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.