Friday, October 13, 2017
National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) held their convention in Las Vegas this week. It has been 9 days from the horrible shooting incident occurred. I have been traveling to Las Vegas since 1970 and have never seen the town so subdued. There was a quiet aurora around the City and in the hotel casinos. Fewer people were in Vegas than I have ever encountered. When I checked in to my hotel my room was not ready, and they asked me if I would like a penthouse room at the same price. That has never happened to me before in Vegas. I arrived early on Tuesday the first day of the convention at Henderson Airport (HND). I needed a reservation number to be allowed to enter Class D Airspace. When I told the tower my number I could hear all ATC laughing, the number was 007. Flying weather up and back was fantastic. Pure VFR weather both ways with a 25 Kt. crosswind going home. HND airport is the host for the event. It is located about a thirty minute ride from the Strip in Las Vegas. NBAA, as always, provided buses from HND to the convention center, and then provided buses from the convention center to all the hotels on the Strip. HND is home to the static display of which their were 85 aircraft on display. In addition the night before several planes were towed down the strip from HND to the convention center for an indoor static display. My only disappointment was not being approached at the static display as the vendors were too busy talking among themselves, so i did my own tours. All the big boys of jets were there. Global 7000, Gulfstream 650, Falcon 8X and several Cessna Jets were the big hitters on display. My favorite plane was a polished aluminum DC 3. It was gorgeous. I spent most of the morning going through the static display and then bused over to the convention center. NBAA does not overlap much with piston general aviation (GA). However this year it did. The biggest issue facing GA this year is HR 2997 which is a bill supporting privatization of Air Traffic Control (ATC). I can not recollect when I have seen Mark Baker, CEO of AOPA, Jack Pelton, President of EAA and Ed Bolen, President of NBAA on the same stage. I wish that GA be referred to as smaller piston airplanes and Jets be referred to as Business Aviation. As of now they are all grouped together under the GA category. This year all three groups have this one issue in common to defeat HR 2997. Everyone involved in GA realizes how serious this is and could be very detrimental in the future of limiting airspace to GA for the Airlines and user fees. We have the best ATC system in the world. It does not need fixing, it just needs to be funded on a consistent level to update programs such as NxtGen. HR 2997 is the biggest threat to the future of GA. There are three exhibit halls are NBAA and they are big. I am usually worn out after trying to visit each booth. Of course I could not stop at every booth to chat or I would never get through all the exhibitors. I found it interesting that the crossover booths that apply to GA and Jets were very busy. ForeFlight, Bose and MYGOFLIGHT had excellent attendance. When I go to NBAA I try to catch up with old aviation friends. It was difficult having much of a conversation with Ryan McBride, Mark Baker, Tom Haines and two people I missed completely were Heidi Williams, in charge of airspace for NBAA, and Rob Mark editor of Flying Magazine. They were all very busy. This gives me a reason to go back in two years. The other aspect I truly enjoy is chatting up the people around me on the bus rides. I met people from all over the world and always find this fascinating. I do not know how the attendance was this year. It looked down to me but it is such a large venue it is truly hard to tell. I would also like to thank Scottsdale Airport (SDL) for keeping my bag in their booth until I left the show to check in at my hotel.
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
When I was a kid growing up we had four channels on TV, and they were all in black and white. I used to watch Mighty Mouse cartoons with my sister, and he was one of the super heroes of our day. The show’s theme song stated: here I come to save the day...Mighty Mouse is on the way. Two meetings have been held in reference to engines and propellers; and in attendance were engine manufactures, propeller manufactures, FAA, EAA, AOPA, Cirrus Pilots Association, Beech Pilots Association and Cessna Pilots Association along with Mike Busch. For some reason Beech and Cessna did not think it was important enough to attend the second meeting. The reason this all came about is that Continental Engines sent out a mandatory service bulletin that could have led owners of these engines to payout anywhere from $20,000 to $35,000 to perform this mandatory service bulletin. Mandatory service bulletins are not mandatory in the United States but are mandatory in other countries. Usually when a company issues a mandatory service bulletin they ask the FAA to issue an Airworthy Directive (AD). I really disdain manufactures asking for an AD because it absolves the manufacture of any liability. When there is a recall on a car, the manufacture is responsible for ten years. Unless your plane is in the warranty period you are out of luck for an AD. I have argued against this for years. If a manufacture makes a mistake in production they should be responsible for it. Their answer is that they have a lot smaller productions than cars and would go out of business if they had to do this. With our lenient bankruptcy laws a company could close down today and start up as a new business tomorrow. This all leads me to our super hero, Mike Busch. Mike fly’s a Cessna 310 which means he would have an expense of approximately $50,000 if Continental was issued the AD. He took it upon himself to fight this service bulletin before an AD was issued. He involved all of the above listed. I was not in attendance for this meeting but the report back from those who were there is that he presented a case of how this could be handled without an AD being issued. I understand his presentation was eloquent, presented with facts and no emotions. The FAA reconsidered and did not issue an AD. Mike is truly a super hero to all those that own Continental engines. He saved people a small fortune. Without his advocacy, along with AOPA and EAA, the FAA would have certainly issued and AD. I am very thankful for his service to and knowledge of general aviation.
Friday, September 1, 2017
In all my years of flying I have only encountered two lousy controllers, and it was on the same trip. This was before iPads and apps such as ForeFlight were in the cockpit. I only had a portable Garmin 396 GPS and my Jeppesen charts to fly with. We were traveling from Phoenix Deer Valley, DVT, to Palo Alto, CA , PAO, to visit my daughter and her family. She was a doctor at Stanford Children’s Hospital at the time, and it was homecoming at Stanford. We obtained a weather briefing the night before and the morning of the flight. We planned a fuel stop at Whiteman Airport, WHP, in the LA Basin which is just east of Van Nuys, VNY. The forecast called for IFR hitting the LA Basin and again IFR into PAO. I was talking to SoCal ATC and getting ready to fly the VOR approach into WHP. I was being vectored around and lost some situational awareness of what ATC was trying to do. The next thing they told me I was cleared for the approach into VNY. I told the controller we were going to WHP and read the strip. He then had to vector me around until we were set up for the approach into WHP. We fueled up and obtained our clearance from the tower at WHP for the next part of our trip to PAO. There were never any thunderstorms or icing in the forecast or along our route of flight, just clouds and light rain. Approaching PAO on NoCal approach we were vectored off the airway and given the GPS approach into PAO. The VOR approach was right off the airway we were on, and you have to cross the VOR and turn west to shoot the VOR approach into PAO. This controller never looked at the strip and assumed we were IFR GPS equipped. A supervisor took over from the controller and asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I needed vectors south to get back on the airway to shoot the approach. Thank goodness neither of these events tuned out poorly for us. I have learned a lesson from this in that I always tell approach what airport I am going into and what approach I expect. I have never had a problem since. In all my years of flying this is the only encounter I have had with two incompetent controllers. I would have to say that the rest of my flying experience with ATC has been outstanding. I have been rerouted due to weather on several occasions and all controllers have been extremely helpful. We fly into San Diego Montgomery Field, MYF, about 10 times over the summer. The MEA has been raised just before arriving into MYF from 8,000 feet to 8,400 feet. We fly over at 8,000. We would have to climb 2,000 feet to 10,000 feet with a shotgun descent to 451 feet to land. Additionally the FAA changed the routing for airliners making us do a lot of holding before we could go into MYF. SoCal told us we could fly towards PGY VOR where the MEA is 7,000 feet and not have to climb. This also put us out of the path of airliners and on the south side of the mountains approaching San Diego. Without ATC’s help we would have never known this. It saved a lot of time and holding. Shuster in Congress has been pushing for years to privatize ATC. This is being pushed so ATC can be controlled by the airlines. GA pays a fuel tax that is collected by the government when the fuel is produced. There is no cost of collection. With the new ATC user fees would be put in place for the little guys. This has literally killed GA in countries around the world with prices being too expensive to fly. Shuster also wants to give away approximately $50B of taxpayers assets for a privatized ATC. We have the best ATC system in the world, and it works extremely well. Now is not the time to make changes to this system. In closing I would like to thank all those hard working controllers out there!
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
I got interested in aviation at a very young age. My Dad died when I was young, and we moved out of our house into a high rise condo in the Buckhead area of Atlanta. As luck would have it our neighbor Charlie Dolson, who was the third Chairman of Delta Airlines took me under his wing. He took me for a ride in a Cessna 172. After that I was hooked. Too young to get Certified, I flew with others every chance I got. I went off to College to play ball. My junior year I tore up my knee. Knee surgery was not very good in 1969. I was in the first year of the Draft lottery, pulled a low number and had to go take a physical, which just about everyone passed, and enlisted with the Air Force. Back then Delta was only taking pilots from the military. I went to take my flight physical and flunked with flying colors, and the AirForce said goodbye. After that I worked hard on rehabilitating my knee and decided to give my other sport baseball a try. My Godfather was President of the Yankees and he gave me a non-roster spot at A Ball in Fort Lauderdale. I could still hit but had very little lateral movement and lost some speed. All during this time I had not been flying at all. I had to get an occupation, which turned out a good career for me. Getting married and having children put a hold on my flying for years. I took up flying later in life and have been Certificated for over thirty years having owned a glider, Cherokee 180, Mooney 201 and my current Bonanza for 20 years. When I got into ownership I took the advice of others before buying an airplane. The one thing I always did was to have an annual performed before completing any transaction. I used a mechanic who was familiar with the airplane that had not worked on the purchase airplane. I also had a written agreement with the seller that the seller would pay to repair anything deemed necessary at annual. If it was something major and the seller did not want to repair the airplane they could pay all my expenses to date. With no disrespect to those who do prebuys, I do not believe you can find all issues wrong with an airplane by just performing a prebuy. Even after doing an annual and purchasing the plane I always found small things that needed fixing. With the advent of social media I have floated out questions on my Bonanza to members in the Vintage Bonanza Group. I was surprised at some of the responses which definitely would not be advantageous to my Bonanza. You really have to throughly investigate things to be sure your are doing the right thing. I listen to many podcast. I will be the first to admit I am not mechanically inclined. I do change my own oil and filter between annuals. The best podcast I have listened to is Airplane Owner Maintenance with Dean Showwalter. He had an episode that turned into two episodes on how to start a cold engine. I had always gone by the book and cracked my throttle three times to start the plane. When it came to life the RPM's went way over 1000. Dean suggested to to leave the throttle completely closed and start the airplane. It worked! Now I start up at 600 RPM's wait for the oil pressure to come up and gradually open the throttle to 800 RPM's. Do not forget to lean the mixture back to prevent any fouling of the plugs. This would have saved me a lot of wear and tear on the engine if I had know about it earlier. When it comes to maintenance I have tried them all. I have used independent mechanics and shops. I have found the independents not as through, major FBO's too through and too expensive. When I moved my plane to Scottsdale, SDL, I have a friend that has a shop that mostly services his flight school airplanes. The three guys working there have between them about 110 years of experience working on piston aircraft. The first annual cost a little bit more as I figured it would, but since then things have been fine. Remember I am flying a 63 year old Bonanza so it will take a little more maintenance to keep it happy. At this stage in my life I am hoping to see young people get into aviation to replace me. If you are flying for pleasure it is hard at a young age to do this. House and car payments along with starting a family eat up a lot of disposable income. Most young people I am involved with are flying to become an airline pilot. This too is very expensive. I have recommended that people think about joining the service. If you do 2 ten's then you have a full pension from the service and still have approximately another 25 years you can fly for the airlines. Wishing everyone well.
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
No matter what you call it...OSH, Oshkosh or EAA Air Adventure- it is the greatest General aviation show on earth. For 7 days or more the outside world ceases to exist. Why I say 7 days or more is because people tend to arrive early for this event. I know people who arrive as early as the Friday before, but then there are those who arrive even earlier in their campers and tents. I was not able to attend this years event, or the previous two years to that, due to family medical situations, but I am not left out in the cold on what is happening at the event. Through social media I am able to see the airshows; listen to podcasts; see videos and pictures from my friends, AOPA, EAA and several aviation news sources. There are four buildings with vendors goods. The announcements are fast and furious of new products at, or just before, OSH. Garmin seems to be at the forefront again this year announcing two low cost autopilots for legacy aircraft. Previous to OSH Garmin also introduced new HSI and Attitude indicators, the G5, that can sync to these autopilots. When I say low cost I mean $7,000 for a digital autopilot. The lowest cost autopilot with altitude hold that I could by before was $30,000. Two other vendors announced autopilots for legacy aircraft, but Garmin blew away the competition. If I was younger I would plan on installing these 3 Garmin products in my Bonanza. Spending $15,000 to $20,000 just does not sense for me not knowing how much longer I will be flying. If I was 10-15 years younger it would be a no brainer, and I would be first in line. Another interesting product I heard about is transforming a Bose Audio headset into an aviation headset. The headset runs around $300 retail and the conversion is $275 to make this a full aviation headset. The manufacture is backed ordered for 10 months. I do not know if they are just too small to handle the business. This would be perfect for my wife as the weight is a lot lighter than an A 20 Bose aviation headset. It is supposed to have 80% hearing ANR of the A 20 which is more than acceptable to me. Dynon has a glass panel that is now STC'd for legacy aircraft with digital autopilot and ADS-B. I also heard that there will be new weather products in about 6 months for ADS-B, of course the FAA has stated this for the past two years so we will see. Speaking of the FAA, they still refuse to turn on ADS-B for all to see traffic on ADS-B In. As I have said for years the FAA motto is safety, but they do not practice what they preach. I miss seeing the group fly-ins of different manufactures planes. There are always cool airplanes to see at OSH. Lectures on current issues and workshops how to build your own airplane are in abundance. The thing I miss most about OSH is seeing my friends from across the country that are involved in aviation. Some I have met at OSH, some are longtime personal friends and some are social media friends that I have never met in person. So next year I will plan to be back. Only time will tell.
Friday, June 16, 2017
Dear Mr. President: It is my understanding that you wish to improve the infrastructure of our great Country and your first goal is to tackle Aviation. I am sorry to see that you have incompetent people advising you on this topic. You state that you want to privatize Air Traffic Control (ATC), which has nothing to do with the infrastructure of aviation. ATC’s goal is to move traffic with efficiency and do it safely. It has nothing to do with infrastructure. It is my understanding that our ATC system moves more traffic in one day than does the rest of the world combined. Flying for over 50 years I would have to say ATC does an excellent job of moving traffic safely from point A to B. ATC is not a horrible horrible system as you have been quoted. Matter of fact we have the safest ATC system in the world. You state that ATC is responsible for all delays in the system and that traffic is circling over our airports to land. This is not true. No airplanes are circling over airports in a holding pattern to land. One major problem of delays in this country is that the airlines use primarily the same 38 airports, and they all want to take off and land at these airports at the exact same time. Even with ADS-B and NextGen coming on line in 2020, this problem will not be resolved. Yes airplanes will be allowed to fly direct to certain airports instead of following a highway in the sky, but since they all want to arrive at the same time holdings and delays in the air will increase over what we have today. There are several types of holdings that occur today: ground stoppages due to weather at destinations where planes are not allowed to take off; holding at various points in route because there are just too many planes wanting to land at the same airport at the same time and increased spacing for landings due to inclement weather. You state that you want to do away with fuel taxes collected and paid at time of fuel production and institute user fees. It will cost more to collect user fees than our current system and this will lead to a new bureaucracy just to collect these fees. The airlines will just pass this increased fee onto the end user, the passenger. General aviation will come to a screeching halt as those flying for small business and pleasure will not be able to afford these fees. And speaking of privatization how is that working for the Post Office who continues to bleed more looses each year. We have an excellent system for ATC that works in this Country. Unfortunately it is the balance of the FAA that needs to be disbanded and started anew. Congress has not been of much assistance in continually financing the FAA throughout the years. There has been no continuity of budget. When the FAA decides to bring a new program onboard it is so bogged down politically that it is antiquated when it comes to fruition. So in my opinion everything that you have stated about the ATC system is fake news and has been handled badly. Hopefully you can surround yourself with more informed people on this issue that show more knowledge of the system and are not sleeping with Airline lobbyist.