Top Letters And Comments, July 31, 2020


Which Came First, The Hangar Or The Airplane?

There can be a third dimension regarding whether to acquire the airplane or the hangar first – the vacation home. I can recommend acquiring the airplane first. Then, it’s necessary to purchase a vacation home to justify the airplane. Finally, one builds a hangar near the vacation home to “protect the investment.”

T. H.

[…] Having owned a very early 172 (the 128th off the line), equipped with the much taller and narrower “Land-o-matic” main landing gear, the “Cessna stamp” could also apply to the horizontal stab/elevator, particularly when tying down the tail. As a former moto-crosser many years ago, I developed a habit that was very useful when racing but very dangerous to proper noggin support/protection after the racing ended.

The goggles had multiple layers of plastic that when mudded up, you just tear that outer layer off (called tear-offs). Hopefully, you had enough layers for that moto. Instead of turning your head, ducking, or doing the usual reflective flinch avoiding all the stuff being thrown at your face ( not good taking your eyes off the track), you simply put your head down slightly, letting the helmet and the helmet’s bill ward off the big chunks with the face protector taking the remaining debris hits instead of your nose , mouth, and chin. After doing this a few years, I have become accustom to not ducking, flinching, or turning my head whether I see the offending projectile, tree branch, lift strut, trailing edge aileron, flap, pitot tube, fuel vents, or elevator or not. I don’t even turn my head for wing tips. I just put my head own a few degrees and whack, another head injury. My wife of almost 30 years now, is amazed that I have still retained that motocross habit, even after multiple head hits with objects, whole airplanes, and various normal household protuberances. As one who wears a ball cap often, at least I now know the 37% additional percentage of not seeing the offending object. However, I would have not ducked anyway. So, that stat is irrelevant to me and other ex-motocross racers.

Now, I have an old V-tail. I can tell you from experience, fuel tank vents can quickly lead to stitches. The V-tail does not lend themselves well to chart reading or breakfast platforms. I also know how quickly things can go south when avoiding stepping on the flap and missing the step with the foot but catching that step with another body part. Some of the price for speed, I guess.

For me the hangar always came last. My aircraft purchases were never extensively planned for. The airplane showed up first as a bargain. Purchase justified by aforementioned bargain, deal consummated, and then the search for appropriate cover began. Part of that decision-making process (or lack of it) may be directly attributed to never-forgotten motocross habits. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

Finally, I had never heard the word Mensa. I am confessing, I read the blog three times before I googled the word Mensa. Obviously, I would not be included into that intellectual fraternity. But I justify that by not ducking when I should.

Jim H.

Airbus Completes Autonomous Airliner Experiment

I don’t question machine learning and its ability to adapt to new circumstances. However, in its current state, I am doubtful that it has advanced to the point of handling 200 tons of metal hurtling through the air successfully under all conditions. I freely admit that humans are the weak link in any system, but you must also remember that humans are also the ones writing the millions of lines of code to “teach” the computer its initial lessons. An automatic elevator moves along rigid tracks in a highly predictable environment (no weather, temperature changes or dodging other elevators). It also moves at a snail’s pace compared to an aircraft. We have had automatic elevators for generations, but they still have malfunctions and issues on a regular basis. I agree that by 2050 we will have truly capable computers that are up to the task of “piloting” an airliner and can handle any emergency. I just don’t think we are there yet.

John M.

AirVenture: A Year Ago, A Year From Now

I have never attended AirVenture – would love to… someday. But this year Spirit of Aviation week did something like 50 webinars, all recorded for distribution. It looks like they’ve been doing recorded webinar thing for a while (hundreds and hundreds of them up and online @ but I never knew about it before Spirit of Aviation week 2020. I appreciate all that content hugely and looking forward to seeing these offerings as an onramp for a future build.

Bill P.

Greetings from Whitmann Field. I write this from a friend’s home where I am staying, about ½ mile from the approach end of 36 at KOSH. Today it is not “OSHKOSH!” and all that that suggests, but just a quiet rural airport. For the last 17 years I would have been here 3 weeks ago setting up an aircraft display and all that that entails. Now, it’s eerily quiet here and I mean REALLY quiet. Instead of hearing and watching an F-35 doing backflips literally over my head, all I can hear is a mosquito buzzing around my ear. It is silent, very silent. Today, Oshkosh is just another Wisconsin burg going about its’ business. The EAA Museum is dark and the airport grounds, instead of being a gigantic aircraft and RV parking lot, looks like a well-kept golf course. The only airplanes in sight are the F-86 and P-80 “jets on a stick”, the F-89 Scorpion and the C-47 on the perfect grass. All the gates are padlocked and there are literally no humans to be seen. I went to college near here 50 years ago before OSHKOSH and without all the AirVenture craziness and it feels very familiar to me, but today more for that rather than the annual EAA craziness.

Doug M.

Poll: If AirVenture Went On This Week, Would You Attend?

  • Yes, but I’d drive instead of flying commercial.
  • Are you kidding? Absolutely NO!
  • I’d be on the fence.
  • Since they cancelled it, I probably will NEVER attend again.
  • Unable as U.S. border is closed.
  • I would have loved too, but I wasn’t planning on it anyway.
  • Not with COVID in the air.
  • Yes, I had COVID in March, so I have some level of immunity.
  • Are you serious?
  • I can’t go, but if I could, fear of the virus wouldn’t have stopped me.
  • I don’t swim in an alligator swamp either. Who deliberately walks across an active gun range? Some people are dummer-n-dirt.
  • Too far…
  • Still building the plane.

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