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RE: AWOS and WX CAMS

 

The Oshawa weather cameras are now online and accessible via [www.metcam.navcanada.ca ].

The Oshawa AWOS observations (METAR / SPECI) are now stamped on the weather camera images.

The Oshawa AWOS observations are also being distributed on Nav Canada and Environment Canada aviation weather circuits and operational networks to our FIC, FSS and ATC systems.

The Oshawa AWOS observations should also be available on the Aviation Weather website www.flightplanning.navcanada.ca via METAR/TAF button.

 

RE: ON THE STEP

 

One of the great things about COPA Flight is it presents an opportunity for folks to read and thereby learn about segments of aviation they may not have yet experienced. This bodes well for the industry since a budding bit of curiosity can blossom into a new found passion! Consequently, one must ensure that when they put pen to paper in the newspaper they present a balanced viewpoint regardless of their personal bias one way or another.

Having read Jorma Kivilahti’s “On the step” column in the July issue, “Amphibs: Like landing a shopping cart” I feel compelled to note what I perceive is a distinct lack of balanced commentary.

In addition to having flown other float equipped amphibs, I have owned an amphibious aircraft (a C- 172 on Wip 2350’s) for several years. The unique capabilities of the aircraft assisted my business in being able to meet client needs for float plane and wheel plane operators - both private and commercial.

This same unique flexibility is what drives the enthusiasm so many private operators have for amphibs: to be able to enjoy total flexibility of destination. That enthusiasm in turn provides jobs for service stations and manufacturers of not only amphib floats but for associated businesses.

Insurance is higher for an amphib. No one can dispute that. Perhaps suggesting annual recurrent training and the benefits of underwater egress training (Bry the Dunker Guy in not only a nice guy... he offers a great course), would have been a more proactive approach to that subject.

As for maintenance, let’s compare what you are enjoying. An amphib is like two, having both a wheel plane and a float plane. It costs less to maintain one amphib than it does to maintain a wheel plane and a float plane.

With respect to landing an amphib,I would dearly love to discover a GA aircraft that was content to land crabbed and/or drifting. Don’t blame lack of pilot capability on the hardware. Brakes? I would wager that many more taildraggers have ended up in a ball as a result of mismanagement of brakes (useage or maintenance) than have amphibs.

And isn’t it simply good airmanship to plan any landing so you can let the aircraft roll out without using brakes if possible? The only time I have been in an amphib that performed badly on landing was when the pilot managed to touch down using the approach configuration graphically represented in the article... and last time I checked.... you land any aircraft nose wheel(s) first and you are in for a ride! Once again, the jockey, not the mount!

In an amphib there is certainly a compromise between destination flexibility and load carrying capability, but we are talking aviation here and any aircraft’s performance can nearly be summed up in the one word, compromise.

The benefits of an amphib are not just easier access to fuel for a float plane. The benefits include the ongoing opportunity to enjoy landing at the destination that best suits your needs or desires; water or ground; metropolitan or back country: being able to take family, friends or paying clients to or from their workplace (a well known Canadian entertainer arrived via a Caravan amphib to do his show at a central Ontario venue): expediting travel for business or pleasure by going directly to a location that no other single form of transportation can accomplish (with the possible exception of a helicopter).

With respect to overall safety, to say that an amphib “...can be safe if you follow the rules...” implies other forms of aviation are safer. All aviating requires you to follow the rules (and equally important to use good judgement) in order to be as safe as possible.

Amphibious flying does require more of a pilot and is less tolerant of certain errors than other types of flying. It brings into play the unique requirement to have the landing gear down on only some of the landings. That has tripped up a few. Rigorous use of checklists and recurrent training will go a long way to mitigating that risk.

Before we tar amphib flying with the water landing accidents brush, let us not forget that straight float equipped aircraft have their share of takeoff and landing incidents each year as well.

The idea of amphib flying is something that no doubt falls into the category of vaguely interesting for some folks. Somewhat like gliding, it is cherished by a few and misunderstood by most.

For those who are interested, however, the first thing to do is read about it. While talking to individuals with lots of amphibious flying time will give you additional insights, beware the hangar-talk aspect. That is why commentary from COPA needs to present amphibious flying (or any segment of aviation) as a viable segment of GA with many unique benefits and not maligned nor belittled.

We live in a country that allows incredible freedom of flight and an amphib takes advantage of that like no other type of aircraft can.

TOM KAUFMAN
Ontario