AVmail: Aug. 9, 2004

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Reader mail this week about Oshkosh, Sport Pilot, new and old engines and much more.


AirVenture Cup Race Correction

Correction to your article about the AirVenture Cup Race (NewsWire, Jul. 28). Please note that all the speeds are knots, not mph. Someone in the race staff messed up, and there was confusion about it all week.

Sam Hoskins
Race #22, 1st Place, Sprint Class


Oshkosh Pictures

I have long wanted to attend Oshkosh. I go to Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland every year. It is a great deal of fun to see the air shows and the new aircraft on display. But, I find it curious that when I looked at the pictures of this year's event (Oshkosh 2004), it looked more like a convention of the military aircraft association. There should have been more attention paid to the kit planes and GA aircraft that were on display.

Garry W. Miracle


You have a great collection of photos of AirVenture '04 ... you should publish them in a book! Or, make them available in a hi-res zipped download.

Rich Sugden


Light Sport Aircraft

Just a quick note to tell you what a great job of coverage you are doing on AirVenture. Nice pictures and lots of good information.

Just one caveat though. Don't limit your coverage of Light Sport Aircraft to the ultralight guys down on "the Farm" (NewsWire, Jul. 29). There are lots of manufacturers offering aircraft for the LSA market that would never fit into the ultralight category. Several market certified aircraft in this country and abroad and have LSA versions ready to go as soon as the standards are set. I've talked with dozens of people (including flight schools) this week at the show who are interested in LSAs for more than "flying around the patch and polishing their airplanes." If you get a chance, stop by some of the booths that offer LSAs other than the ultralight type. There are several very close to the EAA Light Sport Pilot tent.

Otherwise, keep up the good work. We hope to see you at SERFI, Seabring, and all the other events this Fall.

Mitch Hansen


I just finished the 7/29 edition (NewsWire) and have some comments on the "Ultralight/Sport Pilot" fiasco. I'm a former ultralight owner/pilot and current GA owner/pilot who has been following the so-called Sport Pilot proceedings, regs, etc., particularly AOPA's utterings. Most of what I read is absolute nonsense! Take, for example, the expectation that there will be 100 to 300 new pilots per month as a result of the new law. Anyone who bothers to read the regs can clearly see the FAA has placed the burden on the prospective Sport Pilot to attest to his/her health. It's not just a matter of whether or not he/she has been unfortunate enough to have been to an FAA examiner and been denied a medical. If the prospective pilot knows of any condition that would make him/her unsafe to fly -- a condition that would most likely be the reason he/she isn't going to the FAA examiner in the first place -- no dice! What AOPA's articles -- and now yours, to some extent -- seem to be purporting is Clinton's famous "Don't ask, don't tell" solution. That's not good enough. Any second-year law student will easily see the potential liabilities involved in a Sport Pilot who has an accident while flying with one of these conditions, FAA denial or not. If he/she is willing to assume these kinds of risks, there's nothing stopping him/her from flying without the medical in the first place.

Second, what about the statement justifying 20 vs. 40 hr training because the planes are not as complex or difficult to fly? Any pilot -- well, any pilot who knows what he/she is doing -- will see through this one. The difficulty in flying a J3 Cub and a Cessna 150 is nil. In fact, the Cub, being a tail dragger, would be more difficult than the 150 for most people. The real issue in flying safely, aside from the medical issue, is airspace and I haven't seen any restrictions for Sport Pilots in that regard. I dread the day when these 20 hour Sport "Pilots" are taking off from Compton -- an uncontrolled airport less than a mile from the main approach to LAX -- and right in the heart of the class B airspace in Southern California. Talk about asking for trouble!

Finally (you knew it would come eventually) the apparent lumping of Sport Pilots and Ultralights. No comparison.

Ultralight pilots:

1) Don't need any official training
2) Don't need a license
3) May not fly at night
4) May fly only single seaters -- i.e., no passengers -- weighing a max of 254 lbs. without pilot or fuel with a max of 5 gals of fuel and a max speed of 45 mph. (I thought it was humorous that the people in your article "held their ultralight speed down to 45 mph".)
5) May not fly over congested (populated) areas, and
6) May not fly into/out of controlled airspace.

Now you are probably saying, "I fly out of XYZ airport and I've seen Ultralights there." If they are legally there, they are being flown by licensed pilots. All of these restrictions are saying one thing: "If you want to fly an Ultralight unsafely, do it at your risk, not the risk of others." Obviously not so with Sport Pilots.

I am a strong supporter of aviation, particularly GA. It was my life-long dream to be a pilot and finally, in 1998, at the age of 58, my dream came true. I now own three airplanes and have about 1000 wonderful hours logged and have loved every minute. You can bet that I would be applauding this new law if I thought it would be good for GA, but I think it will be a disaster! At a time when GA is already under the gun for potential danger to the general public, passing regs like this is tantamount to suicide. Like Betty Davis said, "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night."

Dr. Pierre F. Crosetto


A Bigger Mistral Engine

The article on the Mistral (NewsWire, Jul. 30) stated:

"Although the engine itself, which displaces just 654cc from the twin rotors ..."

I think the author misunderstood Mistralís engine. Each of the two rotors displaces 654cc, giving a combined 1308cc (1.3 liters) displacement for a two-rotor. Mazda refers to that as a 13B. There are also three-rotor Wankel engines produced by Mazda and referred to as 20Bs I have no knowledge whether Mistral is working on a larger, three-rotor class aviation engine, however.

Russell Kent


Lycoming 580

In response to the recent AVweb (NewsWire, Jul. 30). The Lycoming 580 is not new. It was first used in the new Cessna 206 and T206 prototypes. The normally aspirated 580 worked well but the turbocharged version kept cracking cylinders. Cessna scraped the 580 and went with the 540 in the production airplanes. The 580 is a bored-out 540.

Willis Power


Honda Airplane Engine

I just returned from camping at Oshkosh and I thought your readers may be interested in what happened to me while there.

On Wednesday, my wife and I were sitting next to our Cherokee 235 when I noticed a gentleman studying the O-540 in the plane. Seeing how this is OSH and everyone is friendly here, I decided to do my part and ask if he had any questions.

We started a conversation about likes and dislikes of the old Lycoming. After a while, he informed me that he was a design engineer assigned to airplane engine development for Honda.

Needless to say, my ears perked up and the conversation turned to Honda and the direction they are heading with regard to airplanes.

As best I can remember, the questions and answers were as follows:

Me: Is Honda still pursuing a light airplane engine?
Him: Yes (emphatic), we have a prototype flying now and it's performing well. (He shows me a picture of the engine: 4 cylinder, water cooled, injected.)

Me: How much horsepower?
Him: I'm more used to metric numbers but the conversion should relate to about 320 HP.

Me: What have you been seeing for fuel burn?
Him: About 7-8 gallons/hr at 75% power.

Me: What type of fuel and is the engine direct drive?
Him: Yes, direct drive and fuel is any type of auto fuel or avgas.

Me: Dual ignition?
Him: Yes, complete redundancy.

Me: Weight?
Him: Same or slightly less than old 4-cylinder engines.

Me: Projected TBO?
Him: We plan to start at 2000 hrs and expect much more. we also use many off the shelf auto parts and expect an overhaul to be at least 1/2 the cost of today's.

Me: Cost?
Him: We expect to be under $40,000 complete with vacuum pumps, ignition, fuel delivery equipment, and electronics (including FADEC).

Him: What do you like and dislike about your current engine? I have to report back to Tokyo the results of my surveys.
Me: The common problems of fuel burn, out-of-this-world overhaul prices, complexity of operation, etc.

Him: Would pilots like the single power lever with automatic mixture control?
Me: Mooney attempted a similar thing a while ago and it didn't go over very well.
Him: We are aware of the Porsche engine and have defined where that system failed; our engine will make much more power and burn less fuel.

We went on for a while longer. Him picking my brain and I trying to get as much information out of him as possible.

Bottom line is that Honda appears to be very serious in this endeavor and will be entering the market with some "big guns" in the near future.

I can't wait. Hmmmm ... a Honda powered RV-8 ... now that's the ticket.

Al Watt


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