Top Letters And Comments, November 4, 2022


Buying Backcountry: Focus On Your Needs

Rick, American Champion designed the airfoil tail, 11% larger, out of necessity when the “Scout-Water Bomber” was developed in 2010. The bomber version carried 1,000 pounds of water in the back seat area. Equivalent to 5.9 FAA standard folks in the back seat! Let that sink in! The flat tail was flown first on the bomber, but didn’t fly all that well with 5.9 FAA equiv.’s in the back seat. The new tail was designed to carry that weight. Amazing when you think about it (it could be used on the southern border today). The new tail flew first on the 180HP, not the Denali. When the Denali was later designed the big tail was standard. The big tail was an option for the 180HP Scouts. All of the standard Scouts that I built had the big tail after the tail was introduced. The big tail is available as a retrofit to replace any flat-tail-Scout out there. I recommend it. Nice to fly.

Both versions of the Scout carry 70 gallons of fuel. This is a big deal when filling stations are few and far between in the real back country. The Scout carries two more hours of fuel than, as an example, the Aviat Husky. Simply put this is 1 hour further into the bush, and one hour back.

The Scout was originally a beefed up Citabria designed to be a crop duster. Hence in utility category it is a 2700 pound aircraft (for takeoff) vs a standard 2200 pound bird. And this was the flat tail version! There are still a few Scouts flying duster missions today.

I sold and or delivered the first fifteen IO-390 powered Denali Scouts built. This is truly a delightful airplane to fly into the backcountry…..and yes VG’s help with aileron control at the slow speeds.

About big tires…please allow me to use your words (regarding a totally different subject) to describe how I feel about “big tars”….”they are nothing more than what comes out of the south end of a northbound horse!” I’ll explain. They add weight, lots of weight and forward of the CG (more drag and increased stall speed). They add drag when landing and this can be good if you didn’t need to takeoff. Yup they add drag on takeoff and once airborne slow acceleration because of weight and aerodynamic drag. “Would someone please pull up the anchor”… “Big Tars” add side-load to tubular landing gear and weaken said landing gear with EVERY landing. A bit ago I was at one of the major factories out west to inspect a wrecked aircraft. There were five wrecks there including the one I was hired to inspect. All 5 had collapsed landing gear and all 5 had “fatties” (Big Tars) including the one I was looking at. Fat tires are special-use tires and should be put on for that once-in-a-while flight that you might find you landing on boulders. Otherwise 8.50 x 6 tires work very well for all fields that I know of. If you prefer a softer landing let some air out of your 8.50’s. One more issue…..I have yet to see a an approved performance chart for the fat tires.

Thank you for another fine article.

God bless.

Jeff W.

FAA Nudges Pilots On See And Avoid

Yesterday was a banner day to illustrate See and Be Seen…and it’s limitations. In the first instance I was approaching an airport from the east to land on 36, while another aircraft of same speed was approaching the same distance on final to the south, and did not have ADSB-Out. We were both talking to FSS, and I just couldn’t find them…so I deliberately turned left to make darn sure there would be no conflict and called #2. I didn’t see them until they crossed the threshold. The second event, heading home in a friend’s Comanche, we were on a long path to straight in downwind left, they were in a 172, again with no ADSB-Out, and about 4 miles ahead of us. Two of us, talking to them for location and using our best eyeball skills, couldn’t find them until they turned base – we had of course slowed down a bunch to make darn sure we wouldn’t over-run them, particularly because everyone has a different definition of the size of a circuit and how to describe where you are.

The reinforced lesson: assuming someone can/will see you to provide collision avoidance is very very very foolish. Do what you need to do to make very absolutely sure there’s no way you can hit them. Turning base when there’s an aircraft on long final that you can’t see…sorry, doesn’t matter who’s ‘right’, that’s just asking for disaster.

Mark E.

Actually, humans are poor performers at see-and-avoid tasks. I can’t tell you how many times ATC has called out traffic – traffic at your 10 o’clock, traffic at your 11 o’clock, traffic at your 12 o’clock, traffic at your 1 o’clock, traffic no longer a factor – and I’ve never seen it. Back when we were first looking at “sense and avoid” now “detect and avoid” for unmanned systems, the official position was just make the machine do it as well as a human. I was like, ok, that’s easy because humans really suck at it. Then they realized what they were saying, and numbers like 1×10^(-6) (1 in a million) or even better were being thrown around, which is much better performance than a human. I’m not saying give up on “see and avoid”, especially in uncontrolled congested areas, but the tools they are saying pilots’ eyes are glued to are giving better information generally IMHO. What’s probably missing is some sort of aural or visual alert like TCAS to help the pilot understand there is a situation evolving so they don’t have their heads buried all the time. I avoided being drilled by an Airbus descending into me (C172) from behind not because pilots saw me but because their TCAS went off. I heard it going off when they called ATC and shortly later saw them flying right by off my right wing.

Jason B.

Poll: Have You Ever Landed, Taken Off Or Lined Up On The Wrong Runway?

  • I served aboard four U.S. Navy carriers in my career. It was not uncommon, especially during EMCON (restricted emission) flight operations and war at sea operational training for an “opposing carrier” aircraft to line up visually and land on our deck without anyone saying a word – as is what you do in an EMCON silent operation. It was when the aircraft stopped that most realized the pilot’s error and it was an opposing force aircraft. Quickly getting spray paint and various squadron and ship logo templates, the plane was quickly maimed by the crew’s effort and then pilot was directed to the catapults and quickly launched to return to his home carrier, albeit a little red faced on landing. I assume one must ignore the ship’s large white hull number painted on the island and the flight deck. – Robert M.
  • Flying into Burlington VT for the first time from a trip to Canada. Was given 19 and lined up for 15 (the longer runway). Thankfully, they corrected me as I am sure they get that quite a bit. After landing, four F-16s took off right behind me the opposite direction on 33. They were waiting for me to land and clear the runway. If that wasn’t a well learned lesson, I don’t know what was. Never do that again!! – Joe P.
  • Student cross country a million year ago. Hayward to Merced. Merced has 2 airports. KMCE has a 6,000′ runway. KMER has a 12,000′ runway. They were both uncontrolled when I did that flight. Apparently, they look the same from a 152… – William
  • I did it once, shortly after getting my Private license in ‘86. Instead of being embarrassed, I realized a moving map display might have prevented the error and started the Argus moving map display program at my company. Best mistake I ever made!
  • Almost! Started to line up in the wrong direction but an alert tower operator alerted me!
  • Was heading for the wrong airport. From certain directions it is hard to pick out Boeing field and was heading toward Sea-Tac the first time I flew to the Seattle area. Must happen there many times because the controller pointed that out as soon as I switched to approach control.
  • As a new pilot, I once entered a 45 to the wrong runway. Luckily, there was nobody else in the pattern and I only needed to make a slight turn to correct.
  • Lined up on the wrong runway, but tower re-cleared me to land the one that I had mistakenly lined up on. 1986 Cut Bank, Montana.
  • I had to land on a taxiway once in a glider due to a Bonanza taking off without clearing the traffic pattern. He did not have his radio on either.
  • Taxied to the wrong runway, but caught my mistake before it was too late. Used connecting taxiways to get to the proper runway and hold for a landing aircraft before takeoff.
  • Was about to land on the wrong runway but pulled up at low level.
  • Lined up? All the time! (Then again, I’m flying with students.) In fairness, that taxiway was a runway at some point.
  • Began lining up for wrong runway, but caught myself before fully aligned and simply adjusted for correct runway.
  • Landed in the correct direction, but called the other.
  • I did line up with a taxiway once, but noticed well before it became an actual issue.
  • Wrong airport at night.
  • Lined up to land on a taxiway. Oy…
  • My instructor sent me to Columbia airport in California in 1968 but only told me to be careful, use Unicom and check for landing directions. You land into a hill and take off the opposite direction. Two aircraft took off while I was on approach, one a twin fire-fighting aircraft.
  • Almost landed at the wrong airport with similar runway configuration.
  • Lined up incorrectly on downwind. 31 vs. 13.
  • I took off on a parallel taxiway; dense fog, night, had been up for 24 hours. Never thought it would happen.
  • Taxied halfway to runway 35 before I realized it needed to be 17. Nontowered airport.
  • Wrong runway AND wrong airport.
  • As a pilot, once. As a controller at a major airport, seen it many times by crews of all experience levels!
  • Landed with tailwind.
  • Not yet.
  • ATC. See it all the time.
  • Never been to a ‘multi-strip’ airport.
  • It was the right runway for me…

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