December 2018

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Subscribers Only - I started my lessons (at 50 years old!) at an airport called Howell-New Lenox in Illinois. On my first solo, I had to go around due to a back taxi by another student with his instructor (my first exposure to being PIC in a two-pilot operation. But I was cool; I also learned that I was pretty calm in an abnormal situation—when I’m alone.

Assembling MOSAIC

By now, you’ve probably heard the news coming out of a recent AOPA Fly-In: The FAA is considering the idea of increasing the maximum takeoff weight limitation for wheel-equipped light sport aircraft (LSA) from 1320 lbs. to as much as 3600 lbs. On its face, this would allow a sport pilot with the appropriate endorsements to serve as pilot in command of, say, a Cirrus SR22 or an A36 Bonanza. It’s one narrow focus of a broader initiative dubbed Modernization of Special Airworthiness Certificates, or MOSAIC, which may find its way into forthcoming FAA regulations.

Air In The Tanks

I’ve owned Cessna T210s since 1977; first a 1969 J model and then a 1979 N model with a TSIO-520-R engine. In the 1980s, there were a number of fuel exhaustion accidents in 210s, all of them attributable to not getting a full fill and resulting in being shorted an hour’s supply when fueling stops after fuel backs up out of the filler port. The outboard sections of the fuel tanks are slightly higher than the bottom of the filler port. To get the last one-plus gallons in the tanks requires the slowest of fueling until reaching the real full point.

Who You Gonna Call?

Subscribers Only - Last summer, while flying over the largest wilderness in the lower 48 states, I heard a radio call: “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday. White Cessna... [broken and inaudible transmission].” I heard just enough to understand something bad was happening, but not where. I repeatedly tried to hail the aircraft to get them to repeat their location, to no avail. My attempts, however, did pique the curiosity of other aircraft on the backcountry frequency, all of which were south of my position. None of them had heard the call. I deduced the distressed aircraft must have come from somewhere north of my position, so I turned to head upriver where the most likely airstrips were and tuned to 121.5 MHz to listen for an ELT.

Catching A Wave

Subscribers Only - Odds are you remember this from your first intro flight: Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft was rocked by some little burble in the air. If you’re like most people, you turned to the instructor to ask in alarm, “Did I do that?” Later in training, we learned to view bumpy conditions as a potential checkride ally that might persuade a pilot examiner to interpret the published performance standards a little more flexibly. Still later, even “light” turbulence might have posed an obstacle to sharing your love of flight with friends and family.

Maintenance, Paperwork And Checkrides

Subscribers Only - When you present yourself to a designated pilot examiner (DPE) or an FAA employee for a checkride to add a new certificate or rating, both you and the aircraft are subject to closer inspection than you may be accustomed. Pilots aren’t expected to know the dry-torque specification for an engine’s cylinder studs, but they definitely are expected to know how to check its oil level and know how to add more, if needed, of the correct type. What about a slack tire? Does the applicant know how to check it? Can the applicant legally add air to it, or even clean the windshield?

Truth In Icing

I received a call from the owner of a turbocharged, high-performance single who lives in the Great Lakes region, well-known for icing conditions in late autumn, winter and early spring. His airplane was equipped with an aftermarket TKS-style ice protection system and was not FAA-approved for flight in known icing (FIKI). The pilot wanted to discuss strategies for flight during the cold times of the year, including insights into conditions where icing layers are vertically thin and/or rates of ice accumulation are typically light (or even only a “trace”).

‘Know Before You Go’

Subscribers Only - In late October, six general aviation industry organizations released a series of “best practices” for fixed-based operators (FBOs) and airports to adopt as a way to inform customers about the prices and fees they can expect. The agreement comes after a series of public conversations between pilots’ groups and the FBOs. The six organizations behind the agreement are the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, the National Air Transportation Association and the National Business Aviation Association.

Test Pilot

Subscribers Only - My airplane has wingtip-mounted fuel tanks, installed under a supplemental type certificate (STC). In many ways, they’ve transformed and improved the machine by adding greater loading flexibility, thanks in part to a gross-weight increase. What drag they produce isn’t noticeable, and the additional endurance means the airplane is faster over some trips than it was before. For many of my destinations, I can depart with full tanks, fly to my destination, shoot an approach, miss it and fly home with reserves.

NTSB Reports

The pilot reported that he and his co-owner had flown the airplane the night before the accident; it flew normally without problems. On the morning of the accident, he had to use the low-pressure boost pump to start the engine, but the pre-takeoff run-up was normal. The airplane ised most of the 4201-foot-long runway before becoming airborne. On reaching about 500 feet agl, the pilot determined the engine was not producing full power. He turned on the low-pressure boost pump and climbed to 1000 feet agl before turning back to the airport. The engine continued losing power, so he conducted a forced landing to a cornfield. A witness reported observing “dark exhaust” trailing the airplane during the takeoff.

Who’s In Charge?

I started my lessons (at 50 years old!) at an airport called Howell-New Lenox in Illinois. On my first solo, I had to go around due to a back taxi by another student with his instructor (my first exposure to being PIC in a two-pilot operation. But I was cool; I also learned that I was pretty calm in an abnormal situation—when I’m alone.


During descent, pilot noted oil streaking back from top engine cowl louvers, then dropping oil pressure. Pilot conducted precautionary shutdown and feathered propeller. Pilot continued descent and landed at destination without issue. Maintenance removed cowling and found oil appearing to come from the turbocharger (p/n 4066109025) area. Further investigation revealed oil bypassing the seals on the turbo.