From the Last Few Days: Oct 23

This week, I had the opportunity to attend a screening in the GE Aviation Lecture series at the National Air and Space Museum.  Miles O’Brien and Patty Wagstaff were presenting a film they made about ongoing pilot training at the Kenyan Wildlife Service.  It was fascinating on many levels – the pilots, the wildlife, the poaching, the flying and training in rugged circumstances.  It was a packed house, including GE vice president of Washington operations, Sean O’Keefe.  I would have liked to have met Miles O’Brien, but it wasn’t to be that night.  His next project is with Frontline, a special on Continental Connection Flight 3407, including coverage of the subsequent legislative action.

Tough Economic Times

The recession has obviously taken it toll on the American public’s ability to use air travel the way they have in the past.  Airlines are seeing fewer passengers, cutting flights and operational expense wherever they can and are attempting to offset losses by charging for “extras.”

Last week, The New York Times ran a story on the toll the cuts have taken on one pilot and his familyThere was a letter to the editor followingMichael Moore has also taken up the topic in his new film and on his blog.  And so too, it became a topic of discussion among our members this week.  Let us all realize that this is a specialized skill set that is expensive and time-consuming to attain.  And, we entrust pilots with our lives.  Over at Jetwhine, there is a post this week asking “Who Will Fly for America Tomorrow?” Good question!

Landing Issues

Okay, that heading may be an understatement.  Monday, a Delta flight mistakenly landed on a taxiway instead of the designated runway at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.  And, yesterday, a Northwest flight passed right by its Minneapolis destination.

The FAA is investigating what could have been a very dangerous situation in Atlanta (via  On the Northwest flight, the pilots claimed to have been discussing or arguing about airline policy (via NPR News and AP).  Although it has since been suggested that they may have been napping.  Since they did not have contact with controllers for over an hour, there was some initial concern that it could have been a hijack situation. Pending further investigation by the NTSB, the pilots have been suspended.


118 House members have signed a letter to President Obama encouraging the removal of user fees as a revenue source in the FAA Reauthorization Act.  The letter can be found here (via AOPA).  Business interests favor retaining the existing fuel tax structure, as it requires less administration.

A baby born on an AirAsia flight on Wednesday will get free flights for life (via Yahoo! News and AFP)!