Pre-Buy Prop Inspection

July 2012

Most buyers do give the prop a good visual inspection, at least from the spinner outward. That’s important, and it can reveal nicks and perhaps some cracks or a bad paint job.

What else is there to consider? The answer depends on the prop’s construction. Is it wood, metal, or composite? Fixed, variable-pitch, or ground adjustable?

Generally speaking, fixed pitch is the easiest propeller to inspect. It is one piece; there are no moving parts. Variable pitch propellers are more complex. With so many moving parts, there are many more things that can present themselves as problems.

In short terms, the simpler and newer the prop, the less we should expect to be troublesome. The converse is true, too. The older or more complex the prop, the closer the look we should give it.

Miss Versatility: Cessna’s T206 Turbo Stationair

July 2012

Cessna’s glamorous tomboy is both a “mini-airliner” and a cargo carrier that can cope with rough airstrips

You know the kind of woman who is the last word in elegance, but also goes hiking in Levi’s and a work shirt?The Stationair is a bit like that; it has dual personalities. It’s a glamorous mini-airliner, but it’s also a cargo-shifter that can cope with jungle airstrips.

The Cessna T206H Turbo Stationair provided for this flight test by Cessna’s dealer is the model first introduced in 2009. It has an all-glass panel, a turbocharged engine, on-board oxygen and leather seats for six. In 2009 Cessna introduced a number of detail improvements over earlier models, including better position and landing lights, and—for the first time—air bags.

Full Circle – Zero/Zero Landings, Part Two

July 2012

My column in the May issue of Cessna Flyer had been prompted by a copy of a letter I’d received from a fellow who had flown with me as copilot on a great many of my international airline flights in the 1990s. Capt. Scott Reynolds (now retired) was a prince of an aviator to have sitting beside me in those days while I plied back and forth across the Atlantic in widebody jets. His recent letter reminded me of a particular flight from Rome, Italy to Philadelphia in a Boeing 767 when deteriorating weather, increasing ATC delays and lowering fuel reserves caused us some interesting moments.

The outcome was an approach and landing from which I had no intention of executing a missed approach; we were going to land this airplane on that runway, irrespective of what the ceiling and visibility might prove to be. In effect, we had mentally committed ourselves to a zero/zero landing. We would, if necessary, have made one—but it turned out that the actual weather remained at the legal minimums, so no zero/zero touchdown was necessary. Like I said, we were ready.

Let’s look again at the definition of what I’m talking about. A zero/zero landing would literally mean landing the airplane while the ceiling was absolutely zero and the visibility was absolutely zero, too—a condition we hardly ever encounter. In reality, zero/zero means “hardly any” ceiling or visibility to work with.

Destination: Three and a Half Shows

July 2012

This spring was a whirlwind of activity as the intrepid CFA staff attended aviation shows as far-flung as Germany and Alaska. Shows are a great way for us to keep in touch with friends and colleagues. We also gain new members—and keep up with what’s new in the industry—by attending aviation shows. Just when you think everything that could be dreamt up has already been thought of, someone comes along with an innovation or a tweak that makes flying and owning a Cessna safer, easier, more affordable, or in the case of some gizmos, just cooler. Here are some photos and our impressions from the spring aviation shows.

Adventures with Bill – Care and Feeding of your Gyros

July 2012

Returning to Waltanna (SN65) after a long trip, I noticed that my 182, Bill, didn’t seem to be his normal bubbly self. I asked him why he was so quiet, and he said, “Well, I seem to be having some trouble with some of my gyros. Did you notice how fast the heading indicator precessed? Then on our last takeoff, the heading just danced around over a 90-degree arc.”

I said, “Bill, you know your gyros have been in the panel for 10 years. How about removing your gyros and taking them to the gyro doctor for a checkup?”


Wichita has numerous specialty shops to repair almost every aircraft component. Terry Alderdice at Pressure Technologies suggested that I take my gyros to Nu-Tek Aircraft Instruments, Inc. in Augusta, Kan.

I called and talked to Steve Cannaby, owner and president, about my aircraft’s gyro symptoms. Cannaby said that with 10 years and 1,400 hours of operation, it probably was time to overhaul the heading indicator. That was all I needed to confirm that the gyros were coming out of the panel; then it was just a matter of taking Bill’s heading indicator and turn coordinator for the drive across town to Nu-Tek.

Nu-Tek’s Military Flight Simulators

July 2012

Military flight training prepares students to move into high performance aircraft that have many fascinating flight characteristics. But where can General Aviation pilots experience military flying?

During my visit to Nu-Tek Aircraft Instruments, Steve Cannaby showed me the shop that contains his fascinating second business, Nu-Tek Simulations. It’s where retired military simulators are brought back to life and then transported to airshows all over the country.


John Evans, an old friend and C-414 owner, is a former flight surgeon and speaks fondly of his days in the Air Force tending to his pilot patients and getting his share of stick time in a Phantom. What better surprise than to take John and his son-in-law Aaron Hunt out to Nu-Tek for stick time in an USAF F-4 simulator?

The controls are all there, connected to a PC-based computer program that manages aircraft controls, power and visuals. Take the active runway at St. Louis Lambert Field and move the power levers forward, and the visual display in front of you starts moving faster and faster. Increase the stick back pressure and the Phantom is airborne.

Questions and Answers – Seat and Glareshield Upgrades for 182s

June 2012

 Q: Hi Steve,

I’m the proud pilot of a 1962 Cessna 182. I’ve been slowly doing little upgrades here and there as time and money permit. I’ve done some paint touch-up and know how to change my oil and clean the screen. I’ve changed tires and polished the windshield.

Now I’d like to start on the interior, and I’ve got a couple of questions. First, can I put in better seats? Sitting in the existing seat is like sitting on a toadstool; the seat bottoms have no shape, and there’s very little back support. The seats in later 182s are much more comfortable. Can I put them in my early 182?

I also want to redo my dashboard. The whole thing looks tacky—the vinyl has shrunk and pulled loose. Is there a quick and easy way to improve it?

—Sitting Poorly

Left Coast Pilot – Every Flight Needs a Plan!

June 2012

 Some years back, I was with a group of other pilots on a houseboat trip. After a few days on (and sometimes in) the water, I called flight service for a weather briefing before flying home, and discovered a line of thunderstorms was moving in. So I started diversion planning, and got out my sectional charts (still paper in those days).

One of the other pilots laughed and called to his wife, “Come here and look at this!” It was the first time he’d seen someone doing serious flight planning in quite some time. That is a problem, because, as this table shows, poor planning can kill you.


Weather                    62%

Maneuvering             58%

Approach / Descent  39%

Takeoff / Climb        16%

Fuel Management     11%

Source: 2010 Nall Report

Heading Bug – What to Have Aboard

June 2012

“Ditch kits” are part of good flight planning, risk management

Anyone who has spent any time at all flying around in small airplanes has looked down and realized the immense distances below where there doesn’t seem to be much of anything. No people, no roads, no structures and no sign at all of the touch of the human hand. Meanwhile, we trained as students and as competent pilots continue to imagine what it would take to safely land our craft away from an airport. In those imaginings, we always survive.

But, to use my favorite phrase, what if ... there was no one around to congratulate us on our successful off-airport landing, and what if help—even if we were lucky and skillful enough to have avoided even slight injury—was hours away? What if night was falling, or rain; and there were spiders, or worse?

Enhance Your Oshkosh Experience: Volunteer!

June 2012

As aviators, it seems we are perpetually seeking out new destinations. These achievements—so fastidiously recorded in our logbook—leave us with fond memories. For many of us, navigating to (and landing!) at the big show in Wisconsin figures prominently on our aviation bucket list.

For me, there are few memories as lucid as flying the Fisk Arrival and hearing, “…land on the green dot and expedite it off of the runway!” I think that flying your airplane into EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh is something every pilot should do at least once.

AirVenture 2012 is the 35th year my wife Karen and I will travel to Oshkosh. It still seems like only yesterday on a hot July afternoon when we packed our limited amount of camping gear into a rented Grumman Cheetah to make the trip to a place in Wisconsin—a place we had no idea would become so much a part of our lives.