Tuesday, 05 September 2017 09:27

Flying the CESSNA 182

Written by

by Steve Ells

Former 182 owner and longtime A&P/IA Steve Ells offers many practical suggestions for operating a Cessna Skylane in this last “leg” of his four-part series on the 182.

“The pilot is no more than the manager of this tool and its champion. The pilot is the inspiration for flight and the airplane is the vehicle.”

—Richard Coffey, 

 “The Skylane Pilots Companion”

The Cessna 182 is a damn fine airplane. I owned N777LJ, a 1966 Cessna 182J, for about four years. 

While the recommendations in this article may vary (at times, widely) from those written in both the engine and airframe manufacturer’s manual and handbooks, I wrote them based on my own experiences, the experiences of other very seasoned pilots and owner-operators, the writings of Richard Coffey in “The Skylane Pilots Companion” and John Schwaner in “Sky Ranch Engineering Manual,” the research of trained specialists, and suggestions from experienced C-182 owner and pilot Mike Jesch.

Weight and balance

Although 182s have wide CG envelopes and can carry a pretty good load, they all tend to be nose-heavy. Always be aware of the possibility of an out-of-limits forward CG, especially after any engine upgrade and when taking off with full fuel and big folks in the front seats. 

In early models (before 1965), it was not uncommon to run out of up elevator power in the flare for landing; this resulted in touching down nosewheel first, which, if rough enough, would result in a bent firewall. In 1965, Cessna extended the horizontal stabilizer and elevator span by 10 inches.

I, being a mechanic and a man that believes “if you have it with you, it won’t be needed,” always tied down my 60-pound toolbox in the baggage compartment, especially when I was flying by myself. 

I never ran out of elevator, and was always comforted by having my tools available—although I can’t remember ever needing them during my 182 time. 

Preflight

It’s wise to create an airplane-specific checklist that better reflects the equipment installed on your airplane. For instance, if aftermarket speed brakes have been installed, a pre-takeoff operational check is not on the Cessna checklist in the owner’s manual or POH. 

Every engine has a “sweet spot” oil level. After some experimentation, I found that the sweet spot for oil was nine quarts in the Continental O-470-R engine in my 182. Any more than that would blow out of the engine breather tube and end up on the belly of the airplane. 

I was very wary of water egress into the bladder-type fuel tanks of my 1966 182. In my opinion, every bladder-equipped Cessna 182 owner must take every step possible to prevent water from entering the fuel tanks. This means replacing the original flush-style fuel caps with either the small Cessna raised flange two-tab caps, or the Monarch-style caps.

If you suspect that water may have gotten into the bladder, don’t hesitate to do what’s commonly known as the “rock-and-roll” preflight. This procedure is detailed in AD 84-10-01R1 and calls for the pilot to lower the tail to within five inches of the ground and move one wing or the other up 10 inches and then down 10 inches a minimum of 12 times. 

This technique is supposed to cause any water to flow to the wing sump drain valve. Drain the sumps before you raise the tail. You’ll need to recruit some help.  (More about Monarch fuel caps and the rock-and-roll procedure can be found in part three of Ells’ series published in the November 2016 issue. —Ed.)

During walkaround, grab the trailing edge of each cowl flap and try to wiggle it. You don’t want much back-and-forth movement since this indicates a worn flap hinge. New cowl flaps are very expensive; cowl flap hinges, not so much. 

 Cessna Skylane

Cessna Skylane

Cessna Skylane

Cessna Skylane

Engine management

First off, treat your engine with care. Change the oil at 25- to 35-hour intervals or every four months, whichever comes first. Install a full flow oil filter and change the filter at every oil change. 

It’s been proven that fine wire spark plugs do save a little money in the long run and are more resistant to lead fouling, so if you can afford them, use them. 

An all-cylinder engine monitor is a valuable tool that aids management tasks: when setting power, when leaning, and during engine troubleshooting and problem diagnoses. 

Learn how many primer shots and what amount of throttle it takes to get your big Continental or Lycoming to come to life… gently! Just about the worst thing you can do for either of these two engines is to start them with a power setting that results in the engine roaring; gentle starts are key.

After start, set the power to get 1,000 rpm. That speed will allow for a gradual warm up and get the oil splashing around inside the engine.

After the engine stabilizes, reach over and pull your mixture control out to lean the engine. Pilots who learn to limit excess fuel will reduce the buildup of combustion chamber lead deposits, save fuel and won’t induce rapid combustion chamber temperature changes. 

Partially burned fuel that is pushed past the compression rings into the engine case is one of the causes of sludge and carbon formation.  

Always lean on the ground—idling with a rich mixture is the quickest way to foul spark plugs. That’s because the lead scavenging additive in 100LL is only active at higher combustion temperatures (900° F or higher). Since the additive doesn’t work at lower temperatures, leaning is the only way to reduce lead fouling at lower power settings. 

Continental bulletins advise preheating an engine that has been exposed to air temperatures of 20° F (-6.6° C) or lower. (See Continental service information letter SIL03-1 for more information. —Ed.) 

Lycoming service instruction SI 1505 says preheating is required at temperatures below 10° F (–12° C) except for -76 engines, where the low limits are 20° F (–6.6° C). 

Many pilots believe both of these temperatures are too low, so my advice is to start preheating whenever temperatures drop below 40° F (4.4° C). Preheating reduces wear. As engines age, preheating becomes more important to reduce engine stresses during start.

Pay particular attention to the engine during the first start of the day. If there’s any hiccupping, or if one or more cylinders are slow to pick and start firing, it’s time to check for a sticky exhaust valve. 

A slightly sticking valve needs to be looked at immediately, since a valve that sticks in flight will create a very noisy (read: expensive) and potentially dangerous situation. Sticking valves occur more often in Lycoming engines than Continentals. 

Wait until the oil temperature gets to 100° F (38° C) before doing your pre-takeoff “mag check” runup. It’s perfectly okay to do the mag check with the mixture leaned—you can’t hurt the engine. If it’s too lean, the engine will slowly lose power; just push the mixture in slightly and continue the checks detailed on the checklist. 

There should be an rpm drop-off for each magneto; if there’s no drop-off, it means the magneto is not being grounded during the test and that the mag is “hot” at all times. Do not pull it through by hand if you suspect it’s hot. 

During the propeller governor check, don’t let the rpm drop down more than 100 rpm. This test is to determine if the governor works; a couple of 100 rpm drops is all that’s needed. Do three or four of these small drop tests if the oil is cold.

Takeoff

Please don’t jam the throttle to the firewall at the start of your takeoff run—especially if you’re taking off from a long runway. Cylinder cooling airflow is very slight below 40 mph. It’s good practice to advance the throttle to mag check rpm after brake release, do a final check on engine parameters and, if every indication is in the green, gradually add full power. 

Sometime during the full-power run on the runway or soon after takeoff, look to see where the needle on the dial of the EGT gauge is (or, if you have an engine monitor, what temperature is showing on one of your six cylinders). Make a note about the needle position and/or EGT temp and which cylinder the number is from. 

That needle position or temperature on that same cylinder is your target when leaning before takeoff at a high altitude airport. Once you get used to what it takes to lean to that number, you’ll be able to set the proper takeoff mixture during high altitude takeoffs without the need to conduct a high rpm run up prior to takeoff.

Don’t do partial-throttle takeoffs. The carburetor and fuel injection systems in 182s are designed to provide extra fuel flow while at full throttle to provide cooling and prevent detonation during high power operations.

All of the engines installed in all Cessna 182 models are approved for continuous full power operations. There are no engine operating limitations except for temperature and pressure limits. However, Cessna manuals suggest that power be reduced to approximately 75 percent, 23 inches and 2,400 rpm during cruise climb. Use the power setting you need to fly safely.

Mike Jesch, who flies heavies for a 

living, flies the heck out of his P. Ponk-engine 182. He likes to set 10 degrees of flap for takeoff. He explains that “the rotation and lift off just feel better and more natural to me.” 

Cessna Skylane 

Cruise 

Unless noise is a concern, there’s no reason to reduce power soon after takeoff. Most of the noise comes from the propeller so if you need to reduce noise to be a good neighbor, reduce the rpm. 

Check temperatures during climb. Although the engine manufacturers cite very high limits for CHTs (500° F for Lycoming; 460° F for Continental), it can be wise to set 400° F as an upper limit. My recommendation of 400° F is based on research that shows the aluminum used in cylinder heads begins to degrade at temperatures over 400. As I remember, these effects are cumulative.

Tools to reduce and control CHTs are: (1) reduce the angle of climb to increase airflow over the cylinders; (2) open the cowl flaps and (3) and richen the mixture. 

Once at cruise altitude, there are a couple of tricks used by Continental-engine 182 pilots that have proven to better atomize the fuel in the induction system and better mix it with the airflow. This lessens the spread between the leanest and the richest mixtures across all six cylinders as indicated by EGTs. 

The first trick is to add a bit of carburetor heat. Since my 182 came equipped with a carburetor air temperature (CAT) gauge, I pulled the carb heat knob aft until the gauge read 50° F (10° C). 

Jesch, who flies a 182 with an O-470-50 engine modified by P. Ponk, sets his carb heat to 45° F. 

The second trick for the Continental crowd is to pull the throttle aft enough to get it off the full-in position; not enough to reduce manifold pressure (MAP), but enough to make it “twitch” a little bit. This cocks the throttle butterfly and creates a turbulent airflow upstream of the main discharge fuel nozzle, which also aids in fuel/air mixture mixing and distribution. 

Jesch, who flew us to AirVenture and back in 2016, uses a very simple power management plan. The throttle is left wide open (except for the twitch) and rpm is adjusted to the top of the green band. Using this scheme and the two tricks outlined above, he can successfully lean to 11 gph in cruise at 65 percent power. 

Lycoming-powered 182s are all fuel-injected, so these tricks are not applicable. GAMIjectors will reduce the differential between fuels flows across each cylinder. This will let Lycoming owners take full advantage of lean-of-peak mixture settings, if desired. 

According to the manufacturer’s printed bulletins, Continental engines can be leaned to peak EGT at 65 percent power and below; Lycomings at 75 percent power and below. 

Cessna Skylane 

Descent and landing

Cessna owner’s manuals and POHs advise pilots to adjust the mixture as needed during descent and to move the mixture control to full rich prior to landing. In my experience, there’s no reason to adjust any control except the throttle during descent. 

As the power is reduced, the prop governor will continue to control prop rpm until the throttle is almost full aft and the manifold pressure is quite low. 

The governor reduces blade pitch to maintain rpm until the blades are in the high rpm position and rest against the low pitch stop in the prop hub. 

This is the correct time to move the prop control to the high rpm position to prepare for final approach, touchdown and a possible go-around. 

This practice lessens noise since the prop is not “revved up” under power, nor do the passengers feel the rpm surge that’s part of pushing the prop control full forward while under power. 

Pushing the mixture to the full rich position prior to let down is not necessary. You’ve set the mixture for cruise power and as you reduce power, the amount of fuel needed for combustion will go down. 

Pushing the mixture forward will dump unneeded fuel into the mixture and cause a rapid change in internal cylinder temperatures. 

Jesch doesn’t like to use full flaps (i.e., 40 degrees) for landing, explaining that it lowers the pitch attitude a bit, and all that extra drag “kind of makes the airframe shake a bit.” He uses 20 degrees for landing. 

The key to spot landings in a 182 is speed control on final. Jesch uses 65 kias. The suggested final approach speed is 1.3 Vso. Most pilots land too fast. 

Go-around

A second reason to get in the habit of landing with 20 degrees of flaps is because it reduces the number of tasks required to transition from a landing configuration to power-up-and-go settings. 

182s can climb with 40 degrees of flaps, but a 20-degree setting presents sensations and sights that are much closer to a normal takeoff. The last thing anyone needs during a go-around is a new set of sight pictures and performance anomalies. 

The only time you again need full-rich mixture between cruise and touchdown is if you suddenly have to go around. If an airplane unexpectedly pulls onto the runway when you’re on short final, there will be time to advance the mixture and throttle.

Taxiing and refueling

Once on the ground and off the runway, open the cowl flaps, raise the flaps and lean the mixture. By reducing the amount of fuel flowing through the engine on the ground, you’re doing all you can do to reduce lead accumulation on the pistons and exhaust valves. 

Move the fuel selector valve to “left” or “right” when fueling and whenever you park for the night on a ramp, stop for a $100 hamburger or make any other short trip away from the airplane. This simple step prevents fuel from crossfeeding from one tank to the other through the “both” setting on fuel selector valve. 

These are only some of the 182-specific flying tips and tricks. Please take the time to share your favorite 182 flying tip, so we can pass it on to other Cessna Flyer readers. (Visit the forums at CessnaFlyer.org or email your favorite 182 tip to . —Ed.)

Finally, I recommend that every Cessna 182 pilot and owner read “The Skylane Pilots Companion” by Richard Coffey. New copies are no longer available but it is available online, and Coffey has given his permission for its free distribution. 

These recommendations are for information only. When attempting new procedures, consider taking along a safety pilot or CFI. 

Steve Ells has been an A&P/IA for 44 years and is a commercial pilot with instrument and multi-engine ratings. Ells also loves utility and bush-style airplanes and operations. He’s a former tech rep and editor for Cessna Pilots Association and served as associate editor for AOPA Pilot until 2008. Ells is the owner of Ells Aviation (EllsAviation.com) and lives in Templeton, Calif. with his wife Audrey. Send questions and comments to

 

View the embedded image gallery online at:
https://www.cessnaflyer.org/articles-news.html#sigProId23bc3d40cf

Resources

Further reading (e-books)

“The Skylane Pilots Companion” 

by Richard A. Coffey 

theskylanepilotscompanion.com

 

“Sky Ranch Engineering Manual” 

by John Schwaner

aircraftspruce.com

 

Cold weather ops 

– manufacturer information

Continental Service Information Letter SIL 03-1

“Cold Weather Operation 

– Engine Preheating”

http://www.continentalmotors.aero/search/?searchtext=sil%2003-1

Lycoming Service Instruction 

No. 1505

“Cold Weather Starting”

http://www.lycoming.com/sites/default/files/Cold%20Weather%20Starting.pdf

 

Engine STCs

P. Ponk Aviation – CFA supporter

pponk.com

  

GAMIjector fuel injectors

General Aviation Modifications, Inc.

gami.com

 

December 2016  

Friday, 29 May 2015 13:47

The Cessna 425 Conquest I

Written by

Putting a Cessna 425 through its paces.

June 2015-

Cessna got it right when it brought the Conquest I to market. It was designed to be simple to fly and an easy transition for a 400-series Cessna pilot to make.
I flew in a Cessna 425 with an owner/pilot as part of his annual training required by insurance. I was able to sample the aircraft’s handling and performance characteristics and observe a private pilot putting the machine through its paces.

Remarkable features
This particular aircraft featured all original radios with the exception of a Bendix/King KLN 90B GPS. All are coupled to the original autopilot—and it worked flawlessly.

The starting of the plane is super-simple. Cessna engineered a generator assist feature that allows you to start one engine, turn on its generator, and then just start the second engine without fear of blowing a current limiter in the process. This makes for cooler starts and less juggling of the generators.
Unlike most PT6-powered aircraft, the condition lever has only one position (“on”) and it turns the gas generator at 58 percent. Taking the props out of feather has them idling at 1,200 rpm. The engines are derated at 500 shaft hp, and at takeoff power the props are only turning 1,900 rpm.

The runup is also a simple affair, very similar to what you would do on any piston airplane, with the addition of the auto-feather test. Auto-feather is a go/no-go item on the Conquest I. Pushing the power levers up to 1,200 pounds of torque, the plane accelerates smartly, quickly reaching its rotation speed of 96 knots.
At anything other than gross weight on a 90-degree day, you can comfortably operate the plane in and out of 3,000 feet. On a hot day at gross weight, the accelerate-stop distance calculation is close to 3,500 feet, while the accelerate-go distance—the distance to clear a 50-foot obstruction after experiencing an engine failure at rotation and continuing the takeoff—is less than 3,000 feet.

These are remarkable numbers especially compared to the Conquest I’s piston cousins, the 421 and 414. That, coupled with the amazing time between catastrophic failure rate of the PT6A (more than 36,000 hours) and its stable-as-a-table flight characteristics have earned the Conquest I a remarkable safety record. Some aviation writers of the time had nicknamed it “the baby carriage,” because it is about the easiest airplane to gain multi-engine turbine experience in.


A realistic training session
My student that day was a retired doctor who now runs a national drug testing consortium. He’d owned the Conquest I for over 14 years, and prior to that he’d owned a 421. I watched him as he put his 8,600-pound machine through 45-degree left and right bank turns, minimum controllable airspeed demonstrations in the clean and dirty configurations, and imminent stalls in the clean and dirty configuration.

He nailed it all to commercial standards despite holding only a private pilot certificate with instrument rating. His single-engine work was equally impressive, and we even executed a single engine go-around—something I would never do in a piston airplane.
For those unfamiliar, a PT6A allows you to feather the prop while the engine continues to run, thus allowing the generators and hydraulic pumps to remain online—and the prop can be taken out of feather quickly if needed. This allowed us more realistic training.
The plane climbed at 280 fpm, which was exactly on book spec for the conditions.

Approaches are simplified by pushing the props forward to 1,900 rpm first, then deploying approach flaps and landing gear to create the drag profile that gets you the descent rate you want.
Because it’s a turboprop, you can chop the power without fear of shock-cooling the engines, so slam-dunk arrivals are actually fun as those big four-blade props become air brakes at flight idle.
Landings are classic Cessna 400-series simple and the big oleo strut landing gear can absorb most minor misjudgments. Reverse makes short-field work look easy and gives the pilot confidence to operate on strips as short as 2,500 feet.

The costs
The 425 is subject to Cessna’s Supplemental Inspection Document (SID) program. Adherence is mandatory on turboprop aircraft, and the SIDs require (among other things) the de-mating of the wing and tail from the fuselage to inspect for corrosion. Although very few problems have been uncovered in Cessna 425s, the inspection must be done—and it can run into six figures if issues are uncovered.

On the positive side, the Conquest I will allow you to take six passengers and luggage 1,000 nm with reserves in pressurized comfort at very close to 300 mph. The 5.0 psi differential cabin pressurization system gives you a 10,000-foot cabin at nearly 28,000 feet on a standard day. That gets you on top of pretty much all the weather.
Because FL 290 and above is subject to Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM) protocol, few noncommercial aircraft are operated that high. (RVSM requires certain equipment on board and specialized crew training.) A Cessna 425 is typically happiest in the 21,000- to 24,000-foot range.

As for fuel burn, you can figure 600 pounds of fuel the first hour and 400 pounds per hour every hour after that, which translates to 77 gph on a two-hour flight and 69 gph on a three-hour flight—but you are doing this at approximately 253 knots true airspeed. And Jet-A typically costs less than 100LL fuel.
Even though the turboprop world may not be for everyone, Cessna got it right when they brought the Conquest I to market. I asked my student if he would ever consider selling his plane, and he said, “Only if I am lucky enough to move up to a Citation!” That tells me he thinks pretty highly of his Conquest I.

Michael Leighton is an 8,800-hour, three-time Master Flight Instructor, as well as an A&P mechanic. He operates an aircraft maintenance facility and flight training company in Spartanburg, S.C. You can find him on the web at flymkleighton.net. Send questions or comments to .

This entry-level turboprop was a winner in 1981, and is still one today.

June 2015-

When people ask me to comment about the Cessna 425 Conquest I, I get flashbacks. Having been a marketing type in what was then called the Commercial Marketing Division at Cessna Aircraft Co., I was a part of the introduction of the Corsair/Conquest I (425) and the Conquest II (441).
I often tell customers considering the step up to a turboprop to “think Cessna 182.” By this I mean that for so many pilots, the 182 Skylane was a great first aircraft to own. They learned in a Cessna trainer, and then bought a 182. Therefore, for many owners of Cessna pressurized cabin-class piston powered twins, the 425 becomes the perfect
“182-like” next step.

The 425’s introduction
When these aircraft were introduced, it was the heyday of General Aviation—and Beech had no jets. The King Air 200 was the hot selling turboprop at this time, and the 441 Conquest introduced in 1978 was Cessna’s answer to the King Air 200.

But for many piston twin owners, the step up to a King Air 200 or C-441 was just too great. All too often, a corporate pilot was needed for those airplanes.
The 425 Corsair was certified in 1980. A few years later, the 425 was changed to Conquest I and included certain improvements. At the same time, the 441 Conquest was renamed the Conquest II. The thinking was that Cessna might develop a family of Conquest turboprops (as was done with the many Citation models).

The typical buyer of a 425 was the owner of a Cessna 340A, 414A or 421B/C. The Cessna dealer that sold the twin would take it on trade and sell it to a first-time twin buyer or to the owner of a light twin, such as a 310R. An important sales element for use in persuading buyers was the fact that no FAA type rating was required to pilot a 425. It is not a true jet and has a gross takeoff weight under 12,500 pounds.

The reason to move up to a 425 has not changed since the early 1980s. More speed is always number one; greater loads, greater range and turbine engine reliability follow closely behind. (Plus, the desire to fly bigger, faster and more complicated aircraft seems to be part of the DNA of most pilots since the time of the Wright Brothers.)

Modifications
Since the 425’s introduction, several aftermarket conversions and modifications have entered the market. The most significant upgrade, Blackhawk XP135A, is offered by Blackhawk Modifications Inc. of Waco, Tex. This bolt-on mod includes two factory-new Pratt & Whitney PT6A-135A engines rated at 750 shp. The conversion is performed by a group of Blackhawk dealers.

In addition, like most aircraft engine modifications, there are several other component additions that are part of the Blackhawk mod. (See “Blackhawk XP135A Engine Upgrade for Conquest I Aircraft” on the right for more information. —Ed.) New propellers, such as four-blade McCauley Blackmac props, often companion with the Blackhawk STC.
Kal-Aero in Battle Creek, Mich., a Cessna propjet dealer, had the first certified upgrade to the 425. Other popular 425 mods are aft fuselage strakes, engine exhaust speed stacks and spoilers (speed brakes).

Important features
As far as the notion that the 425 was originally dubbed a 421C turboprop, this is absolutely untrue. It is a different aircraft. Aircraft based upon another aircraft’s original TCDS is a common practice in all categories of aircraft design.

However, a proven system is worth using again. For example, the 421C’s trailing link landing gear is an excellent landing gear system. The blow down method of emergency extension trumps cranking and pumping a problem landing gear.
I am frequently asked about the 425’s tail area because of the fatal incident in Nov. 1977 (just two months after the introduction of the 441 Conquest). The accident investigation found a failed single trim tab actuator for the elevator control, and the Conquest fleet was grounded until a dual actuator fix was certified.

From 425 unit number one, the elevator trim tab actuator was a dual unit, but the question still comes up from time to time. In 1980 during a business trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico, I was having a poolside drink with Cessna’s president, Mal Harned.
When I was asked about 425 sales, I commented about tail questions (this was only a few years since the 441 crash) and Harned, an engineer, said, “You can tell anyone that the 425’s tail is the most tested structure Cessna has ever built.”

Buying a 425 today
In today’s world of 425 sales, the number-one question is about Cessna’s aging aircraft program and supplemental inspection documents (SID). This safety program is centered around inspections meant to insure the structural soundness of aging aircraft.
Like Service Bulletins, SIDs are optional in the United States for Cessna piston twins; however, compliance is required for turbine powered aircraft. A significant price difference on what may appear as two similar 425s may be due to the status of SIDs.

This entry-level turboprop is an easy-to-fly aircraft with simple systems and excellent performance, plus sound ownership and operational costs.
Moreover, the support system for quality maintenance and pilot training is excellent. Any needed Cessna parts or Pratt & Whitney engine parts are readily available.
A Conquest I is also highly customizable. Buyers often seek out aircraft with a newer interior, a modern panel and performance upgrades, or they plan to make those improvements after purchase. Either way, the 425 was a winner in 1981 and it’s still one in 2015.

skumatz 0012

Jerry Temple founded Jerry Temple Aviation (JTA) in 1995. JTA provides pilots with hands-on service from the research stage to delivery and checkout. Before founding JTA, Temple worked for 20 years in several positions in the Cessna Aircraft system, including at the Cessna factory as well as in distributor and retail sales. Send questions or comments to .

When people ask me to comment about the Cessna 425 Conquest I, I get flashbacks. Having been a marketing type in what was then called the Commercial Marketing Division at Cessna Aircraft Co., I was a part of the introduction of the Corsair/Conquest I (425) and the Conquest II (441).
I often tell customers considering the step up to a turboprop to “think Cessna 182.” By this I mean that for so many pilots, the 182 Skylane was a great first aircraft to own. They learned in a Cessna trainer, and then bought a 182. Therefore, for many owners of Cessna pressurized cabin-class piston powered twins, the 425 becomes the perfect
“182-like” next step.

The 425’s introduction
When these aircraft were introduced, it was the heyday of General Aviation—and Beech had no jets. The King Air 200 was the hot selling turboprop at this time, and the 441 Conquest introduced in 1978 was Cessna’s answer to the King Air 200.
But for many piston twin owners, the step up to a King Air 200 or C-441 was just too great. All too often, a corporate pilot was needed for those airplanes.
The 425 Corsair was certified in 1980. A few years later, the 425 was changed to Conquest I and included certain improvements. At the same time, the 441 Conquest was renamed the Conquest II. The thinking was that Cessna might develop a family of Conquest turboprops (as was done with the many Citation models).
The typical buyer of a 425 was the owner of a Cessna 340A, 414A or 421B/C. The Cessna dealer that sold the twin would take it on trade and sell it to a first-time twin buyer or to the owner of a light twin, such as a 310R. An important sales element for use in persuading buyers was the fact that no FAA type rating was required to pilot a 425. It is not a true jet and has a gross takeoff weight under 12,500 pounds.
The reason to move up to a 425 has not changed since the early 1980s. More speed is always number one; greater loads, greater range and turbine engine reliability follow closely behind. (Plus, the desire to fly bigger, faster and more complicated aircraft seems to be part of the DNA of most pilots since the time of the Wright Brothers.)

Modifications
Since the 425’s introduction, several aftermarket conversions and modifications have entered the market. The most significant upgrade, Blackhawk XP135A, is offered by Blackhawk Modifications Inc. of Waco, Tex. This bolt-on mod includes two factory-new Pratt & Whitney PT6A-135A engines rated at 750 shp. The conversion is performed by a group of Blackhawk dealers.
In addition, like most aircraft engine modifications, there are several other component additions that are part of the Blackhawk mod. (See “Blackhawk XP135A Engine Upgrade for Conquest I Aircraft” on the right for more information. —Ed.) New propellers, such as four-blade McCauley Blackmac props, often companion with the Blackhawk STC.
Kal-Aero in Battle Creek, Mich., a Cessna propjet dealer, had the first certified upgrade to the 425. Other popular 425 mods are aft fuselage strakes, engine exhaust speed stacks and spoilers (speed brakes).

Important features
As far as the notion that the 425 was originally dubbed a 421C turboprop, this is absolutely untrue. It is a different aircraft. Aircraft based upon another aircraft’s original TCDS is a common practice in all categories of aircraft design.
However, a proven system is worth using again. For example, the 421C’s trailing link landing gear is an excellent landing gear system. The blow down method of emergency extension trumps cranking and pumping a problem landing gear.
I am frequently asked about the 425’s tail area because of the fatal incident in Nov. 1977 (just two months after the introduction of the 441 Conquest). The accident investigation found a failed single trim tab actuator for the elevator control, and the Conquest fleet was grounded until a dual actuator fix was certified.
From 425 unit number one, the elevator trim tab actuator was a dual unit, but the question still comes up from time to time. In 1980 during a business trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico, I was having a poolside drink with Cessna’s president, Mal Harned.
When I was asked about 425 sales, I commented about tail questions (this was only a few years since the 441 crash) and Harned, an engineer, said, “You can tell anyone that the 425’s tail is the most tested structure Cessna has ever built.”

Buying a 425 today
In today’s world of 425 sales, the number-one question is about Cessna’s aging aircraft program and supplemental inspection documents (SID). This safety program is centered around inspections meant to insure the structural soundness of aging aircraft.
Like Service Bulletins, SIDs are optional in the United States for Cessna piston twins; however, compliance is required for turbine powered aircraft. A significant price difference on what may appear as two similar 425s may be due to the status of SIDs.
This entry-level turboprop is an easy-to-fly aircraft with simple systems and excellent performance, plus sound ownership and operational costs.
Moreover, the support system for quality maintenance and pilot training is excellent. Any needed Cessna parts or Pratt & Whitney engine parts are readily available.
A Conquest I is also highly customizable. Buyers often seek out aircraft with a newer interior, a modern panel and performance upgrades, or they plan to make those improvements after purchase. Either way, the 425 was a winner in 1981 and it’s still one in 2015.


Jerry Temple founded Jerry Temple Aviation (JTA) in 1995. JTA provides pilots with hands-on service from the research stage to delivery and checkout. Before founding JTA, Temple worked for 20 years in several positions in the Cessna Aircraft system, including at the Cessna factory as well as in distributor and retail sales. Send questions or comments to .

The reliability and ease of operation of the PT6A engines as well as the incredible performance makes the Conquest the finest aircraft Jim Irwin, president of Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co., has ever flown.

June 2015-

In addition to Jim Irwin’s own 50-year career with Aircraft Spruce, he’s been a private pilot since 1976. Irwin has always been partial to Cessnas, moving up in the predictable way through 200-, 300- and 400-series aircraft.

Today, after 15 years of ownership in his 425, there’s nowhere else Irwin wants to go—that is, airplane-wise.
Some may know Jim Irwin as president of Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co. Others probably know him as one of the pilots of N425WT, a Cessna Conquest I aircraft that rolled off the line in 1982 for model year 1983. Still others likely know him as The Kid in the Backseat of the Vultee.
“I grew up in an aviation family and have been fascinated with flying as long as I can remember,” Irwin said. “My dad, Bob, taught celestial navigation to bomber pilots in the Army Air Corps in World War II. He met my mom, Flo, shortly thereafter—and many of their early dates were flights in his surplus 1942 Vultee BT-13 around the L.A. basin. They married in 1953.”
“I spent many weekends at Brackett Field in Pomona—and can still remember the thrill of riding in the backseat with the canopy open [and] the smell of that old airplane in the air,” he continued. “Flying with my dad is one of my fondest memories of my childhood.”

A true family business
Irwin met his wife Nanci in high school, and the two married after college. Irwin earned a business degree from Cal State Fullerton while Nanci graduated from the University of Southern California in 1978.

In 1980, Jim and Nanci became president and vice-president of Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co.—the company that had been started by Irwin’s mother, Flo. Together Nanci and Jim have led the company to success for several decades. (For more about Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co.’s first 50 years, see “Aircraft Spruce Celebrates 50 Years of Service to Aviation 1965-2015” on page 38 of this issue. —Ed.)
“I’ve been involved with Aircraft Spruce my entire life, starting with sweeping floors as a 10-year-old when the company was founded at our family home in Fullerton, Calif. in 1965,” Irwin recalled. “As the company grew and moved to larger warehouses, I cut spruce lumber, cut metal and pulled and packed orders during high school, and then moved into office responsibilities.”

Over 50 years, Aircraft Spruce has added many product lines, the catalog has grown to 1,000 pages, and the company has over 200 employees in three regional warehouses across North America.
“We have been blessed with thousands of loyal customers worldwide and a very dedicated and hardworking staff here at Aircraft Spruce,” Irwin said. The couple’s four children—Mike, Krissy, Jeff and Rob—are all in management positions with the company, too.

Of course he’s a pilot!
“I earned my private pilot certificate at Chino Airport (KCNO) in 1976 and added an instrument rating the next year,” Irwin told me. “I purchased a Cessna T210 in 1983 which I owned for 10 years until our growing family made a larger plane a necessity,” he said.
“We purchased a Cessna 340 in 1992, a Cessna 421C in 1997 and our current Cessna 425 Conquest in 2000.
“I enjoy the whole line of Cessna aircraft,” Irwin commented. “We flew the 421 for four years, and [the 425] is even better, with more room.”
Irwin’s number-one mentor in flying has always been his father. (Perhaps Jim’s sons can say the same, as Mike and Jeff are also pilots.) Irwin says his father Bob was always a confident but cautious pilot that taught him to respect procedures and weather.

“I have tried to adopt his philosophy on flying as my own over the years, and have passed those same principles on to my sons,” he said.
Irwin has 5,200 hours and has logged flights all around the United States and in Mexico. “Of course, the flight to Oshkosh each summer is always one we look forward to,” Irwin said. To arrive at The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration, Irwin flies a route from Chino (KCNO) to Denver Centennial (KAPA) and then on to Wittman Field (KOSH). Each leg is about three hours in the Conquest.
You may be surprised to know that Jim Irwin takes a very traditional approach to flight planning. Though he has all kinds of avionics, software and other resources at his disposal, he revealed the following: “Paper charts work for me. I use the [avionics] for weather, but as far as flight planning...
I do things on paper.”

The aircraft with everything...
“We were told that there was a very nice 425 at Palomar Airport (KCRQ) and found it to be in excellent condition in all respects. It was well maintained and always hangared,” he said. The Conquest is a company aircraft for Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co.
“I took my initial Conquest training at Flight Safety in Wichita during the worst snowstorm they had in years. It was actually better to be sweating it out in the simulator than to be outside that week!” Irwin said.
“I have since taken my recurrent training at ProFlight in Carlsbad where Caleb Taylor and his staff have provided excellent classroom and sim training.” (ProFlight, LLC offers a variety of courses including Cessna supported initial and currency training for Cessna CJs as well as initial, currency and transition training for Conquest I and II pilots. —Ed.)

... including a few changes
Like anyone else, Irwin sometimes struggles with finding the time to fly. However, he can’t use the frustrations of Southern California traffic as any excuse. “Our Conquest is hangared at Chino Airport, which is about 15 minutes’ drive from Aircraft Spruce headquarters in Corona,” he explained. “Our avionics shop, Advantage Avionics, is housed in the same hangar building.”

“The Conquest had original Collins nav/coms when we purchased it, and we replaced these with Bendix King KX-165/155 radios immediately,” he explained.
“In 2007 we upgraded to Garmin GNS 530/430 [GPS nav/coms] and in late 2014 replaced those with GTN 750/650 avionics which are loaded with great features,” he said. “Quite a change from the avionics that were in use 40 years ago when I began flying!”

When I asked him how he likes the latest and greatest from Garmin, Irwin said, “I’m amazed at the size of the screen and the quality of the graphics; turning knobs [before] wasn’t a big deal, but I do like the touch screen. N425WT has about everything I would want in it now.”
The Conquest is also well prepared for weather; the partners recently replaced the wing boots with Ice Shield boots. Irwin told me the boots look great and have proven very effective in icing conditions. “About the only thing we will need is a new interior and exterior paint at some point, although both are still in reasonably good shape,” he said.

A Blackhawk upgrade
from the operator’s perspective
The performance on Irwin’s 425 has been upgraded too. “N425WT had the original PT6-112 engines when we purchased it in 2000,” he said. “We flew with these engines until they were timed out in 2009.”
“We looked at the Blackhawk upgrade pretty extensively,” Irwin said. “We installed Blackhawk PT6A-135A engines and have been very pleased with the improved performance [of the Conquest]. From an operator standpoint, it’s great.”
Though the engines changed in 2009, the props didn’t. “We could have had a four-blade prop option, but it does make the idle speed and taxi speeds higher,” he explained. “We kept the three-blade props, as they were relatively new.”
The increased performance of the new engines has been very good. Irwin told me, “Cruise speed has increased from 250 KTAS to 265 KTAS in the mid-20 flight levels—and climb performance has improved dramatically as well.

In addition, he said, “ITT temps remain much lower during climb and allow the pilot to maintain higher power setting without reaching temp limits.” (For details about Blackhawk’s XP135A engine upgrade, see “Blackhawk XP135A Engine Upgrade for Conquest I Aircraft” on page 35. —Ed.)
“I flight plan for 500 pph fuel flow which provides a comfortable range of about 1,000 nm,” he said. “The reliability and ease of operation of the PT6 engines as well as the incredible performance of the Conquest makes it the finest aircraft I have flown and perfect for our flight profiles.”

“But don’t you want a jet?”
“People sometimes ask me, ‘Don’t you want to move to a jet?’ But I’m very comfortable in the 425. It’s easy to fly—and more economical.”
Irwin uses his Conquest for business trips around the southwestern United States as well as for flights to Oshkosh and Sun ‘n Fun. “We fly to Mexico quite often, as well as for weekend getaways to destinations in the western states,” he said.
“I like that we’re not limited. We [can] go to Monterey [Calif.], Oregon, Seattle, Puerto Vallarta. In this aircraft, 700- to 1,000-mile trips are a pleasure.”
“The Conquest has proven to be reliable over the 15 years we have owned it with very reasonable maintenance costs. It has proven to be a very solid IFR aircraft which sheds light ice easily and which has the capability of topping most weather, even in the summer.”

Appreciation for Cessna aircraft,
General Aviation
Clearly, Irwin has been partial to Cessnas during his 40 years of flying. Though he flies his father’s Navion Rangemaster as well, Irwin has no plans to sell the Conquest. “It is fun and easy to fly, and I look forward to many more years of great service from N425WT,” he said.
Not only is the Conquest a business tool, it keeps the Irwin family closer. “My dad is now 95 years old and living in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., where my brother John also lives,” he said. “The Conquest makes the trip from Chino in about 50 minutes, making it easy to fly out to visit. It would be a six-hour drive, which makes you really appreciate General Aviation!”

Heather Skumatz is managing editor
for Cessna Flyer. Send questions or
comments to .

Resources
Advantage Avionics
advantageavionics.com

Blackhawk Modifications, Inc.
(CFA supporter)
blackhawk.aero

Garmin
(CFA supporter)
garmin.com

Ice Shield De-Icing Systems
(CFA supporter)
iceshield.com

ProFlight, LLC
proflight.aero

After two years of additional work to get her flying again, my better-than-new 170B now has over 70 hours of flight time.

April 2014-

In the first half of this two-part series ("The Perfect Plane," May 2013), I introduced this project. My goal was to take a 1955 Cessna 170B with low time and no damage history to a new place in terms of its features and trim.
The plane was recovered from near-abandonment on a ramp at a rural Pennsylvania airport. It was brought back to the Midwest with the intention of parting it out—until it was discovered this plane was ugly as sin on the outside, but pure as an angel on the inside.

The project began with the complete disassembly, cleaning, inspection and zinc chromating of the fuselage. All flying and control surfaces had the skins removed to allow for full inspection, cleaning and chromating.

My longtime friends and masterful technicians Kris and Phil installed the 180 hp engine, a Sportsman STOL kit from Stene Aviation and added skylights, a baggage door, float kit, extended baggage, V-brace and modern brakes.
As the plane was reassembled, all of the control cables, pulleys and bearings, plus the fluid and electrical lines and the fasteners, were replaced with new. The seats were stripped of their antique steel spring suspensions and replaced with lightweight and more comfortable materials. A larger and more modern panel with completely new wiring, circuit protection and instrumentation was installed.
Part one of my story ended with about two years of additional work to be done to get her flying again. I'm happy to report that we were successful. This article describes the completion of the work and my first few flights in this aircraft.

Install, remove, repeat...
As the big parts of the plane received the cleaning-primer-and-paint routine, it began to get exciting... then the work to install, wire and test all the radios, avionics and plumbing began. This takes much longer than you would expect, so be patient with your shops.

I cannot tell you how many times this panel was installed and removed during this process—each time a part is added, you need to check fit and function and verify no interference with other parts of the plane.
Then we were able to insulate behind the panel, the cabin side of the firewall and install the new control cables to the panel.

Next we punched holes in the firewall for the fluid, electrical, tach, primer, pressure and control cables. (Yes, this is scary... you measure three times and hope to cut once!) Then it was time to route cables, checking again for interference and binding. The same process was repeated for primer, oil, fuel and manifold pressure lines.

About this time, we fired up the panel while in the plane and performed a pitot, static and function checkout of the radio, transponder, encoder, intercom and panel lights. It all worked perfectly!

Connections, replacements and updates
The avionics tech turned the plane back over to my command to complete the connections for heat controls, governor, carb heat, mixture and throttle.
We replaced all the fluid lines firewall forward with new, and the gascolator was replaced with a modern aluminum-style one.

The old wet cell battery was replaced with a gel cell battery and stainless battery box from F. Atlee Dodge. We installed power and ground cables from Bogert.
The engine-side EGT, CHT, fuel pressure, oil pressure and oil temp sensors that feed data to the Grand Rapids Technologies' engine/flight data collection system were installed, and we were careful to keep these completely separate from the direct-reading "steam" gauges required of the TCDS.

Moving the fuselage—
and a twisted elevator cable
Now it was time to move the plane from the avionics shop to my shop. We padded and wrapped the entire fuselage and loaded it onto a flatbed car hauler in order to drive the 50 miles to my home field. I found that I enjoyed the project even more once I was only four miles from home with heat, good lighting and all my tools at hand to complete the assembly.

The flaps and ailerons were sent out to be re-skinned while the paint shop finished adding the color coats to the cowl and other small parts. My goal was to hold off on mounting the wings as long as possible because it's much easier to move around the plane without them.
Since the plane is equipped with Federal AWB hydraulic wheel skis, we installed new hydraulic lines beneath the floor that terminated next to the brake line exit at the gear leg. The placement of the taps is critical in order to allow the rear seat to be installed without interfering with the hand pump that mounts just behind the fuel selector/flap tunnel.

Before closing up the rear part of the fuselage, we made one more check to adjust elevator, rudder and trim for proper tension, function and limits. We found the elevator cable run had a twist, and that required a trip to the rear of the plane to fix. Using a digital camera sure made it easy to spot the trouble and get it corrected.

New windows, seals and seatbelts
The window frames were cleaned, primed and painted next. New plexiglass was installed and the window hinges were riveted to the doors. Door and window seals that use modern soft rubber make the cabin draft-free and quiet. We got ours from Aircraft Door Seals.

We installed BAS inertia reel harnesses and test-fit all the seats in the plane. This was the first time I was able to sit on the actual seats inside the cabin with the panel fired up and see it all come to life...what a great feeling!
The cowling, flaps and ailerons had come back from the paint shop, so we finished testing and securing sensor wires around the engine, and double-checked and marked with Torque Seal all connections in the engine compartment.

Then we mounted the lower cowl. It fit, and all the colors aligned! Same with the top cowl and doors! So we took it all off and riveted the inspection door hinges. We also added Teflon tape to prevent chafing of the paint where the inspection doors contact the fuselage.

Attaching the wings, control cables, flaps and lights
With five or six good, talented and patient friends, we moved the wings into place. We proceeded to test-fit, adjust and repeat until each wing fit securely into place. The spar attachments lined up nicely; no contact with the new one-piece plexiglass windshield from Great Lakes Aero Products.

We set the rear washout adjust blocks into the center position to begin with, and it turned out that was perfect—no further adjustment was needed upon test flight.
New stainless steel control cables were installed, along with new pulleys. (One gets very patient at feeding washers and nuts into blind areas with a magnet and dental pick during this phase of the project!)

There is a good reason that aluminum rather than steel retainer pins (i.e., cotter keys) are used with the cable/pulley systems: they are often placed in areas where it would not be possible to remove them unless they are soft enough to be grabbed and pulled out with long, thin picks. Their function is simply to retain the cable (in the event of it becoming slack) within the operational groove of the pulley.

As I mentioned earlier, checking cable runs to look for overlaps and/or rubbing can be made easier through the use of a small digital camera. Back in the old days, we had to do the best we could using lights and mirrors—but nowadays you can just stick a digital camera (or cell phone) in the hole, point it in the general direction you want to inspect, take your photo, and examine the image by zooming in where needed.

We used an eight-foot-long section of 1/8-inch aluminum tubing to guide many of the cables through the wing ribs.
The aileron bell cranks, cables and pulleys were installed. The ailerons were mounted and everything was adjusted until they operated in both directions evenly and to specified up and down angles.

The flap operation bell cranks, cables and pulleys were installed and set to initial factory settings. Since this aircraft was introduced in the mid-1950s, the flaps have seen improvements in design that prevent the track/guide wear issue common on these Cessnas. We installed the latest flap roller upgrade kit by McFarlane, and installed the flaps and made adjustments. Then we installed trim fairings around the wings.

Next we moved to the left wing and installed the landing/taxi lights, pitot, stall warning and all associated wiring into the cabin. It took a lot of time and patience to adjust the interior wing root fairings that have the air vents in them because of the change in wing shape with the leading edge cuff installed.

Fuel and vent lines, fuel system checks
We connected the fuel and vent lines, added some fuel to each tank to check for debris, flow and leaks... yup, we had to redo the top gasket of the fuel selector valve. The fuel flow sensor requires calibration, so it provided an opportunity to run a lot of fuel through the system. We also installed new fuel tank caps.

The mechanical fuel level tank gauges were not functioning, so the tanks were drained and new floats and gaskets installed. Be very mindful of proper ventilation, residual fuel vapors and sparks from tools whenever you're working around fuel tanks.

Necessary approvals, STCs and other paperwork
The request for a Field Approval on the three-blade MT composite prop was approved, so we mounted the new prop and made the final fit of the flywheel and alternator belt. By the time you read this, my company, Flight-Resource, LLC, expects to have its STC amended to install this three-blade prop to 360-powered C170, 172 and 175 aircraft.

We rented digital calibrated scales and determined new empty weight for the 170B was 1,405 pounds—only 70 pounds more than the last weight and balance report done some 30 years ago.

We also collected and reviewed the rest of the paperwork. In all, the changes, new parts, and replacements required over two dozen 337 forms to document the installations. My A&P/IA and I did a very thorough inspection, and he approved the plane to return to service.

Test flight and temperature checks
It was just one week before EAA AirVenture 2014 and I wanted to be there to park with the C170 group. The plane was filled with fuel, and following a careful preflight check (with notes of key measurements to be monitored), the engine was started for the first time.
It ran great!

The prop was cycled several times to purge air and verify operation while the plane taxied to the end of the runway. Oil temp and CHT were good for takeoff.

With full power applied, she was off the ground faster than I expected. I continued to run at high power in a shallow climb, circling the field, to about 3,000 feet AGL. Then I began to check and record temps. Oil pressure and oil temperature came down and became stable after about 50 minutes.

I slowly reduced power and landed—and we all celebrated with a beer and high-fives.

The engine went through about three quarts of oil before consumption stabilized. I've found that there is zero oil consumption when the engine is filled to seven quarts on the stick. If it's filled to eight, it will drop to seven in a short time and stay there—so I will keep it at seven quarts.

I run a semi-synthetic oil with CamGuard added. (For more information about CamGuard, take a look at "Engine Preservation" by Steve Ells on pages 36-41 in this issue. —Ed.)

The first oil and filter sample came back from the lab "normal" in all tests for a new break-in engine.
Last summer, I flew the plane to Oshkosh and parked with the C170 type club. Great fun! On the way back, I made a precautionary landing in a field when my fuel pressure began to drop into the red.

It turned out that a collection of spider webs and bug debris had clogged the filter in the gascolator. Easy to fix in the field and move on. When I got home, we flushed the tanks and lines and cleaned all the filters; I've had no issues since then.

First impressions
I have about 70 hours of flight time on her now. In September 2014, I took a five-day trip covering nearly 2,700 miles from Wisconsin to Wyoming and Montana, and back. The trip allowed me to spend a lot of time exploring various power and rpm configurations to determine the fuel flows and speeds that my Better-Than-New 170B is happiest with.

The gauge I love the most in this aircraft is the flight data computer—the fuel flow/remaining fuel functions in particular. It's so comforting to know exactly how much fuel you have at any time and be able to know precisely how much will remain when you land at a given waypoint or destination. Using this system, I was able to determine "best range" settings for power, prop and mixture.

Because this is a carbureted engine, it runs rough at lean of peak settings, so I operate in cruise at 50 degrees rich of peak. It seems at nearly all power settings, rpm, OAT and altitudes—temperature on the hottest cylinder (number three) turns out to be about 1,400 once leaned out and settled in.

MT propellers love to operate at low rpms. I cannot describe in words how pleasant it is to cruise around at 1,900 rpm and 22 inches manifold absolute pressure (MAP)—it's so quiet and smooth!
For my trip out west, I found happiness at 2,000 rpm, 23 inches MAP, density altitude 6,000 feet, fuel burn at 7.8 gph and TAS at 116 mph. Bump it up to 24 inches and 2,300 rpm and I'll get 126 mph TAS at 8.7 gph.

The takeoff and landing ability of this plane is nothing short of spectacular. I operate from a grass strip at 1,000 feet MSL, and it's easy to get the wheels off the ground in as little as 200 feet using those big flaps to jump it in the air, then easing them back off with the nose down until climbing speed is made to clear any obstacles.

The 170B flies very slow; with full flaps and power, you can get it to stall just under 40 mph IAS. Stalls are rather a mush than a break. When flown at max gross weight, there is very little change in performance compared to flying with the O-300 in front.

The interior trim has been
completed—we went with simple and
lightweight. I would not have installed the front-side kick panels except
they have the integrated heat ducts needed to move some heat to the rear
of the plane.

A local upholsterer made a blanket to keep in engine preheat, and the control wheels and grab handles are finally covered in black leather.

We've also completed the installation of the hand pump and the wheel skis. The system works wonderfully—you can use the skis or wheels interchangeably. Though I didn't get a chance last winter, this will be a great plane to take ice fishing on remote lakes.

I plan to keep the plane in this configuration and bring it to Oshkosh again this summer. Many visitors there never get a chance to see a ski plane up close...

Better than new at any price
Yes, I have invested an enormous amount of money into this plane to make it new. My justification is simple: a new Husky, Scout or Maule can claim more than $200,000 of your money; a new Cessna 172 is north of that.

I wanted a four-place, aluminum plane with conventional gear, digital panel, hydraulic wheel skis and a useful load of nearly 1,000 pounds that can fly all day long on eight gph in and out of short, unimproved strips with visibility nearly unmatched.
Come to think of it... there's no such plane produced today at any price!

John Nielsen is a 2,500-hour private pilot with 2,300 of those hours in tailwheel aircraft. He is one of the owners of Flight Resource (Flight-Resource.com), which holds STCs to install the high performance MT composite propeller to hundreds of models of aircraft from Piper Cubs to jet prop commuter airlines. Send questions or comments to .

Resources
Aircraft Door Seals, LLC
aircraftdoorseals.com

Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co.
aircraftspruce.com

B.A.S., Inc.
basinc-aeromod.com

The Bogert Group
bogertaviation.com

F.Atlee Dodge Aircraft Services, LLC
fadodge.com

Flight Resource, LLC
flight-resource.com

Grand Rapids Technologies, Inc.
grtavionics.com

Great Lakes Aero Products, Inc.
glapinc.com

McFarlane Aviation, Inc.
mcfarlane-aviation.com

Mtn View Aviation
(The Door Steward)
mtnviewaviation.com

MT-Propeller
mt-propeller.com

Stene Aviation
steneaviation.com

For many reasons, the Cessna 340/340A has evolved into the world's best-selling piston-powered, cabin-class pressurized twin.

March 2015-

The typical buyer of a Cessna 340 is moving up from a high performance single engine airplane. Other buyers may be businesses already operating a turboprop or jet that are interested in purchasing a 340A for short trips with only a passenger or two on board. If you are considering the purchase of a 340, the following information should help educate you.

Configuration
The Cessna 340/340A sits tall, and that alone gives many nervous passengers a feeling of "big airplane" safety. When you're used to making a step up on to the wing and then a dive into passenger and front seats, the airstair door on a cabin-class 340 can feel like quite a luxury.
The cabin configuration of 340s today is rarely other than what was at its introduction just an option: two cockpit and four cabin club seats. However, most owners remove seat number five, the forward-facing left-side seat. This results in a roomier cabin and makes getting in and out of the airplane (and egress to the cockpit) much easier. It is not difficult to install the sixth seat if all six seats are needed.
For families with small children, the removal of seat number five allows for a caretaker to sit in seat number six, the forward-facing right cabin seat, with their eyes on a toddler or two that are strapped into car seats and belted onto seats number three and four, the two aft-facing cabin seats.
RAM Aircraft offers a STC'd seventh seatbelt installation on the baggage shelf. It allows a child to sit on the shelf, or a cushion, with a legal seat belt. Owners needing an onboard potty can purchase a portable camping-­­style toilet that can be positioned on the aft baggage shelf.

Storage
Baggage is stored in the nose bay with a door on each side of the nose area. Additional baggage can be carried in the wing lockers. The size and capacity of the wing lockers depends on whether the aircraft is equipped with optional nacelle fuel tanks.
In reality, most 340s only have one wing locker cargo area. The second is what I call the "dirty wing locker," and it's used to carry oil, tools, fuel drains, etc. A kitty litter pan inside the dirty locker works great for holding all the stuff. I suggest you place every quart of oil in a one-gallon freezer bag—a leaking oil bottle is a true mess.
The aft cabin is pressurized. Therefore, the items you do not want exposed to altitude and cold temperatures should be carried in the cabin, along with any items that your passengers will need to access during flight. Food, toys, games and cosmetics are examples.

Engines and conversions
The 340 was manufactured from 1972 through 1975. The 340A was introduced in model year 1976. The original 340 had Continental TSIO-520-K engines delivering 285 hp. It was underpowered.
Soon, the mod shops STC'd 310 hp engines for these original 340s, and in 1976, the 340A was introduced with 310 hp TSIO-520-N engines. Few 1,400-hour TBO TSIO-520-N engines remain in the fleet. Most 340/340As are powered by TSIO-520-NB engines with a 1,600-hour TBO.
I would stress that engine TBO is only a suggestion for FAA Part 91 operations. In the United States there is absolutely no requirement to do an engine overhaul or exchange when reaching TBO.

Pressurization, propellers
and service documents
Early 340s had a 3.8 psi pressurization differential, and the 340A has a 4.2 psi differential. The difference in cabin altitude at the typical operating altitudes of 18,000 to 21,000 feet is small.
The propellers can be either a three-bladed heated Hartzell or McCauley. (A few 340s have MT-Propeller's four-bladed composite propellers.) Propeller TBOs may be five years and 1,500 hours, or six years and 2,000 hours.
If you are looking closely at a particular 340/340A, it is important for the propeller hours to have the correct suffix in the maintenance logs: be sure the data shows either "Since New" or "Since Prop Overhaul." A propeller overhaul will typically cost $4,000 each.
Like engine and propeller TBOs, Service Bulletins—including those titled Mandatory Service Bulletins—are 100 percent optional in piston powered aircraft operating under Part 91. A Service Bulletin may be wise to comply with, but it is optional.
The same is true for Supplemental Inspection Documents (SIDs). SIDs are Cessna's means to address aging aircraft. Once again, SIDs are completely optional in piston Part 91 operations. In many other countries, all Service Bulletins and SIDs are required. Complying with all SIDs can amount to a huge maintenance bill.
Fuel tanks
The complexity of the fuel system on a 340 receives too much publicity, in my opinion. Ask a properly trained 340 pilot about fuel management and the answer is very likely to be "it's no big deal." The technique can be learned quickly, provided you have the right instruction.
I've said for years, "Give me one three-hour cross-country with a new 340 pilot, and when we land, the pilot will be able to teach the system." The three fuel amounts to remember are 163, 183 or 203 useable gallons.
A few odd amounts may be seen with aircraft that have additional aftermarket fuel cells installed. These O&N (aka Tom's Tanks), carry 18.5 gallons each. A 340 may accommodate from one to four of these 18.5-gallon wing locker tanks; the number will depend on if optional factory nacelle fuel tanks or factory air-conditioning was installed.

Known icing conditions
Recently the FAA required certain twin Cessnas to have a cockpit placard if the aircraft was not certified for flight into known icing conditions. (This document, AD 2014-03-03, is available at CessnaFlyer.org. —Ed.) The known ice kit was only a factory option for 340s and was first available on the 340A in 1977.
The 340A known icing package consists of a fully booted airframe—this includes the wings and the wing stub between the fuselage and nacelle. The vertical and horizontal stabilizer are also booted. The propellers are heated, fuselage ice protection plates are installed, and there is heated plate on the pilot's windshield. Other items include 100 amp alternators, heated pitot tubes, a heated stall vane and heated static ports. An ice detection light illuminating the left wing boot is a part of the kit, too.
Many 340s have what is commonly referred to as full de-ice. This is not the same as the known ice kit. The term "full de-ice" generally means de-ice boots on the outer wings (but usually not on the wing stubs). The entire tail area is booted, the propellers are heated, the aircraft has fuselage ice protection plates, 100-amp alternators and heated pitot/static/stall. However, the pilot and copilot's windshield have an isopropyl alcohol anti-ice system, not a hot plate.

Maintenance
The four most common questions regarding maintenance are about the exhaust system AD, the landing gear, the wing spar Service Bulletin and cabin pressurization.

Exhaust system
In 1975 Cessna issued an AD addressing exhaust system maintenance. Regrettably, the AD was not properly adhered to, and in January 2000, AD 2000-01-16 was issued. In 2015, this exhaust AD is a truly accepted maintenance action.
For most pilots, the only item of adherence is a visual inspection of the exhaust system every 50 hours. By simply doing this inspection every other oil change, compliance is made easy.
At the time an engine is being overhauled or exchanged, the exhaust components must be sent to a shop certified for exhaust system inspections and repairs. Even if the components pass an inspection, few owners elect to reinstall the old exhaust components on their new engine. New exhaust components are almost always installed.
Many owners and mechanics do not fully understand the AD's requirement for exhaust removal and replacement at 12 years of age. The FAA is trying to clarify this point of the AD. The shops that are truly twin Cessna maintenance specialists usually know the rules—but shops that see only a few twin Cessnas may present an incorrect assessment
of the exhaust system to an owner or
prospective buyer.

Landing gear
The landing gear should be rigged annually. Many shops avoid this because it is a challenging task. It requires time and skill; just checking the gear tensions and lubricating the gear is not adequate. Honoring gear extension and operating speeds—VLE and VLO—is critical.
Also, high-speed turning and hard turning while braking must be avoided. It is abuse that will take its toll over time. Many twin Cessna pilots who trained with me say they can still hear my voice on rollout: "Brake straight-brake straight, no hard/fast turns."

Wing spar Service Bulletin
The wing spar Service Bulletin is not due until 15,000 hours. Most 340/340As have 5,000 to 6,000 hours. And, bear in mind, this usually took 35 to 40 years to accumulate. Therefore, 15,000 hours is a lifetime away for most pilots. (Sorry, all you Cessna Flyer readers, I will not likely be around to discuss your 15,000-hour 340 in 2050!)
Pressurization
Pressurization is much like a convertible automobile. It costs more to purchase, but in day-to-day use does not cost more to operate. Pressurization results in fewer headaches, less fatigue and the obvious elimination of oxygen masks. (Try putting a headset and oxygen mask on a four-year-old, or a dog.)
Twin Cessna maintenance specialists know how to find the capsule leaks that will occur. Certain shops will have a pressurization cart that allows for an aircraft to be pressurized in the hangar; a real plus in finding even small leaks.
All too often, an owner will accept a lower psi differential, resulting in a higher cabin altitude. Insist that your aircraft and mechanic get you the maximum psi for your 340 or 340A.

Training/checkout
Depending on a pilot's experience, the training/checkout requirement will vary, but as a general rule, a first-time twin/first-time pressurized twin buyer will be required to log 25 hours of dual instruction in the aircraft, plus attend an approved school such as a Simcom training center.
At Simcom, for example, a new 340 pilot attends a five-day course with ground school on the systems and then 10 hours of full-motion simulator training. There the pilot can work through lots of malfunctions, practice lots of approaches, and make lots of mistakes; none are fatal. (Aerial Sim Training in California, a CFA supporter, is also an insurance approved training facility. —Ed.)
The dual instruction in the aircraft must be with an insurance-approved, qualified instructor. This can get some new owners in trouble. Often a new owner will have a friend or a former instructor that desires to provide the dual instruction. These pilots may be young or they may be old; they may be good pilots and good instructors—but they are not necessarily good twin Cessna/340 instructors.
An insurance requirement is that the instructor must attend school annually. (Going to King Air school or flying a 737 does not count.) Know what the term "insurance approved instructor and school" means.

If I could only give one suggestion...
I advise you to avoid maintenance based upon convenience. "Convenience can be costly" is a phrase that often applies to twin Cessna maintenance. To properly maintain a twin Cessna requires service at a shop that has experience with twin Cessnas. It is usually at a pre-purchase inspection that the consequences of maintenance by a convenient—but perhaps less-than-qualified—shop become apparent.

Let's go flying!
We will climb at a comfortable deck angle of 120 kias and will be at Flight Level 200 in approximately 25 minutes. There we will level off and set up cruise at 65 percent, which is 30 inches of MP and 2,300 rpm.
Fuel flows will be 17 to 18 gph per side and our true airspeed will be 190 to 210 knots. The cabin will be at about 7,500 feet—quite comfortable.
Taxiing out and at lower altitude we will use fresh ventilation air. If we are still warm, we will use the air conditioning. At altitude, it will be cold, yet the "free heat" from the pressurization system will likely keep us warm. If it's not enough, the 35,000 BTU heater will do the job.
We will take off and land on the mains (tiptanks). After an hour, if we have fuel in the nacelle tanks, we will transfer that fuel to the mains. We will then use up the fuel in the auxiliary tanks that are within the wings. We will then return to the mains—and land with maximum fuel in the main tanks and with the required reserve.
If the time is right for you to make your transition to a 340, the details and tips in this article should give you a nice head start as you begin your research.

Jerry Temple founded Jerry Temple Aviation (JTA) in 1995. JTA provides pilots with hands-on service from the research stage to delivery and checkout. Before founding JTA, Temple worked for 20 years in several positions in the Cessna Aircraft system, including at the Cessna factory as well as in distributor and retail sales. Send questions or comments to .

Resources
Jerry Temple Aviation
"The World's Leading Twin
Cessna Sales Specialist"
jerrytemple.net

February 2015-

Each year aircraft owner groups gather at predetermined rendezvous points around the Midwest with their aircraft, and in formation each group descends into Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH) for EAA's AirVenture.
Cessnas 2 Oshkosh (C2O) was one of the groups that accomplished a mass arrival at last summer's EAA AirVenture, but its 2014 arrival was very different from years past. For the first time, the group included 18 Cessna 177 Cardinals—14 with retractable gear, and four with fixed gear. The 2014 mass arrival of so many 177s from across the country marked a first-time show of strength for the Cardinal owners.
For many of the participating pilots, AirVenture was their chance to meet up with other Cessna owners, share their fondness for the aircraft type and make new friendships. I caught up with the group in Wisconsin last summer.

A bigger, better idea
In the 1960s the Cessna Aircraft Co. was riding the popularity of its most successful design to date, the Cessna 172. A very forgiving and docile aircraft, the 172 quickly became very popular, especially with current Cessna owners.
But as popular as the 172 was, it did not answer all the needs of the General Aviation population. In 1965 the engineers at Cessna set out to refine the 172 in hopes of replacing the popular airframe with a beefier design. In 1967, Cessna announced its new design and named it the 177 Cardinal.
The Cardinal featured new technologies. It had a cantilever wing with a laminar flow airfoil; a stabilator replaced the standard elevator surfaces on the tail; and, in an effort to improve the pilot's visibility, the wing was mounted farther back on the airframe.
The new wing design and mount allowed engineers to do away with the strut bracing. The use of the stabilator became necessary because the new position of the wing meant the aircraft's center of gravity moved farther forward than on the 172 design, and it provided much improved elevator control authority when the plane was operated at low speeds.
With the popularity of the 150 hp Lycoming O-320-E2D engine already in use on 172 series airframes, the engineers kept with the same powerplant for the 1968 Cardinal.
Buyers of the new Cardinal found the sensitive control responsiveness of the Cardinal to be strikingly different than other high-wing Cessnas. In addition, the 150 hp engine proved to be less than ideal for Cessna's newer airframe.

Revisions and improvements
For the next three years Cessna worked to improve the Cardinal. In "Cardinals Rule," featured in the June 2012 issue of Cessna Flyer, Jennifer Dellenbusch writes: "Cessna [issued] Service Letter SE68-14. Known as the 'Cardinal Rule,' the letter included 23 inspection, installation and modification instructions.
"Modifications included replacing the original stabilator with a unit with leading edge slots to increase landing authority, and installing full counterbalance (11 pounds, versus the original 7 pounds) on the stabilator to help with pilot-induced oscillation. The engine was changed to the more powerful 180 hp O-360-A2F for the 177A model."
The 180 hp 177A arrived in 1969, and in 1970, the 177B was rolled out with an improved wing and a constant-speed propeller. This improved the aircraft's rate of climb and performance.
The third and final change to the Cardinal line came in 1971 with the introduction of the 177RG. The combination of a 200 hp Lycoming IO-360 engine and retractable gear transformed the Cardinal into a sleek and sexy aircraft with performance.
Over 1,500 examples of the 177RG were delivered. But with sales dipping and production costs rising, 1978 saw the last of the Cardinals. Its 10-year production ended with a total of nearly 4,300 airframes built.
Despite its early problems, the Cardinal has enjoyed increased popularity in recent years. Fans of the 177 Cardinal find it a sleek, comfortable, capable, fast and efficient aircraft, and owners of the model seem to be an extremely loyal and close-knit community. It's not uncommon to find owners who have had their Cardinals for 30 to 40 years.

Cessna types set their sights on Oshkosh
Cessnas 2 Oshkosh began in 2006. It was formed by Rodney Swanson, Gil Velez and Craig Chipley to enable Cessna pilots to fly into Oshkosh and camp together for the week of AirVenture each year.
Flying a mass arrival is both challenging and fun; it's a type of flying most GA pilots never have the opportunity to experience. It also adds an additional level of safety for an aircraft's arrival into AirVenture—one that's not available to aircraft flying other arrival routes. (For more on this group and how they execute their arrival, take a look at Dan Pimentel's Affirmative Attitude column published in December 2014. —Ed.)

Cardinals join the fold
The Cardinal invasion began five years prior, when two Cardinals joined Cessnas 2 Oshkosh for its annual mass arrival. After experiencing the challenge and camaraderie with the group—and recalling the closeness of the Cardinal community—it was just natural that other Cardinal owners would soon hear about the event they were missing.
It became a mission for these Cardinal pilots to get the word out. Other Cardinal owners were encouraged to join Cessnas 2 Oshkosh and reminded about the formation flight training clinics. The effort developed a strong core group of Cardinal owners who, by the beginning of 2014, were organizing and hosting C2O formation flight training clinics in Virginia, Texas and Washington.
Last summer, 54 aircraft participated in Cessnas 2 Oshkosh's mass arrival—and Cardinals comprised one-third of the group. The Cardinal Invasion of Cessnas 2 Oshkosh had officially begun.

David Leininger is an aviation photographer from Northern California. His work has been previously featured in Cessna Flyer and in FlyPast, Warbird Digest, Flight Journal and In Flight USA to name a few. He is constantly looking for the next opportunity to create stunning imagery of aviation's legacy. Send questions or comments to .

Thursday, 22 January 2015 12:50

Modifications and Good Things for the Cessna 182

Written by

April 2005-

The observation that Bill is a pampered Cessna 182 borders on understatement. This Skylane left the Cessna factory in December 1966 as a state-of-the-art IFR flying machine with a full avionics stack including an autopilot.
Bill now shares a 60 x 80-foot heated hangar with three other aircraft. As he resides in these comfy surroundings, his owner continually upgrades his equipment list with numerous STCs, Field Modifications and additional Cessna Options.

Monday, 29 September 2014 02:37

As Big as the Sky Itself

Written by

October 2014-

Ramona Cox decided years ago to set her goals high and never look back.

     In a remote canyon deep in the backcountry wilderness somewhere, the distinctive sound of a TSIO-520 Continental engine can be heard as a TU206 Turbo Stationair weaves its way around one blind turn, and then another, before dropping into a remote grass strip and taxiing up to the other planes and pilots already camped there.

     The scene is not unlike any other backcountry arrival, when a large, sturdy airplane loaded to the hilt with gear is "manhandled" right down onto where the numbers would be... if backcountry strips had numbers. But this Turbo Stationair has a giant clue right on its nose: big red lips, to signal to the other pilots that there is no man on board, and the only handling being done is by a female pilot with a quirky personality, an infectious attitude about flying, and a surprisingly diminutive frame.

     When Ramona Cox, known in aviation circles as "Skychick," flies alone into these backcountry strips, the eyebrows usually start raising about the time she climbs out and begins unloading enough equipment to make you think she must be the favorite customer of an REI store somewhere.

     At five feet even and 97 pounds soaking wet, Cox might not look like the Central Casting version of a backcountry pilot. She needs field-approved extensions on top of the factory Cessna pedal extensions just to swing the TU206's big rudder, and it's not uncommon for the three aviation-approved seat cushions uses to see over the panel to fall to the ground as she leaps down.

     But people who make the mistake of judging Cox by her size alone quickly learn that while the package might be small, inside lives a larger-than-life aviator who is living the flying experience very few of us get to enjoy.

     While we all use our airplanes for different reasons, Cox uses hers to let no day escape without chasing after each precious morsel of flying joy it possesses. To her, the next 24 hours is another opportunity to put the frantic pace of the Los Angeles area behind her and point those big red lips on the cowl of her plane at another slice of backcountry heaven.

     "Ramona may be physically tiny," says Shelley Siracusa of Austin, Tex., one of the many friends Cox has made in the aviation family, "but her strength and personality are as big as the sky itself. Relentlessly positive and sociable, she is the life of any party—and usually the organizer.

RamonaPhotoFog

     "She'll fly into any airport, even challenging, isolated backcountry strips where a missed approach due to moose on the runway is not uncommon. Sparkling with self-confidence, coupled with a genuine interest in other people and their stories, I suspect that the only places she's ever left without making a new friend are places where there simply weren't any other humans. And even then, she probably charmed the local grizzly bear population."

     Cox subscribes to the theory that the sky is truly genderless. As Siracusa explains, there is room in that sky for a skilled pilot that doesn't happen to look like a lumberjack. "One time at the Burning Man festival, I was struggling just to stay hydrated, and I saw Ramona emerge from a tent under the wing of her airplane, looking fresh as a daisy, perfectly coiffed, made-up and manicured, dressed in a fantastic outfit, with gifts to give and effervescent laughter announcing her arrival.

     "She always has endless aviation stories to tell, and has both the piloting skills and the toughness to rival any male pilot. She can hang with all of them, but remains undeniably feminine and charming. A rare bird, Skychick."

     Cox's success at living her wonderful aviation life really has nothing to do with gender. It's a factor, sure, but not the determining factor. "I would say that for me personally, being a part of the six percent of aviation that is female has not been a huge deal," Cox says.

     "It might have opened a door or two for me, but the key to equality as a pilot is being friendly, smiling genuinely at others because you're happy and excited to be doing what they're doing, and being open to try new things and explore new territory. It's letting your inner child come out to play, and in the process, those around you—both men and women—feel safe to do the same."

     As a member of an aviation family, Cox seemed almost preordained to end up as a pilot.

     "I was influenced by my father, a fearless adventurer," explains Cox. "He flew and owned several aircraft including Stearmans, Stinsons, a T-6, a Buhl Pup and a Ryan PT-22.

     "My father's enthusiasm for aviation gave my half-brother the flying bug and he became a pilot in the Utah Air Guard. He retired from the guard as a lieutenant colonel and flew everything from B-25s to KC-135 air tankers.

     "My father would take our family on camping trips, which I loved. He taught me to fish, and being a bit of a tomboy by nature, I was always happiest exploring the outdoors."

     There was plenty of fun poked at Cox for being a girl who wanted to fly, and like most any pilot, she took the ribbing as just part of being in this community. "When my CFI finally said it's time for me to solo," Cox says, "I made several nice landings, but hadn't told my father that I was taking flight lessons, and was waiting to tell him after I soloed. "So I headed to his house to surprise him and coincidentally, my half-brother—the Air Force pilot—was visiting from Utah. I told them the story of waiting forever to take off behind some KC-130s, and the family banter started.

     "My half-brother said, 'Well...it takes time to clear the airways for 25 miles when they hear a female is going to fly.'

     "Then my father added, '...and of course, the tower guys had to do 50 'Hail Marys'!'

     "We laughed for a bit and my father glowed... I knew he was proud."

     Along with flying her TU206 into any backcountry strip she can find, Cox has over 200 hours flying T-34 Mentors. The Mentor she flew had a Blue Angels paint job, and with a group of friends, she did formation demonstrations at airshows and at the Reno Air Races in the late 1980s.

     "I earned a Wingman patch," [now called a FAST card], she said, "and the highlight of flying the T-34 was formation fly-bys during the warbird formations at EAA Airventure Oshkosh. During this time, there were only a few women doing formation flying: Julie Clark in her T-34, Sue Parish who flew a pink P-40 Warhawk... and me."

     Back then, the occasional comment by another pilot was waved off by Cox without so much as a second thought, because when you are living a flying life this grand, there is no room for any nonsense like being judged on flying skills simply because of gender. And when you consider why she flies in the first place, you see that it means absolutely nothing.

     "My mother was diagnosed with cancer when I was six years old," Cox explains, "and when she passed four years later, I experienced a distinct revelation that there were no guarantees in life. From that day forward, I made a point to enjoy each day as much as possible and not let fear get in the way of enjoying life.

     "After she passed, my father took custody of me and my life changed. He was a positive and inspirational man who taught me that I could accomplish anything I wanted as long as I put the desire and energy into it.

     "I went from being a very shy, introverted child to an outgoing teenager and adult. By setting out specific plans of action and methodically taking the steps to accomplish them, I took up skiing and became a top ski racer. I also took up scuba diving and videography, and have filmed schooling hammerheads in Costa Rica, mating mantas in Yap, sunken ships in Palau and sharks in Galapagos."

     She extended that verve for life into flying after one ride in a very unique airplane. "While ski racing in 1984, a fellow racer and I were waiting for our turn at the starting gate. He mentioned that his job was building experimental airplanes and offered me a ride in his plane, a Rutan-designed Long-EZ.

     "At the airport, I eyed his little machine—which looked like something out of a 'Star Wars' movie—and climbed into my seat. Once airborne, he let me take the stick and feel the sensation of piloting the aircraft. Looking out of the Long-EZ's clear canopy, I felt like a bird and was instantly hooked.

P6213997

 

     "The following week I signed up for ground school at UCLA and was soon flying a 152."

     Those flight lessons of course ended with a pilot's license, which Cox uses today to live life like there is no tomorrow. Because the last thing this lady wants is to find herself asking "what if?"

     "When I was in my early twenties," Cox explains, "I created a visual goal book which I filled with photos from magazines. It depicted my goals and dreams and I starting systematically setting the plan of action to accomplish them.

     "Part of that book included a section on aging and included things like a woman in her nineties that led backpacking trips for youth. I realized that the saddest thing for me would be to end up in the rocking chair with the 'shoulda-woulda-couldas.'

     "My 'dream goal' photo had a woman standing next to a plane wearing a beautiful lace dress—I picked it specifically because my goal has always been to maintain my femininity despite the fact that I was participating in a male-dominated activity. That's also why I put the big red lips on the front of my aircraft."

     She started really checking off some of those goals not long after moving in next door to Clay Lacy at the Pine Mountain Lake airpark. Anyone that knows Lacy—a highly successful and motivated aviator—knows hanging around with him means going full-immersion into his aviation world. And when someone like that is your next-door neighbor, you can expect great things to happen.

     "I was introduced to backcountry flying when Clay invited my friend and me to visit the place he owned on a grass airstrip at Pistol Creek, Idaho. It was my first time flying the backcountry, and the moment we landed, I could see that this type of flying resonated with my soul.

     "After spending a couple of days at Pistol, we headed to Moose Creek where we camped and I was hooked. Just like the backpacking I had done years earlier, I felt at home in the wilderness."

     And when Cox talks wilderness, she means it. "With my plane, I can get to remote destinations quickly. As an example, Shafer Meadows (8U2) is an airstrip in the middle of 1.4 million acres of wilderness.

     "It would take days to walk in, and pamphlets at the ranger station on the field are titled 'Encounters with Grizzlies' and 'Living with Mountain Lion,' and there is signage on the field that specifically tells you to avoid leaving food in the plane."

     In her day job, Cox is a salesperson for MotoArt, a company that, according to Cox, saves aviation history by recycling military and commercial aircraft parts into functional furniture. She also does an enormous amount of writing for her Skychick.com site, where she has photos of backcountry airstrips with recommendations for air-camping gear.

     So how could she possibly find time to leave the office to go play in the backcountry? She takes the office with her.

     "The fantastic backcountry airstrips I love so much are all far away from my home airport in Torrance, Calif. (KTOA)," Cox says, "so I had to figure out how to run the technology I needed without electricity, Wi-Fi or standard internet connectivity.

     "After much research, I accomplished that goal. My remote office means having a cell phone that works in cities during fuel stops, a satellite phone which works virtually anywhere, a small portable laptop and printer, and solar panels to charge everything, with extra batteries that could be charged and used to power my devices during overcast or stormy days," Cox explains.

     "One of the goals was to make sure that everything I bought could be powered by solar. So lanterns, flashlights, cell phone, computers all need to use a 12-volt plug or work with an inverter."

     A recent major upgrade to her Stationair's panel has given Cox even more flexibility in flight, and the new avionics may even lead to her finishing up her instrument rating.

     "I'm very excited about my new panel!" she told me. "The two big new items are the Garmin GTN 750 touch screen GPS Nav/Com MFD, and a GDL 88 universal access transceiver. Collectively, they provide 2020 ADS-B compliance. I now have ADS-B In datalink technology for subscription-free weather including NEXRAD, METARs, TAFs, SIGMETs, AIRMETs, TFRs and more."

     Ramona Cox has carved out the kind of aviation life that defines what General Aviation is all about. Flying is about freedom, and with private airplanes, that freedom means beginning the day in an office in L.A., and eating freshly-caught trout taken from a glistening stream in a backcountry airstrip for dinner.

     This tiny pilot with a friendly personality is proof that in our genderless sky, it doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman, big or small. The exhilaration of flying is available to anyone who has the motivation to turn goals into accomplishments.

Sierra EXIF

 

Dan Pimentel has worked in journalism and graphic design since 1979, and is the president and creative director of Celeste/Daniels Advertising and Design (celestedaniels.com). He's an instrument-rated private pilot and has been writing the Airplanista Aviation Blog (airplanista.com) since 2005. You can find him on Twitter as @Av8rdan. Send questions or comments to

Monday, 08 September 2014 09:43

Cessna 310 Improving a Legend

Written by

September 2014- Dwane Wallace and his team created the first Cessna 310 in the mid-1950s. The airplane featured an airframe profile which was, and still is, unique. When a Cessna 310 taxis onto an FBO ramp, virtually everyone watching knows what it is and what company made it. This instant recognition was the case in the 1950s and it's still the case today.


Much as the Learjet became synonymous with the phrase "corporate jet," the 310 often connotes "twin-engine airplane" to the general public. And even today, whenever there are two people staring at a 310 for the first time, inevitably one will turn to the other and say something like, "Even sittin' still, that thing looks like it's goin' fast!"


By the time production ended in 1980, over 5,700 310s had been manufactured. The airplane is still an icon; it's a light twin that's a fast, desirable cross-country machine with a large number of devoted owners and operators.

Aftermarket performance improvements
During and after the production of the 310, individuals and small companies offered performance improvements intended to enhance climb, handling and airspeed metrics for the airplane. One of the more striking modifications was developed by an entrepreneur named Jack Riley.


For a time, his 310 Riley Rockets were considered the ultimate answer for seekers of pure speed and rate of climb. Riley and his engineers also perfected the Rajay turbocharger and went on to create Riley Rocket variants for a host of Cessna twins. Eventually Riley's company ceased to exist, but not before it was granted STCs by the FAA.


Colemill Enterprises' 310 STCs
Enter Colemill Engineering, a Nashville, Tenn.-based aeronautical engineering company that developed performance enhancing STCs for a whole host of airplanes including Beech Barons, Piper Navajos and the ubiquitous Cessna 310.
In 1968, Colemill's first 310 STC was aimed at the G through Q models. Called the Executive 600, the STC replaced the stock engines with Continental IO-550 powerhouses which increased speed to an honest 200 kias.
It also raised the single engine service ceiling to 10,000 feet, increased the single engine climb rate to 400 fpm, and decreased the noise level inside the airplane. TBO went from 1,400 hours to 1,700 hours, and the replacement engines featured a heavy case and additional cylinder hold downs intended to reduce the cylinder cracking problems that had plagued the older engines.


In late 1987, Colemill created a second 310 STC, the Bearcat I and II conversion. This STC—for the 310R, T310P, T310Q and T310R—replaced troublesome stock engines with the "A" model of the Continental IO-550 which increased horsepower to 300 ponies like the earlier STC.


After the mod, the aircraft could climb at 1,900 fpm, cruise at 196 kias and the single engine climb rate became 450 fpm. As with the Executive 600 STC, the TBO for the engines increased to 1,700 hours. For the T model 310s, the STC eliminated the entire turbo system (and thus the problems many operators reported); it also ended the required compliance with an exhaust system AD.


Colemill Enterprises fell upon hard times, and finally, after a disastrous flood submerged the plant under 14 feet of water, the company went out of business. With its demise, these STCs effectively ceased to exist.

Mike Jones Aircraft Sales
On Nov. 4, 2010, Mike Jones Aircraft Sales, a Murfreesboro, Tenn. company, purchased all 21 STCs from the defunct Colemill operation and set about re-establishing the performance product aftermarket earlier dominated Riley and Colemill.
Jones' idea for the Cessna 310 was to take the old Colemill STCs and offer either the Executive 600 or Bearcat I and II to 310 owners, or to offer them their choice of the two mods along with interior and exterior refurbishments.
After Jones acquired the Colemill STCs, he revamped and improved them quite a bit. For the Executive 600, for instance, Jones lists the modifications as follows: factory remanufactured Continental IO-550-E 300 hp 1,900 hour TBO engines; belt-driven alternators; new three-bladed McCauley threadless hub propellers; McCauley governors and Ram synchrophasers; Shadin digital fuel computers; vacuum pumps; starters; Lord mounts; fuel and oil hoses.


For the Bearcat I & II STC, the list of changes reads: factory remanufactured Continental IO-550-A 300 hp, 1,900-hour TBO engines; alternators; Shadin digital fuel computers; vacuum pumps; starters; Lord mounts; fuel and oil hoses. Existing propellers and governors are used after a thorough inspection.


Beyond performance enhancing STCs, 310 owners can also ask Jones to improve their pride and joy in several other areas. New paint and interiors are offered, and instrument panel overhauls—utilizing Jones' CNC milling machine to create a totally new panel—are also popular. Jones also has an in-house avionics shop that can remove aging 400 series radios and autopilot and replace them with state-of-the-art devices.


Attention to detail is complete, including the creation of a totally rebuilt and renovated throttle quadrant and a better-than-new fuel tank selector panel, if desired.


For the 310 owner, it's possible to refurbish the airplane and greatly enhance its performance, too. With the availability of Colemill's old STCs at Mike Jones Aircraft, it's as if Colemill is in business again, a mere 50 miles east of where it existed for so many years.
Jones has taken the Colemill performance STC to a higher level. Plus, he's offering 310 owners a way to return their treasured airplanes to their original beauty, and well beyond.

John Loughmiller is a 4,700-hour commercial pilot and CFII MEI-A. He lives in Kentucky with Donna, his wife of 40 years, and often commits random acts of aviation. Send questions or comments to .

RESOURCES
Mike Jones Aircraft Sales, Inc.
mikejonesaircraft.com

 

 

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