September 2017

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Subscribers Only - Everything that can be invented has been invented” is a popular quote attributed to Charles H. Duell, commissioner of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from 1898 to 1901. Today, the quote often is used to ridicule those who refuse to embrace the latest technology or believe nothing new will be forthcoming. The thing is, Duell never said that. He said quite the opposite instead: “In my opinion, all previous advances in the various lines of invention will appear totally insignificant when compared with those which the present century will witness.” Yet, he’s not remembered for that statement, only the former, erroneous one.

NTSB Reports

The airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain at 1159 Eastern time. The solo private pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed. The pilot had recently purchased the airplane and was relocating it to a private airstrip near his home. Witness observations were consistent with the airplane flying at low altitude and maneuvering erratically before it impacted. Each witness reported the engine was running prior to impact. The accident…

Humble Pie

Everything that can be invented has been invented” is a popular quote attributed to Charles H. Duell, commissioner of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from 1898 to 1901. Today, the quote often is used to ridicule those who refuse to embrace the latest technology or believe nothing new will be forthcoming. The thing is, Duell never said that. He said quite the opposite instead: “In my opinion, all previous advances in the various lines of invention will appear totally insignificant when compared with those which the present century will witness.” Yet, he’s not remembered for that statement, only the former, erroneous one.

Pireps And More

I read with interest the article “NTSB Takes on Pireps” (June 2017). What was not mentioned, and my primary reason to not submit Pireps, is the removal of Flight Watch and its common frequency, 122.0 MHz. Requiring the pilot to search for the flight service station within radio range makes it less likely a report is even started, and fragments the consolidation into the NAS. To me, the elimination of Flight Watch is going backward.

Maintaining Performance

Airplane performance and good maintenance are closely related. The figures published by the manufacturer are frequently viewed as optimistic once an airplane is put into service—and suffers prop nicks, bugs on the leading edge and a couple of bad landings—but “book” numbers can be achieved even years later. When actual performance differs from the published numbers, it’s often because the airplane’s condition has diminished over the years and hours of use. The level of maintenance an airplane has received over the years will have a significant impact on its overall performance.

Distraction’s Rabbit Hole

Subscribers Only - Shortly after buying my Cessna 180, I decided an upgrade to slightly larger tires would help the plane better handle Idaho’s backcountry strips. That turned out to be a great decision, but not for the obvious benefit of landing with larger tires on rough runways. When the mechanic popped the hubcaps to expose the retaining nut holding the wheel to the axle, he discovered it was about ready to fall off. The nut did not…

Top Five IFR Mistakes

Subscribers Only - Whether we want to admit it or not, human flight by reference to instruments alone is an unnatural act. To determine up from down or left from right without a natural horizon, we need hours of training, and even more hours of regular practice. We also need a decently equipped airplane, stuffed with radios, colorful moving maps, some gyroscopes or their electronic equivalent, and more than a few charts, telling us where to go and how to get there.

Single-Pilot Challenges

Most of us start our piloting careers in some sort of basic trainer. Some pilots flying purely for sport or recreation may stay with simple fixed-gear airplanes and stick to VFR conditions. Others learned to fly to travel somewhere for some purpose and on their own schedule. Nothing beats a personal airplane for that purpose, but trying to do it single-pilot in all-weather conditions can tax even the most capable general aviation pilots. As Dave Higdon explored in last month’s article, “Entry-Level Travel”, it’s possible to use simple fixed-gear airplanes for personal transportation, but a more-capable airplane makes it easier.

Stabilizing Your Approaches

Subscribers Only - Stabilized approaches have gotten a lot attention lately, not only with those who fly airplanes, but also with the general public. The proliferation of video cameras has done quite a good job of educating people on how an otherwise airworthy aircraft can be flown into the ground. As the images play out on the screen, a disembodied voice inevitably will at some point attribute the carnage to an approach that was not stabilized. While the voice might not mention just what that thing that was lacking in said accident really is, people will at least remember the phrase the same way they remember words such as shark, fire, disco or myocardial infarction. The true meaning is vague, but they do know it is usually associated with something bad. With that in mind, let’s add some clarity by reviewing what a stabilized approach is. Perhaps if we understand what it is, we can then fly it.

Certification Changes

Beginning about the time this magazine lands in your mailbox, the FAA’s long-awaited revision to FAR Part 23—the regulations setting forth small aircraft certification rules—will go into effect. Manufacturers and user groups are enthusiastic about the coming changes, which they say promise to reform and modernize the agency’s approval process for airframes, engines and equipment like avionics. The new rules go into effect August 30, 2017. In preparation, the FAA’s Aircraft Certification Service (ACS) in…

Turnback Failure

Subscribers Only - A lot of ink and pixels have been spilled over the years about turning back to the departure runway if a single’s engine quits right after takeoff. The maneuver is usually referred to as a turnback, and was the topic of our January 2006 article, “Turnbacks Reconsidered”.

Sumped

Subscribers Only - Many years ago, I had an experience that is still fresh in my mind, and I thought I would share it with your readers. I was a member of the Beech Aircraft Flying Club at the time and was using one of their Sundowners for a short trip from the factory in Wichita to Chanute, Kan. Before taking off, I preformed the typical walkaround, sumping the fuel drains, checking the oil, etc.

Ignition Switches

The right engine failed to turn over upon application of starter. Pilot noted smoke and burning smell from under the instrument panel. Upon inspection, it was found that the ignition switch cups were severely worn, and the contact points were burned. The switch was replaced and the aircraft was returned to service. Submitter suggests disassembly and inspection of these switches for worn components and proper lubrication on a 500-hour basis to prevent recurrence.