Unicom

February 2001 Issue




Young & In Charge

Young CFIs aren’t necessarily a handicap

Great job! Thanks for stereotyping all young CFIs as unprofessional, lazy and undedicated [Editor’s Log, November]. I work on a community college instructor staff and can assure you that all of us have worked very hard to reach and maintain a high professional standard. I guarantee that you would never catch any of us “with our headset tap-tap-tapping against the right side window.”

I would also like to point out that your implication that any older experienced pilot can “teach the CFI a couple of new tricks” is exactly the opposite from what I normally see when flying with the average non-professional airman. Most of them have a hard time remembering how to perform a stall correctly (to PTS standards) and almost all need work with their landings or some other aspect of their flying.

With experience can come wisdom, but all too often it is accompanied by arrogance and complacency. By the way, I can land a Mooney without bouncing it, at least most of the time. Shocking?

Don’t take this the wrong way. I understand that we are short on experience. I understand that we have a lot to learn, and that it would be stupid to turn a deaf ear to wisdom and experience. I also think, however, that it is unfair to say that our services are a worthless waste of time and money.

As for the fast turnover among the ranks of CFIs, what do you expect? We don’t make any money, we obviously don’t get any respect and we work all the time. What person in their right mind would stay in a situation like this?

In closing, I will be the first to admit that there is a problem with a shortage of instructors. On the other hand, we work hard and there are many safe, well-educated pilots flying today because of our efforts. Many successful professional pilots were at one time young CFIs and in fact were most likely trained by them. I think a little respect could go a long way towards helping this situation.

-Ben Wielenga
Via e-mail


We think there’s a qualitative difference between using a flight instructor to stay current and using one to better learn the nuances of flying. Consider that in the last couple of years since the airline hiring boom has depleted the instructor ranks, the fatal accident rate during training has doubled.

“Your” services may not be a waste of time and money, but we’ve sure seen times when that was undeniably true.

----------

Things Will be Different When I’m CFI
I just read “Misfortune Strikes Home” [Editor’s Log, November]. I am in agreement with you concerning the utter lack of experienced CFIs. I am a young pup myself with only 24 years under my belt and have always been instructed by men who were barely older than me.

I have been fortunate to have very knowledgeable instructors, but when I fly with another pilot who has been around, I always learn a vast amount more. Sometimes I felt as though I was taught the absolute minimum to pass the test and that was it. I hold a private pilot certificate currently and I am working on the ground work for instrument.

My goal is to become not just a smart instructor, but a wise one. I love to teach, and the opportunity to teach something I love is something I take seriously. Do I think I will be lured to the world of higher pay and bigger airplanes? I don’t know. I may, but I never want to quit teaching.

I am a jet mechanic in the Air Force with 6 years of experience on the F-16. I am sought after to teach the jet as well as work it. There is something about seeing someone’s face light up when you show them something and suddenly they understand. That is awesome.

I hope to become a wise instructor that people come to, not because I will sign them off, but because they know I will challenge them so they won’t just meet the minimums, they will understand what’s happening.

-Joseph Behnke
Via e-mail


Good luck. We certainly hope financial realities don’t destroy your dream.

----------

Leaner was Lucky
I cringed when I read “Too Rich For My Blood” [Learning Experiences, November] in which the author proudly reported how he learned to lean for best power at take off his 1977 turbocharged 210. He is lucky he survived to write that article.

I have owned and operated my own 1977 T210M for two years now and am quite familiar with this plane’s powerplant. Even at Flagstaff, Ariz., on an 85-degree day with a density altitude of 10,500 the TSIO-520 is capable of developing full rated power on takeoff. Full power for this engine is 36.5 inches MP and 2700 RPM, which this engine can develop to a density altitude of over 17,000 feet. At this power level you need a fuel flow of 192 +/-6 lbs/hr to provide adequate margin against detonation. If you lean you can very easily end up in the detonation range. If you’re lucky you only destroy a $30,000 engine; if you’re not you kill yourself. That is why the AFM and the takeoff checklist require the mixture control be placed in FULL RICH for all takeoffs.

I have some suggestions for this pilot that assume he has stepped up to his 210 from non-turbocharged machines. Get yourself at least 10 hours of dual instruction from a CFI with extensive experience in T210s. If you can’t find one, go to FlightSafety for their transition course. This is a highly capable, complex plane. It can climb higher, go faster, haul more and get you in trouble faster than probably anything you have flown before.

Get a copy of John Frank’s letter to Cessna 210 owners. (www.avweb.com/articles/c210ltr.html) Also get a copy of the TwinTopics columns on troubleshooting the turbo system in the November and December 1998 Cessna Pilots Association magazine. They will give you a first-rate understanding of the Cessna automatically controlled turbocharging system.

Finally, find a really good A&P with extensive T210 experience and if the plane will not behave like the AFM says it should, take it to him.

-Jim Burrows
Denton, Texas

----------

Rotten Strategies
You reported on an accident where a Williams Mite M18L lost the vertical stabilizer and rudder assemblies [Preliminary Reports, December]. The investigators found evidence of dry rot on the fracture surfaces.

I am reminded of something I learned in a “wood technology” lecture some years ago: When you find dry rot, look for the source of the moisture, because rot never occurs in the absence of moisture. You may find dry rot after the rotted area has dried out, but the rot developed while the area was wet.

The source of the moisture may be far removed from the spot where the rot is found. Moisture can enter feet or yards away and run along spars, longerons or cables, then drip onto the spot where rot takes place. You have to become a detective here and look for signs of past moisture, such as stains or corrosion, that may be very slight.

If any hint of corrosion or rot is found, one should actively search for the original source of water entry and correct the problem at the source. It will be cheaper and certainly safer than shrugging it off.

-Forrest Fiedler
Meadows of Dan, Va.


We know a boat owner who, after reading your last sentence, was nodding in agreement so vigorously he nearly had to be fitted with a neck brace.

----------

Uncontrolled Shortcuts
This is meant as a note of caution or concern to all who have poured time and money into the presently prosperous small aircraft industry and all the related businesses.

There is a dangerous new habit of entering the traffic pattern at non-towered airports by cutting across the pattern at pattern altitude to enter downwind. I have been a pilot for 46 years, and hold an ATP and was a CFII for 25 years. I have seen all kinds of goofy shortcuts, including long finals and base leg entries, but this takes the cake.

What has happened in the last few years to give otherwise good pilots the idea that crossing the airport midfield at traffic pattern altitude is in any way safe? There have been several poorly done articles published on this subject. One was a pamphlet put out by AOPA and the other that I know of was published by the Michigan Aeronautics Commission.

There are more aircraft and fewer airports, and the aircraft are getting faster and more sophisticated. Crowded patterns are on the increase, and the cross-pattern entry is just a bad idea at a bad time – in addition to being illegal. Even if one is alone in the pattern, this kind of entry has been found in violation of FAR 91.13 (Careless and reckless operation) because it is seen as a potential hazard. It is also a very bad example that new pilots may follow.

Some will say that the 45-degree downwind entry recommended by the AIM is only “recommended” and not really regulatory. Don’t be fooled. It is considered standard practice, and when someone has an accident “standard practice” can turn into a legal standard real quick.

-Donald Solms
Royal Oak, Mich.


It is definitely true that the FAA will use the AIM as a standard in any enforcement action where there is not a specific FAR that addresses what the pilot should have done.

The behavior of some pilots at small airports make them seem like totally uncontrolled fields, rather than the FAA-speak of non-towered airports. While the number of pilots is probably small who are too ignorant to know proper procedure or too rude to apply it, it sure seems like they get around a lot.

There are several acceptable ways of getting across the airport to make a proper pattern entry. We agree with you that a midfield crosswind at pattern altitude usually isn’t one of them.

----------

Taken for a Ride?
I enjoyed Ron Levy’s article, “Post Wrench Test” [Systems Check, December]. I did have one concern, however. Doesn’t his recommendation to take along the mechanic on the first test ride violate FAR 91.407(b)?

-Robert Allen Jr.
Rapid City, S.D.


The FAR leaves the door open by stipulating that “an operational check” of the work must be performed, which means the mechanic can be considered a required crewmember for that purpose.