I read with interest Barry Schiff’s article on the Ryan PT-22 primary trainer used by the Army Air Corps during World War II (“ Ryan PT-22: Not Just Another Pretty Face,” June AOPA Pilot). I was an aviation cadet then and, after basic training, I was sent to Visalia, California, for primary flight training. The school there was a civilian flight school that had been taken over by the Army Air Corps. I remember that the washout rate there was 70 percent, but fortunately I made it through. I’m not sure if the PT-22 was that difficult to fly, or if the Army was being strict on the required standards of performance. I note in your article that the airplane in your article was at Visalia back then and I wonder if I ever flew it.
Schiff’s article in the same issue on the perfect landing (“ Proficient Pilot: The Perfect Landing,” June AOPA Pilot) was also interesting. Over the many years and hours of my flying career I’ve made my share of “arrivals” and also an occasional grease job. I remember when I was flying C-124s during the construction of the Distant Early Warning line (DEW) in Northern Canada (a system of radar stations in the Arctic). We were hauling heavy equipment to the radar sites under construction and most of our landings were on frozen lakes with landing strips plowed out and marked by oil barrels. When the winter weather began to get warm enough to result in a film of water on the ice strips, it was virtually impossible not to make a grease job landing. My crew thought I was getting pretty sharp until I had to explain why.
One day early in 1951 my college buddy, Dave Krueger asked me, “which would you rather have—the $200 [that he owed me] or the Ryan?” He had taken me up in his PT-22, N58612. My answer was a quick “the Ryan, not the money!” Years later at the Evergreen, Vancouver, Washington, EAA Fly-In, parked among some sisters was that Ryan—my Ryan, N58612. I hung around to meet the owner and he gave me a ride. He told me he was once offered $17,000 for the Ryan, but kept her instead. Some days I still fancy myself owning that unique flying machine. I hope she is still putting along, causing all on the ground to look skyward for the source of that distinctive low-rpm blat-blat of the Kinner radial. Nothing can match that sound—or that ride!
I thoroughly enjoyed the article on the Ryan PT-22. When I was about 16, I borrowed four dollars from my grandmother and ordered a book titled Air Piloting by Virgil Simmons. This book contained several pictures of the Ryan PT-22 and I literally fell in love with it. I never had the opportunity to fly the Ryan solo, however, while working on my private ticket during the first part of 1948, my ground school instructor owned a Ryan PT-22 with the Kinner engine and it was my delight to fly with him at times. What a thrill.
Thank you, Barry Schiff! “ Proficient Pilot: The Perfect Landing” (June AOPA Pilot) made me feel so much better. Recently getting back into the left seat after 21 years, my landings are certainly less than perfect. Reading about Schiff’s “memorable landings” and knowing he too has had so many better ones, gives me hope. I, and others like me who are taming the beast appreciate Schiff’s insight into being a better pilot.
Barry Schiff once again eloquently discussed a subject near and dear to pilot’s hearts. As a first officer with Pan American, I planted a Boeing 747 hard enough in Rio de Janeiro to knock down the passenger oxygen masks. The terrible part was that ugly landing was my last with Pan Am as the company folded soon after. More than a year later I was asked if I was interested in joining a new company, Atlas Air, flying B-747 firefighters. Was my first consideration the salary or basing? No, it was a relief at getting the chance to prove I could land the 747 decently. And my last career airline landing, unlike Schiff’s, was a good one—I let the auto-pilot make a full Cat III. No way was I going to have another thumper hanging over my head!
How does Anaktuvuk Pass survive (“ America’s Airports: An Air-Mailed Village,” June AOPA Pilot)? The author made no reference to any economic basis to support the costs of transport. Who or what pays for the current approximate-$8/gallon fuel to air freight virtually everything other than perhaps water to and from Anaktuvuk?
Al Marsh writes: The village probably would not survive without federal support. The quick answer is that you assure their survival through your tax dollars. Many years ago the village wanted to move. They had used up all the trees and couldn’t build. That would have been the disappearance of the Inuit Nunamiut Eskimo—the inland people. The federal government stepped in to save the day. They get subsidies from the federal government, a post office, the school, the fire station, the clinic, and jobs.
There are also payments made to all Native Americans in Alaska for oil rights. That said, it is still very expensive for the people to stay there.
I enjoyed your recent article about flying the Waco around Atlanta at night (“ Technique: I Wear My Sunglasses at Night,” June AOPA Pilot). I am the owner of a Christen Eagle (based in Augusta, Georgia) and have been warned to not even think about landing it after dark. I suppose the Eagle might be a little more squirrely on the ground, but I think the biggest issue is the lack of visibility. So I am curious, what do you do to enable yourself to become comfortable landing such an aircraft at night? Is a landing light critical? I am not planning to land my aircraft at night anytime soon, but I am curious how it is done.
Allen Nodorft, AOPA 1095338
Dave Hirschman writes: A Christen Eagle is much quicker on the ground than the Waco, and I’m sure it would be much more challenging to land at night. The Waco has powerful landing lights, and DeKalb-Peachtree Airport has wide, well-lighted runways. Conditions were calm, so the deck was definitely stacked in my favor.
I know it’s a bit unconventional to see biplanes flying at night in the twenty-first century, but I figure plenty of airmail pilots did it back in their day—and we have much better equipment than they did.
Dennis (Denny) Flanagan is my hero (“ Pilots: Dennis Flanagan,” June AOPA Pilot). As I wind my way through college working on my commercial certificate, I find it easy to lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel. Rarely do I hear positive press on airline employees, most certainly never to this degree. Nothing puts a bigger smile on my face than interacting with passengers, even though up to this point the extent of that interaction has been family and friends. The thought of going to work each day and initiating that revolutionary and positive relationship between pilot and passenger is the reason I sign up for student loan after student loan. Denny Flanagan keeps me going with the hope that someday I too can put a few smiles on a few faces.
The article “WxWorx on Wings” in the June 2008 issue’s “ Pilot Products” section contained incorrect information. Av-Map’s portable GPS systems will use AvMap’s own software for displaying in-flight weather information provided by XM WX Satellite Weather when the software is released later this year. WxWorx on Wings—which has been on the market since 2003—is PC-based software from WxWorx, the provider of weather information to XM WX. In addition, the Bluetooth module mentioned in the article does not add wireless phone and Internet connectivity—rather, it allows for wireless connectivity between the WxWorx receiver and a display device. AOPA Pilot regrets the errors.
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