First-Time Buyer: Steve Bloom & His Beautiful Cessna 182

First-Time Buyer: Steve Bloom & His Beautiful Cessna 182

 

With a little hard work, help from his friends—and a reputable aircraft dealer—Steve Bloom turned his lifelong dream of aircraft ownership into a “better-than-expected 182” reality.

While I was walking the grounds of Sun ‘n Fun in Lakeland, Florida, last April, I received a surprise call from my nephew, Steve. He, along with his CFI and another pilot friend, had come to the spring fly-in to “look at airplanes”—nothing unusual there. Sun ‘n Fun is a great place for airplane geeks to ogle and goggle. 

But when I finally tracked the trio down at an exhibit, Steve explained that in this case, “look” actually meant looking—as in, looking for what kind of airplane he wanted to buy. Needless to say, as his uncle and lifelong wannabe airplane owner myself, I was thrilled at the prospect of sharing the aircraft search-and-purchase adventure with my nephew. It was vicarious for sure, but better than nothing.

Sure, you say, buying an airplane is great, but it’s nothing unusual. 

True, but I need to give you a bit of context. You see, back in mid-April, Steve had not yet earned his private certificate. In fact, he was scheduled to take his FAA checkride the following week at his home airport in Manassas, Virginia. (He aced the ride.)

We shouldn’t get too far ahead of ourselves. Let’s start Steve Bloom’s adventure to aircraft ownership from the very beginning.

Steve and his CFII diverted to Brunswick Golden Isles Airport (KBQK) in Brunswick, Georgia, on the flight home after the purchase to avoid the storms rolling in.
Lifelong love

“Aviation has pretty much been a passion of mine a long as I can remember,” Steve said. “When I was a teenager, it was one thing my stepdad—who had owned an Aeronca Champ when he was young—and I shared. It was something we could enjoy and connect over.”

“On my 13th birthday, he and my mom got me a ride in a Stearman biplane at the Flying Circus Airshow in Bealeton, Virginia. And then for my 16th birthday, they gave me an introductory flight in a Cessna 152 at Manassas Airport (KHEF),” he said. “Other than that, there wasn’t much General Aviation experience in my life. But I became a complete geek for it. Every school project had to do with airplanes.”

In high school, young Steve had set his sights on attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University or Florida Institute of Technology to earn an aviation degree and pursue a career in the left seat. Unfortunately for the airlines, his less-than-first-class-medical-qualifying eyesight would keep that from happening. 

“So, I did the responsible thing and got a degree in accounting from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina,” Steve said. “The college also has a really great aviation program and one of my best friends was going there. While my friend was building time toward his commercial, I got a lot of right-seat time in a 172. We flew all over the Carolinas and Georgia.”

Steve explained that while his dream of being a professional pilot didn’t pan out, in a way, his current job as the vice president of information technology for a major video game company is connected to his fascination with aviation. 

“My original introduction and interest in the world of video games and simulations started with the hours and hours spent with the original [Microsoft] Flight Simulator,” he said. “It’s not nearly as popular now as it was then, but it was a chance to ‘fly’—and a lot of fun.”

Here’s where Steve’s road to piloting takes a course that’s all too familiar to so many of us: Life just got in the way of him achieving his lifelong dream of learning how to fly. But he didn’t lose the spark.

“Learning how to fly was always something I wanted to do, but just never could. I finally gave up and said it’s just going to be one of those unrealized dreams—and I was fine with that,” he explained. “I have a wonderful wife and daughter and a lot of amazing things going on in my life. Maybe God knew I would be a terrible pilot and was protecting me from myself.”

Just do it

“My wife, Danni, and I honeymooned at the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Our family loves to spend our vacations out there. A couple of years ago, we decided to start looking at property for a vacation home,” Steve said. “From our home, it’s a six-hour drive [to the Outer Banks] on a good day.”

“Anyway, on the way home from a visit, I happened to mention how easy of a trip it would be in an airplane and if we were be going to make the trip more frequently, driving was the hard way.”

“Danni just looked at me and said, ‘Why don’t we just forget about the whole beach-house thing and you just go get your pilot’s license?’” Steve explained. “She said for me to just stop thinking and dreaming about it, and go do it.”

Steve heeded his wife’s advice and immediately went looking for a flight school, which ended up being a harder task than you might think. Primarily because of a shortage of full-time flight instructors, the few flight schools that are located at Steve’s home airport were swamped with students, especially on the weekends. His diligence finally paid off, and he started his training.

The lack of convenient instructors and available aircraft further cemented Steve’s idea that the only way to really be able to use his license was to buy his own airplane.

“I learned that in aviation—especially as a renter—you are always dependent on someone or something else, which limits your control,” he said. “As a bit of a Type A guy, I wanted to control as much of the process as I possibly could. I knew that when I got my private [certificate], I wanted to immediately start working toward my instrument rating. To do that, I needed to own my own airplane.”

Steve, Danni, Clara, and their newest family member, N4196D.
Let the search begin

Obviously, the first step in looking for the perfect airplane to buy is deciding on just what that “perfect” airplane is. It’s not like you don’t have a plethora of options to choose from. But in Steve’s particular case, he wanted to stay in the Cessna family. Like so many of us, the familiarity he had developed during his flight training made the type his preferred choice. 

But which one?

“I started looking at 172s, but quickly learned good ones are very difficult to find today. Flight schools really want them. Even the old ‘beaters’ that come on the market get sold quickly,” Steve said. “You can buy one, spend another $100,000, and have a really great four-place training airplane for way less than half the cost of a new one.” 

Aside from the lack of available stock, the other negative on the 172 was the lack of useful load. Steve wanted an airplane that could carry his family and a bit of luggage for family trips. 

He also looked at the fixed-gear Cessna 177B. And while he, as do many of us, really liked the Cardinal’s aggressive styling and spacious cabin, much like the 172, its useful load didn’t meet his needs. His search ultimately led to the venerable—and honestly, very hard to beat—Cessna 182 Skylane. 

“My CFI, along with other of my aviation mentors, all said that the 182 would be the ideal ‘first’ airplane for me,” Steve said. “On one hand it’s a big 172, so it would be easy for me to transition to, and it had the power to carry pretty much whatever we want to put in it and still comfortably go as far as we want to go.”

“Also, unlike the majority of 172s,” he continued, “a 182 would not have typically been ‘beat up’ by primary flight students; although I was warned by everyone about 182s wanting to land hard on the nosegear. It was nothing to fear, but you have to pay attention to it and be properly trained. It’s been the bane of many 182 pilots.”

Once his mind was made up on the type, it came time for the daunting task of finding the right 182 out of all the candidates. Like everyone before him, Steve started his search by searching the pages of Trade-A-Plane, Controller, Barnstormers—all the popular places. The problem was they all seemed to have the same airplanes advertised. 

As a social media kind of guy, Steve said he did find a lot of great information on the various aircraft buy/sell/trade groups available on Facebook.

“[The Facebook groups had] some fantastic information. I got an idea of what the real-world prices were for 182s and what I could expect to get within my budget,” Steve explained. 

“The owners on Facebook were much more willing to share photos, logbook entries and other information about owning a particular type that you can’t get on the other sites,” he added. “And, besides, it’s a lot of fun just looking at the airplanes.”

A bit of uncle-ly advice

Throughout his online search, Steve would send me links to “interesting candidates” and ask my opinion on each. 

I had previously contacted a couple of friends who own 182s and are A&Ps. They all shared the same advice: Rule No. 1 is, unless you are an A&P, DO NOT buy a fixer-upper. (The reasons are plentiful enough to warrant their own article.) Instead, find one with a mid-time airframe, low-time engine and serviceable avionics. That way you can start enjoying it right away. 

As you can imagine, internet sites are packed with airplanes that may well have fit the bill. The problem is most owners are, let’s say, overly optimistic about the claims they make about their aircraft.

And besides, as Steve had already surmised, finding the airplane is just the first part of the complex purchasing puzzle.

“The biggest question I had when looking to buy an airplane on the open market was how does the process work? I know how to buy a car or a house, but not an airplane,” he said. “How do I make an offer? Who handles the contract? How do I do the pre-buy if the airplane is hundreds of miles away? How do I get financing or insurance?”

Sure, Steve’s a very smart guy and he would have figured it all out, but as his uncle, and with just a bit more experience and knowledge about the pitfalls of buying an airplane from an individual owner, my advice was to leave all that to the professionals. 

When he asked my opinion, I said I felt his best avenue was to contract a reputable aircraft dealer and pay the dealer to put it all together for him. Sure, it may cost a bit more up front (I don’t mind spending his money), but my experienced opinion is that what it will save in worry and aggravation in the end is worth every penny.

I have known Fred Ahles and his team at Premier Aircraft Sales for a long time and they are the ones I would turn to if I were buying an airplane—especially my first airplane. So, I asked one of Premier’s regional sales managers, Barry Rutheiser, to contact Steve to see if the could work out an arrangement. 

Barry Rutheiser of Premier Aircraft Sales, who found the perfect airplane, presents Steve Bloom (right) with the keys. 

“When I talked to Barry about their acquisition services, I realized it was one simple answer to all of my questions,” Steve said. “Now, paying a sizable chunk of money up front as an acquisition fee is a little scary—you don’t get it back. This was also my first real realization that this was no longer a jaunt. It was serious.”

The first thing Rutheiser did was talk to Steve in-depth about what his goals were for flying and aircraft ownership.

“Just because Steve wanted a 182, didn’t mean that was the best airplane for him to buy. We need to consider the experience as a pilot and what they want to do with the airplane,” Rutheiser said. “You don’t want a buyer to be unrealistic in their search. For example, a Bonanza is fast and a great airplane, but it’s not ideal for the majority of low-time, first-time buyers.”

After their phone discussion, their mutual decision was that the Cessna 182 was indeed the ideal first airplane for Steve. Now the challenge was finding the right 182 to buy.

“There are a lot of 182s out there at all price points. It’s very difficult for the first-time buyer to weed through them all to find the right one,” Rutheiser said. “We go to other established dealers to see what they have available.”

“Working with an established dealer is important, because the dealer has already purchased the airplane from the owner and they’re not going to put their money at risk on a bad investment,” Rutheiser explained.

“In Steve’s case, I contacted a couple of trusted dealers and was able to find an unadvertised 1999 Cessna 182S with only 200 hours on the factory-remanufactured Lycoming engine,” he said. “It had a very nice Garmin avionics package and the cosmetics on the original interior and exterior were very good for its age. It was an exceptionally nice airplane.”

The updated panel, complete with dual Garmin G5s, GTX 345, GNS 530W, JPI EDM 730, and the PS Engineering Bluetooth audio panel contribute to making this a turnkey airplane.

This particular Skylane was so nice, in fact, that Rutheiser made the decision that if Steve didn’t want it, he would buy it for Premier’s inventory. 

“I signed the agreement with Barry on Friday and he called me the following Tuesday saying he thought he had found the ideal 182 for me,” Steve said. “When I saw the information on 4196 Delta, I realized the train was moving pretty fast. The market is hot for these airplanes.”

“I could have said I wasn’t interested, and Barry would have kept looking, but I didn’t want to miss out on the ideal airplane.”

“Then it came down to signing the contract and sending the deposit, setting up financing, all that stuff,” he said. “Now I was really committed. It was exciting—but a little nerve-wracking at the same time.”

While the proverbial clock was ticking, Steve stressed the fact that Rutheiser never put any pressure on him to make a decision. 

“Barry gave me some great advice. He said, ‘Nothing happens quickly in aviation.’ I was all set to send the deposit and head to Fort Lauderdale [Florida] to pick up the airplane and he said to slow down. Premier wanted to first get the airplane to their shop and give it a thorough pre-buy inspection. If there was anything amiss, they wanted time to fix it,” Steve explained. “Barry made me comfortable with the whole process.”

Hello beautiful…

If you’ve ever been on a blind date, well, it’s nothing compared to the anxiety you can feel after committing a bankroll of money and traveling from Virginia to Fort Lauderdale to buy an airplane that you’ve never seen. 

Fortunately, for Steve and N4196 Delta, it was love at first flight.

           

Parked at Orlando Executive (KORL), getting ready to depart after NBAA-BACE.

“There were thunderstorms forecast in the area, so we decided to go fly as soon as my CFI and I arrived at Premier’s office,” Steve said. “Corbin Hallaran, Premier’s chief pilot, gave us a quick walkaround and I was ushered into the left seat.”

“I had never flown a high-performance airplane with a constant-speed prop and a more complicated avionics package before, but Corbin and my CFI assured me it was nothing to worry about. After all, it was just a more powerful l72.”

“After takeoff, I suddenly had this momentary feeling of severe buyer’s remorse. What was I doing? I am an idiot!” Steve said. “But, I’m a pretty levelheaded guy. ‘Don’t panic; fly the airplane,’ I thought. “With Corbin’s guidance, just as quickly as the anxiety came, it was gone—and I was enjoying flying my airplane.”

“It was overwhelming at first, but it was a lot of fun,” Steve said. “Corbin took the time to explain it all to me. It wasn’t a flight lesson; he was just introducing all of the components of the more complex airplane to me. It was a bit like drinking from a fire hose, but I was able to appreciate the fact that there I was, flying around Fort Lauderdale in an airplane I was soon going to own. That was pretty cool!”

After landing, Rutheiser and the rest of Premier’s team gathered in the conference room to go over all the aircraft records and logbooks. Prior to arrival, they had helped Steve with arranging financing through Dorr Aviation Credit Corporation (he can’t recommend them highly enough) and insurance through Falcon Aviation Insurance (great experience there as well).

Once all that was cleared, Steve contacted the bank and OK’d the transfer of the funds. All that was left to do was to go grab lunch at the airport diner.

“During lunch, I got the call from the bank saying the transfer was completed and the airplane was mine,” Steve said. “I never thought a ‘little-bit-more-than-a-hundred’ dollar hamburger could taste so good. It was the best lunch, and one of the best days of my life.”

After a few congratulatory handshakes, and with thunderstorms closing in along their route north, Steve and his CFI climbed aboard ‘96 Delta for the first leg of their trip home and Steve’s first chance to really get to know his new pride and joy.

Everything he wanted and more

Now that Steve and his family have had a few months to enjoy aircraft ownership, I had to ask: How does it feel?

“It’s everything I had hoped it would be,” Steve said. “It’s a beautiful airplane that’s everything I could hope for. It’s fulfilling my mission profile perfectly, which is smashing bugs on Saturday and just enjoying flying.”

“It will get my family safely wherever we want to go.”

“And it’s so, so much better than renting. I know it’s not cost-effective; I did all the math and my break-even point is 100 hours a year. But it’s definitely worth it for how I feel about airplanes and getting to own my own,” Steve said. “It’s an amazing feeling. Even if I just go to the airport and wipe the bugs off, I enjoy every minute of it.”

New family chores include wiping bugs off the leading edge of the wings and cleaning the windshield.

Steve said that while 4196 Delta was fulfilling his personal dream, it has already sparked a bit of the flying bug in a couple of his nieces and nephews.

“We had the airplane down at Kill Devil Hills [North Carolina] during our vacation this summer and we took all the nieces and nephews for rides along the coast. It was as much fun for me as it was for them,” he said. “One of my nieces said it was the coolest thing she had ever done. And my 15-year old nephew was so taken with it, he has decided to join the Air Force to become a pilot.”

Brent, one of Steve’s nephews, became interested in aviation after getting to fly up the coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

You’ve got to admit that it’s a pretty great thing when achieving your dream helps someone else identify theirs.

Dale Smith has been an aviation journalist for 30 years. When he’s not writing aviation articles, Smith does commission aircraft illustrations specializing in seaplanes and flying boats. Smith has been a certificated pilot since 1974 and has flown 35 different types of General Aviation, business and World War II vintage aircraft. Send questions or comments to .

Resources

AIRCRAFT CLASSIFIEDS
Barnstormers
barnstormers.com 

The Cosby-Harrison Company LLC
trade-a-plane.com 

Sandhills Publishing
controller.com

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Airplanes for Sale / Cessna 182 Pilots / Cessna 182 – Skylane / Aircraft for Sale or Buy
 
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The 182 That Got Away

The 182 That Got Away

Geoff Smathers always regretted the selling of the family 182. More than two decades later he bought it back.

“My dad loved to fly,” Geoff Smathers of Mars, Penn. told me. “The Skylane was his fifth or sixth airplane. He and my mom, Meg Smathers (now Meg S. Bauschard) used them for pleasure and business.”

His father purchased the 182L, N42364, new in 1968. “My brother, Win S. Smathers IV, was born the same year. I was born in 1970,” Smathers explained.

“My mom, my brother and I flew a lot with my dad in the 1970s,” he recalled. “My brother and I grew up flying with my dad—and fighting over the coveted copilot seat.”

His father based the plane at Butler County Airport (KBTP) in Butler, Penn. from 1968 to 1981. “My dad lost his medical in the early 1980s, and he let his business partner, Wilson Amsler, take the plane,” Smathers said.

Amsler was a U.S. Navy flight instructor in World War II. His daughter, Wendy Amsler, learned to fly, and so the Amslers kept the plane in Clarion, Penn. so Wendy could fly it. “But when Wilson Amsler died in 1989, my dad agreed to sell the Skylane to Wendy for $25,000,” said Smathers.

“I was beside myself. I asked my dad not to sell the airplane and he said to me, ‘Don’t worry, Geoff, we will buy a better one soon.’ That was in 1989.

“Dad died in 1992. Needless to say, we never bought the ‘better airplane’ as he had planned,” said Smathers.

Geoff Smathers’ father (left) flew with his son as PIC twice before he died. In this photo, Smathers is the little guy in the Michigan T-shirt; his brother is in the center.
Far left: Geoff Smathers in the copilot seat of N42364 as a child. Left: Smathers’ son Rome in the same seat of the very same plane. 
Smathers intends to get his son Rome hooked on flying to pay aviation forward. 
Flying history

In the spring of 1991 Geoff Smathers formally began flying lessons and attained his private pilot certificate that fall.

“After graduating from Washington and Jefferson College in the spring of 1992, I was planning on going to commercial flight school, but life got in the way,” Smathers explained.

“My dad died and I decided to go into the family business,” he said. The family business is real estate. As the years passed and Smathers started a family of his own, N42364 was never too far from his mind.

 

The search was on

“I loved every moment flying with my dad in this Skylane—even when I got airsick as a little kid and threw up into the instrument panel,” Smathers said. “I still remember that day. I warned my dad that we had better land because I was getting sick.

“He didn’t get the plane on the ground quick enough. We spent the rest of the day cleaning the airplane using Q-tips,” he recalled.

In early 2014, Smathers decided to track down his special Skylane. He researched the tail number and found that it had been sold by Wendy Amsler in 1999. Fortunately, the aircraft had stayed in Clarion.

“I wrote to the owner, John Schmader,” Smathers said. “Two months later, in June, I got a call. Just three days after that, my son and I drove up to look at it.

“It was just beautiful, with great paint—and it was like a time capsule inside. It was just exactly how I remembered it,” he explained. The aircraft was low-time for a 1968, with only 2,000 hours on the airframe.

Smathers wrote the check to hold it and scheduled the pre-purchase inspection. The inspection went well, and by mid-July 2014, Smathers was the new owner. “This was 95 percent a sentimental purchase,” Smathers admitted. “This plane helps me reconnect to my dad.”

And it has worked out very well so far.

 

First things first

The paint was in great shape, but everything else was either original or almost original. There were, of course, a few squawks. “I knew there was an alternator issue due to the headset noise and the bouncing amp meter needle,” Smathers explained.

The first upgrade was to install LED lighting on the exterior: the beacon, landing and taxi lights are all made by Whelen. “That solved the electric draw problems,” he said. He installed a new alternator, too.

In addition, Smathers decided to upgrade old radios and navigation to make it safer for flying with his family and to adhere to ADS-B requirements. For a cosmetic upgrade, he installed new carpet.

Avionics upgrades

“I have always loved Garmin products,” Smathers said. “My first portable GPSMAP 195 was mind-bending. I loved it!”

Smathers’ Skylane now has a Garmin GTN 750 GPS/Navcom MFD front and center. “The touchscreen Garmin is the most incredible device ever,” he explained. “I’m able to make trips I never would have made without it.”

The aircraft has Garmin GNC 255A VHF Navcom radios and a Garmin GDL 88 datalink to comply with ADS-B In and Out.

In addition, he uses Garmin Flight Stream 210 as a wireless gateway for
syncing flight plans with the GTN 750. Flight Stream also works with the Garmin Pilot App and the Garmin Aera 796 GPS on the yoke.

“The 796 on the yoke is hardwired to the GTN 750,” Smathers explained. “I use it as my ‘poor man’s HSI,’ and it does a great job,” he commented.

“The secondary navcom is a nice one, a GNC 255A. It also has a database. It tells you the airport or VOR that the frequency is for,” he explained.

Smathers’ Skylane has a Garmin GTN 750 GPS/Navcom MFD front and center. He calls the touchscreen MFD “the most incredible device ever” and is now able to make trips in N42364 he never would have made without it. 
Audio panel

In addition, Smathers installed new audio equipment. N42364 now has a PMA450 audio panel from PS Engineering, and the device includes Bluetooth as well as a USB charger.

One big improvement is that the aircraft now has 3-D audio. “I like that feature very much,” Smathers said. PS Engineering’s Intelliaudio feature means Com 1 transmits in the left ear while Com 2 is in the right ear.

“Both coms have monitor modes, four different frequencies for Unicom, ATIS, and whatever else,” he added. “The PMA450’s Bluetooth is useful, too. I use it to make phone calls, stream music and to pick up IFR flight plans via cell phone,” he said.

Flight planning software

Smathers has flight planning software well covered. His iPad is running Seattle Avionics’ FlyQ, Garmin Pilot and ForeFlight. “I bought them all and I like features on each of them,” he explained.

Smathers uses the Flight Stream 210 to communicate ADS-B traffic and weather to his iPad either via Garmin Pilot or ForeFlight. “Seattle Avionics’ FlyQ doesn’t talk to the Garmin—yet,” he said. Smathers finds himself switching between all three apps when on a cross-country.

His flight planning protocol goes like this: first, he files the flight plan on his iPad using DUATS. “Once it’s filed,” he continued, “Garmin Pilot sees the flight plan; I look at my iPad, select ‘Forward to GTN.’

“The message button blinks on the GTN and asks, ‘Would you like to accept?’ I can [then] modify the plan from the GTN 750 if needed.”

Planned upgrades

Some additional upgrades are on the horizon for N42364. The largest of these is a replacement for the 230 hp Continental O-470-R. “I am planning on upgrading to a 300 hp engine when the current engine gets to TBO,” Smathers reported.

The Cessna 300 Navomatic autopilot is inop. “It wanders all over the sky,” Smathers said. Currently, he hand-flies the aircraft everywhere. Recently Smathers decided Genesys Aerosystems’ System 30 fit his budget better than the System 55X, and the installation will be his winter upgrade.

Another project on the list for someday includes a Garmin G500 flight display or an Aspen Evolution 2000. “If the budget is tight, then the Evolution 1000,” Smathers explained. “I’d like to have some glass in the panel because I worry about the vacuum pump failing while in IMC.”

No doubt, all of these upgrades are costly. To help keep his (and perhaps, his wife’s) dismay about the financial outlay in check, Smathers prefers to think of the items in terms of Aviation Monetary Units, or AMUs—a term he borrowed from a pilot friend in his flying club at KPJC in Zelienople, Penn.

“Doesn’t $15,000 sound like a lot for an autopilot?” he asked. “But 15 AMUs, now, that sounds a lot better.”
Flying N42364

Right now, Smathers is just enjoying the wonderful experience of flying his father’s plane. He is an SE-L and instrument rated pilot with 1,000 hours and is currently preparing to take his helicopter private checkride.

“Hopefully by the publishing of this article I will have passed [my checkride] and have my helicopter rating,” he said. “I plan on getting a commercial and instructor helicopter rating and a commercial instructor airplane rating in the next 12 months. My philosophy is, ‘If you love it, do it and share it.’

“Mostly my plane is used for pleasure,” he continued. “Golf trips, beach trips, and just taking my son Rome and daughters Olivia and Lindsey for a very expensive breakfast. My son and I also flew to Frederick, Md. for the AOPA Fly-in last year.

“My wife, Jacqueline Rudolph Smathers, is a white-knuckled flyer,” he said. “She will go flying with me if we have a fun destination, like The Homestead [The Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Va.].”

He also uses the aircraft for business. “I’m a real estate agent and I use it for providing aerial photography,” he said. “However, with the new drone technology, it isn’t as economical or as high quality.”

The aircraft currently has two hangar homes; one at Zelienople Municipal (KPJC) in Zelienople, Penn. and at Butler Co. Airport (KBTP) in Butler, Penn. Soon, he will choose his Skylane’s permanent home. “I’m leaning toward KPJC because my A&P is based there; however, KBTP is closer to my home,” he explained.

With the exception of installing new carpet, the interior of this Skylane is like a time capsule from 1968.

 

Extremely fortunate

Regardless of where his plane is kept or the reason he is in the air, Smathers counts himself as extremely fortunate to have N42364. “After buying this plane, I’m not walking in my dad’s footsteps; I’m flying in his seat,” Smathers explained.

Private pilot Geoff Smathers grew up flying with his father, and loved every moment. 

“Each and every time I see this plane in my hangar and each time I fly it, I think of my dad.

“And Dad, apparently, was a great pilot. I say this because I remember him landing on Runway 26 at KBTP and stopping in such a short distance that he could easily turn off on Taxiway Echo to his T-hangar. That’s less than 1,000 feet every time.

“I have so far not been able stop the very same C-182 for that turnoff. Not even close! Perhaps my dad had stock in the brake manufacturer,” he joked.

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

Resources

N42364 on YouTube

CessnaFlyer.org/forum

Avionics and Accessories

–CFA supporters

Garmin Ltd.
 
Whelen Engineering Co., Inc.
 
Aviation audio
 
PS Engineering, Inc.

Aviation apps

ForeFlight
 
Garmin Pilot
 
Seattle Avionics’ FlyQ
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Air Plains Services Records a Strong 2018 While Building for Future Growth

Air Plains Services Records a Strong 2018 While Building for Future Growth

WELLINGTON, KS (Dec. 11, 2018) – Air Plains Services, a world leader in extreme performance upgrades for a variety of general aviation aircraft models, continued to see strong sales in 2018,  while the addition of a number of key new products in the past few months is already setting up 2019 to be another robust year.

“We’re completing another year of growth centered on our most popular products and services such as our XP engine upgrades,” said Mike Kelley, founder and owner of Air Plains Services. “We also developed several opportunities in 2018, leading to the addition of new products and new markets that still play to our core strength as an industry leader in general aviation engine and airframe modifications.”

The keystone of Air Plains’ vast range of aircraft parts and services is its XP line of high-horsepower engine upgrade kits for popular Cessna single-engine pistons (SEPs) that are either installed at Air Plains’ shop in Wellington or shipped around the world. Air Plains’ top sellers, the 172XP (180hp) kit for Cessna 172s and the 182XP (300hp) kit for Cessna 182s, both maintained popularity with customers in 2018.

 

“The 172XP 180 horsepower upgrade kit remains our most popular, showing a 30-percent increase in sales from four years ago,” Kelley said. “We also marked our 500th 300hp engine upgrade sale in 2018 and it remains a consistent seller with both Cessna 182 and 180 owners.”

Engine upgrade sales are expected to rise in 2019 with the addition in September by Air Plains of three new engine upgrade STCs. In addition to its XP range of extreme performance engines, Air Plains now offers 260hp upgrades for Cessna 182 S and T models, a 260hp upgrade for Cessna 182RGs and a second 180hp upgrade for Cessna 172Rs. The additional STCs give Air Plains one of the widest ranges of higher horsepower upgrades for Cessna SEPs in the world.

“The new engine upgrade STCs open different markets for us and we’ve had a lot of interest already,” Kelley said. “As we do with the XP kits, we can install the upgrades in Kansas or ship them as a complete kit anywhere in the world.”

Another strong performer in 2018 for Air Plains are airbox replacements. Air Plains originally started simply repairing airboxes but soon began producing complete repaired-to-like-new, certified airbox replacements at prices on a par with repaired boxes and at a fraction of OEM prices for new boxes.

“We’ve seen a 137-percent increase in airbox sales since 2016, based on our high quality and low price,” Kelley said. “Once people started telling their friends about them, sales really increased.”

 

We’ve Added More Avionics

Air Plains already has a reputation for producing high quality, custom avionics panels and has now expanded its avionics offerings as an authorized dealer for Avidyne, FreeFlight and Aspen Avionics.

 

“We’re very excited to have added, just recently, new avionics suppliers Avidyne and Aspen, both offering extremely reliable and capable components and systems that owners want as they look to upgrade their aircraft for 21st century operations,” Kelley said.

“FreeFlight ADS-B systems add to our current options, such as Appareo, just as the FAA renewed its rebate program for new ADS-B installations ahead of the 2020 mandate,” Kelley said. “We can fit our customers now with just the right solution to meet the ADS-B mandate, and we still have space in the schedule to get systems installed while the rebate program continues.”

Air Plains this year moved testing of its Inpulse anti-detonation injection (ADI) system to a Cessna 180 which featured at the AOPA Fly-Ins in Missoula, MT and Santa Fe, NM in 2018. The Inpulse ADI system, which allows high-compression aircraft engines to use auto fuel, has emerged as a viable option for some aircraft owners in light of recent issues surrounding the problems with the FAA’s project to find alternative fuels for 100LL.

“It’s been a very busy year and very productive for our team in Wellington in terms of new customers and new services,” Kelley said. “One thing that doesn’t change is our focus on the customer which, along with our high quality and good value, is the reason we continue to have strong sales year after year.”

 

For more information about any of Air Plains products or services, visit www.airplains.com or call 1.800.752.8481 or +1.620.326.8904.

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McFarlane FAA-PMA Cowl Flap Hinges for Cessna Aircraft & Steering Rod Boots for Cessna 182

McFarlane FAA-PMA Cowl Flap Hinges for Cessna Aircraft & Steering Rod Boots for Cessna 182

Baldwin City, KS, September 5, 2018: McFarlane Aviation Products is excited to announce new approvals for Cessna Aircraft! 

McFarlane now has FAA-PMA approval for improved cowl flap hinges for Cessna 172, 180, 182, and 185 aircraft. “Cowl flap hinges wear out due to aerodynamic vibration and vibration of the engine cowling. A lot of high frequency engine vibration is transmitted to the cowling through the baffle seal material” stated Andy Pritchard, McFarlane IA technician. “This vibration and related hinge wear would be reduced if McFarlane’s low friction Cowl Saver® baffle seal material was installed on the engine.” McFarlane FAA-PMA cowl flap hinges utilize selective fit pins to eliminate looseness that allows the start of vibration wear. The improved design provides a superior hinge at a fraction of the replacement cost of the original hinges.

McFarlane now has FAA-PMA approval for the steering rod boot and attaching parts on the Cessna 182. McFarlane has improved the design of both the boot itself and the retaining flange. The Cessna boot is single ply fiberglass with a stiff silicone rubber coating that is prone to ripping and tears caused by fatigue and premature infrared heat related material break down. McFarlane has utilized a unique deeper convolute design, a three ply material design incorporating both Kevlar and fiberglass, and a supple high temperature rubber coating. “The Kevlar and fiberglass work together to prevent wear, fatigue, and heat failures while providing extended fire protection at 2,000 degrees F.” said Dave McFarlane, “We have worked for over twenty years to perfect this boot. It has a tough job to do.”  McFarlane has upgraded the original aluminum flange to a stainless steel firewall material. The boot is located right behind the muffler and holes and tears in the steering rod boot could allow for carbon monoxide, smoke, and even fire to penetrate the firewall and enter the cabin. “You would not want a standard boot on your aircraft if you watched it crumble and fail during our fire testing” said Teeyana Wullenschneider, McFarlane Project Engineer. Routine inspection and replacement of the boot and attaching parts are so very important to maintain safety. 

McFarlane Aviation Products has provided general aviation with high quality replacement aircraft parts at an affordable price for over 30 years and were recently awarded the 2018 Kansas Governor’s Award of Business Excellence! For more information, go to www.mcfarlaneaviation.com or call 888-352-0076 or 785-594-2741.

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Creating a “Mountain Goat” 182, Step One: Off-airport Landing Gear

Creating a “Mountain Goat” 182, Step One: Off-airport Landing Gear

With a successful top-end inspection completed, STEVE ELLS guides a new owner through the first steps to make his Cessna 182 a reliable backcountry plane.

Bill hangars his 1966 Cessna 182J Skylane in the hangar next to mine at the Paso Robles Municipal Airport (KPRB).

Bill is tall, drives a pickup, is comfortably retired—and enjoys flying. He has owned his 182 for four years. It has carried him on cross-country flights to Kansas, Phoenix and San Diego. Since I’ve known him, it seems most of his flights consist of short day-VFR trips to take his wife for lunch.

Last September I saw that Bill’s hangar was open, so I stepped over to catch up. Bill told me that Greg, who was there with him, wanted to buy his airplane. 

Bill hadn’t mentioned wanting to sell. Interested, I listened. 

Bill introduced me as a guy that knew a lot about Cessna 182s. Greg wanted my opinion on the engine in Bill’s airplane, since Bill had told him it had 1,720 hours since its last rebuild. In other words, it was 20 hours past what the manufacturer, Continental Motors, printed as the recommended TBO. 

Bill told him that the engine was running fine; it always started right up, made good power, the oil analyses were always clean and that it had been well taken care of. Bill asked me to inspect the engine to determine if it was airworthy. I agreed to take on that task since the protocol is well defined.

Continental cylinder inspection

In 2016, Continental Motors released Publication M-0, “Maintenance Manual: Standard Practice for Spark Ignition Engines.” This manual is the go-to source for guidance when performing inspections, maintenance and diagnosis on Continental piston aircraft engines. (Make sure you have the most current revision. At press time, the latest iteration is dated July 2017. —Ed.)

Chapter 6-4.11 is titled “Cylinder Inspections.” Sub-chapters include visual inspections, differential compression tests, cylinder borescope inspections, cylinder-to-crankcase mounting inspections, baffle inspections and cowling inspections.

I use both a differential compression test with calibrated orifice and a borescope to determine cylinder health as mandated by M-0. Since the guidelines in the M-0 differential compression chapter differ greatly from the guidelines in FAA Advisory Circular AC 43.13-1B, titled “Acceptable Methods, Techniques, and Practices – Aircraft Inspection and Repair,” these tools are essential when conducting the Continental cylinder testing. 

I own an Eastern Technology E2M differential compression tester. Aircraft Tool Supply also sells a house-branded differential pressure tester, which they call the 2EM.

I used a VA-400 rigid USB borescope from Oasis Scientific to inspect the valves in accordance with the M-0 protocol. This borescope connects to my laptop which allows me to create a file for storing photographs of everything I see during the inspection.

I performed the inspections of the cylinders in accordance with the chapter and found the compression readings acceptable at 72, 70, 72, 70, 68 and 72/80. A thorough “scoping” inside each cylinder showed no scoring on the cylinder walls, normal lead deposits on the piston crowns and no indication of any valve problems. 

In addition to the cylinder inspection chapter, M-0 also provides guidelines for determining if there are excessive combustion gases escaping past the rings. The test procedures are in Chapter 8-9.1. Bill’s engine also passed this test.

Based on these tests, I concluded that the top end of the 230 hp O-470-R engine in Bill’s airplane was airworthy. Within a week, Greg and Bill had agreed on a price and the airplane (and the hangar) changed hands. 

Greg’s goal

Greg owns a contracting business on the central coast of California. His business is thriving, and he works hard. When he can get away, he enjoys spending time at his cabin high up in the Monache Meadows Wildlife Area in the Sierra Nevada. 

He told me he yearned to get his family, including his 92-year-old mother, up to the cabin often but hasn’t been able to because of the nearly seven-hour drive to get there. Greg figures a flight in his 182 will take no more than 90 minutes. There’s just one catch: the only landing strip is a gravel/sand runway on the edge of a dry lake at 8,000 feet msl. 

I asked Greg why he bought Bill’s 182. Here’s what he said: “Lots of things. The two doors allow me to have my 92-year-old mother go along—it would be too difficult to hop over her in a Piper Warrior/Cherokee.”

“The 182 has horsepower to deal with high altitude better,” he continued. “The 182 is wider and carries a larger payload; my family are all tall and large people.”

“The high wings allow me to clear tall brush on the side of runways: Lone Pine (O26, located 40 miles south of Bishop) was scary with the Warrior I used to own.”

Greg put in a great deal of thought and flight time preparing to fly in to O26 this summer after the snow melts. Within a few weeks after the sale, he had flown to the east side of the Sierra and hired Geoff Pope, a CFI based at the Bishop, California airport (KBIH) for mountain flying instruction. He also took his 182 to the Big Bear City Airport (L35) to learn how it handles doing touch-and-goes at 6,732 feet msl. 

Big tires

During our initial conversations, I suggested that Greg set aside some cash to install a bigger nose tire since his 1966 182 didn’t come from the factory with the left and right firewall reinforcing channels. 

These channels, which reduce the odds of bending the firewall, can be retrofitted to all 1962 through 1970 aircraft by incorporating Cessna service kit SK182-44C in accordance with single engine service letter SE71-5. The kit had not been installed on Greg’s airplane. Cessna installed the channels at the factory beginning in early 1970 with Serial No. 182 60291. (For more information on firewall reinforcement, see Steve’s Q&A column in the January 2018 issue of Cessna Flyer. —Ed.)

I told Greg that his 182J was a good airplane and that it could safely operate out of the strip by his cabin if he factored in variables such as winds aloft, density altitude, weight and balance and was prudent about risk management. 

We decided that the most immediate step in converting his 182 for safely flying into high-altitude unimproved strips like the one near his cabin was to install bigger tires. 

 

Nose fork upgrade

The standard sized nose tire for 182s like Greg’s is a 5.00-5 tire with a 6-ply rating. During my search for bigger tire solutions, I found that the Cessna parts manual does show the parts for what’s called a Heavy-Duty Nose Gear installation for a 6.00-6 tire, but it requires a different hub and nosegear barrel assembly. 

During Greg’s research, an acquaintance suggested that a Cessna 310 nosegear strut and fork would work. 

Due to the time and expense of searching out parts and approval for the installation of surplus or salvage parts, we decided to seek the advice of Jim Hammer at Airglas Engineering in Anchorage, Alaska. 

Airglas sells an STC-approved large nosegear fork that can be installed on all existing nose landing gear barrels. Large nose forks are available for Cessna singles from the 150 through the 207 and for Piper singles including PA-28-140 through -235, and PA-32-260 and -300. The kit includes the large fork, a new axle and a new strut block. 

The Airglas website contains drop-down menus for each approved model. Topics include pictorial installation instructions, EASA approval docs, STC docs and detailed step-by-step installation instructions.

Greg and I liked what we heard from Airglas and placed an order with Hitchcock Aviation in Star, Idaho. They assembled all the needed hardware, STCs and installation instructions before shipping the package to Greg. 

Jesse Bennett, a local A&P, removed the front strut assembly and disassembled it. A machinist cut the strut tube in accordance with the Airglas instructions and installed the mounting block on the strut. Next, the fork was bolted on and an 8.00-6 6-ply tire and new tube were mounted on a new Cleveland 40-75D wheel assembly. The nosegear strut was reassembled and serviced.

That took care of increasing the footprint of the nose tire. What about the mains?

 

Working on the mains

The nosewheel assembly, two new heavy-duty double-puck black anodized brake assemblies (Alaskan Bushwheel Part No. 30-52N) and the installation and Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (ICA) manual were purchased from AirFrames Alaska. Installation approval for the wheels and brakes is by Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) SA02231AK held by F. Atlee Dodge in Anchorage, Alaska. 

Greg bought 8.50-6 tires and new tubes for the main landing gear. Parts and approval costs totaled just under $6,000. The strut modification, the installation of the new larger brakes, the block and fork, and the new tires and tubes all happened over the course of one day with hours to spare. 

The new landing gear parts add about 25 pounds to Greg’s aircraft empty weight. The bigger tires and beefier gear also increase drag—so he won’t see the normal 135-knot cruise speeds. But he will be spending more weekends with his family in the mountains; not a bad exchange.

The larger tires provide around 4 more inches of ground clearance and a larger tire footprint. The increased “float” of the larger nose tire drastically reduces the odds of nosegear (and firewall) damage due to uneven runway surfaces. 

After May, when all the snow has melted and the “runway” has dried out, I expect to see Greg gently settling his mother into the copilot seat of his “mountain goat” 182. Next stop: a cabin high up in the Sierras. 

Greg bought an airplane that fit his mission’s needs—and then modified it to increase utility and safety. As a result, he can continue to devote the time needed to care for his contracting customers and spend more “cabin” time with his family. Isn’t that what airplanes are for?

 

Know your FAR/AIM and check with your mechanic before starting any work.

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, California, with his wife Audrey. Send questions and comments to

 Resources

DIFFERENTIAL CYLINDER COMPRESSION TESTERS

Aircraft Tool Supply Company
 
Eastern Technology Corp.
 
VA-400 RIGID USB BORESCOPE 
Oasis Scientific, Inc.
 
NOSE FORK AND OTHER LANDING GEAR UPGRADES 
Airglas Engineering 
 
Hitchcock Aviation, LLC
 
HEAVY-DUTY BRAKE ASSEMBLIES 
AirFrames Alaska
 
STC SA02231AK 
F. Atlee Dodge
 

FURTHER READING

Publication M-0, “Maintenance Manual: Standard Practice for Spark Ignition Engines”
Continental Motors Group
 

MAGAZINE EXTRAS

FAA Advisory Circular AC 43.13-1B
“Acceptable Methods, Techniques, and Practices – Aircraft Inspection and Repair”
 
Cessna Single Engine Service Letter SE 71-5
CessnaFlyer.org/forum under “Magazine Extras”
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Flying the Cessna 182

Flying the Cessna 182

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. 

In 1965, Cessna extended the horizontal stabilizer and elevator span of the 182 by 10 inches.
Always lean on the ground—idling with a rich mixture is the quickest way to foul spark plugs.

           Cessna Skylane

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.
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 .

Resources

Further reading (e-books)

“The Skylane Pilots Companion” by Richard A. Coffey 
 
“Sky Ranch Engineering Manual” by John Schwaner

Cold weather ops – manufacturer information

Continental Service Information Letter SIL 03-1
“Cold Weather Operation – Engine Preheating”
 
Lycoming Service Instruction No. 1505 “Cold Weather Starting”

Engine STCs

P. Ponk Aviation – CFA supporter
 
GAMIjector fuel injectors
General Aviation Modifications, Inc.
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