Wednesday, April 27, 2022

What’s Up by LeRoy Cook

Losing More Than Your Plane 

It wasn’t a total blowout, but it came close.  Good flying weather was in short supply, and sometimes we had to settle for just barely flyable. Sunday turned out to be decent, after the cold front passed, but thunderstorms lurked just south and east of here.

Among the week’s passers-by were a big Pilatus PC-12 turboprop, a Cessna Skyhawk, a Van’s RV-6 homebuilt and a Cessna 182. A plucky pilot in a Beech Bonanza V35B flew in from Jefferson City on Saturday morning, despite 30-knot gusts, picking up a load of honeybees. I’m sure the insects’ trip was less stressful than it would have been by any other mode of transport. Tim Hill flew over from Drexel to refuel his Cessna Skylane on Sunday. Out of the local hangars, Les Gordon’s grandson Patrick got in some supervised solo time in a Cessna 150 and the SkyDive KC Beech King Air E90 had a half-weekend of hauling parachutists aloft. 

Airline passengers were enjoying long-delayed freedom from Covid masks last week, after a Florida judge ruled that the CDC, as a non-legislative bureaucracy, could not impose mandates without laws passed by Congress. At least for now, mask-wearing in public transportation is an individual’s choice, unless local jurisdictions set up their own rules. We’ll see what effect it has on the mood of unruly inebriated passengers who have already lost their senses before entering the aircraft.

It’s hard to say which is sicker; people who are addicted to watching hours of You-Tube videos or those who go to idiotic lengths to make them. One California pilot thought it would be cool to film himself bailing out of an airplane and watching it crash unpiloted, just to get 15 minutes of fame on the internet. He got more than he bargained for; the FAA revoked (not just suspended) his pilot’s license for deliberately wrecking a perfectly good airplane and endangering public and property. 

The subject of airliner contrails came up again last week, asking why they sometimes form and at other times are absent. It’s all about the presence of moisture in the atmosphere. To make a visible trail, the hot exhaust has to have humidity to act against, so if the high-altitude air is dry, no trace of the airplane’s passage can be seen. In WW-II, B-17 bomber crews headed for Germany hated to see contrails forming behind their formation, a dread giveaway to the waiting Luftwaffe. The Wright Cyclone radial engines had GE turbochargers to boost power, but it came at a price.

Last week’s question was the significance of the ATC transponder code 3700. It used be for hijack, but that is now “7500”, so it now is unused, only the beginning of a routine block from 3701 to 3777. For next week, how much force might it take to open an airliner’s door in flight? Get your math calculations going and send your replies to

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