Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Pilot Numbers Decline in Stats

What's Up by Leroy Cook

The strong winds blowing a couple of thousand feet overhead last weekend spelled trouble for pilots. The Kansas City terminal forecast for Saturday night showed 45-knot (52 mph) winds from the southwest at 2000 feet above the ground; it was right on the money. Fortunately, the ground winds were only about half that. 
Seen in the airport area last week were a pair of Cessna Skylanes, a Piper Cherokee and a Cirrus SR-20. Mike Golden was down from New Century in his Cessna Turbo Centurion. Out of the local hangars, Brandt Hall had his Lark Commander up, Roy and Vicky Conley flew their Grumman Tr2, I made a photo run in the Cessna Skyhawk, and Lance Dirks and Jeffery Adams polished their skills in Cessna 150 flights. The SkyDive KC King Air made several jump runs when the winds allowed. Orvine and I took the Cessna 172 over to St. Louis Saturday, logging 1:40 elapsed time on the way over, 2:10 on the way back.
In St. Louis, I ran into a gentleman who owns a restored Aeronca L-16, like the one the Butler Civil Air Patrol squadron had here in the early 1960s. His is outfitted with some of the L-16B features like an enlarged tail fin and a supplemental wing fuel tank that can replenish the 13 gallon nose tank. He’s had it to the Oshkosh airshow several times, which is an all-day journey at 80 mph. His pristine bird puts to shame our old Champ that Christian Tucker and I were flying Thursday evening. 
One of the on-line newsletters last week had a segment about aviation statistics from the last 20 years that was rather interesting. Safety numbers are much improved, flight activity is trending up after a dip for the Covid crisis last year, and the average age of the piston-engine fleet is now about 40 years. The most interesting factoid was the decline in Private pilot numbers; there are now actually more Airline Transport pilots than privates. That will be changing, as student starts are up and the ATP is now a lot harder to get than it was 20 years ago.
Going through an ancient box of 35mm slides, I recently came across some photos of the old Flight Service Station, which stood where the memorial park is now located, beside the south drive. There are only a few other buildings in the background, as development had yet to take off 60 years ago. Surprisingly, the color in the old slides has held up pretty well; makes you wonder if the digital prints of today will still be as bright six decades from now.
Last week’s brain-teaser question wanted to know the meaning of the “GR” abbreviation in terminal weather reports displayed on the computerized weather readouts. It stands for “grauple”, what we used to call sleet, for frozen ice droplets falling from cold cumulus clouds. It’s a French term, foisted upon us by the globalists who think we need to adopt International references for FAA use. Now, for next week, tell us why the BBC introduced its newscasts with a dit-dit-dit-dah tone during World War 2. You can send your answer to

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