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Honoring the Tuskegee Airmen

Mike Collins touched my heart with his article "Honoring the Tuskegee Airmen" (December 2011 AOPA Pilot). Lt. Col. William Holloman III of the famed 332nd Fighter Group was a dear friend and passed away in 2010. Bill was a national treasure. Prior to his passing, he was looking forward to climbing back into a Stearman.

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Mike Collins touched my heart with his article “Honoring the Tuskegee Airmen” (December 2011 AOPA Pilot). Lt. Col. William Holloman III of the famed 332nd Fighter Group was a dear friend and passed away in 2010. Bill was a national treasure. Prior to his passing, he was looking forward to climbing back into a Stearman.

Collins was spot on in referring to these pilots as “Red Tails.” When I first met Bill, purely by accident, I was standing in a line and turned around to see this diminutive black man wearing the red-billed cap. The excitement took me aback but I gained my composure and the courage to ask, “Are you a Red Tail?” His response was an affirmative. We talked for about five minutes and from then on it was just a wonderful relationship. We traveled together twice for weeklong trips to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Bill was a speaker at one conference and a World War II veteran representative for Washington state at another.

When Bill died, it was a true honor to be asked by the family to deliver one of the three eulogies. After the services the family came up to me, thanked me, and marveled that I had told a couple stories that they had never heard. It was the nicest compliment, because I had done my job in recording these little tidbits that Bill confided.

Gene M. Fioretti
Renton, Washington

I just wanted to thank you for the great article on the Spirit of Tuskegee. I enjoyed it tremendously. Not only was it well written, it was especially moving when Collins described how Mr. Quy was so sad shutting down the engine for the last time. I found myself tearing up, too! You want so much for an airplane like that to keep flying and bringing history and joy to people around the country who want to remember and honor the Tuskegee Airmen, but, by the end of the article I was convinced it would be doing the same thing in its new home. I will look forward to visiting the new museum when it opens and seeing the Stearman displayed front and center.

Suzanne Dortch, AOPA 1091771
Cincinnati, Ohio

The HBO movie Tuskegee Airmen is an important part of the high school aerospace/aviation course I teach at Lake Placid High School, in Lake Placid, Florida. It is important for our youth to understand the challenges and sacrifices so many made and the results that came from the efforts at Tuskegee.

Before I show the movie—in a class and school that has a large percentage of minorities—I will do a role play with the students in the class about World War II military assignments. All the girls are assigned as nurses, the Hispanic boys as mechanics, the black males are cooks or stewards, the white males pilot candidates.

This gets a strong reaction, “You can’t do it, Mr. Rousch!” This leads to some very meaningful class discussions about individual rights and opportunities, and what a person needs to do to reach their goals in life. I then show the film, and follow up after with more discussions. Thank you Captain Quy for making this tribute, well done!

John Rousch, AOPA 6878866
Lake Placid, Florida

River dance

Thanks for the trip down memory lane (“Challenges: River Dance,” December 2011 AOPA Pilot). I trekked to Alaska and combined a lengthy vacation with a seaplane rating add-on this past September. There were many high points of the trip—and, of course, flying ranks right up there. I did my seaplane rating with Alaska Floats and Skis, and had a great time.

In retrospect, it would have been less anguish (since I’m not a mariner) to have reviewed FAA-H-8083-23 (which is available for free download from the web). Other than that, the twice-daily training with a checkride on the fourth day was a blast. I had scheduled a couple of days extra for a retest, but since that was not necessary, I did flight-seeing instead before continuing on with the rest of my trip.

Suzanne Collins, AOPA 5677743
Virginia Beach, Virginia

I just finished reading Jill Tallman’s piece and was left with one question. The quote: “...fired up the 85-horsepower Continental” left me wondering if Mr. Sweikar has an electric starter on N43459? I assume he does. On my 65-horsepower Taylorcraft, N43909, I must use an Armstrong starter (hand prop it)! If that were the case with N43459, Mr. Sweikar would have to stand on the float to prop it from behind, and do a tricky dance to get in the pilot’s seat.

John E. Malene, AOPA 1082435 
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

Jill Tallman responds: Stan Sweikar’s Taylorcraft does indeed have an electric starter, for the very reasons you mention. But he’s no stranger to hand propping, and demonstrated it for us on land when we shot photos of the airplane for the article.

Dogfight: For the holidays

It’s good to see you guys agree on something for once (“Dogfight: For the Holidays,” December 2011 AOPA Pilot). My only quibble would be the comparison of West versus East Coast controllers. For the most part you are right, but
the notable exception is Jacksonville (Florida) Center—those guys are consistently as friendly, cordial, and helpful as any I’ve encountered anywhere.

Steve Leonard, AOPA 419129
Atlanta, Georgia

The LSA Starfighter

Very nice article on Flight Designs CTLS (“The Last Starfighter,” December 2011 AOPA Pilot). However, at $160,000, I believe this will be out of the reach of at least 80 percent or more of the potential LSA pilots.

I have seriously looked at the purchase of an LSA but find that most are well more than $100,000. I believe that most of the available LSA are over-equipped with all the glass/electronic gadgetry. What use is it to have IFR capability in an aircraft that is not certified to fly in IFR conditions? 

I applaud AOPA and EAA for petitioning the FAA to allow pilots to use a valid driver’s license to fly up 180 horsepower, day, VFR. I also note that recently the LSA industry is unhappy with this new initiative. The LSA industry is going on about losing potential customers if the FAA were to agree to this new petition. Frankly, I would suspect that the AOPA/EAA expanded use of driver’s license medical will have little or no impact on LSA future sales. I say this because, at the current prices, I would suspect that the LSA industry’s potential customer base is relatively small and will remain unchanged going forward.

Good luck to CTLS. Since I live in Hawaii, access to a LSA is nonexistent.   

Mark K. Crawford, AOPA 4551049
Captain Hook, Hawaii

I’m still a student pilot and don’t have much flight time yet, but I took a lesson in a CTLS once, and, for sightseeing and pure pleasure, I haven’t been in anything that matches it.

The article states that “Sport pilots can’t fly…above a cloud layer, but there’s nothing keeping private pilots…from flying…over clouds.”

I agree that sport pilots are not permitted to do so. FAR 61.315(c)(13) specifically provides that sport pilots may not act as PIC of a light sport aircraft “without visual reference to the surface.” I wonder, though, whether private pilots are permitted to fly above the clouds, even if they are not instrument-rated and even if they are flying an airplane that does not have the equipment that FAR 91.205(d) requires for IFR flight.

Was the statement meant to apply to pilots who are not instrument-rated, and to the CTLS which is not yet equipped for IFR flight, or was it meant to apply only to instrument-rated pilots and airplanes that are IFR-equipped?

Lon Sobel, AOPA 6481318
Santa Monica, California

Al Marsh responds: The statement in the article meant that if a private pilot bought a CTLS, that pilot could legally fly above clouds, as long as he did not encounter IFR conditions on the way to the top of the layer—or on the way down. While a private pilot is not prohibited from flying above a cloud layer, doing so is not always a good idea.

Tattoos in the air

I just had to respond to the negative letters in the December issue regarding “Tattoos in the Air,” and the one in particular from a writer criticizing the “motorcycle element of sport aviation.” My response is get a life! I have been a pilot for 40 years and am also an owner and rider of a 
Harley Davidson Road King. It’s not illegal nor immoral to be a biker.

I have a tattoo from my Marine Corps air wing days and scores of my friends, both male and female, have tasteful
tattoos. I also know many airline
pilots who have tattoos and if they are tasteful and not extreme, I see no problem. I thought the article was interesting and moved on to the next in the magazine.

I feel these complaints come from the snob element of aviation. They do have a right to their opinion and I do respect that. In return, this is my opinion being voiced!

John P. Dainus, AOPA 462899
Fort Myers, Florida

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