Richard Eyer Smith's Excellent Adventures in Paradise

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Years ago, Cath and I worked in a nursing home. It was not a happy place. Residents there longed for a connection and for a mission. For many Americans, getting old means becoming irrelevent.

This El D'Rage music video looks into the heart of one old guy coming to grips with his past - and the present.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


The media is all over U.S. air traffic control and, in their enthusiasm, are particularly unburdened by the rules of good journalism. That said, there clearly is a deterioration of confidence in the professionalism and competence in the American ATC system. The flying public is coming to regard ATC as yet another reason to hate – even fear - flying.

The resignation of ATO Chief Hank Krakowski was a necessary first step, although he was not the cause of the problem.

The cause is complacency.

Complacency on the part of management, complacency on the part of training providers and most importantly, complacency on the part of controllers. People in the system have become so focused on the wrong things - the "I'm right - they're wrong" mentality - that the important business of providing safe and efficient service is taking a back seat.

To correct this, I suggest the following:

1) Both controllers and first level supervisors must be required to demonstrate technical competence at least every year or two. Professional pilots must constantly hone their skills and demonstrate their competence via regular flight check rides and simulator exercises; controllers need to do the same. As with pilots, no pass = no ticket.

2) Work shifts need to be evaluated on the basis of operational safety and controller health – not what controllers like because of the “long weekend.” Quick turnarounds and “The Rattler” are not working and never have.

3) The system which allows pilots and controllers to report errors (including their own) without fear of punitive action must remain in force. The media must respect that. Making statements such as “the huge increase in reported errors” does not represent the system’s decline, just its new transparency. It is irresponsible to misrepresent these reports.

4) It is in the nature of media these days to make every story a spectacle. A loss of standard separation incident becomes a “frightening near mid-air collision that could have killed hundreds.” By the same token, constantly mouthing the FAA lines about “safety was never an issue” and “we’re still the world’s safest ATC system,” need to be challenged. We won’t fix what we don’t acknowledge.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Back to the Beach

DSC00213 by wlatc
DSC00213, a photo by wlatc on Flickr.

Here's a photo of a photo in the making. Fun!

Our Future is Our Past

DSC00212 by wlatc
DSC00212, a photo by wlatc on Flickr.

I see these two quite often. They remind me of Cath and I about 40 years ago!

Happy Kids!

DSC00215 by wlatc
DSC00215, a photo by wlatc on Flickr.

These kids are in front of my condo - the pink building in the background. Do you think they are having a good time?

Cool Guy at Isla Verde Beach

DSC00216 by wlatc
DSC00216, a photo by wlatc on Flickr.

I keep tellin' you - it's the people!

Family Fun!

DSC00218 by wlatc
DSC00218, a photo by wlatc on Flickr.

These folks are having a nice afternon on the beach in front of my place.