It’s not often we find ourselves down-range of any weapon, let alone a large one. How about this for size and sheer make-my-person-and-entire-airplane-cease-to-exist-from-4000-feet-away potential: 30mm gatling cannon delivering 3900 depleted uranium rounds per minute. Now make it a flight of two and you have my undivided attention.
It was a busy day at Easton (KESN) last time I flew with Bill Finagin. We were going around the pattern on runway 22 and a flight of two A-10 Warthogs were doing a practice instrument approach to runway 4, i.e. in the direction opposite our landing. The tower controller was busy and did a good job handling everyone. The timing worked out that we were on final as they were over the airport. Bill handled the important stuff of talking and coordinating our part and directing me, while I just flew. (To help make sense of the radio traffic: Bill’s permanent call sign is “bug 1” and you can probably guess “wardog 1” is the pair of Warthogs.)
Pilots spend a lot of time and energy watching for other aircraft. The vast majority of traffic we encounter is “no factor”, meaning we see them (and they probably see us) and no action is necessary for either party. Very, very occasionally we might have to slightly change our direction or altitude briefly. Rarely (it’s never happened to me) do we find ourselves flying straight toward another airplane on a collision course. Even more rarely is it death-dealers like the Warthogs. It was a unique experience.
It was never a problem but everyone was on their toes making sure everyone was doing what everyone else expected.
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 background from EAA
GAPPA FAQ from AOPA
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.
Here are links to find contact info for your senators and representatives.
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.
Michael Glen Becker
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.
I wrote about the rudder walk exercise a while ago and tried to explain what’s involved and how challenging it is for me.
Now I have some video to go with it, but the video isn’t that exciting until you realize a few things:
- The airplane isn’t flying; it’s falling
- The wings are generating no practical lift
- We’re holding the airplane in a full stall with the stick all the way back
- The only thing keeping the wings even close to level is my tiny rudder changes. That’s what Bill is referring to when he talks about “input” and “pressure”.
- Airspeed is somewhere just under 60mph; we’re normally zipping around at 150mph
- The beeping is the stall warning indicator
- Descent rate is ~3400 ft/minute. (Maybe more accurately termed “free-fall rate”.)
It was a beautiful day for flying and Bill and I both had open schedules so we flew a long time, including airwork and pattern work/landings at Cambridge and Easton. It was New Years Eve and no one else was flying; even Potomac Approach (the Baltimore-Washington International control frequencies) was quiet.
This rudder walk and the simulated engine failure were the start of our flight. I’ll post some other video snippets soon.
I’m getting better! And loving every minute of the challenge.
We just happened (not an accident, I’m sure) to finish the rudder walk near a small airport (Ridgely) where Bill felt the most appropriate celebration was a nice simulated engine failure exercise. This amounts to pulling the power to idle and working through handling the emergency and setting up a power-off landing. I didn’t do it perfectly but it would probably have been a successful landing.