Monday, December 4, 2023

What's Up by LeRoy Cook

 What’s Up

by LeRoy Cook


Better fly when you can, this time of year. The weather systems move fast, and often, sometimes two of them passing through in one day. The moisture and cool temperatures combine to bring fog over a lot of the midwest, particularly upslope to our west in Kansas, given an east wind.


Not much traffic was observed last week, the influence of holiday obligations and fluctuating weather. Short daylight hours also discourage lengthy day trips. Yes, airplanes fly in the dark just like they do in daytime, but there's a heightened risk and general dislike of night flight. We saw a Cessna Skylane, a trainer Skyhawk and a hummin' Grumman on the runway. I did one little maintenance test hop, Christian Tucker completed a Mooney trip and Josh Poe flew an hour in a Cessna 150, out of the local  fleet.


The flap over last month's news of an “airliner” taking off from London enroute to Orlando with missing windows in the cabin bears some added illumination. Actually, it turns out that illumination was the factor causing the “holey” fuselage. The Airbus 321, operated by Titan Airways, had been used the previous day for filming a commercial in the cabin, and some high-powered lights put out so much heat they warped and shrank the plastic of the windows. The repositioning trip only carried 11 company people, so the few occupants didn't notice that two windows were missing, and two others that were damaged, until the cold and noise at 14,000 feet got their attention, prompting a return to London. It could be that the windows dropped away during departure.


The FAA, ever under pressure to accommodate new aviation users, recently granted a waiver to the unmanned aircraft rules to let one pilot manage up to 30 drones, totally out of line-of-sight. An Israeli company uses UAVs for inspection purposes, such as construction and pipeline uses, and says the waiver will allow them to operate the drones more efficiently. The drones are pre-programmed to operate on their own, so all the “pilot” has to do is watch them do their work remotely. Of course, nothing can ever go wrong (click)...go wrong (click)...go wrong...


Pipelines and powerlines have to be inspected for damage and threats regularly and the easiest way to get that done has traditionally been to cruise along the right-of-way in a low-flying aircraft so human eyeballs can spot trouble. I have ridden with pipeline pilots, and it's a tough job, although some folks like its freedom and open schedule.


The previous question asked about Southwest Airlines’ stock designation. As reader Butch Leuthart, formerly from Amsterdam, confirmed, it's LUV, perhaps because they “love their customers”. I always thought it was because their home base was at Love Field in Dallas, TX. Our brain-teaser for next week asks, why was a certain airplane fitted with a periscope device? You can send your answers to [email protected].

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