Sunday, December 23, 2012


WingX has a lot of features. One of the best is terrain avoidance. A circle with a “T” shows up and turns to red if you are going to hit something ahead of your route. Also there is an option for terrain avoidance on the moving map which will change to red if you are going not going to clear terrain ahead. This week a Piper crashed into the mountains east of Phoenix and the pilot was killed. If the pilot had some kind of terrain avoidance on his plane this accident would have never happened.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012



Recently I attended a static show of some spectacular airplanes at Scottsdale Airport (SDL). In attendance were Piper Mirage (but no Piper rep was to be found anywhere), Beech Bonanza, C90 King Air, Eclipse 500, Cessna Corvallis, Caravan, Mustang, Cirrus, Phenom 300, Carbon Cub and Aviat Husky.

I had some interesting discussions with the representatives of the companies displayed. Beech was supposed to change the engines in the Bonanza and Baron to turbo charged however due to financial problems these changes were never made. You can buy a new Bonanza for $760,000 and a baron for $1.4 million.

Cirrus had their latest edition 5 seater twin turbo. Beautiful airplane with the latest G1000 avionics. The price was $770,000. 

The Cessna Corvallis twin turbo had a sexy paint job and was loaded like the Cirrus at$770,000.

The Piper Mirage with pressurization and twin turbo engine is priced at $1.1 million. It has a larger cabin than those listed previously and it is easier to enter for passengers along with air conditioning standard.

After this class of planes came the jets. One common factor was 1000 miles range. The Piper Meridian was not shown and is $2.2 million. The Meridian is single engine as well as the Cessna Caravan although the 2 planes have different mission statements. The Piper is a sleek fast pressurized plane flying at over 200mph. The Caravan is a non pressurized model that is know as a 160 knot hauler. It is used by FedEX and UPS for intrastate package movement and also as an executive and family aircraft. There are so many variations of the Caravan you would have to design what you want and then price it out. The Caravan has great short field capabilities. Other uses of the Caravan are short charters and touring.

The fan jets represented start with the Eclipse. The new 550 is only different from the updated 500 by avionics offered. I had a long discussion with the demo pilot. He feels safe flying into a 3000 foot strip but feels most would be more comfortable with 3500 feet. Anti lock breaking will be an option in the 550 and can be retrofitted to the 500. The Eclipse is a tight fit inside. The  cost is $2.7 million.
Cessna Mustang with a little more room than the Eclipse is $3.4 million and the Phenom 300 with a lot of room is $7.5 million.

I salivated going through each airplane. They were all beautiful, most fast and all had the latest avionics glass panels. For those who can afford these aircraft it must be a thrill to be able to fly them for pleasure and business.

For those who cannot afford these planes what does the future bring? Our fleet is getting old. I fly a 59 year old Bonanza, and many of my friends are in the same position. In 2020 an IFR GPS along with Transponder and ADS-B will be required. If estimates hold and the FAA gives their blessings It looks like the hardware will come in around $3000 plus installation and proper antennas. You will have to have these to fly in B and C airspace.

As the fleet get older and more planes are retired there does not look to be replacement aircraft at an affordable price. Cuba is still running carburetor cars from the 50’s and older. It will take tender loving care and a lot of money to maintain these older aircraft.

Speaking of older our pilot population is dying off, failing 3rd class physicals or just giving up because of the current related expenses tied to owning and flying a plane. Fuel being one of the major concerns for todays pilot. No one knows how much the alternative non leaded fuels will be a gallon.

LSA’s, Light Sport Aircraft, are not very functional in that the loads are low, range is short, no night flying and no IFR if you do not have a medical. The costs of LSA’s are in the $130,000 to $160,000 price range.

I believe that in ten years or less many of our pilots and airports will go away. GA flying will then be mostly for the wealthy. This does not print a pretty picture for the future of GA.


Phoenix Deer Valley (DVT), the worlds busiest GA airport, is a training airport for controllers.  Our last 2 tower managers, Toby Jones and Jim McMahon, did an outstanding job in the training of the controllers under them. Before this DVT had numerous problems with controllers. Both of these men were rewarded for an outstanding job, Toby is now the assistant tower manager and Jim is the tower manger at Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX). Thanks to Toby and Jim for a job well done!