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.