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 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.