August 2014- It is most definitely not about speed: the 65 hp J-3 Cub is so slow it can barely get out of its own way. From the pilot's seat you can watch the landscape sliding by—or, if you are flying into wind, you can simply watch the landscape. I'm not kidding. There's a story of one intrepid pilot who wheeled a Cub out during a gale, took off, drifted backward across the field... and then landed downwind of his starting position.
Nor is it about going anywhere—the J-3 has neither... Read more
July 2014- Flight simulators have been around in one form or another for the better part of aviation's history. The earliest units were typically built from plywood. They sported vacuum tubes, were mostly pneumatic driven, and had rudimentary gauges and functionality. The cockpits were cramped and the capabilities were limited, but these first-generation simulators still served an important purpose in both civilian and military training.Today's entry-level Advanced Aviation Training Device (AATD) systems have capabilities far beyond these early units. Systems now include ergonomic cockpit environments and sport technically-advanced avionics. Their... Read more
July 2014- I have heard it said many times by many boat owners that the two greatest moments of boat ownership are when you purchase your boat, and when you sell it. I understand the message completely although I've never felt that way about any of the seven airplanes that I've owned over the decades. I've enjoyed every moment of airplane ownership.
Regrettably, I wasn't born a millionaire, so I've found great joy in restoring older airplanes—and my current Seneca restoration project has been a great example of what can be... Read more
June 2014- General Aviation is a homegrown American industry that is responsible for 1.2 million jobs and pumps more than $150 billion into our nation's economy. But it's also an industry that could do much more to create jobs, boost our economy and contribute to our national transportation system.
General Aviation is being held back by an antiquated regulatory system that is painfully unresponsive and out of touch. Outdated FAA regulations have contributed to a dramatic reduction in the number of aviators and a corresponding increase in the cost of flying.
The... Read more
June 2014- In our endless quest to find exciting places to point our airplanes, there are two undeniable factors that almost always dictate if any new destination is going to end up at the far end of a flight plan. And you'll be surprised to find out they have nothing to do with hundred-dollar hamburgers.
Frankly, the Holy Grail for every cross-country pilot is that elusive destination where a few hours—or a few days—spent there will remind us why we earned our ticket in the first place. These destinations will have... Read more
June 2014- First off, let's get one Old Aviators Tale ("OAT") out of the way right now. It's safe to install retreaded aircraft tires on retractable gear airplanes.For decades a rumor has circulated that retreaded tires should never be installed on a retractable gear airplane because the retreads came out bigger or would grow during use and would somehow jam in the wheelwells after being retracted. This falsehood caused many an owner to shy away from considering retreaded tires.The rumor may have had some basis in fact years ago, but... Read more
June 2014- Historians will tell us that a recession began at a particular time and ended on another. Economists will give us the reasons behind the recession: inflationary pressures, tight credit, and so on.
Those of us who have lived through recessions know that each industry, each company and each individual experiences the event differently and at different times.
The postwar recession is said to have begun on November 1948 and ended on October 1949 and was driven by many factors, including the increasing availability of goods (which exerted increasing downward pressure... Read more
April 2014- Propellers take a beating. During operations that range from the instant takeoff power is cranked on to power-off stalls and descents, blades continually flex due to changes in aerodynamic loading. Props endure years of light damage due to rock, ice and rain impacts.
In spite of being within degrees of separation from the top spot on the most highly stressed parts on an airplane, props are so dependable it’s probably no stretch to say that the average GA owner pays as much attention to his prop as he does... Read more
April 2014- Flying over Kansas can seem like a never-ending view of wheat fields from horizon to horizon. That is a good situation if you are looking for an emergency landing place… but many of you may wonder what is down there.
The city of Hutchinson is just 30 miles northwest of Wichita on the northeast side of the Arkansas River. Hutchinson Municipal (KHUT) has a great FBO—Wells Aircraft—and in the middle of this city of 42,000 is Cosmosphere, one of the best space museums in the entire United States.
Taxing... Read more
April 2014- It seems the articles I’m reading in aviation periodicals these days are all harbingers of doom: armed guards when we land; UAVs crowding us out of the skies; rising taxes, fuel costs and user fees; airports closing. Holy cow, where’d the fun go? Here’s a story about why my wife and I fly, and why it’s still fun out there.
The morning after Thanksgiving—Black Friday—while everyone else was standing in line for a cut-rate television or other coveted items, my wife, my 78-year-old mother-in-law and I were packing my... Read more
March 2014- When I looked up at the all-glass attitude indicator, for a moment I wasn’t quite sure what I was staring at. Instead of a nice horizon line separating a blue sky and brown terrain, the PFD instrument was showing almost all brown.
A few seconds ago the airspeed indicator on this highly modified L-39 Albatros was nudging 300 knots, but now the numbers were winding up on the digital display, indicating we are likely heading downhill to terra firma. Finally, I realized I was inverted and pitched almost straight... Read more
March 2014- Short of sitting in the front row of a Metallica concert for a few hours, there are few things that compare with the hearing damage a piston engine-powered airplane can cause.
In fact, until recently, you could spot a longtime pilot at a social gathering by homing in on the person who said “Huh?” a lot in spite of the fact he or she was under age 60. Throw in a sun-damaged face plus a Breitling Navitimer wristwatch (real or fake), and there would be no doubt you were... Read more
March 2014- For those of us that are Piper Flyer Association (PFA) members, we get it. For the cost of several gallons of Avgas each year, we’re members of this great organization. The value proposition is obvious; we get more out of the organization than it costs.
For those pilots and Piper owners who aren’t members, the value isn’t so obvious. After all, PFA is not EAA, nor is it anything like AOPA. Rather, PFA is a type club. Collectively, we are members that have Piper airplanes.
That alone—being a Piper pilot... Read more
March 2014- Alaska is called The Last Frontier for good reason. The state has over 500,000 acres of uninhabited land (about 94 percent of its total acreage). It’s home to about 30,000 brown bears (grizzlies included), as many as 100,000 black bears and a far smaller number of (estimates say under 5,000) polar bears. Caribou and the largest subspecies of moose (Alces alces gigas) roam across the state. And it’s mountainous. Seventeen of the tallest peaks in the United States are located there.
Then there’s the weather: strong, variable winds and... Read more
February 2014- Shell Oil issued the following press release on Dec. 1, 2013:
SHELL REMOVES LEAD FROM LIGHT AIRCRAFT FUEL
Shell today became the first major oil company to develop a lead-free replacement for Aviation Gasoline (Avgas 100 and 100LL), which will now begin a strict regulatory approvals process. Avgas is one of the last common transportation fuels to contain lead and is used by light aircraft and helicopters. Shell’s new lead-free formulation comes after 10 years of exhaustive R&D, as well as successful initial testing, carried out in the last... Read more
Since its introduction in 1956, Cessna’s 172 had been dominating the single-engine market, both for personal use and flight training. The folks at Piper thought a version of its popular Cherokee line—with a higher useful load and minimum-four-place design—might give Cessna a run for its money.
Using the longer fuselage of the Archer, Piper added a large all-moving horizontal tail and a new semi-tapered wing, subsequently nicknamed the “Warrior wing.” According to Piper’s official historian Roger Peperell, “the wing was not constant chord planform as used on the existing Cherokees, but... Read more
I recalled from my days as a tech rep that the most common failure of a light airplane fuel bladder is age-related deterioration of the top surface due to long-term exposure to heat. So my first thought was to dig back into the airplane records to find out if the airplane’s right bladder had ever been changed.
Then I remembered—I’d bought my Piper Comanche, Papa, at below market value because the maintenance records only covered the preceding three years.
Being an experienced A&P mechanic, I figured I would be... Read more
Over the years I have relished the challenge of the efficiencies of packing. Early in my life, I owned a Corvair, notably short of space when packing for a 10-day vacation involving some camping along with some hoteling. When I was finished, the car held everything—but no more toothbrushes, please.
Several years later I was again challenged when packing for a week’s vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina—and it all had to fit in a C-172 along with two adults and three young children. Again, it was a success... Read more
Ever since the dawn of the Computer Age, two engineering factions have regularly engaged in trench warfare. One group believes that hardware-centric devices are inherently more stable solutions for an engineering problem, while the other group—the software-centric crowd— believes that its approach offers greater flexibility for less money.
Garmin, arguably the best-known purveyor of aviation GPS devices, thinks that in the case of passive ADS-B devices, both approaches should be offered to the marketplace to allow the customer to choose which is best.
Enter the GDL 39 Portable ADS-B Datalink—and its handmaidens,... Read more
All pilots should visit the place where it all started.
I’ve been a pilot almost all of my adult life. I love machines that fly, the people who fly them fascinate me, and I am sort of an armchair historian of aviation. I’ve been to every major airshow on the planet, and visited most every significant aviation museum that is open to the public. But in all this time, I had never managed to get to the Wright Brothers memorial at Kill Devil Hills, N.C.
I’ve flown over it a hundred... Read more
If you’ve never thought that your propeller will need an overhaul, think again.
Without a doubt they’re the hardest working, most underappreciated part of your airplane. I’m of course talking about your propeller.
Most of us just think of a propeller as a chunk of metal 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, which is trying to pull the... Read more
July 2013 -
April 21, 2013 1340Z
"Columbus Clearance, Shane 1. Through the Warren County RCO requesting VFR Flight Following to South Bend Regional at six thousand, five hundred."
"Shane 1, Columbus Approach. Good morning, squawk 6666; maintain VFR and contact Columbus Approach on 118.55 when airborne."
"Columbus Approach, Shane 1. Squawk 6666; contact Columbus on 118.55. We'll be airborne shortly."
On a see-forever Sunday morning in late April, I'm sitting in a twin engine airplane at I68, Lebanon-Warren County airport, 20 miles north of Cincinnati. In the back is Chuck DiGiovanna. He was supposed... Read more
STC packages for your Cherokee
If the engine on your PA-28-140 or PA-28-151 is getting tired and it’s time to do something about it, you have a few options to consider. You can get a factory rebuilt engine from Lycoming, an overhaul from an engine shop or install a brand-new engine. You can also take your engine to RAM Aircraft to have one of its engine STCs installed.
RAM Aircraft, based in Waco, Tex. was founded in 1976 and has spent the intervening years honing the craft of overhauling and improving... Read more
Several months ago (“Heading Bug,” June 2012) columnist David Hipschman weighed in with his ideas about what to carry in your Piper for emergencies, and he shared what he carries:
“Here’s what is currently in my ditch case. But I need to point out that it changes often as I come across things I like, or contemplate flights that differ in their potential for survival challenges:
A comprehensive first aid kit (unless you have a medical background, get a kit with good instructions in case what might happen exceeds your knowledge)... Read more