Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Go For the Burn(out)

A very busy summer has left me with blogger fatigue and general irritability. I changed my blog template. Didn't help. So I'm going to whinge on for a bit, but I'm including some pretty pictures at the end. You may just want to skip ahead ...

And That's Not All!

AOPA is really annoying me, whining about how the FAA should provide tail-number blocking for wealthy aircraft owners. Business jets make sense for business (Duh! Hence the name!). If business aircraft are so profitable then they don't need tax breaks and accelerated depreciation schedules to make them make business sense. Right?

AOPA keeps sending me solicitations for life insurance, renter's insurance, and the latest - the opportunity to purchase a subscription to their DVD series. Oh, and you can return the DVD or just recycle it. Who do they think they are, National Geographic?

The editorial tone of AOPA Pilot sure has changed. First there is the faux controversy of their Dogfight series where two diametrically opposed writers (or so we're led to believe) disagree with each other about whether pitch controls airspeed or altitude. Yawn! Or a photo spread about aviation tattoos. Very hip and edgey! What's next, aviation piercings?

AOPA members shouldn't be surprised at the changes that have taken place. Just enter the AOPA president's name into a Google search and see what he was doing back in the early 1990's.

See what I mean? Irritable ...

Amazon to the Rescue!

Amazon has cancelled their associates program for residents of California. Why? Because California legislators and the governor passed legislation that requires them to collect sales tax. Being the magnanimous folks they are, the management at Amazon pulled the plug. Okay, fine. Then they turn around and start lobbying California legislators for sales tax amnesty. Hello? Amazon? Did you not read the news about the State's budget hovering around the edge of the porcelain pony? We're trying to have a civilization here!

So I'm no longer an Amazon Associate. I'm all busted up about that ...

No Taxes, No User Fees

I'll be the first to admit that user fees for GA will hurt. I'd hate to see them implemented. On the other hand, a lot of people seem to be in a budget-slashing, anti-government mood. To quote a line from The Right Stuff - "No bucks, no Buck Rogers." The aviation gasoline tax is  apparently not bringing in enough moolah, so something has to give.

Many pilots have multiple personalities when it comes to taxes and government. No one wants to pay, no one want to be regulated, but everyone is upset when local airports can't make ends meet. Do they think runways, taxiways, control towers, ATC salaries and FBO facilities simply appear out of thin air? Where will the funds for the much vaunted NextGen come from? Maybe AOPA can donate proceeds from one of the marketing promotions ...

NOTAM Madness

There are a bunch of NOTAMs for my local airport due to a bunch of construction projects and the cranes and equipments associated with same. While trying to explain the NOTAM system to a student pilot recently, he had an epiphany: "The trick to NOTAMs is knowing which ones to ignore." Leave it to a neophyte to come up with the good insights.

The NOTAM system has been changed so that it is supposedly easier to wade through, but the almost indecipherable content of each NOTAM remains maddeningly the same. Dates and times in the most foreign format imaginable. Contractions and abbreviations that make normal human beings cringe. And mind-numbing legal boilerplate makes it seem like the FAA and TSA actually want someone to bust a TFR.

Comment Etiquette

I've been getting more and more comments that are lame attempts at using my blog for third-party marketing. The comments are usually complimentary, but they contain a link to some site that often has little to do with the post I've written. How very crafty and clever! Folks who post these things need to know that they aren't fooling anyone and their lame links will never see the light of day on this blog.

Some commenters post things when they really want to send me a message. Please, use my email address. It's shown on the right edge of my blog. If you're using a blog reader, you may need to actually visit my blog directly to see it. Please don't comment if you're trying to send me a personal message. Use email, 'K?

If you don't agree with something I written and you want to post a comment, by all means do so. Keep in mind that I have the final say in which comments are published. Comments that I find rude, inflammatory or otherwise piss me off will go to /dev/null. If you don't understand irony, this might not be the place for you and you are hereby advised to avoid reading my blog. If you don't like my ideas, that's fine, too. Don't waste your time with verbal jousting, move on to another blog you like. Or send a letter to the AOPA editors and tell them how much you like arguments about engine leaning and racy photos of tattoos.

At least I'm not irritated when I'm flying.

Now the pretty pictures I promised ...

Alameda Sunset

Another Bay Area Sunset


Odd Valley Stratus for Summertime

Delta Farmland

Slipping the Surly Bonds

More Odd Stratus

Right turn 090, Join V244, Resume Own Nav ...

Montezuma Windmills

More Windmills

Tiny Full Moon (see it?)

Northwest of KNUQ

Sonoma Valley Sunset

Northeast of Eden

Vectors across the Bay

VFR, Kinda, Sorta ...

Contact Norcal Departure ...

Salt Ponds and Stratus

Again with the Salt Ponds?

San Pablo Bay at Sunset

Guess Where?

Short final, KHAF RNAV RWY 12

Again with the marine layer?

Surreal Delta Light

Alameda Estuary at Sunset


My Thoughts said...

i recently started reading your articles and i find them intriguing... Intriguing because I like the writers touch along with aviation news and info... Definitely subscribing to you.

preed said...

Wow. Someone's grumpy! :-)

(To be fair, I hear ya; if I pay attention to all the stuff you've mentioned, it makes me just as grumpy, and so my solution—albeit a bad one—is to pay less attention to that stuff.)

Regarding AOPA, yah, I hear ya there; I've been thinking of canceling my membership, which... I apparently got a new credit card, and they've been whining they can't autocharge it. "Oops."

Regarding user fees, I'm against them, but probably not for the standard reasons. I think they're bad policy, and I think they incentivize bad pilot behavior.

I read somewhere that the reason the avgas fuel tax isn't enough is because they (Congress? The FAA?) keeps raiding it for various things; it actually was running a surplus for some number of years, I seem to remember?

Having said that, I'd rather raise the avgas tax (I'm not against taxes in general!) than go to user fees; that's hard to undo, while raising the avgas tax would be a well-understood problem.

(Of course, I don't expect that to happen either.)

Keep posting the nice photos; they give me something to look at and be non-grumpy about when I'm not flying...


dave said...

@preed and John.

re: user fees, I'm also against them for the same reasons preed is. I'd also add that a brand new bureaucracy would have to be set up to collect them, which you guessed it would cost money.

Raise the gas tax! It's also fairer, the people who use the system more (people who burn more avgas) pay more.

Lastly here's the GAO's summary about the short fall in the FAA trust fund:

"This decline is largely a result of how Congress determines the amount of appropriations that should be made from the Trust Fund."

It's a quick and easy read.

Chris said...

John - Long time/first time. Enjoy the tech reviews and the West Coast aviating. Much different from my DC area flying.

I find the less I deal with the online pilot world, and the more my aviating is just the aviating, the happier I am.

AOPA was jettisoned last week for much the same reasons you mentioned.

CG said...

I so agree with your comments on AOPA and the user fee business - I'm very close to cancelling myself, but wondering if the $30/y legal coverage is worth it... but yeah...

I find myself in a similarly irritable mood over just about anything - it appears that rational discourse on any topic is impossible. People forgot how to reason, all they do is slam insults and statements of conviction at each other.

The aviation community always had a split personality over government in general, and user fees in particular. It's just a lot more visible in the current climate.

CG said...

Oh, and you know that the comment spam thing is big business, all automated... captchas (those distorted images with words on them you need to type in) have been cracked, by the simple expedient of having chinese sweatshops answer them and enter them into a database.

Just one of the many curses of the modern world....

Ron said...

I don't mean to chime in with a "me too", but on the subject of user fees, I'm with preed and the rest: they're a terrible idea.

Sure, money must be raised. As you pointed out, the aviation infrastructure costs money to maintain, and like most pilots I have no problem paying my share. They want more money? Happy to oblige. But user fees are the wrong way to go about it for many reasons. One not yet mentioned: user fees are being proposed *in addition* to the current fuel taxes. They are not being proposed as a replacement. It's best to make things easy and just raise the fuel tax to whatever level is required.

But before that, perhaps the Feds should stop stealing the money out of the aviation trust fund. It might make an amazing difference if they put the aviation fuel tax money toward aviation.

On a separate note, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who feels that more unsolicited product advertising is coming from AOPA lately. I'm going to continue with my subscription solely for the ASF section of their web site. I think the online tutorials and courses are worthwhile. That aspect of AOPA's offerings has improved dramatically over the past few years.

What really irks me the most about AOPA is that they started bombarding me with requests to renew my annual membership in June of this year. My subscription doesn't expire until NEXT FEBRUARY. WTF...

P.S. Love the photos. Looks like you've been flying the Cirrus quite a bit lately!


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