From the March Meeting
Ray Kerr, Spirit of St. Louis Tower Front Line Manager, shared his views on safety, air traffic control, safety, flight, and safety with us. Not surprisingly, his perspective from the top of the tower is vastly different from what we see from behind the windshield. First and foremost, everything about his job is about our safety. Ray is always perplexed by pilots who get annoyed with him for doing his job. After all, at the end of the day, Ray will certainly go home to his family and his job is to assure the the pilot goes home, too.
Phraseology is a critical piece of the safety which air traffic controllers provide and Ray illustrated with a simple example: You are inbound in the clouds on an instrument approach to runway 9, just 1 mile from the threshold. Another airplane radios the tower that he is “ready to go on runway niner.” Is that airplane really sitting “on” the runway or did he mis-speak and he is really “at” the runway, safely behind the hold-short line? At some airports, particularly when the visibility is low, the tower controller may not be able to see the airplane in question which leaves the controller in a quandary: does he tell you to “go around,” adding 20 to 30 minutes to your flight and significant expense, or does he assume that the pilot “ready to go on runway niner” simply misspoke? The regulations are quite clear: you are going around in the interest of safety.
Ray explained about the four positions which comprise an air traffic control tower: flight data, clearance delivery, ground control, and local (what we colloquially call the “tower” controller). Ground control is the most difficult, since that controller needs to have a mental picture of the largest area and the greatest number of airplanes.
Visits to the tower are still possible but please phone first (314)890-7280. All visitors should be at least age 12. To get the best appreciation of the tower, you might want to visit as many as three times: once when the people are not busy, so you can really learn about what is involved with each position; a second time when the tower is busy, perhaps on a sunny Saturday afternoon; and a third time when the weather is IMC.
The Wednesday, April 15, 2009 meeting will be at The Columns. Our guest speaker will be John Bales, Spirit of St. Louis Airport Director.
Phone your dinner reservations to Jean Murry at (314)469-3541.
Remember pre-flight planning is always important to the safe outcome of every flight. TFR’s, ADIZ, NOTAM’s, etc., per 91.103, “all available information concerning that flight.”
FLY SAFE Rick firstname.lastname@example.org
Free WINGS Flight Training
“Fly safe” is more than just a saying to Rick Albrecht. He is generously offering up to three free hours of WINGS-related flight training to all Gateway MPA members. Contact Rick at email@example.com for full details.
You can always find the latest list of upcoming MPA events on our web site at http://gatewaypilots.org/upcoming-events/.
This year, all meetings on are the third Wednesday of the month except in December. See the upcoming events page for weather minimums and times.
Gateway Pilots Web Site
Did you know that there are good things on the web site that did not make it into the newsletter? Drop by www.GatewayPilots.org.