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From time to time we look at weather accidents, reviewing the factors that might have led to poor decision making or perhaps even weather that could not be anticipated. In this edition we’ll take a look at the crash of a Pitts biplane in IMC conditions in California, and a Beechcraft Baron that went down in bad weather in Kentucky. Both of these incidents took place in April, so they should give you some food for thought this time of year.
For some, the shoulder seasons mean ideal flying weather – crisp spring and fall mornings with great visibility, often under a stable ceiling. These conditions offer fantastic climb performance, and the lack of bugs splattered all over the windshield is a plus. Morning fog, too, is pretty to look at, although it sure puts a damper on early-bird departures.
In June 2017, President Trump led off Infrastructure Week with his plan to move ATC to a nonprofit, private corporation. With two bills already in Congress, D. J. Gribben, special assistant to the president for infrastructure, called it “low-hanging fruit from a policy perspective.” Little did he know how incendiary the word “privatization” is to the aviation community. Mr. Gribben often uses this word, but savvy proponents avoid it and even refute those who use it.
It’s the end of a long day filled of uncooperative weather, ground stops, and a diversion tossed in to make it interesting. You’re shooting the non-precision (of course) GPS approach, and upon reaching minimums, you look up and see … nothing. Wait a minute! Isn’t that a PAPI glowing out of the left side of your window? Is that your runway? If so, what’s it doing all the way over there?
Before the advent of GPS approaches, most civilian approach control facilities provided Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR) approaches, usually as a back-up to pilot-nav approaches. Many are now gone but some airports still have them. In Florida, only two civilian airports have ASR approaches: Key West and Tallahassee, at opposite ends of the state. However, there are seven military airports with ASR approaches.
When asking air traffic controllers about their jobs, you might occasionally get the answer, “Best job in the world.” It’s a demanding, technical career that’s both very rewarding and—while not glamorous—carries a certain mystique with the general public.