and light braking. Even for general aviation pilots, this is the safest way to land an airplane. Pilots learning this technique will be much improved pilots and will reduce aircraft accidents when landing. Pilots using this technique must precisely learn throttle control to prevent hard stalls. This technique is not difficult to learn. Learn to properly use the throttle and stalling an aircraft will not happen. Once a pilot learns to make initial stall landings, it will boost stall proficiency knowledge to a higher level. This will help prevent stall/spin accidents that kill pilots and their passengers every year.

William A. Quirk III
AOPA 5053580
Anchorage, Alaska

A bum rap

I really enjoyed reading Barry Schiff’s article (“Proficient Pilot”). There were several airplanes that I remember that did get incorrectly attributed bad reputations as in the DC–3 and the J–3 comparison. One that he did not mention that got a really bad rap was the Twin Comanche. It was (and still is) a great-flying twin, but when I was doing my training, and before, people were doing dumb things in the airplane—like single-engine full stalls—and it got the rap of being a flat spinner. Of course, it isn’t, it just has a clean wing and you don’t do things like that in that kind of airplane.

Alan C. Davis
AOPA 859246Thornton, Colorado 

Errata

Lincoln Beachey died at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco on March 14, 1915. He did not live to fly during the Barnstorming era of the 1920s and 1930s (“P&E: Technique,” January 2014 AOPA Pilot). The headline for“Fly-Outs: Get the Haddock” (Briefing,” January 2014 AOPA Pilot) was wrong. The author had halibut. Haddock isn’t a menu choice. AOPA Pilot regrets the errors.

We welcome your comments. Editor, AOPA Pilot, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701 or email (pilot@aopa.org). Letters may be edited for length and style before publication.