AVwebFlash - Volume 13, Number 45a

November 5, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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TOP NEWS: Homeland Security Announcements Today back to top 
 
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GA Security Plans to Be Unveiled

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is expected to unveil his department's plans to address general aviation security Monday at a meeting in Washington. Chertoff is the guest speaker at the National Air Transportation Association's Aviation Business Roundtable at the Mayflower Hotel. The meeting will be open to the media. In addition to Chertoff, Transportation Security Administration head Kip Hawley and representatives of other government agencies will be there to outline new regulations for GA security. The government has been working on a package of GA security measures for the past year, and GA groups have been in contact with the various agencies to try and ensure the measures make sense in terms of security and the operational needs of the industry.

Last July 9, the National Business Aviation Association issued a statement on the ongoing process, saying it had advised the government that a "one-size-fits-all" approach to aviation security will not work. The statement stressed that GA is not a major security threat and noted that the industry has already undertaken voluntary steps to beef up security. There will likely be a comment period prior to enactment of the new rules.

 
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Parts and Rather Large Sums (Of Money, That Is) back to top 
 

Precision Airmotive: No Ready Solution to Carb Shipments

In Monday's news and podcast, we reported that Precision Airmotive, supplier of MSA carburetors and parts for Lycoming, Continental and Franklin engines might be on the verge of a solution to resume shipping those products in a few weeks. Not so, says Scott Grafenauer, Precision's president. Grafenauer told us Monday evening that Precision stopped shipping MSA carbs and parts on November 1 not because it can't afford liability insurance but because it can't find coverage at any cost. Grafenauer said a Precision spokesman who alluded to a short-term solution in our Monday podcast misspoke. "We're looking at all options. We're open to anything at this point," Grafenauer said, but thus far, the company has nothing firm to report. The impact of Precision's withdrawal from the market—temporary or not—could be dramatic, since some 100,000 aircraft use MSA carbs.

Appeal Court Rules on Lycoming Crankshaft Case

Lycoming has lost elements of its appeal against a 2005 jury verdict that blamed design faults for a series of crankshaft failures in its engines. The 14th Court of Appeals in Houston agreed with the earlier verdict that Lycoming's design was to blame for the failures, but it set aside a $96 million judgment awarded in the earlier trial to Navasota, Texas-based Interstate Southwest, which forged the crankshafts. As AVweb reported in 2005, Interstate sued Lycoming after the engine manufacturer blamed the failures on problems with Interstate's forging processes. According to Interstate's lawyer, Marty Rose, the appeals court decision also nullifies Lycoming's $173 million counterclaim against Interstate. However, Lycoming apparently doesn't see it the same way. "Lycoming is very pleased that the Court of Appeals has reversed and rejected all of [Interstate Southwest's] claims for damages in this action and has made clear that Lycoming is free to pursue its claims for damages against [Interstate Southwest] and [Interstate Forging Industries]," the company said in a statement to AVweb Saturday. Whether that means more legal wranglings are on the horizon is unclear.

When crankshafts in higher-horsepower Lycoming engines failed from 2000 to 2002, Lycoming blamed Interstate for improperly heat-treating the blanks it forged. However, the 2005 verdict determined that Lycoming had changed the recipe for the alloy used to make the crankshafts by adding vanadium. The vanadium made the steel easier to work with, but it also weakened the end product. According to Rose, the appeals court verdict upholds those elements of Interstate's case and also confirms the earlier finding that Lycoming fraudulently told the FAA that the failures were due to improper heat treatment. Rose said the $96 million judgment in Interstate's favor was set aside because the appeal court said the damages ($10 million actual and $86 million exemplary) were not recoverable under Texas law.

 
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Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright ...
In the Factories of Georgia
back to top 
 

Tiger Lands In Valdosta, Ga.

True Flight Aerospace has confirmed it will build a modern version of the Grumman Tiger in Valdosta, Ga., and hopes to have its first aircraft flying by next summer. CEO Kevin Lancaster said in a podcast interview with AVweb that the company intends to build a 60,000-square-foot plant at the Valdosta Airport. "We're very excited," Lancaster, who purchased the type certificate and most of the assets from the former Tiger Aircraft company earlier this year, said Friday. The Taiwanese government was the majority shareholder of the former owner, and Lancaster said closure of the company, based in Martinsburg, Va., was a political decision. There were firm orders on the books for aircraft but no money to build them. Lancaster said the new incarnation will be run much differently.

Lancaster has been involved in franchising, and he said there are parallels to franchising in resurrecting the Tiger brand. He said franchising involves replicating successful business models, and much of the hard work in starting to build Tigers has already been done. Many of the staff from the Martinsburg plant will be joining the new company, the aircraft is already certified and Lancaster says he's convinced there's demand for the aircraft, which he claims is one of the most efficient piston singles available. Lancaster said he comes by his enthusiasm for the design honestly, having owned two Tigers in the past.

Related Content:
Click here for a podcast interview with Kevin Lancaster.

AVweb's Monday Podcast: Enter the Tiger (Again)

File Size 9.2 MB / Running Time 9:59

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

We don't know how many lives a Tiger can have, but Grumman's venerable four-place single is getting another shot at success thanks to a Valdosta, Georgia company. True Flight Aerospace is planning a 60,000 sq. ft. plant at the airport there and hopes to have its first aircraft off the line by next summer. AVweb's Russ Niles talked to CEO Kevin Lancaster about his plans to succeed with Tiger where others have failed.

Click here to listen. (9.2 MB, 9:59)

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Enola Gay Pilot Paul Tibbets Dies

Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945, died at his home in Columbus, Ohio, early Thursday. He was 92. Tibbets was a 30-year-old Lt. Col. when he was called on to plan and execute the world-changing mission, a mission he told Studs Terkel in a 2002 interview that could have been even more dramatic.

In that interview, Tibbets told Terkel that the original plan called for simultaneous drops on Europe and Japan to ensure surprise in both theaters. However, the war in Europe ended three months before the weapon was ready so efforts were concentrated on the still-resisting Japanese. Tibbets had been in ill health for a couple of months. At his request, there will be no funeral or grave marker, which he believed would become a rallying point for protesters. Tibbets never expressed regret over dropping the bomb, saying it was his duty. He asked that his ashes be spread over the English Channel, where he flew for part of his war service.

Related Content:
Studs Terkel's 2002 interview with Tibbets.

Canadian Pilot Guilty In Crash

A Canadian court has found an Alberta pilot guilty of criminal negligence and unsafe operation of an aircraft for a 2002 accident that led to the death of a Kansas man. Mark Tayfel admitted he misjudged the amount of fuel required for the round trip from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Gunisao Lake Lodge to pick up six American tourists on a fishing trip. He initially made it to Winnipeg International Airport, but for reasons that aren’t clear had to abort the landing. Both engines on the Piper Chieftain quit on the go-around, and the aircraft crash-landed in a Winnipeg intersection. Kansas resident Chester Jones, 79, died three months later from injuries suffered in the crash, and four others were injured. In his defense, Tayfel said running out of gas was an honest mistake and not a criminal act.

The judge disagreed, saying his "hasty" check of the fuel gauges to determine the fuel load wasn't enough. "His various explanations sound more like after-the-fact justifications for his very hasty estimate as to the amount of fuel on board rather than any attempt to make the considered calculation expected of a reasonable and prudent person," the unidentified judge was quoted as writing in his judgment by the Winnipeg Sun. Tayfel was found guilty of one count of criminal negligence causing death, four counts of criminal negligence causing injury and one count of operating an aircraft in a manner dangerous to the public. All the charges can result in jail time. A sentencing date has not been set.

 
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Craig Field Expansion: Safety or Politics? back to top 
 

Jacksonville Runway Expansion Opposed

Residents opposed to the Jacksonville Aviation Authority's (JAA) bid to lengthen a runway at Craig Field, a reliever airport close to downtown Jacksonville, say the authority is breaking a six-year-old promise to leave the facility as is. In 2001, the airport authority agreed to scrap any expansion plans in exchange for autonomy from the Jacksonville Port Authority, and that deal is apparently coming back to haunt JAA as it starts jumping the political hoops to extend one of Craig Field's runways from 4,000 to 6,000 feet. According to the Jacksonville Times-Union, JAA and its supporters cite the numerous safety benefits of the extension. The campaign in favor of the extension is called Safer Craig, and proponents say the longer the runway, the safer it is. But some nearby residents and some members of city council aren't buying the safety angle. "The airport authority has framed the issue," City Council President Daniel Davis said at a recent meeting where the issue was discussed. "That's a legitimate discussion, if it's a safety initiative or not."

Others believe there is a hidden agenda to allow more and larger aircraft to use Craig, which is closer to upscale neighbourhoods and some city attractions than other local airports that have the runway capacity for larger aircraft. There's also the suggestion that the runway extension is aimed at accommodating an air taxi service, which needs a longer runway for insurance requirements. For neighbor Beverly Garvin, the issue is clear. "I don't know how many times I have to stand up in front of these gentlemen and say, 'No,'" she told the Times-Union. "The City Council has said that to them, but it's like they don't hear. They don't know what the word 'no' means."

 
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Investigating Pilots back to top 
 

Airline Pilot on No-Fly List

A recently-retired airline pilot told Colorado television station 9News on Friday that while he has all the clearances he needs to fly an airliner, his appearance on the "no-fly" list makes being a passenger a major ordeal. Robert Campbell says that even though the Transportation Security Administration assured him in 2006 that he was off the list, he still gets the third degree when he checks in for a flight as a passenger. "The fact is, I'm authorized by the TSA to fly the airplane and ride the jump seat on air carriers," he said. "But if I want to ride in the back, I'm on the no-fly list."

Campbell found out he was on the list in 2005 and tried everything he could think of to get off it. "I've talked to everybody under the sun — my Congressmen, my union, union legal people, the airlines, my chief pilot — and nobody seems to be able to get me off the no-fly list," he told 9News. "This is absurd. Even the TSA knows it's absurd."

Indian Airlines Hiring Medically-Suspect Pilots, Says Newspaper

The Times of India says a budget airline, which it did not identify, has rehired a pilot who lost his medical because he's suspected of being epileptic. The newspaper says the condition was spotted during an electroencephalogram (EEG) and it was reported to the pilot and the airline. The newspaper says its sources claim the pilot went to the U.S. to recertify because an EEG is not required unless there is a history of brain injury or disease. The Times says its sources assume the pilot did not mention the failed EEG during the U.S. examination and was given his medical. On his return to India, the same airline that had to let him go for the failed medical rehired him. India's director-general of civil aviation Kanu Gohain has promised to investigate. "We will look into the matter. How can he fly in India if he failed medicals here?" Gohain said.

The newspaper also claims that there is a pilot flying in India on a single transplanted kidney. Whether that's a violation of medical regulations isn't clear, but the Times said it's indicative of the desperate shortage of "qualified" pilots as a new "retirement bubble" looms. "After the retirement age was increased from 60 to 65 in 2004, retirements froze for a while as 60-plus commanders continued to fly. But there will be a spate of retirements in 2009. It's also the time when the country will need every single experienced commander it has," Capt Yashraj Tongia of Yash Air, a flying school in Ujjain, told the Times.

 
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Cessna 172 Retirement Party back to top 
 

Highest-Time 172 Retired

A 1982 Cessna 172P flown daily in scheduled airline service in Belize has been retired with more than 30,000 hours on it. John Greif, CEO of Tropic Air, told AVweb in last Friday's podcast interview that little remains of the original aircraft, which he says is still in good flying condition. He said he believes it's the highest-time 172. Greif said he made the decision to retire the aircraft out of an "abundance of caution." He said it's being replaced with a new diesel-powered 172.

Greif said the retired aircraft will be sold as a flying aircraft but he believes it will ultimately be parted out. He said it's a nice 172 to fly because it's had a lot of weight taken out over the years, particularly the heating system, which, of course, is not needed in tropical Belize. The lack of heater might make its market potential limited. Greif said the aircraft regularly flew three to four flights a day involving 12 cycles and was a dependable member of his fleet.

Related Content:
Click here for a podcast interview with John Greif.

AVweb's Friday Podcast: A Well-Deserved Retirement for Tropic Air's Cessna 172

File Size 6.2 MB / Running Time 6:44

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

For those of you struggling to put 50 hours a year on your Cessna 172, consider the long and productive life of a 1982 P-model that was retired last week with 30,000 hours on it, likely making it the highest-time 172 in the world. The 172, with tail number V3-HDN, has been making as many as three or four flights a day in scheduled airline service for Tropic Air, which is based on San Pedro, an island off the coast of Belize. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Tropic Air President John Greif about the aircraft's history and his experience with a diesel-powered replacement.

Click here to listen. (6.2 MB, 6:44)

 
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New on AVweb back to top 
 

AVmail: Nov. 5, 2007

Reader mail this week about Bobby Sturgell, NASA's secret safety survey, airline security hassles for air crews, and an FSS blind spot in the Northeastern U.S. (among other topics).

Click here to read this week's letters to the editor.

The Pilot's Lounge #119: Sunshine, Round Engines, Tailwheels ... Life Is Good

AVweb's Rick Durden spent a glorious weekend among a gathering of radial-engined beauties.

Click here to read Rick Durden's column.

The Pilot's Lounge at the virtual airport was days and many miles away from the chair to which I was affixing myself with a seat belt and shoulder harness. I had foolishly started my travels via a ground conveyance that had proven its utility by breaking down rather spectacularly in rural Missouri. I managed the intervening 200 or so miles to this spot through a combination of less-than-optimal transport, fortunately making it in time to attend the International Cessna 190/195 Club's fly-in, which was convened to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first deliveries of that most-distinguished series of round-engined airplanes. The festivities were ending and I found myself incredibly lucky to be offered an airplane ride back to the small town where my car had reportedly responded to the ministrations of skilled mechanics. Making the offer even more attractive, I was told to get into the left seat, sit down, shut up and fly. I was doing my best to comply.

Going through the checklist to convince the Cessna 310R to make the appropriate noises and then rise off the ground from the where we sat on the pristine Stearman Field at Benton, Kansas -- just a bounced landing northeast of Wichita -- I was jarringly aware of how it felt to be a distinct minority within a group. Of the 60 or 70 airplanes I could see, the one in which I was strapped was one of only five or six with horizontally opposed engines. The rest, 63 or 64, depending on who was counting, were possessed of most exquisitely curved cowlings surrounding gracefully symmetrical, radial engines. As I watched, some were coming to life with swings of long, glittering, Hamilton Standard props, puffs of oil smoke and the rumbling idle that, once felt deep in the gut, is never to be forgotten.

To my right was my benefactor and old friend, Mike Pratt, ostensibly an airline pilot from Louisville but one who long ago lost his soul to all things aeronautical. Behind us was his family, for he had brought them to the warm winds and plains of Kansas to introduce them to the almost regal world of Cessna 195s and people who own them. Mike had intended to make the trip in his own 195, but he could not finalize the purchase of his intended in time. (I learned a week later that he had indeed become an owner.) Although he was attending the gathering in a noticeably faster airplane, I had the distinct impression that he would much rather have arrived in a 195.

We climbed away into a sky that could not have been any better had it been special ordered. It was the fourth day of the nearly perfect weather that had graced the fly-in, the kind a Chamber of Commerce claims, but rarely delivers. We stayed at 1,000 feet AGL to a point about 50 miles northeast, in the Flint Hills, the distinctly rolling, nearly treeless expanse of prairie grassland that bisects the state from north to south. There we surprised Mike's wife by showing her scores of wild Mustangs running free in what we had been told was a huge private preserve. We slowed and lingered, banking gently over a spectacle not seen in this country for perhaps a hundred years: Herds of horses everywhere we looked, each lead by a stallion, manes streaming as they sped through the deep grass, moving from one lookout point on high ground to the next.

We stayed high enough to avoid spooking those magnificent animals and feasted our eyes on the scene for several minutes, then climbed away to the northeast and set the airplane for cruise.

Autopilot engaged, I found myself thinking that the wild Mustangs gathered in a special place were an apt metaphor for the four days I had just spent among a certain breed of airplanes and those special folks who cherish them. Few people now living have ever seen herds of wild Mustangs; their appearance in that spot in Kansas was obviously the work of some very dedicated individuals. No one had ever seen 64 Cessna 195s in one place, at one time, and that special gathering, too, came about because of the work of some very dedicated folks.

Organized From The Heart

Marvin and Stephanie Huckins organized what became the largest gathering of Cessna 190s and 195s in history. Throughout each day they seemed to be everywhere, so much so that I thought there must a secret cloning lab somewhere nearby, as they made the event run flawlessly. Co-hosting were Cessna 195 owners Jack and Rose Pelton. Jack's day job is as president and CEO of the Cessna Aircraft Company. It was truly refreshing to learn that he is extremely proud of the line of piston airplanes and jets that flow from Cessna's factories today. He is also so mindful of the rich heritage of the company that he owns and flies the second-to-last 195 ever built, which had been previously owned by one Dwane Wallace (the very special genius who rescued Cessna from bankruptcy in 1933 and ran the company through the mid 1970s). Jack has also caused displays relating Cessna's dramatic history to appear throughout the various company buildings.

The 195, and the slightly smaller-engined 190, debuted in 1947 as part of Cessna's contributions to the post-war aviation boom. As my friend and west-coast Cessna 195 guru, Jeff Pearson, describes it, the 195 was the last of the old Cessnas and the first of the new. At the time it was the last high-wing Cessna to have a cantilevered wing, for Cessna never put a strut on a wing from its first airplane in 1927 until it did so on the 120/140 series in 1946. (Cessna would return to its cantilever wing roots 20 years later with the 1967 model of the 210.) It was also the last to have a radial engine; 275- or 300-horsepower R755 series Jacobs engines were offered in the 195 and a 240-hp Continental W670 in the Cessna 190. It was the first all-metal airplane Cessna ever built. Everything before had been a steel-tube structure with wood formers and fabric skin.

Time Warp

Arriving at Benton's Stearman Field and walking away from the parking lot and around the comfortable office building, I suddenly had no idea what year it was. Stretching to the south was an unbroken line of 190s and 195s. Across the runway, banished to the cheap seats, were parked the lesser members of society: a couple of Cessna 170s, Mike Pratt's 310 and some other airplanes with the third landing gear wheel placed, oddly, under the nose. Getting nearer the 195s and their glistening paint made it clear that no time portal existed: No paint from the 1940s and '50s ever had the luster of the polyurethane that adorned most of those assembled.

As I walked slowly down the line of airplanes, I found myself turning down offered rides in golf carts that were hurrying about, populated by volunteers busily attending to the dozens of matters essential to making such an event run smoothly. Over the course of the weekend I walked everywhere, often slowly, feet scuffing through the grass, wanting to savor the moments as long as possible. Summer weather in Wichita can be hideous, with three-digit temperatures combined with the ever-present wind creating a blast furnace effect only interrupted by thunderstorms that, once experienced, will make one a true believer of the story of Dorothy and Toto being flung to Oz. Yet, at this calendar junction of summer and autumn, the temperatures were perfect and the winds had subsided to far less than their usual gale force. While baseball's heaven and field of dreams may be a little to the northeast in Iowa, for four days aviation's version was at Stearman Field in Kansas.

By the way, Stearman Field is a residential airport. Some people truly live well.

"Rescue" Flight

Not long after I had taken my first walk among the airplanes, I found Jeff Pearson on his cell phone, hurrying toward his airplane. Jeff uses his 195 almost exclusively for his business of selling aircraft parts. (Makes sense. Cessna did name it the "Businessliner.") It seemed a club member had landed some 70 miles southeast for fuel and could not get his airplane started. Parts seemed to be needed. Of course Jeff had parts and was going to fly over to see if they might help the local mechanic return the stricken airplane to life. Did I want to go?

Silly question.

The main door on a 195 opens on the right side of the fuselage and admits you to the wide passenger seat, where three may sit cozily and two with great comfort. Once amidships, a right turn leads up the aisle between the front seats. Ensconced in a command chair, there is plenty of room, for you sit high, with the back of your head resting against the front of the wing spar. Depending on modifications and the owner's whims, the instrument panel may be anything from a seemingly random array to the most sophisticated layout. I doubt it has happened, but with the care and consideration some owners lavish on their steeds, I fully expect to see a 195 with a glass panel in the near future.

Visibility is not great; despite sitting high; the engine obliterates the right-hand quadrant ahead, although one can see pretty much straight ahead, with a little effort, while in three-point attitude. More than one 195 pilot, while solo, has hit a car or pickup truck with the right side of the airplane when taxiing in an alley between hangars, so unless there is someone in the right seat who may be trusted to be vigilant, taxiing should involve a bit of weaving to assure you are not about to use a Ham-Standard prop as a blender.

Starting the Jacobs is not exactly like firing up your Cherokee 235. The prop control is pulled out, to the low rpm/high pitch position, to keep as much oil in the engine as possible and allow oil pressure -- and with it, lubrication -- to build early. The ignition switch is set to the "battery" position. A 195 does not have dual magnetos; one set of plugs is powered by a magneto, the other set by the battery, through a distributor, as in a car. The magneto's timing is fixed; the distributor's timing is retarded for the start, hence using the battery position for light off. Once you are convinced there is no one near the propeller, the starter is engaged and the Jake should commence reciprocating within two or three blades, accompanied by a general shudder as it emerges from slumber and belches out some smoke so the hearing impaired can enjoy the experience as well. Once the cylinders begin to fire, the ignition switch is turned to "BOTH" and you watch to assure that oil pressure climbs to an appropriate level. As the engine warms -- yes, a radial engine must warm for a bit -- the prop control is pushed full forward to high rpm and it's time to taxi.

Not a Tricky Tailwheel

Provided the landing gear is properly aligned, the tailwheel-steering correctly rigged and it has brakes that do not drag or grab, a 195 is one of the easier tailwheel airplanes to handle on the ground. It has a very long moment arm from the landing gear to the tail, there is a lot of weight on the tail and the rudder is big and directly in the prop blast, so control is effective. The horror stories of difficult-to-handle 195s are almost invariably tracked to something wrong with the gear alignment, tailwheel-steering rigging, a brake problem or a pilot who does not know what he or she is about with tailwheel airplanes. It is demanding on the ground, and relatively unforgiving, as are all airplanes with their center of gravity aft of the main landing gear. But it does not have a tendency to dart one direction or another absent a gusty crosswind, as does a Pitts, and does not respond so rapidly to control inputs that it invites overcontrolling as may, for example, a Luscombe. Those who know such things rate the 195 just slightly easier to handle on the ground than the Cessna 180/185 series but more challenging than the Citabria/Decathlon ships.

Once lined up for takeoff, the power is brought in smoothly as the satisfying rumble of the radial grows to a growling roar and the rpm reaches 2,200. The tail is initially pinned with full aft yoke, then lifted when you feel so inclined. The 195 isn't picky ... you can whistle along, tail low, and let it fly off on its own, or pick the tail well up to a level-attitude, balancing on the mains until you decide it is time to fly, a good technique in gusty crosswinds.

Aloft, you'll climb at about 750 fpm at 23 inches of manifold pressure and 2100 rpm, even if loaded to its max. gross of 3,350 pounds. With most having a useful load of about 1,200 pounds and 76 usable gallons of fuel, the cabin will hold about 734 pounds, or four folks and baggage. You rapidly discover that the 195 is a fingertip airplane, impressively light on the controls for its size, yet absolutely solid in behavior. It stays where you put it, by and large, although in cruise you may notice a long-period phugoid -- a pitch oscillation with a cycle time of a few minutes.

Cruise power is usually with the rpm as low as the engine will run smoothly -- about 1,900 rpm -- and manifold pressure as desired. Once things settle down, plan on an honest 140 knots, or a little better than 160 mph, at 13-15 gph. Should you wish to maneuver, the 195 will respond with alacrity: Control harmony is excellent and it is just plain fun to toss about the sky. Nevertheless, with the visibility limitations, it does mean making a constant effort to assure the airspace in the immediate area is free of other airplanes.

Elusive Perfection

On landing, plan on 100 mph in the pattern (these are old airplanes; the airspeed is in mph), slowing to 85 to 90 on final. The unique split-wing flaps are not on the trailing edge, but rather about 2/3 of the way back on the underside of the wing. Depending on the model, max. extension speed is either 130 or 110 mph. They are almost purely drag devices, reducing stall speed about 2 mph, at most. However, every 195 pilot worth his or her salt uses them, for the airplane is remarkably clean and any drag is welcome as the energy of a big tailwheel airplane must be managed after landing.

I have flown Jeff's airplane with him off and on for 25 years and I still wish I could match his landing technique. He comes into the roundout at 85 mph, power off, flares tail low until the mains start to roll, then simply relaxes the back pressure on the yoke, allowing the tail to come up a bit, reducing the angle of attack of the wing and putting the airplane firmly on the ground. There is never any shoving forward of the wheel during his wheel landings, nor any sort of hamfisted attempt that one associates with the uninitiated who seem to try to drive the main gear through the surface of the runway to "pin it on" while flying at near cruise speed. Pearson's touchdown is as a landing should be: slow, almost as slow as a three-point landing, so the speed to be dissipated is at a minimum. This vastly reduces the risk of loss-of-control on the ground, the most common cause of 195s being struck from the active register. He then starts to apply the brakes gently while the tail is still up, knowing they will be very effective because he has maximum weight on the wheels. The airplane slows smoothly and he lowers the tail while still braking only moderately. Over the course of the weekend, he invariably stopped shorter than anyone else. Some folks are artists.

The field-of-dreams atmosphere continued throughout the weekend; many retired Cessna employees were welcomed to the airport. The weather was perfect, allowing owners to swap rides in their airplanes. Many cautionary runway inspection passes were made and all present good-naturedly assigned grades to landings. While a 195 is a nice flying airplane, it has a tailwheel and does demand a sure touch, so we were treated to some landings that probably left a few pilots red-faced as they again proved the adage that the quality of one's landing is inversely proportional to the number of people watching. I saw some exercises of excellent judgment as pilots decided to go around when the landing was not progressing favorably. As a result, not a scratch was put on an airplane all weekend, something that is sadly not always the case when tailwheel airplanes congregate.

Fun Even On the Ground

The star of the gathering turned out to be a man revered by every 195 owner on the planet, Mort Brown. Now 99 years old, Mort was a test pilot for Cessna from the late 1930s until he retired in the 1960s. He made the very first flight of nearly all of the production 195s. Mort was treated as royalty, with owners showing him their aircraft logbooks containing the signature he affixed over a half century earlier. He was offered more rides than he could possibly have accepted, but did go flying in a few of the airplanes, notably one of the very rare 195s that had been modified with a 450-hp Pratt and Whitney R-985. Such modifications proved to be excellent high-altitude photo platforms and changed the nose profile from lovely compound curves to an aggressive, fists on hips, "You want some of this?!" look.

We were treated to an excellent maintenance seminar, where owners shared problems and solutions they had experienced and knowledgeable mechanics gave guidance. Even though I'm long used to it, every time I see someone take advantage of the design of the engine mount of a 195 and cause the engine to pivot about 30 degrees so that it's easy to get at the accessory case on the back of the engine, it still amazes me. It was one of the most mechanic-friendly designs of all time; yet it was not copied on later airplanes.

There was plenty to do if one were not content to simply enjoy the atmosphere on Stearman Field: the maintenance seminar, dinner at the aviation-themed Savute's restaurant, a fly-out for a specially arranged, small-group tour of Cessna's production facility on Mid-Continent Airport. And then there was another fly-out to Beaumont, Kansas, population about 25, where you land on the grass airport on the east edge of town, taxi your airplane on one of the few paved streets right into town and park in the airplane parking lot at the Beaumont Hotel. Then you go inside and experience their superb steaks.

At the dress-up dinner on Friday, we were treated to a presentation by Mort Brown's wife of a history of Cessna as seen by someone who had lived much of it. Each person attending was given a DVD of the show, something I saw people carefully stowing where it would not be lost.

Refreshing Camaraderie

The 60th anniversary 195 fly in was one of those rare events that are not only carefully planned but where things absolutely click and just plain go well. There was a magic in the air; good people brought very special airplanes in large quantities and were there to enjoy the airplanes and each other. Nothing and no one was judged. There was no sense of backstabbing one-upmanship or competition to see who had the shiniest gizmo. On the contrary, parts were offered to others, ideas were shared, problems solved and encouragement given. This group seems to understand at a visceral level that to keep these old airplanes alive means they must reach out to others and make time with the airplanes a truly enjoyable experience. They did precisely that. .

I could not get enough of my time at Stearman Field and kept wondering whether the location, the airplanes and the people could possibly be real. To make matters almost surreal, on Saturday afternoon a B-2 bomber made two passes over the airport (nope, not down low; those guys aren't that foolish). I had to look around and make sure others saw it. Fortunately, they did. I figure if the CEO of the largest general aviation manufacturer in the world can spend his weekend hanging out with pilots of 60-year-old airplanes and for a while even wear a hat that had a pony tail on it, I shouldn't be surprised if some B-2 pilots knew about the gathering and decided to take a look as well.

I didn't want it to end.

See you next month.


Want to read more from Rick Durden? Check out the rest of his columns.

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Your IFR Moments

IFR magazine asked its readers to contribute defining moments of IFR flying. Here are a few where the moment was made by the company as much as the flight.

Click here for the full story.

IFR magazine asked its readers to contribute defining moments of IFR flying. Here are a few where the moment was made by the company as much as the flight.



Tanks for the Help

I rotated among all three CFIIs at a small flight school near Philadelphia, Pa. One of them, whom I'll call "Tank," was an arrogant pup bound for the airlines. On my third or fourth time up in actual IMC, our prickly relationship went sour in a series of arguments, including the correct turn direction into a hold entry.

We were on an outbound, parallel vector to the ILS 6 when Tank asked if he could shoot the approach for his currency. I was mightily steamed at the idea of paying to watch him fly. I reckoned the cost at roughly $20 and decided to find a way to get $20 of instruction or entertainment value out of it.

Tank took over on the turn to the intercept heading. I reached into my bag for instrument covers and set Tank up for no-gyro. He scowled and I growled, "OK, Tank?"

"Uh ... OK," he said. The localizer needle came alive and Tank began a standard-rate left turn to 060. He had forgotten about the wind, which was 180 at 15 knots. The needle went back to the peg and stayed there, but Tank kept on turning left. As we passed 360, I uncovered the heading indicator and shouted, "Tank, you need this -- now!" He made no response and we kept turning.

Passing 330, Allentown Approach called, "Cessna 12345, continue that left turn to heading 180, advise when ready to copy clearance back to Philadelphia." We were being evicted! Tank was still turning. I keyed the mike, acknowledged the clearance, and finally got Tank to relinquish control.

As I took the handoff to Philadelphia Approach, Tank realized what had happened. I ignored him and flew home, finishing with a perfectly executed NDB approach to breakout at 50 feet over MDA and a greaser landing. Tank stormed out of the airplane without a word. I paid the bill and left without seeing him.

The next day, another instructor asked, "What did you do to Tank?"

I told him the story and he never did quite stop laughing during that lesson. Although I never flew with him again, Tank was gracious enough to hand me a signoff for the checkride a few days later.

Ray Tackett, Philadelphia, Pa.


No Low Pass Today

Not long after I had my IFR ticket 15 years ago, my wife and I flew our 1976 Piper Arrow from Bowling Green, Ky., to San Antonio, Texas, to a medical convention. For a long time I had wanted to take my wife to San Antonio for a visit. I had been there in the 1960s when I was single to the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, training to be a Flight Surgeon.

My wife didn't have much trust in my IFR skills but it was a beautiful, December, VFR day when we left. It was a six-hour trip with a stop in Monroe, La., for lunch and fuel. As we were vectored for a visual at our destination, we were treated to a memorable sight: the space shuttle atop the 747 mother ship parked regally at Kelly AFB.

For our return trip, the weather turned overcast with bases at 700 and tops at 6000. No report of icing or t-storms. My wife became nervous and worried again, questioning my abilities to handle the situation. I told her it was a piece of cake but she didn't buy it. Reluctantly, she agreed to take a chance with me. I filed for 7000 feet and three hours en route to Monroe.

We climbed through the soup. Passing 6500 feet, we entered into bright sunlight. My wife enjoyed the view and appeared to relax. As we started our descent to Monroe 2.5 hrs later, we were back in the soup. My passenger tensed up again, wondering if I knew where I was going. Ceiling was reported at 500 feet. I intercepted the localizer well outside the OM and was cleared to land.

By now my bladder, which usually holds over four hours, was feeling full due to the effect of some beers I had at a banquet 15 hours earlier. It was hurting while I was going through my landing checklist, still in the soup. I decided to lower my landing gear before the FAF and now my problems began: My left main was not showing green. I told the tower about my predicament and he suggested that I make a low pass for someone to look at the gear.

My bladder in pain, I followed emergency procedures, swapped left and right bulbs hoping it was a burned bulb, and kept recycling the gear handle. Suddenly I got three greens. I was now on final, three miles out and still in the soup. Despite the distractions, I managed to keep my needles crossed. I told the controller I was going to land. He said, "Are you sure you don't want to make a low pass?" With the ceiling reported at just above minimums and my bladder hurting, I told him I was going to land. My wife remained speechless. We broke out in front of the runway and my wife started to applaud. The landing was uneventful except for the fire trucks chasing us down the runway with flashing lights. We parked, gave a report, and thanked the firemen, then I ran as fast as I could to the men's room. The only problem the mechanic found was low hydraulic fluid.

At lunch my wife said to me, "I knew you could do it."

M. Robert Perez, Bowling Green, Ky.


The Boss on Board

"Ominous" best described the view at 9000 feet through the windscreen of my A36 Bonanza. I was approaching Atlanta from the southwest one unsettled July afternoon. Looming in the distance ahead and to the left was a wall of weather ascending into the flight levels. An advance of layered clouds, scattered rain and chop was already reaching over the Class B area. Riding shotgun was my boss, the company president. Our business-related day trip was his first ride in a small plane and we were on track to get down safely ahead of the approaching storm.

Forty miles out, Approach issued an initial descent to 5000, stepping us down further into the gloom as we were vectored around the western side of the airspace on our way to Peachtree-Dekalb (KPDK) airport.

Arcing north for sequencing, we joined the extended centerline for ILS 20L at Peachtree, poking in and out of bumpy clouds and squalls with no ground in sight. I sensed the anxiety of my uninitiated passenger as the gear dropped and we began our descent; he removed any doubt by turning to me and growling, "Do you have any idea where the heck we are?" (Propriety suggested certain word substitutions in the preceding quotation). We were in the clag, past the outer marker, and coasting right down the pipe. Calmly, I suggested he turn his gaze forward and watch, which he did in wide-eyed, uncertain anticipation. Moments later, precisely where they were supposed to be, the approach lights and threshold slowly resolved out of the mist. It was an easy greaser onto the slick, wet runway.

As we rolled out, the visibly relieved CEO turned and stared at me for a moment and said, "OK, I'm impressed." This uncaptured Kodak moment was later interpreted to be only the third "at-a-boy" ever known to have been given by this man to a direct subordinate in 13 years.

I beamed.

David Howe, Atlanta, Ga.


More AVweb articles about flying in the IFR system are available here. And for monthly articles about IFR flying, subscribe to AVweb's sister publication, IFR magazine.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 
 

FBO of the Week: Panorama Flight Service (Westchester County Airport, White Plains, NY)

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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Panorama Flight Service at Westchester County Airport (KHPN) in White Plains, N.Y.

"Panorama Flight Service goes out of their way to serve pilots and passengers," according to AVweb reader George Samara, who also raved about the princely treatment he received there:

They are the only FBO I know of that provides free: a flavored coffee service, a large container of Gorp Mix, a large container of Jelly Beans, a large container of small chocolates, and (for all pilots) a selection of seven different kinds of cheesecake (which were awesome). Oh, and they also provide several kinds of free granola bars, and a great Crew Lounge with two computer terminals and two phones. Did I mention that there are three phones in the lobby, too?

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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 
 

Short Final

When I was learning to fly in 1967 in Merced, Calif., we had no control tower. We were taught that after engine start-up, we should pretend to call the tower for taxi clearance.

Another pilot trainee started his engine, then immediately started to taxi. The instructor stopped him and advised that he had forgotten to call for clearance.

The trainee thought for a second, opened the pilot air vent, and, over the roar of the engine, yelled, "Clear!"

 
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