By Jim Timm
I hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday season, Santa was good to you, and all your Christmas surprises were good ones. The early Saturday morning breakfast flights are a bit cool, and the aircraft performance has really been impressive compared to last summer. I really wish the pilots’ performance could improve by the same amount, also. Unfortunately, the safety report numbers don’t seem to reflect that happening. But anyway, let’s take advantage of the great flying weather, and treat ourselves and go flying, but do it safely!
As a word of caution, apparently it’s becoming important that when you are out aviating nowadays, you are going to have to be extra careful of where you are, and what altitude you are flying. It appears that the anti-noise, the animal refuge watchers, and probably the anti-airplane people in general, have discovered the new ADS-B technology and are taking advantage of it. Using inexpensive ADS-B in receivers and iPad or Android apps, they are becoming more aggressive in issuing complaints based on data that is available in the public domain. For sometime now many of the flight schools have received very specific airplane noise complaints, and recently we have become aware of some individuals also receiving these letters of complaint, giving N numbers and altitudes. In some cases they are utilizing the services of an attorney to press their issue and attempt to intimidate. In discussing the problem with ADS-B manufacturers, apparently this has become a problem all over the country, not just us here in Arizona. The altitude information the complainants generally provide is expressed in 100 foot increments which would indicate it is information provided by your transponder which provides pressure altitude information in 100 ft. increments for ATC. If you encounter a complaint with an altitude in more precise increments than 100 ft., it would indicate they probably got a GPS altitude read out by some other means and it was not an ADS-B transponder return. I found it interesting to learn that this 100 foot altitude increment transmitted by your transponder can have a theoretical maximum possible error of +/- 175 ft. What it means is that it's very important that you fly with the nearest correct barometric pressure reading in your altimeter because your transponder could be saying you are lower than what you think you are based on what your altimeter is indicating. A problem also comes up in determining what is really being defined as a congested surface area requiring a higher altitude.
Good grief, we get a new bit of technology that we think is going to be making flying safer, and it turns around and bites us. Anyway, don’t fly any lower than necessary, know precisely where you are, and fly safe.
On the well-worn issue of privatization, the proposal to privatize ATC still hasn’t made it to the floor of the House, and as the new legislative session starts, the proponents will be trying to secure enough votes to ensure passage of the bill. The bill’s strongest supporter, Transportation Committee Chairman Shuster, announced that he will not seek re-election. Regardless, we must keep the pressure on and again contact our legislators in Washington and continue to tell them we are in opposition to ATC Privatization! Only our persistence is going to pay off in the end!
For the next several months, exercise caution at and around Gateway Airport (IWA), because Boeing will still be conducting heavy lift test operations in the area with H-47 Chinook helicopters.
During the month of January, Falcon Field (FFZ) will be replacing their runway and taxiway lights with LEDs, and there will be runway and taxiway closures to accomplish the task.
Also, on February 10, 2018, Falcon Field will be having an open house, and it’s anticipated that they will be having an aerobatic display. Be sure to put it on your calendar.
About mid-January, Deer Valley Airport (DVT) will be starting new run-up area construction, so watch for NOTAMS and use caution.
In other words, before taking off, always be sure to check for NOTAMS at your destination airport so you don’t have an unpleasant surprise awaiting you. With the cooler weather, a lot of the airports around the state have construction projects under way. Always fly informed and safely.
Flight safety in the last reporting period has not been very good, with the NTSB reporting six accidents in Arizona. The only positive side of it was that all the accidents reported were minor in nature, and the accidents resulted in either minor or no injuries. See my January Aviation Accident Summary for the accident details.
APA is working with various airports around the state, providing the pilot and aircraft owner’s perspective in the process of updating their Airport Master Plans. Adding to the list of airports that are updating their master plans, Mesa Falcon Field (FFZ) has just initiated their master plan update process. An update of the the Superior Municipal Airport (E81) master plan, Sedona Airport (SEZ), Flagstaff (FLG), and Grand Canyon Airport (GCN) master plans are also currently in process.
THINGS TO DO - PLACES TO GO FOR BREAKFAST:
- The fly in breakfast at Coolidge Municipal Airport (P08), is on the first Saturday of the month.
- The Falcon Field EAA Warbirds Squadron fly in breakfast and car show is on the third Saturday of the month.
- The third Saturday of the month there is a fly in breakfast at Benson (E95) at Southwest Aviation. (There are special fuel prices for breakfast attendees.)
- Also on the third Saturday, around noon, a lunch is made available by APA at the USFS Grapevine Airstrip (88AZ) next to Roosevelt Lake.
- On Saturday, January 13th, there will be an FAA Wings fly in Safety Seminar and Old Town Cottonwood tour; see the details in this newsletter.
- The last Saturday of the month there is a fly in breakfast at Casa Grande Municipal Airport (CGZ). The Airport’s restaurant, Foxtrot Cafe, operating in the Terminal Building, is open 6:30am to 2:00pm Monday thru Saturday. On the last Saturday of the month they have a “Fly in Breakfast Special” available on the menu; the price for adults is $8 and kids $5.
- The Tucson Airport Authority has completed the renovation of the restaurant at Ryan Field, and it’s now open under the name of Richie’s Cafe. The hours are 6:00 am to 2:00 pm doing breakfast and lunch daily. We will try to get this one added to the Saturday Morning Fly In breakfast list.