Friday, September 1, 2017

ONLY 2 LOUSY CONTROLLERS IN ALL MY YEARS OF FLYING...AND THEY WERE BOTH ON THE SAME TRIP!

In all my years of flying I have only encountered two lousy controllers, and it was on the same trip. This was before iPads and apps such as ForeFlight were in the cockpit. I only had a portable Garmin 396 GPS and my Jeppesen charts to fly with. We were traveling from Phoenix Deer Valley, DVT, to Palo Alto, CA , PAO, to visit my daughter and her family. She was a doctor at Stanford Children’s Hospital at the time, and it was homecoming at Stanford. We obtained a weather briefing the night before and the morning of the flight. We planned a fuel stop at Whiteman Airport, WHP, in the LA Basin which is just east of Van Nuys, VNY. The forecast called for IFR hitting the LA Basin and again IFR into PAO. I was talking to SoCal ATC and getting ready to fly the VOR approach into WHP. I was being vectored around and lost some situational awareness of what ATC was trying to do. The next thing they told me I was cleared for the approach into VNY. I told the controller we were going to WHP and read the strip. He then had to vector me around until we were set up for the approach into WHP. We fueled up and obtained our clearance from the tower at WHP for the next part of our trip to PAO. There were never any thunderstorms or icing in the forecast or along our route of flight, just clouds and light rain. Approaching PAO on NoCal approach we were vectored off the airway and given the GPS approach into PAO. The VOR approach was right off the airway we were on, and you have to cross the VOR and turn west to shoot the VOR approach into PAO. This controller never looked at the strip and assumed we were IFR GPS equipped. A supervisor took over from the controller and asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I needed vectors south to get back on the airway to shoot the approach. Thank goodness neither of these events tuned out poorly for us. I have learned a lesson from this in that I always tell approach what airport I am going into and what approach I expect. I have never had a problem since. In all my years of flying this is the only encounter I have had with two incompetent controllers. I would have to say that the rest of my flying experience with ATC has been outstanding. I have been rerouted due to weather on several occasions and all controllers have been extremely helpful. We fly into San Diego Montgomery Field, MYF, about 10 times over the summer. The MEA has been raised just before arriving into MYF from 8,000 feet to 8,400 feet. We fly over at 8,000. We would have to climb 2,000 feet to 10,000 feet with a shotgun descent to 451 feet to land. Additionally the FAA changed the routing for airliners making us do a lot of holding before we could go into MYF. SoCal told us we could fly towards PGY VOR where the MEA is 7,000 feet and not have to climb. This also put us out of the path of airliners and on the south side of the mountains approaching San Diego. Without ATC’s help we would have never known this. It saved a lot of time and holding. Shuster in Congress has been pushing for years to privatize ATC. This is being pushed so ATC can be controlled by the airlines. GA pays a fuel tax that is collected by the government when the fuel is produced. There is no cost of collection. With the new ATC user fees would be put in place for the little guys. This has literally killed GA in countries around the world with prices being too expensive to fly. Shuster also wants to give away approximately $50B of taxpayers assets for a privatized ATC. We have the best ATC system in the world, and it works extremely well. Now is not the time to make changes to this system. In closing I would like to thank all those hard working controllers out there!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

BUYING AND MAINTAINING AN AIRPLANE

I got interested in aviation at a very young age. My Dad died when I was young, and we moved out of our house into a high rise condo in the Buckhead area of Atlanta. As luck would have it our neighbor Charlie Dolson, who was the third Chairman of Delta Airlines took me under his wing. He took me for a ride in a Cessna 172. After that I was hooked. Too young to get Certified, I flew with others every chance I got. I went off to College to play ball. My junior year I tore up my knee. Knee surgery was not very good in 1969. I was in the first year of the Draft lottery, pulled a low number and had to go take a physical, which just about everyone passed, and enlisted with the Air Force. Back then Delta was only taking pilots from the military. I went to take my flight physical and flunked with flying colors, and the AirForce said goodbye. After that I worked hard on rehabilitating my knee and decided to give my other sport baseball a try. My Godfather was President of the Yankees and he gave me a non-roster spot at A Ball in Fort Lauderdale. I could still hit but had very little lateral movement and lost some speed. All during this time I had not been flying at all. I had to get an occupation, which turned out a good career for me. Getting married and having children put a hold on my flying for years. I took up flying later in life and have been Certificated for over thirty years having owned a glider, Cherokee 180, Mooney 201 and my current Bonanza for 20 years. When I got into ownership I took the advice of others before buying an airplane. The one thing I always did was to have an annual performed before completing any transaction. I used a mechanic who was familiar with the airplane that had not worked on the purchase airplane. I also had a written agreement with the seller that the seller would pay to repair anything deemed necessary at annual. If it was something major and the seller did not want to repair the airplane they could pay all my expenses to date. With no disrespect to those who do prebuys, I do not believe you can find all issues wrong with an airplane by just performing a prebuy. Even after doing an annual and purchasing the plane I always found small things that needed fixing. With the advent of social media I have floated out questions on my Bonanza to members in the Vintage Bonanza Group. I was surprised at some of the responses which definitely would not be advantageous to my Bonanza. You really have to throughly investigate things to be sure your are doing the right thing. I listen to many podcast. I will be the first to admit I am not mechanically inclined. I do change my own oil and filter between annuals. The best podcast I have listened to is Airplane Owner Maintenance with Dean Showwalter. He had an episode that turned into two episodes on how to start a cold engine. I had always gone by the book and cracked my throttle three times to start the plane. When it came to life the RPM's went way over 1000. Dean suggested to to leave the throttle completely closed and start the airplane. It worked! Now I start up at 600 RPM's wait for the oil pressure to come up and gradually open the throttle to 800 RPM's. Do not forget to lean the mixture back to prevent any fouling of the plugs. This would have saved me a lot of wear and tear on the engine if I had know about it earlier. When it comes to maintenance I have tried them all. I have used independent mechanics and shops. I have found the independents not as through, major FBO's too through and too expensive. When I moved my plane to Scottsdale, SDL, I have a friend that has a shop that mostly services his flight school airplanes. The three guys working there have between them about 110 years of experience working on piston aircraft. The first annual cost a little bit more as I figured it would, but since then things have been fine. Remember I am flying a 63 year old Bonanza so it will take a little more maintenance to keep it happy. At this stage in my life I am hoping to see young people get into aviation to replace me. If you are flying for pleasure it is hard at a young age to do this. House and car payments along with starting a family eat up a lot of disposable income. Most young people I am involved with are flying to become an airline pilot. This too is very expensive. I have recommended that people think about joining the service. If you do 2 ten's then you have a full pension from the service and still have approximately another 25 years you can fly for the airlines. Wishing everyone well.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

OSHKOSH...WHERE THE OUTSIDE WORLD DOES NOT EXIST FOR 7 DAYS

No matter what you call it...OSH, Oshkosh or EAA Air Adventure- it is the greatest General aviation show on earth. For 7 days or more the outside world ceases to exist. Why I say 7 days or more is because people tend to arrive early for this event. I know people who arrive as early as the Friday before, but then there are those who arrive even earlier in their campers and tents. I was not able to attend this years event, or the previous two years to that, due to family medical situations, but I am not left out in the cold on what is happening at the event. Through social media I am able to see the airshows; listen to podcasts; see videos and pictures from my friends, AOPA, EAA and several aviation news sources. There are four buildings with vendors goods. The announcements are fast and furious of new products at, or just before, OSH. Garmin seems to be at the forefront again this year announcing two low cost autopilots for legacy aircraft. Previous to OSH Garmin also introduced new HSI and Attitude indicators, the G5, that can sync to these autopilots. When I say low cost I mean $7,000 for a digital autopilot. The lowest cost autopilot with altitude hold that I could by before was $30,000. Two other vendors announced autopilots for legacy aircraft, but Garmin blew away the competition. If I was younger I would plan on installing these 3 Garmin products in my Bonanza. Spending $15,000 to $20,000 just does not sense for me not knowing how much longer I will be flying. If I was 10-15 years younger it would be a no brainer, and I would be first in line. Another interesting product I heard about is transforming a Bose Audio headset into an aviation headset. The headset runs around $300 retail and the conversion is $275 to make this a full aviation headset. The manufacture is backed ordered for 10 months. I do not know if they are just too small to handle the business. This would be perfect for my wife as the weight is a lot lighter than an A 20 Bose aviation headset. It is supposed to have 80% hearing ANR of the A 20 which is more than acceptable to me. Dynon has a glass panel that is now STC'd for legacy aircraft with digital autopilot and ADS-B. I also heard that there will be new weather products in about 6 months for ADS-B, of course the FAA has stated this for the past two years so we will see. Speaking of the FAA, they still refuse to turn on ADS-B for all to see traffic on ADS-B In. As I have said for years the FAA motto is safety, but they do not practice what they preach. I miss seeing the group fly-ins of different manufactures planes. There are always cool airplanes to see at OSH. Lectures on current issues and workshops how to build your own airplane are in abundance. The thing I miss most about OSH is seeing my friends from across the country that are involved in aviation. Some I have met at OSH, some are longtime personal friends and some are social media friends that I have never met in person. So next year I will plan to be back. Only time will tell.

Friday, June 16, 2017

DEAR MR. PRESIDENT:

Dear Mr. President: It is my understanding that you wish to improve the infrastructure of our great Country and your first goal is to tackle Aviation. I am sorry to see that you have incompetent people advising you on this topic. You state that you want to privatize Air Traffic Control (ATC), which has nothing to do with the infrastructure of aviation. ATC’s goal is to move traffic with efficiency and do it safely. It has nothing to do with infrastructure. It is my understanding that our ATC system moves more traffic in one day than does the rest of the world combined. Flying for over 50 years I would have to say ATC does an excellent job of moving traffic safely from point A to B. ATC is not a horrible horrible system as you have been quoted. Matter of fact we have the safest ATC system in the world. You state that ATC is responsible for all delays in the system and that traffic is circling over our airports to land. This is not true. No airplanes are circling over airports in a holding pattern to land. One major problem of delays in this country is that the airlines use primarily the same 38 airports, and they all want to take off and land at these airports at the exact same time. Even with ADS-B and NextGen coming on line in 2020, this problem will not be resolved. Yes airplanes will be allowed to fly direct to certain airports instead of following a highway in the sky, but since they all want to arrive at the same time holdings and delays in the air will increase over what we have today. There are several types of holdings that occur today: ground stoppages due to weather at destinations where planes are not allowed to take off; holding at various points in route because there are just too many planes wanting to land at the same airport at the same time and increased spacing for landings due to inclement weather. You state that you want to do away with fuel taxes collected and paid at time of fuel production and institute user fees. It will cost more to collect user fees than our current system and this will lead to a new bureaucracy just to collect these fees. The airlines will just pass this increased fee onto the end user, the passenger. General aviation will come to a screeching halt as those flying for small business and pleasure will not be able to afford these fees. And speaking of privatization how is that working for the Post Office who continues to bleed more looses each year. We have an excellent system for ATC that works in this Country. Unfortunately it is the balance of the FAA that needs to be disbanded and started anew. Congress has not been of much assistance in continually financing the FAA throughout the years. There has been no continuity of budget. When the FAA decides to bring a new program onboard it is so bogged down politically that it is antiquated when it comes to fruition. So in my opinion everything that you have stated about the ATC system is fake news and has been handled badly. Hopefully you can surround yourself with more informed people on this issue that show more knowledge of the system and are not sleeping with Airline lobbyist.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

BASICMED

If you decide to operate under BasicMed rules, make sure you have something in WRITING from your insurance company that states you are covered under BasicMed. Policies, as now written, state you must have a valid medical.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

BUYING THE RIGHT NEW AIRPLANE

The most important factor in buying a new airplane is to know your mission statement. For me it is owning a plane that will fly in the Western US and the Rocky Mountains, that I can accomplish my mission without refueling. A fuel stop usually takes an hour after descending, fueling and climbing out of an airport. The other factor to consider is one’s bladder. For my wife that is usually 3 hours, but I think she could go 4. Therefore I want something that is fast that could get me to my destination quicker. I have not considered a plane for the few missions that would take me further as they are 1 to 2 time events a year. Useful load is not a factor either as it is usually just myself, my wife and luggage in the plane. I have narrowed down my needs to 6 airplanes. I am talking new here, but for all but 5 of these planes you can buy used and save $250,000 or more on a two year old airplane. Only 1 of my 6 would have to be bought new, as it is a brand new airplane. BEECHCRAFT BONANZA G36 The Beech would probably be the easiest of airplanes on my list to transition to having flown a VTail for the past 20 years. It is a stable IFR platform, and the best news is that it would fit in my current T Hangar. Not much has changed in the G36 over the years except the avionics, currently supporting the Garmin 1000 NXI. Everyone I have talked to stated that the NXI has a faster processor, but I have heard no one complain about the G 1000 avionics. I thing I would have to get used to on any retractable is that the gear is on the left side and flaps on the right, which is opposite of my VTail. I would have to be extra careful when lowering the gear. Useful load with full fuel, 74 gallons usable, is 558#. Maximum cruise speed is 176kts. Downsides are that Beech still uses rubber fuel bladders, the engine is not turbocharged and no speed brakes. The non turbocharged engine is a deal breaker for me as it is very hot in Scottsdale in the summer, and I would want something that could get out of the heat quickly and maintain full power flying over the mountains. The price new is another sticking point at $850K. Cessna TTx and Cirrus SR22 I have combined these 2 planes as they are very similar. The TTx is $810K and SR 22 $860K. Both have basically the same engines. With a wing span of 36 feet the TTx could fit in my hangar. The Cirrus at 38 feet 4 inches would be a very tight fit and subject to hangar rash. Also I could not walk around the wing once in my hangar. With full fuel the TTx can hold 458# with a maximum weight of 770# in the cockpit with less fuel. With full fuel you would have to burn off about 1.5 hours of fuel before landing. SR22 has a bigger cabin with a useful load full fuel of 578#. Both have a higher ceiling of 25,000 feet than the Beech 18,500 feet. Two things I really like on the TTx are speed brakes and Garmin G 2000. I find the G 2000 to have less button pushing. The big advantage goes to SR22 with the parachute. I feel this is the number one reason that Cirrus outsells all other GA aircraft. The sales comparison between the two planes is greatly in favor of the Cirrus. PIPER MATRIX This is my sleeper plane in the group. The Matrix is a Malibu without the pressurization. It has the most room inside of any of the aforementioned airplanes. I have not inquired if a potty can be installed, but that would be another plus. The wing span is 43 feet and definitely could not fit in my T Hangar. Useful load with 120 gallons of avgas is 635#. If my wife got tired she could move to the back and lie down. The Matrix has three screens for the G 1000 NXI which provides more information than any of the previously mentioned airplanes. Maximum cruise is 213 kts, a bit slower than the TTx at 235kts and equal to the Cirrus at 213 kts. Maximum altitude is also 25,000 feet. Piper has lowered the price to $900K but with options such as speed brakes cost would be around $950K. This plane has the same engine as the Malibu. As I said earlier this would be an excellent option for me. Piper M350 (Malibu) Basically the same plane as the Matrix but it has pressurization. If I was going to fly high than this would be my first choice at $1.3M. The 350 has a useful load of 588# with full fuel. DIAMOND DA 62 TWIN If I had the need for a hight useful load airplane this would be the one. The useful load with full fuel is 989#. It comes in either a 5 or 7 seat model. The wing span is the largest in the group at 47 feet 7 inches. The DA 62 burns jet a in its diesel engines. The fuel burn can be less than any of the others using two engines, 11.8 gallons at 60% power. Maximum cruise is 190 kts. There is plenty of room inside, and ingress and egress are easy with the gull wing doors. I do not need the load carrying capabilities so I have ruled out the DA 62 at $1.3M. As I stated earlier all these planes, except the DA 62, can be bought used at considerable savings. In the end I have narrowed down my choice to a used Matrix or Malibu. For some reason the Matrix has not been a good seller. There are not as many used available as the others, and therefore you might be able to buy a used Malibu for a better price than a used Matrix. Will I do this? Good question. I am reaching the end of my flying career and have to make a decision at this time in life if I want to buy another plane. If I do I have made my decision easier by studying all available airplanes that fit my mission.

Thursday, May 11, 2017