Reference the letter to the editor in your Oct. 20 issue written by Kim H. Wallis (Test pilots held to a higher standard?): Clearly Kim Wallis did not think through the Sport Jet crash scenario before he hit the send button on his computer. Without knowledge of prior traffic, pilots are routinely dependent upon air traffic control to ensure separation between aircraft on takeoff, during landing, and in-flight.
What Mr. Wallis did not know is that I taxied out the short distance to the runway with all preflight checks complete and ready for takeoff. Being on clearance and ground frequencies, I had no information about previous takeoffs. The Dash 8 taxied to the runway from the opposite side parallel taxiway and was never visible to my aircraft. Since I was ready for takeoff and not at the end of the runway waiting for three minutes to elapse, I was dependent upon our national air traffic control system to provide safe separation. The Colorado Springs Airport Tower cleared me for takeoff but failed to provide safe separation between the Dash 8 and the Sport Jet.
Until the FAA takes aircraft separation and wake turbulence seriously, we will continue to have accidents of this type. This accident occurred because the Dash 8 rotated at the same point as my rotation and takeoff. Had the aircraft been a standard commercial jet with an extended takeoff roll, the outcome would have been totally different even with the reduced time separation. Incidentally, an intersecting runway could have been selected by the tower (Runway 12). I did not know about the Dash 8 until the next day while I was in the hospital. The truth is always enlightening, especially when it can save lives in the future.
We have towers at airports, controlled airspace around airports, and a radar flight environment to provide safe separation between aircraft. See and be seen is restricted to line of sight. The original article was correct as written. It would appear Mr. Wallis may have some knowledge about pooches, but be totally ignorant about our national airspace system, the test pilot community, and fighter combat aviation.
JAMES M. STEWART