formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

March 17, 2009 Cliff Hyde, part 2: his own intersection

The Liberty Gazette
March 17, 2009

The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street Ely

Last week we promised to explain the intersection in the sky named after Cliff Hyde Jr. When Cliff was flying charter for the May Aluminum Co. in the 1960’s he was in and out of LaPorte Airport often. There was no instrument approach to that airport then, so if the weather was IMC (instrument meteorological conditions where cloud ceilings and visibility made visual flight not safe or legal), he had to fly an instrument approach into Hobby and then follow Spencer Highway to LaPorte. Sometimes the weather was low enough that he had to return to Hobby to land. Technology for a Surveillance Radar Approach became available about that time and the FAA put one such contraption at LaPorte airport. That seemed to be an improvement, allowing pilots to descend to 700’ above the ground and within three miles of the airport. “Trouble was,” explains Cliff, “you could be anywhere within three miles. The Controller would tell you, ‘Cleared to 700’ you’re three miles from LaPorte.’ Then you’d have to start looking every direction to figure out where it was.”

Returning from Corpus Christi with his wife and children in a Cherokee Six, in IMC, the Controller vectored him to 700’ where he broke out of the clouds and found himself face to face with the star atop the San Jacinto Monument. There might have been half a mile space between them, but too close for comfort. Cliff landed safely, took his family home, got back in the car and drove to the Approach Control office at Hobby.

“I was so mad I started at the bottom and worked my way up. I talked to everyone I saw.” Finally he made it to the Tower Manager, and upon telling of his harrowing experience, the manager brought him into his office, apologizing that he couldn’t do anything about what had happened, but that Cliff could file a complaint if he wanted. But by then Cliff had cooled down some.

“About six months later,” he grins, “a DC-3 landed at LaPorte, and out came Tom Mattox of the FAA. He said, ‘I understand you had a little problem with an approach; I can sympathize with you – we pilots like to be in control of our approaches. Would you like to create your own approach? Do you have anything in mind?’”

Cliff did have something in mind. “I showed him an approach I had drawn based on one I knew in Elkhart, Indiana. He said it looked like it would work. In about six months I could expect a big pile of paper with technical data, and about six months after that I’d have an approach plate.” That’s the published approach with instructions in written and graphical form.

“Sure enough, I got that big pile of technical data and six months later the approach plate came in, with the Final Approach Fix named HYDE Intersection!”

Cliff laughed, “I called the guy up and said, ‘You’ll do anything to shut a guy up, won’t you!’” When aerial intersections became standardized as five-letter words, an “E” was added to become HYDEE Intersection. “But it’s still pronounced Hyde,” he clarifies.

Mike: Thanks to Cliff for making our skies safer. There are other creative names for intersections and arrival routes. Next week we’ll tell you about a few of them. Till then, blue skies.

Mike and Linda can be reached at

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