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January 2008 Newsletter

by John M. White |

A Bit Of Personal History
First, I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season. I know at our home there was the constant comings and goings with kids and grandkids. With five children and two grandchildren it gets pretty hectic around here during the Christmas season. I also hope you enjoyed “Twas The Night Before Christmas”. When I started this newsletter I launched right in to aviation things I was interested in, but I never took the time to explain who I am and what I am trying to do. I also did not understand how quickly time passes, and how quickly I needed to write next month’s newsletter. I always am learning what my wife has known for years – I try to get more done in any time frame than I ever have time to accomplish!Because of this I may be a little late with the newsletter, but I will faithfully send it out. Perhaps you may be interested in a little about me, and how I came to be so interested in aviation. I grew up in the mid-West, Michigan in particular, and I remember the first time I ever saw a real airplane. It was at the Monroe County fair, and it was a V-tailed Beech Bonanza that was on a rotating platform. As it went around the rotating beacon was on, and I just stood there looking at this airplane and immediately knew I wanted to learn how to fly. My family was large and poor, and my mother died when I was quite young, so I knew it would be a long time before I could learn how to fly. Because I had five sisters, and my mother was gone, the deal my father had with me was that when I graduated from high school I was to move out and live on my own. So, two days after graduation I joined the U.S. Air Force, but because of my eyesight I couldn’t get into the flying program. It turned out I have a gift for language, so they sent me to Syracuse University (the Orangemen) where I learned to read, write and speak Russian. I was then sent to San Angelo, Texas, and there was a flying club! I joined immediately and took my first ride in a small plane, a T-34, and I was hooked! Shortly thereafter the base commander lost his medical, and that was the end of the flying club. So, I wandered out to the flight line at the local airport and found the cheapest flying lessons I could get. Piper had come out with a new trainer, the 108hp Colt. Well, this did not work out to well for me. Once you reduced power, even slightly, it sank like a rock and I never was able to flare the aircraft on landing! After a number of hours the instructor gave up on me, so I went to the more expensive Cessna dealer next door, and began flying the Cessna 172. What a difference! I quickly soloed, and was on my way to my Private Pilot’s license. The thing I remember most about those lessons was the instructor always carried a rolled-up newspaper with him and would wack me on the head when I began sightseeing and not scanning the horizon for traffic. It worked well because scanning the instruments for my instrument rating was a piece of cake. During my short Air Force career I managed to get a couple of hundred hours of flying time, and when I left the Air Force I went to Michigan State University to get my college degree. In those days it had a very active flying club called “The Winged Spartans”. I got very involved in the club, became an instructor, acquired my Commercial Pilot’s license, followed by the CFI, Instrument Rating and CFII. After graduation I went to work for an FBO flying light twins on charter at night and giving instruction during the day. After a while one of the customers hired me to sell credit life insurance and do a little flying in rented aircraft. Soon thereafter the company acquired a Cessna 411, followed by more aircraft including DC-3’s and a Turbo Commander. After seven years I left and started my own business selling aircraft insurance. I continued flying and have now flown many different aircraft ranging from the venerable Piper Cub to jets, and everything in between. In 2004 I sold my business, acquired a Master’s Degree in Business, entered the consulting business and started my own eBay store – Aviation Sources. I continue to consult and develop internet businesses. But, enough about me – let’s talk about the accident results for 2006. When the AOPA released it’s Accident Trends and Factors for 2006 report they concluded that 2006 was the safest year ever for general aviation. General aviation considers all aircraft weighing less than 12,500 pounds. By category the numbers work out as follows: Personal Flying:                      682 total accidents, 151 of which were fatal Business Flying:                     32 total accidents, 14 of which were fatal Instructional Flying:                 144 total accidents, 18 of which were fatal Mechanical/Maintenance:        223 total accidents, 27 of which were fatal Amateur Built Aircraft:             126 total accidents, 40 of which were fatal As you might expect, night IFR accidents had a fatality rate of 74.1% for the highest fatality rate, while day VFR accidents had a fatality rate of just 16.3%, the lowest rate. One question always arises when I talk with non-pilots: Why are small (General Aviation) airplanes involved in accidents than the airlines? Well, the answers are pretty simple: 1. General Aviation pilots conduct a wide variety of operations, including some dangerous ones like crop dusting; 2. Airline pilots usually have an ATP (Airline Transport Pilot), the highest pilot rating available, while general aviation includes pilots with all levels of pilot licenses and flying experience; 3. General Aviation pilots are usually operating their aircraft with one pilot, and have limited cockpit resources; 4. General Aviation pilots operate from a wider range of facilities ranging from over 5,000 public-use and 8,000 private-use airports while the airlines operate from about 750 larger public-use airports; 5. General Aviation pilots make far more takeoffs and landings making them more vulnerable to accidents; 6. Most general aviation aircraft can not fly over or around severe weather like airliners can. As always, here is the picture of the month:
Photo of the Month
John M. White, Editor Each month we bring you informative, educational and entertaining articles about all things aviation. You can find more timely and current articles here at our blog: All Things Aviation Check Out Our Newsletter Archives

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