Top Letters And Comments, March 25, 2022


Shark Says No Thanks To Pushing A Youth Record

Having flown around the world myself (Mooney M20K, following Amelia Earhart’s route in 2017) I have received queries from several young people wanting to set “youngest” circumnavigation records. I detail the issues I had with weather, getting fuel, systems failures, and the like, which challenged my almost 50 years of flight, maintenance, and avionics experience. (You name it, I experienced it.) I also point out that success and doing this well today, while still a challenge regardless of your age (I was 63), is not the same level of accomplishment that it was 80 and 90 years ago. I counsel them to spend the time to gain experience to reduce the risk and increase the probability of a successful circumnavigation, but absolutely don’t do it to set a “youngest” record. It’s not worth your life.

Brian Lloyd

Every manufacturer or other potential sponsor of such stunts should memorize this article and send copies to the parents and anyone else trying to promote them.

If only it were possible to inject truth serum into some past record holders and find out about the negative aspects of these stunts instead of just the “I made it” statements when (if) they got home.

The article can also apply to youngest-solo-sail-around-the-world stunts, which are even dumber than the flights.


Great article, as usual.

It is true that risk taking has made many of the important advances in human endeavors. But there is no reason to push such activities onto the youngest possible participants. Especially when its principal effect serves only to confer bragging rights.

Jonathan S.

FAA, Aviation Advocates Report To Lawmakers On Aircraft Noise Issue

I think we’re probably in the realm of diminishing returns when it comes to aircraft noise reduction, particularly in jets and helicopters. Reasonable measures and noise abatement procedures are ubiquitous and modern jet engines are so quiet you can clearly hear the noise generated by the airframe itself. It has been interesting looking at development material for engines, including noise reduction measures and design features, in my career as an engineer in the gas turbine industry. Engineers of the 40s and 50s would be impressed at what has been done in the name of efficiency and noise reduction.

Having read through complaints filed about noise at a couple of my local airports, especially at the local private jet serving public airport, there is a pattern of repeat complainers who have written in a manner that could best be described as hysterical. A couple of them seem to complain every time a plane flies over their houses. I have even heard of complaint about the mosquito control helicopter noise, a relatively infrequent flyover of an old Huey at night during peak mosquito season. Some people are impossible to please and would settle for nothing less than the closure of the airport, and the sad thing is that these airports I’m speaking of are almost guaranteed to predate the arrival of every single resident around them (1941 and 1936).

Tyler V.

Used Composite Buys: Inspection Mandatory

One thing not mentioned is: Torque of fasteners.

At the 1000 hour mark on our Glasair, I checked the torques of all major fasteners. (A Super-Inspection, if you will.) I was kind of shocked to find that the engine mount bolts took a quarter turn each.

I am 99% sure that I tightened them correctly during construction. Because they were all cotter-pinned, the nuts could not have backed out. So either 1) the bolts had stretched (unlikely, since we never did aerobatics) or 2) the fiberglass or resin (or both) shrunk.

I think it’s the latter. The Vinyl Ester resin used in the Glasair was known to shrink during cure. (Cited in the Assembly Instructions as a Feature.) Apparently it never fully cured at room temp. (It had a Tg a little over the Boiling Point, if that matters.)

For example, after our first Phoenix summer, we could see the fiberglass weave standing out in our fairings, which had been painted red and so became hot to the touch in the sun. So it seemed to me that, given the heat in the cowl, there might be some shrinkage at the fiberglass engine mount attach points too. (The attach points were a 10 ply layup of all fiberglass. No foam core that could crush.)

At the 4000 hour mark (when we sold the plane) I checked some of the torques again. Except for the wing mount attach fittings (which passed through hard foam), all the other fasteners were fine. (I think that the hard foam had crushed a little, especially since the countersunk screws bore directly on the glass/foam and could pull in.)

Perhaps epoxy is different and doesn’t shrink. Regardless, if I were buying a used Composite aircraft, I would check a few major fasteners for torque and go from there. (Because there still might be fasteners that go through hard foam or the like.)

Era Piloto de Glasair

Owners would be wise to apply 303 or another Sun protectant on composite aircraft. I used a different product on my Diamond, and I’m sure there are several good products available.

Eric W.

Poll: Do You Think Textron Buying Pipistrel Now Puts Electric Airplanes On The Map?

  • There is nothing wrong with an electric powerplant… but there is a lot wrong with batteries. We need an energy storage system that has an energy density to rival gasoline. I think Pipistrel has taken the electric powerplant integration as far as they reasonably can. For the higher energy density, my money is on hydrogen… which will require some very sophisticated manufacturing techniques to build leak-proof tanks that are light enough while strong enough to contain the high pressures (not to mention crashworthy enough). That’s much more up Textron’s alley. Not that I don’t expect them to screw it up… but the opportunity is there.
  • Textron will softly kill this company in just a few years’ time. It’s inevitable that the culture will slowly shift from brash innovator to corporate subsidiary. It’s what happens in most instances of corporate buyouts. Top executives are incentivized to produce short term gains in place of longer-term successes. I want it now!.
  • Bought it to shut it down. Bet Pipistrel electric aircraft are not around in 5 years. Been on the receiving end of such buy-outs twice.
  • I think Pipistrel will go down the drain just like the Corvallis and TTx. Textron just can’t handle outside the box thinking.
  • We said the same thing about Light Sport proliferation when Cessna announced the Skycatcher. So wait and see.
  • They will kill it like their other acquisitions.
  • Now they can shelve it or slow down progress or turn it in to a military drone.
  • It adds electric trainers to the product matrix. The real question is which percentage of the profits is it assigned to produce?
  • More of a setback. Pipistrel was already on the map. Remember Textron and the light sport 162?
  • Nope. They bought them to terminate them much like when Cessna purchased Columbia.
  • Microsoft strategy: embrace, extend, extinguish. Simply purchase potential competitor, poof!
  • Electric airplanes, like electric cars, have little utility until battery technology gives them longer range/endurance.
  • Textron will kill Pipistrel.
  • Current battery technology does not permit practical electric airplanes.
  • I’m not sure the industry has advanced enough to warrant widespread use of electric flight.
  • Suck off the technology, light-sport planes be damned, sell off the glider business.
  • The cost of flying says no.
  • Until batteries can perform like liquid fuel, it’s a pipe dream.
  • Hope they don’t “Columbia” it…
  • Creative type people usually won’t apply (or have left large corporations) – in order to “scale up” a workable idea the big guys have to buy the “umph!” They can’t develop inside.
  • Too much is missing…HP, cost, speed, climb, useful load, max weight, etc.
  • Electric airplanes are about as practical as the flying car. Extremely limited market. Perhaps basic flight training and some short commercial routes.
  • Sounds like price will be quite high for a 50 min flight time only.
  • There goes another good company.

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