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Today’s topics: Air France crash, saving a lifeguard, ‘Bolivian marching powder,’ beard yeast … and more (AP)
Today’s topics: Air France crash, saving a lifeguard, ‘Bolivian marching powder,’ beard yeast … and more (AP)

What readers think

July 7: Nose-up, and other letters to the editor Add to ...


It wasn’t just test pilots who might have pulled off the recovery of Air France 447 in the last two minutes (How A Befuddled Flight Crew Caused A Crash Unprecedented In Aviation History – July 6) – in truth, any novice pilot who had listened even distractedly to his instructor on the subject of stalls could have done it.

All that was needed was full power on all engines and a release of elevator back pressure and the plane would have flown out of it in seconds. You do not “drag” an aircraft out of a nose-up condition – you basically let go of it, and it will drop its nose all by itself.

I have flown and instructed on all classes of aircraft from the most primitive biplanes to the most sophisticated transports and fighters and this truth is virtually universal, except in a few fighters of 1960s vintage where judicious use of the drag chute is sometimes required to drop the nose. This is never true of certified transports like the ill-fated Airbus.

The one anomaly in the Airbus is that it is not immediately obvious to both pilots what control input is being made by the pilot flying. In wheel-controlled Boeings, the aft stick situation is immediately evident, while in the sidestick controlled Airbus, one pilot could have his controller in the full nose-up condition while that of the other pilot would appear to be innocently neutral. That fact did not cause the crash – but it surely contributed to it.

Jock Williams, Toronto


This article brought up a key issue in many accidents: The pilots were reasonably expected to be able to continue flying the airplane with such a malfunction.

The comparison of the malfunction on that night to “an automobile driver losing cruise control and then steering the car over a cliff,” though, is frankly insulting to what professional pilots actually do. Controlling an aircraft with sole reference to the flight instruments is a fairly specialized skill, and when one of the instruments gives false information, it can be very disorienting in the brief period where the pilots determine which information can be trusted and which must be disregarded.

Although the loss of autopilot capability is a minor failure on its own, it is not accurate to compare the situation in the Air France 447 cockpit to a system failure in a car.

Stephen Thomson, Burlington, Ont.


A man’s life

Why doesn’t someone open an account so that people can raise funds for Tomas Lopez, the lifeguard who was fired after saving a drowning man at a Florida beach (Uproar After Lifeguard Fired For Leaving His Post To Save Drowning Man – July 6)? After all, he did save a man’s life, unlike the woman who was bullied on a bus and got hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If he saved my life, you’d be darn sure Manitobans would rally around him and open an account. A life is worth that and much more. Please I beg of you to do this for this young man. I do not know him or anyone who does, but someone has to step up for him.

Kelly Richardson, Winnipeg


Cops not robbers

Re Police And Cities Face Off Over Pay (July 6):

It is police associations, the front-line officers themselves (who are also taxpayers), who have been leading on the issue of finding long-term solutions to our funding challenges. Ask any officer about the nature of their work and they’ll be able to provide dozens of examples of areas where inefficiencies cause them to waste valuable time.

These increases are largely due to disclosure and other paperwork requirements that keep our officers behind their desks, rather than on the streets. Fixing these serious inefficiencies would represent a very real savings and improve the quality of life and employment for our law-enforcement personnel. But it will take the co-operation of all levels of government.

Salaries and benefits are no doubt part of the equation, but let’s fix the systemic problems first. Let’s also keep in mind that overall municipal, provincial and federal budgets have increased. Generally speaking, police budgets represent the same proportionate share of these budgets today as they did 20 years ago.

Tom Stamatakis, president, Canadian Police Association


Faith, liver, electrons

I would like to ask John Schroeder (Boson Buddies – letters, July 6) whether he has ever seen his own liver. If not, does he nonetheless hold to a belief in the existence of that item? Would that be a religious belief?

I am certain that he could offer up a chain of inferences leading to the conclusion that an unseen liver exists within him, and everybody, including myself, would accept that chain as valid. The scientists at CERN can offer an equally valid chain of inferences leading to the conclusion that the unseen Higgs boson exists, the only difference being that their chain is a lot longer and has more numbers in it.

Sabina Michael, Whitby, Ont.


Mr. Schroeder apparently doubts the Higgs boson for its invisibility. But physicists have been exploring the “invisible” rather successfully for well over a century now. Indeed, electrons are invisible, and yet I’m quite successfully writing this letter on my smartphone.

Marc Riehm, Toronto


Another shame

Change the substance at hand, plug in the World Health Organization’s mortality data and see how the editorial Subsidizing Shame (July 5) might sound to someone concerned with unnecessary death:

“The WHO estimates that more than 2.5 million people worldwide die every year from causes related to alcohol – more than 20 times the death rate from exposure to asbestos. That’s why all other developed nations ban alcohol, and why nobody in Canada uses it.”

Brian Nimeroski, Sooke, B.C.


Service indeed

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is quoted as saying that tax increases “should normally be used to enhance the service benefit residents receive,” while denying that improvements in the city’s transit systems would be a worthy service (Ford Seeks Property-Tax Freeze In Wake Of TTC Proposal – Toronto edition, July 6).

His logic escapes me because, with the ever-worsening gridlock in Toronto, I see investment in transit as a service providing benefits to one and all, a service improvement need of the highest priority. The OneCity proposal, which includes a funding model of one-third each from Ottawa, the province and the city, addresses the gridlock problem comprehensively. I am hardpressed to imagine any other service improvement that council could come up with, funded by new taxes on the order of $200 per home per year, that I would support.

David Kister, Toronto


Duly noted

Please note that July 6, 2012, is the last day that “Bolivian marching powder” is permitted to appear in print as some sort of deluded hipster code for “cocaine” (Coke Vs. Pot – Arts).

Nigel Russell, Toronto


100-mm diet

So, a West Coast brewery is making beer with yeast sourced from its brewmaster’s beard (Social Studies – July 5). If you ask me, this locavore thing is getting out of hand.

Doug Warren, bearded brewer, Peterborough, Ont.

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