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

Monday, May 8, 2017

SEDONA, ARIZONA

May, 2014 I published a post on flying the WACO in Sedona. Unfortunately the owner of that operation passed away and the WACO's were sold. They still do tours of Sedona and the Grand Canyon using Cessna 206's.

That being said Sedona (SEZ) is still one of my favorite airports to fly into. Normal landing is on 3 uphill and takeoff on 21 downhill if winds permit, which about 90% of the time it usually does. Pilots say it is like landing on an aircraft carrier that is not moving. Two things to remember are: SEZ sits on top of a 500 foot mesa and if windy there will be a lot of sink at the beginning of the runway. Do not aim at the Numbers as you have plenty of runway here; the other being SEZ is at 4830 feet, and especially in the summer, density altitude is even higher...so use your mixture as recommended.

There is plenty of aircraft parking and a beautiful terminal building. There used to be one of the greatest airport restaurants on the field many years ago with excellent food and prices. Someone decided to tear down their building and build a new "high class" restaurant. Unfortunately things are not the same with new ownership. Food leaves a lot to be desired, service is poor and the prices are high. This is the only negative thing I can say about the airport. People used to fly into SEZ by the droves for a breakfast run and breathtaking views, with the new restaurant activity severely declined.



An opening came up for Aviation Director at SEZ. Amanda Shankland was assistant Aviation Director in Flagstaff, AZ (FLG) working for my good friend Barney Helmick. I first met Barney when he was with the City of Phoenix Aviation Department and then Aviation Director of Phoenix Goodyear Airport (GYR). Barney later took the job at FLG and trained Amanda there. He must have done a super job as what Amanda is doing at SEZ is all positive for the Airport and the City.

Amanda came up with a program to rent cars at the airport for $10 and hour. One could then make a beautiful drive through the Red Rocks, have an excellent breakfast and return for $20 of rental car fees. I recommend the Red Rock Cafe for breakfast. Additionally the FBO, Red Rock Aviation, lowered their fuel price to $4.28/gl out of the truck.




The restaurants lease is up soon and hopefully a true airport restaurant will replace it. Self fuel operation is being looked at and possibly building a lager restaurant for the field. I really commend what Amanda has accomplished for general aviation (GA) at SEZ in such a short time.

 I am trying to get the same program put in at Prescott, AZ (PRC) which is about 10 miles from historic downtown. One setback for PRC is fuel is very high at the Self Serve, which means the City would have more tourism and money spent downtown and nothing at the airport as those flying in can port fuel. The other airport is FLG where there is not a restaurant available on the field for GA. FLG has a beautiful downtown area. Both PRC and FLG could greatly benefit in the summer because of their cooler temperatures. I hope that John Cox of PRC and Barney Helmick of FLG will not let Amanda show them up.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

CAVEAT EMPTOR

Most people do not like lawyers...until you need one. Then there are specialities where if you need an aviation attorney you can not use your estate planning attorney and so on.

I have a good friend who started flying in his early 50's. He trained on glass Diamond DA40, and when he got his private ticket decided to buy a brand new Piper Saratoga. He has no debt or children and paid cash for his airplane. A few years later he built a large spec home which did not sell quickly and needed some cash and sold his Saratoga. About 4 months later his house sold and he bought another Piper Saratoga.

Now he is in his young 60's and decided to upgrade to a late model Piper Malibu. He worked a deal with Keystone, a Piper dealer, in Salt Lake City. Unfortunately he never obtained any advice from friends in the aviation community and made the deal. From what he told me about this 11/2 YO Malibu after the purchase it had different cylinders changed 7 times in 11/2 years. That would have led me to believe this engine had a problem that was not addressed in just changing out cylinders. It would be a plane that I would have walked away from. He did a real faux pas in letting Keystone do the pre buy on this airplane.  If there is one thing I was taught at an early age is to never use the selling party or their mechanic do the pre buy.

He flew up to Salt Lake to pick up the plane with a Malibu certified CFI and flew it back to Scottsdale. His insurance company required he take 25 hours of dual before flying solo. When he finished his 25 hours the engine had approximately 320 hours on it. His first solo the plane lost power and he was able to return to SDL. When he did a runup the plane again lost power. He took the plane to a FBO on the field that works on Malibu's and they could not replicate the problem. He then went to fly it again and lost power before lifting off.

After taking it back to the FBO they found several issues under the cowling. Cylinders did not pass the torque test and there was oil in the bottom of the cowl. The FBO called Lycoming, and Lycoming never sent anyone out to look at the engine. The second year warranty only covered cylinders. My friend made calls to Keystone and Piper as well as Lycoming. He was told by Piper we will look into it, and they were aware of this plane and the troubles it had in the past. He also found out that this plane had loss of power problems before. He relayed this to Keystone and again was politely blown off. Keystone never came to SDL to look at the plane.

So now my friend has a $1M investment that has been grounded for four weeks of phone calls and emails. I told him all along that no one would do anything until an attorney was involved. He ran it by his personal attorney, and I explained that he had to involve an aviation attorney who speaks the language.

Finally he went to see an aviation attorney here and had everything documented for the attorney. The attorney wrote a demand letter to Keystone for knowingly selling a lemon of an airplane and gave them 2 choices. One was to return the money and his Saratoga or put in a new engine firewall forward and overhaul the propeller. After several back and forth phone calls and emails Keystone agreed to do as requested verbally but never signed the agreement as was. A lawsuit was prepared for fraud and other reasons and served to Keystone. The next day they agreed to do everything as requested.

It will take about 4 weeks for a new engine to arrive and in the meantime the prop will be overhauled. My friend will be down for 16 weeks before he can be back in the air.

As I said earlier his first mistake was letting Keystone do the pre buy. The fox was in the henhouse. A reputable shop would first review the logbooks and say something is not right with this airplane. He was lucky that he had deep pockets where he could sue Keystone, and if necessary Piper and or Lycoming. We are all glad it did not come to this. If there is something that does not sit right about an airplane purchase pass and go on to the next one.

Everything I have written was told to me by my friend who purchased the plane, and I am passing on the information as given to me.