Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Whatever you do , if you are looking for an aviation app, do not buy WingXPro. WingX does one thing good, they allow almost all ADS-B units to work with the program. After that everything is downhill.

WingXPro does not have the reliability one needs when flying. Their quality control is near nonexistent. The previous flight I took the weather was not working. Sent them an email, and it was working 2 days later...not when I needed it.

WingX came out with another update this week. They installed a numerical VSI on the top of the map page. I do not know what these people were thinking. Vertical speed with GPS is determined by ones location not the altimeter. If you are flying in level flight the VSI will give you a notice of how many feet up or down you are going...even though you are level! Unfortunately WingX has not provided a way to turn this nuisance off.

They also did not check their program before updating it. There are 2 weather blocks on the Map page. Underneath them is a notice that says “loading...” This is fine if you are connected to the internet but useless in flight. I do no know if this burns more battery on the IPad constantly searching when there is no internet connection. It worked fine with ADS-B In until this update. It would also be nice to turn off the 2 weather blocks in flight as they are useless, not being able to update weather in flight.

WingXPro has some wonderful features, but it is not reliable enough to bet your life on. I have one more year to go on my subscription and can not wait to switch to ForeFlight. ForeFlight has only had one glitch that I know of, and it was corrected in one day.


Saturday, November 8, 2014


When I started flying I had $5 million insurance smooth. That is back when $5 million dollars was a lot of money, and the courts were not a lottery system. My insurance decreased over the years down to $2 million smooth, $1 million smooth, to where it is today at $1 million with only $100,000 per seat. 

The court system has changed dramatically over the years. I have always said if you are a plaintiff have a jury trial, if you are a defendant and guilty have a jury trial and if you are a defendant and innocent request that the judge makes the decision. Juries are very easily swayed by a good attorney and computer graphics. 

Recently in Phoenix there was a case involving 2 TV stations whose helicopters lost situational awareness and crashed into each other with multiple deaths. The insurance companies refused to settle with the heirs, and this case went to trial. The attorneys for the plaintiffs were granted their request to introduce a computer generated recreation of the crash. I was able to review this, and from all the facts of the event, I did not feel it was an accurate recreation of the way things happened. I knew right away the defense was in trouble. If this was presented to the jury the amount of jury award would have been unfathomable . The insurance companies settled before this recreation could be presented into evidence.

This brings me to the reason I can no longer fly passengers. My wife and I have worked hard to build an estate for retirement. If I had an accident and was sued by my passenger or their heirs, my estate would be financially depleted. $1 million with $100,000 per passenger would not cover much in a lawsuit. 

Over the years I have enjoyed giving people their first ride in a GA airplane. They always loved flying into Sedona for breakfast with the thrilling views and great airport. I can not do this anymore in good financial conscience.

When I flew for Angel Flight the passenger signed a waiver. Waivers are not worth much any longer and can be easily pierced. It is my understanding that the EAA takes out an insurance policy to protect its pilots for their Young Eagles events. This is a good thing as there was a mid air about a month ago where both pilot and child were killed. The charity I have worked so hard for raising money, came out with a detailed waiver for the pilots to sign 2 nights before the event. In good conscience I could not sign this waiver and refused to fly. This was a big disappointment for me, but I could not put my estate at risk.

I miss flying friends and now only fly with my wife. The world has changed, and I have had to adapt. I am not very happy about it, but I have to be practical.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Santa Monica and Venice Beach California are magnificent places to visit. You do not need a rental car, taking a cab from the airport to your hotel and walk everywhere.

Santa Monica Airport (SMO) has been a thorn in the side of people who live there, City Council, Airport Commission, FAA, AOPA and NBAA. Just a short history in that SMO quit taking grants from the FAA in 2000 and claim they can close the airport in 2015. Some say this should be 2022. The vote itself had little use as Federal Law supersedes City Law, and in my opinion this issue will be settled in Federal Court.

The City states they have the right to close the airport and develop it as it so wishes. The FAA states that the property has to remain an airport in perpetuity. I have read that NBAA and AOPA spent approximately $800,000 in the campaign for Proposition D. I personally feel that this was a total waste of money as Federal law will prevail one way or the other. Bill Dunn, VP of AOPA, put in hundreds if not thousand of hours traveling to SMO trying to educate the general public in the benefits of SMO to the City and their economy. I am personally sorry to see the negative results for all the effort he put into making Prop D a success.

There is another caveat that I have not heard a lot of discussion on. The City is trying to do everything in it’s power to make the airport unusable. SMO is the only airport that I have flown to that requires a landing fee for my Bonanza. It was $6 two years ago and now it is $18 to land there. I have never heard of an airport that charges based aircraft a landing fee. At SMO all based airplanes have to pay a fee. In addition if a flight school does a touch and go, they have to pay a fee for every time the wheels touch the pavement. 

Now SMO is reducing the amount of fuel that can be pumped every day. I could fly in with my Bonanza, and would not be able to depart if there was not any fuel available. There are many jets based at SMO that could be in the same situation.

SMO is doing every thing in their legal rights to discourage use of the airport. They have also sued the FAA losing twice with attorney fees in the $3 million range.  I personally think that the City will make things so miserable for the flying public they will have to go elsewhere and the airport will disappear. This will be a shame!

Monday, November 3, 2014


The FAA has mandated that every airplane flying in the US in controlled airspace as of January 1, 2020 must be equipped with ADS-B Out. ADS-B is based on ground station technology which is 20 years old. The FAA has always complained that ground based VOR’s were too expensive to maintain. In their infinite wisdom the FAA has based the future on ground stations again. There are some 600 of these ground stations installed but the FAA blew the coverage and has now decided they have to install another 200 more ground stations to get complete coverage. The program could have been aborted many years ago and proceeded with satellite coverage. The FAA could have bought out XM and had the coverage they needed for a minuscule cost of what they have spent on ground stations. I have no idea how much it will cost to maintain this ground based system.

AOPA has stated that there are approximately 180,000 airplanes in the fleet. 88,000 of these are worth around $30,000. The least expensive cost solution today to have ABS-B Out installed is approximately $7,500. This is over 20% of the value of 88,000 airplanes.

There is no perceived value to GA of ADS-B Out other than being able to see traffic on an IPad type device if your plane is equipped with ADS-B In. In addition you are still required to have a transponder so airline traffic can see you on TCAS. AOPA and EAA are trying to get the FAA to back off their 2020 mandate. The FAA is not backing down. The only solution is to have AOPA and EAA go to Congress to have the mandate deleted until a more cost effective solution can be reached, or there will be a lot of planes grounded.

The FAA cannot reach a solution on 3rd class medicals and drone airspace. In my regard this organization is so inefficient that they are unable to accomplish anything successfully and cost effective.

If the FAA goal is to abolish GA then they are doing an excellent job. Some 4000 airports will become abandoned, and the economy will deeply damaged.