Crossing the line


“If you cross the line, you’ve crossed the line” (FAA runway safety initiative launched). How true, but it more often occurs after landing and not completely clearing the runway. Just because your seat in the cockpit is across the hold short line doesn’t mean you are “clear of the runway.”

I once witnessed a Boeing 757, at a major US airport, stop with over 50 feet of the aircraft still across the hold short line. A DC-10 then took off on that runway, missing the tail of the offending 757 by a too-close margin. I called this to the tower, but they didn’t seem to understand the problem. When I called on the phone later, the tower controller still could not see a problem.

This is not the only time I have seen this occur with large aircraft and I see it happening often with light aircraft today.

ED DICKMAN, via e-mail

How about video game cockpit?

The letter about glass cockpits from Lou Wagner of Bethune, S.C., was 100% correct. Glass cockpits should not be called glass cockpits. I would give it a non-professional name like “video game cockpit.”

Yes, it is modern, operated by electrical power. But what happens if you lose your electrical power — and that has happened — and you crash and burn? All airplanes should have the reliable old-style gauges and all pilots should be trained on these reliable gauges, and not on video games at home. Pilots need to be real pilots and not like kids playing games.

HAROLDI KOSOLA, Albany, Georgia

More on the Death of Common Sense


Re: The Death of Common Sense: Common sense has been driven out of most airports, but it does still exist here in the boondocks. If the runways are grass — or dirt — and the aircraft do not have radios, or they are not used too much, and the pilots cannot tell you what the instruments actually said when they were flying — only that the gauges were all in the green and things sounded right and the pilot had all the passengers looking for traffic and if the sun was out and the aircraft occupants saw their shadow on the ground with no others near and the pilots all made sure they did not run into anyone or anything in front of them, then common sense is present and accounted for.

But don’t tell anybody or they will come and see the busy traffic pattern and declare that a control tower is needed, so one is put in, like the one years ago in North Oklahoma City, which forced all the small airplanes to move to an uncontrolled field, which resulted in too little traffic to justify a tower but it was not removed.

When common sense is forced out by regulations —- or any other cause (I won’t say reason) — you get what you described. I really believe the situation could be reversed.

BOB PARK, via e-mail

More on glass cockpits


Re: Glass cockpits haven’t boosted GA safety: The FAA is right on. So-called glass cockpit pilots need more training, but more than that, other issues remain which the article did not mention.

First, they present an enormous amount of pilot distraction. Look at a typical layout with its scores of buttons and windows. Who is looking out the window and flying the plane while all this button pushing is going on? Old style gauges require only a quick scan of the panel, while a radio call to FSS can update weather information without having to stop what you are doing while you peer at a WX map on the panel.

As to costs, don’t kid me. They may be affordable to Harrison Ford, but not to the average owner of a 30- or 40-year-old plane, thousands of which are still flying.

And while I’m at it, let me ask, “what kind of dumb name is glass cockpit? There’s no glass and it’s not a cockpit. It’s an EFIS or EID: Electronic Flight Instrument System or Electronic Instrument Display. It’s like calling an instrument panel a dashboard.

LOU WAGNER, Bethune, S.C.

More on passing gas


My wife and I appreciated the article titled “Passing Gas.” Steve Hanshew was willing to cover the most important aspects of aviation fuels and the attempt by the Feds to remove 100LL from existence.

I have been flying for over 52 years and have never suffered any ill effect from the use of tetra-ethyl lead in aviation fuel. When I began my flying career, one of the most pleasant odors emanating from my J-3 Cub was the smell of the 80-octane fuel being put into the tank. The next most pleasant odor was that of the exhaust of the fuel as the little 75-hp engine fired into life. During my college years, I poured thousands of gallons of 115-octane fuel into the TWA Connies for their hops from STL to LAX.

It has been very apparent that the federal government has done everything it can, without creating an immediate revolution, to emasculate aviation, particularly private aviation. There is no reason why 100LL should be almost $5 per gallon except that the government and the big oil companies, along with the air-headed environmentalists, want to control and eliminate as many American citizens from owning their own aircraft.

The aviation community must not roll over and play dead. We owe it to our children and grandchildren, as well as to the thousands of men and women who have flown before us.

E.W. MICKEY, via e-mail

Leave the politics aside


What Mr. Mortensen demonstrated in his letter to the the editor (Global warming debate: Is it over?) was the role politics and emotion play in the global warming debate. The debate is not over when the underlying science of global warming is undermined by “e-mailgate” and some of the hyperbolic statements made by proponents of global warming. Any time substances are introduced into the environment there should be concern, but personal attacks and political rants play no part in the process.

Whether global warming proves to be directly attributable to fossil fuels, partly attributable, or not at all, we need to realize that adding combustion byproducts into the atmosphere cannot be a good thing. Leave the politics aside and strive for solid science and solid solutions.


An advocate in OKC


I read with interest the article on special issuance renewals, “Waiting for a letter from OKC to fly again?”), where you state that it’s not as bad as a few years ago. As a pilot who has been on a special issuance for over 20 years, I would like to add that it is much better that in the past, and this is mostly due to Dr. Warren Silberman, who took over as director of the Airman Certification Branch about 10 years ago. In the early 1990S, it used to take months to get renewed, and the old certificate would expire in the meantime. The last few years that I got renewed, it took only a matter of weeks.

I met Dr. Silberman at Oshkosh, and listened to a number of his forums. He is a pilot and a real aviation enthusiast. He spends much of the show helping pilots with their renewal problems. He has to do his job, but he makes every effort to keep us flying.

HUBERT “SKIP” SMITH, State College, Pa.

Mainstream Aviation


Re: Is there a better name for general aviation?: I suggest “Mainstream Aviation.”

On first consideration, one might think that commercial aviation better fits this moniker. But most of the thousands of passengers who fly commercially have no actual connection to or stake in aviation as a field of endeavor. They are just customers. Yes, they are necessary, but they do not constitute the “life blood” of the endeavor. (They are analogous, rather, to the “food” of the organism.)

On the other hand, what is termed general aviation includes the majority of actual pilots, owners of aircraft, mechanics, and others who participate directly in the field of aviation. This is the mainstream of aviation. We have not only the most people involved, but we operate and use the most real estate — the vast majority of the nation’s 5,000 (or so) airports and all the associated hangars and FBOs and maintenance shops and fueling facilities. We are the mainstream.

Say it a few times. It rolls nicely off the tongue: “Mainstream Aviation.”

And so what if there’s just a teensy bit of marketing in the term. We need better visibility and greater appreciation by the public. Mainstream Aviation can help foster those goals.

N.W. MILLER, Redlands, Calif.

Is global warming debate over?


I think it is obvious that Ben Visser is a right-wing conservative and being more mainstream myself, I find many of his articles quite irritating. His recent article about global warming, however, was over-the-top and frankly offensive (Global warming debate stifles progress).

His clumsy “shot-gun” analogy about the scientific data concerning climate change was very counterproductive. There is no longer any debate among credible scientists about the validity of global warming and the contribution of burning fossil-fuels exacerbating it. The debate is over!

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Why should the tail wag the dog?


Re: Is there a better name for general aviation?: Why not call what we do just…aviation. I submit that it is easy to make the case for retiring that first, ambiguous, word. After all, whenever I am required to define the term general aviation to non-flyers, I always repeat the general bromide that it is “all aviation that is neither military nor airline passenger transportation” or, in other words, everything else.

If this is so, why does what we do need any modifying adjective to distinguish it from what is actually the much smaller number of aircraft and flights flown in any given hour, day, month or year. Most pilots are general aviation pilots, flying general aviation aircraft into mostly general aviation airports. Why should the tail wag this dog?

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