Tuesday, December 11, 2007

FAA: "Please correct our silly regulations".

The FAA is asking pilots to submit complaints about regulations they feel the agency should "amend, remove, or simplify".

The FAA inviting pilots to complain. I hope they have a stable incoming email system.....

Monday, November 19, 2007

iPhone makes everyone a genius.

Patrick Smith, airline pilot and writer, has a great regular column over at Salon.com. Here is an excerpt from his most recent, that I found amusing....

On one of the frequent-flier blogs, an airline pilot writes that only
moments after informing his passengers of a weather-related ground hold
affecting their flight to Memphis, Tenn., he and his captain received a call
from one of the flight attendants. Seems an iPhone-wielding customer in the back
had a challenge. "Some guy with an iPhone says the weather is good," the flight
attendant says, "and wants to know what the real reason is for the delay. Is
something wrong with the plane?"
I like that, "real reason." The
implication, as always, is that the carrier is lying or otherwise withholding
some critical information. There must be some dangerous malfunction they're not
telling us about. After all, "the weather is good," so obviously there's no
reason we can't depart immediately.
Reportedly, the captain responded with a
public address announcement that was sharp enough to elicit audible laughter
from the cabin.
"If the passenger with the iPhone would be kind enough," he
began, "to use it to check the weather at our alternate airport, then calculate
our revised fuel burn due to being rerouted, then call our dispatcher to arrange
our amended release, then make a call to the nearest traffic control center to
arrange a new slot time (among all the other aircraft carrying passengers with
iPhones), we'll then be more than happy to depart. Please ring your call button
to advise the flight attendant and your fellow passengers when you deem it ready
and responsible for this multimillion-dollar aircraft and its 84 passengers to
safely leave."

Equally funny, but for very differnet reasons: When I googled "Iphone pilot", I found this entry in a technology blog, written by a programmer....

At 22:40 EDT I saw the commercial for iPhone that involves a pilot of a plane whose flight was delayed due to weather, using iPhone to check the weather and communicate to control that weather had cleared. (on NBC 4 New York, at 22:40 EDT on 3 Nov 2007)It upsets me that pilots get to use their iPhone to connect to the Internet when a flight is delayed, while the rest of the passengers sit in the cabin not being able to use any electronic devices! I did not purchase iPhone to become a netizen with a first class communicator device with third class communication.I directed this feedback to Apple and the airlines that I have flown recently. This commercial feels like rubbing salt on a wound.


The Best of the Av blogs.

The aviation blogosphere has grown by leaps and bounds in the time that I have been a participant. There are tons of aviation blogs covering everything from students learning to fly, to senior Captains pushing the heavy iron. These are my personal favorites.....

Aviation Mentor (http://aviationmentor.blogspot.com/)

I started reading John's writing's back when he was a bay area freight dog. Tales from the line, hauling cargo in a Cessna Caravan always provided John with the opportunity to share a lesson or two for his reader. The Freight Dog blog was put to bed when John left his former employer, and switched gears to full time flight instruction. Now, Aviation Mentor is this CFI's space to share his knowledge, and his stories, sometimes going into a very high level of detail concerning instrument procedures, and adapting to the latest, greatest technology available to GA pilots.

Cockpit Conversation (http://airplanepilot.blogspot.com/)

Aviatrix has been keeping a diary of her flying career for about 3 years now, and manages to keep it fresh and interesting every time she writes. This blog is updated very frequently, and always provides me with some great lunch time reading. Recently, she has crossed the border from her native Canada to come work in American airspace. Keeping track of the subtle differences in verbiage and procedure between the two countries has been amusing and interesting reading as of late. I've read about her highs and lows in the industry, and as a pilot, and I'm glad she's still flying, and telling us all about it.

Aviatrix Logbook (http://www.aeronautrix.com/blog/)

A former computer research scientist turns CFI to build flight hours. Interesting accounts of various students, their progression in training, and the occasional story of somebody destroying a Duchess engine with a bicycle. I must share a sense of humor with the author, because this blog consistently makes me laugh. It's also obvious that she is always rooting for the student, and takes her performance as an instructor very seriously. Good to know! Keeps lots of interesting pictures linked to the blog, too.

Flight Level 390 (http://flightlevel390.blogspot.com/)

Going on 3.5 years now, FL390 is, to me, the master of all aviation blogs. Dave is a senior Captain and line pilot for one of the major's here in the U.S, and clearly loves his job. To boot, he is an exceptional writer. Accounts from the cockpit of the Airbus he lovingly calls "Fi-Fi", and of life on the line are always interesting, and written in such a manner that puts you right in the action, as if you were in the jump seat, along for the ride. After many years on the line, it seems the author has avoided becoming jaded by his job, and is still as impressed and excited by the amazing ability of these machines as those of us that have never been lucky enough to experience it from the left seat, and with the title of Captain.
It's rare that Dave makes an entry without someone commenting on his great writing, or suggesting he should write a book some day. I do hope he takes the suggestions seriously. This guy could write a hell of a good book.
Naturally, Lot's of Dave's curious readers have questions for him. He takes time to answer those questions in his comments area.
When I first found FL390, I found myself going back to the very first post and reading the entire year worth of post's I had missed out on. It's just that good.

Captain Dave, write the book, buddy!

METAR by Google

Text "METAR ICAO" (as in METAR KLAS for example) to "Google" (466453) and get a text message reply of the current METAR in text message form, on your cell phone. Give it a try!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


So, flying out here on the left coast got off to a much slower start than expected.

I'll be flying out of Boulder City Municipal, in a rental Piper Warrior II. This is good, because Iw as interested in stepping up to a larger plane than the Tommy, with more seating and a touch more airspeed. She also ha a full deck of Narco radios and a nice GPS, so that will be nothing short of luxury for me.

I managed to get back to Delaware a few weeks ago, and got some flying time in the Tommy. No great tales to tale, other than to say it was great to be back in the left seat and crusing out of N57. I can't begin to explain how much I missed it.

I return to Delaware over the Thanksgiving holiday, and I'm sure I'll get some more seat time then. For now, I'm spending a few hours every night reading the Warrior II POH. I have my instructor lined up to show me the ropes of desert flying, then it will be time to resume normal operations in escaping the patch, and making good use of this hard earned PPL.....

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Some intersting stats on major airport ops....

Top five U.S. airports, percent on-time arrival performance (2007)

1. Oakland (OAK) 79.9 percent
2. Houston (IAH) 78.1 percent
3. Baltimore (BWI) 77.9 percent
4. San Diego (SAN) 77.5 percent
5. Atlanta (ATL) 76.7 percent

Bottom five U.S. airports, percent on-time arrival performance (2007)

1. Newark (EWR) 55.0 percent
2. New York (LGA) 58.0 percent
3. Chicago (ORD) 58.5 percent
4. New York (JFK) 60.0 percent
5. Philadelphia (PHL) 64.9 percent

World's 10 busiest airports, annual takeoffs and landings

1. Chicago (ORD) 970,000
2. Atlanta (ATL) 958,000
3. Dallas (DFW) 711,000
4. Los Angeles (LAX) 650,000
5. Las Vegas (LAS) 605,000
6. Houston Intercontinental (IAH) 562,000
7. Denver (DEN) 559,000
8. Phoenix (PHX) 555,000
9. Philadelphia (PHL) 535,000
10. Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) 532,000

Alive and sweating.

Hello? Is this thing on?

So, I didn’t post for a few months. I swear, I have a good reason.

It’s fitting that my last post was about Las Vegas. One unintended consequence of that trip to Vegas is that I now live there.
Yup, while visiting here in January, I met with a friend who made a job offer I wasn’t able to turn down. 3 weeks later, I was driving cross country to my new home in the desert.

It’s been fun so far. Vegas is an airplane watchers dream. From my 12th floor office I watch the landing and departing traffic from KLAS all day, and I can also see the operations at Nellis AFB about 15 miles north. Everything from F-15’s to B-2’s show up here, even when the legendary Red Flag isn’t in play.

As for my own flying, with the exception of a tourist chopper ride down the strip recently, I haven’t been near any GA aircraft. I have some hours booked with an instructor at North Las Vegas Airport, so it’s a matter of time before I have something to write about again. I’ll be getting checked out in a 172, and learning the local Class B and a little about mountain flying in this turbulent desert air. Stay tuned!

Monday, January 15, 2007


Took my first domestic commercial flight in quite some time this past week. Flew with US Airways to Las Vegas and back for a brief vacation with my older Brother.
While the flight out was jam packed, and I spent it in the middle seat, cursing under my breath at the 20 minute credit card advertisements on the in-flight TV's, the fold down lunch trays, $5 sandwiches and headphones, and the head wind that tacked on another 40 minutes to our flight, the flight home was an empty one, allowing us to sit alone in a cabin, in the emergency row, stretching our legs. The tailwind didn't hurt, either. Got back to the right coast with time to burn...

I kept my eyes out for Dave at KLAS, since it's a frequent stop for him, but no such luck....

Thursday, December 28, 2006

NASA's vision lost on Web generation

From CNN.com

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) -- Young Americans have high levels of apathy about NASA's new vision of sending astronauts back to the moon by 2017 and eventually on to Mars, recent surveys show.
Concerned about this lack of interest, NASA's image-makers are taking a hard look at how to win over the young generation -- media-saturated teens and 20-somethings growing up on YouTube and Google and largely indifferent to manned space flight.
"If you're going to do a space exploration program that lasts 40 years, if you just do the math, those are the guys that are going to carry the tax burden," said Mary Lynne Dittmar, president of a Houston company that surveyed young people about the space program.
The 2004 and 2006 surveys by Dittmar Associates Inc. revealed high levels of indifference among 18- to 25-year-olds toward manned trips to the moon and Mars.

I'm gonna have to agree, as one of these "20-somethings".

The night Discovery launched and I saw it pass through the sky, I ended up at a bonfire hosted by a friend, with 25-30 people around my age. since I thought seeing the Shuttle was the coolest thing I'd seen in a while, I naturally told everyone about it. The vast majority of them looked at me as if I was crazy. I had never noticed it before, but by and large, it's true. Most people in my age bracket really could care less.
Damn kids.....tsk!

I must, however, disagree with George Whitesides, executive director of the National Space Society, a space advocacy group, who feels Hollywood could be the answer.

"The American public engages with issues through people, personalities, celebrities, whatever. When you don't have that kind of personality, or face, or faces associated with your issue, it's a little bit harder for the public to connect."

Less Hollywood in everything would be better in my book. The last thing I want to see is Paris Hilton telling me "We're, like, totally going back to the moon."

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas

I plan to not go near a PC until Tuesday at earliest. So, everyone have a good holiday. Here's hoping Santa doesn't bust the ADIZ on his way up the East coast this year....



Twas the night before Christmas,
and out on the ramp,
Not an airplane was stirring,
not even a Champ.
The aircraft were fastened
to tiedowns with care,
In hopes that come morning,
they all would be there.
The fuel trucks were nestled,
all snug in their spots,
With gusts from two-forty
at 39 knots.
I slumped at the fuel desk,
now finally caught up,
And settled down comfortably,
resting my butt.
When the radio lit up with noise and with chatter,
I turned up the scanner to see what was the matter.
A voice clearly heard over static and snow,
Called for clearance to land at the airport below.
He barked his transmission so lively and quick,
I'd have sworn that the call sign he used was "St. Nick".
I ran to the panel to turn up the lights,
The better to welcome this magical flight.
He called his position, no room for denial,
"St. Nicholas One, turnin' left onto final."
And what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a Rutan-built sleigh, with eight Rotax Reindeer!
With vectors to final, down the glideslope he came,
As he passed all fixes, he called them by name:"
Now Ringo! Now Tolga! Now Trini and Bacun!On Comet! On Cupid!"
What pills was he takin'?
While controllers were sittin', and scratchin' their head,
They phoned to my office, and I heard it with dread,
The message they left was both urgent and dour:
"When Santa pulls in, have him please call the tower.
"He landed like silk, with the sled runners sparking,
Then I heard "Left at Charlie," and "Taxi to parking."
He slowed to a taxi, turned off of three-oh
And stopped on the ramp with a "Ho, ho-ho-ho..."
He stepped out of the sleigh, but before he could talk,
I ran out to meet him with my best set of chocks.
His red helmet and goggles were covered with frost
And his beard was all blackened from Reindeer exhaust.
His breath smelled like peppermint, gone slightly stale,
And he puffed on a pipe, but he didn't inhale.
His cheeks were all rosy and jiggled like jelly,
His boots were as black as a cropduster's belly.
He was chubby and plump, in his suit of bright red,
And he asked me to "fill it, with hundred low-lead."
He came dashing in from the snow-covered pump,
I knew he was anxious for drainin' the sump.
I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work,
And I filled up the sleigh, but I spilled like a jerk.
He came out of the restroom, and sighed in relief,
Then he picked up a phone for a Flight Service brief.
And I thought as he silently scribed in his log,
These reindeer could land in an eighth-mile fog.
He completed his pre-flight, from the front to the rear,
Then he put on his headset, and I heard him yell, "Clear!"
And laying a finger on his push-to-talk,
He called up the tower for clearance and squawk.
"Take taxiway Charlie, the southbound direction,
Turn right three-two-zero at pilot's discretion"
He sped down the runway, the best of the best,
"Your traffic's a Grumman, inbound from the west."
Then I heard him proclaim, as he climbed through the night,

"Merry Christmas to all! I have traffic in sight!"