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The air up there

As a longtime AOPA member, I count myself among the millions of folks who love to fly. I’ve been lucky to have piloted many variants of single-engine airplanes, one floatplane, a few multiengine airplanes, sailplanes, and many exciting (some a little too exciting) flights in my 1979-era Quicksilver ultralight.

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As a longtime AOPA member, I count myself among the millions of folks who love to fly. I’ve been lucky to have piloted many variants of single-engine airplanes, one floatplane, a few multiengine airplanes, sailplanes, and many exciting (some a little too exciting) flights in my 1979-era Quicksilver ultralight.

I have never flown in a balloon, and look forward to my first “lift” (a line item on my bucket list) in Albuquerque. Thank you for recognizing that ballooning is also an important part of aviation—after all, Montgolfier was the first human aviator (“ The Air Up There,” October 2010 AOPA Pilot). When I am in New Mexico, I will be proud to point out that AOPA is an active supporter of ballooning, and that the association will continue to work with the FAA and Congress to protect safely practiced lighter-than-air flight. After all, balloon events seem to be the most human interactive of all aviation activities, and easily the most colorful.

Bill Sullivan, AOPA 466252
Phoenix, Arizona

Something to savor

Dave Hirschman’s article “ Vans RV–12: Something to Savor” (October 2010 AOPA Pilot) is exactly that…something to savor. Recently three of us pilots here in Newport, Oregon, flew to Aurora Oregon Airport and each was able to get a demo flight in a Van’s RV–12. We were a good mix of candidates. One is a first officer with a major U.S. airline, one splits his time in his 182 with floats in Alaska and wheels in Arizona logging 400 hours annually, and me with fewer than 500 hours in Cessna 172s and a 150 I owned until recently.

We each had the “Van’s smile” when we returned. All agreed the RV–12 is one of the best airplanes we have ever flown, and each of us immediately started thinking of building our own RV–12! I felt the airplane was similar to flying my 150 but with a fantastic view and even better flight characteristics.

Thank you for Hirschman’s excellent story. It is not often there is an AOPA Pilot article on Experimental light sport aircraft, and definitely the RV–12 is the leader for LSA kit aircraft. This is “everyman’s airplane,” especially for us older pilots who no longer have the need for speed and want a safe, economical aircraft to fly with a buddy for burgers on Saturday mornings.

Robert L. Oberbillig, AOPA 1346585
South Beach, Oregon

It’s great to see a very capable light sport aircraft that is made in the U.S.A. I wish Van’s Aircraft all the luck in the world.

Ronald J. Rengel, AOPA 357141
Mundelein, Illinois

Tackling the tower

Great article on how to communicate with the tower, “ Technique: Tackling the Tower,” in the October 2010 issue of AOPA Pilot. I was in ATC for 26 years and am a CFII with about 3,000 hours, so I think I can speak with some credibility. Twenty of my years were spent at the Daytona Beach ATC tower, and of course, we have Embry-Riddle and about five other flight schools at the airport. Dealing with students is nothing new here, so articles like this can only help them understand that we are there to help. 

The only thing I would have added is to the section on talking to air traffic control is to say with the other “Ws” is “With?” meaning the current ATIS code. It saves the controller from asking if the pilot has the info or passing it along. Thanks for some clear and concise writing.

Ron Piasecki, AOPA 160159
Ormond Beach, Florida

I very much enjoyed Jill W. Tallman’s article. In my opinion, the tips and suggestions in her article boil down to two action words: preparation and practice. The dropout rate from student pilot to private pilot is about 70 percent each year, and one of the major causes of the high dropout rate is radio communication struggles.

I, too, had my moment of truth with communicating with the tower in the middle 1990s. Sadly, I think I violated about every tip and suggestion Tallman made in her article. However, I chose not to quit, but to redouble my efforts.

From that experience and my career in education, I developed a learning resource for beginning pilots with mic fright. My product can be taken with you when you fly. The scripts you prepare and then practice act like note cards for a speech. I have sold the book titled VFR Communications Kit and other related products on my own for more than 10 years, and ASA sells an updated version called Aviation Radio Communications Made Easy, VFR Version throughout the world.

Hugh C. Ward Jr., AOPA 1368648
Deland, Florida

Believe it or not

I loved David Kenny’s article about funny NTSB reports (“ Believe It or Not,” October 2010 AOPA Pilot). As a professional helicopter pilot with a single-pilot Part 135 operation, I read the NTSB reports for helicopter accidents regularly, mostly to learn from other people’s mistakes. I wish I found as many funny ones as Kenny included in his piece.

I was witness to a helicopter mishap when an extremely experienced but aging helicopter pilot hover-taxied his Bell 47H helicopter from in front of his hangar to the nearby fuel island. There was a tremendous bang as he passed the I-beam supports for his sliding hangar door. Pieces of something went flying in all directions. The helicopter wobbled, but the pilot quickly recovered full control and continued hovering to the pumps.

He set down and shut down the engine. As the old wooden blades slowed to a stop, we realized that six to 10 inches of each blade had been sheared off, with the leading edge shattered at the end. The poor (but lucky) man was devastated that he’d done such a stupid thing. Realizing that he wasn’t going to go flying that day, he began climbing back into the cockpit to start it up and hover back to his hangar. It took all six of us bystanders to convince him that it would be better for us to use the ground handling wheels to roll it back.

Maria Langer, AOPA 1414378
Phoenix, Arizona

A matter of gross weight

Kudos to Barry Schiff for his column “ Proficient Pilot: A Matter of Gross Weight” (October 2010 AOPA Pilot). He was brutally honest describing the very personal problem of being overweight and all of the associated medical complications obesity can cause. It takes true courage to be so forthright in a magazine as widely read as yours. I have no doubt the column will inspire many pilots with similar challenges to fly longer and live healthier by doing what Schiff has: consult their doctor, eat right, and exercise.

Tim Ballard, AOPA 1300830
Roseburg, Oregon

I am a member of The Ninety-Nines, 58 years old, who appreciates Barry Schiff’s article. Last year, I had the opportunity to go to the AOPA Summit in Tampa, Florida. I noticed at every period, there was some kind of class emphasizing health. It truly impressed me. I had an epiphany—why do we have to be diagnosed with something before we wake up to health? I came home and began to get in touch with the right eating and exercise for my body. I wasn’t a large person nor with threat of diabetes but I, too, love to fly my little Skylane and realized that one day suddenly that would be gone if I didn’t do something positive about my body.

I couldn’t pull out the airplane, had no strength, no endurance after a four-hour flight. I was changing and woke up to it. I’m saying all this to encourage AOPA to keep up the articles and the emphasis that I, for one, heard. It sunk in and all was not in vain. I am much stronger and healthier than ever and continue to pursue this for a great life ahead.

Mae Marquet
Lafayette, Louisiana

Fly Well

I am a regular reader of the “Fly Well” column. Dr. Jonathan Sackier has done a great job and for that reason I hope the association will increasingly emphasize to its members that there’s a colossal difference between “health” and “fitness.”

You can be healthy without being fit and you can also be fit without being healthy. The two terms are often used interchangeably and at the expense of those who most need the correct application. It breaks my heart to see folks who are sedentary and diseased being given fitness-based protocols that bypass their most critical needs and ditto for folks who are given guidance based on physical apperance rather than internal physiological parameters.

Dave Chong, PhD., AOPA 674628
Honolulu, Hawaii.

See details about diabetes in “ Fly Well: It’s All Greek to Me,” and see AOPA Live for additional information on flying and pilot health. —Ed.


In “ Great Shot,” November AOPA Pilot, Greg Poe’s aircraft was identified incorrectly. It is an Edge 540. Pilot regrets the error.

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