Talkeetna, Alaska is located north of Anchorage and south of Denali National Park. The town was established in 1919 to be the Engineering Commission Headquarters during the construction of the Alaskan Railroad.
The railroad still passes through Talkeetna today, bringing many passengers and visitors to this community from Anchorage and Fairbanks. In 1964, the road from Anchorage to Talkeetna was completed and dependence on the railroad was drastically reduced.
If you are driving between Anchorage and Fairbanks, Talkeetna is located on a...Read more
Most aircraft profiles start out with a long dissertation on the history of the aircraft’s type and its lineage—blah, blah, blah—okay, so here’s what you need to know to set the stage for this story.
The PA-23 Apache/Aztec was the first twin-engine aircraft built by the Piper Aircraft Company, and between 1952 and 1981 they turned out nearly 7,000 of them. Of all of the surviving airworthy Aztecs, the one owned by father and son partners Jerry and David Naylor is,...Read more
I learned to fly in Cessna 150 rental airplanes out of Colts Neck, N.J., a half-mile dirt strip. When the pressure from real estate developers outweighed the interests of a few grass-strip banner-towing pilots in 1988, Colts Neck closed, and I considered buying one of the student-rental airplanes. My pre-purchase inspection became a “no-purchase” inspection and I ended up buying N4372J, a friend’s 1967 Cherokee PA-28-140. It had lousy paint, a torn-up interior, a chewed-up propeller... and wonderful handling. From...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 the...Read more
My First Airplane: What Mike Taught Me About Flyingby Steve Ells
I had been bitten by the aviation bug as soon as I joined the U.S. Navy and started sending away to the EAA for booklets on homebuilt airplanes in the mid-1960s. I still have titles such as, “Amateur Aircraft Builder’s Manual, First Volume 1959,” and “Wood, File Number 1.” After three Vietnam cruises during the three years, 10 months and 21 days I spent in the Navy, I worked my...Read more
In October of 1958, Piper proposed a twin-engine version of the successful Comanche single. This was not the PA-30 Twin Comanche, the planning of which had begun two years earlier but development and production of which would be several years hence (thus the skip in numeric order). Piper initially planned for the model to be developed in California by Bill Lear, and would furnish a PA-24 Comanche airframe and two 200 hp IO-360 engines. Whether this actually ever happened is...Read more
“Pilot Report: Gorgeous!” That’s what I said when closing my flight plan after a two hour air tour during a flying vacation in (and over) Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, two of the premier vacation destinations in the U.S. Both parks and related areas, including the resort town of Jackson Hole, Wyo., turned out to be particularly well suited for a flying vacation—in fact, as our photos show, some features really can’t be fully appreciated unless you see them from...Read more
According to FAR Part 43 Appendix A, “Major Alterations, Major Repairs, and Preventive Maintenance,” aircraft owners are permitted to service the spark plugs in their engine. The following should help owners get more acquainted with this task.The short list of removal and reinstallation tools include a six-point 7/8-inch deep socket; a ratchet wrench and extensions that fit the socket; either a ¾-inch or 7/8-inch open-ended wrench to remove and reinstall the spark plug high-tension leads; a torque wrench to insure...Read more
I came to own piper(Papa), a 1960 PA-24 in a roundabout way. I had been screening ads in Trade-A-Plane and on the Internet for another airplane. I had studied Mooney, Beech and Cessna options but the airplanes that fit my needs were either quirky in some way or beyond my means.
I had previously owned a 1947 Piper PA 12. (Editor’s Note: For the story of Steve’s PA-12 see “My First Airplane, What Mike Taught Me About Flying”) June 2011, Piper...Read more
The object of an annual inspection is to determine that the aircraft is in condition for safe operation and complies with the type certificate. Here are some practical suggestions from an A&P/IA. I am often asked by aircraft owners, “What can I do to reduce the cost of an annual inspection?” and I will offer some suggestions and observations in this article. The key lies in preparation for the annual.
Owner Maintenance Owners performing maintenance should coordinate their efforts with their...Read more
In the early 1930s businessman William T. Piper became involved with the Taylor Aircraft Company. C.G. Taylor designed a light aircraft with steel framework, tubular struts, rubber shock cord landing gear and wood wings with spruce spars.
The first production Cub, called the E-2, was soon flying with the A-40 Continental engine of nearly 40 horsepower. With a gross weight of 925 pounds, it took off in a few hundred feet and flew at nearly 75 miles per hour. The flyaway...Read more
When I took my friend Jim Corley as a partner in my light twin, we already knew that we’d be spending the first few flights doing a comprehensive checkout—that is, after we got some of the other preliminaries out of the way first.
Jim and I had come to terms over a pleasant dinner with the wives, during which I scribbled some notes on a napkin and the next day drew up a five-page agreement that spelled out clearly the...Read more
September 2004 -
Only big airplanes with jet engines have to worry about replacing things on a calendar or time in service basis. None of that applies to my airplane, or does it?
We all know that transport airplanes have to change landing gear, and starters, and engine components and many other components on a time table that is based on time the component has been in service, not the condition of the component.
The selection of what is on these time life...Read more
October 2004 -
It's 7:30 a.m. and, for the second time this week, I am out at the field on my way to the office. Cabin clean: check. Oil level: check. Windshield clean: check. No, it's not my preflight checklist I'm reading through. Stepping back, I take one last look at N56041, my 1973 Cherokee 140, and, leave her behind for another day of flying without me.Believe it or not, the little Cherokee gets the best end of this deal. While...Read more
October 2004 -
When I bought 1176X four years ago, I really did not plan to restore or modify the aircraft in any way, but as I got into the project, I discovered that there are more than 50 Supplemental Type Certificated products or modification for the PA-34-200T.These STCs can be for things as simple as a better sun visor to as complicated as a vortex generator set that actually changes the way the aircraft flies. After careful consideration, I selected...Read more
October 2004 -
If you tell someone you fly a Piper PA-28, you should be a little more specific. There is a choice of 12 separate types with a dozen different names and at least 30 variations on those themes. And they have straight wings or tapered wings and T-tails and flying tails. They range from 113-knot two-seaters to 175-kt cross-country speedsters.
PA-28s comprise the largest number of aircraft Piper has produced over the last 40 years. It all started innocently in...Read more
November 2004 -
Have you ever wondered why we refer to some airplanes by name while sticking to the numbers for others? For one thing, it's sometimes simpler. I mean, it's a lot easier to say "G-III" than "Grumman Gulfstream G-1159A," and "Turbo Arrow" instead of "PA-28RT-201," isn't it?
The real reason we call some models by their name or nickname is that when it's a good name, it fits. For instance, can you imagine a P-51 being referred to as the...Read more
November 2004 -
Seventy percent of runway incursions happen to General Aviation pilots. Getting lost at an airport when you are trying to taxi is not limited to GA aircraft, it is just that there are so many of us and we usually operate without the help of a copilot.
With over 650,000 pilots and 240,000 aircraft in this country it is amazing that we don't have more runway incursion accidents and incidents. In other words, most of us are doing a...Read more
September 2004 -
Here's an airplane that has been literally turning heads for more than 40 years, and for good reason. When Piper launched the first PA-30 Twin Comanche in 1963, it was immediately obvious that this new airplane could do all the things that it was supposed to: it provided speed, efficiency and economy. In short order it was also discovered that this light twin was delivering a few more things that it wasn't supposed to, but we'll get to...Read more
How high can you fly? That's a question that's bothered me for quite a while now. The San Francisco sectional I use regularly has some green in the middle, where the California central valley is—but there's brown on the chart, both for the coast range mountains to the west (elevation around 3000-4000') and a lot more brown to the east, where the Sierras rise to elevations of 10,000-14,000'.
Going north or south you'll run into mountains as well, so if...Read more
Flying is based on seeing. You use your eyesight to gather and use your knowledge. Even though Luke Skywalker could close his eyes, use The Force and fly a successful combat mission, you're going to need your ability to see if you want to land your airplane. Humans are visual creatures.
In a logical world, IFR flight would be based on sound, not sight. It isn't. You learn now to visually interpret instruments and cathode ray tubes on your airplane's...Read more
Fifteen years ago I was in Germany on a business trip. My client took me to a small town outside of Bonn named Bad Munster Eiffel. This tiny Bavarian hamlet had a wall around it and at the main gate, a cornerstone was marked 1050 A.D. It occurred to me that that this town had been there long before the trees that built the Mayflower had even been planted.
I further contemplated the fact that the history of the United...Read more
Nestled into the soft rolling hills of Upstate New York about halfway between Albany and Binghamton lies the small town of Cooperstown. Settled in the late 18th century, Cooperstown was strategically located at the southern tip of Lake Otsego at the headwaters of the Susquehanna River, then a major thoroughfare of commerce.
This picture postcard town features a beautiful tree-lined main street, the Farmer's Museum, the oldest outdoor living history museum showcasing rural life in the 19th century, and the...Read more
October 2004 -
For many people, a weekend visit to a bed-and-breakfast inn provides a wonderful opportunity to decompress from everyday life. And for pilots, an opportunity to combine the B&B experience with a scenic cross-country trip is just about perfect.
On the northern California coast, you'll find one such combination: The Samoa Airport Bed & Breakfast, located at the south end of Eureka Municipal Airport (O33), about 100 miles south of the Oregon-California border.
There are natural limits on how well flight schools can operate.
On the civilian side of the equation, flight schools are limited in what they can teach their students by cost and time. On the military side, the only real restriction on the quality of what they can teach their flying students is time. Money isn't that big an object, but they can't spend five years teaching a new pilot who has a 10-year service commitment. As it is, almost...Read more
Without a doubt, they're the hardest-working, most under-appreciated part of your airplane. Of course, I'm talking about your propeller.
Most of us just think of a propeller as a chunk of aluminum spinning around on the front of our airplane. How wrong we are. Your propeller is one of the most highly stressed components on your airplane. During normal operation, it has to withstand 10 to 20 tons of centrifugal force that is trying to pull the blades right off...Read more
With my new partner Jim Corley walking beside me, we finally headed across the ramp and toward the airplane to do some actual flying ("Partnership, Part One & Two;" August and September issues).
We had already spent several hours together in preparation for this partnership to, quite literally, finally get itself off the ground. That culminating moment was now at hand. Almost.
We had previously created and executed our five-page partnership document and dealt with the ancillary paperwork such as insurance...Read more
About one year ago, Sporty's Pilot Shop (www.sportys.com) announced an updated version of an audio tape program they had originally put out nearly 25 years earlier.
The press release from Sporty's said that "Chicago O'Hare IFR," which had been used by thousands of pilots to learn IFR communications, had been updated and re-mastered to an audio CD, putting the listener in the left seat of Sporty's Aztec for a round trip flight from their home base in Batavia, Ohio (near Cincinnati)...Read more
No doubt you have read a multitude of editorial on the subject of the Go/No Go decision. In reality, it should probably be called the Go On/Not Go On decision, since Go/No Go implies that the decision is made on the ground prior to departure. But in the real world, that is not always the case.
In fact, accident investigators talk about the decision chain, the series of events followed by a pilot's decisions based on those events that eventually...Read more
After years of work, the FAA has finally issued a new rating category, targeted at lowering the cost of flying. Called the Sport Pilot Certificate, this new rating is specifically designed to work with a new class called Light Sport Aircraft.
The Sport Pilot rating addresses the weakness found in the Recreational Pilot Certificate, which is so limited that it is virtually useless.
When I make my semi-annual pilgrimage to my dentist's office, I always notice the small sign on the wall that says "If you ignore your teeth, your problems will eventually go away."
Lots of piloting and aircraft ownership details are just the same—it's sort of a pay-me-now or pay-me-later scenario with so much of what we do with and around our airplanes. For that reason, I've always got my antenna up for better ways of doing what needs to eventually...Read more
Well here comes summer once again. If you are based east of the Mississippi, that means high temperatures and low flight visibilities, thunderstorms and high density altitudes. Here in sunny South Florida flight vis doesn't get too bad, but temperatures on the runway can exceed 140 degrees F.
The effects on aircraft performance in high temperature situations are the result of density altitude. Some aircraft are actually prohibited from operating in these high temperatures. Some of those limitations are based...Read more
I was 17 years old and having the time of my life. I had been a line boy in Lakeland since I was 15 and was cashing in on the experience by being allowed to go to Wichita and pick up a new airplane. The instructors working at our FBO were too busy instructing, so it fell to us line boy/pilots to do the free ferrying work.
The Cessna 150, N1515Q, was white with a light blue trim and had...Read more
By now most people are familiar with the term FADEC (Full-Authority Digital Engine Control). Mountain High Equipment & Supply has modified that acronym with their proprietary FADOC™, or the EDS-D1a Full-Authority Digital Oxygen Control.
FADOC is a simple concept, but one which had never been tried until Mountain High founder Patrick McLaughlin began concentrating on the problem. "It's really been a progression of designs," the Redmond, OR inventor explained.
A couple of weeks ago, I got tapped for jury duty.
Most people try to get excused, but I actually relish the opportunity to aid in the judicial process and pay my societal dues (plus possibly pick up a subject for a column). However, my enthusiasm waned when I got to the courthouse and began the interminable judicial waiting process.
By the time we were into our third hour, I was reduced to reading carb counts on discarded vending machine packages...Read more
The saga of the Insight Instrument Corporation began in the winter of 1980. Engineer John Youngquist was flying a Bonanza on a night flight when the airplane's engine began to run rough. It misfired and stumbled a few times while the existing panel instruments showed absolutely nothing out of sorts under the cowling.
With nothing factual to go on, Youngquist took a pure guess as to the length and breadth of his developing engine problems, then came up with a...Read more
I finally got myself IFR current again, almost six months after my last hood work. That has a tendency to happen around here in the summer, as there's little (or no) actual IFR to fly in, and there's rarely any reason to fly in Class B airspace or on the coast, where there might be fog.
As usual, I spent several hours practicing in Microsoft Flight Simulator first, getting used to doing an IFR scan and reading approach plates. Once...Read more
In August, Hurricane Charley blew through Florida and into the Carolinas. That fast-moving Category Four storm cut a compact swatch of destruction across the state, effectively bringing aviation operations to a halt for a few days, and much longer at affected airports.
Just when we got a handle on that recovery effort, and the TFRs had disappeared, Hurricane Frances entered our reality. On Monday, August 30, everyone began to take him seriously. Tuesday happened to be my kid's birthday and...Read more
The bugs near Anderson, Ind. are what I remember the most, along with more actual IFR (two solid hours) in one week than I've had in the entire year since... but I'll get to that.
Last month, I wrote about my experience last year flying from my home base in Modesto, Calif., to Waupaca, Wis.—an uncontrolled airport near Oshkosh. It was my second trip east for an EAA AirVenture.
The trip out was mostly uneventful (other than an unscheduled stop in...Read more
Of the many variants of the basic PA-28 Cherokee airframe produced over the last 40 years, one stands out as a unique success: The PA-28R Arrow is today (and has been since the mid-1970s) the nearest thing to a standard complex single-engine airplane that we’re likely to see. Pilots moving up from fixed-leg trainers to their first retractables frequently get their training in an Arrow (unless they already own something else).
There are good reasons for this longevity: Among...Read more
IN A TOUGH ECONOMY, AIRSHOWS ARE STILL RIDING A WAVE OF POPULARITY.
There are now more than 325 airshows held each year across North America drawing millions of spectators. This year, airshow promoters expect attendance numbers of 10 to 12 million which illustrates that even in a recession, airshow attendance is strong. Why? Airshows are one of the best entertainment values around.
Consider a trip to Disneyland. Tickets for a family of two adults and two children to step through the gates...Read more
You can’t get there from here? Yes you can… if you fly your own airplane!
I’ve been a fan of flying since I was a little kid—and I’m going to be 60 in February. I grew up in Bensenville, Ill. just a mile away from O’Hare (KORD) and I would ride my bike down to Runway 14R all the time to watch the DC-3s, Electras and DC-6s.
I started training for my private pilot certificate in 1980, and flew about...Read more
While 31,258 of my closest friends and I were in Las Vegas during mid-October at the National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA) Convention, we got a glimpse of the future. Each year, a sort of theme emerges from the convention. Last year it was entertainment centers; the year before it was the VLJ (very light jet) and RVSM solutions.
2004 will go down as the Year of The Supersonic Business Jet.
The National Park Service (NPS) is raising awareness of soundscapes, the sounds of nature that provide the backdrop for those beautiful panoramas and the solitude enjoyed by thousands every day.
Pilots are familiar with the ongoing controversy surrounding National Park overflights, most notably, in the Grand Canyon area. The chief complaint fueling the overflight debate is soundscape disturbance. Most legislation, both in place and proposed, primarily affects commercial tour operations. However, General Aviation pilots are requested to make some small...Read more
For as long as I can recall, I’ve been quite fond of using the adage that “it is much better to be down here wishing you were up there than up there wishing you were down here.”
The first time I used that phrase under combat conditions was from an airline cockpit many years ago. I had pulled our jet into the runup block adjacent to the departure runway at Pittsburgh while I studied the weather radar in the instrument...Read more
People involved in aviation are a friendly lot. At least we think we are. All you have to do is go to a pancake breakfast at a fly-in or sit around at Oshkosh to “feel the love.”
Over the decades that I’ve been in the flying business, both General Aviation and the airline world, I’ve noticed what an elitist, closed society we really have. I have been noticing this for some time but only recently have I become embarrassed by...Read more
“What’s that on the windshield?” asked Kate, my copilot and wife. I looked up from the instruments I had been concentrating on—trying to understand why the engine sounds had suddenly changed—and at first couldn’t understand her question. There didn’t seem to be anything on the windshield.
Then I realized I couldn’t see anything through it—not even the cowling. A quick glance out my side window confirmed my suspicion: ice.
Now the big decision: Try to climb, or turn around (descending...Read more
“Hey pilots, we have something really swell for you! It’s a new technology called ADS-B that we can all have installed in our airplanes and update the aging air traffic control system.”“That sounds like you expect me to pay for the upgrade to your ATC?”“It’s an opportunity!”“An opportunity to pay a scrillion dollars to have new systems installed in my aircraft!”“Oh, pas de tout, my little flying friend. You can have ADS-B in your aircraft today for just a few...Read more
Traveling on Interstate 10 to Casa Grande on my way to the 40th anniversary of the Copperstate Fly-in, I can’t help but wonder what it must have been like 40 years ago. What was the price of Avgas? The average cost of a Piper? VFR and IFR rules over the vast span of desert? Who came to the show?
I don’t know the answers, but one thing I believe must have remained constant at this fly-in over the years is the...Read more
I remember the year 1967 as one of conflict and contradiction. At once both troubled and optimistic. Every night the news broadcast images of the Vietnam War, where young men were fighting and dying. John McCain was a naval aviator and in October 1967 he was shot down over Hanoi and remained a prisoner of war for five and a half years.
There were scenes as well of the young men and women back home who were protesting the war. One...Read more
AOPA Aviation Summit 2012 in wonderful Palm Springs, Calif. crept up on us like Santa slithering down the chimney. Jen and I packed up the truck with booth supplies, did a “cat check,” set the alarm system, locked the front door, and pulled out of the drive. Off we go!
AOPA is a first-class, not-to-be-missed show attended by aviators looking to purchase and negotiate. The lodge-like atmosphere of the convention center just adds to the ambiance.
The day before the show, Jen...Read more
Piloting Aspects inside the novel “Captain,” Part Three
Here is the promised ending chapter to our ongoing discussion of the piloting aspects lurking inside my latest aviation-themed novel “Captain,” which is available from the usual book sources in all e-book formats and also a print edition.
Again, I wish to remind Piper Flyer readers that there is no requirement to have read the novel to follow what is being discussed here and, for those who might get “Captain” sometime in the future,...Read more
I thought about adding a full-featured engine monitor to my panel for a long time, but I didn’t make the decision to commit until Insight Instrument Corp.’s G Series graphic engine monitors grabbed my attention at EAA AirVenture 2012.
This monitor series uses a color LCD coupled with a microprocessor to provide a wide range of engine monitor information and diagnostics.
The cost of an engine monitor was part of my reason for waiting all this time—as was my wish for improved...Read more
Q: Dear Steve,
I received an email today and I am suspicious about opening it. The subject matter refers to the airplane I own, but this does not look like the Service Bulletins I am used to seeing.
Below is the link I have been directed to and it concerns a required inspection of the aft wing attachment fitting for my PA-32-300: https://system.netsuite.com/core/media/media.nl?id=15732&c=649290&h=e46decc92ad77fd4190d&_xt=.pdf
I would appreciate hearing from you if you know anything about this, and if this link is genuine.
Thank you very...Read more
When Continental Motors became part of Teledyne in 1971, engineers had already been at work for several years on the first all-new General Aviation engine to be developed in decades, the Tiara.
The powerplant had relatively small displacement but a good horsepower-to-cubic-inches ratio because it developed its power at high rpms.
The engine’s unique feature was Hydra-Torque drive, a patented system that could be hydraulically locked so the camshaft drove the propeller directly, providing a 0.5 speed reduction. Its singular advantage,...Read more
Wishes for Your Flying Year
The fact is that the future is unknowable.
Despite ancient tradition of spiritual endeavor, or the most modern advances in particle physics, none of us has yet perfected a process that will let us see into tomorrow. As pilots, no matter whether we are practitioners of a religious faith or not we are all adherents of the physics of flight and its immutable laws of motion.
December, however, is a month of what could be called miracles...Read more
If you’re a pilot who says you’ve never even dreamed of flying a jet fighter… maybe your nose is growing?
The end of the Cold War in the 1990s brought a sigh of relief to much of the world. The end of the arms race between the Soviet Union and United States delivered a welcome downsizing of many military assets. For pilots, that meant the first time in history that a selection of jet warbirds were available for civilian use.
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
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
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
If you have a midair collision it isn’t going to happen like it does in the movies. It won’t be a head-on, high-speed thing like those dogfight passes in “Top Gun.” It won’t be a Beechcraft Baron hovering in your windshield just before you smack into it, again head-on like in that old “Airport” movie.
According to a recent study by the AOPA Safety Foundation, chances are you’ll overtake or be overtaken in a midair collision—not smacked in the face...Read more
For as long as I can recall, I’ve been quite fond of using the adage that “it is much better to be down here wishing you were up there than up there wishing you were down here.”
The first time I used that phrase under combat conditions was from an airline cockpit many years ago. I had pulled our jet into the runup block adjacent to the departure runway at Pittsburgh while I studied the weather radar in the...Read more
This portion of the article about the application process for Supplemental Type Certificates was generated by listening to aircraft owners, A&Ps and A&P/IAs across the United States complaining about Flight Standards District Offices (FSDO) no longer approving Field Approvals Form 337 for aircraft.
I don’t know what brought about the modification to FAA Order 8300.10, Volume 2, Chapter 1, Change 15, which listed unacceptable alterations, but after hearing complaints, the FAA was prompted to create Change 16 stating what can...Read more
NO, you should NEVER jump start an airplane that was certified with a battery as original equipment, unless that aircraft was certified with a dead battery and I’m not aware of any that have been.
Batteries are your power supply if and when you experience a failure with the electrical generating system.
FAR 23.1353(h) requires a battery backup for 30 minutes, but that regulation didn’t come out until 1987 and doesn’t apply to aircraft that were certified earlier.
The CAA and JAA require...Read more
The Piper name is perhaps the most famous in all of aviation, but the fact that William T. Piper was even in the airplane business was a fluke. When the Taylor Brothers Aircraft Co. was raising local money to relocate their operation to Bradford, Penn., Piper’s partner in an oil company committed $400 of Piper’s money while he was out of town. Piper was named to the board of directors, and appointed treasurer.
Less than a year later the Taylors...Read more
Dr. Gary Schorr is a great aviation success story. I met the doctor several years back when he and I got involved with a fractional ownership of a King Air. Part of the deal was that I would teach Gary to fly.
Schorr turned out to be a great student and earned his private license flying a variety of late model aircraft that were available from the local flight school.
He passed his checkride and the aviation bug bit him hard....Read more
I have seen the future. I have seen the future and it was installed in a 1976 Cherokee Six. As I sat in the cockpit of N4300F, it dawned on me that what I was looking at was the future of General Aviation.
Airframe and powerplant advances in General Aviation aircraft are virtually impossible to find. With few exceptions like the Cirrus, we are flying the same designs behind the same power plants that were designed in the 1950s. But...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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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