Top Letters And Comments, October 15, 2021


Why Diamond’s Electric DA40 Could Be A Corner Turner

Going the STC route is certainly an interesting approach. It’s inevitable that in the not-too-distant future (20, 50 years?) we will see a majority of new vehicles and light GA aircraft powered by something other than just an internal combustion engine, whether we like it or not. Either the industry works to iron out the issues now so we have somewhat-useful vehicles in the future, or we resist kicking and screaming until the inevitable happens and we have to start the work of adapting only then.

Gary Baluha

An objective and well-reasoned view of the potential marketplace—and the problems of fitting a potential product into [that] market.

Most electric manufacturers try to fit a square peg into a round hole (the load and range problem). Saying “your former 4 place or 4-hour airplane is now a two place and 1 ½-hour airplane” defines the problems with electrics.

UND is a perfect testing ground for a problem that nobody acknowledges for electric cars or airplanes—cold weather saps the life out of batteries. Minnesota considered an electric auto mandate (“hey, it kinda worked in California!”) but found that cold weather range was even MORE limited—up to 40%—max endurance in this case now becomes under an hour—even LESS if you want to use the cabin heater! And don’t forget that it gets even COLDER with altitude—better dress warm!

Congrats on the DA-40 for thinking this through (milked the “paper-only” wanna-bes) and Paul’s objective analysis.

Jim Hanson

Canada Puts The Brakes On 5G Cellular Networks Around Airports

As an ATC type through the years, I had heard of the possibility of ILS interference created by other nearby transmitters. Never though anything about it. Then my last assignment, BNA, we upped our 2R ILS to Cat IIIB category. SWA was the first then to be certified to use it. The permitted weather for the approach was down to near WOXOF conditions. From the tower, aircraft using that approach were not visible to us at all, frequently until on the runway, and if foggy not even then. One day a SWA Capt. called the tower and wanted to know what was the deal with our 2R ILS. He said he shot the approach, Cat III, to near zero conditions, and as the aircraft touched it was aligned too far to the right of the runway. He said his aircraft showed no alarms for it. We referred it to our technicians. Much investigation later it was determined that an FM radio station had gone on the air not far from the airport, without us getting FCC notification first. It was determined that their FM transmitting frequency did indeed conflict with our 2R ILS frequency enough to cause misalignment interference. We, FAA insisted that they go off the air immediately. They said screw you. We had to NOTAM the ILS unusable. Higher authority jumped in to negotiated the situation. The conclusion was for BNA and Smyrna, Smyrna airport a little further down the road, to swap whatever is required to swap their respective ILS frequencies. And the radio station negotiated that they would pay for the cost involved. Several weeks later, we were back on with our 2R ILS. So, it can happen.

Roger Anderson

Poll: Do You Think STOL Competitions Are a Good Idea?

  • A true STOL competition like the Valdez competition is a test of real world STOL abilities. Once you add a race component to the competition it is just a circus show. It emphasizes exactly the wrong way to approach precision off-airport operations. If people want to “pay to play” in order to garner some GoPro footage, that’s fine. My worry is that other pilots will think that what they are demonstrating is an example of good STOL operations.
  • STOL competitions are great fun; but they’re not useful unless the airplanes are stock and common–identical to the airplanes flown by average pilots–and the wind speed and direction and runway heading are known.
  • As an active backcountry pilot, my view is that racing and backcountry flying are incompatible. If there ever were a type of flying that demands deliberate careful consideration, and sometimes waiting for better wind or temperature conditions before making a flight, backcountry flying is it. There’s an old pilot adage worth remembering: If you’re in a hurry, you’re in danger.
  • STOL competitions, organized for safety of the participants and public can be an asset to general aviation. STOL competitions without proper organization are a hazard to the public, liability to general aviation, and dangerous for the participants.
  • Nothing wrong with Valdez-style short field landings, but racing with impediments (trees, short strips, fast turn-around times takes the fun out of it–with little in return. Breitling found this out when they tried combining “racing” and aerobatics–initially, people watched it–then interest fell off and they cancelled the series–and these were vetted PROFESSIONAL PILOTS.
  • I think STOL competitions are something that should be left to a class of pilots that equates to Formula One drivers. There’s certainly an audience for what they’re doing, but what needs to be said is this is not what aviation is about. This is not what, as a flight instructor, I talked to my students about. There is no prudence in the takeoffs and landings. There is no margin for anything that they’re doing. You’re either on that day or you’re not, and the consequences are a wrecked airplane, injuries and somebody’s gonna get killed. But we do the same thing with stock car racing in Formula One. It may have its place, but it’s not in the place of general aviation.
  • There’s a need for the skill. Competition gives pilots a reason to get better and remain sharp.
  • Depends on the definition of “STOL Competition.”
  • No, it has more to do aircraft design and modification than pilot skill.
  • Who is complaining? Are there any fatal accidents occurring during the competitions?
  • Bad for aviation.
  • Yes. I think they’re a great impetus to improve pilot proficiency.
  • I see the attraction for doing something “different”, and they are probably a good addition to air shows. Whether they are a ‘good idea’ depends on the perspective. It’s a risky proposition and I like to think that insurers are looking at this activity and make their own judgement. As always there needs to be sufficient protection for the general public. As for entertainment, I think it’s interesting to watch, but so are many extreme sporting events. I used to enjoy watching car demolition derbies as a kid too.
  • They are fun to watch but it gives the viewer an idea he might be able to go out and do that stuff with his plane and it might not work out.
  • If pilots and spectators are enjoying them, I guess they are. Personally I have little interest in any competitive activity when it becomes a spending derby.
  • Traditional short landing contests, sure. STOL drags and other contests with low-speed maneuvering flight close to other aircraft, not a good idea.
  • Provided they’re conducted with a ‘Safety First” attitude by promoters and participants, and confine their activities to the hosting airport, then yes—a great showcase and all that.
  • We preach safety and lowering the accident rate and they want to turn it into a game. RARA was always at the limits.
  • Didn’t we used to call this the “spot landing contest” at the local club fly-in?…
  • Good when increasing back-country utility and flying skills…bad when an exercise in limited-utility one-design showoffs.
  • I enjoy watching them but if they give aviation a black eye, they are not worth it.
  • The original format was good, but now some are getting to be too extreme and dangerous.
  • Where applicable to showcase actual valuable skills.
  • Only with organizer regulation targeting the historically most dangerous aspects.
  • They’re okay, ONLY when staged with safety paramount. Otherwise, they’re just dangerous and internet eye candy.
  • ARKANSTOL is NOT a STOL competition. It’s a race!
  • Yes, but I agree with Roy Evans. The over-the-top race style events are… wait for it… Bad For Aviation.
  • No. It merely encourages unnecessary risk taking and thereby normalizes it. We’ve already got far too many competitive types in aviation and while this might weed out a few, encouraging the others is poor policy.
  • I think they are valuable skill demonstrations, but should happen in an airport environment (like Valdez), not in the back country.
  • They add excitement and interest to airplanes that represent the lower end of the cost spectrum. This attracts more people to be the affordable side of flying.
  • Only to rate aircraft performance envelope, otherwise idiotic.
  • Insurance rates are high enough already, and I have too many dead friends.
  • Sure but need more safety protocols and minimum standards implemented.
  • Will cause FAA rules to restrict this and cause problems for all pilots with new regulations.
  • STOL contests based on STOL performance are great. Expanding to include races, not so much.
  • Yes, I think it’s good for pilots and innovation. Safety can’t be compromised or these events will be banned.
  • The original STOL yes, not drags.
  • No! These competitions foster unnecessary risk taking. Ask the pilot/owners with bent props how they feel about these competitions.
  • They’re getting too extreme.
  • Valdez style yes, ArkanSTOL style no.
  • Dangerous and downright foolish.
  • They have their place, but the pilots need to understand the risks and not overestimate their abilities.
  • As long as it just demonstrates STOL capability. I think perhaps the STOL “RACE” as done presently is not the best idea in the world, as it may encourage some pilots to exceed their capabilities.
  • If we want to continue to foster the concept that aviation is needlessly risky, then by all means let’s continue to create silly aviation games. Think of the possible headlines from an already clueless media. Also consider that insurance rates will continue to climb (unlike some of the intrepid STOL participants).
  • Just a lot of crashes waiting to happen.
  • STOL yes. Timed events no.
  • They seem to be pushing the limits of safety and good judgment.
  • Yes, if showcasing real world skills and standard operational margin.
  • Looks like fun but kinda boring too; I fly helicopters.
  • Stupid human tricks!

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  1. As I was reading all the posts and comments on the “ARKNSTOL” competition a though struck me. WHY in the world do we as flyers allow or even accept the inclusions of any accidents in such events as statistics in our general aviation data. The only similarity is that the pilots have a FAA license and most likely flew their airplanes to the event. I am willing to beat that NASCAR crashes are not counted in the highway vehicle data yet every NASCAR driver holds a state issued driver’s license.

    These fringe aviation activities are so far outside the realm of being the same as “General Aviation” as the difference between apples and eggs. Let’s clean out the data and really focus the data on true GA part 91 operations. Re-definition must be the goal. Maybe then, we will get a true set of data to work with to give a truer picture of GA. Maybe Paul could address this concept and speak to it. Some one help me to understand it my statements are wrong.