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Re: JFK Missing -- Coverage

Flying, as a hobby or a profession, is by and large a reasonably safe past 
time.  On most days I would feel safer at 6000' than I would on I-95.

I wasn't able to catch much of the broadcast news on the incident.  Most of 
what I picked up was from the CNN and MSNBC websites where I didn't see 
anything about Kennedy's flying ability other than the fact that he 
attended Flight Safety for his training.  Flight Safety is the Harvard of 
the aviation industry.  They train everyone from the first time flyer all 
the way up to and including the airlines.  A diploma from there is 
considered to be golden in the flying world.  The implication thus is that 
he had the best flight training available.

As a side note, while training I've had the opportunity to fly with four 
pilots trained at Flight Safety.  Three of them were the absolute worst 
pilots that I have ever flown with - arrogant know it all cowboys who were 
over confident in their training.

Since Kennedy has only had his license less than a year, I would deduce 
that he's a relatively low time pilot.

With respect to the flight, I'm glad to hear the media reporting that 
several other pilots questioned the safety of the flight before it took 
off.  VFR rules require 5 miles of visibility at night and, once you've 
actually seen what 5 miles looks like when you're flying in it at 120+ MPH, 
you'll see that its really not much.  Its been very hazy in the area for 
the past few days.  Haze can be deceiving in that you might not notice it 
on the ground but airborne its a major problem.  Haze at night can be 
particularly troublesome as it turns the sky and sea into the same color 
and eliminates your horizon reference.  Once this happens, combined with 
the motion of the aircraft, your body very quickly loses its sense of up 
and down.  Its *very* easy to become totally disoriented within a matter of 
minutes and fly straight into the ocean without realizing what you are doing.

As for the actual flight, here's my opinion.  Let's see if the media picks 
up on any of the points.

1.  I haven't checked the weather reports for the time in question but I'd 
be willing to bet that they were reporting chance of marginal VFR and/or 
IMC (Instrument meteorlogical conditions).

2.  If I *had* to make the flight in question, I'd plan the flight to 
follow the coastline,  getting a clearance through NY's airspace and along 
the bottom of CT to New Bedford crossing Rhode Island Sound to Martha's 
Vineyard at a point where its reasonably close to land.

3.  If I weren't instrument rated and therefore could not file under 
instrument flight rules, I would file a VFR flight plan and ask for VFR 
flight following.  Having the extra set of eyes watching you can really 
help if you're in a pinch.

4.  I would have made several calls enroute to Flightwatch to get updates 
on the weather enroute, pilot reports and terminal conditions at Martha's 
Vineyard (I think that they have an automated weather reporting 
station).  If the weather started getting to be a factor, I would have 
preselected an alternate airport, such as Providence, New Bedford, Newport 
State or any of the airports along CT's coastline as alternates.

5.  I would have called a Flight Service Station (part of NOAA) for an up 
to date weather briefing.  These calls are recorded and you must identify 
your aircraft for a weather briefing.  I've heard no mention of him doing 
this on the news.

It should be noted that all of the above references to filing and getting 
weather or other services are all free to all pilots.  All that's required 
is your airplane's tail number.

Given the hazy conditions, the temp and dew points on the islands and their 
tendency to instantly fog over, I probably would not make the flight under 
VFR and would consider it carefully under IFR.

 From the route that I saw plotted on the TV, I am guessing that he had 
probably been navigating with a GPS and quite possibly had it slaved to the 
autopilot.  This would explain the relatively direct routing that paid no 
heed to the issue of single engine flight over large expanses of water.  I 
can almost comprehend an attitude of "the autopilot will get me there and 
all I have to do is land".

Its a tragedy that it happened.  Its even more a tragedy that two innocent 
people had to lose their life for Mr. Kennedy's lapse in judgement.  I find 
it even more tragic that the media is playing this as a loss to the Kennedy 
family.  What about the other family that had misgivings about his flying 
in the first place and then lost two of their daughters to it?

With respect to the search and rescue operation, this operation is 
definately a bit more than they would do for Joe Sixpack and his golfing 
buddies (unless one of his buddies was one of Clinton's buddies).  The 
Coast Guard would send out a plane and/or a helicopter along with a couple 
of ships to search the area.  The Civil Air Patrol (basically Boy Scouts 
with airplanes - its an adjunct to the Air Force that teaches children from 
12-18 air safety and search and rescue procedures) would perform an aerial 
search.  You wouldn't see research vessels called in for sonar searches or 
night time infrared scans.  It was reported by the media that Clinton had 
put in the word to the various military agencies.

As for the mainstream media, why are they idolizing him?  Aside from being 
the winner of the lucky sperm contest and being born into the Kennedy clan, 
he is just another successful business man.  We don't need wall to wall 
media coverage reporting the same facts over and over again.  I would have 
rather watched the rerun of the Simpsons than the Fox talking heads on the 
beach telling us that they didn't know anything.

OK, I'll get off of my soapbox now...

Brian Vita

At 04:54 PM 7/18/99 -0400, Chuckigo@aol.com wrote:
>In a message dated 7/18/99 8:38:09 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
>brian_vita@cssinc.com writes:
><<   The news stories make no reference of Kennedy having an instrument
>  rating meaning that he was only trained to fly VFR (Visual Flight
>  Rules). >>
>actually, having been stuck in horrendous traffic all the way back to
>portland (four hours, including waiting for  a gallon of gas to get me off
>the turnpike...stoopid, stoopid chuckie...), every.... i repeat, every aspect
>of the flying capabilities included that he was NOT rated for IFR.  that he
>was indeed VFR only.
>trust me when i say, i heard it all... the dan rather & crew tv version, and
>then two plus hours of the ABC radio crew.
>but not being a pilot, let me say your comments make perfect sense to one who
>often wonders how much easier it would be to get to work if i could fly.