Questions and Answers – Worn-Out Door Stops and Dead Batteries

November 2012

 Q: Hi Steve,

I’m frustrated with the door hold-open devices on my old Cessna 182.

The left door hold has never been very reliable—sometimes it’s strong enough to hold the door open, but if the wind is blowing at all, it doesn’t work. The right one is okay.

I’ve done a little research on the web and it seems like my best bet is to put on a hold-open device called a Door Steward. Do you know anything about this product?

—Flopping in the Breeze

Push To Talk – Birdie, birdie in the sky, why’d you do that in my eye?

November 2012

 I know I’m a bad person, an erudite of nothing, untutored in all but onomatopoeia and iambic pentameter, exuberant with righteous selfdom, disarranged from all scholarly consonance, heretical of history, ignorant of any recondite explanation, void of even the slightest intellective gurgle, satiated from the drone of alleged perspicacity, puerile in the art of rhythmical composition and generally revulsed by rhyming bromidic dribble.

See, even words can sometimes be a poor way to communicate. But if you try to start making things rhyme…

I’ve been blessed with writing for aviation magazines for some time now. I’ve gotten a lot of mail and e-mail over the years, most of it nice and some of it not. But the one great frustration I have is with people who think I’d like to read their aviation poetry. Let me speak to you directly: I’m sorry. I just don’t read aviation poetry.

Poets have been poeting probably since Lucy was attending raves in Olduvai Gorge. Sometime in man’s very ancient history, someone sat tinkering with words when they no doubt noticed that a couple of words sounded similar.

“Ugg,” our ancestor likely said.

“Wugg!” someone else grinned with that childlike look of discovery.

Glass Panel Centurion: N6100Y, an upgraded Turbo 210

November 2012

 Allan Ramsay retired a few years ago from a career in medical equipment sales, but he has the soul of an old-fashioned “white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer” (RIP, Neil Armstrong). It shows in his airplane:  N6100Y is meticulously maintained, carefully flown, and has an upgraded  cockpit that features a Garmin G600/G500 glass panel.

That makes Ramsay’s airplane unusual, to say the least—the entire production run of the 210 type (1959 to 1986) predated the introduction of glass panel avionics in General Aviation airplanes. Thus, Ramsay has created something Cessna never produced at its factory: a truly high performance retractable piston single with a state-of-the-art panel.


If you ever see one of the very early 210s, you may not recognize it—when introduced, the type had external wing struts, a 260 hp engine and four seats. It was actually closer in looks and capability to the later 182RG than the 210 Ramsay owns, and it represented Cessna’s first attempt to build a retractable single. Fitting retractable gear into a high wing was a challenge, and gear problems plagued early models.

Full Circle – Piloting Aspects Inside the novel "Captain," Part Two

November 2012

As I mentioned the last time we met on these pages, several months ago my latest aviation-themed novel—“Captain”—was released in a print edition and also in all e-book formats. That novel was reviewed in the June 2012 issue of Cessna Flyer, and now I’m sharing some of the “insider stuff” about the ingredients inside of “Captain.”

For a complete explanation of the whats and wherefores of this series of articles, go back to the September 2012 issue of Cessna Flyer. But let me state again that nothing in this series requires you to have read “Captain.” If you have, you’ll be able to spot where the ideas, phrases and quotes are coming from—but it’s not a prerequisite.

Conversely, if you haven’t gotten a copy of “Captain” but intend to, nothing we’re going to discuss will tip off too much of the storyline or in any way diminish your future involvement in what happens to the passengers and crew onboard the ill-fated Trans-Continental Flight 3. To help keep the action veiled for future readers, when I’m quoting the text directly I’ll X and Z out character names and other significant clues.


Destination: Niagara Falls, NY

November 2012

 The Niagara Falls region of western New York offers some breathtaking scenery including one of the seven natural wonders of North America, Niagara Falls. Recently my wife expressed a desire to see the falls firsthand—and I immediately realized this was a great opportunity for a trip in our single engine airplane.

A review of the route from our home base, Albertus Airport (KFEP) in Freeport, Ill. to Niagara Falls International (KIAG) quickly revealed the challenges that I would need to address. First was the decision on the route of flight.


The most direct route would involve crossing Lake Michigan north of Chicago’s Class B airspace and flying the entire length of Lake Erie to western New York. I wasn’t comfortable with crossing Lake Michigan and a long over-water flight of Lake Erie, so I elected to transition through Chicago’s Class B airspace around the south end of Chicago.

Our early morning departure from Freeport gave me hope of getting clearance through the lower levels of Class B airspace at the south end of Chicago, but alas, this was not to be due to a high controller workload. In my experience, you won’t get much help from Chicago Approach—and this proved true once again.

The “No Waiting” Light Jet: Sierra Industries takes older Citations and makes them state-of-the-art

November 2012

 For all that light jets have promised, the reality of buying and flying one can be somewhere between frustrating and downright vexing, especially for those who are just now arriving on the scene.

And which of the new personal jet companies are you betting will even be around next year? Even if you’re ready to roll those dice, your choices for acquiring a light jet now include securing a delivery position that will seemingly be exercised by your grandchildren, or else, tossing a serious mordida to someone willing to sell you an acquisition date you can put on next year’s calendar.

That’s why Texas-based Sierra Industries Ltd. is loving the aviation business.

“This situation in the light jet market has made us look a lot more attractive,” says Sierra’s Director of Sales and Support Paul Wood. “We not only build a better jet, we can deliver in a matter of months—not years.”

Questions and Answers – Securing an Airplane, Magneto vs. Spark Plug Troubleshooting

October 2012

 Q: Hi Steve,

I would like advice on how to best protect my 1975 Cessna 180 if there ever comes a day when I’m caught out in the bush.

You see, I’m planning a month-long flying vacation to Alaska and want to be fully prepared when I launch out next spring. I want to fly to out-of-the-way places and land on unimproved sites but need to know how to make sure my trip isn’t cut short due to airplane damage.

I suspect there are some tricks, but need a little guidance on how to proceed—and if need be, what commercially available aids work best.

—Looking Forward

The Power of Oshkosh

October 2012

 Having had the luxury of flying up in my friend’s aircraft, my experience to Oshkosh started off amazingly. Henry Graeber, Greg Kelsoe and I piled into Henry’s plane and we were off to Waupaca (KPCZ). I’ve been a student pilot for almost three years, but that’s another story.

We arrived early in Waupaca, Wis. for the Cessna Flyer Association Gathering so I was able to meet—and immediately connected with—the association’s great members and staff.

It was an excellent event. The hotel and meeting rooms were very nice, and the weekend’s outstanding presentations made me all the more excited to get my Oshkosh camping experience in full swing. Kent and Jennifer, the founders of the association, were able to help me find a ride to the grounds a few days early to ensure I would have a great site for my tent.

When I arrived at the AirVenture campgrounds I was directed to a suitable area by one of the many volunteers who told me that any area not taped off was fair game. Great! I found a great spot by a tree and started to set up my tent, but after a closer look at my new site I found an animal carcass… but no tape.

Left Coast Pilot – Angel Flight and a Runaway EGT

October 2012

Four years ago, I flew right seat with my friend Leroy Nygaard on an Angel Flight charitable patient transport mission, picking up a cancer patient in Lincoln, Calif. (KLHM) and dropping her off in Santa Monica (KSMO). I enjoyed the experience and have been looking forward ever since to flying such a mission in my own airplane.

A couple of weeks ago, that finally happened—and it turned out to be a bit of a challenge.

Getting checked out as an Angel Flight command pilot took some doing. It required an early BFR, completing an AOPA Air Safety Institute online course and then getting together with an experienced pilot for a couple of hours of orientation. I’d completed those prerequisites a couple of months ago, but for a combination of reasons couldn’t get a mission scheduled until recently.

The mission I selected involved picking up a nine-year-old patient and her mother in Crescent City (KCEC), just south of the Oregon border, and flying them to Sacramento Executive (KSAC). They were met by volunteers who provided ground transportation, and another pilot flew them home the following morning.

Heading Bug – Learn To See What You Can’t See

October 2012

 A thesis by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate student on why we are flying less, and a move by the largest aviation “alphabet” group appointing a new senior vice president to “solve the problem,” have me thinking—not for the first time—that we aviators are not all that good at looking in the mirror, and maybe we need to reconsider what mirror, exactly, we gaze upon.

The thesis, by Kamala I. Shetty, was researched and written for a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT under the supervision of professor R. John Hansman. Shetty’s objective was to explore trends “and to determine what drives and what hinders General Aviation activity.”

I congratulate Shetty on the work. It is well worth studying as it has created a brilliant snapshot about why we are flying less, and of the current state of General Aviation in its entirety.

Shetty surveyed more than 1,250 pilots, with the help of AVweb and other aviation media that housed her survey. Since this survey’s respondents weren’t randomly/scientifically selected, but rather “self-selected,” it’s entirely possible that those who chose to participate aren’t a wholly accurate representation of the GA community.