Editor in Chief Thomas B. Haines received many comments on his column, which suggested that “aviation is our common ground, but not much else.”
What does private aviation mean to you? Private aviation to me means freedom. It means the ability to go where I want to, when I want to, and do it without asking permission from a governing state. Aviation is part of my American dream—the pursuit of my happiness. I dreamt of becoming a pilot as a child so that I might someday have the ability to take part in this wonderful experience. I’m with the government and I’m here to help is a statement that too many of us are hearing too frequently. The reason that I am an AOPA member is that I expect this organization to act as aviation advocate. The first priority of this organization should be to protect our liberty and right to use our airspace in a safe manner, not to favor one political party over another.
I am a state trooper for a state with a very large population. Every day I have the duty to uphold our United States’ and state’s constitution. I deal often with the laws of search and seizure and I intimately understand that infringement upon individual rights has become somewhat of a fine line, which in itself is a travesty. The thought of our overgrown, overspending government continuously overstepping its power is an abomination of our individual freedoms. The thought of our government performing searches without probable cause is truly frightening and this practice is eroding the very principles that our founding fathers fought so hard to protect. These simple principles can, and do, translate directly into our cherished freedoms of the sky. The fact that some of our brothers in aviation are accepting this is even more heartbreaking. Look around. This government is not getting smaller. This government is getting more oppressive by the minute. We must not stand by and wait until our freedom has been taken. I assure you that after it is gone, it will be much more difficult if not impossible to regain. This is not an issue of high wing versus low wing. This is an issue that has much deeper and consequential meaning. Our members must act as one to protect our rights and liberty.
Comparing our diverse opinion of high versus low wing to opinions about the government stopping and searching pilots is irresponsible and devoid of any understanding of the present and history. Whoever says Stop being such pansies, if you have nothing to hide, who cares? and If you are a law-abiding pilot, what really is the problem?—while I admire their childlike trust in the power of government, I question their ability to understand what has happened to every nation, throughout all human history—with no exception—that has the unquestionable right to stop and search its citizens. Police states always start out in the name of safety and end very badly.
Paul Philip Pent II
St. Augustine, Florida
Benjamin Franklin famously stated that anyone willing to surrender freedom for security deserves neither. The nothing-to-hide argument is a straw man, in that unchecked power always turns to its own ends. Freedom comes with risks and is its own end. If you do not accept these ideas, please consider another country in which to live—by the way, they have all destroyed aviation.
I loved the August issue of AOPA Pilot. Aerodiesels are of great interest to me (“Will We All Be Flying Diesels?”). I believe that as time goes on, diesel aircraft will become more mainstream. In 2004, I ordered a Van’s RV9 kit, with the idea of installing a Wilksch WAM 120 turbodiesel engine. Wilksch Airmotive was wonderful to work with. I first flew the airplane in November 2008. I have had great success with the RV9/WAM120 combination. As of today, I have flown it 461 hours with no problems at all.
As the article about the Diamond DA42VI indicates (“Not Your Father’s Airplane”), flying the diesel is different, and, in my opinion, much easier. No need to worry about priming, flooding, hot starts, lean of peak, rich of peak, shock cooling, or backfiring. Just get in, start it up, and fly. The turbocharger is a nice bonus at higher altitude airports.
Boulder City, Nevada
On Monday I was looking to see when the new Disney movie Planes was going to be coming out. Then on Tuesday I dropped off my three-year-old son at daycare then flew my recently purchased airplane over to Leaders Clear Lake Airport (8Y6) to have a little work done on it. I talked to Bob, Kurt, and Chase for a bit and then when Kurt started to work on my airplane Chase showed me the article in AOPA Pilot and that Leaders was an inspiration for the film. I thought that was wonderful; if it were not for Bob Leaders I probably would not have my certificate today. He has helped countless people in aviation. I thought your article was great (“Truth in Animation”) and really hit home to me that someone else realized what a great spot Leaders is and it is no surprise to me that it became an inspiration to someone else.
Thanks for taking the time to write about this wonderful woman. She has remained one of my life’s heroes since she gave me my twin engine checkride at Long Beach. This woman put me at such ease that I performed probably better than I ever have. There was something about her. Maybe it was her seasoned confidence with undeniable authority that immediately puts us young inexperienced pilots at ease. Whatever it was she definitely had it. I passed her scrutiny; that is, until the last few seconds prior to touchdown. My airspeed was right on the money during my final but at five feet above the runway I was slightly off center soliciting her to politely comment, “Rudder, rudder.” She signed me off that day. I was 24 at that time. In my opinion, few moments in life come close to the exhilaration one feels when obtaining an additional aviation rating and the twin rating is probably one of the most exciting; right up there with one’s first solo.
I enjoyed Barry Schiff’s recent column, “Interruption of Routine.” A couple of years ago I planned a flight from my home base to Meridian, Mississippi, to pick up a relative who had been visiting friends. The hot, humid August day served up its usual round of afternoon pop-up thunderstorms along my route. After checking and re-checking the weather I determined I had a viable window and could launch. I decided to place a little more fuel on board just in case. While fueling, my wife called, my cell phone was attached to my belt and, of course, I answered the call. After the call, fueling was complete and off I went. An hour or so later I arrived in Meridian just ahead of a thunderstorm, shut down at the FBO, and asked the line guys to place 10 gallons in each wing. After fueling it started raining and the line guy walked into the FBO to inquire who owned the 182 he had just fueled. Imagine my surprise when he announced (in the company of Air Force cadets detained by the storm), that one of my umbrella caps was missing! I rushed out with duct tape to save the fuel from rain contamination. I will never fuel, flightplan, preflight, or taxi with my cell phone on again.
Muscle Shoals, Alabama
I felt compelled to respond to the August “Letters” section in which SpaceShipOne was referred to as “just a copycat” and “not a pioneering aircraft.” The reference was made because the Mercury program put men into space 45 years before Mike Melvill. It seems to me that both efforts were pioneering, but you cannot compare the two.
The Mercury Program was implemented by the government at a cost of billions of tax dollars. The SpaceShipOne program was funded voluntarily, mostly by Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder, at a fraction of the cost. If the Mercury program had the same financial constraints as the private effort, it would not have happened. Let’s give credit where credit is due. Burt Rutan, Mike Melvill, and the team at Scaled Composites did something pioneering and incredible.
Plain City, Ohio
With even a relatively small proportion of members who may not think rationally about issues, AOPA never-theless has to act rationally on issues without alienating those irrational members. It’s a great challenge, and for the most part AOPA has been successful.
We welcome your comments. Editor, AOPA Pilot, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701 or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Letters may be edited for length and style before publication.