Wednesday, December 28, 2022

What's Up by LeRoy Cook

The year in review

This being the last column of the year, it’s as good a time as any to take stock of the year’s accomplishments and disappointments. The main success has to be that we came through an election and the nation survives. All the rhetoric has cooled off and we can get back to managing the tasks before us. On the aviation side, who would have known that the year would end without the familiar sound of B-2 bombers roaring overhead? The Air Force has grounded all 20 of the Spirits while studying last month’s runway excursion and fire. 

On the local scene, 2022 was the year the 50-year-old Consultechs building at Butler airport was removed, leaving a blank concrete pad. It also saw the construction of a gate on the south drive, which will be closed to block off what will become a taxiway instead of a road. The FAA’s standards for airports do not permit dual use of pavement. And after years of darkness, the rotating light beacon was put back in service, part of a ramp and taxiway refurbishment. 

Due to the severe cold and snow last week, there wasn’t much movement in and out of the airport. The amount of snow wasn’t significant, best left to nature to remove it, but getting airplanes to run in the minus-ten temperature required a heated hangar or massive engine heat before attempting a start. Even the preflight inspection was painful to contemplate. 

National news revealed that, in coverage of the 4000-page pork-barrel omnibus funding bill passed in haste by a lame-duck congress last week, it included a provision allowing Boeing to complete certification of its new 737 Max 10 and 7 airliners under the rules that existed when it applied for certification. Given the controversy surrounding the Max, there had been a clamor to change the rules mid-game on Boeing, making it go back to the drawing board. Congress took the option away from the FAA, ending the debate.

There have been a couple of in-flight injury incidents caused by turbulent air recently. These are cases of people being tossed around in the cabin, notably flight attendants moving around doing their jobs. Hiwaiian Airlines had 36 people hurt on descent to Honolulu and United had a similar incident on a Rio-to-Houston flight. As a pilot/passenger, I always stay buckled up when in my seat, but I see lots of fellow passengers sprawling unbuckled, as if they were in their living room watching TV. Rough air can happen anytime, so take care in the air.

Our weekly question asked why the “Hurricane Hunters” storm chasers chose the Lockheed Hercules for their hazardous work, flying in and out of hurricanes to track the storms.  When asked why the Herc, one veteran storm pilot said “because those were only ones we got back.”  For next year, we’ll start with “what’s the true meaning of the word ‘Roger’ in a radio reply?” Send your answers to

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