Top Letters And Comments, September 18, 2020


First Time Flying Open Cockpit

Paul–that’s “some pretty good writin’ fer an Iowa Boy!”

I just finished up giving a tailwheel endorsement and required 10 hours of dual in a PT-19 last week. I flew a PT-19 for about 150 hours in 1967-68, and hadn’t touched one since–but that was good enough for the insurance company. It all came back right away.

The PT-19 originally had a 175 hp Ranger engine–that was not enough, so it was increased to 200 hp. That was not enough either. As they say in Iowa, “It is not a ‘Barnburner!” (They gave the early PT-19s to the Tuskeegee Airmen, but replaced them when the airplane couldn’t outclimb the surrounding hills on hot days).

What it DOES offer is the very best handling of the over 340 unique airplane types I’ve flown. The controls are aerodynamically and mass balanced–you can flick the ailerons from stop to stop with one finger. The split flaps are connected to the trim–no change with flap extension or retraction. No control cables–control rods instead for precise control. The result is the easiest to land tailwheel airplane I’ve ever flown.

Starting the engine requires a choreographed ballet between pilot and the person actually doing the work. A couple of shots of prime and pumps of the throttle with the mags off–the crank is inserted in the side, and the prop turned over 12 blades to insure that oil has not leaked into the inverted cylinders and created “hydraulic lock.” “Switch on” to the left mag, and it usually fires right away, and the starting crank is carefully placed by the crewman into a small door by the pilot’s feet. There is no electrical system, so fuel is lifted from the wing tanks with a mechanical “wobble pump.”

There aren’t many PT-19, 23, or 26 aircraft left due to their open cockpits and wooden center sections–they are prone to rot. For anyone looking to sample the Fairchilds, the folks at Fagen Fighter Museum offer rides in a PT-26–and if you’re a pilot, will let you fly.

Jim H.

Poll: Would You Want A Full Airframe Parachute?

  • Either way is okay, but cost, useful load and performance are important considerations as well.
  • The maintenance alone is better spent on training.
  • Depends on the cost and frequency of replacement of the BRS unit.
  • Cost and weight would inform my decision.
  • Yes. Half a century as a skydiver says I have a certain faith in nylon. You’re right about wanting toggles, though.
  • It always depends on cost.
  • Don’t want to pay for the upkeep, but would love one if needed.
  • For a flight control issue, yes. Engine failure: probably not.
  • Waiting for Autoland.
  • Depends on performance penalties and costs.
  • It depends on the aircraft.
  • Only if it added a measurable safety enhancement for that particular application.
  • I don’t think it’s worth the 80 pounds and the loss of baggage space in a 172.
  • Rather not lose the useful load.
  • Depends on useful load.
  • Get a real autogiro.
  • Yes, if not required for flight.
  • Cost to maintain?
  • Hard to say – in the small EAB I fly, the weight penalty is a pretty significant factor.
  • Depends on the aircraft and its primary use.
  • NO! I’ll take the weight in extra fuel.
  • I don’t think I need it, but people I would fly with might be more inclined to if the airplane had one.
  • Good idea – adds expense and complexity.
  • Why wreck a perfectly good airplane just because you cannot do an emergency landing.
  • Not sure how it would work with my helicopter 🙂

Poll: Have You Switched To BasicMed?

  • Not until I have to. At 71, I’m still qualified for 3rd Class. Yippee!
  • Yes—and please don’t knock it unless you’ve already had your medical denied despite your doctors’ objections and reinstated. This is not a subject to be smartass about.
  • I switched within a month of it taking effect. I was on a special issuance, so switched to get out from under all the paperwork mess to keep OKC happy with the SI. I also wanted to keep the option of switching to Sport Pilot in case the FAA ever rejected my SI. BasicMed works well for me.
  • Did but the insurance company requires 3rd class.
  • I tried to but my PCP is an NP not an MD. Was easier to go my existing flight surgeon.
  • Even if I did, could I get insurance at age 84 1/2?
  • No. At my age, it’s likely to adversely affect my insurability.
  • Switched to BasicMed 3 years ago then reverted back to Class III medical.
  • Dr. Will not do BasicMed.
  • I want to, but don’t think my family doctor will take the time to do this- will be easy for them to say ‘no’ instead of taking the time to be educated. I want to find a listing of BasicMed savvy doctors in my area, before I am due next summer.
  • No. No money to repair aircraft.
  • I would if I could find a doctor.
  • Can’t qualify because of the catch 22. Need a 3rd class special and can’t get one, otherwise I would use BasicMed.
  • I’m young enough that a third-class is still good for five years, so I went with that.
  • No, I switched to not flying because I was spending more to keep the government and flying club happy than I had left over to do what I use aircraft for – travel.
  • I missed the early acceptance day by three months!
  • Might do both (age 70 – Just in case).
  • Keeping a 3rd class for flight through Canada.
  • Not eligible.
  • Still have both.
  • My physician won’t sign off on BasicMed.
  • I’m hanging on to my Second Class as long as I can.
  • No. I’ve never failed a medical but let it lapse over 20 years ago. Why should I get a medical now, since I can fly my LSA Ercoupe without one, as I do currently?
  • I have both a 3rd-class and BasicMed.
  • Used Basic Med while waiting for SI.
  • I couldn’t find a doctor willing to perform a BasicMed exam.
  • No, because I’m afraid I might not pass a new medical, and therefore be prohibited from flying LSA.
  • Don’t know if I qualify … with all this talk about BasicMed, it is not often explained.
  • Not available in Canada.
  • I am thinking about it.
  • No, my insurance won’t allow it. I’m 81 years old. I’m still flying a Cessna 337.
  • Due to medical issues, I quit flying.

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