Thursday, December 7, 2017


Do you use a checklist when you fly? I have been flying mostly the same plane for 20 years now and always use a checklist. I refined it down to what is necessary and have two pages, front and back, laminated. The front is start up, taxi, runup and cruise. Emergency information is on this page in red. The back is descent, prior to landing and after landing. I keep it simple but cover all the basis. Even though I fly the same airplane year after year I would never consider flying without using my checklist. I have flown with some phenomenal pilots over the years and was surprised they did not use a check list. They know their airplanes inside and out and do everything from memory. For me it would be too easy to forget an item on my checklist. How many times do you hear about a door popping open on takeoff, which is an inconvenience, a minor problem that could turn into a major problem if you try to close the door in the air. I would rather take a little extra time and do things right the first time. As I get older I tend to not rush things on the checklist. Even though I have it down pat, I always use a checklist on every flight. I fly with my wife 90% of the time, and she reads out the items to me and does not move on until I perform that task. I have also learned to think before I touch something instead of rushing. A couple of extra minutes could be a life saver. When in flight I think things out before I touch something. I do not want to put down the flaps when I meant to put down the gear. On the Bonanza I fly, the gear and flaps are backwards from most airplanes. When I was learning to fly the Citation Jet I always stopped and thought something out before I touched anything. I am also thinking and reviewing a few steps ahead so I recognize what is expected of me next. GUMPS check- gas, undercarriage, mixture, prop and speed; I perform this check 3 times before landing. I never want to be in the category of landing gear up. If things get really busy I put the gear down a little early. When IFR on approach I always put the gear down at the initial approach fix. This is one thing I never want to forget. Things can get really busy on an approach in IMC. I still go through my GUMPS check but want to get this item done early. This is just the way I operate. Speaking of operating, my daughter runs the PICU at a major hospital. She has made a checklist for doctors and nurses to eliminate mistakes. The checklist is taken from my flying one and refined for medicine. Hopefully this prevents nurses giving the wrong medicine to a patient or forgetting to give a patient drugs when they need it. Every nurse and doctor has an IPad so they are all looking at the same information. This is kind of like ForeFlight for medicine. Slow down and enjoy the world. This should start on your walk around, through flight and to completion. Do you know someone who forgot to turn off the master switch or battery and returned to find a dead battery. Slow down, take a deep breath and enjoy your flight!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


For years I have been studying the preliminary accident reports put out by the FAA every work day. I say to myself how could anyone be stupid enough to do that, then I take a deep breathe and say wow I could have done that. It used to be that the major cause of accidents was fuel starvation, but that has greatly decreased over the years. Tail draggers seem to be on the reports almost every day, ground looping and flipping over on landing. A majority of these seem to occur in Alaska. Of course tail draggers are more prevalent in Alaska. I question whether more instruction is needed in tail draggers as they have to be flown to a full stop before leaving the runway. With the center of gravity behind you, one has to be on top of a tail dragger on take offs and landings. They are a much more demanding airplane to fly on takeoffs and landings, and you really have to stay on the rudder and brakes if necessary to remain straight. Gear up landing seem to be prevalent. I do not know if these accidents are due to the gear not coming down or forgetting to put the gear down. I go through my GUMPS check three times before landing and really cannot slow my Bonanza down without getting the gear down. Yet almost every day I read about a gear up landing(s). Taxing into a fence or taxing into another airplane or parked vehicle seems to make the list a lot. Reading these makes me give a parked plane a lot of room when taxing. If there is a fence involved when parking, I pull to a stop turning my plane when parking and push it back into the parking place. I have had a couple of close calls with fences that change direction at airports, and stay far away from fences and light poles. Better to have a lineman or someone else around to help push my plane into a parking place than to tangle with a fence or light pole. Landing off airport is another big number. Again I do not know if this is because of mechanical problems or bad judgment. It is always better to go around then to be lined up wrong for landing. Midairs around non controlled airports also seem to be a problem. It is so important to first study the pattern of an airport before you go. At Sedona, AZ (SEZ) the proper procedure coming from the south is to cross over midfield to join the downwind. If someone decides they are going to land straight in it messes up the whole pattern. The other thing to do is announce where you are and what your intentions are. A radio call 10 miles, 5 miles, downwind and base turns are very important. Sometimes you have planes announcing 25 miles out and every 5 miles thereafter tying up the radio. This is too much. Listen to where other planes are and look out the window. Try to draw a mental picture of where others are in the pattern. Midairs in flight are minimal but still occur. With glass cockpits and IPads in the plane too many are looking at the glass and not outside the window. Keep your eyes outside the window and scan your instruments as necessary. Airliners are not exempt either. There seem to be a number of planes striking each other on pushback or support vehicles running into airplanes. I look at each accident and say to myself how can I avoid doing these things. It has served me well over the years. I would hope that all pilots look at these reports and say what can I do to prevent having an accident or incident.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


I joined the EAA recently and attended my first chapter meeting last Thursday. This was not a regular chapter meeting, as the chapter awarded not one, not two but three Wright Brothers Master Pilot Awards. To have three recipients in one night is almost unheard of. The Wright Brothers Mater Pilot Award is presented to a recipient who has flown safely for 50 years accident free and has obtained other aviation distinctions throughout their aviation careers. The first person of the evening to receive this award was Arv Shultz. Arv started his aviation career in 1966. He is a CFII, and he went through all his ratings from 1966 through 1967. He has flown aircraft from a Cessna 150 to MD 80. Arv retired from Northwest Airlines and is in the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame.
The second award was to Bernie Gross. Bernie is retired from US Airways flying as a captain on a 737. He also flew for Braniff Airlines flying the 707,727 and DC8. Bernie is also a esteemed glider pilot. He also flew the B17, P51 and F4U. Bernie is also a CFII.
The last recipient of the evening was Robert Bloemer. Robert started flying in 1964 and is also a CFII. He started his Airline career with Airwest Airlines. From there he flew for Hughes and then Northwest Airlines flying the DC9 and MD80.
This was an esteemed honor for me to be present when these three men received their Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. After seeing their accomplishments in aviation, I doubt that I would ever apply for this award. In closing I must compliment the Scottsdale FSDO for their professional presentation. It was a first class evening.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Last Friday and Saturday the Arizona Aircraft Expo was held at Scottsdale Airport (SDL). The weather was beyond perfect with sunny skies and temperatures reaching the high 80's. Attendance was the largest turnout I have seen for this event, could not be the because of the weather as it is usually a beautiful weekend when the Expo is held. Maybe there is an upswing in buying as the economy has been good this year with the Bull Stock Market. The static display was set up excellent this year giving attendees plenty of room to walk by and get inside of the latest and greatest airplanes. This was one noticeable factor that this years show was dominated by turboprops. My only disappointment is that Cessna and Beech had no piston airplanes represented. Three airplanes not there that I always enjoy seeing were the Bonanza, Baron and Cessna TTx. These three planes have always had a presence at the Expo, and I have no idea why they were not there. Tail draggers were well represented from the Aviat Husky
to the Carbon Cubs
The only piston planes represented were the Cirrus
and the new Mooney 2 door which I apologize as my picture did not come out well enough to publish. Next came the turbo props from EPIC, TBM, Piper, Beech, Cessna Caravan and Palitus
Fan Jets were represented by Cessna, Honda and Cirrus
It was great seeing old friends and making new ones. There was a great diversity of airplanes and pricing. Hoping all that attended found their dream airplane.

Monday, October 30, 2017


You get what you pay for! Yavapai County has two Airports. Prescott is one of the busiest GA Airports in the nation, only because Embry Riddle Flight School is located there. The other is Sedona Airport in Sedona, AZ. Both airports seem to go through airport managers faster than I change the oil in my airplane. They do not pay these managers a lot of money. Right now the airport managers job in Prescott is vacant....again. Those of you who follow my blog on a regular basis know that my wife has had a tough three years medically. She is getting stronger now and we decided to go to Sedona for her birthday. I have lived in the Valley for 38 years and have never spent the night in Sedona, just doing breakfast trips. I made hotel reservations at Sky Ranch which is located next to the airport and has tremendous views of the red rocks located 500 feet above the Sedona. Lisa Dahl, former James Beard winner, has four restaurants in Sedona, all with great reputations. We had dinner and lunch plans at her restaurants. We also made rental car reservations with the only service located in the terminal. s Upon arriving in Sedona, we unloaded the plane and gave a fuel order. We really did not need any fuel, but I like to support local FBO’s and Sedona has a good one. Then we went to check into the rental car counter. The rental car company on the field is a mom and pop service renting older cars. They took my credit card and blocked out money on my account. I am used to this as all hotel and rental car companies do this. Then the proverbial crap hit the fan. The owner at the counter gave me a credit card slip to sign for a lot of money. I refused to sign this as I would be liable for this amount for any reason. I have never signed a charge card receipt for a hotel or rental car company until leaving. I showed the guy where he already blocked out the funds on my credit card receipt, but he refused to rent us the car unless we signed the rental charge card receipt. We were at an impasse. There was no way that I was going to sign the credit card receipt. I tried to get a car from Enterprise and Avis with no avail since I did not make a reservation with them. My wife and I talked it over and decided to cancel our hotel and all our food reservations and flew back to Scottsdale. You have a Mickey Mouse airport manager that puts a Mickey Mouse rental car company on the field and you get what you pay for. We canceled our fuel order, hotel and dinner reservations. I figure that this cost the City over $2000.00 in money we would have spent there. In addition I have told all my aviation friends if you need a rental car in Sedona to use Enterprise. We had such a bad taste in our mouth upon leaving that I doubt we will ever go back. There are too many alternatives, and we planned a trip to the Grand Canyon for a belated birthday. You get what you pay for which is not much at Sedona Airport.

Friday, October 13, 2017


National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) held their convention in Las Vegas this week. It has been 9 days from the horrible shooting incident occurred. I have been traveling to Las Vegas since 1970 and have never seen the town so subdued. There was a quiet aurora around the City and in the hotel casinos. Fewer people were in Vegas than I have ever encountered. When I checked in to my hotel my room was not ready, and they asked me if I would like a penthouse room at the same price. That has never happened to me before in Vegas. I arrived early on Tuesday the first day of the convention at Henderson Airport (HND). I needed a reservation number to be allowed to enter Class D Airspace. When I told the tower my number I could hear all ATC laughing, the number was 007. Flying weather up and back was fantastic. Pure VFR weather both ways with a 25 Kt. crosswind going home. HND airport is the host for the event. It is located about a thirty minute ride from the Strip in Las Vegas. NBAA, as always, provided buses from HND to the convention center, and then provided buses from the convention center to all the hotels on the Strip. HND is home to the static display of which their were 85 aircraft on display. In addition the night before several planes were towed down the strip from HND to the convention center for an indoor static display. My only disappointment was not being approached at the static display as the vendors were too busy talking among themselves, so i did my own tours. All the big boys of jets were there. Global 7000, Gulfstream 650, Falcon 8X and several Cessna Jets were the big hitters on display. My favorite plane was a polished aluminum DC 3. It was gorgeous. I spent most of the morning going through the static display and then bused over to the convention center. NBAA does not overlap much with piston general aviation (GA). However this year it did. The biggest issue facing GA this year is HR 2997 which is a bill supporting privatization of Air Traffic Control (ATC). I can not recollect when I have seen Mark Baker, CEO of AOPA, Jack Pelton, President of EAA and Ed Bolen, President of NBAA on the same stage. I wish that GA be referred to as smaller piston airplanes and Jets be referred to as Business Aviation. As of now they are all grouped together under the GA category. This year all three groups have this one issue in common to defeat HR 2997. Everyone involved in GA realizes how serious this is and could be very detrimental in the future of limiting airspace to GA for the Airlines and user fees. We have the best ATC system in the world. It does not need fixing, it just needs to be funded on a consistent level to update programs such as NxtGen. HR 2997 is the biggest threat to the future of GA. There are three exhibit halls are NBAA and they are big. I am usually worn out after trying to visit each booth. Of course I could not stop at every booth to chat or I would never get through all the exhibitors. I found it interesting that the crossover booths that apply to GA and Jets were very busy. ForeFlight, Bose and MYGOFLIGHT had excellent attendance. When I go to NBAA I try to catch up with old aviation friends. It was difficult having much of a conversation with Ryan McBride, Mark Baker, Tom Haines and two people I missed completely were Heidi Williams, in charge of airspace for NBAA, and Rob Mark editor of Flying Magazine. They were all very busy. This gives me a reason to go back in two years. The other aspect I truly enjoy is chatting up the people around me on the bus rides. I met people from all over the world and always find this fascinating. I do not know how the attendance was this year. It looked down to me but it is such a large venue it is truly hard to tell. I would also like to thank Scottsdale Airport (SDL) for keeping my bag in their booth until I left the show to check in at my hotel.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


When I was a kid growing up we had four channels on TV, and they were all in black and white. I used to watch Mighty Mouse cartoons with my sister, and he was one of the super heroes of our day. The show’s theme song stated: here I come to save the day...Mighty Mouse is on the way. Two meetings have been held in reference to engines and propellers; and in attendance were engine manufactures, propeller manufactures, FAA, EAA, AOPA, Cirrus Pilots Association, Beech Pilots Association and Cessna Pilots Association along with Mike Busch. For some reason Beech and Cessna did not think it was important enough to attend the second meeting. The reason this all came about is that Continental Engines sent out a mandatory service bulletin that could have led owners of these engines to payout anywhere from $20,000 to $35,000 to perform this mandatory service bulletin. Mandatory service bulletins are not mandatory in the United States but are mandatory in other countries. Usually when a company issues a mandatory service bulletin they ask the FAA to issue an Airworthy Directive (AD). I really disdain manufactures asking for an AD because it absolves the manufacture of any liability. When there is a recall on a car, the manufacture is responsible for ten years. Unless your plane is in the warranty period you are out of luck for an AD. I have argued against this for years. If a manufacture makes a mistake in production they should be responsible for it. Their answer is that they have a lot smaller productions than cars and would go out of business if they had to do this. With our lenient bankruptcy laws a company could close down today and start up as a new business tomorrow. This all leads me to our super hero, Mike Busch. Mike fly’s a Cessna 310 which means he would have an expense of approximately $50,000 if Continental was issued the AD. He took it upon himself to fight this service bulletin before an AD was issued. He involved all of the above listed. I was not in attendance for this meeting but the report back from those who were there is that he presented a case of how this could be handled without an AD being issued. I understand his presentation was eloquent, presented with facts and no emotions. The FAA reconsidered and did not issue an AD. Mike is truly a super hero to all those that own Continental engines. He saved people a small fortune. Without his advocacy, along with AOPA and EAA, the FAA would have certainly issued and AD. I am very thankful for his service to and knowledge of general aviation.

Friday, September 1, 2017


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


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


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: 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


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


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


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 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


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.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


I have only done one real long cross country. My wife and I decided to fly from Scottsdale to Victoria and Vancouver in our 1954 V Tail Bonanza. This was several years ago pre IPad days. I purchased VFR Sectionals for Northern California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. I also had a Jeppesen subscription for the Western United States. The only electronic device we had was a Garmin 396 portable GPS.

It took hours to plan our trip for fuel stops. Our trip was planned for August which gave us the best shot at good weather. We decided to go the long way to San Francisco so that I could fly my wife over the Hearst Castle and Big Sur. Unfortunately there was a cloud layer below us and no visibility. Our first stop was Oakland and we took BART into the City. Our hotel was only a 2 block walk. That night we had an early dinner with a fraternity brother and departed for Seattle the next morning. We had a planned fuel stop along the way and used VFR flight following as we did on our whole trip. 

The beauty of traveling by general aviation is if we like a place we stayed longer, and conversely if we did not we left earlier. Seattle was just fantastic with clear skies and great weather, and we added an extra day there. Next stop was Victoria, British Columbia. The ceiling was low on departure day and we waited for the weather to break. It took me a couple of hours to realize that we were at sea level with no mountains in the way and decided to fly over at 2,500 feet. Out west I am used to flying 8,000-12,000 feet. My wife said this part of the trip was the best flight she ever had. The views were fantastic. Upon reaching Victoria Class Charlie airspace ATC asked us to climb to 3,500 feet. Not having IFR charts I said unable. ATC asked if I see the Caravan in front of us which I did, and they said to follow it for landing. We pulled into the customs circle and were cleaning up the cockpit while customs was checking out a turboprop parked next to us. Customs left and walked into their office. I told Pam to go ask customs to come out and clear us. They asked if we were in the Bonanza. Pam said yes and customs gave her a number and we were cleared. We loved Vitoria some of the friendliest people we ever met and again stayed longer. Then we moved on to Vancouver which was outstanding.

Next stop was Portland. We had dinner with a cousin. I do not mean to offend anyone, but Portland was not one of our favorite places so we left early to spend more time in San Francisco. 

Our last stop was in Los Angeles to celebrate my Aunt’s 90th birthday, and then we headed home to Scottsdale.

My wife and I talked for years about doing a cross country trip to New Orleans, Auburn (my undergraduate school) and Atlanta. My Mom, Sister and daughter all live in Atlanta along with many friends and fraternity brothers. Unfortunately my wife had to have a kidney transplant 3 years ago, then the following year she went into kidney rejection so we delayed the trip for 3 years.

This was the year to go. Planning is a lot different now with APPS such as ForeFlight. I loaded the preferred IFR routing for our trip, and I removed unnecessary waypoints for VFR flying. Next was to plan fuel stops and overnights. What took many hours before with paper sectionals only took 2 hours to plan with ForeFlight. I then called the FBO’s where we planned to spend the night enroute to our destinations. Our first overnight was in Junction, Texas. When I called the FBO manager who lived on the airport and would take us to our hotel and pick us up the next morning. The other stop coming home said they would give us a car for the night. Many years ago I remember airports doing this, not so much anymore. 

Our stops were also planned with ForeFlights for fuel pricing. It made a major difference in where we decided to stop. Fuel in New Mexico and across Texas was around $3.50 a gallon. If we stopped in a major city such as Austin, Texas you could just about double the price.

I started planning this trip in December 2016, and our plan was to depart the first week of April 2017. We were in no hurry, and if the weather was bad we could just delay our departure. As it turned out the weather was horrible in Texas and Louisiana. 

Then a funny thing happened. My wife spiked a fever that she could not shake 8 weeks before our planned departure. Being a kidney transplant fevers are a bad thing, and I took her to the emergency room. She was admitted to the hospital with a bad infection. After several tests this infection spread to her heart. She had to have her Mitral valve replaced and bypass surgery two weeks after she was admitted. They had to get the kidney infection under control before heart surgery. She was recovering in the ICU and a week later moved to a room on the Telemetry floor. During heart surgery you are given a lot of fluid and my wife was having trouble removing the fluid from her heart. All the Docs felt she was okay to go home. The nurse helped Pam get dressed and Pam sat down, could not breathe and had chest pain. She coded right in front of me and the room was full of doctors. They were able to bring her back and rushed her back into the ICU. She was stable that night but coded again the next morning and was rushed into surgery where they removed the excess fluid from her heart. The heart is now working great but when you loose all blood pressure the kidney takes on a lot of damage. Pam has now been in the hospital for 7 weeks and still has a slow process of 8 more weeks to remove fluid on her body that the kidney can not by dialysis.

Bless my wife. She was more worried about cancelling our trip then her problems. She is a strong woman. I told her to worry about getting well so we can make our trip in 2018.

So that is my story of our almost cross country to the East Coast. It will happen, it will just take a little longer than expected.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


The FAA has new airliner flight plans that cover Southern California.  Recently there have been numerous noise complaints from La Jolla down the coast to Point Loma in San Diego. The FAA in its infinite wisdom blames all the increased noise on flights at Montgomery Field (MYF) in San Diego. In public meetings the FAA states that all increase in airplane noise is from MYF due to winds and atmospheric conditions. This is the FAA presenting alternative facts better known as lies.

I have flown in and out of MYF over 100 times. There is a Class Bravo over the top of MYF. One can fly in from the south through the Bravo, VFR over Gillespie Field (SEE) VFR or in from the ocean. There are ocean corridors substantially off shore for sight seeing and banner towing. Nothing has changed with respect to GA.

The FAA is full of manure to suggest noise increases are originating from MYF.  With the FAA caving on the closure of SantaMonica (SMO), there is now a precedence for the closure of airports if the community places enough pressure on the City Council. Facts do not matter as in the SMO case.

If the community is not properly educated, they believe what they hear from the FAA and would put closure pressure on MYF. The public has to be told the truth. I have not seen a response from AOPA on this issue and am sending this column to them.

We can not stand to sit back and allow the FAA to spread its lies knowing they will not support General Aviation Airports. Hopefully the residents in this area are smart enough to know they are being snowed by the FAA. It is my hope that AOPA will be at the next public meeting to debunk the lies of the FAA. I for one do not want to loose any more GA airports.

Saturday, February 4, 2017


I was a guest today on the Airplane Owners Podcast with host David Fill. Discussing all things aviation.

You can download this podcast on iTunes episode 54.

Monday, January 30, 2017


If you have followed my Blog for awhile, you have read some columns I have written about Santa Monica Airport (SMO) over the years. This battle has gone on for a long time.

I stated earlier that to win a seat on the City Council you had to be anti airport. Santa Monica is the only city that I know of, in order to serve on the Airport Commission, you also had to be anti airport.

On Saturday the FAA and the City of Santa Monica published an agreement that SMO will close December 31, 2028; and that the runway could be shortened immediately from 5,000 feet to 3,500 feet. I imagine that the tenants have already been notified that this will happen very quickly. The irony here is that the planes that will not be able to use SMO any longer are the quietest of all planes on the field. G V's and other planes of that genre are among the quietest planes flying today. With the reduction of useable runway only piston, turboprops and lighter jets will still be able to use SMO.

I have not flown into SMO in recent years as I did not want to support businesses that were anti airport. I do miss going there but refuse to spend any money in a city that does not support its airport. Santa Monica and Venice Beach are beautiful cities and very walkable. We never had to rent a car, and just took a cab to town and back. These were pre Uber days.

I was really surprised that the FAA caved on this. My understanding was that the airport was deeded to the city for perpetuity, as long as it remained an operating airport. SMO quit taking grants from the FAA so as to close the airport in 20 years from the last grant received. SMO stated they would close the airport in 2023. Every time this was brought up the FAA stated the airport would not close. The city sued the FAA on various occasions losing every time.

What prompted the FAA to reach this egregious decision is beyond reason. I have never trusted the FAA, and this agreement goes to further this cause. AOPA and NBAA says the battle is not over. Unfortunately I am afraid it is. This is very upsetting for general aviation as it can set a precedence of other city airports closing across the country.

I have never been to an airport before where housing is lined next to the airport fence. The city states they are going to build a park when the airport closes, and I would not bet my life on that. There might be a very small park but look for high rise buildings to be developed.

All being said this is a very sad day for general aviation.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Some people just do not get it. AOPA, along with the EAA, have worked on medical reform for years. Did they get all they wanted...NO. Did they get medical reform...YES. This was an unbelievable accomplishment.

Since the FAA would do nothing about medical reform, the case was taken to Congress. The goal was to have those who had to take a 3rd class medical to fly, just be able to self certify and have a drivers license. All was well until this went to committee in Congress. One person, Senator Nelson from Florida, destroyed the original medical reform bill by requesting that one see their doctor every four years and take a medical review test on line every two years. This is in lieu of just having a drivers license and self certify. Balloon, Glider and Light Sport Pilots have been doing this for years.

Senator Nelson would not let the Bill come out of Committee unless compromise was reached. By compromise I mean that the Bill comes out of Committee his way or not at all. The Airlines pushed Nelson for the above.

EAA and AOPA realized they would have nothing without this compromise, and all their hard work for years would go nowhere. So they agreed with Senator Nelson and we now have Basic Med which has been approved by the FAA and is scheduled to go into effect May 1, 2017.

What did we as pilots get? First is that if one has held a third class medical in the past ten years they do not have to get another medical....EVER. This includes the group that has a special issuance medical. They never have to see an AME again if they fly an airplane that weighs less than 6,000 pounds, has 6 seats or less, fly at less than 250 Knots, fly at below 18,000 feet and fly day or night VFR and IFR. If you are a student pilot you will have to take a one time medical, or if you have a major medical event you will have to apply one time for a special issuance medical, one time only.

This is phenomenal. For those who do not remember, the first proposal to the FAA for medical reform was 180 horsepower or less, only carry one passenger and day only VFR. The Department of Transportation and FAA let this die in a trash can somewhere and never ruled on it. Without going to Congress there would not be any medical reform. Those with a special issuance medical had to pay around $10,000 for tests to fly again and have this reissued every year. I have a friend that was issued a special issue medical in 2015. It was renewed in November 2016. Now the FAA has come back to him and stated he has to go through all the tests again to keep his special issuance medical at a cost of another $10,000 to him. With Basic Med this will never happen again after May 1, 2017.
We have to see our personal doctor every 4 years and be signed off. Nothing goes to the FAA. You have to place the sign off sheet in your log book. I see my doctor every 6 months so this will not be a problem. In addition we have to take an online course from AOPA every 2 years. Just print off the test result and place it in your logbook. Again, nothing goes to the FAA.

Did we get everything we wanted...NO. But what we did get is GREAT. Hopefully this can be brought up to the FAA and Congress in the future for amending to just have a drivers license and self certify. As it is now I self certify every time I fly.

Basic Med will extend flying careers for many. No more extravagant costs for special issuance medicals. I would say we came out pretty good.