Advertisements



 

Saturday
Feb092019

Government Shutdown vs.Aviation

By Ed Downs

“How about making the February editorial about the current government shutdown’s effect on aviation,” said my boss at In Flight USA’sSupreme Galactic Headquarters.  “Sure,” said I, wondering how I would be able to write about the ridiculous and obscene behavior of politicians who bounce between foolishness and outright lies without simply exposing readers to a politically driven rant. Okay, how about I stress the subject of aviation and see if there are facts or statistics that might rate discussion. Indeed, a challenge, with the following words certainly falling into the category of an “OP/ED,” but perhaps offering some thoughts that might be worth considering. Of course, just as I began writing this opinion, a three-week hiatus was announced. We can only hope that the foolishness we have all been witnessing will be resolved, but this is still a subject worth thinking about, perhaps for future events.

First, let me explain that this writer is not a stranger to the eccentricities of working “inside the beltway” of Washington D.C. While certainly not an expert, early unfavorable encounters with the FAA (1958-timeframe) caused this writer to enter the world of aviation law early in my career, involving congressional intervention, and gaining the support of highly influential political figures and aviation “alphabet” groups. This exposure later led to involvement in large aircraft certification, creation of advanced FAA-approved training programs, and management of a major airline’s legal involvement with local and national government agencies. Perhaps most applicable to the recent government shutdown was the four years I spent in Washington DC serving with a major airline lobby organization on behalf of my airline employer. This involved a hands-on interface with both houses of Congress, the Executive branch of government, and aviation special interest groups. The most memorable adventure during this timeframe was my personal involvement in dealing with the ATC strike of Aug. 1981.  Allow me to share some observations that have come from this experience, most of which are certainly applicable to current events.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan172019

Bouncing Around the Inland Empire

By Eric McCarthy 

The Inland EmpireI shared in an earlier column that when I moved here to Southern California, one of the first things I did was get to work on my Commercial Pilot Certificate. I joined a local flying club with airplanes at the airport I intended to fly out of, Palomar (KCRQ), and connected to an instructor there. I decided to do this for several reasons: 

First and most importantly, to improve my piloting skills; that’s pretty straightforward – as pilots, we should always be learning and striving to improve our skills, and upgrading my license would provide a great opportunity to do so. 

Second, as a newcomer to Southern California, I needed to get familiarized with the area, landmarks, airspace, etc. Flying around the area with a seasoned, local instructor who understood that this was part of my motivation, provided about as good an introduction to the area as possible. As the weeks of training passed, I grew more and more familiar, and comfortable, with the area, just as I had hoped.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan172019

Thinking About the New Year

By Ed Downs

Here it is, Dec. 31, and this writer is wondering what lies ahead for the New Year. Actually, one should be wondering about the wild party to be enjoyed later this evening, but as the years move on, “wild” may be little more that watching re-runs of MythBusters. Yep, I do believe youth has left the building! But as an active CFI guy who works with some 300-plus students each year and conducts Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics (FIRC’s), this old pilot looks ahead to the hot topics that might make 2019 an aviation year that has plenty in store for us aviation types. So, what are the hot topics? What is the FAA asking FIRC instructors to emphasize? What good or bad things might be out there that you may wish to keep in mind?

Let’s start with the FAA. It would be nice to have a full time administrator who, preferably, knows the difference between an aileron and an ATC procedure. Regrettably, the August establishment generically referred to as “The Congress” (Senate and House, both sides of the isle) have apparently decided that their job definition as contained in the U.S. Constitution and their responsibility to the American people has been replaced by power games and empire building whilst their thumbs enjoy a soothing massage offered by their own sphincter muscles.  

Yep, Congress chose not to vote on major executive appointments, leaving many government agencies lacking in leadership at multiple levels. To be sure, the acting administrator does have true aviation/piloting experience, but even he comes from a background of Washington lobby organizations that certainly do not support business or general aviation. Past years have burdened the aviation community with FAA administrators who are political operators or major campaign financial organizers, not individuals who come to the job with a clear vision of the future of aviation in America. Hopefully, we will do better in 2019.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec202018

A Long Journey

By Eric McCarthy


Marine layer on departure from CRQThe day began, as many summer days in southern California do, with a thick marine layer along the coast – only, it was no longer summer. In fact, it was late October. I had been watching the weather for several days and we were definitely in a rut – each day for the past week had featured marine layers both in the morning and late in the afternoon. The marine layer faithfully burns off by 10 a.m. mostof the time and usually doesn’t rematerialize until evening, but even that would lead to a late start for an all day flight, and could well result in a return not only into an advancing marine layer, but also at night. 

With the days getting shorter and shorter, I had planned to do my night-currency takeoffs and landings during the week prior to my planned flight north, but the aforementioned marine layer had thwarted that effort. I was neither instrument nor night current and there are way too many rocks in the clouds in SoCal to be flying around in the dark with clouds if you’re not current and proficient. Time to move to ‘plan B’…

I’d be flying this mission with my friend Jerry; Jerry and his lovely wife Eileen live in Murrieta, not far from French Valley Airport (F70). Located in the Temescal Valley on the other side of a mountain range from the coast, French Valley is usually a safe weather alternative to the airports located along the coastal plain. If I could coerce, or convince, them that I’d be a good houseguest, I could depart Palomar (KCRQ) late afternoon on Saturday and reposition the plane to French Valley for our flight Sunday and spend the night at their home. This would provide several benefits including better weather, an earlier start, and saving Jerry from driving to Palomar. I could also do my night currency there under the forecast clear night skies of French Valley. 

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec202018

Let’s Remember Christmas

By Ed Downs

Sure, there are lots of regulatory, safety and political subjects that warrant comment, but this writer has had just about enough of politics and regulations for 2018. Maybe give it a rest, and just talk about Christmas and some of the traditions that many of us remember. Having stumbled across an article I wrote several years ago, this writer’s memories and passion for aviation, astronomy and astrophysics seemed to come together. Read on and see if some of your “good old days” come to mind.

My twin brother and me were born in Van Nuys, Calif., just before the U.S. entered WWII. It sounds funny now, but Van Nuys was a small, independent town that was somewhat isolated in the middle of the San Fernando Valley. An excellent street car system allowed residents to get into “the city” when circumstances required. Surrounded by citrus fields, Van Nuys was primarily a bedroom community, serving wartime manufacturing at the Lockheed/Burbank and Van Nuys airports. The town’s secondary purpose was to support the movie industry, with many surrounding locations and sets (like a full western town) used in hundreds of “B” western movies and early TV productions. My parents were part the movie industry, Mom as a dancer (and former Olympian) and Dad as a stunt man and bit actor. We kids also did some bit parts in movies and early TV, enjoying the privileges of grammar school run by the studios. Dad eventually entered the photography side of the business, opening a camera shop on Van Nuys Boulevard. Some readers may even know about Van Nuys Blvd., where Wednesday night “cruising” was perfected to the point of becoming a main theme of the movie “American Graffiti.”  

My brother and I grew up in the company of family friends that included guys like William Boyd (Hopalong Cassidy), Roy Rogers, Leo Carrillo, Andy Devine and others, along with dancers, such as Marge and Gower Champion. Thrown in with that mix were Lockheed test pilots (Dad did photographic work for Lockheed) and trips to Van Nuys Airport to watch P-38’s taking off and landing. Both me and my brother were hooked on aviation before the age of five. As avid model airplane builders, our father invited us to open a “hobby department” in his camera store at the age of 13, and $500 dollars later, we were in business, able to pay for flying lessons ($11 per hour, dual) at Van Nuys Airport, flying Aeronca Champions with wind driven generators and a two-crystal low-frequency Lear radio… advanced technology! Yep, fun childhood with cowboys, six shooters and airplanes setting a pace that continues to this day. You see, being an aviation professional meant that I never had to grow up!

Click to read more ...

Copyright © 2009, In Flight Media. All rights reserved.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.
Creative Commons License

Designed by jbNadler Creative Labs