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Letters from the past I have just finished reading the first issue of The AOPA Pilot (April 1958 Pilot). I am ordering a subscription for the board’s library and want to congratulate you and your staff on the new “baby.” James R.

Letters from the past

I have just finished reading the first issue of The AOPA Pilot (April 1958 Pilot). I am ordering a subscription for the board’s library and want to congratulate you and your staff on the new “baby.”

James R. Durfee
Chairman, Civil Aeronautics Board
Washington, D.C.

I just had an opportunity to read through your first issue of The AOPA Pilot, and want to congratulate you and your staff on having done a very outstanding job.

You certainly have set some very high standards in your first issue, and we’ll be looking forward to receiving the magazine regularly.

Bill Robinson
Cessna Aircraft Company
Wichita, Kansas

I have just received my copy of The AOPA Pilot. It stinks. That is editorially. One might see your magazine on the newsstand and purchase it, but most certainly would not do so a second time. The articles have no reader interest. They are dull, drab technical articles. What the public wants is stories that hold them spellbound. Ones which can create dreams and hopes and desires. The key to such are a combination of “riches or treasure,” flying and adventure, and women. On the latter score, not the dull, drab, frowsy type such as found in an office, but instead “women of the world,” beautiful, adventurous, sex personified, who will either love you or roll you both in the same night. I do hope you make your magazine interesting, as I believe it to be a wonderfully bold, daring step.

Jack Burrows, Aviator
Washington, D.C.

I must admit I was greatly disappointed when it was announced that AOPA was going into the publishing business. I figured AOPA could never put out a magazine that could match Flying, but you have surpassed them.

Richard Finegan
Saranac Lake, New York

1965

In the January issue of The AOPA Pilot I had inserted an advertisement for information leading to the location and recovery of a B–25, N3339G. Within one week of the arrival of my copy of The AOPA Pilot, we received a call from Alamogordo, New Mexico, with information leading to the location and recovery of this aircraft. After spending hundreds of dollars for direct telephone calls to various airfields, I decided to try The Pilot, and I go on record as saying I recommend the continued use of this publication by any of your advertisers.

Samuel P. Norley, AOPA 238162
Lake Park, Florida

Things in the world of flying are just not going the way they should—for the average fellow, that is. Recently, while flying a Cessna 320 in Alaska, I had the fun of meeting many bush pilots and seeing their modified airplanes. Only in Alaska did I feel the spirit and love of flying that should prevail here at home and does not.

Alaskan pilots fly for fun as well as necessity, and they must land in the toughest areas. Of all those people with whom I talked (pilots, mechanics, businessmen), not one had a good word to say for the FAA. One mining engineer was furious, as prior to statehood he could haul 1,000 pounds in his Cessna 180 and is now limited to half that. I asked the pilots if, when they were free in the past to modify and load their airplanes as heavily as they could and still fly, the accident rate was any higher. The reply was a unanimous “no!” The right type airplanes for the average person in no great hurry with no need to fly great distances, and the opportunity to repair, maintain, and modify his own personal airplane just as he does with his car or boat—these are the needs to be filled before flying can really grow.

John W. Hodgkin, AOPA 81459
Long Beach, California

1968

We have read of the shortage of airline pilots and the need for more trained personnel. Does the average person know that there are present classes of airline students on furlough or that the flight schools are using this so-called shortage to greatly increase their enrollment?

I am a parent who has found that after 500 hours and many dollars spent on an aviation career for my son, it is almost impossible to get employment. As for GA, the majority of the companies and air-taxi services call for 1,000 hours. Where does a young fellow start?

W.R. Caswell, AOPA 191256
Middleboro, Massachusetts

1974

I noted the concern over the supposed fuel crisis in the letters written to you by fellow members of AOPA (February 1974 Pilot). In comparing the merits of air travel over automobile travel, I ponder if the protectors of our environment have considered what advantage flying might have in the protection of the air we all breathe. It seems to me that if we are operating our engines less hours and burning less fuel between any two given points, with what would seem to me to be more efficient engines, are we not also protecting our environment? With much of the public thinking as they do about “little bitty airplanes,” we should make all facets of our case clear to the nonflying public.

Don K. Kyser, AOPA 495889
Midland, Texas

1979

Whenever I take a friend flying, the first thing he does is fasten his seatbelt. He then nervously inquires as to what happens if the engine fails in flight. I reply that a forced landing will be necessary. He then always suggests that I follow highways and/or open pastures and farm fields. After the flight we hop into my friend’s car for a drive back to town. He doesn’t put his auto seatbelt on, and drives 60 mph on a two-way highway, whistling all the way. And for every car he passes from the opposite direction, he comes within two or three feet of a combined 120-mph head-on collision.

Frank Petry, AOPA 634580
Eufaula, Alabama

1989

In this age of “enforcement-oriented” FAA policy, hyped media, our “aging” fleet, high prices, and liability nightmares, we need all the friends we can get for GA. John Q. Citizen is a good place to build a foundation of good will for the future. How many times did we wish the public could understand our passion for flight? How many times did we wish that the controller understood what he just asked us to do? How many of us were disgusted with the way the local paper slanted that aviation story? The tools are there. We can cry in our coffee or get out there and spread the joy of flying. Flying is like other things of beauty; unshared and unappreciated, they go away.

James McCarthy, AOPA 883274
Janesville, Wisconsin

Just what we need—more amateurs in our airspace (May 1989 Pilot). There are far too many already. Flying an airplane is serious business. If what I read is true, these pilots with recreational certificates will be able to fly at low altitudes within 50 miles of their home airports, it scares the hell out of me. Since they are not required to learn how to use navigation equipment, how are they going to know how to avoid controlled areas? They will be a menace to themselves, their friends and family, and to those of us who fly by the rules. I am shocked that the FAA would permit this and am strongly opposed to this “recreational certificate.”

Jim Y. Davidson, AOPA 027531
Cabot, Arkansas

1994

I was so angered to find the article “Why Women Don’t Fly” (October 1994 Pilot) that I dropped everything to read it that second. I was relieved to find the article excellent, yet mistitled. Perhaps a more appropriate title would have been, “Why More Women Don’t Fly.”

As a female Part 135 charter pilot, flight instructor, TV journalist, and mother, I have spent the past 10 years sharing my enthusiasm for flying with any warm body with ears—be it male or female. I have found strong support throughout my flying career, with little discrimination. I have seen many a male jaw drop when they watch me emerge from the Beech King Airs I fly as copilot. Many women do indeed fly, but there apparently aren’t enough to keep those jaws from dropping. As a flight instructor, I have taught quite a few women to fly over the years, yet I am sad to say none went far enough to earn a ticket. I found most lost their nerve, motivation, money, desire—you pick one—despite my strong encouragement. These are the same reasons men quit.

Thanks for your article on women, but next time, how about a better title? We’re trying to encourage women to fly—not discourage them by saying we don’t.

MayCay Beeler, AOPA 849322
Greensboro, North Carolina

1997

It is with shock and dismay that I read about President Clinton’s proposing general aviation user fees. As the owner of a 40-year-old Bonanza that I fly in the course of operating my business, I shudder to think of what I and others who love to fly will do in reaction to user fees. Quite simply, I’ll avoid the long arm of the FAA if at all possible. Where I now file an IFR clearance to remain in the system and safe, I’ll probably go VFR and stay out of controlled airspace to avoid fees. I don’t think that this is Clinton’s intent.

I worked for the FAA for 10 years as an air traffic controller, from 1971 through 1981, when Reagan fired me (happily). I learned firsthand of government waste and inefficiency. I distinctly remember being told that the fiscal year was coming to an end and we needed to order new radios and furniture and hire new controllers so as to assure more money the next year. As a small businessman now, I cringe when I recall my previous life in government. The idea of a user fee that supports a terribly inefficient bloated agency like the FAA sickens me. To witness the waste and foolhardy spending in the FAA and then be asked to support it with another user fee that requires more bureaucrats to manage is absurd.

Michael S. Elliott, AOPA 1184476
Seattle, Washington

2006

Project Pilot is a great idea. But it’s not where AOPA needs to focus its efforts initially. AOPA needs to focus effort on improving the flight school experience.

I’ve seen it happen again and again with different flight schools. People, especially ones with the disposable income to spend on flying, give it a shot and get disgusted with the lack of professionalism, and move on to something else. Flight school owners needs to be educated in customer service and trained on how to provide a quality experience. Once a program of flight school improvement is in place, we can concentrate on bringing more people into the doors of the flight schools with programs like Project Pilot. But to do so first is putting the cart before the horse.

Tom Doblmaier, AOPA 1060021
North Wales, Pennsylvania

After reading through my issue of AOPA Pilot, instead of tossing it I’m going to leave it someplace conspicuous. Perhaps in the coffee shop or the lunchroom at work. Someone will pick it up and read it. And maybe, just maybe, someone will catch the aviation bug.

Wilt Hodges, AOPA 1281828
Louisville, Colorado

Erratum

“Turbine Pilot Tricks of the Trade—Jet Fuel: Pounds to Gallons” (February Pilot) provided erroneous information. One correct rule of thumb is to determine the number of pounds of Jet-A you need, add 50 percent of that value, then divide by ten. Therefore, if you need 2,000 pounds of fuel, add 1,000 pounds (1/2 of 2,000) to make 3,000, then divide by 10, making the result 300—or roughly 300 gallons of Jet-A. The topic will be explored further in the April issue.

We welcome your comments. Address letters to: Editor, AOPA Pilot, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701. Send e-mail to [email protected]. Include your full name, address, and AOPA number on all correspondence, including e-mail. Letters will be edited for length and style.

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