Top Letters And Comments, March 3, 2023


Preflighting Propellers

I had a customer call on a Sunday morning saying his “dawn patrol” flight was canceled because his wooden prop was leaking oil! It was the crankshaft seal of course. Also, the back side of the prop is the curved side, not the flat side. At least that’s the way I learned it as an A&P two generations ago. Agreed, propellers are a much neglected preflight item, and I commend you for your safety comments.


Just a shout out from your friendly retired technical writer: Don’t forget about the manual. You can download the manual for most props for free. The manual will typically include a recommended preflight procedure, and provide detailed descriptions of no-go items. For example, the manual for my MT propeller lists depth, width, and length dimension for things like dents, cracks, nicks, etc. for different parts of the blade. It also includes pictures for those of you who don’t like to read the words.

Mark S.

First Customer Lear Jet To Be Restored

I found 23 S/N 006 N111JD in Benton Harbor MI. Formally owned by the John Deere. Flew it back to SAT to the Dee Howard Co. where I was employed and was upgraded with the Mk II system and Dee Howard thrust reversers. Sold to a SAT company and I flew many trips for them. The early model 23s were great performers being so light even though they lacked the more refined systems of later models.

Albert AC

I flew this aircraft back in the late 70s till around 83. Did a lot of 135 and Air ambulance work. The N number, N3BL was for Bernie Little, the boat racer, Miss Budweiser team owner. Lear Jet tried to make this aircraft single Pilot, all the switches including the gear was on the left side. Still have a lot pics of this thing, people can’t believe what the panel looked like.

Pete S.

Best Of the Web: A Visit To Van Sant

It’s everyone’s dream. Certainly is mine. What I wish for my home airport, yes an airport in and among midwestern wheat fields where it should be like Van Sant but isn’t, is at least a compromise. Our 7000 foot runway, taxiway and safety areas have in the past few years been totally rebuilt, with much federal money and the attendant strings of course, but not one blade of grass is designated as an official landing area. I understand the need for progress in the definition of today’s commerce and society, and I’m even willing to accept it. After all, that was the kind of progress that enabled my flying career. But all I really need in my retirement is 1000 feet of grass, availability of mogas and a verbal gentlemen’s agreement that we’ll both coexist, neither I nor airport management doing anything stupid.

John K.

I did my J3 Cub transition at Van Sant many years ago. Wonderful grass airport! Airports like this survive with public or private funding, fuel sales and hangar rent. Many of the grass airports that I’ve been to are public but privately-owned. That does not qualify them for public funding for things like AWOS and runway maintenance. They operate on a very thin margin and only the love of aviation keeps them going. Sometimes ignorant local governments or residents around the airport who don’t like noise but build next to the airport anyway are the force that kills them.

I used to be on the board of directors for a nice grass airport just off the lake where I live that survived only on private bequests and funding but was open to the public because of the terms of the bequest. I know of another one where a land owner built a horse farm off one end of the runway and then complained that the noise of the airplanes taking off and landing frightened his prize horses. It caused the airport owners to take the airport private because they got no support from the county government. They had to alter the final approach on the west end to avoid the horse farm. It now requires a sharp dogleg just before touchdown which reduces stability and safety.

Recently there has been a surge of interest in back country flying and non-paved runways because of the freedom they offer and the fact that maintenance costs are lower for grass than pavement. I hope that keeps airports like Van Sant operating for many years to come. My Maule’s 31″ Alaskan Bushwheels tundra tires prefer grass landings to pavement and they’ve lasted 7 years so far.

Andrew M.

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