1993 Indiana Ultralight Safety Seminar

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From: David Hempy (hempy@ms.uky.edu)
Date: Fri, 2 Apr 1993 03:51:13 EST
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To: ultralight-flight@ms.uky.edu
Subject: Safety Seminar Minutes (long)
Message-ID: (9304020851.aa00712@s.s.ms.uky.edu)

))Were you at the meeting in Lebanon? I have lost the thread of who said what
))about this airspace conversation.
)Yes, we meet briefly, there were sooooo many folks there. Dave
)Hempy has some notes and has/will put together a few comments,
)if he ever wakes up..:-)

Yeah, yeah, yeah... sheesh! you sound like most of my teachers. ;)

Seriously, here come some fairly comprehensive minutes of the 1993 Indiana Ultralight Safety Seminar, with a minimal amount of editorial opinionating (I promise). No garauntee of accuracy is made, and I invite any corrections or discussions.

To set the stage, the seminar was held in the Holiday Inn in Lebanon, Indiana, Saturday, March 27. The seminar was hosted by P+K Enterprises of Colfax, IN. It featured a selection of noteworthy speakers, several vendors, and an estimated 130 attendees. The turnout well exceeded expectations, and latecomers found standing room only in the rear.

Phil Larsh, the "P" of P+K, made opening remarks, with all the usual pleasantries, and emphasised the thrust of the meeting is to enhance ultralight (UL) safety. He furthermore stated that he would like to see the forming of an Indiana UL Advisory Council. He then introduced the emcee of the day, Frank Beagle, whom you have heard over the PA at Sun-n-Fun and the OshKosh UL area.

Frank introduced Lou Owens, a straight-talking FAA representative. Lou said he hoped everyone adopted a SASSI attitude, and take that attitude home to share with friends:

He continued to address a growing number of UL fatailties lately, and attributed it not to underexperienced student pilots, but to "know it all" pilots. Keeping abreast with the latest infomation available will help perpetuate the learning process. He referred to the information in the FAA's Safety Data Information Exchange (SDIE), at which time he introduced Ben Morrow.

Ben is also with the FAA, and has been an instructor since '62. He began by introducing the SDIE. The number to call is 1(800)426-3814 (2400/N81 ANSI/VT100). The password is SAFETY and is not meant to be a security measure. You may have to try calling at odd times of the day, as he stated it sees 21 hours of use a day. It is entirely menu driven, and has no upload or download capabilities. He also claims that you cannot log the transaction from your end. He said no one can explain this, but that you couldn't do it. [???-dave]

Once in the system, you can lookup reports by aircraft (or product) model, such as Quicksilver, Rans, etc. These reports list incidents concerning product failures and problems. Accident reports are not yet available, but he expects that to be added with a software upgrade in the coming months.

There are also on-going discussions on various topics. Some of the recent threads include: the proposed weight changes, fuels, and stall speeds. Occasionally technical articles are posted, such as fabrication processes or Rotax maintenance.

Ben asserted that there is no advertising on the BBS and no marketplace area. The closest thing to an exception is that sometimes significant safety product annoncements are made.

The information on the board finds its source in individuals reporting their own experiences with maintenance, parts, and service notices. One of the benefits of the system is that it provides another line of feedback to the manufacturers.

Ben said that he treats ULs like general aviation aircraft. He does not see notable differences between them. This viewpoint is the norm within the engineering factions of the FAA.

The BBS is currently PCAnywhere software, and in the next 90 days, a new package called The Bulletin Board Sysytem (TBBS) should be up and running, with expanded facilities.

Ben stated that currently, the NTSB does not investigate UL accidents.

Next up was a representative of the Indiana DOT, Steve T. [I missed most of his last name] He is their Chief Airport Engineer. He started off by describing two classifications of airports, as far as the state is concerned. [I'm not sure how much of the following applies to IN or the FAA, nor what differences in other states may be] Public Use airports are approved for public use without any prior permission from the operator. Private Use airports are for the exclusive use of the owner, or others with the owner's permission. He refered a specific question to a state Airport Inspector, Troy Allen for more details. He had a starter kit consisting of the paperwork needed to establish a airstrip. It contains:

	The statutes concerning pub/priv airports.
	AC70-2d - general info on federal guideliness.
	An FAA form to apply for a landing site.
	Part 157 [?]
	7481 form [?]
	Sample landing area location map.
Steve described the process for having a strip approved, and said the key to success was to start locally, and work up. This approach was echoed by several speakers and attendees throughout the day. He refered a question on water operations to Carl McKinley, of the IDOT.

When bluntly asked if privately owned land used as a landing site for a 103 legal UL needed to be inspected and approved, he said, "Yes..." This was met with much stirring in the crowd, and Lou Owens, of the FAA, returned to the podium to state his place.

Lou said, private land does _not_ need to be certified for private use. He went on to say that there are some good reasons to have it certified, however. One big reason is for neighbor relations. Being able to show a neighbor or town council a FAA issued airport permit will carry some legitimacy. Also, when an annoyed neighbor calls the FAA to report what you are doing, the rep can tell him/her, "You mean at the Washington County East Hill Airport? Yes, I inspected that site when the permit was approved."

He went on to re-emphasize that the local level will offer the greatest hurdles. City and county ordinances can be constrictive. The federal level frankly has better things to deal with, and is not likely to offer any resistance. He said there are no fees involved, except possibly at the local level. Of course, if any lawyers are required, they will want their own commision.

In response to a question, he said that a federally funded airport _may_ refuse service to ULs if they believe that such operations would threaten the safety of the facility.

Jim Stevenson, USUA Region 6 Representative, spoke next. Jim is the driving force behind KIMO, the Kentucky Indiana Michigan Ohio regional competion, which is the biggest USUA UL competion in the country. His philosophy is that competition breeds practice. Pilots will practice various maneuvers in preparation for a contest. These include spot landings, deadstick landings, time/fuel management excersizes, and other activities that we may too often take for granted.

He briefly described the USUA national point system. Points can be earned at local, area, state, and regional competitions, with the points weighted according to the size of the event. He gave figures showing his region to be a very active one, as far as point awarding goes. Last year's national champion was from Region 6, and had something like three times the points of the number two pilot.

Jim went on to describe the mechanics of a poker run, and how the event can be elevated by adding time/fuel management tasks to the event.

John Ballantyne spoke next, with the help of Frank Beagle. I'm sure most of you recognize John as the president of the USUA. He also writes the monthly Director's Memo in UF Flying! magazine, and keeps a very busy touring schedule, speaking before groups such as this.

He went on to reminisce with Frank about the early days of the UL movement, describing some of the obscure craft he has flown, and some of his adventures footlaunching a Quicksilver.

Ben Morrow returned to the podium again. His first subject was accident reporting. He stated that only 3.8% of all accidents are attributed to structural failure. Even some of those are perhaps attributable to pilot/builder error, such as failing to install the wing strut bolts.

He went on to talk about fuels. The EPA has required that all fuel, including avgas, must be oxygenated. This can be done two ways: blending in alcohol, or adding a chemical. [I missed the name. It MTFE or BTME, or something like that] He described the several ways that alcohol is simply not good for airplanes. The chemical additive is much better for the application. Unfortunately, refineries are not required to tell the consumer which method is used. In fact, they can add up to 10% alcohol without even labeling it on the pumps. He told some stories describing what kind of unbelievable stuff can end up in our gasoline. He said the only way to be sure to not get any alcohol is to use the water test.

The water test involves filling a small jar most of the way with gas. Then add a little water (say, 10%). Mark where the gas/water line is. Now shake it up and let it settle. If there is any alcohol in the gas, it will absorb some of the water. If the gas from the pump has no alcohol, none of the water will be absorbed, and the level will not have moved. If there is less water than before, dump the sample in your car's tank and find another station.

He fielded a question regarding the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on 103. He said the FAA only has the manpower to complete about 20 NPRMs a year, and you can bet your bottom dollar they can find better things to argue about than five gallons of gas and a hundred pounds of aluminum and dacron. Basically, 103 will never be changed. What is going to happen, which will likely be announced at OshKosk, is a new class of aircraft. The Primary Category will have have weight limits somewhere between 260 lbs empty weight and 1050 lbs gross weight. There will be no fuel or speed restrictions. There will be a 200 HP ceiling. No medical will be required. Two places will be allowed. Some form of pilot certification will be required. The minimum may be private pilot or recreational pilot. USUA pilot rating is not likely to be honored. The craft will be certificated. Of course, this entire paragraph is wholly fabricated of rumors, and neither FAA rep would say anything officially, but both seemed to believe the guidelines listed.

Ben stated that there is currently no push to bust "fat ULs". The FAA simply does not have the manpower to fool around with them. When these violators are approached is when they are flagrantly defying the rules, and are in sight of the FAA (read: operating from General Aviation airports). They do not have the time nor the inclination to seek out UL airparks or private strips.

Lou Owens returned to speak again. He referred to the three pages comprising Part 103. He compared them to the thick volumes that GA pilots are responsible for, and said ULers are truly fortunate. He believes that ULs have it easy, and they should be careful not to screw it all up. He seemed to imply that if changes were made to 103, we might find ourselves wanting the old rules back.

He emphasized the importance of self-policing UL activities. If the industry and the individuals don't act responsibly and keep the sport safe and respected, then other arrangements may be inevitable.

John Ballantyne made his second appearance. He was armed with several overheads full of figures discecting the UL/experimental segment into various categories. First, he spoke about networking at various levels.

Networking at the local level is critical to help learn from each other. Talking to local enthusiasts lets us share knowledge and enhance our enjoyment of the sport. It helps us solve problems we experience, and simply makes the whole thing more fun. Another benefit we see from local networking is the establishment of flying facilities accessible to us. This gives newcomers better access to the sport. From this network of flying buddies, clubs are bound to form.

In Louisiana, UL pilots are required to obtain UL license from the state. Note that this is not the USUA pilot rating. UL instructors are required to get a state instructors permit, on top of a USUA BFI. The legality of these laws has been questioned, and the FAA has not responded to an inquiry from the USUA regarding the appropriateness of the Lousiana law. John tied this in with the importance of networking at the state level, keeping everyone abreast of state activities. He also pointed to the example at hand, this state-wide seminar.

Logically following is networking at the national level. This is a primary role of the USUA. This gives the USUA the opportunity to speak for over 12,000 individuals when dealing with the FAA and other lobbyable groups.

John did not stop there. He referenced the global scene, saying that we need to be concerned with what is happening in all parts of the world. He compared the current proposed rules to the accepted international definitions of ULs, or microlights.

About this time, he brought out the overheads. The folks in the back had to take his word on the numbers and text, but all could at least see the shape of the graphs. Some of his figures, from various sources:

	Where do ULs fly from?
		1/3	airports
		1/2	flight parks
		1/6	farms, etc.

	Where did the pilots come from?
		30%	General Aviation pilots
		20%	Associated with a UL pilot
		50%	Sought out ULs on own.

	How much wind is too much?
		34%	11-15 mph
		26%	15-20 mph
		 5%	26-30 mph  (other groups fill in the gaps.)

	What make do you fly?
		40%	Quicksilver
		25%	Other
		 6%	Advanced Aviation
	        ...	About 8 more makes listed, with 5-1% each.
		This shows the huge diversity of manufacturers, some
		of which have but a single plane actually produced.

	Construction of your plane?
		75%	Aluminum tubing and Dacron sails.
		...	All metal; wood; composite...
John reemphasized the importance of establishing a network of pilots to exchange with. One example of a benefit is a preflight contest. In such an event, an organizer alters one detail on one of the planes, and all the participants preflight each others planes, trying to spot the problem. This sharing of skills helps make the planes safer and helps each pilot develop thier own skills.

In regard to airport access, he said that claiming "Federal funds gaurantee me access!" is simply not adequate. We've got to take an agressive role in promoting our image. He compared the USUA to two similar groups charged with self-regulation, the US Parachute Assoc and the US Hang Gliding Assoc. He described how most parchutists have a USPA rating. At virtually any hang gliding site in the country, you cannot even approach the launch site with a glider without presenting your USHGA card, showing that your rank qualifies you for that particular site. He then stated that USUA only sees 12% cooperation from the UL community. Again, the importance of effective self-regulation determining the fate of the sport is displayed.

Thus ends my notes on the speakers from the seminar. There is no doubt in my mind that everyone left the meeting a little wiser than when they walked in. The vendors and organizations with tables set up added to the learning experience. Perhaps the most information was exchanged between the attendees, talking about their situations, how they got there, and how to progress from there. Phone numbers were exchanged and plans were made for future meetings. A good time was had by all, and, I believe, our sport found a strong foothold in the center of Indiana.

I have other stories to tell from the day, like how my truck trashed its transmission 60 miles from the hotel, or the story of John Ballantyne buying me dinner, or how I travelled 250 miles to meet a guy 10 miles from my hometown. Perhaps I will tell them another day, but it is now 3:15am, and I've been working on these minutes far too long. So I bid you good night, or good morning if you prefer. I look forward to any discussion of this letter.


ps. It was really neat meeting Sam Whiteman and Nyal Williams at the seminar. It is nice to be reassured that my electronic friends are actually flesh and blood, not just some extremely good conversation generating program. ;)

David Hempy  (hempy@ms.uky.edu)                Ultralight IFR: I Follow Roads.
You may be only one physical away from being becoming an Ultralight Pilot.  ;)

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