Top Letters And Comments, February 1, 2019
Just a quick note to say I really enjoyed Paul's recent article on winter flying. Having just returned from the frozen wasteland of Hoth or Iowa. Whatever they are calling it these days, I could appreciate his sentiment. I was supposed to be painting an airplane here in NC, where it blessedly says that it has to be at least 65 degrees, 70 is better, for the paint to work properly right on the instructions, so throw another log or seven in the wood stove.
Instead I trundled off into the Midwest for a surprise Angel Flight, straight into the polar vortex and 60 knot headwinds, right on the nose.
And turbulence. There were pireps all over my route for moderate to extreme turbulence. Give me a thunderstorm any day. I can at least see that blasted thing and avoid it.
By the flight home had 50 knots on the tail and our patient received his treatment and was home for dinner so I guess it all worked out.
Funny. I spend summers in a rural area near Oshkosh. On the airport where my toys freeze all winter, there's an AWOS and I have privileged access to the airport's security cams. The coldest temp seen was -33 deg K and the coldest wind chill was -57 yesterday. On one pic I saw, it looked exactly as you described ... something out of Dr Zhivago with snow plows and snow blowers competing for snow removal on the ramp.
The first year I operated from up there, I learned to make multiple sweeps of the hangar prior to heading south to make sure nothing that could freeze and explode was left behind. Year one taught me that a case of coke left will make one helluva mess. At my home, I leave the heat on AND have multiple backup pure electric heaters in case the gas furnace poops out. I have actually seen bars where the only vehicles out back are snowmobiles.
Over the weekend, it's going to warm into the 40's for a couple of days. That's the way Wisconsin is. Don't like the weather ... wait a few days. I have neighbors who think I'm out of my mind for leaving during winter; I believe that THIS winter may change their minds? When things close down in Wisconsin... you KNOW it's cold out.
ATC Sick Calls During Shutdown
In reading your article "The ATC Crisis That Wasn't" I was so disappointed to see that you too have dropped to the level of "mainstream" media. ATC employees are not working without pay. They will be paid for every minute they work. Their only financial hardship was a delay in receiving their paychecks.
Your article, like almost every other media outlet, leaves the reader with the impression that Air Traffic Controllers are working for free.
Even if you characterize your article as an OpEd piece, the half-truth of claiming that Controllers are working "without pay" is beneath you.
As a pilot, I have been following the impact the government shutdown might have on ATC. Each time I fly I self-assess my physical and mental preparedness to fly using the "I'M SAFE" acronym, checking: Illness, Medication, Stress, Alcohol, Fatigue and Eating and only if confident in my suitability for flight, do I fly. I would expect and hope that my ATC eyes in the sky have a similar checklist they perform to assess their readiness to be the eyes for my flight.
I find it interesting that higher absenteeism is reported as a coordinated sick-out. What I would expect is that the emotional strain of mortgage, food and other bills to support a family would increase the stress of an ATC employee in an already stressful environment resulting in their inability to perform their job safely, resulting in a sick day. Since the entire ATC team is under the exact same stress, higher levels of absenteeism should be expected.
I truly respect and value my ATC partners and feel blessed that they are so good at doing their jobs that we have the safest system in the world. I just can't image the stresses of the last 35 days.
They signed up for this when they took the job. I know it's tough, but we shouldn't hear the whining. They should either work or quit.
However the NATCA leadership cares to deflect sick call attention, that's fine with me. I've been flying about during the shutdown, and the controller's performed admirably. Despite what was typical deplorable Washington behavior. The controllers were definitely the adults in the room in this situation.
Do Big Players Getting Into Urban VTOL Convince You That It's Real?
Sentiment among the AVweb Commentariat runs against VTOL services and electric propulsion in general. However, I don't really trust the judgment of old-timers who dote over the J-3 and fear FADEC. It sounds like they're yelling "Get a horse!" at the new technology.
Boeing, Airbus, Siemens et al may or may not be able to put viable eVTOL systems in place in cities around the world. I'm guessing they'd have their greatest success in new cities with rich elites who don't think of themselves as pilots. (i.e. outside the U. S.)
AVweb is my favorite GA site. I enjoy the articles that appear here. The grumpy old men who comment on them, not so much. Guys like them are holding GA back.