Piper Flyer Association - Technical Know-how, Serious Fun read more

Pre-purchase Particulars: What you should know

By Kristin Winter

 

A&P/IA Kristin Winter explains where to look for a competent pre-purchase inspector, why a pre-buy is different than an annual inspection, and how to get peace of mind with a used aircraft purchase. 

you ever seen a forlorn and lonely airplane sitting on the ramp with flat tires and moss growing on the wings and wondered what happens to these planes? 

Some are doubtless scrapped but many are cleaned up and sold to overexuberant first-time buyers. Often for too much money. 

For some reason, many hopeful new owners often seem to think they know how to judge a good plane. Usually it is the avionics that seduces them. Throw an older GPS Nav/Com and a used PFD in the panel of a maintenance nightmare and watch it fly away. 

Buying for the gizmos in the panel or the pretty paint job is a little like playing Russian Roulette with your wallet. 

I only learn about the sad stories after the fact when a deflated new owner seeks some help. If only they had called me before they bought.

A few fundamental truths

There are some fundamental truths to the process of buying an aircraft that can help avoid walleticide. 

The first thing to know is that if you have never bought a plane or been involved in the care and feeding of one, you may well not know what you don’t know. The more complex and the more unique or rare the aircraft, the more there is not to know.

The second thing to know is that an annual inspection is not a guarantee of airworthiness, even at the time of its completion. 

Apart from the fact that things break on the first flight, the quality of annual inspection is controlled by the diligence of the inspector (“IA”), the willingness of the owner to spend money on the maintenance, and the knowledge of the IA about that particular type. 

A cheap owner will only authorize the minimum required repairs but then may whine enough about the cost that it affects the IA’s judgment. Cheap-Charlie owners also are experts at finding the least expensive IAs, often meaning the ones with the lowest standards. 

Annual inspections completed with the anticipation of selling the plane are also notoriously sketchy.

The differences between annual and pre-purchase inspections

The biggest mistake that most new buyers make—and even some experienced buyers—is to believe that any A&P can do a pre-purchase inspection competently. In truth, few can. It is not a skill that is taught, and there is no FAA standard. 

Most mechanics do not have any experience as an owner/pilot, so they don’t understand what the buyer needs to know. 

Instead, they often try to sell the hopeful new owner on an annual inspection, as they know how to do that. They will tell you that the annual is more thorough—which in a way is true, but misses the point. 

The annual inspection is for a different purpose. The annual inspection is to determine if the aircraft is minimally airworthy. Most buyers do not want to buy an aircraft that is just minimally airworthy, especially when the annual inspection does not check the avionics or test the aircraft in flight. 

A good pre-purchase inspection looks at the known issues for the type of aircraft and can give the buyer an assessment of what needs immediate attention and what is likely to need attention in the first year or two of ownership. 

It is that kind of economic information that is needed for the prospective owner to determine if the airplane is a good buy.

Finding a competent pre-purchase inspector

The need for a pre-purchase inspection increases with the complexity and expense of the aircraft. If the aircraft is somewhat rare as well as complex, the importance of a competent pre-purchase inspection increases dramatically. 

Comanches, Aztecs, and most other long-out-of-production twin engine aircraft and high performance singles require a professional who is well versed in the particular type. 

Ideally the person would have both substantial maintenance experience and flight experience in the type. Type clubs can often be a good resource to find someone qualified to take a prospective buyer through the process.

Because there is no industry standard as to what a pre-purchase inspection should consist of, the scope and detail is open to negotiation, but the buyer should have a good understanding of what will be accomplished and what will not be done. 

As each aircraft is different, the scope of inspection is likely to change from one to another. For example, an aircraft which has recently had a factory remanufactured engine installed and was then flown regularly will need less attention to the engine than one that has mid-time engine with a spotty usage history.

Logbook inspection

An excellent starting point is a logbook review. Any serious seller of an aircraft should have photographed the logbooks, the 337s, the AD compliance sheet, the weight and balance, and any documentation supporting the last engine overhaul such as work orders, 8130-3 forms, yellow tags, etc.

The logbook photos should be the entire airframe, engine (back to, and including the last overhaul), and the propeller (back to, and including the last overhaul). 

It takes 15 to 20 minutes to photograph 50 years’ worth of records if the seller just snaps a photo of two open pages together, turns the page, snaps the next two, etc. As long as they are done is a sequential order, they are easy to read. I normally convert the photos to PDF files, which takes only a few minutes.

The written report of the logbook review should tell the buyer where the plane has lived, what type of flying it has likely been doing, the usage pattern, recorded damage history, status of repetitive ADs and significant Service Bulletins, modifications, and the status of parts with a practical life limit. 

The review serves several purposes. One is to weed out aircraft which pose an unacceptable financial risk for the price being asked. The most common example of that is a little-used aircraft with a poorly documented engine overhaul, yet is reasonably low-time—and priced accordingly. 

The logbook review also helps establish the parameters for what needs the most attention on a physical inspection. The goal in the physical inspection is to confirm the story the logbooks are telling and to look at the known problem areas and components that might need expensive repairs. 

While doing an annual inspection, A&Ps look at all the little pulleys, electrical wiring details, etc.; these things rarely implicate expensive repairs. 

It makes little sense to pay your pre-buy professional $50 to find a pulley that needs a squirt of lubricant or to replace a 20-cent nut. The focus needs to be on the condition of the expensive systems such as engine, retractable landing gear, leaking fuel bladders, avionics, autopilots, etc. The logs should be the guide as to what items are more likely to need maintenance in the near term.

Lastly, the logbook review, along with the physical inspection, should give the new owner a blueprint for what work needs to be done immediately (and possibly negotiated in the transaction), as well as an understanding of what areas to focus on in the first year or two of operation.

A logbook review can run anywhere from four hours on up, depending on volume and complexity. Obviously, a 15-year-old Archer will take much less time for both logbook review and physical inspection than will a 1984 pressurized Mojave. Most run around five to six hours for the log review and four to eight hours for the physical inspection, depending on whether a flight test is involved. 

Physical inspection

As avionics are a large portion of the value of many used aircraft, a test flight and assessment of the condition and functionality of the avionics can be an important part of the physical inspection.

The physical inspection can consist of a flight test to include function-checking the avionics, a thorough inspection of the engine and an inspection of the troublesome areas in the airframe. 

For a retractable gear aircraft, jacking the aircraft and cycling the landing gear and inspecting all the linkages is a necessity. Retractable landing gear is often one of the most overlooked systems on an aircraft. 

Control surfaces, trim systems, stabilator components and fuel systems are also areas for close attention.

The engine, being one of the most expensive components of the aircraft, generally merits considerable attention (save for those examples of aircraft with a new engine from an unimpeachable source). A compression check, cutting the filter open and borescoping the cylinders are all common techniques to assess the condition of the engine. 

One thing that is difficult to check is internal corrosion. On Lycoming engines, the only way is to pull a cylinder or two and check. There are some easier options with the Continentals, which are less prone to cam and cam follower corrosion. The usage history and the aircraft’s location are key components in determining whether there is a significant risk of corrosion.

Hidden damage, unexpected expenses

There is an understandable temptation—particularly when on a budget—to skip the pre-purchase inspection process and rely on the last annual inspection. In rare cases where the aircraft is simple and the buyer knows the seller and the history of the aircraft, skipping this expense can be warranted. 

I have seen many instances where the aircraft was owned by an A&P, yet was still in terrible condition.

It is more common than it should be that a new owner is faced with a first annual inspection and repairs that equal 50 percent of the amount paid for the aircraft. A landing gear system that needs to be rebuilt can cost several thousand dollars, or more. 

Unairworthy skin patches can take many hours of labor to correct (see photo 01, page 22).

Photo # 1

Unapproved and undocumented repairs of control surfaces are also common. (See photo 02, page 24.)

Photo # 2

Hidden damage that is common to the type, but often missed on annual inspections—let alone a pre-purchase inspection by a mechanic who does not know where to look for problems, can also be very expensive to repair and should be the responsibility of the seller, either as a condition of sale or as an adjustment of price. (See photos 03 and 04, right.) 

Photo # 3

Photo # 4

The worst-case scenario is undetected corrosion that can render the new pride and joy unairworthy and not economically repairable. 

Valuable peace of mind

The best money that a prospective owner can spend is the several hundred dollars needed to reveal that the aircraft is not one he/she wanted to own. 

Nothing is a bigger buzzkill on a purchase than to have it in the shop for most of the first year of ownership and spending all of the avionics upgrade budget fixing things that could have been found by a competent pre-purchase inspector. 

The confidence of knowing exactly what you bought—what may need attention in the future, and what should be solid—is also valuable peace of mind, particularly if the seller was forced to be responsible for some of the issues discovered. 

Buying one’s first airplane is an excitement like no other, and it doesn’t even lose much of its enjoyment on subsequent purchases. A first bad experience can mean little joy, and no subsequent experiences. 

While it is not fun for the pre-purchase inspector to have to burst a few balloons, the joy of a new buyer getting a good plane makes up for being the occasional bearer of bad news about the shiny plane with cool avionics and, unfortunately, a risky engine.

Kristin Winter has been an airport rat for almost four decades. She holds an ATP-SE/ME rating and is a CFIAIM, AGI, IGI. In addition, Winter is an A&P/IA. She has over 8,000 hours, of which about 1,000 are in the Twin Comanche and another 1,000 in the Navajo series. She owns and operates a 1969 C model Twinkie affectionately known as Maggie. She uses Maggie in furtherance of her aviation legal and consulting practice; she also assists would-be Comanche, Twin Comanche, and other Piper owners with training and pre-purchase consulting. Send questions or comments to editor [AT] piperflyer [DOT] org.

 

December 2016

Read more...

Modern Stopping Power for Classic Aircraft

by Dennis Johnson

 

Upgrade your Cub with a disc brake conversion kit

I’d been thinking about that old aviation adage, “you don’t have to go up, but you do have to come down.” I thought it might be equally true that, “you don’t have to start, but you do have to stop… somehow or the other.” And it’s also probably best if that stop doesn’t come suddenly off the end of a runway, or involve tree branches. 

With these cheery thoughts in mind, it wasn’t a difficult decision to update the drum brakes on my 1952 Super Cub to modern disc brakes when it underwent a complete restoration in 2014.

A Super Cub Special restoration, with improvements

Bob Hunt, the ragwing aircraft restoration expert I chose to transform a pile of dusty and rusty parts into a shiny new airplane, showed me the original drum brake parts at his shop. As he pulled them from a tattered cardboard box I remarked, “These are off a go-kart, right?”

“Nope,” he said. “So I guess there’s no need for me to explain to you why I recommend this disc brake conversion kit?” 

For this historic aircraft restoration Bob wanted to keep everything as authentic to the time period as possible. Our project was not a typical civilian airplane, but a minor warbird, and we were determined to return it to its original appearance. 

Although the aircraft never saw any fighting, it did help train the military pilots who did. These 1952-1953 PA-18-105 Super Cub “Specials” were specially built for the Air Force during the Korean War and are fairly rare. Only 242 were built, and mine—N105T—was the fifth one off the line, rolling out on Nov. 12, 1952. 

In Roger Peperell’s book, “Piper Aircraft – The development and history of Piper designs,” the author describes what set these planes apart from other Super Cubs:

“1952 saw the start of a special version for the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), the PA-18-105 Special. This was used for training purposes by the CAP, U.S. Army and Air Force flying clubs as well as for some actual military pilot training, and was referred to as the PA-18T. It had the Lycoming O-235-C1 of 108 hp and provision for seat parachutes; no flaps, but it had horn balanced elevators.”

Because the N-number of all these Specials end with a “T,” they are often known as “Tango Cubs.”

While keeping historic accuracy in mind, Hunt also wanted to update my Tango Cub with modern safety improvements.

Hunt recommended the new disc brakes, an updated fuel system, a GPS ELT, strobe lights, a Mode S transponder and new radios to improve the safety of flying a 64-year-old plane. (See “Dump the Tanks” in the March 2016 issue of this magazine for details on how the fuel system was simplified. —Ed.)

 

Modern brakes offer multiple benefits

Of all the modifications, the disc brakes are the only items that alter my Tango Cub’s original appearance. (But still, you have to look closely to notice these 21st century brakes on the 1950s plane.) Hunt selected an FAA-STC approved disc brake conversion kit made by Grove Aircraft Landing Gear Systems for the project. 

The new disc brakes offer multiple benefits. Along with the obvious one—that they will actually brake the plane when needed—with improved braking comes easier ground handling. 

For tailwheel airplanes, a good application of the brakes on one side will allow a taxi turn in almost the length of the plane. That’s very handy for parking at a jaunty angle on the grass at your favorite airport restaurant. It’s also handy after back-taxiing on a narrow grass strip to face into the wind for takeoff. 

Besides working better, the disc system is more reliable and needs far less maintenance. Also, many parts for older brake systems are becoming increasingly hard to find, so installing this new upgrade means parts can be readily ordered from Grove. That’s especially helpful if you have a problem while away from your home base and need a part quickly.

 Caliper 2

 Caliper 2

Cub Kit

Cub Kit

Cub Kit

The conversion process

Anyone with a bit of mechanical experience and know-how can perform this simple conversion. However, the FAA requires that work on certificated aircraft is done under the supervision of an FAA licensed mechanic, and he or she will need to sign off on the project. 

All of the parts and a few special tools are included in the kit from Grove Aircraft. Installation only requires standard hand tools and a rivet gun—and there’s no need to change any wheels, tires or other brake system parts (such as the master cylinder and brake lines), so that keeps the cost fairly reasonable. 

No modifications are needed to any part of the landing gear strut or any other part of the aircraft, except for the wheel assembly. 

This is not a step-by-step guide; you’ll follow the instructions that come with the kit. But essentially, the process goes like this:

  1. Jack up and support the landing gear. Remove the hubcap to expose the wheel hub. Pull the cotter pins, nuts and washers to remove the wheel.
  2. Disconnect the brake lines and drain the fluid.
  3. Remove the existing brake frame and inspect the gear leg and axle for damage; repair if needed. Bolt on the new torque plate.
  4. Take the wheel to your workbench. Deflate the tire and remove it from the wheel.
  5. This next part requires some care. The brake drum, which is riveted to the wheel, needs to be removed. If you have a good drill press, the rivets can be drilled out, but do this only if you’re sure you won’t enlarge the holes in the aluminum wheel. Grove Aircraft recommends grinding off the back of the rivet and then punching it out.
  6. Clean and inspect (and repair, if needed) the wheel. Then, new holes must be carefully drilled in the wheel and the new disc brake rotor riveted on. 
  7. Reinstall the tire on the wheel and inflate it.
  8. Reinstall the wheel onto the axle, with fresh grease. The nut should be tightened until the wheel won’t turn 
  9. and then eased off until the wheel just turns freely. 
  10. Insert the cotter pin. Install the hubcap.
  11. Install the brake caliper according to the instructions—which you are following, right? It bolts into the existing holes.
  12. This next step may require some advice from a mechanic, as the brake lines on many planes have been changed over the years and may not use the same connectors. You are only instructed to hook up the brake lines using the appropriate connectors. You may have to make your own flexible line with hose material and fittings.
  13. Refill the brake system with aviation-grade brake fluid, and make sure the brakes are purged of air. The detailed instructions included with the kit tell you how to do this. If you have a soft brake pedal, this is an indication of air in the system or that adjustments need to be made. The instructions will guide you through troubleshooting.
  14. Complete the paperwork. (Yes, this is a real step listed in the installation manual!)
  15. Clean all the greasy fingerprints off your beautiful plane, take a selfie with your new brakes, and try them out on the ramp.

Now, go out and fly, remembering to always land in a manner such that you never have to put these highly effective brakes to the test.

Dennis K. Johnson is a writer and a New York City-based travel photographer, shooting primarily for Getty Images and select clients. He spends months each year traveling, flies sailplanes whenever possible and is the owner of N105T, a restored Piper Super Cub Special. Send questions or comments to editor [AT] piperflyer [DOT] org.

RESOURCES 

Further reading

Piper Aircraft: The development and history of Piper designs,” by Roger Peperell. Air-Britain, 1996.

 

December 2016

Save

Save

Read more...

AOPA’s regional fly-in at KPRC

by Kristin Winter

Contributing editor Kristin Winter shares her experiences at AOPA’s last regional fly-in of 2016 in Prescott, Arizona

 

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) made a huge change a few years ago when it discontinued its big annual convention and chose to organize regional fly-ins instead. In 2016, these fly-ins have started to hit their stride. 

I decided to check out the last one of the year held at Ernest A. Love Field (KPRC) in Prescott, Ariz. on Oct. 1, 2016. I’d last attended an AOPA regional event in May 2015, in Salinas, Calif. 

AOPA reported that the Prescott event drew 6,300 attendees—about two-and-a-half times the number that attended Salinas the year prior. That figure is as many as attended the last AOPA Aviation Summit in 2013.

 

The local scene

AOPA’s regional fly-ins all seem to have their own flavor, depending on the aviation scene locally. As Prescott is home to one of the two major campuses of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), the university had a big presence. ERAU had a tent to welcome alumni which I checked into, as I meet the prerequisite. 

Embry-Riddle also had a recruitment tent. The campus itself is a few miles away from the airport, but ERAU’s flight operations are based there. They had a couple of their airplanes on display, resplendent in ERAU livery.

The flight line displayed about 50 aircraft. The International Comanche Society (ICS) displayed a PA-24-260B. ICS has had a presence at several of these shows, talking up one of the best planes Piper even made. (Yeah, I am slightly prejudiced—but I love Cherokees, too!) 

American Eagle was giving tours of one of its regional type jets and it drew a long line of interested folks. A couple of warbirds and a smattering of Pipers rounded out the aircraft display.

A dramatic sunset silhouettes airplanes in the camping area 

Programming

The program started with the Barnstormers Party on Friday night. This was well attended with good food and a country band. I may just be spoiled living in the Wine Country that is also well stocked with craft breweries, but I would vote for a more interesting selection of adult beverages at future events.

Saturday kicked off with a pancake breakfast, but I did not attend. I was planning the nearly four-hour flight home after the show, and sleep took precedence over food. 

Lunch on Saturday included hot dogs, hamburgers, barbecue sandwiches and chips. During the midday break, we got an aerobatic demonstration. This seems to be a standard feature of the regional events. 

I am not a good one to pass judgment, as I am not an aerobatic pilot—and after more than 35 years attending airshows, I am a little blasé when it comes to single-aircraft aerobatic routines. I may also be spoiled by seeing the late great Bob Hoover perform in the Shrike Commander. (For those who haven’t seen Hoover’s routine, I recommend you find it on YouTube.) 

Perhaps in the future, AOPA will book more formation aerobatics, warbird groups, etc. for its regional fly-ins.

 Visitors check out a Commemorative Air Force Avenger

Activities and seminars

The activity centered around six different buildings. The main hall was a large hangar that served as a dinner space and was the venue for six different presentations, plus humorist Rod Machado doing a breakfast show on Saturday morning. 

One of the larger hangars served as the exhibitors’ area, and the other four hosted seminars (24 in all), plus an AOPA town hall meeting that concluded the festivities in the main hall.

The exhibit hall was well attended by various exhibitors. As one might expect with the ADS-B mandate looming, avionics manufacturers and vendors were well represented. 

PFA supporters Appareo, BendixKing and Garmin were there, as well as representatives from Avidyne and Genesys Aerosystems (formerly S-TEC), along with a number of other vendors and installers. 

Dozens of others, including Aircraft Spruce, Avemco, Concorde Battery, Ice-Shield, Lycoming, MT-Propeller and UTC Aerospace—all supporters of your Piper Flyer Association—were there to interact with the crowd and show their wares, too. 

With such an assortment in the exhibitors’ area, I was able to entertain myself for a couple of hours. Like many, I am still looking at my options for ADS-B compliance.

The four seminar pavilions were segregated by topic area. There was an Aviation Products Pavilion, a Skills and Safety Pavilion, a You Can Fly Pavilion, and an Airports and Advocacy Pavilion. All had seminars simultaneously, so I could only sample a few. 

Drew McEwen from Piper Aircraft gave a presentation on the Meridian M600. The weakness of the earlier Meridian, in my mind, was that it couldn’t reliably get from coast to coast on one fuel stop. Stopping twice makes for a really long day. It also made it difficult to get from the Midwest to the West Coast without a fuel stop.

I was curious to know how the engineers at Piper had managed to cram more fuel capacity to improve the range and speed for the M600. The answer is a redesigned wing. 

I attended a discussion titled “Helping You Protect Your Airport” because I was interested in what sort of outreach AOPA was doing on that front, as there has been a recent shake up of the airport support staff at AOPA. 

As a longtime commissioner on our local airport body, the subject matter itself was not new to me, but I was glad to see AOPA making an effort in this area. Local airports are coming under increasing financial pressure in many communities where the airport is not self-supporting.

The other seminars offered included a wide range of topic areas as well as a Rusty Pilot Seminar, a program recently introduced by AOPA. Most of the seminars focused on flying or issues related to inflight operations. Rod Machado’s seminar was well attended, and he was entertaining as usual. 

Melissa Andrzejewski prepares to cut a ribbon with her Edge

Mark Baker talks about third class medical reform at the Pilot Town Hall 

The Phoenix band Three Horse Town performs at the Prescott Fly In's Barnstromers Party

Reflections

The number of seminars was substantially greater than was the case in Salinas in early 2015. Given the increase in attendees, I hope that AOPA keeps expanding the offerings.

In the future I would like to see more seminars about how to own and buy aircraft, aircraft partnerships, aircraft insurance, etc. I find that a lot of owners and would-be owners are not well versed in some of these basics.

The AOPA tent provided an opportunity for everyone to access most of the association’s member services. The legal services folks, flight planning and other areas were well staffed and seemed to have a steady stream of customers.

A regional format for the AOPA events makes a lot of sense to me. I had been to several of the Expos and Summits in the past, and they were always competing with Oshkosh for my attention and travel dollar. I suspect that I am not alone in that. The fact that the Prescott fly-in had more attendees than the last Summit in Fort Worth, Tex. is testimony to the success of the concept. 

It seems likely that AOPA will be able to attract more exhibitors as the attendance numbers grow. Its only challenge may be finding airports with enough hangar space to put on ever-larger events. 

Fortunately, out in the Western states we have a number of airports which used to be military bases and generally have huge hangar space. My suspicion is that West Coast venues will likely be the best attended, simply because they are the farthest from Oshkosh. Those suffering from fly-in withdrawal symptoms because they couldn’t make Oshkosh are a ready pool of enthusiastic attendees. This year, I was one of those.

There is no closing this without saying a good word about the ATC tower crew that kept everything moving at Prescott. They clearly spent considerable thought on taxi routes and procedures, and then executed everything in a calm and professional manner. To my knowledge there were no mishaps, and a good time was had by all.

 

Kristin Winter has been an airport rat for almost four decades. She holds an ATP-SE/ME rating and is a CFIAIM, AGI, IGI. In addition, Winter is an A&P/IA. She has over 8,000 hours, of which about 1,000 are in the Twin Comanche and another 1,000 in the Navajo series. She owns and operates a 1969 C model Twinkie affectionately known as Maggie. She uses Maggie in furtherance of her aviation legal and consulting practice; she also assists would-be Comanche, Twin Comanche, and other Piper owners with training and pre-purchase consulting. Send questions or comments to editor [AT] piperflyer [DOT] org.

 

RESOURCES

AOPA Fly-ins and Events

aopa.org/community/events

 

From Sonoma County to the middle of Arizona—and back

 

Climbing up to cross the Sierras, I couldn’t help thinking of the first stanza of a poem that my mom used to recite when I was a child: “Over the river and through the woods…” In this case, it was over the mountain and through the desert to Prescott, Ariz.

Being an old (but only partially reformed) freight dog, I always start with the proposition that a straight line (i.e., great circle) course is the shortest distance between two points. 

At 538 nm, Petaluma Municipal (O69) to Ernest A. Love Field (KPRC) is an easy jaunt for an airplane that has been known to go from Northern California as far as Fort Worth, Tex. on a full load of fuel. 

Three preflight considerations raised their heads immediately in the planning stage. 

One was that the route crosses one of the highest points in the Sierra chain near Mount Whitney. Oxygen bottle—check! Cannula and tubing—check! Winds aloft less than 25 knots—check! 

My normally-aspirated Twin Comanche, Maggie, is quite happy in the low teens, so getting above 14,000 MSL is not an issue, even with above-standard temperatures.

The second consideration was whether there might be a pile of cloud on top of the Sierras. Weather reports are nonexistent on the crest, so one just has to go and take a look. 

Not much on the eastbound trip, but westbound the ridgeline had a nice fluffy battlement. Kearsarge Pass offered a gap to scoot through without getting down into mountain goat country. (See photo above.)

The last consideration was the forecast for the chance of thunderstorms over southern Nevada and Arizona. Thunderstorms over the dry Western states don’t tend to be too hard to weave around; the bases tend to be high, which lets the standard Mark I eyeballs do their thing. Also, Maggie has a Stormscope to help determine how strong the cells might be. 

East of Las Vegas, I only saw one thunderstorm off to the left—easily visible and with just a few blips on the Stormscope, I saw no need to make any deviation as it was a good 30 nm away and the lackadaisical nature of the strikes on the Stormscope suggested it was not of great strength. 

Arriving as I was, a full day in advance of the AOPA Fly-in, the traffic getting in was easy. The Prescott tower crew did a great job getting everyone in and out. 

My three-hour and 40-minute flight would have been an all-day affair flying commercially, and the scenery would not have been nearly as nice.

 

Read more...