June 1, 1997

Rotor rating

I enjoyed Tim McAdam's article (" Helicopter Trainers: Rotor Rating," April Pilot) but was surprised that he failed to mention the predecessor to the Schweizer 300CB, the Hughes 269/Army TH-55. This helicopter is almost identical to the 300CB in appearance and, I suspect, in performance.

A "hard engagement," or engaging the rotor too rapidly, was not uncommon and usually resulted in the main rotor blades' dephasing, but I don't remember anyone's experiencing (or admitting to) structural damage as indicated in the article.

The Army dropped the TH-55 just a few years ago and replaced it with the TH-68, a derivative of the Bell JetRanger. I am sure the turbine-powered TH-68 — with updated avionics and a newer airframe — is an improvement, but I feel students will miss something by not flying the venerable 269/TH-55.

Kevin T. Colcord AOPA 465812
Davidson, North Carolina

Articles in AOPA Pilot are always timely, but "Helicopter Trainers: Rotor Rating" was especially appropriate for me. As a traditionalist I like to observe anniversaries, and this year is the fiftieth since my first solo in a Piper J-3 Cub.

Rather than just repeating that flight, I decided a new challenge would be more fitting, so I started helicopter training late last year. The Robinson R22 is everything in sensitivity that author Tim McAdams says it is. Age has brought discretion, if not wisdom, so I would make no attempt to balance on a basketball, and my dancing has always been substandard; therefore, my transition to rotor flight has been humbling.

Fortunately, my instructor is very patient and I am persistent, so I am now flying solo. The pleasure is as great today as it was when I soloed in 1947, and one interesting sidelight is the improved sensitivity and accuracy seen in handling my Cherokee. Fellow fixed-wing pilots should try a demonstration flight; it opens a new window on our world.

Ellis G. Udwin AOPA 549932
Brownsville, California

Bogged down

The misleading information in " Airframe and Powerplant: Oil According to Boggs" (April Pilot) could lead to significantly increased maintenance costs, if not premature engine failure. Among many inaccuracies, two stand out:

First, it is implied that, despite the lack of official approval, ash-containing detergent automotive oils could be used in aircraft engines. This is dangerous and wrong, for three reasons. One: The effect of ash-type detergents on preignition is well documented. When detergent oils were tested in the 1950s, there were significant failures in both radial and flat engines. Two: Testing also revealed carbon clean-up problems and plugging of oil screens. Although this was more prevalent then because the converted engines had been using straight mineral oil, I would still expect a significant risk if many of today's engines were converted to an ash-containing detergent oil. Three: All of today's automotive and heavy-duty engine oils contain zinc dithiophosphate, an antiwear additive that chemically attacks and coats metals. This is fine for iron and steel, but on many softer metals, the additive will either create a thick film or actually corrode the metal away. It can cause valve sticking in engines with copper alloy valve guides. It also dissolves most silver bearings. Radial engines, as you know, usually have silver master rod bearings.

Boggs also claims it is "a fallacy" to believe that straight mineral oil is better for break-ins than ashless dispersant oil. Most manufacturers and rebuild shops recommend mineral oil break-in for a number of reasons. The most important: quicker break-in and a significantly reduced risk of glazing a cylinder, especially on engines overhauled with channel-chrome cylinders.

An "elder statesman" (as you refer to Boggs) is certainly entitled to his opinions. But if you choose to publish them, the least you can do is have them properly reviewed to ensure some degree of accuracy for your readers.

Ben Visser AOPA 963808
Houston, Texas

Visser is a staff research engineer for Shell Oil Products Company — Ed.

I've read several articles lately dealing with lubrication and the differences of opinion on whether single-weight or multiweight oils are better. It seems to me that, for the most part, the "experts" such as Dennis Boggs lean toward multiweight oils. However, when I talk to the mechanics who tear down engines that have used both types of oils, their opinions — after seeing what the engines look like at tear-down — are quite different. While I don't mean to belittle the opinions of the researchers, I think that, for my part, I'll continue to take the advice of the mechanics.

Jay Wischkaemper AOPA 404484
Lubbock, Texas

Pattern opinions

Congratulations on a well-balanced and thought-out response to the ongoing pattern debate (" Safety Pilot: The Great Debate," April Pilot). The passions this issue arouses are second only to the pitch-versus-power debate.

As a 1,700-hour CFII who was taught the upwind method of pattern entry, I have no problem with those who use the crossover method. The problem that I have is with those who insist on a 45-degree approach to the downwind leg on every arrival. This method works in some instances, but in others it results in a needless detour. Furthermore, if an aircraft arrives over the approach end of the pattern, an attempt to circle to a 45-degree downwind pattern entry would take the arrival to a head-to-head confrontation with traffic on downwind. This is not conducive to safety.

My recommendations are that pilots use their heads when planning an arrival and use the most appropriate method, while keeping an eye out for other traffic and monitoring the CTAF. Finally, if you don't like how someone else flies, settle it on the ground and not on the CTAF.

David W. Thornton AOPA 1104019
Dewy Rose, Georgia

Landsberg's statement, "General aviation has everything to gain by avoiding the media and regulatory attention that nontowered (midair) collisions generate," overlooks the very important fact that a midair collision also throws your ETA way off.

Despite his efforts, Landsberg didn't do anything to improve the present traffic pattern situation. He certainly didn't accomplish what he said he started out trying to do — come up with a safety advisory on nontowered airport operations; I think he muddled it up. It was conclusion-less. That entering from the upwind leg was a viable alternative and met with "a consensus within the FAA" — really? That won't dispel my "rundown feeling" in the pattern, I'll tell you. Now we have them coming at us from both sides.

Every pilot knows that flying into uncontrolled airports is a highly hazardous situation, yet nothing seems to ever change to make it better. Unlike the weather, something could be done about it if a real effort were made. Regulating it might be the first step.

Vincent D'Angelo AOPA 1253758
Naples, Florida

Landsberg did not intend for his column to address all aspects of traffic pattern entry. His comment referred to the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's new Safety Advisor publication on the subject — Ed.

Student starts

I am in total agreement that we must reverse the trend of declining student starts (" President's Position: Stop Dreaming, Start Flying," April Pilot), and I believe that Project Pilot is a wonderful idea to revitalize GA. I have done my part by taking instruction toward a private pilot certificate. Now, as a student pilot with a grand total of 11.3 hours (and having just soloed), I am faced with either remaining silent and letting my opinion be unknown, or speaking out and displaying my naiveté and inexperience.

How can GA be rescued from what is apparently (to me) a slow and painless death, when the major aircraft manufacturers continually provide aircraft aimed at a very small segment of the population — i.e., those with higher incomes? I keep seeing prices of used aircraft rise above those of small two-bedroom homes, and the future is clear to me: As long as I am unable to afford a personal airplane, I have no reason to fly!

My wife and I both work full-time, and we do not make enough money to afford a $150,000 Skyhawk, or even a $20,000 used 152. We are part of the future of general aviation, and if something isn't done to bring costs down to a level people like us can afford, then GA will surely die.

Charles A. Barreras, Jr. AOPA 1319343
Augusta, Georgia

Farewell, Max

Thank you for that nice tribute to Max Karant (" Farewell, Max," April Pilot). Those who have recently become active pilots needed to know to whom they are so indebted for the freedom they enjoy.

I had the pleasure of knowing Max, to have flown with him, and to have recently corresponded with him on a current project. I observed firsthand the tenaciousness and uncompromising attitude he exhibited in dealing with those in government who would stifle general aviation. Max was one of a kind, never to be seen again. The aviation community has lost a great friend.

B. V. Deltour AOPA 055294
El Cajon, California

Remembering Meigs

As I have looked through various publications and letters to the editor relative to Meigs Field, I noted that some have asked about its history and other aspects.

I well remember Meigs Field — and the police who approached me when I landed there — just prior to its opening years ago. As an Army National Guard pilot, I was flying a Stinson L-5, searching for victims of several airplane accidents from the Milwaukee coastline down to the Chicago area. Nature called, so it was imperative to make a short stop — which resulted in a bit of conversation with the police who were waiting for the dignitaries to land in a Twin Beech.

Paul H. Poberezny AOPA 117957
Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Poberezny is the founder and chairman of the board of the Experimental Aircraft Association — Ed.

Another perspective

After reading "Spartan, Diamond Trade Lawsuits" (" Pilot Briefing," April Pilot), I felt compelled to write to you with another flight school's perspective. We have more than 3,552 hours (and counting) on our Katanas since August 1995. During this time, we have not experienced a single landing gear problem with the airplanes.

Our Katanas are used extensively for training and thus are subject to the normal wear and tear of student-pilot learning experiences. Never once, during this time, have we had an incident.

We are very pleased with the operation of the Katanas. The airplane is forgiving, rugged, and very easy to fly. The only thing in the article that I could agree with is the statement that "the Katana has become very popular with both students and instructors."

Karen Morss
San Carlos, California

Morss is the owner of Diamond Aviation in San Carlos — Ed.


The gyrocopter crash that killed gyroplane pioneer Bill Parsons (" Pilot Briefing," May Pilot) was caused by control stick failure, not the wide-chord blade design that was being tested.

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