2013 articles

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Q: Dear Steve,

I like other GA pilots have concerns such as the fact that the value of my airplane has sagged, my mechanic has finally locked up his toolbox and hit the road on a rolling retirement, and the price of Avgas has cut back on my flying hours. However, today I’m writing to alert fellow readers of Cessna Flyer magazine about the day I almost burnt up my Cardinal.

Here’s the deal. Due to my age I need supplementary vision help. So I’ve had to start carrying a pair of nonprescription “readers” glasses with me when I fly.

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If you are a fan of "Antiques Roadshow" or a saver of things with the barely recognized thought that they might someday be worth enough that a grandchild will remember you fondly, give some thought to stashing away any sectional charts you have sitting around. Roll them up neatly and store them, away from sunlight and insects, up in your attic.

There's probably room next to that old Erector set, alongside your collection of manual typewriters, those two rotary dial phones and that precarious stack of mahogany cigar boxes your dad gave you.

I am no futurist, and my prognostications have often been way off, but the writing, or should I say the pixels, are on the wall ... or tablet, or view screen, or smartphone: in the very near future paper charts will be curiosities, like the pay phone or TVs that are not flat.

Over the summer, the FAA announced it would no longer sell paper charts directly to the public. Since October 1, aeronautical charts have only been only available via FAA-authorized chart agents. The change is about "maximizing the efficiency of the FAA division that develops aeronautical chart products," the agency said in an online notice (read that as "a way to save money"), and it added that digital chart products will not be affected.

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The weather’s still pretty good as I write—though we’ve had a few cloudy days, and winter rain, fog and ice are just a couple of months away. Nonetheless, I’ve been spending more time on the ground than in the air lately.

I’ve spent some of it thinking about the changes we’re going to see in the air in the next few years, and the most worrying of those changes will be sharing the air with robots—unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), remotely piloted aircraft (RPVs), in a word: drones.

It’s already happened on a limited basis. Until recently there was a TFR over Beale Air Force Base due to operation of the Air Force’s Global Hawk RPV. It wasn’t all that restrictive—Beale is Class C airspace, so two-way radio contact is already required. The TFR added a requirement to have an operating transponder before entering the airspace. That assured ATC could track all aircraft in the area and provide separation between civil aircraft and the robots.

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The 2013 California Pilots Association (CalPilots) annual meeting, “California Dreamin’,” was much bigger and better attended than past CalPilots get-togethers. Jolie Lucas and Mitch Latting are recognized for their inspired advocacy of the Oceano Airport (L52), and they turned their considerable skills toward organizing and promoting the meeting.

It was a rousing success. Spread over one and a half days, the event drew nearly 300 pilots, advocates, airplane owners and other nonspecific wing nuts.

The program included advocacy speakers such as Jamie Beckett of the Polk Aviation Alliance, Mike Jesch of the Fullerton (Calif.) Airport Pilots Association, and Bill Dunn of AOPA. Other presenters included 2011 National CFI of the Year Judy Phelps, John Kounis of Pilot Getaways magazine, and Rod Machado, aviation educator and humorist.

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wire cutters

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 story.

This efficiency, of course, came full circle when we were packing for our around-the-world trip in a G35 Bonanza. Here my desired baggage weight was stolen by the fuel. And not only did we have to worry about changes of clothing, but also what parts to bring along—and, oh yes, the tools to install or remove any of those parts.

For those of you who have found your way through my book “O’ the Places I’ve Been,” you’ll remember the schematic of the aircraft with “arm” indications for stowage. The same diagram is published here. (Note: Classen’s book about his record-setting adventure is available in print and electronic form at amazon.com and through other online retailers. —Ed.)

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August 2013

When you take flying lessons, you learn the basics of moving an airplane on the ground. At first, you’ll help your instructor, then you’ll do the moving under his or her supervision.

If your trainer is kept on a tiedown, most of what’s involved is just taxiing but from time to time you’ll have to move the airplane without using the engine. Where modern trainers are concerned, this is just a matter of muscle power—attach the tow bar to the nosewheel, and push or pull on the prop, near the hub. Older tailwheel trainers are even easier—just lift the tailwheel (or skid) and push or pull as required.

As you graduate to bigger airplanes, though, more muscle power is needed. Most of us can comfortably move a small two- or four-place single, but it gets tougher as you move up to heavier airplanes. By the time you get to a six-place single or twin, forget it—especially if you have to push uphill!

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August 2013

Interestingly enough, most of the times when we use our torque wrenches, it’s not so much the torque we’re interested in. It’s the amount of tension or crushing force we’re exerting on the assembly through the tightening of the fastener.

Because the threads, materials and finishes in high-quality nuts and bolts are standardized, a given amount of torque (or twisting force) on a given threaded fastener will produce a fairly consistent amount of tension in the fastener. Because it’s difficult if not impossible to directly measure the tension in the fastener, we do the next-best thing: we check the torque applied to the nut.

Only with correct tension can any fastener deliver its optimum strength. Thus it follows that the best-maintained structures may be built with fasteners that are as light as possible. The trade-off is that significant care must be used in assembly and maintenance. Since aircraft are designed closer to “optimal” (as opposed to, say, your wheelbarrow), aircraft fasteners need more attention.

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August 2013

One privilege of conducting air tests is that one gets to fly airplanes the like of which one would not normally experience. However, I have no desire to become a professional pilot, and am happy to remain a club-level PPL and react as one in such a situation. So, when an invitation was received from Roche Bentley (a true multi-business entrepreneur) to fly his uncommon and desirable twin, it was accepted with alacrity.

In January 1953 Cessna flew the prototype of one of their most successful light twins, the Model 310. This was at first deemed to be something of a “hot ship,” but with continued improvement over many years it became one of Cessna’s all-time greats. Over 5,730 were built—the most numerous version being the last, the 310R with three-blade props, a lengthened nose and a maximum all-up weight (AUW, or max gross) increased by a massive 65 percent over early 310s

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August 2013-

Before you begin reading this column I feel that I should warn you that it does not have a happy ending. But maybe the ending has not yet been written. Maybe the ending is for you to create in how you react to what you read, and what—if anything—you do about it. I tried as I wrote to see the glass half-full rather than half-empty, but I fear that I failed in that hope… and the glass itself may be leaking.

For many years, being a pilot—and the awareness that comes along with that role—and the flying of airplanes (especially my own airplane) has been a source of passion, learning and joy for me. But of late I have found the passion waning and the joy surfacing less and less often.

After I recognized what I was feeling, I decided to explore the phenomenon here in words as thinking things through by writing about them has always helped me.

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July 2013-

Avionics is where the action is (and has been!) for some time in aviation. It seems as if each month brings a new, relatively low-cost gadget or app designed to increase situational awareness, monitor aircraft systems or otherwise improve the lot of pilots.

This month, we’ll look at a product that’s been around for a few years and it’s a device that fits the “big bang for the buck” paradigm: Zaon’s passive collision avoidance system (PCAS), the PCAS MRX.

But why PCAS when there’s ADS-B and TCAS?

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Hoop Earrings-
Earwings? These 18k white gold hoops will make a great gift for the female aviator in your life—even if that's you. $695.00
www.theabingdonco.com

Hoop Dangle Earrings WG for web

 

Garmin D2 Pilot Watch-
Move over, Dick Tracy: a new era in nifty watches has arrived. The new Garmin D2 Pilot does everything but catch the bad guys. GPS enabled with direct-to and nearest function buttons on its side. Interfaces with Garmin Pilot app. $449.00 msrp
www.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/pspages/garmind2watch.php?clickkey=952004

D2 Pilot Watch for web

 

InReach SE-
He's gone country—backcountry flying, that is. And if he has, make sure he's got a way to keep in touch. DeLorme's inReach SE is a portable satellite communicator. Send and receive text messages via satellite—no cell phone coverage needed. Follow me/find me tracking. Durable; waterproof, dustproof and impact-resistant. $299.00
www.delorme.com

inReach-SE-Final for web

 

ZULU-03 Directional Gyro Vintage Watch 9062VW-
Wear this watch and you'll indicate a high degree of style. Luminescent hands over a vintage directional gyro image. Solid 316 Stainless Steel and Black PVD case with a silicone rubber strap. $369.00
www.pilotshop.com/zulu03-directional-gyro-vintage-watch-9062vw-p-11211.html

gyro watch

Classic Aviation Films Six-DVD set-
History really does repeat itself, because you'll want to watch these DVDs over and over. Aviation history buffs will love this collection of six DVDs that chronicle the history of flight from Kitty Hawk to Cape Kennedy. $42.95
www.pilotshop.com/classic-aviation-films-p-3317.html

DVD for web

 

Cessna Panel Desk Organizer-
Bringing new meaning to the term "flying a desk," this cute little pen holder is just 8 inches by 2.75 inches. Modeled on a single engine Cessna panel, it will keep any Cessna owner company in those pesky but necessary hours at work spent between flying. Hand carved mahogany; includes a plate for engraving/personalization. $129.99
www.sportys.com/PilotShop/product/9415

172 pen holder

Classic Instruments Coaster Set-
Share your love of flying and keep your tables "ring-free" with this set of four coasters based on vintage style cockpit instruments. Sturdy acrylic. 3.75" diameter. $15.99

www.pilotmall.com/product/Classic-6-Piece-Instrument-Coaster-Set/gifts-for-the-home-or-office 

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An Unforgettable First Flight

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 to be accompanied by his wife Patsy and their daughter, but Megan awoke this morning feeling like every spring allergy known to humanity had attacked her, so Patsy and Megan stayed home—much to their dismay.

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July 2013

The Cessna Aerobat makes an affordable entry to aerobatics and is a great all-rounder      

In the 1960s, Cessna took note of the growing popularity of aerobatics and responded with the A150K Aerobat, introduced in 1970. This was a version of its popular two-seat nosewheel trainer with some structural reinforcement, a four-point harness to keep pilot and instructor in place under negative g and a few other modifications.

Considering that it was all rather a compromise, the resulting airplane turned out surprisingly well. One inevitable drawback was the rather poor view out, particularly in a loop when you need to be able to see the horizon appearing overhead. Cessna did its best by installing roof windows.

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June 2013

Twice this past month friends of mine in two separate states found themselves attending the funerals of friends of theirs who died in crashes of General Aviation aircraft. The Florida death involved a Cessna Skymaster that lost one engine and had problems with the second engine, while in Nebraska the crash of a Piper took the lives of its young pilot and his friend when the PA-28 struck power wires shortly after takeoff.

These occurrences are awful tragedies for the families and friends of the dead. Having lost two friends myself to bad things happening to airplanes—one a former flight instructor of mine—I am no stranger to the emotional and psychological effect of such deaths.

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Useful tips for understanding your airplane’s turbocharger.

We get calls every week from someone across the country regarding bearing play. During pre-buy, annual inspections and routine maintenance, the common practice is to reach into the compressor housing inlet, grab the turbine wheel shaft and give it a wiggle. You might be surprised to know that you can expect to find some play when you do this.

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June 2013

CFA’s assistant director visits one of the biggest aviation celebrations in the world.

Well, this year, I had the privilege to visit Lakeland, Fla. for the very first time to attend one of the biggest aviation celebrations in the world. I’ve attended only a handful of conventions and airshows, including AOPA Aviation Summit and Kaneohe Bay Airshow, so I didn’t know what to expect.

Although I was only scheduled to attend for a short three days, I knew that I would be bedazzled by everything I saw, especially since I am a big aviation geek. Before I left, I asked Jen and Kent, “What should I expect?”

Their response was “Everything!” And that’s all they had to say.

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A directory of Cessna Flyer supporters

Many of these companies offer multiple products and services but for the sake of this guide we are listing only specific categories. Please visit the company websites for complete information about their offerings.

 

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02-13

In the late 1970s Cessna executives became convinced that there was a market for a new utility aircraft—one that would be able to fly into remote strips and in extreme weather.

Studies confirmed the market was ready for a rugged, single-engine turboprop. If it also offered low operating and maintenance costs, Cessna personnel estimated they could sell 40 units per year in North America and possibly additional units in other markets.

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04-13

Redheaded Copilot asked me where we should take our 2013 winter vacation. The last couple of years, we’d taken cruises.

I suggested it would be adventurous to take our airplane, N50KF—“50 Kilo Fox”—on a trip to the Out Islands of the Bahamas.

Redheaded Copilot replied, “I can’t swim.” 

I observed that our first stop would be Bimini, which is only 46 nm off the Florida coast; and, that we had crossed Lake Michigan and back (73 nm each way); crossed Cape Cod Bay to Provincetown, Mass. and back (30 nm each way); crossed the Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island and back (40 nm each way) and crossed the Chesapeake Bay (40 nm each way) probably 20 different times.

Redheaded Copilot seemed a bit more assured, so she asked, “Where in the Out Islands?”

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04-13

Pretty much a Cessna 172 with a tailwheel and tandem seating for two, this warbird served in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.

Photographs by Keith Wilson

“Guys,” said the U.S. Army, “these fabric-covered spotter airplanes don’t last. How about you make us an all-metal replacement?”

            That was in the late 1940s, between the end of World War II and the Korean War (which broke out in 1950). Luckily Cessna had just decided to make its 170, a four-seat version of the Cessna 140, all-metal, because until 1949 the 170 had fabric-covered wings.

            A new fuselage with two seats in tandem was mated to the 170 wings and the all-metal result was designated 305. The design won the Army contract, entering production as the L-19. Cessna held a competition among its employees to come up with a better name for the airplane. The winner was “Bird Dog,” (i.e. gun dog), to reflect its intended role of artillery spotting.

            A spotter plane must be able to fly slowly without stalling, yet reach the target area quickly. The occupants must have a clear view of the ground below; and finally, the airplane must be able to land and take off from a forest clearing, sod pasture or other makeshift runway. If the design is versatile enough to be fitted with rockets for attacking ground vehicles, used for training and also make a comfortable tourer for transporting personnel, so much the better.

            The Bird Dog met all these criteria and had a fantastically successful run. Over 3,400 were manufactured and it continued in service with the U.S. Air Force until 1974, by which time it had finally been totally replaced by the faster “push-me-pull-you” Skymaster, another Cessna aircraft, a twin with both engines on the centerline, which was first introduced during the Vietnam War in the mid-1960s.

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05-13

Preflight Inspection

Preflight inspection of a floatplane is generally similar to that of a landplane. The major difference is the inspection of the floats. Floats, wires, attachment gear and ropes must be thoroughly checked for holes, buckling, damaged fittings and extensive wear.

The floats themselves should be inspected before each flight for possible leakage. Water in the float compartments can adversely affect water handling and flight characteristics including a shift in the aircraft’s center of gravity.

Individual compartments should be pumped out through the built-in bilge pump-outs by a hand-operated bilge pump. Always count the number of “strokes” in order to estimate the amount of water present. The step compartment will typically contain the most water because it is constructed with the most seams and rivets.

The water rudders are located at the rear of the floats and should be inspected for movement and connection to the air rudder and for their ability to be raised for flight. Thoroughly inspect the cables, pulleys and connectors for freedom of movement and signs of wear.

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05-13

When you begin the search for the aircraft model that will best fit your most common mission profile, you define and prioritize the wants and needs that will fit into a defined budget.

You evaluate necessary compromises, and debate between two-place or four-place; speed; cargo capacity; VFR or IFR. Will the airplane be used on unimproved strips or paved runways? Then come the costs to acquire, operate, maintain and insure your choice.

The Light Sport category of new aircraft gives a pilot several possibilities, but most are small two-place aircraft and still run well in excess of $100,000. When one looks into purchasing a new Normal Standard category aircraft, they quickly discover that requires an even larger investment.

The Perfect Plane

Like most pilots, I learned to fly in a Cessna 152 then transitioned to an old 172 line rental plane. The first plane I owned was a 1947 Cessna 140 with an 85 hp engine. It worked perfectly for getting out and enjoying the freedom of flight with a very small cost to operate.

When my daughter began to accompany us, I sold the 140 and bought a 1948 Cessna 170. Everybody in the family loved this plane. The high wings and low panel allowed for great visibility. It had a huge cabin and could carry nearly 1,000 pounds into the air with ease.

When our daughter left for college, I thought it might be a perfect time to take my wife on some long cross-country trips for sightseeing and visiting friends scattered around the country. The C170 could carry all the baggage we wanted to bring, but it was slow enough that diverting for weather meant changing plans for lodging and fuel.

I sold the 170 and purchased a Vans RV-6. At 186 mph TAS, the RV-6 was fast enough that a deviation for weather only added a few minutes to a trip leg and never resulted in revisions to fuel or lodging. You could easily go 1,000 miles a day on 55 gallons of fuel.

In my RV-6, I could make a solo trip from Minneapolis down through New Mexico and up to Sacramento, Calif. in only 12 hours of flight time. The downside to this plane was the much smaller cabin and reduced visibility. After a few trips together, it was clear we wanted visibility and space more than speed.

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01-13

I’ve logged more than 8,400 hours in tailwheel aircraft.

Many early airplanes were equipped with a simple skid mounted on the underside of the tail for landing on unimproved fields. These were taildraggers in the purest sense of the term. But as both airplane and airfield design progressed, tailskids soon gave way to tailwheels. In turn, the tailwheel yielded to the nosewheel (tricycle gear) design.

Today, pilots use the terms “taildragger,” “tailwheel,” and “conventional gear” interchangeably to describe tailwheel-equipped airplanes. With all due respect to those still flying tailskid airplanes, I will also use these terms interchangeably in this article. Furthermore, I will assume we’re sitting behind clockwise-rotating propellers.

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01-13

On a crisp March afternoon in 1968, Gene Morris was flying over Springfield, Mo. He was chatting with his friend, the Springfield airport manager, on the Unicom radio channel when the conversation turned to a Cessna 140A that had come up for sale.

The airport manager said that the first $2,000 would buy the Cessna, and Gene said, “Hold it; I’ll be there tomorrow with the money!”

The following day, March 17, 1968, American Airlines pilot Gene Morris purchased that Cessna 140A, N5669C, sight unseen.

The airplane was rough by any standard.  The previous owner bought the aircraft in Alaska and moved it south to Springfield.