1925-1926 North Star Aerial Corp. founded at Rochester, N.Y. by Clarence Gilbert and Gordon Taylor using a restored Curtiss Jenny
1928 Moved to Bradford, Penn. and formed the Taylor Brothers Aircraft Co. (TBAC)
1928 William Thomas Piper Sr., an oil man, joins the TBAC Board of Directors
1928-1930 TBAC produces the side-by-side A-2, B-2, C-2 Chummy aircraft
1930 D-1 glider made
1930 TBAC bankrupt, W.T. Piper Sr. purchases assets and renames it Taylor Aircraft Co. with C.G. Taylor as Chief Engineer; 50-50 ownership
Recently I flew with my friend Dean in his single engine aircraft. I was photographing our friend’s newest airplane, so I opened the window. This rather large opening created lots of fresh air. And lots of wind noise.
Dean and I just shouted back and forth to each other (cross-cockpit, that is) to communicate. Even though it was a relatively short flight, I could feel that my vocal chords were strained after we landed.
Now I am climbing out as the...Read more
Q: Hi Steve,
Are all airplane batteries bad, or am I the only one that’s getting bad batteries? I don’t fly often, but lately it seems like every time I head out to fly to the next town for my biweekly dose of airport restaurant food, I find the battery is flat.
I don’t quite get what’s happening. It seems like I used to never have flat battery problems. I have been flying this same Piper Archer II for 12 years...Read more
I know I’m a bad person, an erudite of nothing, untutored in all but onomatopoeia and iambic pentameter, exuberant with righteous selfdom, disarranged from all scholarly consonance, heretical of history, ignorant of any recondite explanation, void of even the slightest intellective gurgle, satiated from the drone of alleged perspicacity, puerile in the art of rhythmical composition and generally revulsed by rhyming bromidic dribble.
See, even words can sometimes be a poor way to communicate. But if you try to start...Read more
It started back in the mid-1920s when brothers Gilbert and Gordon Taylor (along with their father, Arthur) purchased a surplus Curtiss JN-4 aircraft and learned to fly. The Taylors started a barnstorming business, the North Star Aerial Service Corp. in Rochester, N.Y.
In 1927, the Taylors were in the aircraft manufacturing business. Their first aircraft was a two-seat (side-by-side) monoplane known as the A-2 Chummy. Unfortunately, Gordon was killed during an airshow in 1928, but Gilbert vowed to continue in...Read more
In “Lost in Oscar Hotel,” J-3 pilot and author Gordon Murray chronicles “the first, longest, slowest and most peculiar flight to Wright Brothers Airport ever made in an antique airplane.”
The flight was a real world record—albeit a strange one. Yet, it was won alongside an accounting of odd discoveries; beautifully captured images by master photographer, Gary Harwood; and the spinning of flying tales.
“Lost in Oscar Hotel” reveals a hidden universe of people involved in that other kind of flying...Read more
As I mentioned the last time we met on these pages, several months ago my latest aviation-themed novel—“Captain”—was released in a print edition and also in all e-book formats. That novel was reviewed in the July 2012 issue of Piper Flyer, and now I’m sharing some of the “insider stuff” about the ingredients inside of “Captain.”
For a complete explanation of the whats and wherefores of this series of articles, go back to the September 2012 issue of Piper Flyer....Read more
Improper fuel management, contamination and poor preflight planning cause far too many GA accidents; statistics reveal nearly two accidents per week on average. Whether the result of fuel exhaustion, improper planning or mechanical issues, the majority of these fuel mishaps are easily preventable.
IMPROPER FUEL MANAGEMENT
However basic a fuel system may seem, as pilot in command it is important to know the system’s design and operation. Figures such as unusable fuel and total capacity, what fuel is considered...Read more
The Niagara Falls region of western New York offers some breathtaking scenery including one of the seven natural wonders of North America, Niagara Falls. Recently my wife expressed a desire to see the falls firsthand—and I immediately realized this was a great opportunity for a trip in our 1978 Warrior, N35321.
A review of the route from our home base, Albertus Airport (KFEP) in Freeport, Ill. to Niagara Falls International (KIAG) quickly revealed the challenges that I would need to...Read more
PF: What areas at Piper need strengthening right now?
SC: I took over as CEO last October; the first thing I did was stabilize the business. I had already been working on that in my previous role on the operations side in terms of leveling out production schedule—getting the production demand to match our sales need.
Then we launched a series of improvement programs at the end of last year in order to attack every part of the business that we...Read more
EAA has a winner with its Young Eagles program. Besides being a fun, feel-good activity for everyone involved, the program is making strides in growing the population of pilots and in showing the general public how important General Aviation can be.
The program, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, has introduced over 1.7 million youth (1,715,760, to be exact) to flight in a General Aviation aircraft. That’s more than eight times the number of active, certificated private pilots in...Read more
Piper Flyer Association member Jim Von Lorenz called the PFA office and asked that I call him. He had read a Q&A column in a previous issue of Piper Flyer and had a question about his engine.
I called a few days later, and the conversation went something like this.
Mrs. Von Lorenz—Joan—answered first and told me that her husband was 79 years old but in very good condition. She said she would pass on my number to her husband when...Read more
Having had the luxury of flying up in my friend’s Archer, my experience to Oshkosh started off amazingly. Henry Graeber, Greg Kelsoe and I piled into Henry’s Archer and we were off to Waupaca (KPCZ). I’ve been a student pilot for almost three years, but that’s another story.
We arrived early in Waupaca, Wis. for the Piper Flyer Association Gathering so I was able to meet—and immediately connected with—the association’s great members and staff.
It was an excellent event. The hotel...Read more
With 150 hp (the original had just 108 hp) Piper’s rag-and-tube nosewheel classic is a “no-worries airplane”
Frank Rothera would be the first to admit that his Piper Colt has a look that is.... well, let’s say striking. “The paint scheme was the previous owner’s,” he says. “And I didn’t feel like changing it, since all the fabric and paint work had just been done when I bought the airplane.”
It seems that the previous owner was a sales representative for...Read more
Four years ago, I flew right seat with my friend Leroy Nygaard on an Angel Flight charitable patient transport mission, picking up a cancer patient in Lincoln, Calif. (KLHM) and dropping her off in Santa Monica (KSMO). I enjoyed the experience and have been looking forward ever since to flying such a mission in my own airplane.
A couple of weeks ago, that finally happened—and it turned out to be a bit of a challenge.
Getting checked out as an Angel...Read more
A thesis by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate student on why we are flying less, and a move by the largest aviation “alphabet” group appointing a new senior vice president to “solve the problem,” have me thinking—not for the first time—that we aviators are not all that good at looking in the mirror, and maybe we need to reconsider what mirror, exactly, we gaze upon.
The thesis, by Kamala I. Shetty, was researched and written for a Master...Read more
At the end of the last episode Bob Berg, the owner of the 1939 Piper J-3 Cub and I had just driven to Lompoc, Calif. to attend the West Coast Cub Fly-in. That annual event took place July 6-8, 2012.
I had hoped when I agreed to join the resurrection team in mid-February to fly the 60-odd statute miles to the Lompoc airport (KLPC) in our newly resurrected J-3. That hope was wildly optimistic. As I write this, it’s now...Read more
When I was living in Vero Beach in 1965, I got a summer job at the Piper plant. I was able to take lessons in a brand-new Cherokee 140 for just the price of gas and oil, and that year I soloed in the tough, forgiving 140.
What a great plane! Sometimes I think I could have flown it without any instruction at all—not because I’m an ace, but because the plane is just a good, solid, forgiving design. In...Read more
Q: Dear Steve,
The steering on my Piper Arrow III (PA-28R-201) seems loose. I have had this particular Piper for seven years and it seems like it’s getting more difficult to keep it tracking on the centerline—especially on paved runways right after I apply power for takeoff. As soon as I get going, it seems like the problem goes away.
I don’t think it’s a big deal but I don’t really know for sure. Can you shine a light on this?...Read more
I was walking through all the airplanes at this great little fly-in I attended. There were several classic birds there including a cabin-class Waco, a tricked-out Luscombe 8 and two beautiful Cessna 140s. Admiring the loving restoration, I couldn’t help but notice how tiny the cockpit was and how close the seats were back then. Were people that much smaller five and six decades ago? The answer, I discovered, is you betcha.
Our country’s prosperity, which brought with it a...Read more
With 150 hp (the original had just 108 hp) Piper’s rag-and-tube nosewheel classic is a “no-worries airplane”
The M-Class series of aircraft first began as a glimmer in Piper’s eye in 1977. Piper management had set a goal of increasing its 26 percent market share to a full 50 percent. To reach this goal Piper would need to outsell its competitors—by a lot. Piper executives knew they’d have to develop a brand-new product to meet the challenge.
The market segment identified...Read more
While I’ve been an aviation magazine writer for the past 40-plus years, some members are probably also familiar with my aviation-themed novels: there have been seven of them since 1979. The first one—“Mayday,” an airline disaster story—was revised and updated in 1997 with my lifelong friend, author Nelson DeMille. “Mayday” was eventually bought by Hollywood and turned into a CBS Movie of the Week that aired October, 2005.
In April of this year my latest aviation-themed novel, “Captain,” was released...Read more
Europe is always a popular travel destination. Here’s a unique way to see the sights, including waterfront properties visited by Julius Caesar!
We were flying through a high mountain pass, a twisting maze of switchbacks across the top of the still-snowing Alps, a pass that may have been the same route Hannibal selected to bring elephants into battle with the Roman Empire. Ahead, the sprawling coastline of Lake Como came into view. The deep blue water was encircled by castles...Read more
Here are a few of the things I’ve learned during the restoration of my neighbor’s 1939 Piper J-3 Cub. There weren’t any self-locking nuts in 1939; every bolt in the airplane is safetied with a cotter pin. The parts book is a joke. The Cub Club organization is super-helpful, as is Clyde Smith, Jr., aka “The Cub Doctor.”
Finally, unlike the parts situation with my own “modern era” airplane (the sweet-flying 1960 Piper PA-24 Comanche 180), every part we’ve needed...Read more
Batteries, like many things in aviation, are unexciting unless they malfunction. Then, they can be annoying, perplexing, or even dangerous. A few tips passed on to the people who own them can save a lot of headache, frustration and possibly, repair cost...
Note: Because nickel cadmium (NiCad) and lead-acid batteries differ in many important respects—and accepted practices for one type may destroy the other!—this article discusses flooded (vented, wet cell) lead-acid batteries. (Lithium-ion batteries, available soon in some new aircraft,...Read more
There are many weight and balance applications to wade through, and you need to be careful. I recently discovered AeroW&B, an aircraft weight and balance application available at the Apple App Store for $2.99. The app was developed for use with iPhones and iPads.
Key factors for a good weight and balance program include data entry for the passengers, fuel and baggage, and a graph that shows whether or not you are within the weight and center of gravity (CG)...Read more
Real-time, in-flight weather is not a new concept. Sirius XM and WSI have been providing it to pilots for years.
ADS-B, the key element in the United States government’s plan for the NextGen air traffic control system, has been in a long and slow development process. The service, which provides weather, traffic—and ultimately will provide clearances and other ATC communications—is now becoming available as the FAA pushes toward its full implementation by 2020.
The first element of NextGen...Read more
Q: Hi Steve,
I need some advice on how to preserve my airplane. I own a nice Piper Comanche 250 that I have put a lot of money into over the years. It’s just the way I want it and it’s as comfortable as an old carpet slipper.
Here’s the problem: I’ve signed a three-year contract for a good paying job overseas and I won’t be home except for very short periods. I have the Comanche in a hangar so it...Read more
The pre-buy inspection is incredibly important, yet one expensive component that is largely overlooked is right out front: the propeller. What should a prospective buyer look for, and what options does he or she have?
Most buyers do give the prop a good visual inspection, at least from the spinner outward. That’s important, and it can reveal nicks and perhaps some cracks or a bad paint job.
What else is there to consider? The answer depends on the prop’s construction. Is...Read more
Six years ago, I opened my column with these words:
When I started flying actively about 10 years ago, I was warned that if I stuck with it, eventually I’d have to face the loss of a friend in an airplane crash.
Sad to say, it has happened again. What gives me pause is that this makes the fourth time in a little less than 10 years that a pilot with whom I’ve had a personal connection lost his life in...Read more
Your magazine was created in the world of monthly print publications and says August on the cover. Meanwhile, I write over Memorial Day weekend as a tropical storm named Beryl is coming ashore 50 miles or so east of where I sit, as winds of 11 on the Beaufort Wind Scale are recorded along the northern Florida coast.
It is raining harder and blowing more than I have ever seen in almost two years living in the Sunshine State. So...Read more
Considering that Piper produced this quick-and-cheap two-seater after going bankrupt, it is surprisingly good. When the American economy went into reverse in 1947, Piper could not have been more wrong-footed. It had a huge inventory, a massive factory with too many workers and went bankrupt.
Out of necessity came a little wonder, though—the Piper Vagabond (PA-15). It was designed to be inexpensive and quick to build, to use up the stock of part-built Cubs and Super Cubs,...Read more
WHAT MAKES A PERFECT FLY-IN DESTINATION? Of course, a good on-field restaurant is a great starting point, but going beyond the average hundred-dollar hamburger, it’s nice to have a museum or other on-field attraction. And if the field is located near one of North America’s top recreational spots, so much the better!
Driggs-Reed Memorial (KDIJ), just a mile or so west of the Idaho-Wyoming border, meets all these requirements. It has an upscale restaurant that goes well beyond the...Read more
A flood at the Piper’s Lock Haven facility destroyed the tooling for the Comanche, and Piper Aircraft developed the Seneca as a replacement aircraft for its popular Twin Comanche. Employing “parts bin” engineering and following the marketing strategy of the time, the Seneca is probably most accurately described as a twin-engine Cherokee Six.
The original Seneca, however, was not regarded as a success. Handling problems and poor performance plagued the initial design.
In 1975, Piper introduced the Seneca II....Read more
This month, we’ve compiled some of the most useful tips from Q&As published in Piper Flyer over the last year. The questions and answers you’ll see here are abridged; refer to the original publication for complete information, including photos, drawings and company resources. —Eds. SEPTEMBER 2011 Q: Dear Steve,
I just replaced the starter on my PA-28… again! The starter teeth didn’t disengage from the ring gear after the engine started. What’s the solution?
—Tired of Buying Starters
The early days of flying were the toughest. In the early 20th century, people began taking to the skies at a time when humanity was still in the learning process about the pure physics of lift, weight, drag and thrust. By trial and error, you might have learned things like adding a little top rudder to make sure you don’t overbank, or adding some elevator in the turn so as not to lose altitude.
With this rudimentary knowledge, it’s not...Read more
My column in the May issue of Piper Flyer had been prompted by a copy of a letter I’d received from a fellow who had flown with me as copilot on a great many of my international airline flights in the 1990s. Capt. Scott Reynolds (now retired) was a prince of an aviator to have sitting beside me in those days while I plied back and forth across the Atlantic in widebody jets. His recent letter reminded me of...Read more
This spring was a whirlwind of activity as the intrepid PFA staff attended aviation shows as far-flung as Germany and Alaska. Shows are a great way for us to keep in touch with friends and colleagues. We also gain new members—and keep up with what’s new in the industry—by attending aviation shows. Just when you think everything that could be dreamt up has already been thought of, someone comes along with an innovation or a tweak that makes flying...Read more
Returning to Waltanna (SN65) after a long trip, I noticed that my airplane, Bill, didn’t seem to be his normal bubbly self. I asked him why he was so quiet, and he said, “Well, I seem to be having some trouble with some of my gyros. Did you notice how fast the heading indicator precessed? Then on our last takeoff, the heading just danced around over a 90-degree arc.”
I said, “Bill, you know your gyros have been in the...Read more
In the seventh aviation novel by Thomas Block, an airline company whose owners shield a hidden agenda, an airliner with some fancy technical upgrades and a cast of characters with secrets, troubled pasts and crossed purposes come together for what is supposed to be a routine flight from Rome to New York.
Capt. Jack Schofield, First Officer Peter Fenton and Second Officer Linda Erickson are in the cockpit of a Consolidated 768—the Consolidated 768 is a Boeing 767 modified by...Read more
I ordered an Ashby fiberglass glareshield from Aircraft Spruce along with right and left windshields halves from Great Lakes Aero Products. (Yes, I decided to replace the right side windshield as well.)
FAA regulations require the supervision of an A&P mechanic for the replacement of the aircraft windshield, so I enlisted the services of my A&P father. He has been involved in almost everything that I have done to 61 Tango.
Unlike the side windows, the windshield is removed from the...Read more
Challenge Air inspires its passengers using the wonder and beauty of flight
At 5:30 a.m. on one particular Saturday last January, our alarm went off—something that doesn’t normally happen on the weekend—and I rolled out of bed and pulled up the weather forecast for Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (KFXE). Good weather was forecast, so off to the shower I tottered.
Today was the big day down south, Challenge Air’s annual Fly Day, whereby pilots from all over Florida arrived in their...Read more
Q: Dear Steve,
I own a Piper PA-28-181 and I have a vacuum system problem. From what I understand, the vacuum system in my Cherokee is similar to a lot of other single engine Pipers, so this is likely a system problem rather than a Cherokee problem, but here goes.
As I climb, the vacuum pressure drops off. On the ground it’s right in the middle of the green but the needle slowly moves toward the left side of the gauge...Read more
Some years back, I was with a group of other pilots on a houseboat trip. After a few days on (and sometimes in) the water, I called flight service for a weather briefing before flying home, and discovered a line of thunderstorms was moving in. So I started diversion planning, and got out my sectional charts (still paper in those days).
One of the other pilots laughed and called to his wife, “Come here and look at this!” It was...Read more
“Ditch kits” are part of good flight planning, risk management
Anyone who has spent any time at all flying around in small airplanes has looked down and realized the immense distances below where there doesn’t seem to be much of anything. No people, no roads, no structures and no sign at all of the touch of the human hand. Meanwhile, we trained as students and as competent pilots continue to imagine what it would take to safely land our craft...Read more
As aviators, it seems we are perpetually seeking out new destinations. These achievements—so fastidiously recorded in our logbook—leave us with fond memories. For many of us, navigating to (and landing!) at the big show in Wisconsin figures prominently on our aviation bucket list.
For me, there are few memories as lucid as flying the Fisk Arrival and hearing, “Red and white Cherokee, land on the green dot and expedite it off of the runway!” I think that flying your Piper...Read more
I perked up last October when Audrey said she was headed to Rhinebeck, N.Y. Rhinebeck! That’s the only place I know of where World War I-vintage airplanes as well as airplanes from the Pioneer and the Lindbergh eras are flown during summer weekends. When I learned that the last show of the year at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome (ORA) was taking place on the same weekend that Audrey was going to Rhinebeck, I joined her. It was our first...Read more
If you think synthetic vision is a gimmick, or one of those nice-to-have features that’s not worth the money, you don’t understand the technology. To be honest, I too was skeptical about the value of syn vision at first. But I get to fly a lot of different aircraft and have had the opportunity to use several different synthetic vision systems.
My initial reaction was yes, it’s nice, but is it better?
That answer came to me while giving instruction...Read more
For well over a year I had been looking for a true four seat, single engine, fixed gear aircraft that was airworthy and would fit my budget. My budget was a little tight, so I had to be very careful. I was willing to do some repairs and cosmetic upgrades. After all, I had the advantage of growing up with aviation.
My father is an A&P mechanic and a recipient of the FAA’s Charles Taylor “Master Mechanic” Award. He has...Read more
Fasteners keep our machines together. They’re simple, strong—and often neglected, overlooked and misunderstood. They’re also critical to our machines’ condition, and ultimately to our own longevity. It’s worth looking at them and knowing what we’re looking at.
Bolts hold things together, or keep things from shifting. Tension pulls on the bolt; shear forces try to bend it or cut it off. (The best example of a fastener designed for use in shear is a pin.)
A bolt is usually stronger in...Read more
Are the side windows of your Piper airplane getting hard to see through?
Have you polished and rubbed with this and that cleaner to little or no avail?
If you’ve been blessed with a little common sense, have developed a semi-organized mind and can follow some step-by-step instructions, you’re a prime candidate to install a whole new set of side windows. It will take less than a day.
Changing pre-made side windows is one task that owners are free to do—and sign...Read more
Q: Hi Steve,
I am pretty new to airplane ownership and I have a question about a test my mechanic told me my airplane needed. He said that the pitot static system needed to be checked. He also told me that I would have to fly 35 miles away to the only avionics shop around here to get the check.
I know that the pitot tube is connected to the airspeed gauge and the static system is connected to the vertical...Read more
It’s right about this time that I begin to have traces of nausea over the volume of political speeches I’ve been subjected to since we started all this presidential election folderol that doesn’t end until this November. I’ve heard about how one candidate or another will impact the Latino vote, the health care industry, auto workers, and so on. Despite the 24 hour-a-day sound bites, the frantic waving of red, white and blue flags and rampant baby kissing, I...Read more
Nothing jogs my memory about stories from the old days like getting a thoughtful letter from a copilot that I had once shared the cockpit with. While I’ve had a good number of really great copilots during my 36-plus-year airline flying career (and a scattering of not so good copilots too, but I’ll save those stories for another time), one of the all-time best to sit to my right was a prince of an aviator named Scott Reynolds. As...Read more
Most pilots have a favorite destination, either because it is in a beautiful part of the country, or because of the friends who gather there with you. My preference is Smiley Creek, Idaho, for both reasons. It is as close to the perfect place as I have found, plus the long grass strip is appreciated by the pilots that fly here...
Let me tell you about my favorite fly-in destination, Smiley Creek. On my first visit to Smiley Creek, I...Read more
Flying Wild Alaska on the Discovery Channel and Alaska Wing Men on National Geographic Channel have raised bush flying awareness. This article is to help pilots get started learning and brushing up on the skills required to fly safely in the backcountry.
Here’s the first test to see if you’re ready for backcountry (bush) flying. Dig out the Pilot Owners Handbook or Owner’s Manual for your airplane. Look up the minimum distance required to do a short field takeoff. Add...Read more
THE REVOLUTION IS COMING – GET READY
NextGen is going to cause an aviation revolution, and all pilots need to prepare for Jan. 1, 2020. If you are unfamiliar (or even if you aren’t), the JetWhine blog has an excellent discussion of the FAA’s proposed rule and its plans to decommission the majority of the VORs. (See Resources at the end of this article for the URL. —Ed.)
ADS-B Out will be a requirement; GPS navigators will be an implicit requirement...Read more
Q: Dear Steve,
I have a tire problem. Actually, it’s more of a pilot error problem. I am the proud and happy owner of an Archer III. This is a good airplane for me because it’s simple, it performs well enough for what I want, and doesn’t cost a whole lot to maintain.
I almost always fly by myself. Not always; I enjoy flying Young Eagles flights, and am planning to sign up to do Angel Flights as soon as my...Read more
Last year, I was appointed to the Modesto City-County Airport Advisory Committee, a group chartered jointly by the city and county to give advice to the airport manager. We have monthly meetings, the topic of which, I suspect, is probably the same as that for most other General Aviation airports: how to increase revenue, which fell dramatically in the 2008 recession, and has yet to recover to anything like pre-recession levels.
A common complaint in those meetings is the high...Read more
Getting what you pay for isn’t always a good bargain
You can find it at almost every General Aviation airport. A little sign on the bulletin board, or a business card taped to the self-serve gas pump, advertising annual inspections for some ridiculous price like $200.
We all know that it is not possible to perform an annual inspection on even the simplest of General Aviation aircraft for the sum of $200, yet there it is, in black and white. What’s...Read more
The United States Congress, back in February, passed and sent the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 to President Obama, who signed it into law a few days later. It authorizes $63.4 billion for the FAA over four years, including about $11 billion toward the air traffic system and its modernization, and speeds up the change from radar to ATC based on GPS in the “Next Generation” system. The law also mandates an increase...Read more
I am the kind of person to whom anything can happen, and usually does.
My brother Mike calls to ask a simple question. “Do you want to go south for the winter?” he inquires.
I say yes, thinking a few days on the beach at his Sanibel Island timeshare will be a welcome antidote to the months-long overcasts and lake effect snow squalls common in northeast Ohio this time of year.
For me, an acute cabin fever typically starts to bloom with...Read more
“I like the Cherokee a lot,” Steve Flock told me... but he wasn’t looking even looking for an airplane, let alone a Cherokee, when he bought his 1966 Piper Cherokee 140.
The story almost sounds like a tale told out of (flight) school, but it’s the truth. “In 1999, I took a friend for a flight—he’s not a pilot—and after we returned to Joshua Tree from Big Bear, we saw it for sale.”
“I said, ‘Hey, Ken, you want to buy...Read more
There are many scenic locations along the Northern California coast. One of the most picturesque happens to be an ideal fly-in destination, weather permitting: Half Moon Bay (KHAF). It’s not only a great spot for a hundred-and-something-dollar lunch, but also provides opportunities for a spectacular aerial tour of San Francisco Bay on your way in or out...
That’s a direct result of KHAF’s location, just nine nm southwest of San Francisco International Airport (KSFO)—and that in turn means that...Read more
The Avionics Bucket List series is written to provide Piper Flyer readers with information from my observations and research about some of what is available in avionics. My hope is that with a step-by-step plan, aircraft owners will not choke writing one giant check for all the items on the list at one time. They will have a path to follow.
2020 will be here soon. Eight years is not much time to plan for major avionics changes, notably the...Read more
Q: Hi Steve,
My 1960 Piper Comanche 250 has safely and comfortably carried my wife, my daughter and me to some of our most memorable adventures for the past 20 years. We have also been able to attend to my wife’s mother much better because our Comanche reduced the required travel time.
After all this, I arrived at my hangar last Thursday to find a strong smell of gasoline and soon discovered a steady drip of Avgas from the inboard section...Read more
It is a little-known fact that in 1913, bedouin shepherd boys playing outside EAA headquarters in Oshkosh discovered an ancient manuscript wrapped in a white linen scarf dating from the earliest days of aviation. The venerable parchment was stuffed into the sound hole of an antediluvian lute, which was perfectly preserved except for a missing G string. Now, for the first time ever, these nuggets of aviation wisdom are seeing the light of day.
Aphorisms of Aviation
The three most critical...Read more
Pilots and airplane owners always need new stuff. Flying’s like that. The stuff could be a new headset, a bigger flight bag, or flight simulation software. Unlike other hobbies, airplane stuff can’t be purchased at Wal-Mart—or Neiman Marcus, for that matter. Airplane stuff requires an “Airplane Stuff” store.
Aircraft Spruce and Specialty, a megastore for all things airplane, has branched out again with Pilotshop.com. The Pilotshop.com catalog is full of cool airplane stuff, useful airplane stuff, and must-have-to-be-safe airplane stuff....Read more
Over the past 50-plus years of being involved with airplanes, I’ve had a number of memorable bouts with turbulence. When I count the episodes that come to mind, you might be surprised to discover that those that occurred in large airplanes outnumber the light aircraft incidents by a significant margin. This imbalance makes immediate sense because I’ve got a great deal more hourly exposure in transport-category airplanes than in General Aviation singles and light twins. But the hours alone...Read more
Our son and his family typically head south during their vacations, and the trips include places that interest their children—our grandchildren—ages 10 and six. Our daughter-in-law Alison suggested Legoland and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium on Florida’s Gulf Coast as our family vacation destination last Christmas.
The trip to Florida started from two locations, Goddard, Kan. and Chapin, S.C., via two means of transportation: an aircraft and an automobile. Both groups started out at approximately the same time. From South Carolina,...Read more
How Do You Eat an Elephant?
How do you eat an elephant? You do it—one bite at a time. That’s the way replacement avionics get into most panels—one item at a time. Whether you order a whole new avionics suite at one time or have to develop an incremental plan for VFR or IFR upgrades, I recommend sitting down with a good avionics shop to chart your course. Here is a story of one journey following multiple Garmin upgrades with...Read more
Aircraft maintenance records can be a source of confusion for many aircraft owners and pilots. What information is necessary, what inspections are required, and determining whether an aircraft is in fact airworthy according to the maintenance records is important.
Unfortunately, airworthiness is not limited to the physical condition of the aircraft but in fact is a catchall term that can be used to describe the physical condition of the aircraft as well as the records and whether they indicate an...Read more
Q: Hi Steve,
I haven’t been flying my Piper Pacer very much lately. Money is tight, and Avgas is expensive right now. I do tie my Pacer down outside.
I was out there with my broom brushing the snow off of the wings, tail and fuselage when I accidently whacked the windshield with the broom handle. I hit it right next to the snap vent. (The snap vent is in a two-inch hole in the lower left corner of the window....Read more
I will start right off and tell you that I really like the Pilot Bag manufactured by BrightLine Bags. The bag is built well, performs as advertised, and after several months of use seems likely to last a long time. I would not hesitate to recommend it to a friend.
It has already passed, with flying colors, my personal test of zippered devices of any sort—the “Is the zipper any damn good?” test—which I routinely apply to anything I think...Read more
Piper, once synonymous with the Cub that most non-aviators think is the archetypical little airplane, hasn’t made that aircraft or any of its variants since 1981.
The company left Lock Haven in 1984 for Vero Beach in Florida, although the Piper Aviation Museum still makes its home in Pennsylvania, and each June since 1985 Pipers and their pilots descend on William T. Piper Memorial Airport (KLHV) for the “Sentimental Journey” fly-in there.
Aficionados even intensely discuss the firm’s early history in...Read more
Late last year, I found myself planning a flight to Fullerton (KFUL), in Southern California. Typical West Coast winter conditions were in full force: morning fog here in the Central Valley, and a marine layer at our destination.
While I met (barely) the legal experience requirements to file and fly IFR, it had been many months since I’d done any flying in actual instrument conditions. The trip wouldn’t involve much actual instrument work—at most, a departure out of the fog...Read more
Every human endeavor, whether blacksmithing, computer science, boating or aviation, has its unique nomenclature. The anthropologists will tell you—with a nervous glance at the higher apes and aquatic mammals—that it is the invention and use of words that defines us as human.
Disagreeing over the use of words, where they come from and how we use them, is also essentially human and has enlivened many a hangar flying session over the years. Just bring up “deduced,” abbreviated as “ded.,” versus...Read more
The sun was up but the day still pleasant when we made our way onto the Casa Grande Airport ((KCGZ) Casa Grande, Ariz.) grounds for the opening day of the 39th annual Copperstate Fly-in. I always get a little thrill when approaching the venue of a fly-in—big or small. I never tire of ogling beautiful airplanes on static display or watching them fly overhead. There’s also the opportunity to see old friends and make new ones.
Kent and I took...Read more
I was first bitten by the flying bug at an airshow in Dayton, Ohio when I was five years old. The noise from the jets was incredible. My dad took me, and we were able to walk right up to a B-52 (which in those days was still guarded by Air Force personnel). We checked it out from nose to tail. My dad said we needed to kick the tires if we were interested in buying it. I remember...Read more
As we were flying along one day, my wife, who was PIC that day, said, “We need to do something with this shoulder harness. It’s ugly and crunchy.”
Well, our airport was to be closed for two-and-a-half weeks to resurface the runway. What better time to actually get the retractors rewebbed? Should be simple, we thought, as there are several aftermarket companies that will do it and return the units in seven days.
So, my wife Pam and I loaded up...Read more
I have an early model 1973 Cherokee Six 260. The fuel tank selector valve is located under the rear seat. I noticed that I was using more fuel than I expected the last two times I’ve filled my Six’s tanks. I’ve heard that if the selector leaks internally, I’ll lose fuel. How does this happen? Can it be caused by a loose fitting or connection?
—Gas Be Gone
My father died a little more than a year ago and it is just now that I’ve found it in me to parse through his belongings. There were accolades of accomplishment, photos of him at a microphone doing play-by-play radio announcing for the Oklahoma Sooners football team, awards and gold watches, a few solo cuff links—not an uncommon brew, as end-of-life collections go. But there was one thing that stopped me in my tracks. Obviously at some time or...Read more
Paul Saurenman, owner of Pacific Oil Cooler Service (POCS) and Aero-Classics Heat Transfer Products Inc., stood in front of Jen and Kent Dellenbusch, publishers of Piper Flyer, and me, freelance aviation writer who after 45 years in the av bizz views all things aeronautical with a shade of skepticism, and told us that the average light plane’s oil cooler acts as an oil filter and becomes more choked up with carbon as engine hours pile up. During the POCS...Read more
I’m writing this on a cloudy, windy, rainy day at home, and I’m doing what’s most suitable for a day like this: I’m sitting at my desktop computer and allowing the kindness of others who have forwarded to me several emails that will enable me to take a virtual trip through aviation’s yesteryear.
I began my rainy day diversions with a collection of black-and-white photos of days long past. The first one was an aerial shot of Newark Airport, circa...Read more
How many times have you heard the expression “working in the salt mines”? In reality, probably not that many, but you have likely heard it one time or another. This story is not about working in the salt mines, exactly, but it could have been, because this is about a visit to the salt mines. In fact, this particular mine is still providing salt, and workers have been removing salt from its mine shafts for over 120 years.
So why...Read more
I am convinced that airplanes have personalities. When we get to really know our planes, we know when they are happy and when they are grumpy, when they are feeling good and want to fly, and when they are begrudgingly doing their job.
In addition to having their good and bad days, aircraft also come from somewhere, just like we do; they have a birthplace. Just like a person who hasn’t been home in a long time, I think bringing...Read more
Spark plug replacement and cleaning is a task that aircraft owners and pilots can easily do to maintain engine efficiency. I encourage aircraft owners to get involved in the maintenance of their aircraft, as a pilot aware of the mechanics of his or her aircraft is a safer pilot.
A component of maintaining an aircraft engine in good condition includes the regular removal, cleaning/inspection or replacement of the spark plugs as allowed by FAR 43 Appendix A (“Major Alterations, Major Repairs...Read more
December 2012 -
Remember that an aircraft wing always stalls at one angle of attack, but can stall at any airspeed.
Q: Dear Steve,
I’m in the fourth quarter of the game, age-wise, and have decided that it’s now or never! I’m planning a once-in-a-lifetime flying trip around the western United States and up into Canada next year. All of my flying—I have logged 880 hours over the last eight years—has been east of the Rockies. I’ve never flown in mountainous terrain.
My airplane...Read more
December 2012 -
In the first few decades of the aviation age, airplanes quickly became a part of Americans’ daily lives. In addition to providing invaluable service in World War II, aircraft also served in a war against six-legged pests.
The first known use of a heavier-than-air machine occurred in August 1921. A United States Army Air Service Curtiss JN-4 Jenny piloted by John A. Macready was modified at McCook Field to spread lead arsenate to kill Catalpa Sphinx caterpillars at a...Read more
Mexico, Presidential TFRs and Personal Limits
Last month my wife and I made our last trip to Mexico for the year. The trip down was long but routine. The trip back was something else…
Longtime readers of my column will recall that my wife Kate is a pediatrician with an interest in medical mission work. Before we were married, she spent over two years at a Catholic hospital in Papua New Guinea, and we’ve travelled together for shorter missions (from one...Read more