Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Saturday, December 14, 2013


For years I have been writing and speaking on the fact that 3rd class medicals should be abolished in their entirety. I feel that the 3rd class medical is a waste of time and money. Basically one is tested for diabetes, hearing, sight, blood pressure and a minimum heart exam with a stethoscope. As pilots we have to do this every 2 years to be able to continue with our flying privilege.

My objections to 3rd class medicals are numerous, and I will include BFR’s in this classification. I do think at a certain age that BFR’s should be required to fly, and I also think they should be required to drive a car. There are too many dangerous people on the road that should not be driving. The reasoning for a 3rd class medical is that you can not do damage to others or your passengers if you have a medical. I feel it should be up to the pilot to decide if they are able to fly on any given day for noncommercial purposes..

Right now ballon, glider, sport and LSA pilots can self certify if they are able to fly for noncommercial purposes. AOPA and the EAA petitioned the FAA to eliminate the 3rd class medical for those who flew a 4 seat airplane with one passenger, 180hp or less, fixed gear, no IFR and no night flight. At this time Randy Babbitt was the FAA Administrator and proactive for this going through. Due to some unfortunate circumstances Randy was forced to resign his position, and that was the end of any consideration for relaxing the 3rd class medical rules....until now.

AOPA has done an excellent job in supporting those in Congress who support general aviation (GA). The house GA caucus has become a numerous body with support for GA. Just recently this body introduced legislation to relax certification of airplanes and avionics. The bill was passed by the House, Senate and signed by the President in a most expedient manner unheard of in these days for our Government.

The House caucus on Aviation was not happy that the FAA blew off the 3rd class medical situation as proposed by AOPA. There was no progress with the FAA, and they were sitting on their behinds on this issue. AOPA continued to work with the caucus and to everyones surprise the caucus has introduced a bill in the House to radically reform the 3rd class medical rules. As it stands now the bill states that any non commercial airplane that has 6 seats with 5 passengers aboard, weighs less than 6000 pounds, flies at 14,000 feet or less and flies only VFR (day and night) will not require a 3rd class medical for the pilot. This is dramatically more than what AOPA originally requested. One caveat to this bill is that it penalizes those who fly into the coastal areas of the west coast. There is usually a 2000 foot marine layer, in the summer time, that one has to fly through to land at these airports. Therefore you will have to be IFR and have a 3rd class medical to do this. The other problem could be in busy airspace that is controlled, TRACON might not approve you to fly through Class Bravo. Being that over 80% of pilots are VFR only this is a great start.

That being said this is an amazing step forward for GA and will extend the careers of many aviators. I hope this bill will clear the House and Senate as quick as the revitalization bill did. Then the question is will the President, who is not a fan of GA, sign the bill. Only time will tell.

Thursday, November 21, 2013



Forgive me if I fall asleep while writing this blog. Someone at the FAA in Oklahoma City or Washington is trying to justify their job by issuing a ruling that any pilot who has a BMI of 40 or over and/or a 17 inch neck size must now see a board certified sleep specialist to be approved for a special issuance medical. When I played football I had a size 16 inch neck at 5’8”. Most players today are bigger so they would all be disqualified for a regular medical. Do not get me started about medicals as I think the 3rd class medical is a joke and not needed. I f you are going to fly someone commercial then a 2nd or 1st class medical is a good thing.


There have been no aviation accidents that I know of caused by sleep apnea. Yet the FAA waives it’s magic wand and wants to change the game. There are procedures that the FAA has to go through to change the rules. The FAA has changed the way of doing business by bypassing all the rules. I would bet in the future that Congress will shut down this ridiculous suggestion.


The current administration has been the most anti aviation administration in office ever. Don’t know what their problem is but it has been a tremendous problem to all facets of aviation for the past 6 years. It is no wonder that fewer and fewer want to become a pilot.

I have dealt with all levels of the FAA over the years including 2 administrators. I have several friends that work for ATC. The ATC guys get it and are helpful in promoting aviation and aviation safety. The administrators come from the planet Mars. This is not to say that all administration of the FAA has run amok, but the few who have need to find a new job in the private sector as they have forgotten who they work for. I hope that the next administration realizes the value of aviation to our country. 


The FAA just passed new pilot training rules that state more emphasis is to be placed on stalls and slow flight for airline pilots. Their reasoning behind this is the FAA states that pilots have forgotten how to hand fly with all the automation on board. Another caveat to this ruling is that the airlines have 5 years to reprogram their simulators. A lot of good that is going to do now.

If you are a pilot you know that the first 20 hours or so of training as a student pilot are spent doing stalls, slow flight and how to avoid a spin. The FAA thinks that due to automation airline pilots have forgotten how to fly. In airliners (and business jets) upon takeoff and approaching 200 feet the autopilot goes on until approach at approximately 500 feet. I still know airline pilots that like to hand fly as much as possible. The best airline pilots I know are those that own a small GA airplane and keep their skills up to date.

When I transitioned from my Bonanza to my friends Citation Jet (CJ) I could have flown it the way airline pilots do, 200 feet AGL and auto pilot on. I wanted to hand fly the airplane to get the feel of it in all kinds of conditions. My first landing in the CJ  we were flying the autopilot following the ILS into Colorado Springs (COS). The weather was choppy, and I turned off the autopilot and hand flew the approach smoother than the autopilot did. 

My Bonanza, as my previous airplanes, does not have an autopilot. I feel that my hours of hand flying is more than most airline pilots have today. On a trip from San Diego (MYF) to Phoenix Deer Valley (DVT) this past summer we were in the soup (IMC) for almost the whole 2 hour trip. Not only was I hand flying but we had to divert for weather. I was very thankful for my IPad as I only had to place my finger on three VOR’s and hit add to route to change our routing. In the old days of paper charts I would have asked ATC for vectors until I could figure everything out. This would not be a good situation to be in without an autopilot. For me to buy a STC’d autopilot would cost around $15,000. This is why I believe the FAA should approve non TSO’d autopilots for enroute use in certified airplanes...SAFETY! My cost would then be a more manageable $5000. These units have proved themselves over the years on experimental aircraft.

In closing what the FAA has stated is that airline pilots no longer know how to fly. I think this is bull hockey.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


You now have your pilots license. What are you going to do with it? Are you going to continue flying which I assume you are. How are you going to fly, are you going to continue renting, join a Flying Club or are you going to buy an airplane? There are quandaries to all of the above.


You probably never asked questions of your flight school while training on the process of renting from them after you have your ticket. You learn that you are going to have to buy renters insurance to be covered in case of an accident for physical damages and liability. Then you find out that there are restrictions such as no night flight and you can not take their plane out of state. What good is this other than to fly for the “$100 hamburger”.

I find that most flight schools have older equipment. There is nothing wrong with an older airplane that has been well maintained and not susceptible to the rigors of flight school training. I find that this is not the type of airplane I would like to fly, and that there are too many restrictions in place.


I bought a Piper Cherokee to do my instrument training. The Cherokee was slow but fulfilled my mission statement at the time. I hired a CFII and had my Instrument ticket in about 2 months. The Cherokee served me well for a couple of years, and then I decided I wanted something faster. I sold my plane and joined a local flying club to try out different airplanes. I paid a small initiation fee and decided to fly the Mooney 201. I had to train with the club approved CFII until I was signed off. 

I used the plane for 2 missions. One was to go snow skiing, and the other was to fly several 4 day trips to San Diego in the summer to get out of the desert heat. 

Flying Clubs have rules too. One rule is that you must fly X number of hours a month. This rule serves 2 purposes. The club wants you to stay proficient in the plane you were checked out on, and the other reason is you are charged for a minimum number of hours each month whether you use them or not.

There is a second caveat to flying clubs. Our club had a rule that you had to pay for 2 hours for each day you had the airplane. If I flew to San Diego and back for 4 days, I was paying for 4 hours that I flew the airplane and an additional 4 hours that the plane sat on the ground. This became very expensive very fast.

I also found that the Club airplanes were not maintained to my expectations.


Renting and Flying Clubs did not work out for me as I like to travel in an airplane. I then decided to buy another airplane. I never look at the costs of owning an airplane because if I did, I could never justify owning. 

When I snow skied in the winter and traveled in the summer I put an average of 125 hours a year on the plane. I do no ski any longer and my average hours per year are around 75. In 2013 I will only put 50 hours on the plane due to some canceled trips.

I never entertained the thought of having a partner in my plane. I like the ability to go fly whenever I want to. I also know how my plane was flown, landed and any problems that might creep up. Partnerships work for a lot of people and help reduce cost of ownership.

Please understand that flying for business is different than for pleasure and not included here.

You now have 3 different options to proceed with your flying enjoyment. Each of us is different and what works for one might not work for another. Good luck with your choice and keep on flying.

A BIG shout out to my friend Rob Voss who is
Senior Advisor
ATO System Operations
Midwest Tactical Operations, AJR-15

Rob was kind enough to call out my misspelling of RNP approaches where I typed RPN. He also told me these approaches have been very successful at Midway in Chicago. Glad to hear that as I get the opposite feedback from SWA pilots at other major airports.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013



My understanding of NextGen is that it is supposed to save the airlines fuel, which saves money, by being able to fly direct to airports instead of using Hi Enroute Airways. There’s only one problem that I ascertain with this hypothesis. 90% of the airline flights go to 28 airports in the US. They all seem to arrive and depart at the same time. So while they might be able to get to the airport destination quicker, they are going to have to wait to land.

General aviation is going to be penalized by having to have ADS-B IN and OUT plus a transponder. My understanding is that we have to have a transponder for the airlines TCAS to work. To me this means that no one trust that ADS-B will work as advertised.

The FAA has the ability to turn on ADS-B for traffic so that everyone who flies with an IPad could see traffic if they have an ADS-B unit in the plane and an Aviation APP. This could save lives NOW! The FAA’s official answer is they won’t turn on traffic now so that pilots will buy an ADS-B IN and OUT unit before the 2020 deadline. 

In the Phoenix Bravo I receive ADS-B traffic. Once I leave the area I’m lucky if I see any traffic for the rest of my trip. The only way this happens is if there is a plane in my vicinity flying with ADS-B OUT. This happens rarely on my cross country trips.

I have written my 2 Senators and 1 Congressman along with AOPA and nothing is happening for the good of safety. I had a generic reply from McCain’s office after 3 months and no reply from the others. SAFETY is what the FAA preaches but does not follow.

RNP approaches are a joke. First a plane has to be equipped with the proper equipment to fly a RNP approach. So far so good. A RNP approach allows a plane to reduce power on the approach and fly the approach without assistance of ATC. By flying a RNP approach a plane will save fuel. The problem with the program is very few planes are equipped to fly RNP and therefore can not fit in with the other traffic at a major airport. SWA equipped their planes with RNP but rarely get approved for the the approach by ATC. It has gotten so bad that pilots have quit requesting a RNP approach. They are usually turned down by ATC.

So we will have all the goodies but will be unable to make use of them while the FAA is spending billions of tax dollars to install NextGen. The FAA has been working on NextGen for 10 years, and it is behind schedule...go figure.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013



Starting 4 years ago my wife and I decided to make 1 overseas trip each fall. So each year I get to judge the airlines performance based on our trip. So far we have flown British Airways (F), Iberia (A), United (C), US Airways (A) and Delta (F). BA was given an F in all categories from equipment to personnel and the worst customer service I have ever seen. Iberia, which is partly owned by BA, had good equipment and great personnel. United had older equipment. Some flights their personnel was great and some just cold. US Airways was the surprise of our trips. I usually wind up on Boeing aircraft but was impressed by the Airbus. The seats were wider and more comfortable than Boeing, and I really liked the Airbus 340 we flew from Philadelphia to Rome. US Air planes were also clean, and there was no trash in the aisles. I have always had an affinity for Delta Airlines. I grew up next door to one of the founders and 3rd chairman of Delta. He took me on my first private flight and taught me how to fly when I was a young teenager. If he saw how Delta was run today he would be spinning in his grave. We flew on a 767 from Venice to JFK and a 737 from JFK to PHX. Neither of the planes had any support in the seat or seat back. Trash covered the aisles, and Flight Attendants had the personalities of Zombies. Even with the extra $100 per person per flight we paid for extra leg room on Delta, the Airbus coach seats had more room and comfort.

An amazing thing happened to us at the airport. We were given status that we did not have to take off our shoes, take out our quart baggies and IPad's. I don’t know why we were qualified for this line, but it made things a lot easier going through security. Coming home from JFK on Delta we were told that my wife was approved but I was not for this expedited service. My wife was sent to another line, and I went with her and we zipped through security without going through the dog and pony show. This just goes to show that the TSA still has no idea what it is doing.

One good thing about traveling on the airlines is each time I get a bug about selling my airplane, after I get off an airline flight that bug has disappeared!

THE new rule for all pilots of American carriers is a requirement of 1500 hours for the Captain and FO. This rule is just crazy! I do not want someone flying me who was a CFI flying in circles to earn 1500 hours. This is not real world flying. I still believe the best option is to require X number of hours in a simulator going over a different number of situations that basic flight knowledge can be acquired from. In addition at least 250 cross country actual hours under IFR flight plans should be required. Icing, stalls and equipment failures can be repeated in the simulator until this becomes second nature for a pilot to recover from without the worry of crashing.

THERE was a mid air in Wisconsin this week between 2 jump planes. Thankfully everyone escaped with their life without death or injuries. This could have been prevented if the FAA would turn on ADS-B traffic for all. I blame the FAA,  the Alphabets and Congress for not demanding this. With a simple IPad and ADS B along with an aviation app in the cockpit this near tragedy could have been prevented. 

The 4 souls who lost their lives in NE Phoenix were not as lucky. It would take an airliner and general aviation mid air for the FAA to get off their behind and change this. The technology is there, but the FAA states they will not turn on this service wanting pilots to buy ADS-B IN and Out units before 2020.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Very unfortunately a Cessna 525 Citation Jet crashed at Santa Monica Airport (SMO) this week on attempting a night landing, went off the side of the runway and hit a hangar. 4 passengers aboard have been declared dead.

I have flown into SMO on numerous occasions mostly IFR through the marine layer. I use a VOR approach that is easy to fly but have not attempted it at night. I have also flown the 525 which I kindly refer to as the Cessna152 of jets, meaning that the 525 is a great trainer on learning to fly a jet. You can read my previous blogs on the Troubles at SMO and Learning How To Transition To Flying A Jet.

SMO has not taken a Federal Grant in 20 years, and states that it can close the airport in the year 2015. The Council and previous Councils, of limited mental capabilities, allowed residential housing to be built right up to the airport fence. Ever since this has occurred residents around the airport have demanded that SMO be closed. The only aviation commission in the country that I know of is anti-airport also demanding that the airport be closed. The City Council also wants the airport to be closed. Bill Dunn, of AOPA, has travelled to meet with the above many times without any success. The FAA states that SMO can not be closed in 2015, and I am sure that a lawsuit will take place at that time. SMO has already lost a major lawsuit when it tried to ban larger non airline jets from landing there.

As soon as this accident happened the TV crews were interviewing the crazies that live next to SMO. Same old story...close the airport now. SMO is the only airport I know of that charges based aircraft a landing fee. If a flight school is doing touch and go’s they are charged for each landing or go around. The people of SMO and Venice Beach along with South LA are full of hate for the airport. Their predecessors caused this when they allowed residential zoning up to the perimeter fence of the airport.

I have flown the 525 numerous times. It is a very docile airplane that demands, like any airplane, to be at the proper speed when landing. There are no reverse thrusters on the 525. Land at 115 kts over the fence, after touchdown pull throttles to neutral, drop the landing flaps and apply breaks. The 525 has a trailing link gear and is the easiest plane I have ever flown to land.

A NTSB report has not come out why this crash occurred. My only thought at this time is the plane was too fast and veered off the runway trying to stop. Other thoughts are the pilot was tired or disabled upon landing. The 525 is rated for single pilot flight. I do not know how many pilots were aboard on this crash.

My heart goes out to those who lost their life in this accident. I wish the people who live around SMO felt the same.

Monday, September 30, 2013



I have been a member of AOPA for numerous years, and I am also the Airport Support Volunteer (ASN) for Scottsdale Airport SDL). Previously I served as the ASN of Phoenix Deer Vally Airport (DVT), the worlds busiest General Aviation airport.

I am fortunate to have many friends that have worked for AOPA over the years. Whenever I have encountered a situation I needed support for, AOPA is always there for me. The ASN program only works if you have a strong ASN at your airport. I have seen both marvelous ASN’s and poor ASN’s. If your airport does not have an ASN think about volunteering.

AOPA has had three President’s since I have been a member. Phil Boyer was the most energetic person I have ever worked with. My phone calls and emails were always answered promptly. I, along with a ballroom full of aviators, thoroughly enjoyed attending his presentations when he was in Phoenix. When Phil was finished he always took questions on a 1 to 1 basis.

AOPA had two major events they sponsored under the Boyer regime. Expo was a gathering of Aviators, Vendors and Manufactures. It switched between the East and West coast each year. Attendance was very good at all the West Coast events I attended. These also took place before the economy went into the tank. The other event was a fly in each June at AOPA headquarters. I was able to attend 2 of these and visited my daughter who was a doctor at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

The next President was Craig Fuller who came aboard when the economy soured. He did not have the charisma that Boyer had and many members felt alienated from AOPA. Fuller would hob nob with the rich and famous and ignore the general membership. Upon his one visit to Phoenix there were less than 100 to hear him speak. The amount of mailers members received where overwhelming asking for money or to join a wine club. At Boyer’s height there were 415,000 members at AOPA. Today I do no know how many members AOPA has.

New regional directors were appointed and to this day I have never met and do not know our regional directors name. His predecessor was always active at Arizona events.

Now AOPA has a new President, Mark Baker. I have to admire Mr. Baker for having his first interview with ANN who was highly critical of everything Craig Fuller did at AOPA. Mr. Baker was evasive on some questions, but in all fairness after being on the job for only 3 weeks, I do not know how much knowledge Mr. Baker has of various situations. He sounds like a man that will be up to speed quickly.

I am very disappointed that AOPA has cancelled future Summits (EXPOS) after Mr Baker was only on the job for 5 days. I considered Summit to be one of the big 3 aviation gatherings, the others being Sun ‘N Fun and Air Adventure at Oshkosh. I will miss Summit as will my wife. The knowledge extended by educational classes and vendors was extensive. I do not know how this will ever be addressed in the future. AOPA states that they will have regional meetings in the future to replace Summit. I do not know how these will differ from Mr. Boyer’s meetings across the country. Phil was on the road over 35 weeks a year making presentations to the membership.

Mr. Baker has a tough road ahead of him. The general pilot population is at an age where pilots are dying at an alarming rate, losing their medicals, fed up with the costs associated with flying and government regulation. There are not enough new pilots entering our ranks as there is not a lot of discretionary income for flying when a young person is just out of college and handling expenses and debt.

I, along with those I have talked to, are excited about Mr. Baker being AOPA’s new President. The hope is that he will be more transparent with the membership than Mr. Fuller was. I know I wish Mr. Baker nothing but success.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Friday, August 30, 2013



My apologies to Mr. Shakespeare for ripping off Hamlet. I have been accused by my friends, and enemies, of flying since the day I hand cranked the Wright Flyer. While not being quite that old, I have flown for a long time.

I started my flying career in a 172 as a passenger. The pilot was my neighbor and 3rd Chairman of Delta Airlines. Ever since that day as a teenager I knew I would fly airplanes. I went on to obtain my glider and power ratings which leads us to todays column, WEATHER, which can be a nasty 7 letter word.

We are preparing for our last trip to San Diego for the summer. It is imperative for anyone who lives in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area to travel to San Diego to regain their sanity from 105 plus degree days for 4 months, and those in San Diego call us Zonie's.

We have a unique feature in Arizona in the summer called the Monsoon. The flow aloft changes from a westerly flow to a northernly flow July through September. This brings moisture from Mexico into the Southwest. I have been very fortunate that I have had only 2 flights over the years where the weather was a concern flying from San Diego back to Phoenix. When flying to and from Phoenix-San Diego we have an 8 mile wide corridor to fly in. The north side is restricted airspace and the south side is Mexico. There is not much room for maneuvering. My first problem trip was thunderstorms with a squall line moving north to south. I had XM weather and the squall line was visible in flight. We had to skirt the Mexico-US Boarder to beat the weather. This year on July 17, it was IMC from San Diego to Phoenix. We worked out a flight change to go through the restricted areas north to Blythe, CA. These restricted areas are usually cold on the weekends and holidays.Yuma had thunderstorms that we could not vector around. ADS- B weather helped me plan our deviation along with the excellent Marine controller at Yuma Approach. Upon arrival in Phoenix we were then talked down through the clouds by Luke approach until we broke out from 9,000 to 4,500 feet AGL and proceeded to land at Phoenix Deer Valley (DVT) which was under visual flight rules. Our alternate at Scottsdale was IMC and traffic was backed up shooting the approach.

Richard Collins wrote a column years ago to go up and take a look if possible but to always have an out. Following this philosophy I have been able to make many trips that I did not know would be possible until I took a look.

I have learned more about weather being a glider pilot than I ever did being a power pilot. This knowledge has enabled me to better understand the situations along my route of flight. This week, Labor Day, we are planning to go to San Diego for our last trip  of the summer. There is a large tropical depression located over Mexico in the Gulf and another in the Pacific moving south to north. For the first time in my flying career it looks like we will take 4 wheels instead of 3 and drive to San Diego. I hate driving and the trip will take around 6 hours versus 1. 9 hours flying each way. It is a tough decision but I think the right one. I do not fly in thunder storms and icing. If things change Friday morning we can still fly but my mindset is now on driving as getting back could also be a problem. 

This trip also has some secondary aspects for me. I have a decision to make whether to keep the plane and along with it costs for hangar, insurance, maintenance and $6.40 aviation fuel. I’m sure it’s a lot nicer flying to San Diego every 2 weeks instead of driving. I could also fly the airlines for the same cost of my fuel bill but would not be able to bring my beach chairs, umbrella and cooler. It is another thing to evaluate after this trip is complete.

I will finish this column when I return and let you know how things turned out.

It is now Friday morning of Labor Day weekend. We could have flown to San Diego this morning but the weather in San Diego is predicted to be lousy all weekend. No fun being in San Diego in a hotel room, shopping center or movie theater. Therefore we decided to cancel this trip. It is a bummer for us, but the right thing to do. I do not like to drive anywhere but to the airport. After commuting the time involved driving versus flying my plane we have decided to keep our plane as long as I am comfortable flying. Three canceled trips this summer for weather and fires were disappointing but that is life.

Most of our winter flying will be in Arizona and Las Vegas as Scottsdale is not a place I want to leave October through May due to our beautiful weather. 

Friday, August 23, 2013


July 22 SWA #345 lands nose first on runway 4 at LaGuardia. The nose wheel hits first, the nose gear collapses and the plane skids 2175 feet down a 7000 foot runway.

 The question is why do pilots fly a perfectly good airplane into the ground? Just 2 weeks previous an Asiana crew flew a perfectly good 787 into the seawall at San Francisco (SFO).

The SWA flight had a 15 minute hold into LGA and weather was above minimums when the plane landed. The FO was flying and had 11/2 years with SWA. For some reason at approximately 400 feel AGL the Captain assumed control of the airplane from the FO. The FO had about 6 landings at LGA while this was only the Captains 2nd landing at LGA.

I have talked to several friends who are/were longtime airline pilots. I was surprised to find out that on average they have had to take control of a flight on an average of 2 occasions throughout their career. None had stated that they took over control so low to the ground, they figured out things were not right way before. They were also surprised that the Captain did not do a go around when she saw there was a problem.

I have been told that one does not want to abort an approach at LGA due to the high volume of traffic at LGA, JFK and EWR. Just recently a Delta 747 did a go around at JFK. A Delta connection flight departing EWR almost ran into the 747 passing within 100 feet. This is not easy airspace to fly in, and in the mix is a very busy GA airport at Teterboro (TEB).

LGA is a difficult airport to land at but not that difficult. Runway 4 is 7000 feet and would terminate into water. To give a comparison the runway at Renton, WA (RNT), where 737’s are produced, is only a little over 5000 feet with ocean at the north end.

Both pilots had to provide an independent report to the NTSB and SWA. They have both been placed on administrative leave until the airline makes a decision. If one is a longtime employee of SWA without any previous incidents chances are they will be sent to recurrent and retained. If they are a short term employee, such as the FO, things do not look good for retaining a job at SWA. Of course there are other circumstances involved we will never know about.

Thursday, August 15, 2013




ICON is one of the very few LSA’s that has an “IT” factor. ICON is producing an airplane that is a fun and safe machine, but $139,000 is really pushing the limit for a 100 mile per hour airplane. ICON has around 950 orders, fully refundable deposits, on the books. Assuming that 350 of these buyers follow through and purchase the ICON at $139K where is the market to sell more. 

At Oshkosh ICON announced the new price of their plane is going to be $189K. I call this the “kiss of death factor”. The market for this plane at $139K is limited. Now at $189K I believe that there is almost a null market.

Terrafugia has priced their flying car at $289K. I do not know what these companies are thinking, but after the few buy, there will be no one left. Will both of these airplanes go the way of the Fisker automobile? I certainly believe so.


I belong to a group in Phoenix that is comprised of ATC, Tower Managers and Airport Managers called the Phoenix Aviation Users Work Group. We discuss what is happening at airports and with the airspace.

It is sad to see that a lot of these FAA people are near retirement or are retiring. They paid they dues starting out as tower controllers at small airports. A good number of these people are also GA pilots. They have paid their dues and moved up through the system.

Due to the large number of openings to be filled, I do not see controllers working their way through the system. They are placed where a hole exists without any experience. It is sad for me to say that I do not trust these newer controllers, and I have to question their decisions to make sure my flight is as should be.

You “old timers” will be dearly missed by the aviation community.


I wrote a column in July on how turning on ADS B OUT 24/7 could save lives. For a $1,000 investment we could all see traffic on our IPads. I sent this column with a cover note to my US Senators and Congressman from Arizona asking them to look into this matter. I never heard back from any of them.

Unless I send them a check for $10,000 they just do not care. What a bunch of useless ingrates.


We had a horrible fire about 70 miles NW of Phoenix a month ago. 19 HOT SHOT firemen were killed trying to defend the town of Yarnell from being consumed.

The Arizona Business Aviation Association (AZBAA), chapter of the NBAA, went to work requesting donations for the surviving families in Yarnell. Clothing, water and shopping cards were donated and driven to Yarnell this last week.

AZBAA is the same group that flew a plane full of donations to those affected by hurricane Sandy. AZBAA raised so many donations that the Citation X would not hold them all, and they also had to drive an 18 wheeler to NJ with the balance of goods donated.

This makes me really proud to be part of our aviation community.

Monday, August 5, 2013




I was not able to attend Air Adventure this year but have talked to several friends that did. Here are their opinions.

Not having a military presence this year did not hurt OSH. It brought the show and event back to it’s roots.

The most exciting product was the NavWorx TSO’d ADS B IN and OUT unit for around $3500 installed. This would make any aircraft compliant with 2020 ADS B OUT requirements. Traffic would show on IPad with wireless adapter and proper IPad APP. Unfortunately ForeFlight and Garmin are not allowing this on their APP. Now legacy aircraft can be compliant without spending $25,000.

Food offerings were more diverse and less expensive with a bottle of water costing $2 this year instead the the $4 I used to pay.

All said this was the best run event in years. A big thank you to Jack Pelton for this who will serve 3 more years as EAA Chairman.

EAA sued the FAA for illegal user fees for controllers in the amount 0f $497,000. I’m hoping that the EAA wins suit and request damages against the FAA.


In an earlier column I wrote about podcasts stating they are basically a radio show on the internet. If there is one podcast you must listen to it is the AIRPLANE GEEKS. offers intelligent information covering all aspects of aviation inflecting humor when needed.


Two events in the news were #214 at SFO and SWA at LaGuardia. It looks to be that 214 pilot flew a perfectly good 777 right into the sea wall. SWA took a 737 and landed nose wheel first and it collapsed skidding down the runway. 

The problem we have in airline flying is the automation. Even though these pilots have thousands of hours in their log books I wonder how much of it is hand flying the airplane. Being that I do not have an auto pilot, I wonder if I have more hours hand flying than these pilots did.


Flying an older airplane the most automated piece of equipment I own is an IPad with WingX and ADS B IN. On a recent trip from San Diego (MFY) to Scottsdale (SDL) the weather was horrible. You can read about this trip in my column on the Dang Monsoon. ADS B weather showed I would have encountered thunderstorms and heavy rain if I stayed on my flight plan. I was able to work out a rerouting with ATC that took me into Phoenix (DVT). After copying the new route I went to the 3 new waypoints on my IPAD, touched each waypoint and hit add to route. This took about 10 seconds. I wonder how many are familiar enough with their IFR GPS’s to change their route in flight in IMC which will take a lot longer. Safety demands that you be very familiar with your IFR GPS’s.


I have talked to a lot of pilots who are flying less. The cost of Av fuel in Souther CA is over $6 a gallon. My friends who would have flown their own planes to OSH took the airlines this year. Av Fuel used to be about $1 over the cost of regular auto fuel. Now it is over $2+ more. No reasoning for this.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What good are elected officials...unless you give them money


This is an interesting hypothetical situation. On June 24 I wrote a column on Jeff Dunham’s character Achmed the Dead Terrorist and the FAA, stating they are both bumbling idiots. Now I feel my 2 Senators and Congressman can be added to that group.

I emailed a copy of my blog a month ago to my Senators and Congressman with a cover note asking them to have ADS B OUT turned on 24/7 so that anyone flying with an IPad, Aviation APP and ADS B IN could see traffic on their IPad. I also wrote that the FAA refuses to turn on ADS B OUT because the FAA wants pilots to buy ADS B OUT units before the required date of 2020. Even the airlines have not bought into this.

May 31st there was a mid air involving 2 different flight schools in the practice area approximately 15 miles NW of Phoenix Deer Valley Airport (DVT) and 4 people died. We have the technology for approximately $1000 per airplane that could have prevented this horrible accident, if the FAA would just turn on ADS B OUT so that traffic may be seen by all. It is very obvious that the FAA does not believe in safety.

As of this date I have yet to receive a reply from my Senators and Congressman. I doubt that any jurisdiction would ever file criminal charges against these people if another mid air occurred, because they have been notified they could have stopped a tragedy. However it would be very interesting if a civil suit was brought against those above named if there was another mid air.

It is a shame that no one who reviewed my correspondence found it worthy of following up on. I guess for this to happen a campaign contribution would have to be enclosed.

While on the topic of safety, it is time the FAA allow older airplanes that are not experimental to fly with non TSO’d equipment. Autopilots are one of the safest items that can be installed in an airplane. A TSO’d autopilot could cost $20,000 and up. A non TSO’d autopilot could cost less than $5,000. Considering that the fleet of GA aircraft are 40 years old on average, it is hard to justify placing avionics in the plane that could cost 50% of the value of the plane or more. 

I must also state that I am very disappointed that AOPA, who donates money to candidates through their PAC, is not pushing this issue either. I would think they would have the elected officials ears that they donate money to.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dang Monsoon


I’ve been flying for a long time and flew gliders before I flew power. Flying a high performance glider involves a plethora of knowledge about the weather. I became interested in weather when I took a course called Climatology while in college. This course had nothing to do with my major but filled a history requirement. My instructor was fascinating, and I still apply these principles taught to me to my flight planing. As it turns out this was my favorite class in undergraduate school.

When I was studying for my glider ticket, weather was the big kahuna. It is not possible to stay aloft in a glider unless you are aware of your surroundings from an atmospheric concept. When I studied for my power rating I did not receive much of an education on weather and it’s effects for safe flight planning.

My wife and I fly to San Diego every couple of weeks in the summer to escape the desert heat of Scottsdale. In July and August we usually return earlier than we want on Sunday due to afternoon dust and thunder storms in the Phoenix area. This weekend was no exception except instead of afternoon storms the forecasts from several sources was calling for severe thunderstorms and clouds for our route from San Diego to Phoenix that would start around 8AM and last all day. The flight usually take about 2 hours and the adverse weather was caused by moisture moving north from the Baja and Mexico.

I was concerned and checked the weather at 3 AM. I realized that if we left any any later than 6AM we could encounter some real problems. We usually go for a long walk along the ocean in La Jolla, followed by a nice breakfast and then fly home. Today I awakened my wife at 5AM and told her we need to be wheels up at 6AM. My wife has a lot of faith in my aeronautical judgment, and she did not question my decision. Having performed a weather briefing on WingX at 4:30, I filed a flight plan for 6 and we checked out of our hotel and were off to the airport. We loaded up the plane, and I received my IFR clearance on the handheld while my wife turned in the rental car.

At 6:05 we were cleared for takeoff. Normal IFR departure from Montgomery (MYF) field is to fly heading of 270 over the ocean off of runway 28 and radar vectors to on course. Usually there is a marine layer to climb through but not this morning. I made the 180 turn inbound when told to do so by SoCal and proceeded to climb to 9000 feet. I fly with an IPad with WingXPro and ADS B IN. I was still visual and soon was over the top of the clouds by about 500 feet.We could not deviate south as we would go into Mexico and could not deviate north as there was some heavy rain and towering clouds.

I read a column a few years back by Richard Collins. He stated that you should go have a look unless the weather is severe over the airport, but you should always have an out. By following this doctrine I have been able to make many trips that did not look flyable from the ground. 

As we progressed east I checked weather on my route in front where it was to far to see visually. At the same time we went into the clouds after passing the mountains east of San Diego. Things did not look good in Yuma, AZ on our route NextRad was painting red which denotes very heavy rain. I was switched from LA Center to Yuma approach. I had an out in my mind to fly NE to Blythe (BLH), CA. Working with the controller I was able to fly direct BLH and rerouted for the rest of my trip. The IPad is amazing with flight software. I touched BLH, Buckeye (BXK) and then Phoenix (PXR) and my new route was done. I also fly with a Garmin 396. After my IPad was set up, I then proceed to type in the new route on my Garmin which took considerable time compared to the IPad. This was all happening while I was IMC. By the way I do not have an autopilot so everything was hand flying. 

After release by Yuma I was turned over to Albuquerque Center and then Luke Air Force Base. I had originally planned to fly the VOR approach into Scottsdale (SDL), and when I broke out through the clouds fly VFR to DVT. When switched to Luke they told me DVT was VFR with a ceiling of 4,000 feet. I was cleared to start my decent from 9,000 to 4,000 and broke out about 3,800 feet. We then flew the last 13 miles of our trip VFR and   landed at DVT.

After unpacking  and putting the plane in the hanger, my wife and I went to breakfast. Upon arriving home a tremendous thunderstorm broke flooding streets in the Phoenix area 1/2 hour later than forecasted. We were extremely thankful that we left MYF when we did. Curse those dang monsoons.

Saturday, July 13, 2013



Let me preface this column in letting you know that I am a talking head. I do aviation reports for 2 TV stations in Phoenix and have appeared as a guest on 2 aviation podcast. I try to never speculate when doing an interview, and if I do not have the facts, then I do not comment. Therefore I declined to do an interview on 214.

My wife and I were in Cali when the 214 crash occurred at San Francisco (SFO). There is a 24 hour news radio station that tied into the TV broadcast. This station ran out expert after expert that had no information what so ever. The problem is TV needs to say something, and media expects their experts to say something whether they have the facts or not. You just can not have dead air on TV.

While we were driving listening to this event unfold some very famous talking heads come on the air for interviews. They talked about microbursts and wind shear even though the weather was severe clear. Then they talked about the glide slope being out of service as if one could not land a plane when cleared for the visual approach. Have they forgotten when they learned to fly that every approach was a visual approach. It was a very disgraceful event for our industry. Instead of speculating why not wait until they had some facts. Some people interviewed were as far away as Chicago. They then interviewed people on their staff that happened to be private pilots. Things got worse on the air.

It was not only the talking heads who were a disgrace. The news media did a wonderful jobs of botching things also. Perhaps the worse was Channel 2 in Oakland that announced the pilots of 214. They put a graphic on the screen and the newscaster read the names which were:

Captain Sum Ting Wong
Wi Tu Lo
Ho Lee Fuk
Bang Ding Ow

I still can not believe she read this and never figured it out. She later apologized half heartily when she said that the NTSB put out this information. I do not know if she still works at Channel 2.

There are some good people in the media that take time to digest the situation. About 4 weeks ago there was a midair NW of Phoenix Deer Valley Airport. I was interviewed later that afternoon in my office by Stella Inger of Channel 3 Phoenix. When I do a TV interview they tape for 30 minutes to an hour and play a different 2 minute snippet on each news broadcast that evening. I was concerned because Stella was not versed in Aviation. She asked me a lot of questions before we went on camera and after the interview was over, taking copious notes. When I watched the broadcast I was pleasantly surprised at how well she absorbed everything. It was the best report I ever was associated with.

In closing I have found that most talking heads will go on the air any chance they get. Really a shame.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Don't forget to listen to the AIRPLANE GEEKS PODCAST. I'm a guest on #247.

You can listen to it from their web site or subscribe on ITunes.

Some very interesting conversations.


I was honored to be the gust on this weeks AME HIGH PODCAST. You can google their site or down load it on ITunes to listen.

We talked about ADS B and Aviation APPS along with use of the IPad; Controllers, the good, better and Walmart Greeters; Embry Riddle University; Super Bowl and more.

Be sure to give it a listen and subscribe to their future podcasts.

Monday, June 24, 2013


                                ACHMED THE DEAD TERRORIST AND THE FAA

If you have ever seen the ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, one of his dummies is Achmed the dead terrorist. Achmed Is a bumbling fumbling terrorist who blew himself up  prematurely. What has this got to do with the FAA?

ADS B IN shows weather and traffic. All you need is an IPad, Aviation App and an ADS B In unit. Total cost is around $1000. The caveat is that you can not see traffic when there is not a plane in the vicinity flying with ADS B Out. These are few and far in between. ADS B is completed in the US excluding Colorado and the Midwest. It is supposed to be completed by the end of this year. “Supposed” being the preoperative word.

The FAA has the availability to turn on ADS B Out 24/7 but refuses to do so. Last week there was a Delta 747 doing a missed approach to land at Kennedy. At the same time a Delta commuter flight was departing LaGuardia in NYC. These planes came within less than a half a mile and 100 feet of having a midair. If they were both flying with an IPad and ADS B In, with the FAA turning on ADS B Out 24/7, they could have seen each other and avoided an almost catastrophe. May 31 near Phoenix Deer Valley (DVT) airport in the training area 2 small GA planes collided midair and 4 lost their lives. Same scenario with a horrible outcome.

AOPA and NBAA have a lot of power on the Hill. Why aren’t they sitting in Congresspeople’s offices explaining this situation. Craig Fuller, CEO of AOPA, wrote a small paragraph on this situation in this months AOPA PILOT magazine. I don’t know if anyone in Congress is aware of the ADS B Out situation that has the ability to save numerous lives.

The FAA has the ability to do something good for Aviation safety. Why are they sitting on their behinds. The answer given is, the FAA wants more pilots to buy ADS B Out before the 2020 deadline, and they adamantly refuse to turn ADS B Out on for everyone.

Here is a situation that could save lives, but our Government bureaucracy, the FAA, does not give a damn about human life.

Saturday, June 8, 2013



It has been a while since I have written about Aviation Apps for the IPad, and things have changed but become the same. There are still only 2 serious contenders to consider when purchasing an Aviation App for the IPad, ForeFlight and WingXPro. The rest are still playing catch up and are overpriced. One downside of ForeFlight is that it only works with the Stratus ADS-B In unit, whereas WingX works with several different ADS-B In manufactures. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with the Stratus unit.

Before I write further about the Apps just a little sideline. ADS-B Out will be required by the FAA in 2020. As a carrot the FAA stated that they will offer free weather for ADS-B IN, albeit limited in features compared to XM weather, where ADS-B is available. The purpose of this offer was to get more planes equipped with ADS-B before 2020. This announcement was pre IPad. Little did the FAA ever think that so many pilots were going to take advantage of the IPad, Aviation Apps and portable ADS-B In without having to buy a very expensive ADS-B In and Out panel unit. 
When the FAA was asked to turn on ADS-B Out 24/7 so pilots with ADS-B In could see traffic, the FAA told all the alphabets to take a hike. They said if you want to see traffic buy an ADS-B Out unit now. I do not recommend that as prices have fallen and will continue to fall on Out units before 2020.


Now back to the Apps. ForeFlight (FF) came out of the gate a strong product. It was light years ahead of WingX (WX). Approximately 9 months later WX passed FF and left FF far behind. It took about 2 years for FF to catch up and incorporate most of the features that WX has. The biggest difference between the 2 was that when FF came out with an update, it worked. You never know what you are going to get with WX.

There are 2 features on WX that are important to me that FF does not have at this time. In the top left hand corner there is a box that tells you what ground level altitude is, and you can cycle this button to tell you how far above the ground you are. The 2nd feature I like is split screen. I can have the ATIS up along with the taxi diagram. On an approach I can have the lo enroute chart up with the approach plate. When the plane icon shows up on the approach plate I go back to single screen.

FF has the ability to show actual winds and temps aloft. I have requested this from WX on several occasions without any success.

People ask me which app to buy. I tell them that if they are flying with the IPad Mini to buy FF. Split screens are too small on the Mini. On the big IPad, if they are VFR only there isn’t much difference. If you are IFR I would rather fly with WX and have the split screen.

I do not think you can go wrong with either of these apps. I would not waste my money on any other apps as these 2 are proven and do a great job. Apps are not a cure all, and I still use my Garmin 396 for features that no apps have yet. I believe that the IPad, Apps and ADS-B are the greatest invention for flying since the introduction of GPS.

Traffic on the IPad with WX. Someone in the vicinity was flying with ADS B Out so I could see traffic. This is what the FAA won't turn on 24/7.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013



I can not think of another pilot I would want at the controls for the Miracle on the Hudson than Captain Sullenberger. Being a glider pilot he knew that he was unable to fly to any airport in the vicinity because his glide ratio would not take him there safely. He chose the best alternative which was the Hudson and miraculously everyone survived.

Just because Sully is a great stick having trained at the Air Force Academy, in the Air Force and through the airlines does not make him an expert on training. He is 100% right when he states that 250 hours is not enough time for a first officer, but he is wrong stating that 1500 hours of any type flight time is a magic number.

All of this hullabaloo has been brought about because of the Colgan crash in Buffalo. Both pilots at the controls had over 1500 hours. It has been alleged that the First Officer was from Phoenix and had never flown in icing conditions. It has also been alleged that the Captain failed several check rides previous to this accident.

Sully’s all encompassing proposition is that every FO should have 1500 hours and an ATP rating. This is where I disagree with his proposal. To build hours one can become a Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI) or tow banners to arrive at 1500 hours of time. My problem with this program, which Congress has told the FAA to enact by August, 2013, is that the above type of flying does not give the pilot real world flying experience. The exceptions to this rule are a 750 hour requirement for pilots who flew in the Service and a 1000 hour requirement for those flying at an accredited University program. CFI’s are also having trouble building hours because of the limited student starts.

I would like to see the airlines enact a program where they hire and train pilots to fly. They would require 500 hours in the simulator where all situations could be taught to students with no fear of crashing an airplane. Is 500 hours in the sim a magic number, I do not know. These students would also have 250 hours of actual flying cross country to go along with their sim time. 

I would feel a lot safer having someone at the controls that had extensive training under all scenarios until they are comfortable and capable of handling most situations. Sully, just stating that a pilot should have 1500 hours of any type of flying is wrong.

Regional Pilots who are FO’s are paid food stamp wages. This has to be corrected as student pilots are investing a great deal of their money through family support or loans. Fewer are choosing to be an airline pilot because of the costs involved.

Hopefully the FAA will listen to reason and not just arbitrarily choose 1500 hours of any type of flying that would not be in the best interest of the pilots and the flying public.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

See AirplaneTraffic on the IPad

This is a picture of my IPad showing traffic as I departed DVT on June 1, 2013. Someone in the area was flying a plane equipped with ADS-B Out for me to see this traffic on my IPad.



 I had written in an earlier column there was a midair NW of DVT between 2 flight school
planes. Could this accident have been prevented, here is one way it could have been.

There are 2 ADS-B’s, one IN and one OUT. If you have an IPad, Aviation App and ADS- B In unit you are able to see traffic on the IPad. However there is a caveat to this in that a plane must be flying with ADS- B Out in your vicinity to awaken the ground stations to allow you to see traffic on your IPad.

The FAA is requiring that all planes be equipped with ADS-B Out by 2020. The FAA could turn on all ADS-B Out stations 24/7 today so that all planes that now have ADS-B In could see traffic, but the FAA refuses to do so. If the FAA had ADS-B Out on, and one or both of these planes were flying with an IPad and ADS-B In, there was a chance that this horrific accident could have been prevented.

It concerns me that FAA is still not concerned with safety.

Friday, May 31, 2013


Update to earlier blog that the second plane involved seems to be from Westwind flight school also out of Phoenix Deer Valley (DVT) airport. Both student and instructor did not survive.



Deer Valley Airport (DVT) is the busiest GA airport in the world. It is not due to the 1200 based aircraft but to the biggest flight school in the US that teaches the Chinese how to fly. TransPac Aviation Academy has had numerous problems over the years. They have changed names and corporate ownership of the airplanes.

There is a practice area NW of DVT over Lake Pleasant that is home to TransPac training. I have always felt that there are too many planes in a very concentrated area. Today the crap hit the fan. There was a midair including at least one TransPac Piper Cherokee. At the time of writing this, the other plane was heavily burned. It might be another TransPac plane but that is to be determined. 4 people lost their lives today. I assume it was a flight instructor and student pilot in each plane.

TransPac’s students are from China. We have always questioned their ability to speak English and more important to think in English. After several problems a few years ago TransPac said they would not accept students who were not English proficient. Then these students were supposed to be immersed in English training while learning to fly. If anything, I feel that the problem has retrogressed to where there is an inherent danger to all pilots that fly out of DVT. Unfortunately today is a very sad day to those who lost their lives and their families as well of those associated with TransPac and GA.

Two things have to change and change now. First, fewer planes flying in the practice area as it is too crowded. Second, quit taking students that are not conversant in English and that having trouble thinking in English. This is the only way that we can prevent another tragedy occurring again and again with TansPac students and flight instructors.

Thursday, May 30, 2013



LSA’s were supposed to be a savior to general aviation. LSA’s were to be a well equipped airplane at a very modest price. We all know that didn’t happen. As of today it looks like only 2 LSA manufactures have a chance of survival. Cub Crafters who really sell more models with bigger engines that don’t qualify as an LSA and ICON who is yet to produce and ship their model, are the only 2 companies I see with a chance of survival. 

ICON is currently 250 pounds over the approved limit for a amphibian LSA. They have requested a waiver from the FAA and time will tell. It is the only true fun LSA being able to land in water or on a runway. The ICON has a fun factor with a good build and is being built in the US along with Cirrus’s help in constructing the composites. At $139,000 it is not IFR but has a fun factor.

Let’s list the pros and cons of a LSA. 


LSA’s do not require a medical to fly daytime only and no IFR. 
You get a new airplane.


LSA’s reasonably equipped cost too much, in the neighborhood of $150,000.
LSA’s don’t fly fast averaging 90 knots cruise.
Besides ICON and Cub Crafters, LSA manufactures don’t respond promptly or not at all.
You don’t know if the company for the plane you bought will still be in business from one day to the next.
You can’t fly an LSA at night or IFR without a medical, and the costs rise to equip a plane that is IFR capable.

With an LSA if you don’t take a new medical you can self qualify that you are okay to fly. If you failed a medical you cannot fly an LSA legally. Flying to the west coast in a LSA is almost useless unless it is IFR to fly through the marine layer. 

On short trips of 3 hours or less a LSA will get you there albeit very slowly.

LSA’s were supposed to be an “economical” plane to purchase at around $80,000. That never happened.

Sales departments are extremely limited and slow to answer questions. It’s a real crap shoot as they might not be around to honor your warranty. Even Cessna has discontinued production at this time of their Sky Catcher LSA listed at $150,000. By producing these planes in China Cessna was going to keep their costs down. That didn’t happen.

If you have your medical you can buy a Cessna 172 for around $40,000 and cruise at 120 knots and fly IFR. $150,000 can buy you a SR22 G1 and you can fly at around 155 knots. Another alternative is to buy a Vans RV product that is home built. Before purchasing a used Vans product I suggest you find someone you know that has built one to inspect the quality of build before doing a pre buy annual. You would have a fast 2 passenger airplane that should be under $100,000.

It comes down to a couple of issues. If you think you can’t pass your next medical, and wish to continue flying, an LSA might be for you. Of course $150,000 is a lot of money to invest to have a new airplane that can only cruise at 90 some knots and is limited on how you can fly it. There are used airplanes such as the Eurocoupe  (some models), Cessna 120’s and 140’s and a few others on the market that qualify under the LSA rules for weight and speed for a lot less money than a new plane.

I don’t feel the LSA market will succeed as is today.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

It's time for AOPA and EAA to sue the DOT!


The FAA is part of the Department of Transportation and throughout this column I will refer to the DOT. 

AOPA and the EAA have been working together to eliminate 3rd class medicals for pilots that fly an airplane with 180 horsepower, fixed gear, no IFR, no flights for hire and no night flying. When Randy Babbitt was FAA administrator it looked like this program would succeed. Now with the change in administrators and the current Administration disdain of general aviation, it seems this request is doomed to failure.

To bring all up to date there is no 3rd class medical required for glider and light sport aircraft. These pilots self certify that they are able to pilot these aircraft. Why then is there a requirement for those pilots who fly non commercial GA airplanes to have a 3rd class medical. In addition why is a biannual flight review required for non commercial pilots. I FEEL THIS IS DISCRIMINATION BY THE DOT. 

In Arizona one is issued a non commercial drivers license that is valid from age 21 to 65. At age 65 you can renew your license for an additional 5 years with just passing a vision test. You do not need a biannual review to ever drive a car in AZ. One can drive a school bus loaded with children without taking a medical. The DOT is starting a medical procedure for Interstate commercial drivers and those driving a load of over 11,000 pounds. None of this makes sense to me, and I feel this is discrimination against private non commercial pilots.

You can sue anybody for anything in this Country. That doesn’t mean the suit will be heard or that you will win. I think it is in the best interest of general aviation for AOPA and the EAA to file suit in Federal court against the DOT. If the court deems it will hear the case there are grounds for the lawsuit, and you have overcome a major obstacle. By having medical regulations and BFR’s for pilots you are driving many out of flying that can still drive a car and even a school bus. I do understand that in some cases people should not be piloting airplanes. This is why there is self certification for glider and LSA pilots. 

In closing it is time for AOPA and EAA to take action as the DOT does not like being sued.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Santa Monica Airport A Real Mess


Santa Monica is located approximately 10 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. Santa Monica is one of the most beautiful cities in the US with pristine beaches, great shopping and is dependent on tourism. Just south of Santa Monica is Venice Beach. Venice Beach is a quirky town but has some of the nicest homes I have seen on their canal banks.

SMO is the oldest operating airport in the LA basin that started circa 1917. When the airport was build there were no surrounding homes. SMO was home to Douglas aircraft maker of the DC-3. City Councils over the years allowed residential development right up to the airports edge. Residential development near an airport is the number one killer of airports, and SMO is a perfect example.

I have sat on two airport commissions being the Chairman of both. The purpose of the Commission is to advise the City Council on how to run the airport. The Councils I have been involved with usually appoint people to the Airport Commission who are knowledgeable about airport operations and have the best interest of the airport in mind. This is not the case at SMO. To be appointed to the SMO Commission one has to be anti airport. This falls in line with the City Council who wants to close SMO.

When an airport takes a grant from the FAA the airport has to remain an operating airport for 20 years after the grant is taken. SMO has not taken a grant in 17 years and current plans are to close the airport in 3 years.

Santa Monica tried to block usage of all large business jets a few years ago. The FAA sued Santa Monica and won in court including millions in attorneys fees and costs.

The reason I’m writing about SMO now is that SMO just changed their landing fee  policy. SMO is the only airport I have ever flown into that charges a non jet piston small airplane a landing fee. The charge is done by weight. My fee for my last 2 trips was $6.71 each time, no matter that it cost the City more than the user fee to process it. You can get up to 3 notices to pay your bill. I figure if I waited to pay my bill it would cost the City over $60 to bill me for a $6,71 landing fee.

On Wednesday evening Santa Monica’s City Council voted to change landing fees by charging 250% more. Every airport that I know of does not charge based aircraft for landing fees. Santa Monica decided to charge every aircraft, based and non-based, landing fees. That means a flight school plane that does touch and go’s will be charged a landing fee for each touch and go.

The reasoning the Council gave for these changes in landing fees is that the airport was no longer self sufficient. AOPA claims that the airport was not including all revenue of which I am not privy at this time.

In my opinion I feel that there are grounds for a lawsuit against the City if AOPA’s claims can be substantiated. Additionally SMO decided not to take any grants from the FAA for the past 17 years which could have provided up to 95% of the costs for airport improvements, then SMO would be operating in the black. I don’t know if this falls under any agreement between the FAA and SMO, but if it does I’m sure that the FAA could also file suit. It will take deep pockets to sue the City. There are some very famous and wealthy people that base their planes at SMO. 

Again another saga for never ends!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What the Heck is a PODCAST!!!


Before we get started just a note to let you know that in addition to posting these columns on my Blog, Facebook and Twitter; I email these columns out to 2,000+ of my friends and about 300 enemies.

What the heck is a podcast? It is basically a radio show that is broadcast over the internet. Just about every topic that can be imagined has a podcast. For the purpose of this column I am going to stick with Aviation. Most of these podcast can be downloaded on ITunes or various websites.

Airplane Geeks: 

Perhaps the best known with the widest distribution, including International, The Geeks have an outstanding show broadcasting once a week for about 90 minutes. Each weeks show usually has a famous guest in the aviation field along with 3 co-hosts. In addition there are reports from Australia and England. The Geeks usually introduce themselves and their guest for the week, proceed to the news of the week, conversation with their guest, aircraft history with David Vanderhoof and listeners email.

This podcast is outstanding and very educational. The Hosts name is Max Flight (true name) along with co-hosts Rob Mark and David Vanderhoof. 

Av Web: 

3 co-host conduct interviews of aviation personalities. Av Web always podcast from major events and other venues and is available twice weekly. Each podcast last around 10 minutes or less.

Hangar Flying:

First a disclaimer that this podcast has been discontinued. However it would behoove you to download all previous episodes. This is the best podcast by far if you want to become or are a pilot. It is hosted by Steve Sadar (sp?) and Gabrielle Palmas.

Steve is a 757/767 captain along with being a CFII. He is probably the best podcaster telling stories about being an Airline and GA pilot. 

Gabrielle is a Stew for a major airline and private pilot. You can follow her stories from becoming a private pilot to trying to reach ATP level and fly for the airlines.

Needless to say the 2 years of episodes are very entertaining.

Aviation Career Podcast:

This it what it states in it’s title. Not only does it discuss flying careers, but it also covers all careers available in aviation.

Stuck Mike Podcast:

All topics on Aviation

There are also 2 Flight Attendant Podcasts I would also like to tell you about.

Betty in the Sky With a Suitcase:

These are stories told by Pilots and FA’s in the airline industry along with Betty’s travels. Usually around 40 minutes a month with stories told though humor.

The Crew Lounge:

Unfortunately this is also a discontinued podcast but it’s worth downloading the series. My friend, Sara Keagle, has had 2 different co-host. Whenever I need a good laugh I tune in to an old episode and have 36 left to listen to.

By the way both of these flight attendants listed above have written books. Whoever says Stews are good for nothing but waitresses are dead wrong.

These are the podcasts I listen to while doing my 5 miles each morning. There are more for aviation that you can check out. Enjoy!