GAPPA – Please support the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act

gappa capitol building

Pilot or not, there’s no debate that aviation in the US represents both our basic freedoms and our strong transportation system.

GAPPA could greatly expand the existing general aviation pilot base. If you haven’t heard about it yet look at these links and get familiar. If you support it, I urge you to let your lawmakers know.

I think it has the potential of addressing the declining pilot population. By allowing more pilots to fly the way most of us fly everyday we get more pilots flying and staying active longer. Aviation wins!

I sent emails to both senators and my house rep. Please learn about these bills and contact your elected officials! Your message doesn’t have to be long or eloquent. Below is what I used so feel free to use it or modify it to fit you.

gappa congressional bill

GAPPA background from EAA

http://www.eaa.org/news/2014/2014-03-11_us-senate-introduces-ga-pilot-protection-act-companion-to-house-bill.asp

GAPPA FAQ from AOPA

http://www.aopa.org/Advocacy/Legislative-Affairs/General-Aviation-Pilot-Protection-Act-FAQs.aspx

Sign the EAA Petition

I suggest writing a note in your own words, but they also have a way to easily send your senators and rep a message, after signing the petition.
http://govt.eaa.org/14781/support-general-aviation-pilot-protection-act/

Here are links to find contact info for your senators and representatives.
Senators list
Representatives list

Example

Dear Senator (insert name),

I’m a constituent and I support the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act. Please lend your support to H.R. 3708 (Rokita) and S. 2103 (Boozman).

I’m an active and passionate pilot and believe the strong aviation community in the United States is a powerful advantage in many ways, both to individual freedoms and to the transportation system. These bills expand on the FAA’s successful sport pilot medical standard. Not only will they strengthen general aviation by getting more pilots flying and keeping them active longer (a major concern for everyone in aviation), they will save pilots and the FAA time and money.

I urge you to cosponsor S. 2103 and do your part to keep U.S. aviation strong.

Thank you for your time.

Respectfully,

Michael Glen Becker

Video: Another amazing soaring video from Balleka

sgs 2-33 training glider image

SGS 2-33 training glider at Atlantic Soaring Club

This inspirational soaring video makes me wish for infinite time and money.

Even as I embark on my aerobatics adventure I wonder if I’ve chosen well. I was happily working on my glider certification when I fell into my current obsession with aerobatics. Flying/owning gliders, and soaring as a sport, is generally considered less expensive than powered flight and aerobatics. Financially, I can’t manage both powered aerobatics and soaring now. Time-wise, I’m not sure I ever will. But boy is it fun to dream about.

If Balleka’s soaring video doesn’t get you excited you’re not interested in flying. It’s ok if you’re one of those, but I will admit to not understanding you. 🙂

Balleka has published some excellently flown and edited soaring videos that will be well worth the hour-plus you’re likely going to get sucked into watching. Thanks Balleka!

p.s. Great views in here of the Exmoor coast Cornwall England, the Alps, and for cycling fans the famous Tour de France climb Mont Ventoux.

Quote of the Day

Searching memory might be compared to throwing the beam of a strong light, from your hilltop camp site, back over the road you traveled by day. Only a few of the objects you passed are clearly illuminated; countless others are hidden behind them, screened from the rays. There is bound to be some vagueness and distortion in the distance. But memory has advantages that compensate for its failings. By eliminating detail, it clarifies the picture as a whole. Like an artist’s brush, it finds higher value in life’s essence than in its photographic intricacy.
-Charles A. Lindbergh, preface to The Spirit of St. Louis

Video: My first hammerhead turns

image of airshow performer flying a hammerhead turn

Hammerhead turn

The Hammerhead Turn is a fun maneuver. It’s a challenging combination of all three planes of motion, plus the fourth dimension of time: there are two quarter loop components to pull in pitch changes courtesy of the elevator, a roll component (to counteract torque at low airspeed and asymmetrical lift) to exercise aileron control, and of course the yaw component where we get to kick the rudder to turn around at the top. Plus it gets us close to the zero airspeed regime.

There is more going on here than I can keep track of now. For the moment the important parts are the pull up, the yaw turn around the top, and the pull out. Eventually I need to add these parts:

  1. Consistently hold the 4g pull from level to vertical
  2. Timing the turn around. Done correctly, the airplane pivots around its center of mass in less than a wingspan. Too early leaves the airspeed too high and the airplane “flies” through a wingover, instead of pivoting. Too late and it falls backward into a sloppy tailslide.
  3. Find the exact mix of right- and then forward-stick to keep the turnaround in the same vertical plane. The outside wing is traveling faster so it’s generating more lift, than the inside wing, which results in left-rolling tendency that is counteracted with right-stick. Forward-stick counters the gyroscopic force from the spinning propeller trying to pull the nose up.
  4. Timing the turn stop. Without right-rudder the nose will swing through the bottom, past vertical. The engine and propeller make an effective pendulum weight.
  5. Timing the vertical down-line and nailing the 4g pull-out to finish on target in both airspeed and altitude.

It looks so easy from the ground!

Here is video evidence of my first attempts…preserved for all time (at least until electrons are obsolete). I hope to look back at this clip 5000 hammerheads from now and shake my head at how anemic my skills used to be.

Video: Pitts Emergency Recovery training

Spin diagram from FAA's Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge

Spin diagram

Part of my journey into aerobatics includes Spin Training. Spins are the downward spiraling flight airplanes go into when the wing stalls (i.e. stops producing lift) without coordinated rudder input to keep them level. Spins are a required part of aerobatic competition. Accidental spins are associated with a great many aviation accidents. One would think they’d be integral to pilot training. And they are…sort of. We’re taught about them including the aerodynamics involved, recognition & avoidance, and the control actions to recover. But actually doing spins is no longer required by the U.S. Federal Aviation Regulations to be a certified pilot. We talk about them, get tested on them, but don’t actually do them. We’re required to perform stalls (the wings must be stalled before a spin can occur) but only just the onset of the stall, before recovering to normal flight.

I won’t go into the great debate here but the teaching of spins is the aviation equivalent of religion or politics (or even worse: the pc-mac debate!): everyone has an opinion and they are mostly strong and very likely to run the entire gamut. There are those for whom the spin is the modern equivalent of the flat earth: a fear born of uncertainty and a place best left unexplored. It takes all kinds but in their defense, spins are perhaps the least understood of basic aerodynamic phenomena and have been for over a hundred years.

For aerobatics, spins are required in all their flavors. But for the moment I don’t want to talk about spins; I want to talk about ’emergency recovery’ from accidental spins.

Image of an airshow performer in a flat spin.

Whee

Part of trying new things is the certainty we will fail regularly and often. In trying new aerobatic maneuvers, one likely outcome of failure is simply falling out of the maneuver and into a spin. We practice with lots of altitude so recovery is easy, until we can perform the maneuver perfectly every time. This mastery is what allows airshow performers to dazzle us safely and consistently. Every second of their performance is only made possible by thousands of hours of preparation.

During the journey toward that mastery, we need to prepare to fail. That’s where emergency recovery training is worth its weight in gold-wrapped diamonds set in Californium-252.

Bill Finagin teaches a variation of the Mueller-Beggs recovery.

It goes like this:

  1. Rip the power off
  2. Forcefully neutralize (center) stick and rudder
  3. Wait for 100mph (in the Pitts)
  4. Pull out of the dive

The main points are:

  • Recognizing when we’re out of control
  • Performing the steps in order, with authority, while saying them aloud

The main advantages:

  • Does not burn a lot of extra altitude compared to traditional recovery techniques
  • No need for the pilot to know the direction of spin
  • No possibility of making the spin worse (e.g. recovery inputs held too long inducing a crossover spin to/from inverted)

My primary flight instructor did a good job of making me not fear the spin 20 years ago, but I never knew how fun they (and emergency recovery training) can be. My understanding at this point is basic and growing. My confidence is growing by leaps and bounds!