World's Leading Independent Aviation News Service
Volume 24, Number 49a
December 4, 2017
 
Forward This Email
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A
help
Pipistrel Partners With Chinese Mega Project
 
Russ Niles
 
 

Pipistrel founder Ivo Boscarol has partnered with a Chinese company to build its Alpha Electro electric trainer and the hybrid version of the Panthera high-performance aircraft in a new aviation development near Nanjing. Pipistrel will retain 51 percent of Pipistrel Asia Pacific General Aviation Technology Ltd. The minority partner is Danny Wu Hao who, as his stake in the deal, will build a general aviation airport and business park from scratch over the next two years to serve as the home base for the venture. Pipistrel will sell the intellectual property and sales rights for China and 10 other Asian countries for both designs and they will be built at the new facilities, known as Project Jurong.

“During the course of the following two years, a new airport, aircraft factory, villas compound and a department of aviation university will be built in the 'Project Jurong' center,” Pipistrel said in a news release. “With its daughter companies, which will be established in the next months, the Pipistrel Asia-Pacific will also take care of acquisition of terrain, construction and management of a 130 hectare airport complex with all the infrastructure, tourist settlement and all the supporting activities.” Project Jurong is planned for a site about 40 miles from Nanjing, a city of 8 million near the east coast of China. It is adjacent to Jurong Lake National Park and the project is envisioned as a combined aviation and tourism hub.

DC One-X from David Clark - lightest full-featured ANR headset
Cessna And FedEx Renew Their Vows
 
Paul Bertorelli
 

When the press release on Cessna’s new twin turboprop came pixeling into my inbox Tuesday morning, my first reaction was: a new skydiving airplane! Woo-hoo! This further proves that self-interest easily overpowers rational thought, but in a more sober moment, I realized that in aviation as in everything else, history repeats.

Even without a piece of ruled graph paper—can you even buy that stuff anymore?—you can figure out the economics here. In case you’ve forgotten, Cessna and FedEx joined hands and checkbooks in 1982 to create the 208 Caravan. Thirty-five years and 2500 airframes later, they’re renewing their vows with the 408 SkyCourier, a clean-sheet twin turbine that is, as far as I can see, a rethinking of the venerable de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter. And then some.

Draw the lines of the graph and you find that in 1982, U.S. GDP was $3.3 trillion and FedEx—then still Federal Express—had about $800 million of it. In 2016, FedEx was a $50 billion operation in an $18.5 trillion economy. In 1982, the China import trade was barely visible. Today, China accounts for $462 billion in imports and FedEx flies a lot of that stuff not just from China but right into the hands of customers. FedEx was the launch customer for the Caravan because it needed an airplane to fly freight from the big airplanes to the little towns.

There aren’t any more little towns now than in 1982, but there are more people and there’s a whole lot more stuff. E-commerce is a growth industry and FedEx clearly needs more lift capacity at greater efficiency. And it may have Amazon to contend with as a competitor. We’ve reported that Amazon has been trying to build its own airline for package delivery and FedEx likely has an interest in blunting that. Logically, at least to me, this points to a twin turboprop to displace the Caravan on certain routes. The fact that Cessna has designed the 408 to accept rapidly loadable industry-standard LD-3 containers will usher in some ramp efficiency. FedEx’s initial buy will be 50 airplanes, with an option for 50 more. Not huge volume, but then the Caravan wasn’t either, nor was FedEx the only customer.

So far, Cessna has only whiteboarded the specs on the new twin, claiming a maximum payload of 6000 pounds against an unpublished gross weight. That’s nearly twice the 3305-pound useful load of the 208B Caravan and 1600 pounds more than the typical Twin Otter. (Textron didn’t give proposed useful load for the 408, so these numbers are a little fuzzy. But they’re directionally valid.) Fully loaded, the SkyCourier will have a range of about 400 NM, well within the 200 NM or less typical stage length the Caravans fly. That’s further proof that FedEx needs nothing more than a bigger pipe. (FedEx has also contracted to buy a fleet of new ATR 72-600F turboprop twins.)

All of this is perfectly logical and reasonable. I found two things interesting in the announcement. One is the utterly workmanlike feel of the proposal. Textron tends not to talk about such things, but there’s no whiff that it thought about the airplane being electric or hybrid or to have the hooks for that current darling of the forward-looking industry, autonomous operation. By aviation standards, they plan to have the thing flying by next week (2020, actually) and that’s too aggressive a timeline to fool around with technology that doesn’t exist, despite all the stories the aviation press flogs on the topic.

Second, it’s to be expected that Cessna would propose a passenger version of the SkyCourier; that simply expands the market envelope. But the 19-seat market, which was hot around the time the original Caravan appeared—remember the Beech 1900 and the Embraer 110 Bandeirante?—is moribund now. In the U.S., with the Essential Air Services program on life support, it’s hard to imagine that it will come back. But then I’m sure Textron isn’t banking on such sales. This is a utility airplane that’s all about cargo.

One other surprise, maybe. The press release didn’t mention the engines, but the specs page does. I was expecting the GE ATP, the cutting-edge engine Cessna will use in the big Denali turboprop single. But nope. They’re planning the Pratt & Whitney PT6A-65SC. At 1100 SHP, it’s an iteration of the -65 series that’s been around for a while and will have the addition of Pratt’s FAST maintenance tracking and prognostication feature. Not exactly old school, maybe, but not cutting edge either. When the Caravan was launched, FedEx crowed about Pratt as a provider of reliable turbine power. Could be they drove that opinion again. I won’t be surprised to see a second engine option for the 408 if GE’s ATP proves more efficient and less costly to operate than the PT6. If you fly an airplane 1000 hours a year, a 15 percent efficiency gain in operating cost is not to be ignored.

Ten years from now, the 408, like the Caravan, will still be soldiering along. Twenty years? Same. Somewhere during that run, FedEx will cast off a few and, sure enough, one will become a skydiving airplane. Like I said, woo-hoo!

Premier Aircraft's Refurbished Dakota
 
Paul Bertorelli
 
 

Premier Aircraft Sales is a well-known broker and mod house in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and the company's latest project is called the Premier Edition Dakota. It's a spinner-to-tail refurbishment of the Piper Dakota, a real favorite among aircraft owners and buyers who want to carry a lot more than a standard Cherokee can haul and go a little faster while they're at it.

Continental Motors || Angle Wave Cylinders for Lycoming
Musk Parks His Tesla In Orbit
 
Russ Niles
 
 

SpaceX will launch its first Falcon Heavy rocket early in the new year and founder Elon Musk is betting the eternal resting place of his personal cherry-red Tesla Roadster on the successful outcome of the test flight. His daily driver will be the payload on the rocket, SpaceX’s most powerful to date, and if all goes well it will be parked in orbit around Mars for “a billion years.” And if it doesn’t go well? “Guaranteed to be exciting, one way or another,” he said in the first of two tweets. “Destination is Mars orbit. Will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn’t blow up on ascent.”

The Falcon Heavy has 27 Merlin rocket engines and the first static test firing all of them at once is scheduled for before the end of the year. If that works, the Tesla launch will go ahead within weeks. The launch will take place at the Kennedy Space Center where SpaceX has leased one of the former Apollo and Space Shuttle launch pads for 20 years. The Falcon Heavy will be used for heavy-lift missions for private and military customers and is scheduled to launch two private citizens for a trip around the moon sometime next year.

Fly SAM STC Approved
Thunderbirds CO Removed From Post
 
Geoff Rapoport
 
 

Lt. Col. Jason Heard, the commanding officer of the Air Force Thunderbirds, was removed from his post last week by Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, commander of the 57th Wing. Heard’s tenure with the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron was marred by a crash earlier this year in which a pilot providing a demonstration ride for a non-flying member of the team failed to go around following an unstabilized approach to a wet runway in Dayton, Ohio. The pilot and backseat passenger are expected to make full recoveries from their injuries, but the F-16D flipped over when it left the pavement and was a total loss valued at $29 million.

In a statement, the Air Force said Heard’s removal was due to a loss of confidence in his risk management, but not in reference to the Dayton crash. “This decision was based on Brig. Gen. Leavit having lost confidence in his leadership in risk management style,” said a Thunderbirds spokesman. “Concerns arose that his approach to the team was resulting in increased risk within the demonstration which eroded the team dynamic … We are on the road together more than 200 days per year, executing flying operations with absolutely no margin for error. As a result, trust and teamwork in both our professional and personal dynamics are foundational to our mission.”

According to his now removed Thunderbirds website profile, Lt. Col. Heard was an F-15E Weapons Systems Operator before attending pilot training. He subsequently served as an instructor pilot, evaluator and a squadron commander—all in the Strike Eagle. He has over 3,000 flight hours and 788 combat hours. 

 
Hypoxia Epidemic Spreads To T-6
 
Geoff Rapoport
 
 

The U.S. Air Force has grounded its fleet of T-6 Texan II turboprops at Vance Air Force Base after a string of four hypoxia-like incidents in two weeks, according to the public affairs office of the 71st Flying Training Wing. This year has been a challenge for the U.S. military’s fighter community on the hypoxia front. The Navy has struggled with “physiological events” on the F/A-18 and T-45, while the Air Force has experienced similar issues with the F-35, which have intermittently grounded portions of all three fleets without determination of a root cause for any of the incidents. Col. Darrell Judy, commander of the 71st FTW, says “Vance Air Force Base is committed to ensuring aircrew safety is paramount, and are conducting a full investigation of the reported cases.”

The 71st FTW press office says, “According to base officials, four instructor pilots and one student pilot assigned to Vance Air Force Base have reported physiological incidents while flying since Nov. 1. In each case, the aircraft's backup oxygen system operated as designed, and the pilot followed the correct procedures, landing the aircraft safely.” The T-6 fleets at the Air Force’s other training bases—Columbus AFB and Laughlin AFB—have not been grounded. The Air Force has cited the rate at which it can get pilots through training as a major factor in the pilot shortage. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson says the shortfall is now up to 10% of the total population of Air Force pilots—2,000 below a target size around 20,000.

Lycoming - Loyalty Program - More Discounts. Less Downtime.
Sponsor Announcement
ULTIMATE AVIATION SPECIFIC iPAD MOUNTS BY MGF
ULTIMATE AVIATION SPECIFIC iPAD MOUNTS BY MYGOFLIGHT
The ultimate iPad/EFB mounts. iPad easily rotates 360 degrees. Arm infinitely adjustable — any size, any position. Popular mounts include suction, yoke, monorail/visor, Gulfstream, panel and more. Mount any size iPad, tablet, Stratus ADS-B, Garmin aera or other portable GPS, iPhone/Android Phone, GoPro, cameras and more. Click Here to buy now
Separation Anxiety (Bad Language in Video)
 
Russ Niles
 
 

There are many ways to ground an airplane and ramp attendants at what sounds like a U.S. airport (based on the profanity-laced epithets from one of the ground crew members) found a novel approach. The incident appears to have happened in late September or early October and involves a Turkish Airlines A330 at the gate. A tug suitable for maneuvering the widebody somehow got tangled with the No. 2 engine nacelle and separating the two was painful to say the least. We weren’t able to find any other account of the mishap but it looks like an expensive night for someone. Again, there is some profane language at the beginning of the video but we left the sound on because, well, you’ll see.

 

 

 
Subscribe to 'Aviation Safety' Magazine || The Active Pilot's Guide to What Really Matters in the World of Flying - Your Safety
Picture of the Week
 
 
Some photos look like paintings, where the artist controls the light and composition and makes them perfect but Andy Zink made it happen electronically. Suitable for framing, Andy.
Short Final
 

A Cessna wheel/float aircraft was being ferried from the Lower 48 to Talkeetna Alaska.Upon arrival the pilot called the FSS station for landing information.

FSS: Altimeter 29.92, wind calm, runway 01 or 19, your choice."

Pause

Cessna: "Which one is the longest?


Tom Mackle 

 
Brainteasers Quiz #238: Cool Graphics, But Will It Fly?
 

In order to establish a meaningful relationship with your online robo-briefer, inflight ATC partner or the mechanic whose barely suppressed grin means your annual is about to get ugly, you'll need to ace this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

Meet the AVweb Team
 

AVweb is the world's premier independent aviation news resource, online since 1995. Our reporting, features, and newsletters are brought to you by:

Publisher
Tom Bliss

Editor-at-Large
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Geoff Rapoport

Contributors
Rick Durden
Kevin Lane-Cummings
Paul Berge
Larry Anglisano

Ad Coordinator
Karen Lund

Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? Your advertising can reach over 225,000 loyal AVwebFlash, AVwebBiz, and AVweb web site readers every week. Over 80% of our readers are active pilots and aircraft owners. That's why our advertisers grow with us, year after year. For ad rates and scheduling, click here or contact Tom Bliss:

The Cessna 210: An Affectionate Look Back
 
Rick Durden
 
 

When I was in junior high and going to Air Explorer meetings at the Des Moines Airport, I was like every other kid in our group. During breaks from the private pilot ground school, we’d go into the maintenance hangars and out on the ramp to get close to the airplanes that we dreamed of someday flying. While I hungered to fly one of the growling Beech 18s or slippery-looking Learjets, the airplane that somehow seemed within the range of a possibility of someday owning and flying was the Cessna 210.

There would always be at least one 210 on the ramp during those evening meetings. I’d invariably walk over and look at it, standing there sleek and somewhat aloof, curved the way airplanes should be and reeking of speed and flights to places far over the horizon. Sometimes I’d get to talk with one of the pilots and listen to their praise of their Centurions. Even the name was cool—a professional officer in the armies of ancient Rome.

History

I learned that the 210 had started life as pretty much a retractable Cessna 182 with a 260-HP engine. The hydraulic landing gear retracted into the fuselage, with the mains twisting 90 degrees in the process. Where some pilots made fun of the motion going on during retraction, I thought of the F4U Corsair’s gear and saw elegance. I did learn that the complexity of the landing gear system meant it had to be maintained assertively—squawks couldn’t be deferred. I just took a look at the accident data on the 210 published in our sister publication Aviation Consumer and noted that gear hangups and collapses still are the source of some 12 percent of 210 accidents. Earlier 210s had an engine-driven hydraulic pump powering the gear—later Cessna switched to an electrohydraulic system that was more reliable. Still, there is only one set of hydraulic lines—if a line or connection fails and the fluid is lost, there is no alternative method of extending the gear. The good news is that I could find no evidence that anyone had ever been hurt in a gear-up landing of a 210 so long as the pilot didn’t shut the engine down and try to glide to the runway in hopes of saving the prop. There were fatal accidents due to that foolishness—some pilots discovered they hadn’t practiced prop-stopped glides recently and couldn’t hit a runway.

The Centurion was first turbocharged in 1965, boosting the airplane into the flight levels where it could hit speeds of 200 knots. Unsurprisingly, the turbocharged models outsold the normally aspirated versions two-to-one for the rest of the time the 210 was in production.

The cabin was stretched to accommodate six people, first with two child seats aft and then with seats where moderate-sized adults could sit.

In 1967 the 210 was the first of the Cessna singles to undergo a major airframe redesign to allow it to switch over to a cantilever wing as part of a plan Cessna had in place to go back to its roots from 1929 and build strutless airplanes—Cessna never put a wing strut on an airplane until the models 120 and 140 in 1945. The aerodynamic cleanup turned the 210 into a machine that would cruise an honest 170 knots at 75 percent power. The airframe redesign enlarged the cabin.

As an aside, Cessna only continued the cantilever wing change through the next year when it stopped production of the 172 in favor of the 177 Cardinal. Cessna apparently misjudged the skill level of the average pilot as the 177 required more finesse to fly than the 172 and pilots crashed them all over the landscape. The 172 was reintroduced with a Cardinal’s engine and the 177 was bumped up into a different competitive niche by going to 180 horsepower up front. The cantilever-wing replacement for the 182, the 187—which even had the then-popular “T” tail—was test flown but never put into production.

Changes

Incremental changes followed—takeoff power was boosted to 300 horsepower with max continuous being 285, gross weight and useful load continued to climb, the gear system was simplified with the removal of the aft gear doors and a 90-gallon fuel system was made standard. By the early 1970s the T210 was the only six-place single that could fill the seats with 170-pounders, fill the fuel tanks and still be under gross weight.

A pressurized 210 came out in 1978. It was the poster child for “eight pounds of stuff in a five-pound bag.” Cramming all the needed hardware for pressurization inside the airplane was challenging—cooling the engine was a big challenge. Maintenance, initially, was a nightmare. Over the years mods, including intercoolers, turned the P210 into nearly the perfect personal hotrod.

Even though it wouldn’t fit in a T-hangar, the Piper Malibu got some noses out of joint at Cessna—it was faster than the P210. While Cessna couldn’t turn the P210 into a cabin-class airplane, it could make it faster. In 1985 Cessna came out with the R model of the 210 line. It had more power, longer wings and a redesigned horizontal tail giving it the lightest pitch forces of any 210. Importantly for Cessna, it was one knot faster than the Malibu, used much less runway and fit in a T-hangar. Sadly, the bottom was falling out of general aviation and Cessna stopped producing piston-engine airplanes at the end of 1986—beginning a 10-year hiatus. When piston production resumed, Cessna made the decision not to restart the 210 line.

It was 1974 before I flew a 210. I was an instructor at a Cessna dealer and there was always a brand-new 210 on the line. One day the chief pilot handed me the Owner’s Manual for the T210 (Pilot Operating Handbooks were a couple of years in the future) and told me to read it, make sure I understood the turbocharging system and be ready to give a flight review in one in an hour. Apparently, because I had a fair amount of time in 182s and 206s, the chief pilot figured I could fly a 210. He was right; there was not much of a transition other than the gear and learning the speeds and turbocharging system.

Turbo

The turbocharging system confused me at first until one of the charter pilots walked me through it. From a pilot’s standpoint it’s dirt simple—you set the manifold pressure and RPM you want and the system keeps it there. So long as the engine oil is warm and everything is working, the system automatically sets the manifold pressure and fuel flow at redline when you firewall the throttle on takeoff and holds the selected manifold pressure as you climb. Simplified, the system monitors the manifold pressure and uses engine oil to control the wastegate that controls the ratio of exhaust gas that goes out the tailpipe versus through the turbosupercharger. On the first takeoff on a cool day, the pilot does have to monitor manifold pressure and fuel flow as the engine oil may be too sluggish to flow as needed to prevent the wastegate from routing too much air into the turbo and the manifold pressure and fuel flow will go over redline. The solution is to simply stop pushing the throttle forward when redline is reached.

As I went through the Owner’s Manual I ran some sample weight and balance calculations and was impressed that I could carry a full load of 170-pounders—hey, I was a starving college student as were my friends and none of us weighed more than that. Even more important, baggage could be carried aft of the rear seats even with passengers in the fifth and sixth seats.

In later years, when I flew the six-place Beech 36 series, the Piper Lance and Saratoga and Malibu, I was frustrated at the limited c.g. range of those airplanes. They were difficult to load with six people without going out the aft c.g. limit. It was about then that I learned that the 210 had the longest c.g. range of any six-place single. The tradeoff was that to get that range, the control system required a downspring arrangement that made the airplane heavy in pitch, much like the Cessna 206. With a forward c.g., it required making sure to pull as hard as necessary to get the nose up on landing to avoid touching down on the nosewheel. 

After I gave that flight review, I started flying the FBO’s 210s with some regularity and the initial attraction I’d had for the airplane turned into true affection. Because of the FBO’s T210, my parents could afford to take their three children to my grandmother’s funeral in southeastern Georgia—they could not afford five airline tickets.

Load Carrier

Being broke college kids, the 210 was the ideal airplane for us for the annual day trip from Des Moines to Oshkosh. Splitting the aircraft rental six ways was cheaper than the four-way split of any of the other rentals we had access to and, besides, the 210 went like stink, so we didn’t put that much time on it.

About that time I started flying Bonanzas—airplanes I like a lot—but I discovered I don’t fit well. At 6’4” tall, there isn’t enough head and legroom for comfort. The man who pulled Cessna out of bankruptcy in 1934, Dwayne Wallace, and who ran the company for the next 40 years, was also 6’4” tall, so he had to fit into all of the airplanes Cessna built. Thank you Dwayne for making sure I could fit comfortably in the 210.

When I worked for Cessna, the employees' flying club always had two or three T210s that were rented wet, with oxygen, for prices that reflected the fact that the club was subsidized by the company—it was wonderful. Splitting the rental five or six ways meant a weekend trip to a coast wasn’t unreasonable. One time five of us departed from Wichita on a Thursday evening and flew all night to time our arrival at Customs on Treasure Caye, Bahamas, when it opened on Friday. We had three days on the beach, then flew all night Sunday and went to work a little bleary-eyed on Monday. With three of the five occupants of the airplane pilots, we could trade off the flying and get some sleep.

Ownership

Over the next 20 years I had the chance to fly various models of the 210 and P210 from time to time—and kept saying to myself that I would find a way to own one someday.

Seven years ago I finally had the chance to become a 210 owner—well, the owner of a quarter of the corporation that owned a 1973 T210L. Based at Denver’s Centennial airport, it had been beautifully maintained, with updated avionics, recent paint and interior and co-owners that recognized that it’s not cheap to own and operate a 210—so they had set up an ownership agreement that made sure there was money on hand to take care of unexpected maintenance costs. I particularly liked that they had never had to do a special assessment on the shareholders to cover an upgrade or heavy maintenance hit. And, yes, a carefully done annual on a T210 is probably going to be in the $5000 range.

The engine was some 150 hours past TBO, which was the way I prefer to buy airplanes. You essentially get free engine time and then have control of how the overhaul is done.

My initial long trip in N76BL—which we just called Bravo Lima—was not auspicious. The engine kept throwing the alternator belt. Once at our destination in California my wife and I played tourist and bought a lot of things to bring home with us—after all, it was just the two of us in that big airplane. I also had things checked at the local FBO, which assured me that all was well. I did some research and found that a symptom of worn out and locked-up crankshaft counterweights is that the engine will vibrate in an unusual fashion—not noticeable to the occupants—and throw the alternator belt. The engine may then seize.

On the first leg home, the alternator belt left the premises as I was starting the climb to clear the Sierras. I diverted into Sacramento and, after discussions with my co-owners, decided that my wife and I would airline home (we shipped a lot of boxes) and that it was time for the engine overhaul.

We made the decision to have Mike Busch’s Savvy Aircraft Maintenance Management company manage the engine overhaul—one of the smartest things we’d ever done. The engine was pulled, shipped to Powermaster in Tulsa, Oklahoma, overhauled (the crankshaft counterweights were in bad shape—I saw them later), returned, reinstalled and tested. Co-owner Dan Travis flew Bravo Lima home without a problem.

It Keeps Getting Better

Since then, my affection for the 210 did nothing but deepen. Other co-owners Garry Schubert and Rod Eisenbraun turned out to share a desire for dispatch reliability of our airplane, so Dan Travis acted as maintenance manager—getting squawks repaired immediately. We came to socialize together, one of the advantages of airplane group ownership. We even threw a 40th birthday party for Bravo Lima in its hangar.

My daughter spent some time living in rural areas of a number of states as she pursued a career around horses—the 210 proved to be an ideal way to visit her because there was always a general aviation airport nearby and taking the airlines would have taken time that we might not have been able to take off work.

My mother also liked the 210 because it meant my wife and I (and later, our dog) could visit her on short notice. She generally thought airplanes were pretty good things—her sister had learned to fly before WWII. Mom joined the Navy in WWII, becoming a member of the WAVES. She married my father, a naval aviator, the day he received his wings of gold. It always made me incredibly proud when I’d be with them—and later just her—at functions where veterans were asked to stand up and be recognized, and they would stand up. Because of her knowledge of airplanes and pilots—her sister’s son learned to fly—when my brother and I said we wanted to learn to fly, she didn’t stand in our way as did the parents of so many of my friends who said they wanted to fly.

With well over six hours endurance when flown lean of peak, Bravo Lima became my seven league boots. As an aside, with little wing dihedral, it's essential that the airplane be level when fueled or it may not be possible to fill the tanks. I've normally run the engine LOP at 13.5 GPH and cruise speed has ranged from 160 knots at 10,000 feet to nearly 200 at FL230. Each summer I would fly it to Michigan to unite with friends and my daughter to fly seaplanes. My daughter and I, and one or two others, would then fly to Oshkosh, where we reveled in the excitement of the arrival. The maneuverability and speed range of the 210 made the arrival less hectic. When IFR, we could blast along at nearly any speed ATC needed and then, because gear speed is usually above cruise speed, throw the Firestones out as speed brakes, along with approach flaps, and slow to a crawl in no time. A low stall speed and the ability to fly short final at 70 to 75 knots meant it was a piece of cake to land on whatever dot the controller wanted—even if he or she suddenly changed the dot as we were going into the flare.

The cabin became a place of delight. It took my wife and me over some of the most beautiful scenery in the west. I reveled in the reactions of passengers to the outside view. A French air force pilot who rode to Oshkosh with my daughter and me expressed utter astonishment as the airport came into view. She grabbed the back of my daughter’s seat and exclaimed, “I don’t think there are that many airplanes in all of France!”

The 210 proved the ideal vehicle for LightHawk flights in support of conservation. Researchers and activists working on projects supporting our natural resources had a clear, unobstructed view of the world. I did discover that when doing turns around a point at 15,500 feet, looking for sites for some remote sensing stations on the top of a New Mexico mountain, that the true airspeed involved means you’ve got to allow a lot of room to get turned around. Because the 210 is so solid and stable and there’s no speed limit on opening the cabin windows, it’s an excellent photo platform. It also has an excellent heater. Recently I was flying researchers who needed to open the window for photos at 14,500 feet just east of Colorado’s Mount Evans. Everyone in the cabin was comfortable, although the photographer had the window open all the way so that she could hang out in the slipstream to get the shots she needed. She said she was chilly.

On weekend mornings the 210 proved to be a fun machine for breakfast runs or simply staying in the pattern for a few touch and goes. It is not a particularly easy airplane to land well—and coming into the flare at anything over 80 knots means it will float, even with full flaps. That makes it a challenge to try to roll it on. When light, the power means the airplane will climb like crazy, so by flying a very tight pattern, you can get in a lot of touch and goes in a half hour—a nice way to recharge your personal batteries. It’s probably both cheaper than therapy and more effective.

We're On Our Way, Mom

In the last few years, I found that I was primarily using the 210 to visit my mother. A 3.5-hour flight beat a 12-hour drive all hollow. It meant we could take our dog, something that delighted Mom. A year ago, her health started to deteriorate. We made our last flight to see her early this year. We got word that she had taken a turn downward, but we hadn’t realized how fast things were going. Even with the speed of the 210, she was unresponsive by the time we arrived at the hospice. She almost made her 94th birthday.

My wife and I are soon to move further west. In one of the hardest decisions I ever made, I put my share of Bravo Lima on the market. If I could afford it, I’d buy the airplane outright and keep the joy and memories going. I’m hoping that I’ll someday again fly a 210 regularly. After all, it’s only been 43 years. I’m just getting to know those wonderful machines. Machine? No way, it’s a part of the family.

Rick Durden is a CFII, holds and ATP with type ratings in the Douglas DC-3 and Cessna Citation and is the author of The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual or, How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing It, Vols. 1 & 2.

Home Contact Advertise Help
Unsubscribe Manage Subscriptions Privacy Policy