Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Sky High: High Costs & Iffy Job...
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Sky High: High Costs & Iffy Job Prospects can‘t Stop Flight School Students from Spreading their Wings

Michael E. Marotta - July 22nd, 2004
“Nationally, only about one-third of all pilots own (or share ownership in) their own planes. A small ship for two or four passengers, new from the factory, costs about as much as a house: $100,000 to $200,000...”

You look down a mile-long runway that disappears into the distance. You take your toes from the brakes, and push the throttle full forward. The airplane you wear like a compact car accelerates to 40 mph… 50… and the nose comes up… and with three fingers of one hand, you pull back on the yoke with no more force than it takes to open a cupboard door. You are in the air. Before the seconds have stretched into a full minute, the outer marker of the runway passes about 1000 feet below you. You turn and look out over the lakes, bays and peninsulas of the Grand Traverse region. Nothing compares to this.
It is an easy generalization that “anyone” can learn to fly. In the Grand Traverse region, the Flight Technology program at Northwest Michigan College is the primary place to learn. Their 17 planes, 18 flight instructors, three mechanics, two dispatchers, and wide range of learning tools and alternatives make NMC an easy choice. Learning to fly takes emotional maturity, the ability to think both deeply and quickly, and the mastery of a wide range of applied sciences. The most visible barrier is money.

Nationally, earning a private pilot’s certificate costs about $6,000, and takes about a year. Most candidates pay about $60 per hour for instruction. Additional expenses include books, a radio communication headset, periodic medical examinations, and federal testing. For those enrolled at NMC, the billing begins with tuition of $4,044.80. Added to that are aviation expenses of $4,345 for private pilot certification. Advanced licensing for a commercial pilot endorsement at NMC costs $12,000 and another $1,600 is tacked on for a multi-engine rating. Like most successful college students, the pilots at NMC combine financial aid with part-time jobs.
Jeremiah Avery is now a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) at NMC. “You have to be dedicated and focused that you are going to spend a lot of money and put in a lot of time,” he said. Avery financed most of his education with student loans. He also worked at K-Mart and sold shoes before being hired by NMC Flight Technology as a member of the “line crew.” His duties there centered on fueling planes, and pushing and pulling them into and out of the hangar.
CFI Kyle VerBerkmoes completed his associate’s degree in May 2003. He is working on a bachelor’s degree in business. “Many airlines want a four-year degree,” he pointed out. VerBerkmoes paid for his education with scholarships, loans and part-time work. His previous employers included Target before he joined the flight instructors. Currently, he is responsible for six active students and puts in about 15 to 20 hours a week teaching. One of his students is Brian Wesp of Rochester Hills.

Wesp respresents one of the many non-traditional learners at NMC Flight Technology. It took him four years to complete his associate’s degree on weekends and other two-day-a-week schedules. Wesp now owns his own single-engines Cessna 152, which he bought from the NMC fleet. He flies here to earn a multi-engine rating, so that he can become a pilot with a freight company. “I build up quite a lot of cross country time,” he said, speaking of his commutes from Rochester Hills.
Ed Lamp is another non-traditional student. The 62-year-old instructor of graduate research in psychology at Bowling Green State University flies to NMC in his own plane. He has a flight instructor down in Ohio, but he comes here for the advanced training techniques that the college delivers. Lamp has held a pilot’s license for 40 years, but he wanted to add an instrument rating. He met NMC instructor Mike Stock at an aviation symposium in Lansing and was impressed. “It is important to learn new procedures,” Lamp said. “It helps to come to a place that has real people who are current.”
Henry DeVries is a truck driver for the Antrim County Road Commission. At 38, with a wife, a mortgage, two cars, and three kids, he is at that stage in life where most non-professional pilots give up flying. “You have to have good support at home,” he said. DeVries is about halfway through the curriculum with about 30 credits toward an associate’s and about 30 hours in the cockpit. Like most of his peers, he is paying for his education with grants, scholarships, and student loans. His flight instructor is Nick Maurer.

Maurer represents the successful traditional student at NMC Flight Technology. The 21-year-old bachelor has two flying jobs. In addition to his duties at NMC, he flies for North Country Aviation in Gaylord, a charter air service. This part-time job as first officer (“co-pilot”) in twin-engine craft has taken him to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Wichita, St. Louis, and Chicago. “It is not about the cash but about the flight hours,” he said. “The cockpit is a better office.”
NMC’s flight technology program also demands the best efforts of the support staff. Kevin Johnston is a dispatcher. He takes calls for general information from the public, issues log books and keys for airplanes, and assigns the flight areas for training. Dispatchers are on duty during normal business hours, seven days a week, but operations at NMC run around the clock. “Summertime night flights begin about 11 p.m. because sunset is at 9:30 and you have to wait for one hour after civil sunset for night flight,” Johnston explained. Line crewman Doug Laurain also fills in on the dispatch desk. If you don’t find him at the airport, he might be “doing it on a grill” at BD’s Mongolian Barbeque.
Johnston, Laurain, and the other dispatchers all report to Sheri Zimmerman, the chief dispatcher. Zimmerman has been on the NMC staff for six years and has high praise for the flight program. “Teaching takes a knack for patience,” she said. “Everyone has different learning styles.” Zimmerman schedules flights for NMC officials and staff who travel in one of the three twin-engine planes on college business. That might mean ferrying an administrator down to Lansing or taking honorees to an awards ceremony in Denver or New York City. This lets NMC flight instructors in the “First Officer Program” get valuable time in their logs. Zimmerman and her team coordinate the maintenance for the fleet. Every plane gets a different kind of FAA mandated inspection at 50 hours, 100 hours,
and annually. This requires constant updating of schedules, accounts, and payrolls.

Keeping the fleet airworthy is an ongoing process for Bill Birch, Rocky Brust, and Ed Borstel, the college’s FAA-certified mechanics. Birch said that, “because NMC is a commercial flight academy, the 100-hour inspections are as thorough as the private pilots’ annual. This includes a compression check on the engine, oil, oil filter, spark plugs, approving the control cables, removing the wing panels and inspecting for rust, as well as lubrication of all required points, such as the brakes and bearings.”
This support is a hidden cost – though a direct benefit – from the student’s point of view. It comes with the program. Nationally, only about one-third of all pilots own (or share ownership in) their own planes. A small ship for two or four passengers, new from the factory, costs about as much as a house: $100,000 to $200,000. Actual operating expenses are about $100 per hour. This includes the federally mandated inspections by a certified mechanic. Flying is expensive.
The mythology of flying is that professional pilots make a lot of money. It is true that the captains of the world’s largest passenger airlines earn up to $250,000 per year. They are a small group. Wages in aviation are no higher than for any other profession that requires a basic college degree. A pilot for a regional airline might earn no more than $50,000 a year, with $25,000 per year being more typical, because most pilots are
part-time employees. Flying freight pays less than flying passengers. Certified flight instructors earn the least of all: $7.50 to $15 per hour for 20 to 40 hours per week. Why would someone spend
tens of thousands of dollars earning certificates that can at best return a profit only after a decade of scraping by with part-time jobs?
The answer might be found in philosophical romances such as Charles Lindbergh’s We or Richard Bach’s Stranger to the Ground, or in the biographies of aviation pioneers Bessie Davis, Beryl Markham or Amelia Earhardt. The harshest and sharpest portraits appear in The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe: a pilot is up in the air with God and the people down there (way down there!) are ants. Yet, periodic polls by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) reveal that many people learn to fly so that they can take their friends on vacations. At NMC, socializing is a big part of the experience. “Everyone knows everyone well,” said Jeremiah Avery. “We go play basketball or hockey. It is a close knit program.”
Loretta Siniff graduated from NMC 20 years ago. She worked as an instructor, flew corporate jets, and then went on to Northwest where she was a 747 captain. For Siniff, the challenge and the reward are the same thing: being able to do a difficult thing well.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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