Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Still trying to find a new airplane

                                                     TRYING TO BUY A PLANE
                                                                   PART DEUX

Flying an older plane has it’s downfalls. Maintenance comes to a point whether or not it is worth keeping it. As my plane sits in Las Vegas and the propeller is in Oklahoma City, I ponder selling the airplane and buying another. You read in one of my recent columns about the alleged crook in CA that was advertising Luscombe's. Turns out I found another flake.

I started looking at Controller.com and some other sites to see if there would be anything I would be interested in. A Vans RV 9A caught my attention. I called a friend of mind that is just finishing building a Vans RV 7A. I asked him what the difference in the 2 planes are, basically the 9 is for cruising being more stable than the 7. 

I found a beautiful 9A advertised in Mesa, AZ. My wife and I decided to buy the plane if all panned out. My friend told me what to look for in the build and gave me some questions to ask. If that worked out and I enjoyed flying it, my friend would then go do a further inspection on the build. If all was acceptable to that point I would make an offer and have my mechanic do a pre buy annual inspection.

I called the number in the ad who turned out to be a broker living in Mesa, AZ. I tried to make an appointment to see and fly it. The broker told me he does not keep any planes here as he has had no luck selling them in AZ. I asked where the plane was, and he told me Long Beach, CA. That did not help my plans any. I asked him to fly the plane here, and that I am a cash buyer. He had no interest.

It is evident to me the broker was not going to go out of his way for his client. I am surely not going to Long Beach to check out a home built airplane without any expertise with me. One lost sale for the broker, and I’ll keep looking for something else.

To be continued??????

Sunday, April 21, 2013



Pam and decided to take a getaway 3 day trip to Las Vegas landing at Henderson (HND). We had 30mph headwinds and had to catch the 10AM shuttle to our hotel. We arrived at 9:45 and tied the plane down, we would refuel at the self fuel island before leaving.

I’m not mechanically inclined and there are areas of my engine compartment I can’t get to to inspect.

Upon returning to the plane we loaded our luggage and taxied over to the self fuel island and filled up. I then performed our preflight. I fly an old V Tail Bonanza with an electric propeller. I got to the prop area and noticed the electric motor for the prop was out of position. I grabbed it with my hand, and it had a wide range of motion where it should be completely secured.

Pam and I walked back to the terminal building and asked if there was an FBO on the field. The first guy I called was not returning to his business until Monday. This being Thursday it was not an acceptable option. I then asked if there was another FBO on the field and got lucky. Glen Austin of Kings Avionics met me at my airplane and was knowledgeable about my Beech electric prop. He towed the plane back to his shop. I was hoping that some attachments had come loose, no such luck. After taking the cowl and spinner off Glen found that the prop motor bracket was broken in half. I was able to find a new prop bracket that would be shipped out Monday from CA. Glen did a further inspection to find out why the bracket broke. He found the propeller not to be turning correctly and the gears didn’t look good. 

We will be sending the prop and motor to be overhauled. While I was in the hangar a Cirrus pilot was having a flat tire replaced. He sated that I was lucky this happened on the ground, and that I found the problem in preflight....no kidding. I’m very lucky and and look forward to being back in the air in about 4 weeks and several thousand dollars poorer. Welcome to the world of plane ownership.

Friday, April 5, 2013

                                OMG: A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN!

On April 21st Aviation will be different in this world as we have never seen it before.

The FAA sequester starts on April 21. Every pay period of 14 days a controller has to take one day off without pay. There will be no overtime allowed unless a controller calls in sick and has to be replaced. Vacations are guaranteed without any overtime allowed to replace the controller(s) that are on vacation. Controllers are going to do everything by “the book” which is going to slow things down even further.

The FAA has decided to close almost all contract towers starting in April. Government was not allowed to close FAA operated towers due to the union contract. It could take over a year of negotiations with the union before any FAA towers could be closed. No common sense was used in which towers will be closed. A good example is Whiteman airport in the Los Angeles basin. This airport sits between Van Nuys and Burbank airports. Piston airplanes are going to be mixing it up with corporate jets and airliners in some of the busiest airspace in the country. I’ve always said that the FAA does not believe in safety, but what is in their best interest.

The question arrises what does this mean to aviation travel. The following scenarios have been given to me by someone in the know at the FAA. There will be a ground stoppage due to the lack of controllers to work a flight in their sector. There will be fewer slots at an airport. What this means is a flight that is scheduled to leave Phoenix to Kennedy with a departure time of 9AM might not leave until 11AM. Airliners will have to carry more fuel on board because there is a real possibility they will be put into a holding pattern before their arrival. This will cost the airlines dearly in flying a heavier plane that will increase fuel usage. International flights will be given clearance to taxi, and you could see 50 planes lined up waiting to depart for up to 3 hours. Crews could time out waiting for departures, and numerous flights could be cancelled.

Corporate jets will also sit on the ground waiting for a delayed clearance of up to 3 hours. In some cases corporate jet are allowed to depart VFR and ask for a pop up clearance. There is no guarantee that this clearance will be granted. Most Part 135 corporate jets have rules that they can not depart VFR.

Piston aircraft will no longer be given flight following as the controllers will state that they are too busy. IFR flights will be ground delayed, and pop ups might not also be granted as ATC can say they are too busy to grant this. If you are VFR going into IMC you will have to turn around, or if weather is closing in behind you declare an emergency.

Some management in the FAA think that Congress will have no position other than to grant the FAA funds to go back to regular operations by June 1, and some think that this slowdown could go on until October. No matter what happens aviation will be a disaster waiting to happen until this is settled.

Congress and the President decided to use Aviation as a bargaining chip. The only people that are going to suffer are FAA employees and the general public. When the slowdown starts effecting Congress then something might be done. It’s only a shame that ATC can not work AirForce One stating that they are too busy please hold at your current location.