By Jim Timm
Spring is in full swing, and the flying weather has been generally pretty good thus far. With some daytime temperatures already in the 90’s, and the increased number of bugs that come with that, I’ve already been finding my windshield spattered with an unavoidable bug or two. Spring is here, or I’ve just been flying too low. With some of the windy days we’ve had, now’s the time to get out there and brush up on those crosswind landing techniques, and in doing so, please don’t wind up on the “Loss Of Control Landing” accident list. So, let’s get out, face the challenge, and go flying.
Speaking of flying too low, perhaps you may remember my commenting last January on the problem of residents in a northeast area of the valley complaining about small aircraft overflights. Folks on the ground are using ADS-B out information and various other questionable means of acquiring aircraft identification and altitude, and then having an attorney send out letters threatening possible FAA action against pilots that are allegedly flying too low. The problem is not going away by any means. The flight schools and pilots flying in the general area north of Dynamite Rd. and east of Scottsdale Rd. to the Verde River have been receiving these letters in increasing numbers. A very active APA member, and Aviation Safety Advisory Group (ASAG) member, has been closely monitoring the issue, and offered the following observations, and suggestions.
“Within the past year, the flight schools operating out of our local airports around the valley have been receiving letters from lawyers representing clients around the area we know as the Northeast practice area. This area is roughly north of Dynamite Road and east of Scottsdale Road to the Verde River. The people lodging the complaints are using ADS-B data from programs such as Flight Aware and others available on the web to emphasize their objections to aircraft flying in what they perceive to be an unsafe and reckless manner. They have even gone so far as to hire an investigator whose sole job is to track aircraft, measure their altitudes, and collect the data; for what reason we are not sure. While this area is certainly not what many pilots, nor the FAA, consider a highly/densely populated area, it is increasingly being developed with large homes and horse properties. Many of these people do not appreciate aircraft performing what they perceive as reckless maneuvers, but to instructors, students, and other pilots they are a normal part of flight and flight training. Simple maneuvers, such as practicing simulated engine failures over what may look like a good emergency landing location, are not perceived as safe by those uninitiated to aviation. The APA, FAA, Arizona Flight Training Working Group, and the FAA Safety Team are beginning to try to establish a conversation with these individuals, but in the meantime, it would benefit all of us to be mindful of where we performing our practice maneuvers. Make sure you are in compliance with Airman Certification Standards and FARs, and please encourage your fellow pilots to avoid flying in this area in ways that might further antagonize these individuals. We don’t need reports of low level buzz jobs. Not here or anywhere.”
Because the homeowners in the affected area have been receiving significantly flawed aviation information from their non-aviation savvy attorney, your APA team is working on the issue and attempting to reach out to the concerned residents, attempting to facilitate a “town hall” type of meeting with some of the very concerned homeowners and safety officers from the schools to determine what can be done to help mitigate the perceived risk. We will keep you informed as the process continues.
The FAA will discontinue the Direct User Access Terminal Service (DUATS II) Program effective May 16, 2018. Internet services, including access to weather and aeronautical information, flight plan filing, and automated services will remain available at no charge to pilots at www.1800wxbrief.com. To continue to receive free services, users are encouraged to register with www.1800wxbrief.com. Over the next 60 days, the FAA will work with current DUATS II providers on transition activities, including conducting pilot outreach, and provide assistance to users making the change.
Be advised that Boeing is still conducting heavy lift test operations in the area around Gateway Airport (IWA) with H-47 Chinook helicopters. Continue to be alert, and use caution.
Falcon Field (FFZ) is replacing their runway and taxiway lights with LEDs. Runway 4L/22R (the north runway) will be closed to all aircraft operations beginning Monday, April 2, 2018, from 8:00pm (local) to 6:00am (local) for approximately 18-21 nights. The runway, 4L/22R, will be open for normal operations each day between the hours of 6:01am (local) and 7:59pm (local). Runway 4R/22L shall remain open at all times. Be sure to always check FFZ NOTAMS for possible changes.
Deer Valley Airport (DVT) also has construction projects underway. 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 unexpected surprise awaiting you. With the cooler weather, many of the airports around the state still have construction projects under way, or possibly an open house. So always fly informed.
In the past reporting period there were five last minute notices received for GPS Interference testing going on that could have impacted flight operations in Arizona. Again, if you encounter an unexplained interruption in GPS navigation lasting several minutes, inform ATC with the time, date, and location of signal loss.
Flight safety this last reporting period has been very good with the NTSB only reporting two accidents in Arizona. The preliminary reports of these accidents were not released by the NTSB, thus indicating the accidents were most likely minor in nature with the injuries, if any, most likely minor in nature also. See my March Aviation Accident Summary for available details.
APA continues to work with various airports around the state, providing the pilot and aircraft owner’s perspective in the process of updating their Airport Master Plans. The list of airports that APA is currently working with are Falcon Field (FFZ), Superior Municipal Airport (E81), Sedona Airport (SEZ), Flagstaff (FLG), and Grand Canyon Airport (GCN).
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 Benson (E95) Breakfast is postponed until July 21st.
- Also on the third Saturday, around noon, a lunch is made available by APA at the USFS Grapevine Airstrip (88AZ) next to Roosevelt Lake. $8 per person donation encouraged.
- 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.