Ground Clutter

Jan. 4, 2010
Head Scratchers

Airbus, Tiger Woods, and NWA 188 — have you ever read/heard/seen such a rash of accusations with so few explanations? We haven’t seen so many rumors since Michael Jackson died (or, as we say down South, since he “passed”).

Of the three, Tiger Woods, unlike most accused and tried by rumor, has said nothing. Gov. Sanford of South Carolina should have tried that — he’d have come out a lot better. (Wife Gail and I walk frequently on the Appalachian Trail and we’ve never seen Gov. Sanford, much less Argentina).

Surely you know by now that several executives of Airbus have been accused of profiting on the stock market by use of “insider information.” Airbus has had a lot of bad news — delays, mostly — to announce to the public in the last few years. It has been suggested that the execs sold their stock shortly before at least one such announcement, thus dumping it just before the stock tumbled. The execs can’t avoid the story, but they surely aren’t blabbing like motor-mouthed Gov Sanford. The courts will decide the Airbus case.

Then there’s the case of NWA flight 188. Unless you’ve been in a stupor for weeks you know the details of flight 188. The pilots (I’ll use the writer’s copout by saying “allegedly”) had no radio contact with ATC for more than an hour during which they overflew their destination by some 150 miles. Were they asleep, or did they become distracted while working on a new company pilot scheduling system? The FAA pulled their certificates and now they will/may face other actions even worse than schedule problems.

All of my flying has been in small general aviation aircraft. I was never anywhere near as qualified as a real airline pilot. Never, however (even during many long trips ferrying crop dusters with no gyros or avionics), was I so distracted that I overflew an airport by 150 miles. Have you known any pilot who was? Even a neophyte? I haven’t, and I knew a lot of crop dusters.

The bigger question might be, why wasn’t the military involved? Has ATC — who has the right (and the phone number) to call in jet fighters — already forgotten 9/11? Remember those airliners flying around with no radio contact? Shouldn’t we expect better than this from ATC? What were they thinking?

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Change of subject…

A friend for four decades, Pat Epps called recently. The powers that be are considering “going private” with a public airport in the Atlanta area. Pat has a pretty strong opinion pro or con (notice that I didn’t say which) on this issue, and asked for my opinion. I was not much help.

I lean toward privatization of most things, but the jury is still out when it comes to airports. It has worked elsewhere. Will it be the boon or scourge of the future?

Time will tell.