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Over Africa I read with great interest your recent article on flying in Kenya (“Over Africa,” June 2009 AOPA Pilot). I had the pleasure of being in Kenya for three weeks during September 2008.

Over Africa

I read with great interest your recent article on flying in Kenya ( “Over Africa,” June 2009 AOPA Pilot). I had the pleasure of being in Kenya for three weeks during September 2008. It is a magnificent country and one I will definitely go back to soon.

What was most fun was the almost absolute lack of both paved roads and paved runways outside of Nairobi. Although I had almost 300 photos from my trip, I tried to pick out a few of my favorite ones that I thought you and your readers might enjoy. On one takeoff the pilot was concerned about a zebra on the runway—he said we’d abort if it didn’t move. We also observed a bull elephant walking toward the approach end of the runway. What an amazing sight.

We also had to deal with baboons, wildebeests, warthogs, and numerous other animals on or near the runways.  Thanks for a wonderful publication.

Stephen Krupnick, AOPA 5165701
Laguna Beach, California

Thank you for the “Over Africa” article. These volunteer flight instructors are certainly setting a fine example for general aviation. Thank you for putting it in print for all the world to see.

Bill Brink, AOPA 617589
Lompoc, California

Excellent read! Well written, clear, about an interesting locale, people, animals, and events. And it centers around aviation—how could it get better? A great job!

Ronald G. Darner, AOPA 4425338
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Then and now

Like Thomas B. Haines ( “Waypoints: Then and Now,” June 2009 AOPA Pilot), I can recall the good old days of instrument flight. I too remember bumping along in the clouds with the MEA at 10,000 feet over mountains, with thunderstorms in the region, and steam gauges in the cockpit. There I was, with only a Stormscope and a friendly voice in the headset to keep me and my Tiger out of trouble. The flight ended in an ILS approach to minimums to safely deliver my Angel Flight passengers. Thinking back, it is a wonder I ever got to my destination. Like Haines, I remember this as if it were yesterday—the difference: It was yesterday!

According to AOPA, the average age of general aviation aircraft is 30 years. How many of those pre-glass airplanes have been retrofitted? I hardly know anybody who flies IFR with much more than a good autopilot, a portable GPS, and a bunch of steam gauges (OK, I have the GPS). At most, folks have small laptops or PFDs displaying weather. Haines should spend a bit of time in the back corners of GA and write about how the other half lives.

William J. Kimmerer, AOPA 4119729
Berkeley, California

Thomas B. Haines responds:

Your Tiger is definitely newer than my 1972 Bonanza. The only “glass” I have is a Garmin 530, which doesn’t do much more than your portable GPS, except it allows me to shoot GPS approaches. And if your portable GPS is a Garmin 396 or 496 with XM weather on it—or a laptop computer—you can show a lot more weather products than I can show on my panel mount. My autopilot is an S-Tec 50 with GPSS and altitude hold, but no vertical guidance, so not exactly a sophisticated autopilot. So I’m right there with you flying behind steam gauges with what one might consider barely a “good” autopilot. Even with that, I’m still amazed at the capabilities in the cockpit of even our simple steeds.

The price of fuel

If it wasn’t for the occasional bizjet or airline heavy passing over the house, I don’t have to imagine, I can truly see for my own eyes what it was like before the Wright brothers invented the airplane ( “Pilotage: The Price of Fuel,” June 2009 AOPA Pilot). Mark Twombly wrote about the effect of fuel prices for the fortunate owners of aircraft but for the average Joe like me, who can’t even dream about owning a minimal 30-year-old aircraft anymore, the price of rentals and the effects of the economy on our paychecks have grounded us. I live in the north metro Atlanta area and so many beautiful weekends come and go now and I hardly see or hear a small aircraft pass by.

Avgas prices may have come down from last year (I assume they have started shooting back up like auto gas since Twombly wrote his article), but the cost of rentals didn’t decline back toward their previous levels. At the FBO I used to fly with the rental prices didn’t decline at all. I got hit with a 13-percent pay cut plus benefit cut in August. With three kids I simply have no income to spare now for flying. I’ve talked with my other flying friends and we are all grounded now for the same reason. I have a young son who always asks about going for an airplane ride. It’s sad to think, but unless something incredible happens to turn the economy around, I may never be able to share that experience with him.

Dave Kansky, AOPA 1449083
Woodstock, Georgia

Why aren’t we flying more? I find myself asking “why?” about so many things these days…and I can never find the answers. My husband and I have already flown five times as much as all last year. We bought a wonderful new (to us) Piper Comanche a year and a half ago, but the price of fuel last year deterred us from using it much. Now, every time I figure costs, flying is cheaper than driving. We live in a part of the nation where airports have courtesy cars and we are having so much fun flying around to shop, watch sporting events, visit friends, go out to eat, et cetera. The threat of unknown user fees looms over us, driving our insatiable thirst to experience all we can now, before this freedom to participate in general aviation, which middle-class Americans now enjoy, is taken away from us and reserved only for the elite. The bird’s-eye view of America the beautiful is the best; we must enjoy it while we can.

Lisa Martin, AOPA 1910005
Worland, Wyoming

Winston S. Churchill

My wife and I had the opportunity to introduce ourselves to Winston S. Churchill and his wife at the Cabinet War Rooms Museum in London when he came to present his grandfather’s medals to the museum several years ago ( “Pilots: Winston S. Churchill,” June 2009 AOPA Pilot). The couple is both as gracious and friendly in person as is reflected in the pictures of him on page 112. We wish him total success with his medical treatment.

Howard W. Sims, AOPA 472318
Altamonte Springs, Florida

Let’s Go Flying

I read with interest the article about the young boy in the June 2009 edition of AOPA Pilot ( “Let’s Go Flying: Never Too Young”). The article brought back memories of my own childhood dreams of flying, almost 40 years ago. I was 9 years old when I took my first “official” flying lesson (I was big enough to finally reach the rudder pedals in a Cessna 150).

By the time I had turned 17, I had accumulated more than 700 hours and was qualified as PIC in everything Cessna built in the single-engine lineup, up to the Cessna P210. During those hours prior to my seventeenth birthday, I was receiving dual instruction in Cessna 300, 400, and 500 series aircraft as well. The joke always was: I was the “dumbest student out there—it took him 700 hours to get a private,” when in reality it was simply because of my age.

I continue to enjoy a lifetime love of aviation, flying anything from a Cub to a Lear 25 and over the years have had the opportunity to command the 777 simulator in Houston.

These days, I’m in the medical field and do not fly for work. I still fly as often as I can (more than 3,000 hours now) in anything with wings and still promote general aviation and the dream of flight anywhere I can. I was able to help one of my geriatric patients realize his lifelong dream of learning to fly at the age of 85. He logged 18.2 hours before passing peacefully in his sleep some two years later. I support and applaud all the efforts of AOPA in what it is doing in supporting general aviation.

Cameron T. Scott, AOPA 525634
Bend, Oregon


The cruise figure for the Tecnam P92 Eaglet ( “Little Giant,” June 2009 AOPA Pilot) should have been 116 KTAS at 5,200 rpm. The endurance figures cited in the spec sheet should have been as follows: at 75 percent power, 4.4 hours; at 65 percent power, 4.9 hours, and at 55 percent power, 5.8 hours. AOPA Pilot regrets the errors.

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