On a crisp March afternoon in 1968, Gene Morris was flying over Springfield, Mo. He was chatting with his friend, the Springfield airport manager, on the Unicom radio channel when the conversation turned to a Cessna 140A that had come up for sale.
The airport manager said that the first $2,000 would buy the Cessna, and Gene said, “Hold it; I’ll be there tomorrow with the money!”
The following day, March 17, 1968, American Airlines pilot Gene Morris purchased that Cessna 140A, N5669C, sight unseen.
The airplane was rough by any standard. The previous owner bought the aircraft in Alaska and moved it...Read more
I’ve logged more than 8,400 hours in tailwheel aircraft.
Many early airplanes were equipped with a simple skid mounted on the underside of the tail for landing on unimproved fields. These were taildraggers in the purest sense of the term. But as both airplane and airfield design progressed, tailskids soon gave way to tailwheels. In turn, the tailwheel yielded to the nosewheel (tricycle gear) design.
Today, pilots use the terms “taildragger,” “tailwheel,” and “conventional gear” interchangeably to describe tailwheel-equipped airplanes. With all due respect to those still flying tailskid airplanes, I will also use these terms interchangeably in this article. Furthermore,...Read more
Aircraft maintenance records can be a source of confusion for many aircraft owners and pilots. What information is necessary, what inspections are required, and determining whether an aircraft is in fact airworthy according to the maintenance records is important.
Unfortunately, airworthiness is not limited to the physical condition of the aircraft but in fact is a catchall term that can be used to describe the physical condition of the aircraft as well as the records and whether they indicate an inspection is overdue.
Most all aircraft in the General Aviation fleet are issued a Standard Airworthiness Certificate. This certificate remains valid...Read more
You can find it at almost every General Aviation airport. A little sign on the bulletin board, or a business card taped to the self-serve gas pump, advertising annual inspections for some ridiculous price like $200.
We all know that it is not possible to perform an annual inspection on even the simplest of General Aviation aircraft for the sum of $200, yet there it is, in black and white. What’s disturbing is the fact that these guys stay in business, which would indicate someone is utilizing those services.
Owning an aircraft can mean unanticipated expenses, and you don’t want to...Read more
“The time between the notes relates the colour to the scenes”1
Annual, day number three, starts out with a predawn ride toward the airport. The maintenance facility where I’ll be working doesn’t open till 0830, but the nearby gym is open early, and these old bones can use the warm-up. I noticed (again) yesterday while lying on my chest to remove the rudder pedal area cover plate that it’s a bit more of a squeeze this year, so maybe the gym stop will ease the squash if I make it a habit....
So, on the way to the airport the radio...Read more
Here’s the first test to see if you’re ready for backcountry (bush) flying. Dig out the Pilot Owners Handbook or Owner’s Manual for your airplane. Look up the minimum distance required to do a short field takeoff. Add in all the variables—air temperature, surface, density altitude, runway slope—to come up with a “book” distance. Then imagine that your life depends on your ability to get off a remote airstrip in the book distance. Fly a series of test flights to see if you can get off the ground in that distance. This is the first step in flying “scientifically”—gathering...Read more
Fasteners keep our machines together. They’re simple, strong—and often neglected, overlooked and misunderstood. They’re also critical to our machines’ condition, and ultimately to our own longevity. It’s worth looking at them and knowing what we’re looking at.
Bolts hold things together, or keep things from shifting. Tension pulls on the bolt; shear forces try to bend it or cut it off. (The best example of a fastener designed for use in shear is a pin.)
In the seventh aviation novel by Tom Block, an airline company whose owners shield a hidden agenda, an airliner with some fancy technical upgrades and a cast of characters with secrets, troubled pasts and crossed purposes come together for what is supposed to be a routine flight from Rome to New York.
Capt. Jack Schofield, First Officer Peter Fenton and Second Officer Linda Erickson are in the cockpit of a Consolidated 768—the Consolidated 768 is a Boeing 767 modified by Trans-Continental airlines with advanced electronics and other airframe alterations—preparing Flight 3 for departure from Rome. Checklists are being followed, flight...Read more
It all started innocently enough. Dr. Tim Smith and his wife bought a Cessna 152 for their own flight training. During his quest for a private pilot certificate, Tim ate, drank and slept aviation, so it was no surprise when he taught his Frankfort, Ky. high school math students how to model linear algebra using a flying airplane. Wow. This aviation schtuff is kinda cool, they thought.
At the end of those first nine weeks, Smith’s students did not want to stop, so he enrolled them in an online aviation program called AeroScholars. More students from the high school began...Read more
Military flight training prepares students to move into high performance aircraft that have many fascinating flight characteristics. But where can General Aviation pilots experience military flying?
During my visit to Nu-Tek Aircraft Instruments, Steve Cannaby showed me the shop that contains his fascinating second business, Nu-Tek Simulations. It’s where retired military simulators are brought back to life and then transported to airshows all over the country.
John Evans, an old friend and C-414 owner, is a former flight surgeon and speaks fondly of his days in the Air Force tending to his pilot patients and getting his share...Read more
Returning to Waltanna (SN65) after a long trip, I noticed that my 182, Bill, didn’t seem to be his normal bubbly self. I asked him why he was so quiet, and he said, “Well, I seem to be having some trouble with some of my gyros. Did you notice how fast the heading indicator precessed? Then on our last takeoff, the heading just danced around over a 90-degree arc.”
I said, “Bill, you know your gyros have been in the panel for 10 years. How about removing your gyros and taking them to the gyro doctor for a checkup?”...Read more
Most buyers do give the prop a good visual inspection, at least from the spinner outward. That’s important, and it can reveal nicks and perhaps some cracks or a bad paint job.
What else is there to consider? The answer depends on the prop’s construction. Is it wood, metal, or composite? Fixed, variable-pitch, or ground adjustable?
Generally speaking, fixed pitch is the easiest propeller to inspect. It is one piece; there are no moving parts. Variable pitch propellers are more complex. With so many moving parts, there are many more things that can present themselves as problems.
In short terms, the simpler...Read more
Batteries, like many things in aviation, are unexciting unless they malfunction. Then, they can be annoying, perplexing, or even dangerous. A few tips passed on to the people who own them can save a lot of headache, frustration and possibly, repair cost...
Note: Because nickel cadmium (NiCad) and lead-acid batteries differ in many important respects—and accepted practices for one type may destroy the other!—this article discusses flooded (vented, wet cell) lead-acid batteries. (Lithium-ion batteries, available soon in some new aircraft, have their own full-system requirements and are not covered here.)
Today’s batteries are similar in design to the first voltaic cells...Read more
“An airframe contains the elements necessary to turn it into a battery—all that’s lacking is an electrolyte.”
—Jim Van Gilder
Founder, Corrosion Technologies
When two different metals are near each other and are bathed in an electrolyte, electrolysis occurs. (That’s how a battery works.) Electrons transfer from one metal to the other. That’s corrosion.
Even aluminum skin and aluminum rivets are different alloys; unprotected metals at the places they meet, wetted by an electrolyte, will result in corrosion. Remove a skin from a 30-some-year-old airframe and you will likely find a circle of oxidation around each rivet hole.
Calling an airframe a “battery” may...Read more
The new Cessna model T240 Corvalis TTX is now touring the United States prior to deliveries scheduled for 2013. This is the latest refinement of the carbon fiber and fiberglass airframe Cessna purchased to enter the high performance single engine market.
The “TT” stands for twin turbo with an intercooler feeding a 310 hp Continental Motors TSIO-550-C engine. The “X,” well, maybe it stands for a little extra—such as the all-new Garmin G2000 panel that takes the user interface to a new level.
Kirby Ortega, my Cessna host and chief pilot for piston operations at Cessna Aircraft Co., provided...Read more
For all that light jets have promised, the reality of buying and flying one can be somewhere between frustrating and downright vexing, especially for those who are just now arriving on the scene.
And which of the new personal jet companies are you betting will even be around next year? Even if you’re ready to roll those dice, your choices for acquiring a light jet now include securing a delivery position that will seemingly be exercised by your grandchildren, or else, tossing a serious mordida to someone willing to sell you an acquisition date you can put on next year’s...Read more
When you begin the search for the aircraft model that will best fit your most common mission profile, you define and prioritize the wants and needs that will fit into a defined budget.
You evaluate necessary compromises, and debate between two-place or four-place; speed; cargo capacity; VFR or IFR. Will the airplane be used on unimproved strips or paved runways? Then come the costs to acquire, operate, maintain and insure your choice.
The Light Sport category of new aircraft gives a pilot several possibilities, but most are small two-place aircraft and still run well in excess of $100,000. When one looks into...Read more
Preflight inspection of a floatplane is generally similar to that of a landplane. The major difference is the inspection of the floats. Floats, wires, attachment gear and ropes must be thoroughly checked for holes, buckling, damaged fittings and extensive wear.
The floats themselves should be inspected before each flight for possible leakage. Water in the float compartments can adversely affect water handling and flight characteristics including a shift in the aircraft’s center of gravity.
Individual compartments should be pumped out through the built-in bilge pump-outs by a hand-operated bilge pump. Always count the number of “strokes” in order to estimate the...Read more
Pretty much a Cessna 172 with a tailwheel and tandem seating for two, this warbird served in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.
Photographs by Keith Wilson
“Guys,” said the U.S. Army, “these fabric-covered spotter airplanes don’t last. How about you make us an all-metal replacement?”
That was in the late 1940s, between the end of World War II and the Korean War (which broke out in 1950). Luckily Cessna had just decided to make its 170, a four-seat version of the Cessna 140, all-metal, because until 1949 the 170 had fabric-covered wings.
A new fuselage with two seats in tandem was mated...Read more
Redheaded Copilot asked me where we should take our 2013 winter vacation. The last couple of years, we’d taken cruises.
I suggested it would be adventurous to take our airplane, N50KF—“50 Kilo Fox”—on a trip to the Out Islands of the Bahamas.
Redheaded Copilot replied, “I can’t swim.”
I observed that our first stop would be Bimini, which is only 46 nm off the Florida coast; and, that we had crossed Lake Michigan and back (73 nm each way); crossed Cape Cod Bay to Provincetown, Mass. and back (30 nm each way); crossed the Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island and back (40...Read more
In the late 1970s Cessna executives became convinced that there was a market for a new utility aircraft—one that would be able to fly into remote strips and in extreme weather.
Studies confirmed the market was ready for a rugged, single-engine turboprop. If it also offered low operating and maintenance costs, Cessna personnel estimated they could sell 40 units per year in North America and possibly additional units in other markets.
Designers chose the 207 fuselage as the platform for the new model. The fuselage was widened and fitted with a 600 shp Pratt & Whiney PT6A-114 turbine engine. There was not...Read more
Useful tips for understanding your airplane’s turbocharger.
We get calls every week from someone across the country regarding bearing play. During pre-buy, annual inspections and routine maintenance, the common practice is to reach into the compressor housing inlet, grab the turbine wheel shaft and give it a wiggle. You might be surprised to know that you can expect to find some play when you do this.
A little explanation is in order. As you can see by the photos, the main bearings in these turbochargers look more like a bushing.
There are two items to consider when understanding proper bearing clearance: (1) the...Read more
CFA’s assistant director visits one of the biggest aviation celebrations in the world.
Well, this year, I had the privilege to visit Lakeland, Fla. for the very first time to attend one of the biggest aviation celebrations in the world. I’ve attended only a handful of conventions and airshows, including AOPA Aviation Summit and Kaneohe Bay Airshow, so I didn’t know what to expect.
Although I was only scheduled to attend for a short three days, I knew that I would be bedazzled by everything I saw, especially since I am a big aviation geek. Before I left, I asked Jen...Read more
A directory of Cessna Flyer supporters
Many of these companies offer multiple products and services but for the sake of this guide we are listing only specific categories. Please visit the company websites for complete information about their offerings.
Twice this past month friends of mine in two separate states found themselves attending the funerals of friends of theirs who died in crashes of General Aviation aircraft. The Florida death involved a Cessna Skymaster that lost one engine and had problems with the second engine, while in Nebraska the crash of a Piper took the lives of its young pilot and his friend when the PA-28 struck power wires shortly after takeoff.
These occurrences are awful tragedies for the families and friends of the dead. Having lost two friends myself to bad things happening to airplanes—one a former flight...Read more
An Unforgettable First Flight
April 21, 2013 1340Z
“Columbus Clearance, Shane 1. Through the Warren County RCO requesting VFR Flight Following to South Bend Regional at six thousand, five hundred.”
“Shane 1, Columbus Approach. Good morning, squawk 6666; maintain VFR and contact Columbus Approach on 118.55 when airborne.”
“Columbus Approach, Shane 1. Squawk 6666; contact Columbus on 118.55. We’ll be airborne shortly.”
On a see-forever Sunday morning in late April, I’m sitting in a twin engine airplane at I68, Lebanon-Warren County airport, 20 miles north of Cincinnati. In the back is Chuck DiGiovanna. He was supposed to be accompanied by his wife Patsy and their...Read more
The Cessna Aerobat makes an affordable entry to aerobatics and is a great all-rounder
In the 1960s, Cessna took note of the growing popularity of aerobatics and responded with the A150K Aerobat, introduced in 1970. This was a version of its popular two-seat nosewheel trainer with some structural reinforcement, a four-point harness to keep pilot and instructor in place under negative g and a few other modifications.
Considering that it was all rather a compromise, the resulting airplane turned out surprisingly well. One inevitable drawback was the rather poor view out, particularly in a loop when you need to be able...Read more
Hoop Earrings-Earwings? These 18k white gold hoops will make a great gift for the female aviator in your life—even if that's you. $695.00www.theabingdonco.com
Garmin D2 Pilot Watch-Move over, Dick Tracy: a new era in nifty watches has arrived. The new Garmin D2 Pilot does everything but catch the bad guys. GPS enabled with direct-to and nearest function buttons on its side. Interfaces with Garmin Pilot app. $449.00 msrpwww.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/pspages/garmind2watch.php?clickkey=952004
InReach SE-He's gone country—backcountry flying, that is. And if he has, make sure he's got a way to keep in touch. DeLorme's inReach SE is a portable satellite communicator. Send and receive text messages...Read more
Avionics is where the action is (and has been!) for some time in aviation. It seems as if each month brings a new, relatively low-cost gadget or app designed to increase situational awareness, monitor aircraft systems or otherwise improve the lot of pilots.
This month, we’ll look at a product that’s been around for a few years and it’s a device that fits the “big bang for the buck” paradigm: Zaon’s passive collision avoidance system (PCAS), the PCAS MRX.
But why PCAS when there’s ADS-B and TCAS?
Before you begin reading this column I feel that I should warn you that it does not have a happy ending. But maybe the ending has not yet been written. Maybe the ending is for you to create in how you react to what you read, and what—if anything—you do about it. I tried as I wrote to see the glass half-full rather than half-empty, but I fear that I failed in that hope… and the glass itself may be leaking.
For many years, being a pilot—and the awareness that comes along with that role—and the flying of airplanes...Read more
One privilege of conducting air tests is that one gets to fly airplanes the like of which one would not normally experience. However, I have no desire to become a professional pilot, and am happy to remain a club-level PPL and react as one in such a situation. So, when an invitation was received from Roche Bentley (a true multi-business entrepreneur) to fly his uncommon and desirable twin, it was accepted with alacrity.
In January 1953 Cessna flew the prototype of one of their most successful light twins, the Model 310. This was at first deemed to be something of...Read more
Interestingly enough, most of the times when we use our torque wrenches, it’s not so much the torque we’re interested in. It’s the amount of tension or crushing force we’re exerting on the assembly through the tightening of the fastener.
Because the threads, materials and finishes in high-quality nuts and bolts are standardized, a given amount of torque (or twisting force) on a given threaded fastener will produce a fairly consistent amount of tension in the fastener. Because it’s difficult if not impossible to directly measure the tension in the fastener, we do the next-best thing: we check the torque...Read more
When you take flying lessons, you learn the basics of moving an airplane on the ground. At first, you’ll help your instructor, then you’ll do the moving under his or her supervision.
If your trainer is kept on a tiedown, most of what’s involved is just taxiing but from time to time you’ll have to move the airplane without using the engine. Where modern trainers are concerned, this is just a matter of muscle power—attach the tow bar to the nosewheel, and push or pull on the prop, near the hub. Older tailwheel trainers are even easier—just lift the tailwheel...Read more
Over the years I have relished the challenge of the efficiencies of packing. Early in my life, I owned a Corvair, notably short of space when packing for a 10-day vacation involving some camping along with some hoteling. When I was finished, the car held everything—but no more toothbrushes, please.
Several years later I was again challenged when packing for a week’s vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina—and it all had to fit in a C-172 along with two adults and three young children. Again, it was a success story.
This efficiency, of course, came full circle when we were...Read more
The 2013 California Pilots Association (CalPilots) annual meeting, “California Dreamin’,” was much bigger and better attended than past CalPilots get-togethers. Jolie Lucas and Mitch Latting are recognized for their inspired advocacy of the Oceano Airport (L52), and they turned their considerable skills toward organizing and promoting the meeting.
It was a rousing success. Spread over one and a half days, the event drew nearly 300 pilots, advocates, airplane owners and other nonspecific wing nuts.
The program included advocacy speakers such as Jamie Beckett of the Polk Aviation Alliance, Mike Jesch of the Fullerton (Calif.) Airport Pilots Association, and Bill Dunn of AOPA....Read more
The weather’s still pretty good as I write—though we’ve had a few cloudy days, and winter rain, fog and ice are just a couple of months away. Nonetheless, I’ve been spending more time on the ground than in the air lately.
I’ve spent some of it thinking about the changes we’re going to see in the air in the next few years, and the most worrying of those changes will be sharing the air with robots—unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), remotely piloted aircraft (RPVs), in a word: drones.
It’s already happened on a limited basis. Until recently there was a TFR over Beale...Read more
If you are a fan of "Antiques Roadshow" or a saver of things with the barely recognized thought that they might someday be worth enough that a grandchild will remember you fondly, give some thought to stashing away any sectional charts you have sitting around. Roll them up neatly and store them, away from sunlight and insects, up in your attic.
There's probably room next to that old Erector set, alongside your collection of manual typewriters, those two rotary dial phones and that precarious stack of mahogany cigar boxes your dad gave you.
I am no futurist, and my prognostications have often...Read more
Q: Dear Steve,
I like other GA pilots have concerns such as the fact that the value of my airplane has sagged, my mechanic has finally locked up his toolbox and hit the road on a rolling retirement, and the price of Avgas has cut back on my flying hours. However, today I’m writing to alert fellow readers of Cessna Flyer magazine about the day I almost burnt up my Cardinal.
Here’s the deal. Due to my age I need supplementary vision help. So I’ve had to start carrying a pair of nonprescription “readers” glasses with me when I fly.Read more