Letters

A hot topic!

September 1, 2012

“License to Learn” columnist Rod Machado first pondered why instructors don’t embrace stick-and-rudder training in April 2012 and followed up with the overwhelming response in his July column.

I just finished reading Rod Machado’s article ( “A Hot Topic!” July 2012) and say a hearty amen to the comments in favor of stick-and-rudder training. I’m not a CFI but have been flying nearly half a century and have acquired a commercial certifcate with multiengine and instrument ratings. 

For years I have said that all pilots should fly through solo in a NORDO taildragger with light wing loading. Learn basic airmanship first, and then add radios, navigation, et cetera.

One of the reasons for the high student drop-out rate, is that we take a brand-new student, fly them out of a controlled field, and expect them to learn radio procedures, deal with departure/approach concepts, and also take on the entirely new skill set of flying the airplane. All that at one time just overwhelms them and they quit.

My wife and I took basic instruction in the mid-1960s in a Cessna 120 and J–3 Cub from an uncontrolled field. Our instructor (we still thank him!) was adamant about understanding how rudder and ailerons combine to keep the airplane tracking a straight, wings-level line down the runway just a foot or two above it. We learned stalls and spins: practice, not theory. We also learned to control the aircraft with trim, throttle, and open doors in case a control cable broke in flight. 

The number of airline and GA accidents in recent years that occurred because of an apparent lack of basic airmanship skills is saddening. It may sound too simple, but we need to get back to the basics in student training. First aviate, then navigate and communicate.

Dwane Koppler,
AOPA 450816
Springfield, Missouri

Mega-storms on the prowl

Tom Horne is a weather prophet ( “Wx Watch,” July 2012)! What he wrote came true and was exactly what we were seeing on The Weather Channel in Florida: a slow-moving mesoscale convective complex, between parallel fronts, with unbelievable amounts of biblical rain. This kind of article is needed—on an understandable level where the average pilot can grasp the simple theories and science of meteorology.

Frank P. Sperandeo III,
AOPA 909453
Fayetteville, Arkansas

Lucky with Lucky

I enjoyed Jill W. Tallman’s article on Dallas Air Salvage ( “Parts of the Puzzle”). It brought back memories of my first meeting with Lucky Louque in 1988 when my Cessna T210 engine failed at 9,500 feet north of Bryan, Texas. I managed to land in a hayfield near Mexia, Texas. I went through the accident process with the FAA and the NTSB. The engine was disassembled [at Dallas Air Salvage] to discover the cause of the failure. It turned out to be valves; one had broken in half and went in with the piston destroying the engine in a matter of seconds. I feel very lucky to be here. I purchased another 210 and have flown problem-free since.

Billy L. Gillen,
AOPA 912060
Corpus Christi, Texas

Hero worship

Thomas B. Haines’ article resonated with me ( “Waypoints: Hero Worship,” July 2012). I watched Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in 1969 as a 7-year-old, and in total awe. I was in Tehran and watched on our new RCA black-and-white TV, which we had bought for the occasion.

I became inspired and asked my dad to take me on a flight, which he did in a Cessna 172 a few days later at a nearby airport called Doshan Tappe. I went on to get my PPL at 17 in Montreal and recently my son, Aria, became one of the youngest Canadians to become a pilot at 16 with his recreational license and at 17 with a full PPL, making him a third-generation aviator. We are very active GA pilots. I owe all that to my inspiration on that July 1969 day when Armstrong made history, and to this day I celebrate it each time I fly. I now live in China where I hope I can help ignite the love of GA in this country in the hearts of many who have not known it to date.

Shane Tedjarati,
AOPA 6539271
Shanghai, China

My first instructor was a man named Frank Lucie. Frank ran the Corry, Pennsylvania, airport from 1965 until his death in 1979. Not one to talk much about the past, he did mention that a long time ago when he was teaching in Ohio he taught a 16-year-old kid named Neil Armstrong how to fly. 

Jay Moyer,
AOPA 645716
Corry, Pennsylvania

“None of my instructors ever suggested reading Wolfgang Langewiesche’s book Stick and Rudder. When my instructor gave up on my ability to ever land an airplane safely and I was on the verge of washing out, I reread the chapter on landings and stood in my driveway until I finally got to “see” what I should have been seeing during my lessons. I’ve been logging landings ever since and, so far, the number of my landings is equal to the number of my takeoffs.”

James McNally,
AOPA 919534
Wilmington, North Carolina

“Dave Hirschman’s narrative of flying the Tougher Than a Tornado Husky is topped only by the backdrop for Mike Fizer’s photographs. An extraordinary airplane in an extraordinary place.”

Ron Wehmann,
AOPA 550716,
Black Diamond, Washington

Cloud attack

I read, with great interest, “Never Again: Cloud Attack” (July 2012). I have lived and flown in Reno for years. If I had been home on the day when the author landed, I would have undoubtedly seen that rotor cloud from my study. When the author got his weather briefing, what were the forecast winds aloft for Reno?  When the winds at 9,000 and 12,000 feet (near the ridgelines) are blowing from the southwest at a healthy clip, it is a warning of potential trouble. Based on what the author encountered, I would bet that the forecast winds aloft were strong. As a coward pilot, I probably would not have made the flight. The winds aloft forecast is the most important part of the weather briefing for Reno, certainly more important than the forecast for surface winds. I flew for years in Reno without knowing about another important source of information—the National Weather Service compiles and displays “remote data” for various locations. The data for the Reno area is found online. I usually use this site to check the conditions on Slide Mountain, which is notorious for wind. If it is less than 10 knots, I am good to go!

William H. Eilberg,
AOPA 1145178
Reno, Nevada

I have subscribed to AOPA Pilot for just a year, and I was unsure of what the magazine would be like. I have been blown away. Immediately after I put down my copy of AOPA Pilot, my son picked it up and started reading. I think we may have another pilot in the family.

Scott Paul,
AOPA 7230165
Kailua, Hawaii

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