AVmail: May 27, 2013
Letter of the Week: Buyer Beware
Regarding the story about pre-purchase inspections:
We bought a Cessna 172 a few years ago. Our guy was forgiven for not noticing the sluggish performance of the airplane since he flew a PA-32-300 down to Gainesville, GA before checking the 172N out. Back at our home base, we got steady complaints about the aircraft performance since our other C-172M was performing much better. Mechanics looked at everything imaginable until, finally, a borescope inspection revealed that during the last overhaul the cam was installed one tooth off, which caused the engine to perform as though it was firing after top dead center.
During the teardown to correct that problem, it was discovered that a gasket that was clearly marked "this side out" was installed backwards. A hole allowing oil flow to the fuel pump area was blocked, and oil pressure had blown a hole in the gasket, allowing some lubrication. This engine had been overhauled by a shop that was no longer in business, but the mechanic who had signed off on the job was working at another shop in the area.
Should we have reported the problem to the FAA? That was debated, and the idea dropped. Just because a mechanic has experience and a certificate doesn't mean he does good work.
Regarding the "Question of the Week": I don't expect to be buying any aviation fuel in 10 years. Avgas is outrageously expensive now, and there is zero chance that any replacement will cost less, so I'm convinced that GA as we know it will be gone.
My generation will, for the most part, be too old to fly in 10 years, and the younger, potential pilots see the costs involved and decide to play golf or video games. Besides, flying is "dangerous," and we, as a society, no longer have the ability to tolerate any risk, regardless of the reward. I hope I'm wrong, but I doubt it.
I expect to be using auto gas with anti-detonation injection.
A World Without GPS
Regarding the May 16 "Question of the Week": I would revert quickly and painlessly to pilotage and dead reckoning. After all, neither the rivers nor mountains move much up here in Alaska.
H. Lee Griffin
I always still keep VORs queued up in the 530 and 430, along with triangulating and getting DME info. It keeps me even busier and is for just such an eventuality. I submit that, if able, all pilots should continually be doing this and playing "what if."
It depends on what type of aviation I was committing at the time and where I was flying. On an instrument flight, I would depend on other non-GPS equipment as a precaution, raise personal minimums, file and fly the IFR flight plan (so ATC knows when to expect me if the radios don't work), review the regs again on IFR lost communications, and avoid GPS LIFR in Alaska, Canada, and the northern half of the U.S. The southern half of the U.S. will not likely be impacted.
For a VFR flight, I would get current sectionals. I like dead reckoning and practice it routinely, especially in a glider. I will be wearing more sunscreen. The impacts will be to polar-routed airlines and high-latitude flights.
When that happens, I probably wouldn't notice. A paper map and a wet compass are good enough, and neither requires batteries.
Oh my gosh! I'll look out the window!
Regarding your recent article on "Big Blows": Thank you for a great read on landing and flying in excess wind.
Out in Casper, Wyoming (KCPR), we deal with constant unrelenting winds the entire year.
In fact, Boeing brought their gorgeous 787 Dreamliner to KCPR for flight testing, specifically for landing in high crosswinds.
A scheduled stop here at KCPR had to be cancelled due to "not enough wind." Go figure.
The Boeing crew finally did come into KCPR for Dreamliner testing.
Some pilots stopping in at KCPR for a break, to refuel, etc. ask, "Is the wind always this bad?" Well, yes, that's kind of the norm around these parts. Sorry.
Practice makes perfect in regards to landing in our unusual winds here, and, really, it's not that bad if one flies into KCPR on a regular basis.
Here's to some good slipping and crabbing!
James G. Feiler
Wyoming Wing, Civil Air Patrol
Paying to Fly
Regarding the story on user fees in New Zealand: New Zealanders should consider themselves privileged. The landing fee for the Mooney 201J that I fly at my local airport in southern Germany is $29, although I must admit this is extreme due to lack of noise certificate. A C-172 comes in at half that price. Avgas runs $13 per gallon.
You lucky U.S. and New Zealand pilots!
406 Makes Sense
Regarding the story on opposition to phasing out 121.5 MHz ELTs: I've had a 406 MHz ELT in my 1963 Cessna 172D for as long as they've been available. Before that, I had taken a lengthy boat trip through the San Juan Islands and Gulf Islands of Washington and B.C. and had installed a 406 EPIRB in my little boat. So I really believe in the technology, and I've often verbally disagreed with AOPA and others who have taken the anti-406 stance, mostly on the economic issue, never mind that 121.5/243 ELTs have proven to be less reliable and are no longer monitored by the satellite-based SAR system.
Now we have some Senators joining the anti-406 folks, ostensibly because 406 ELTs will be made obsolete because of NextGen's ADS-B magic. Come on, people, get real! Here we have proven technology that saves lives and will undoubtedly save many more lives between now and when NextGen is fully implemented and which may very well save the lives of those whose airplanes go down in survivable incidents in areas in which ADS-B and all the other NextGen bells and whistles will not detect them, at all. Not to mention, the real cost of a fully functioning 406 ELT is a whole bunch less than the ADS-B in and out "requirements" of NextGen — which won't be required until 2020, seven years away.
This is nothing but a rehash of the anti-ELT arguments that were instituted after the loss of Congressmen Boggs and Begich in 1972 on a flight in Alaska piloted by Don Jonz, which triggered the single most lengthy and costly SAR efforts in history. The anti-ELT arguments then — "I don't fly in Alaska"; "I don't fly in bad weather"; "I always file a flight plan"; "my wife knows the route I fly and when I'll get there"; "ELTs aren't reliable"; "I'm a good pilot" — were just as fallacious as the anti-406 economic arguments today.
I think these anti- folks should ask themselves this question: "If I am in a survivable crash, do I want to die of exposure because the SAR people can't find me right away?"
Regarding the story on the auction of former military DC-9s: To the best of my knowledge, being a former controller, there is no such thing as Air Force Two. There are only Air Force One, Marine One, Army One, Navy One. The designation is specifically set aside for any flight with the President aboard; otherwise, if dispatched at his request, it would be Exec One. The Vice-President's flights are known as Exec Two.