Top Letters And Comments, October 9, 2020

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I, Taildragger Bigot

As you say, being a taildragger or glider pilot doesn’t by definition make you a better pilot overall. But I do believe getting some glider (which I have) and taildragger (which I haven’t – there really aren’t many of them to train in in my local area) training will help. It’s not necessarily so much the type of training you do, so long as you get training in a type of aircraft you have little-to-no experience in, because more unique training, I think, makes you a better pilot (or at least better appreciate the type of flying you do do). For that matter, helicopter training will make you a better fixed-wing pilot too (I found it actually made me much more comfortable with short-field takeoffs in fixed-wing planes).

In a perfect world, I would also pick a fuel injected aircraft over a carbureted one. And for a while, I vowed if I were to ever own my own plane (or a share in one) again, it would be fuel injected. But after flying carbureted piston helicopters and getting used to always being mindful of the carb temp gauge (which I now feel is mandatory in any carbureted aircraft, or at least a carb ice detector) and the temp/dew point spread, it doesn’t bother me as much now.

Gary B.

I didn’t realize I was one too till I read this. Aside from bragging rights there is another advantage of 400 hours in taildraggers. When I go looking to buy an airplane, there is a whole ‘nother level of aircraft that I consider as “available”. That level is slowly diminishing. However, they are still there. I recently became in the market and was searching ALL types of aircraft, and, coincidentally, found a beautiful Cessna 195 (taildragger). It wasn’t to be for reasons other than the aircraft. But the number of Taildraggers out there is still large enough that within a week of losing that one, I found an excellent Vultee BT-13 that I am now considering.

It just shows the depth of the market is there for those of us that have the manly skills of avoiding ground loops.

Jim I.

When YouTube Clickbait Actually Has Value

Training, training, training! I agree, many GA and recreational pilots do not practice engine failures to a landing, let alone any of the other possible emergency scenarios. The little bit of flying they might do is a cause for very rusty stick and rudder skills. During flight reviews I kindly provide the student unexpected engine failures during various phases of flight. Even in a very controlled environment the outcome is mostly ugly. A great way to practice is idle approaches abeam the numbers, traffic permitting. Drag management is key using gear, flaps and even a slip if needed. Pick a touch down point and see how close you can come to land on it. As a professional pilot I am fortunate to fly on a regular basis, but also go through an intensive recurrent training program very nine months. The idea that a flight review every two years will bring you up to speed is ludicrous. I highly recommend the FAA Wings programs, as a continual way to stay current. Do a phase each year, which equals to an hour-long session with a CFI every four months. The free online courses are a terrific way to stay in the books and keep your brain in the game. Yes, even some airline pilots participate in the Wings program. After 35 years of flying I am still learning. As on examiner told me early on: “I am signing your temporary license today! It is a license to learn. Congratulations.”

Now go fly your airplane like a glider and see if you can nail your touch down point every time. Remember though, at idle the engine is still producing a bit of thrust. When it actually quits, it will not glide nearly as well.

Good luck, safe landings!

Martin G.

Poll: Was FAA Chief Steve Dickson’s 737 MAX Flight Useful?

  • It is a PR stunt, but one designed to assure the public that the FAA is serious about proving the plane is airworthy. Dickson is obviously qualified to fly the plane and to judge how it performs.
  • Needed to help restore public and political confidence in aircraft and FAA. It is what a leader does as opposed to a desk manager.
  • Maybe it was for the troops. Sometimes it is good for the boss to demonstrate to his troops that he knows his stuff when demanding they know theirs.
  • Yes, it sets the tone that the FAA is engaged.
  • All this got him was a checkout in a 737 Max. Probably at tax payers expense. He’s not a trained test pilot. So, this proved nothing.
  • It was mostly a PR stunt, but the FAA and Boeing could use the PR from a high-ranking official.
  • Yes. He is qualified to sit in the left seat and, as such, offers a much-needed vote of confidence!
  • Confidence builder for the public.
  • He kept his promise.
  • I thought it was a PR stunt, frankly.
  • No, it wasn’t part of the certification process, was it?
  • Thinking about it more, THIS is why the FAA takes years to get anything substantive to get done. The Administrator is away from his desk and assigned duties and pretending to be a test pilot. He’d have been more productive sitting in an in depth briefing on changes and updates to the airplane than flying it.
  • Why not if it might help the general public feel better about the airplane.
  • Maybe: Since he was rated, his acceptance may help with public perception.
  • A PR stunt, but a valuable one.
  • No. His typical ego.
  • He just wanted to fly that airplane. It benefitted him personally.
  • Yes. As a pilot he needed to evaluate the situation first hand. I think it is good that he did.
  • Does it make any difference whether he flew it or not in the certification process?
  • Well, he did get some more 737 time in his logbook!
  • He probably encouraged Boeing to quadruple-check where otherwise they may only have triple-checked. But still mainly a stunt.
  • I thought it was a PR stunt, frankly, which shows – unfortunately – how cozy the FAA is with Boeing Commercial.
  • The plane itself was already safe.
  • Useful only to the FAA.
  • What was Dickson’s participation in original MAX design and testing?
  • Free training, what would you do?
  • He will be able to testify from first-hand experience.
  • Not necessary.
  • The FAA has complicity in the Max issue and this flight serves to show their concern for image.
  • Too soon to tell.

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