On the last few flights, I haven’t seen many bugs on the airplane. In fact, last week’s flight didn’t produce a single bug on the windshield, it’s amazing. Apparently, fall must be trying to arrive because when the early morning flights end, it’s still comfortable out, and except for the wind the other weekend, flying has been smooth and very comfortable. I can’t wait to see the fall and winter flying weather get here. Let’s go flying and enjoy what we have!
Because of the present pandemic, this month’s report may be short, but on a positive note, all the usual meetings are continuing, either as a teleconference or a video conference meeting. No more spending time driving to meetings, and the meetings are just as productive as before.
It seems that runway incursions have been on the rise lately. Some of them may be attributed to pilot inattention or not understanding runway/taxiway markings. Several recent Runway Incursions have been attributed to communications. The most important concept in pilot-controller communications is understanding each other. Pilots must acknowledge each radio communication with Air Traffic Control (ATC) by using the appropriate aircraft call sign and confirming all hold short instructions. Brevity is important, and transmissions should be as concise as possible, while still ensuring that the controller understands what you want to do. Also, you must understand exactly what ATC wants you to do. If you don’t understand an ATC request, don’t hesitate to make a request to repeat. The Aeronautical Information Manual's Pilot/Controller Glossary can help you learn what certain words or phrases mean. Good phraseology enhances safety and is the mark of a professional pilot. Jargon, chatter, and "CB" slang have no place in ATC communications.
Here are some general tips for good aviation radio technique:
- Listen before you transmit. Except for a few situations where some frequency overlap occurs, if you hear someone else talking, attempting to transmit will be futile. You will probably jam ("step on") someone else's attempt to transmit, causing a need to repeat the call. If you have just changed frequencies, first pause and then listen to make sure the frequency is clear. Besides, a “stepped on” transmission is frustrating for both the controller and pilot, and it could even be hazardous.
- Think before keying your transmitter. Know what you want to say and, if it is lengthy, (e.g., a flight plan or IFR position report), jot it down so you do not waste transmission time trying to remember what you need to say.
- Position the microphone very close to your lips. After pressing the mic button, a slight pause may be necessary to be sure that the first word is transmitted. Speak in a normal conversational tone.
- Be patient. When you release the transmit button, wait a few seconds before calling again. The controller may be jotting down your number, looking for your flight plan, transmitting on a different frequency, or selecting the transmitter to your frequency.
- Be alert to the sounds, or lack of sounds, in your receiver. Check your volume, recheck your frequency, and make sure your microphone is not stuck in the transmit position. Frequency blockage can occur for extended periods due to unintentional transmitter operation. This type of interference is commonly referred to as "stuck mic," and controllers may refer to it in this manner when attempting to assign an alternate frequency.
Unfortunately, some pilots are reluctant to talk to ATC. If you are one of these pilots, make it a point to either talk to a Flight Service facility or a “low activity” airport control tower on each flight you make to become more confident in using your radio, because the airspace we fly in is becoming more complex with each passing year. So in the meantime, let’s go flying and try all this out, and fly safely.
Because of the diversity of aviation activity on the airport, and the increasing number of close encounters of the wrong kind, the City of Marana is actively seeking to get a contract control tower for Marana Municipal Airport. In December they were approved for participation in the FAA Contract Tower Program, which is step one in the process. They are working and planning to get a tower by 2024.
Since the virus pandemic struck, it appears the FAA has loosened its purse strings and has made grants available to several airports in Arizona. Payson submitted a loan request for lighting, and the FAA denied the loan request but instead offered a grant for the project. Four other airports in the state are destined to receive a total of $31.3 million in funding for projects ranging from apron reconstruction to weather-reporting equipment. The FAA is making this investment across the nation to improve the nation’s airport infrastructure, enhance safety, and strengthen growth in the local communities.
As you are aware, the forest fire season is still ongoing, so watch out for fire TFRs. The election season has less than one more month to go, and VIPs are coming to Arizona, so watch out for and be very vigilant around political VIP TFRs. Remember, these are established by the Secret Service AND NOT THE FAA. “Busting” one can be a very serious problem, with a USAF fighter escort to a guaranteed discussion with the Secret Service, not the FAA. Don’t be like the guy in New Jersey, flying an RV-7, who busted a presidential TFR, and when the scrambled Fighter Jets couldn’t raise him on the radio, the flares released helped him find the correct frequency, then he was escorted to a nearby airport where his bad day no doubt got even worse. So, please be wary.
Yes, in this last reporting period we have again received last minute notices of GPS interference testing being conducted that could impact us in Arizona. Remember, if you get an unexplained interruption of GPS signal lasting for a few minutes that you can’t explain, notify the nearest FAA controlling facility and advise them of the time, altitude, and location of the interruption. It may not actually be a problem with your GPS system.
Be sure to use extra caution after flying into Casa Grande Municipal Airport (CGZ) as the Boeing company is using the airport as a base for conducting tests on the Boeing CH47 Chinook helicopter. When taxiing on the ramp, be cautious of these helicopters due to the downwash from them when they're operating could be devastating. While testing is in progress, there may be a chase helicopter present, and they will provide safe operating information on the CTAF frequency when a Chinook is operating on the ramp. This is fortunate because the light aircraft operations are a bit higher than normal lately because CGZ presently has the lowest fuel prices in the area.
For those of you that are flying an Aviat Husky, I hope you are aware of an Airworthiness Directive (AD) that has been issued on several models of the airplane regarding the horizontal stabilizer support assembly and stabilizer support tube. Apparently, there have been a number of aircraft that have had failures of both assemblies resulting in the departure of the stabilizer and loss of airplane control. Contact the Aviat company or your Husky dealer for details and corrective action ASAP.
Aviation safety in this past reporting period was not too bad because there were only four accident reports issued by the NTSB, and none of them involved fatalities. Two of the accidents were complete with preliminary reports being published; however, the other two accidents didn’t have their preliminary reports released. For one of these accidents, I did find an Aviation Safety Network description, and it’s included in this month’s accident summary. The details of the four accidents are contained in my October Accident Summary. Please continue to fly safely.
Please remember, not all aircraft flying in your airspace may be required to have an operating ADS-B out. Don’t bury your head in the cockpit or rely solely on your ADS-B system to tell you who is out there with you. Always keep your eyes open and be alert.
With funding made available from the FAA, many airports around the state have construction projects in progress or planned to start. Unfortunately, we don’t have the latest details on all these projects, so always check for NOTAMs at your destination airport to see what may be happening, and when you do get there, always use caution. Always fly informed.
APA is actively working with several airports around the state assisting with the updating of their Airport Master Plans, thus providing the pilot and aircraft owner’s perspective in the process. Chandler Municipal Airport (CHD), Lake Havasu City Municipal Airport (HII), Superior Municipal Airport (E81), Sedona Airport (SEZ), Flagstaff (FLG), Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport (IFP), and Grand Canyon Airport (GCN) are currently in the Master Plan update process. Chandler Municipal Airport will be having its last update meeting on October 28, and the final updated Airport Master Plan should be submitted to the FAA for approval before the end of the year.
THINGS TO DO - PLACES TO FLY FOR BREAKFAST:
Because of the present virus pandemic, some of the airport restaurants have take-out service available. Call ahead.
- The fly-in breakfast at Coolidge Municipal Airport (P08), is on the first Saturday of the month, and the Breakfast season is scheduled to restart in October.
- The Falcon Field EAA Warbirds Squadron fly-in breakfast and car show is on the third Saturday of the month, and their breakfasts are scheduled to restart on October 17, 2020.
- Grapevine is open full time, but the third Saturday of each month is USUALLY a special time for a group camp dinner on Saturday evening. The October fly-in has been CANCELED due to extreme fire conditions. Always check for TFRs because Grapevine, which lies within a National Forest, is heavily used by the Forest Service for fighting wildfires.
- The City of Casa Grande is planning on refurbishing the food service area in their Airport terminal area formally occupied by the Foxtrot Cafe and will be issuing a request-for-quote for someone to provide food handling services at the airport. Hopefully, the Casa Grande Airport will again have a fly-in breakfast available soon.
- The second Saturday of the month is still open, so can anyone suggest a restaurant that would be willing to have a fly-in breakfast to fill that slot?
Check the online calendar for fun weekend places to fly!