We owe the FAA a debt of gratitude for the most excellent job the agency has done to provide data to aid our flying. It is amazing that for a relatively small cost pilots have access to a wealth of navigation information. Much of it—VFR charting especially—is gorgeous, pretty enough to hang on a wall or use as wrapping paper after the expiration date.
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The job of an FAA inspector must be incredibly boring. I imagine them sitting at their desks all day facing down gigantic piles of paper: letters of authorization, certification compliance packages, applications for operating certificates, enforcement actions, ad infinitum. And when the poor beleaguered inspector gets one pile stamped, signed and delivered, an FAA factotum appears with a new stack and thumps it onto whatever clear space remains in the office. Every day, looking up blearily from the stacks, our overworked inspector looks fondly out the window and wonders whether she can take a few minutes away from the office to visit the airport and see if her charges are playing nice or need some friendly nudging.
Some private fliers seem to want to remain “under the radar.” They like that they can avoid interaction with the general public by leaving and arriving via inconspicuous FBOs, and they travel on unmarked jets, sometimes with the protection of NBAA’s Block Aircraft Registration Request program. The less of an impression they make on the masses the better.
While my primary job was to be an observer at the Avantair bankruptcy auction–which was held in a warehouse just a mile from the company’s former Clearwater (Fla.) Airport on Friday, January 10–I was also a participating bidder. Bidder number 156 to be exact.
Look, it could happen to any of us. Landing at the wrong airport is not that hard.
It happened again Sunday evening, when a Southwest Airlines 737-700 made a relatively short landing at M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport (KPLK) in Branson, Mo. (actually one mile south of downtown Branson), six miles north of the destination airport, Branson Airport (KBBG). This is the second recent wrong-airport landing by a large commercial airplane. A Boeing Dreamlifter cargo carrier operated by Atlas Air landed at the wrong airport in Wichita in November. They were headed for McConnell Air Force Base (KIAB) but landed at smaller Jabara Airport (KAAO), nine miles northeast of the intended destination.
FAA spokesman Les Dorr, in a Poynter story about a journalist’s use of a radio-controlled aircraft to film airborne video, once again publicly stated the FAA’s claim that commercial use of radio-controlled aircraft is prohibited. The Spokane, Wash.,-based Spokesman-Review ran the journalist’s video of a polar-bear swim event on its website.
If you’re a journalist, it helps to know how to write. But sometimes, nothing matters more than doing your research.
When the FAA was looking for ways to slash expenditures by more than $600 million in Fiscal Year 2013 as part of “sequestration” cuts mandated by the U.S. Congress last spring, part of the plans was a shutdown of 149 low-activity contract control towers.
Last Friday, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, was one of those perfect Northern California late-autumn days, and it was a day off so I took my stepfather Dennis flying. Although he has a private pilot certificate he no longer flies. But every time I visit he asks if I can take him flying. This time, the answer was “Yes,” instead of the usual, “No, because I’m not checked out at any of the local airplane rental companies.”
Going, Going, Gone: Vanishing Americana, one of my favorite books, offers compelling evidence of how fast our world is being transformed. On page after page, we see products, services, vocations and styles that once seemed integral to daily life but have nearly or completely disappeared. Remember milkmen? Carbon paper? Phone booths? Drive-in movies? Vinyl records? All gone or mostly gone.