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Jun 9 2013

Про Светку Капанину

Ошибка СССР – в его элите. Постсталинской элите, которая внезапно осознала, что принцип ротации через расстрелы закончился  но нового принципа она не нашла. И не искала. И сделала так, что ротация стала невозможной.

Поэтому буквально в десятилетие она закуклилась и обрезала все социальные лифты, стала отдельным от населения классом со своими классовыми интересами, отличающимися от интересов страны, а часть элиты встроилась в глобальную – и повела работу на уничтожение страны.

Фатальных системных проблем у СССР не было. Были структурные. Но элита сознательно привела структурный дисбаланс к системному кризису и демонтировала СССР.

В 91 году говорить о возврате к СССР имело смысл. Возможно, даже в 93 – тоже. Но сейчас…

Возврат к СССР – это как сейчас пытаться построить египетские пирамиды. То есть, можно – но в чем смысл?

(c) el-murid

Красиво ведь девчонка летает, что там…

Таких больше не делают.

Потому что не из чего.

Вспоминается – летом года так 86 шли мы из своего поселка в соседский военный городок за арбузами. Тележка по кочкам громыхает, корявые заборы сменяются пожухлым лесочком, а вот уже и городок – забор бетонный, дома панельные, все серьезно.

Слышим – звук моторов, несколько в один сливаются. И видим – невысоко, параллельно строящимся высоткам, крыло к крылу идут два Яка пятьдесят вторых. Плотно, хоть не очень аккуратно – видно, что школяры косячат – но все равно красиво.

В то время это все еще было просто – приклеил марку в книжечку ДОСААФ, пошел в клуб, и вперед, за мечтой. Ну, то-есть если медкомиссия пропустит, и самолеты «свободные» будут, и с начальством подружишься, и коллеги не сожрут.

Но бесплатно зато.

Сейчас бывало посмотришь на такой 52 с его девятью цилиндрами, и аж кошелек щемит – это-ж сколько ему бензина с маслом надо, как дорого обслуживание будет стоить… Тогда-то мы не парились – наш взнос был 25 копеек за марку, остальное оплачивало государство.

Хотя, конечно, горбатый стране уже наступал – начали выползать из всех щелей первые бандиты и кооперативщики, да и доблестные досаафовцы все четче понимали, как правильно жить в новом мире.

Ни хрена на делать, мелкоту шпынять, начальству лизать – и красть, красть, красть что только можно… Сначала, понятно, ГСМ – это всем нужно – ну а потом и запчастями приторговывать, а там и армяшки с азерботами погрызлись, начали первую из «новых» войн – так вообще лафа пошла. Уже не просто досаафовские Яки с Элками, а потенциальная военная мощь молодых да ранних независимых республик стояла на кону, только продавай…

Так что уже к середине девяностых все было основательно потрепано, толстые Аннушки стояли по углам с раздетыми крыльями, камовские соосники печально свесили лопасти, напрочь забыв про когда-то бодрый «танец с саблями», а прочие и вовсе догнивали по свалкам.

Досаафовские крысы все ждали, по привычке, что из центра пришлют новое железо для разворовывания, а его все не слали. Самые жадные из самых ленивых слиплисть в новое «росто» и прочие местечковые организации, но и им уже не так много перепало – центр сам был занят такой каруселью воровства, что не до этих аэродромчиков на окраине городишек было.

Остатки системы по отбору наиболее качественного человеческого материала и натаскиванию оного – за бесплатно – все еще спорадически существовали, и где-то среди них выросло последнее поколение летчиков-спортсменов, поколение Светки Капаниной.

Советских еще пилотажников, которых больше не делают – потому что невыгодно.

Выгодно, чтобы богатые сученята из воровских семеек покупали себе дорогие игрушки – и клоунов, чтобы на тех игрушках кататься. Васильевы катаются на мазератти, кабаевы пляшут на столе, а капанины чуть повыше. Быдло ревет «тагиил!», православие и державность на высоте, лишние деньги пилятся.

Беда в том, что «массовость», о которой так пеклись до последнего момента большевики, организовывая ДОСААФ в каждом заштатном городишке, ушла в никуда по причине тотального воровства, халявничества и раздолбайства тех самых масс.

А качество получается только как выжимка из массовости. Не толп тупорылой быдлятины, а масс образованных, интересующихся, влюбоенных в свою мечту людей.

Это и у буржуев не очень работает – клоуны для авиашоу наперечет, и все пришли в этот бизнес кто из армии, кто за свой счет. Кто-то побился, а кто-то славы добился – вот и монетизирует.

Другое дело, что раньше хоть стимул был – с проклятым совком конкурировать, а тот, как назло, бил и бил уберменшей на международных соревнованиях. Так что они с раскруткой чемпионатов по пилотажу завязали, раздув вместо них «гонки» от Ред Булла (заботливо исключив из них Яки и Су, чтобы натасканные на тех совки не мешали празднику жизни).

Но тут и Союз кончился, и нет больше смысла американцам, немцам и французам русских терпеть – можно спокойно делать шоу-бизнес, без обидных щелчков по носу. Ну а такие могикане, как Света, что-ж, пусть попляшут напоследок для новых хозяев. Все равно каждый англоязычный подросток в комментах к видео на ютубе объяснит слишком гордящимся, кто в мире главный.

Так что летай, Светка, нам на память – и всем в напоминание – что может сделать народное государство из своих отборных детей. А мы тебя посмотрим в хорошем разрешении, да помянем, как оно могло быть.


May 25 2013

Зачем надо Родину любить

Был у нас военрук, полковник Донюшкин. В конце восьмидесятых, когда никакая НВП уже на три буквы никому была не нужна. Когда девочки захлебывались слюнками при мысли о том, чтобы “работать путаной в Космосе”, а одноклассники Бяша с Баркуней, в ответ на вопрос, кем они хотят стать, ответили – один через пустой взгляд, а другой поверх изжеванной спички – “рэкетирами…”

Так вот когда “полкан” нас спрашивал о чем-то своем, типа того, как функционирует прибор химической разведки, а мы в ответ мямлили что-то невпопад, с тоской глядя в окно, он смотрел на нас со стариковской полуулыбкой, и говорил всегда одно и то-же: “Ну хорошо, ты не знаешь, ладно – но я поставлю тебе трояк, если ты ответишь мне на один простой вопрос – зачем надо Родину любить?”

Обычно в ответ следовало заученное: “Родина это место где я родился где живут мои друзья – и прочее ля-ля тополя…” Донюшкин улыбался, кивал, слушал, и всегда – всегда ставил тройку. Потом НВП из программы убрали, военруков сократили, калаши с пропиленными стволами украли и попались при попытке использовать в какой-то некрасивой полукриминальной истории неназванные лица из числа старшеклассников (один из них был первым кончившимся от передоза из своего класса). А полкан продавал чеснок вместе с бабками на троллейбусной остановке возле церкви.

Так вот все эти патриотические фильмы, “военно-исторические” разговоры о заклепках и духовности, правде жизни и проч. – они потому, что никто из говорящих не смог бы искренне, честно ответить – зачем надо Родину любить. Или хотя бы – зачем не надо.


Apr 11 2013

Buying an Airplane in Canada, Part 4: Delivery

Let’s relax and imagine that all our troubles are left behind – here’s an airplane you love, its condition is good enough to fly right away or you can fix it easily, there’s no legal scum hanging off the wings, and the seller made every attempt to understand and cover your extra expenses.

Now the only remaining thing is – how to bring your airplane to the new home and make it yours officially?

If you’ve bought a plane in Canada, and it’s a flyable aircraft, ready to go – hop in and fly home. Plan the route in advance, book the hotels if you’d need to stay overnight, and don’t forget to make the very first legs short! You may even wish to shoot a couple of touch and goes before attempting to fly away. That’s especially true if the machine is new to you. Getting some dual time in the type prior to delivery would help, but even then – different rigging and pilot’s lack of experience will count.

If you have a friend who’s experienced enough in flying this particular type, do not hesitate a second in asking him to help you, acting as a safety pilot. You obviously insured the machine since the day of purchase, right? And this insurance allows other people to fly it, if necessary? Please figure that out well in advance – the last thing you want is to get a stupid mishap somewhere in the middle of your trip back home, leaving you with damaged airplane, hurt relationships with the buddy, and unclear way of paying for damages – that’s hoping that no one was hurt…

If the plane is in Canada but could not be flown to a new base (for example, it’s a brand-new homebuilt restricted by 25 miles rule, or a project to be completed, or a damaged plane requiring fix before getting in the air), you’ll need to truck it to its new base.

In my experience, a 22 foot sled-carrying flatbed trailer resulted to be an excellent mean of ground transportation for a non-flyable airplane. It is wide and long enough to get any partially disassembled light aircraft on top of it. The platform sits high above the wheels, minimizing damage from debris flying under the wheels of your truck and other cars. Yet, it is easily maneuverable with a bit of practice, and rental is cheap.

Loading the plane on that platform and taking it back may be quite a handful! I’ve used tractors and some body work to get bits and pieces on and off the trailer. Bring a good set of ratchets, ropes, tape, something soft with lots of friction (carpet pad works surprisingly well!) Maybe you’ll need some sort of wooden structure to hold different parts in the right position, keeping them safe from movement and damage… That’s a project on its own, don’t under-estimate it.

While towing that precious trailer, be very careful about all the vehicles passing you – there’d be flying junk and waves of compressed air hitting your fragile cargo. Getting through the gas pumps would be another challenge – though compensated by amusement and excited questions from the people around.

Planes don’t like rain, so either ensure the weather is good, or cover the plane overnight with a tarp. Driving a plane covered with a tarp is not recommended, though, as it’d inevitably get loose – smacking and flapping against your plane mercilessly!

Covered trailer may be an even better option, but the size of such construction will be absolutely humongous, requiring a powerful tow truck and complicating maneuvering to get the disassembled plane in and out even more – probably beyond the average drivers’ capabilities, license, and experience.

Towing the plane from the States is no different, except that you’ll get certain attention from the border service – so be prepared for the long talks. Obviously, importation would include “freezing” your cargo until the fees are paid – so please triple-check in advance how would that be handled at your point of entry.

And ferrying the plane from States is also tricky.

You can, obviously, get a temporary Canadian registration, and special ferry permits, and tons of other slow and expensive paperwork – but your best bet would be in convincing the seller to fly this plane for you. Let him bring it to Canada, with him as PIC, under original US registration and insurance, and land at your home airport. Then give him money, airline ticket home, maybe a good dinner, and drive him to the nearest international airport.

That’d be the dream, but only maybe 1 out of 20-25 sellers I was dealing with were willing even to discuss such a journey. Most of them also requested paying them substantial ferry expenses, running around couple thousand dollars for a medium-length trip – you’ve kept that in mind when looking for your dream airplane and working down the asking price, right?

Oh, and also many a seller would refuse to fly outside unless you pay the whole amount upfront. Even if you’ll incur risk to get that mishap in the middle of the road, sitting on some American farmer’s field with your damaged or destroyed plane, hopefully not injured pilot and passenger, and effectively wasted purchase money – which your insurance company may or may not pay you back… partially. That after a long, long, long investigation.

And your plane would effectively be grounded until Canadian registration is completed – with previous Transport Canada inspection and approval, Border Agency notified, all taxes and fees paid… That’s a lot of hassle, make no mistake. Papers will move slowly, you’d get your share of “wait for 90 days, and call us if there’s no news” promises – which will actually require reminders and pushing here and there well beyond the 90 days period.

There are plenty of horror stories about non-approved equipment that should’ve been either removed or re-certified in Canada. These stories exist for a reason – bureaucracy is stunning, managing to both miss critical items, and destroy your ass with minor things growing out of proportion.

That’s why, though most of Canadian airplanes are actually built in US and imported at some point, ridiculous Canadian aviation market still exist – even with its insane prices and uncomfortable legal procedures it may be still cheaper, or at least easier, to buy inside the country than bring from the South. New foreign aircraft are excluded from many a hassle, but this comes with a millionaire price tag.

But let’s think positive! Imagine that you’ve successfully purchased and delivered the airplane – here it is, sitting in front of the hangar, smiling at you. Personally, I felt a great deal of tiredness and relief, mixed with very limited amount of childish joy when that occurred to me – but hope you’ll do better.

Just be careful, and have fun!


Mar 10 2013

Buying an Airplane in Canada, Part 3: Negotiations

After a few months spent, you should be already well versed in the aviation owners’ lingo, can easily spot the runout engines and rusty airframes, are not scared by homebuilts and owner-maintained aircraft, and have a fairly short but solid wish list of the planes-to-have on your mind.

You’ve been chatting with the vendors on the phone and maybe even flew some of their planes dual, and these birds appear to be overall ok, except for the price asked.

Look, all these vendors used to be buyers. They’ve made their share of mistakes and purchased something that did not work for them in the long run – but not before they either ruined the plane by incompetence, or wasted tons of money attempting to fix the consequences of mishandling. Maybe you were lucky to stumble across a really capable and knowing owner selling due to some unrelated reasons, but that should be considered as sheer luck.

So when buying something another person doesn’t wish to keep, be fierce.

Stay nice and smile, but don’t forget to question every little thing. Why was this plane on the market for so long? Why, despite all that money invested, the owner doesn’t want it anymore? How expensive was the maintenance, and due to which pain-points? How much would you have to spend to bring this bird home and make it fly?

There are a lot of people who’d stay firm alleging that their airplane “needs nothing”, or otherwise attempt to downplay the obvious gaps detected. Well, leave them on the market for some time more – until they either soften a bit, or be lucky sell their stuff tricking someone less cautious.

Have you flown the plane dual with the seller? That could be a scary experience on its own right, but if you survive, it can bring legitimate opportunities to talk about the overstressed gear and chipped prop, if not the busted wing edges. The worst is the pilot, the better he thinks about himself – but after you’ve flown with him you’d know better.

You may have heard a statement about the plane “always hangared” – but Internet remembers everything, so mention these photos of 1987 where the plane is posing on far corner tie-downs, covered with tall grass – wouldn’t that be a valid reason to slash the asking price?

Fabric in “excellent condition, recovered in ‘poly-reu-than’ 40 years ago by an AME” – is it really that good? Forget about the punch test joke, think how would it feel if the ancient rotten rag would start separating in flight, while your woman or your kid is sitting next to you… still feel like giving it a shot? Or would rather include a punishing recovery and repaint requirement as a reason to cut down the asking price?

Talking about people lying, don’t forget the legal details. Ownership is a big story, as Transport Canada requires a bill of sale to be signed by the same person to which an aircraft is registered. I’ve faced dozens of cases when a nice otherwise sale fell through because at the last moment we’ve “discovered” that a guy who’s selling the plane had it registered to some other person elsewhere (in two occasions the actual owners were not human, but legal entities – a museum and a private company).

So be very meticulous and particulars about the paperwork – you’ll notice that many a vendor would sound easy and relaxed about it, especially folks from rural areas, but that doesn’t mean you are not going to step on a mine when the airplane would become your own, and government folks will come for you to pay for the previous owner’s negligence.

Sometimes the job may just sound fishy – during the actual face to face talk the owner would skip details, push too much on the emotions, etc. That may feel intuitive, and you should trust your intuition – too much excitement can easily be a cover-up attempt. Journey logs don’t lie, though they still can be missing lots of important details. Just look at the whole picture – the plane, the documents, and the owner – are they all an open book to you, with no questions to ask?

If they’re not, either walk away or start cutting off the asking price with no mercy! In my experience, almost every initially suggested price could’ve been reduced by 10-15%, and many by 20-30%. I am not kidding, there is that much dirt involved in covering the actual reason to sell by a desperate owner. Only few may get stubborn and let their airplanes rot at the tie-downs. Too bad for them…

Another word of advice: Bring your friends in. Some of them may be more knowledgeable than you, or have more experience with particular airplane, or be better negotiators. Even playing a good cop – bad cop game may work out nicely and destroy the attempt to trick you into the sale using emotional pressure. Besides, your buddy may spot something you’ve overlooked just being busy with lots of things to check out.

And finally, there’s never too late to dump the deal. Even if you’ve done a solid thousand mile trip for a final checkout, but discovered something that makes you feel uneasy… drop it. Have a clause in your letter of intentions, stating clearly that the deal would not be signed unless you agreed upon it as per the personal inspection.

Found something wrong last moment? Point your finger and ask if that could be fixed now? If it can’t, make a decision – walk away, or press the owner to pay for that – so you’d either cover the future pain, or don’t waste anything more.

I know it all sounds cruel, but trust me – it’s so much better to be cruel and safe, than sit at your home base, looking at your new toy with bitter realization that you’ve just been generously owned by the seller, with no way back…


Feb 8 2013

Buying an Airplane in Canada, Part 2: Search

Best thing you can do in Canada when searching for a plane to buy, is to become a COPA member. Beware – they have a completely unsecure registration process which will expose your name, password, account number, and lots of other personally identifiable information to almost everyone who’d like to sneak a peek into your mail box.

That’s incompetent, unprofessional, and plain wrong – however, their membership will give you access to some excellent classifieds, and wealth of information about purchasing and owning aircraft in Canada. It is possible to download COPA guides for free, right, but these would probably be outdated, and honestly, why not to support the people who are doing something useful, even if they don’t always do it right?

Besides COPA, there is a website “generalaviation.ca”, which is rather worthless, with its listings mostly outdated and often incorrect (old photos, wrong specs, long ago sold planes). However, it’s a not too bad supplement to COPA classifieds for Canadian market, especially in the early stages of your search. And there isn’t other like it up here, alas.

Then there are Barnstormers – an incredibly popular and useful online marketplace for everything aviation. They usually have piles of stuff to look at, providing an easy and immediate contact with the sellers. However, absolute majority of the offerings would be outside Canada, and Canadian part of their listings is mostly an overpriced garbage.

Even Kijiji or Craigslist may have some airplanes on sale, and these may be quite interesting and more realistically priced compared to COPA classifieds or specialized websites – the drawback being a need to search through the bunch of provinces and cities. Google help you to get the right stuff in the most efficient way…

Plus there are also Trade-a-Plane, Controller and ASO. Controller is more for a vanilla type of planes, like Cherokees and 172s, ASO is for more expensive machines, and TaP provides good variety – but again, almost none of these listings will feature Canadian stuff (and if they will, that’ be the worst quality for highest price type of offerings.)

Couple of important things to keep in mind when working with aviation, or any other used vehicles ad listings:

  • Photos are mostly lying to you. Better disregard what you see in the ad, and request the owner to send you the most current ones, pointing out specific areas of interest. If the owner refuses to do that, dump him for he’s trying to hide bad things, or is just too lazy to earn your business;
  • Text of the ad may be very misleading – always keep an eye for the odd combinations of engine time and top overhauls, hints to damage history, etc. It’s incredible how good a textual ad may describe an airplane – and how poor would its actual logs look like in comparison;
  • Contact the seller immediately if there is a tiniest shade of interest in the offering. Some of them may prefer the phone, so insist on getting into email – this way you could get a more reliable grip on them, and receive specs and photos on demand. Do not trust excuses about the old-school no-email, these are only to hide something.

That’s not to say that a dude who can’t communicate properly, or posted some ugly picture with dumb description is actually selling hopeless junk, but that’s highly probable – the ultimate way to figure out would be a personal visit, if he’s nearby. But that won’t be the case in most of the situations – so don’t hesitate to abandon the poor cases at the first sight of the intentional information incompleteness.

Here comes another word of advice: Feel easy dumping the seller. Don’t care about their feelings, these may be perfectly fake. Or they can actually believe in the bullshit they’re telling you, but that’s even worse! Their stupidity or incompetence should not earn your business. Just in general – people sell something they don’t want anymore. And you’re attempting to buy it. Not purchasing a complete piece of garbage is in your very best interest, emotions should not affect the outcome.

Then comes the legal context…

Check the title. It’s a huge pain in the butt here in Canada… You can outsource the search to an agency, spending roughly 800-900 dollars to get a not 100% sure answer. Not because the agents are mean, it’s that Canadian system allows registering a lien in a number of ways, so there’s always a possibility that one of them would slip through the net.

Say, plane registration is C-FOAM – some of the provinces will register a lien to “FOAM”, others to “C-FOAM”, and others to “CF-OAM” or even “CFOAM”. Registry girls won’t care about the “correct” way of writing the registration mark, if even Transport Canada allows two perfectly valid ways of doing that!

Resulting record may refer to an airplane or just some “vehicle” with an odd number entered instead of VIN. In some provinces the plane could be, effectively, entered as an aircraft – but supposed to be searched on-line as a car, with no option for an aircraft provided! As ridiculous as it gets.

Besides, a lien could be hanging on a person’s name against the province, or be posted on a federal level. Plus there may be other cases I am not aware of, or not quite understand, so be careful – that’s just so idiotic and annoying…

But you can save some money by building a list of provinces and using their web sites to effectuate a personal registry search on your own – which will cost you about 8 dollars per search (don’t forget that you must try different versions of a registration, plus check a person who owned it previously). But then, some provinces require a paper mail or faxes moving around, slowing down an already cumbersome process.

And down in the States… sigh… there is simply a central FAA office registering liens on the aircraft. Check with them, and you’re done, in one simple and immediate turn. Cozy, eh?

But American airplanes bring you pain in another department – courtesy Transport Canada, not on their own.

Every little fix or modification of the plane should be “properly” documented, with no one except for MD-RAs or similar being capable of saying for sure what’s proper, and what’s not. And they still might be wrong, even being the same people who’d sign-off the importation papers in another occasion!

So whatever pain you save on title search for US aircraft, would return as huge importation chores anyways.

Which brings another advice: Get the scanned logs. These could be huge volumes, but hey, you’d rather show these ADs and 337s and other suspicious pieces of technical information to someone here in Canada who knows… hopefully… or at least may give an advice after looking at them.

And importing a plane from US is always a risk. If someone who’ve imported a couple of plain and boring 172s or 140s from there would attempt to teach you that “things are easy if you do them right”, disregard the moron – he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, unless he managed to bring up here a couple of Porterfields or Texans with no pain.


Jan 14 2013

Buying an Airplane in Canada, Part 1: Choice

So you crawl out of that filthy, beaten 172 you’ve just rented for almost two hundred bucks an hour plus taxes, and look at the grid of them pretty private birds sitting on the tie-downs. Notice an ad on the FBO billboard, suggesting a used 172 “in a very good shape” for something like forty grand. And you feel like “I think I could make it… Instead of wasting thousands each year in rentals and checkouts, accommodating for weather, instructors, availability – I’d have this thing all for myself, taking care of my own schedule!”

Welcome to the club.

Purchasing of a personal airplane is a big decision, but few people realize upfront that keeping it flying is a way more significant and expensive effort. We do imagine the numbers, sort of – but these are newbie optimistic. Than we spend these hard-earned thousands on a “bargain” airplane, and just about a year down the road end up with yet another dull airplane rusting to ground.

Can that be done right, instead – so we could fly the way we dreamed about, before buying a plane?

I think it’s possible, and would like to share my own thoughts and observations, in an  attempt to help those who are still in the early stage of becoming a plane-owner.

And my very first advice would be, give yourself a freedom to dream.

Browse through the countless ads everywhere you see them – from Barnstormers to FBO wall – and get an idea of what’s being sold, and how much are the people asking for it.

Then, with a fresh bouquet of dream machines that can possibly fit your wallet, do a deeper research:

For every plane you like, carefully read pilot reports on it, check the Internet forum threads talking about it, and study the NTSB statistics – paying special attention to the type of problems this aircraft is prone to. Engine troubles? Structural failures? Fires? Ground loops? Daydream yourself getting into this plane – or even better get into one for real, if you can! How do you feel in that cockpit – ready to fly, easy and comfortable? Or not quite so?

Nothing clears the picture better than personal experience, and my very second advice is: Don’t be afraid of being a “tire-kicker”. Disregard those who disagree, your safety and comfort come first. Period.

Surely, not everyone would be happy to give you a free (or cheap) ride unless you’ve somehow promised a purchase. Discuss that, but still do your best to get as much hands-on experience with the airplane of your dream. Hangar-flying is better than walking around, walking around is better than looking at the close-up photos, and close-up photos are better than verbal descriptions. Get a feel of the plane you’re interested in.

I can guarantee that many a candidates will drop off your list seamlessly after the first good look at them as your future property. Some would look attractive, but result being inaccessible financially. Others may be cheap, but look so bad you won’t really get together with them. Some may look simply boring and dull. Check with your wife – what does she say? That’d be your toy, but she must approve, or it will stand between you and her, causing family troubles!

Now what do you know about the maintenance of that plane – would its engine last barely a thousand hours at best? Is there a history of leaky fuel tanks, rust or cracks in the structural elements to be closely monitored at all time? Would you need to remove a wheelpant to adjust the tire pressure? Think about it – you’d either have to deal with all that hassle on your own, or delegate – and pay dearly! – to your mechanic for keeping that bird in a decent shape…

And after some consideration, you may find yourself looking at those boring Cherokees and 172s once again, though with a totally different eyes – understanding the practicality and value over classic appearance or hot performance. Or maybe you may clench your teeth and say “I’d make it fly, whatever it takes!”

My third word of advice and last for this chapter is – do what you’d enjoy doing. No need to degrade your dream just for sake of practicality. That new toy is expensive and will likely stay with you for a while, so don’t make that time hopelessly boring. Even a price of significant ground time while “fixing” the airplane, instead of flying it, may be ok for you – why not?

Personally, I went through periods of complete frustration where my search and study were killing almost any hope or interest. Every decent airplane I desired was either a pain to maintain, or located far down in the States with huge importation pains involved, or was in a poor enough condition to consider it a project rather than a functioning aircraft.

I got tired oscillating between “ok I’d ferry this thing up here and go through importation hurdles” and “damn it’s impossible, so what do we still have here in Canada?” Choosing between cheap and great looking planes – difficult and expensive to bring up here – and ugly local junk for ridiculous prices was driving me mad…

Reason for all that frustration? I was looking in the wrong places, for wrong airplanes, not being brave enough to clinch with the owners negotiating a reasonable price.

Don’t repeat my errors, go straight to the meaningful search, and work hard to filter out things that you don’t love from the first, second, and any consequent sight.


Dec 19 2012

A Year Of Instagram

Ever since I killed my accounts on LinkedIn and Odnoklassniki social networks, I was extremely reluctant to try anything similar. Loads of spam, unnecessary contacts, and data mining companies extracting my personal data to publish it, or sell to advertisers… Lots of unrequired and uncontrollable exposure – I hated it.

But Instagram caught me hands down with its funny square-image format. That was smart, making one think and see things “outside of the box”. We got so accustomed to the stretched wide images of computer screens and TV, that looking at the same stuff through a square hole appeared to be truly innovative and inspiring.

Besides, they’ve got an actually working tag-driven discovery structure. As soon as I’ve started to tag my photos, followers begun popping up out of nothing. My account had no links to any other social network, not even Twitter, yet fans were coming in, slapping “likes” and commenting positively – that was helping a lot to go for more!

Popular Page was an obvious piece of junk, promoting already promoted celebrities together with some weird stuff expected to demonstrate “no bias” and motivate the beginners. Tag-based communities, though, were truly awesome – intentionally misleading tags never strong enough to kill their utility. On the other hand, stealing and reposting other people photos, tumblr-style, was ever present.

And then there were filters. Mind you, photoshop experts may have done the photo editing way more professional, but hey – getting a lame snap almost shine with just a few movements of your finger was definitely cool! I’ve started with generic Instagram filters, which were ok, but rather vanilla – and soon got completely hooked on Pixlromatic and Snapseed. Funny, but Photoshop Express never quite cut it to me – greedy and inefficient sibling of the old good monster…

Creating fancy pics, adding smart tags – carefully selected to match the image and be within popular trends – and here we go, within less than a year I’ve got half thousand followers on just about a hundred photos! That was a clear success, keeping in mind that I never thought of my creative abilities as being anywhere beyond average.

Instagram almost rehabilitated a concept of social networking to me… just to be swallowed by a basic instrument of privacy invasion, Facebook. They obviously started with common BS about users’ privacy – while doing their usual job of collecting as much personal information and identifiable behavior, as possible. That’s what FB was created for – data mine voluntarily provided personal info, organize and analyze it, then sell results to advertisers, government, and government-contracted agencies.

I was right in the middle of my experiment, account and popularity growing steadily, so decided to keep it going further before they’d kill all the fun. Obviously, cleaning up all my previous search results and completely stopping to use search except for a totally innocent cases. That eliminated much of a “social” utility of Instagram to me, but at least it was still working as a photo-sharing and tagging platform.

And the fun was cut short real quick. Zuckerberg knows how he earns his money – and he gives his corporate buddies an opportunity to gain some, though these are not as bright and efficient. Instagram idiots, for example, jumped up with a stunning idea – let’s grab the user-produced content, and start making money on it in the most pathetic way – sticking ads within photo streams, or sticking photos within the ads, or tracking what people like to spam them with “relevant” crap!

Sure, dumb asses wanted to “monetize” on their platform, but they’ve already made money by selling it to FB – yet, their greed was not satisfied with that. As if a greed could ever be satisfied…

The simple and fair way would have been – sell our photos and give us royalty. Do that with explicit permission and clear-cut definition of the copyright. Wipe out the flourishing content piracy and give people an opportunity to get their 15 minutes of fame – all so easy, obvious, and reasonable! But no, Instagram bosses decided to push into the spam market, then kinda withdrew, then kinad push again in a different way, wagging their asses with ever changing statements, apologies, and consequent pushes in a slightly different direction… Even the infamous “homeless” dude to whom the cop gave free shoes did not look as pathetic.

Well, enough was enough – I’ve sent a nice thank you message to my followers, killed the blog content, and cancelled the account. Obviously, there is no guarantee that whatever was ever stored (and backed up) on the external, privately owned server, would’ve been actually deleted. There are more than enough fancy clauses in the user agreements which may allow doing things not really expected by the one hitting the “I agree” button. Go sue them then. But that’s the reality, and we have to take it as is – or dive deep into the legal hooks, nooks and crannies – only to realize how bad we were screwed.

Instagram experiment concluded my latest and unexpected affair with “social networking”. Web 2.0 concepts, declared as a sweet idea of the users generating, sharing and discovering free content, grew up into yet another data-mining tool used by marketing morons and shady enforcement entities – and I see no place in it for my content. Not that I’m feeling too entitled, but I perfectly know what my shit is worth.

Bye-bye, Instagram – you was a nice toy, smartly designed and with good potential. This world is changing, corporate greed and rigidity sealing its fate – such a pity you were an early victim, but oh well. See you in another life!

IMG_1455


Nov 20 2012

Best Basic Trainer – Piper vs. Cessna

Piper Cherokee was always somehow lost in Cessna’s shadow – even being quite omnipresent across the planet, and beloved by its owners, these airplanes don’t appear to be a flight schools favorite. In all Toronto area there was only one flight school renting out a Warrior, and apparently there is only one flight school in using Cherokees for training in all Canada – Langley, in BC.

So what makes the last Piper creation stand so strangely between the others? In my opinion, it is a combination of factors which make Cherokee an acceptable family ride, but poor basic trainer. And first and foremost of these are…

Bungees!

That’s the first thing you notice while trying to steer a Cherokee around. Every student pilot knows that an aileron should be turned somewhere “into the wind”, in attempt to prevent the airplane from being flipped over by an evil gust of wind. Granted, no student (neither most of the other pilots) would ever encounter a wind so gusty as to flip an airplane. Let alone go flying in such wind – but an attempt to cross-control a Cherokee would immediately result in a physical struggle against the yoke.

Bungees are especially noticeable if you come from Cessna background – suddenly there is no way to check the aileron or rudder hinges during the walk around, twisting the yoke into the wind feels silly, and besides… even the rudder pedals are connected to the nose wheel directly, eager to tell you about every bump on the taxiway! It’s all weird, everything feels so wrong.

Brakes are weak, so direct connection between the rudder and pedals helps in negotiating those tight turns around other parked airplanes (but there comes a bonus – as most of your neighbors will be high-wing Cessnas, it’s too easy to swipe your low wing underneath theirs!) And it immediately made me think that I should keep the rudder straight when lowering the nose on landing roll – or a very unpleasant, or even dangerous, nose jolt would follow.

A definitely strong side of Cherokee is crosswinds handling. Rudder is weak, and transition from steering with a nose wheel to steering with a rudder after lifting the nose, immediately demonstrates that – but still, one of the windy days I was able to handle 20G30 at 80 degrees doing an hour of circuits without ever losing control. Though in many cases I had to use full leg while rolling on the mains (or main, depending on the case)…

As soon as you attempt to pull on the yoke, elevator sensitivity becomes very apparent. And as soon as you try to stabilize the angle of attack, a great deal of precise trim work would be required. Cessna 172 needs trimming, all right, but in Cherokee your right hand would have to switch from throttle to trim, and remain there for most of the flight!

The Warrior I was flying had a 180 hp engine with a constant speed prop, so it was climbing fast and tough, with overall feeling like it can lift up whatever you load into it. With full tanks and four people aboard climb rate was way better than in a 172 SP with same number of passengers and half tanks. Where Cessna struggled, Cherokee moved strong like a tank – though not “vertical” as, for example, a stock Super Cub.

There is no feedback from the elevator, you’d have to fly it much like a flight simulator – moving your hand, looking, reacting, trying not to induce oscillation, holding, trimming, and praying that this last try was precise enough. And in the beginning, there would always be too much elevator – so don’t be discouraged.

Once finally stabilized in the air, airplane does not feel as steady as a Cessna. The whole machine feels short-coupled, wagging a bit here and there, bobbing the nose up and down… Any change in power settings requires re-trimming. Those stupid bungees were supposed to help you stay coordinated during the turns, but if you try to fly with yoke or rudders only – there will be lots of extra banking or yawing involved – so I tend to fly Cherokee with hands and feet working together, ignoring (or rather overcoming) bungees every time they don’t do a good job of “auto coordinating” the plane.

Stall break is soft and easy to handle, with no significant buffeting, and a stall warning produces a weak beep way too early. However, a Warrior I flew did not demonstrate a tendency to drop the wing lower than 10-15 degrees on the power-on stalls, and compensation was easy – despite a weak rudder. Ailerons also work fine through the stall (though the bungees would make you remember about them, obviously).

Try the steep turns. See? All these instability and short-coupling feelings become overwhelming! If you are trimmed for the turn speed and keep working all the control surfaces, steep turns can be done nicely and with reasonable precision. Try to slack and leave bungees to “help” you, or be too muscular on the yoke instead of trimming – and you’d get some seriously ugly steep turns.

Cessna pilot would be pleasantly surprised by an excellent all-around visibility. No need to raise the wing, frantically peeking from under it, hoping to see someone landing on top of you. My wife loves to make aerial photos, and from her perspective, Warrior was an awesome photo-platform, with excellent visibility around and even below – the wing is only restricting the view behind and below, but forward view is awesomely open.

Dashboard, though, is rather high – and 172’ pilot would tend to put a pillow under his butt to get a Cessna-like view. 150’s pilot would be just ok, and anyone who flew the taildraggers would be hard pressed to complain about the lack of forward visibility.

There are unnecessary nuisances, though – for example, fuel tank switch doesn’t have a crossfeed position. Lack of the support for the pilot’s left hand is annoying – you have to hang on the yoke. Upper latch on the door is a pain to deal with, when used and beaten (and most of them are very used and beaten), though prevents the classic Cessna’s “what’s that noise?” after an unexpected door opening in flight. Handbrake is rather awkward to work with. Throttle quadrant levers are generally used in barely ¼ of available travel – and a huge pain to do set them precisely in turbulent air! I generally nudge them with a light pressure of my fingers, rather then moving the levers.

Cruising in a Cherokee is not as plain and simple as in Cessnas, due to all the trimming and re-trimming required – but the speeds may be a tad bit faster with full load. Though nothing exciting, really – a 172 RG feels just about the same, and leaps forward even faster after stabilized at cruise settings. Your passengers would feel less bumps, though – Cherokee feels like it is cutting through the air, while Cessnas are floating through it.

I never spinned a Cherokee, but tried the spiral dives – they looked weird, with fast initial acceleration, but if left on its own, my Warrior was simply stabilizing at some comfortable speed (within green arc), and just sitting there, spiraling to the ground with rather flat bank.

Slipping a Cherokee is a waste of time, same as using its flaps. Both flaps and slipping are inefficient, and invite for a better way to lose an excess of altitude – slowing down. Once below certain magic number (depending on the rigging, I guess), Cherokee sinks like a rock. Even more so during the power-off turn, while simulating an emergency approach! The ground just lifts up and tries to eat you, so you feel like adding power and lowering the nose and doing whatever is needed to keep the speed flyable and the fall, stopped…

Approach requires keeping a right speed. Slow down – you’ve busted it sinking deep and fast, and will need to recover. Speed up – and you will float, and float, and float a few feet above the runway, with plenty of time to think about going around. Nail the right speed – and you will touch down solid and clear, easily holding the nose up and compensating for any crosswind you may encounter. If Cherokee is forced down flat, it softly lifts back into the air, and you may believe that you are still rolling – while skimming a couple of feet above the runway! When there is a headwind to talk about, you can even land “short” (say, longer than 172, but way shorter than a usual Cherokee long run).

All in all – using Cherokee as a training platform does not sound like a good idea to me. For a trained pilot, all these nuisances and idiosyncrasies would not be too much to cope with – but for a newbie flier, many wrong and unnecessary things would be implanted in the brain, and many extra hours would be spent fighting the machine. It is an a-ok family transport, strong and sturdy, sort of like a used SUV vs. usual cars – but nothing really exciting as far as stick and rudder flying goes. Nor it can beat Cessnas in being a pilot-friendly airplane – however, Cherokees are generally cheap, which gives them a deserved share of the GA machines market.


Oct 19 2012

Best Basic Trainer – 172 vs. 150

It came barely noticeable for the most of the planet population, that lowly Cessna 172 became the most produced airplane in history – finally bypassing the Soviet WWII biplane Po-2. Cessna 172 is probably the most widely used basic trainer, only seeing competition from its elder and smaller brother, Cessna 150/152.

People tend to pick 172 for its larger cabin, and 150 for cheaper flight hour price, but digging a bit deeper, differences between the two aircrafts become much more interesting – making each of them a useful piece of training equipment in its own right.

But let’s begin with similarities, explaining why airplanes made by Cessna became a de-facto flight training standard pretty much around the planet:

  • Both airplanes provide side-by-side seating– with yoke controlled with the left hand, and engine controlled with the right hand. This layout is standard for all modern transport machines and passenger airliners;
  • Both airplanes are designed to fly specific set of “hardcoded” speeds, consistently achieving exactly the same performance flying by the numbers. Set a specific RPM, look in a specific direction, drop a specific amount of flaps, and you will touch down the runway precisely at the same point, every time;
  • Both airplanes are built to train “drivers”, not “fliers”. They have a tricycle gear– making takeoff, taxi and landing as easy, as riding a kiddie tricycle. They seamlessly recover from any “unusual attitude”, and do not demonstrate even a hint of adverse yaw when banking into a turn;
  • Both airplanes have enough space on the dashboard to scatter it with advanced navigation equipment, permitting to train the future Boeing and Airbus drivers in using all the bells and whistles.

Overall, both Cessnas are easy to fly and maintain, very forgiving to the pilot errors, and sturdy enough to withstand the consequences of incompetent handling. Ham-fisted dummy can fly Cessnas any time uncoordinated, landing flat and yanking the plane into the air without even realizing there may be any more finesse required. Put him in anything less forgiving, and he’d crash it – but modern airliners are flying pretty much like Cessnas, so our dummy can happily fly all his life through an airline captain career… unless at some point he would need actual piloting skills to survive – but that’s a different story.

So let’s return to detailed comparison between 172 and 150. What one can do, that other can’t?

  • 172 insists that its pilot use trim – 150 can be set to 60 knots glide and left like that forever, applying minimal muscular effort to adjust the speed while in the pattern;
  • 172 is heavier, and not nearly as nimble as 150 – the difference in the control input required is like between driving a Fiesta vs. Camry;
  • Pilot can sit way too high in 172, thanks to its adjustable sits – and get accustomed to a helicopter-like forward visibility, not present in most aircraft (excluding the airliners and cargo planes);
  • Sitting too high helps smacking the plane flat on the runway, or learning to pull way too much back during the flare – which may be dangerous in “hot”, fast machines with high wing loading;
  • Pilot is a quarter of the human load aboard the 172 – and half of it for 150. Amount of available fuel is also bigger for 172, which simplifies weight and balance calculation for the smaller plane;
  • Both in the air and on the ground, 172 accelerates slower than 150 – which is already not quite a drag racer;
  • Nose wheel shimmy damper of 172 is less efficient that the one on 150. When riding a bad surface, 172 will start gurgling and shaking earlier than 150;
  • Once trimmed, heavier 172 sits in the air more solidly than 150 – reacting less to the turbulence, gusts and crosswinds;
  • Rudder of the 172 feels heavier than that of 150, and requires significantly larger input;
  • Once accelerated, 172 doesn’t slow down as easy as 150 – this is especially noticeable when doing spins, wingovers, or similar high speed and load maneuvers;
  • 172 doesn’t slip nearly as good as 150. Both planes can be kept at a pretty aggressive yaw, but sink rate of 150 will be significantly higher;
  • Stall horn on both airplanes is very annoying and comes off rather early. With 172 the pre-stall buffet is more pronounced and begins earlier, making it more noticeable than in 150;
  • 172 requires a way more work to get it spinning (in trainer configuration), and converts a spin into a spiral easily. 150 enters the spin, if you clearly ask for it, and recovers normally;
  • 150 has a slower cruise, than 172 – not really THAT slow for a typical training cross-country, but slow enough to be noticeable;
  • Full flaps can literally stop the 150 in the air – in case of 172 and 152 they can’t be dropped so low, and being heavier, 172 can overcome the flaps and accelerate on approach – requiring better timing;
  • 150 can be landed real short, if there is enough headwind. 172 would require a fair amount of runway to be spent, whatever you do to land it slowly – and floars way more than 150, so don’t come in too hot;
  • On the roll-out, 172 can wonder off the runway harder than 150 – and differential braking won’t be as helpful, so moving the yoke in right direction is required to stay on the centerline when a crosswind is present.

All in all, nimble and light 150 is more of a “stick and rudder” airplane, while 172 gives more of a truck driving experience – and that’s what is actually needed for most commercial pilots in our times.

Whichever of the two airplanes you’ve been flying, attempt to convert to a, say, Super Cub or Citabria would be painful. You’d have to learn much more in order to become capable of handling the adverse yaw, different stall and spin characteristics, as well as a completely distinct ground handling, take-off and landing techniques.

However, if you plan to move from Cessna to Seneca, and later to King Air, etc. – everything would work out nicely. Fixed speeds, tricycle gear, excellent forward visibility, inertia, required weight and balance, take-off and landing distance calculations – you’ll need all that experience.

Stick and rudder flying is less and less needed in our time, so if a prospective student pilot is not too bothered by financial constraints, or specifically target flying lighter and older airplanes in the future, I would suggest going for a 172 as a basic training platform. It will take a bit more time to master, but would make you a better airplane driver.

And then, when you’ve got your license, guess which airplane would be the most widely available for rental? Sure, the same 172 you’ve been trained in. And it will be omnipresent in the airplane classifieds as well, in case you’d like to buy something on your own.


Sep 9 2012

Why They Crash? Part 2: Human Factor

Every time we hear the infamous term “human factor” related to an aviation accident, it is almost invariably combined with another cliché: “pilot error”.

Though not necessary wrong, it is important to understand that pilot – by a virtue of his position – is always at the end of the events chain. His involvement may be major or minor factor, but whoever the fault – pilot is the first to be held responsible, and his unlucky passengers and cargo are those who’d ultimately suffer from the event.

Let’s look at the most common type of human errors related to the flight safety. Using airline statistics from the previous article, I am getting the following numbers:

37.85% – accidents directly attributed to the pilot error (navigation errors resulting in collision with terrain, attempt to fly through a thunderstorm, fuel mismanagement, ground loops or runway excursions on landing, etc.)

14.01% – accidents related to the engine failure (fire, catastrophic failure, consequent forced landing in a hopelessly unsuitable area, etc.)

11.93% – accidents related to external events (aircraft destroyed by terrorists, crashed by some fuel or service trucks, arson, etc.)

8.45% – accidents related to the control difficulties (excessively demanding aircraft handling, runaway trim or similar conditions, control surfaces or connections failures, etc.)

3.29% – accidents related to the ground roll (landing gear failure on takeoff and landing, asymmetric leg retraction or trust reverse, blown tires, stuck brakes, etc.)

1.74% – accidents related to the aircraft systems (autopilot failures, electrical fires, navigation system or oxygen supply failures, catastrophic decompression, etc.)

Disregarding unknown causes and minor, rare occurrences, such as airplane disintegrating in the air due to a poor design or maintenance, responsible for barely 1.72% of the known cases, this count gives us a hefty total of 77.27% of the accidents directly or indirectly related to a human error, or criminal intention.

That’s ¾ of all cases!

Scary.

Even removing those dummy truck drivers smashing parked airplanes, and nasty terrorists blowing airliners from the sky, we still have more than 65% of the accidents traceable to the pilots, controllers, or mechanics negligence and incompetence.

How happen that pilots carrying an Airline Transport license, with thousands of hours, still manage to overshoot or undershoot the runway? Depart the runway, reaping the aircraft in pieces engulfed in flames? Stall and spin it on a published departure, or sink to the ground on approach? Why the heck do those highly trained and competent individuals deviate from the canned and proven flight course to smack an aircraft into the mountain wall? Just having a bad moment?

And those incredibly smart and organized ATCs, who yell on the pilots for minor mistakes, yet fail to separate Jumbos on a collision course – or pass the developing trouble to a buddy, who doesn’t bother to check out a handful he just got? The whole air traffic control system was created to help pilots know each other’s position for sure, with ground control keeping an eye on the radar – but we still have air-to-air collisions every year, and the whole bunch of sophisticated electronics doesn’t help much to survive the ever shrinking separation minimums…

Airlines spend trillions of dollars in maintenance, yet we continue getting news about the airliner engines flaming out, hulls popping into explosive decompression, doors opening in flight, and even the stupid air conditioning systems dripping water on the passenger faces as a minor nuisance. Pilot can do just as much when he’s facing a need to land the crippled airplane in the middle of nowhere, scratching the thin, soft belly over a rough terrain at a landing speed of hundreds miles per hour!

And personally, I would not exclude the ramp truckers from the responsibility chain. They are paid way too well, and their unions defend them way too much, so they don’t feel sorry about damaging millions-worth airplanes – and risking the lives of those who will travel in a repaired ship, with less strength and durability in it.

Looks like the problem is not in the people per se, the whole system is overloaded and cumbersome. And whatever happens within it, though designed with the best intentions, ends up in completely stupid and avoidable human mistakes that lead to a final disaster.

Too much politics and money involved to do things right. Completely obsolete and idiotically bureaucratic procedures and requirements keep on lingering in the aeronautics regulations system for ages, because adding them is so much easier than removing. Ergonomics and usability of the flight management systems – from the airplane cockpit to the ground control tower – is Stone Age, with pretty (and pretty expensive) neon lights and soft plastic added to demonstrate the “progress”. Insane insurance bills make profit margins a joke, yet amount of money paid for everything “aviation grade certified” makes flying ridiculously expensive…

And inefficient.

There isn’t much we can do to squeeze more from the pilots – they are already way too overstressed for a sky bus and truck drivers. Their tasks are simplified, but procedures are overwhelmingly complex and dumb.

Can we filter out the pilots prone to make bad decisions, thus minimizing the factor of pilot error? Current flight training system is specifically focused on exact procedure following, excellent memory and discipline. This is quite opposite to independent thinking and decision making – basically modern pilots are intentionally selected to be primitive robots, easily liable in case of an accident, as they generally don’t survive it.

I would say that we can definitely do better, though this will require a paradigm shift.

It is hard to ask much more from the ATC’s – human brains have limits in the number of objects to consciously and consistently control, so even with all the electronic aids, looks like we are pushing this limit every time global business requires reduction of flight separation minimums.

The whole concept of communication between ground and air units could be changed, though – from imprecise and error-prone voice chat to precise and immediate telemetry, predefined banks of requests and responses, precisely integrated into the navigation and traffic control structures. That’s also a huge paradigm shift, minimizing human participation and impact – though making the system more dependent on a technology, with all corresponding development and maintenance issues.

What surely MUST be done is booting the unions, lawyers and politicians out from aviation for everyone’s safety. This may require some sort of dictatorship imposed by the government, but hey, if that’s the only way to do that – it should be done. Unless we really want to keep “enjoying” the images of charred human bodies scattered between the aircraft remains, pretty much daily in the news.

Future?

Imagine a heavily robotized aerial-transport system, optimized planet-wide. Aircraft are as good as it gets to fly the Earth atmosphere. Think neatly maintained airports, able to receive these aircraft anytime, any weather, within each design limitations. Dream take-off, en route and landing procedures orchestrated and controlled to the smoothest possible level by automated systems, dynamically adjusted to the ever changing logistics scenarios.

Imagine the people dealing with this system – much more managers than operators, much more architects than truck drivers. Intelligent, capable to make quick and smart decisions and stand for them, personally responsible, efficiently communicating… There will be much less of them needed, comparing to the current number of the cockpit and tower monkeys. But they would be also much better paid for designing and supervising the automated systems, improving and guaranteeing safety of the traffic flows in the real time.

Imagine everyone responsible for the airports and aircraft maintenance being held liable, directly and personally, for what they are doing – thinking about every action that may affect safety of the system. No more goofballs on a tractor smacking the tail of aparked airplane. No more idiots unable to latch the cargo doors. No more assholes leaving debris on the runway or forgetting to fuel the aircraft before flight.

Imagine a new generation of pilots, as smart and efficient as the above mentioned aerospace system managers, working the layer of emergency response, military and law enforcment flying. Aviators, not operators – understanding the system and capable to cooperate with and within it! Air taxi will stop being a killer, becoming a flexible and efficient transportation mean…

Sounds like a dream to me.

You say, many will lose their nicely paid jobs? Of course, and to hell with them! I would rather be sitting in a computer-controlled and human-supervised airplane, safely travelling from A to B in the most efficient way, than care about lazy and dumb asses who think McDonalds is no different from the airport in a sense of work quality and responsibilities.

And looks like we are slowly moving in a right direction, however, there will be many lives lost until we get there. God knows how I’d like the future to come faster, so I could enjoy the crow-hopping around the small local airport in a vintage biplane, knowing all too well that no dumbass will attempt to ram me going “low-level IFR” without any regard to everyone else’s lives. Strict rules help. Smart systems save lives. We need to be there.