November 1, 1997

Airport of my own

I thoroughly enjoyed Stephen Coonts' article " An Airport to Call My Own" (September Pilot). I fly off a 3,200-foot grass strip (O5Y) in an Aeronca 7AC Champ. We have much the same atmosphere at our homey little slice of heaven. It's nice to be reminded of the reasons we all started flying in the first place. I only wish we had someone like Nellie Tincher to make the rolls. Thank you for including grass-roots articles like these in your publication.

Grant D. Smith AOPA 892903
Henning, Minnesota

"An Airport to Call My Own" caught my attention. You see, I've had my head in the clouds since I was 4 years old. I had wanted to fly all my life but lacked the resources. At age 55, my daughters and I invested in a paraplane (powered parachute), which we enjoyed for 13 years. For our fiftieth wedding anniversary, my wife, Betty, gave me flying lessons. As soon as I soloed, I knew that I had to have an airplane. I was fortunate in locating a very nice Cessna 150 that I could afford. As soon as I got it home, I laid out a 1,850-foot grass strip here on our farm.

At 69, I now have my certificate and relish in the pleasure of flying my family. This absolutely has been a dream come true. So, for me, "a wing and a strip will do."

Douglas P. Balser AOPA 1307977
Mexico, Missouri

I was delighted to see "An Airport to Call My Own" in the September Pilot. The terrific photographs that Michael Collins took for the piece made it work, in my opinion.

One of the tower controllers at Greenbrier Valley Regional in nearby Lewisburg told me that on the Saturday before Labor Day, the first weekend the magazine was out, there were 30 airplanes parked on the Rainelle strip when he flew in. I'll bet Squire and the cook about went nuts.

Stephen Coonts AOPA 1056593
Highland, Maryland

The Seabee, exactly

Rick Durden expressed the thrills and humiliations of a Seabee owner exactly (" Unconventional, Yet Alluring," September Pilot). There is no question that he had intimate experience with a 'Bee.

Mine was "all stock," complete with hand powerpack to pump the gear and flaps up and down while flying with the other hand. My children have fond memories of swimming and fishing from the "Old Lady," as well as dropping in on vacationing friends and being the center of attention.

The climb and glide speeds you mentioned were approximately 20 mph slower than those I experienced, and I wonder if the one you used is the one pictured with extended tips? That would explain the difference. Unfortunately, my airplane was in the hangar for its annual when the hangar burned down. All I have left is a spare plastic two-blade propeller over my mantle.

Joseph H. Graf AOPA 008621
Georgetown, Massachusetts

I read with great interest the story "Unconventional, Yet Alluring." Durden's unconventional, yet alluring — to borrow his phrase — description of the Republic Seabee made me feel almost as if I had flown it.

I have thought on several occasions before, when reading about amphibious airplanes, that it would be great to be able to land at some lake or another. Somehow, I thought that one could land only at an FAA- or state-approved lake. On the charts, for instance, there is a seaplane base on Clear Lake, some 30 nautical miles north of Santa Rosa, California, but not many others.

Walt Wester, the owner of the Seabee, is quoted as saying that he "lands on scores of lakes." When is it legal to land on a lake or river? I know that it is permissible in Canada, but what about California or any other state?

Neal C. Burmaster AOPA 960847
Anaheim, California

Public-use seaplane bases in the United States are listed in AOPA's Airport Directory . However, the Seaplane Pilots Association's SPA Water Landing Directory also contains private-use facilities and lists state and local regulations regarding seaplane use. To purchase a copy, call the SPA at 301/695-2083 — Ed.

Enlightening experience

As an AOPA member during the past 10 years, I have transitioned from student pilot to private pilot with a very limited understanding and appreciation of the organization.

All that changed when I had the opportunity to attend my first-ever pilot town meeting in Atlanta on September 10. Phil Boyer was a very dynamic and enthusiastic speaker who presented a very professional, enlightening, and entertaining program. His explanations of AOPA's impact on such topics as aviation safety, new pilot starts, cost containment issues, and others were excellent. The video clip he presented on noise abatement issues in our national parks was the best that I have seen on that isssue, and the innovative use of interactive feedback devices for polling the audience was very beneficial and informative.

I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting and came away with a greater understanding of what AOPA does for general aviation. AOPA is very lucky to have such a truly dedicated and hardworking president. I know I will not miss another opportunity to attend an AOPA pilot town meeting.

Wesley Alan Taylor AOPA 927157
Elizabethton, Tennessee

Finding self-fueling

Thanks for the great article on self-fueling (" Serve Yourself," September Pilot). I use a self-fueling facility at Neosho (Missouri) Memorial Airport and love it — it's the least-expensive 100LL around, and it's there 24 hours per day. Any idea of where I can get a regional or national list of self-fueling facilities?

Darrell Swank AOPA 1278218
Jacksonville, Arkansas

Airport listings in the AOPA's Airport Directory CD-ROM, available from Sporty's Pilot Shop at 800/543-8633, can be searched for self-fueling capability. Plans call for these listings to be available on AOPA's Web site by mid-1998 — Ed.

Less is more

Thank you for the recent review of our new Pilot Avionics Freedom DNC headset (September Pilot). I am very happy to say that the three criticized items (short cord, excessive volume, and difficulty telling if the unit was on or off) have already been addressed.

I would respectfully like to point out to you that the most important feature of the headset was completely ignored in your article. You fell into our trap as we hope many pilots will — you did not mention the battery pack, cigarette lighter adapter, or electric "black box" that all other ANR headsets have. You did not mention them because we do not have any in this headset — the unit is totally self-contained. We think less is more.

Lee W. Luzell AOPA 996280
Irvine, California

Luzell is president of Pilot Avionics — Ed.

Never again

Although I have read about the Signature FBOs' charging high ramp fees unless fuel is purchased, I was under the mistaken impression they had received enough bad publicity that the practice had been stopped.

I had my first and last encounter with Signature in September while flying a humanitarian mission into North Las Vegas, Nevada, for AirLifeLine. I literally pulled onto the ramp, let the passengers out, and was hit with a choice of purchasing 120 gallons of jet fuel or paying a $120 ramp fee. Even though I told them I was on an AirLifeLine mission and expressed my great dissatisfaction, the charge was the same. It took longer for the lineman to get me the receipt than for me to let off my passengers and taxi out.

It is my opinion that the aviation community should strongly protest this type of action by boycotting all Signature FBOs. It will certainly be my pleasure to do so for the rest of my flying career.

Roy A. Goodart AOPA 856131
Salt Lake City, Utah

Counting seats

I enjoyed reading Barry Schiff's " Proficient Pilot" column (September Pilot). I am surprised, however, at Schiff's disregard for Cessna Aircraft. In the article, he states that the Pilatus PC-12 is the only single-engine aircraft with 10 or more passenger seats. This is not true. The Cessna Caravan can have as many as 14 seats, and Caravans outnumber PC-12s by about 12 to one.

It is also noteworthy that, since both the Caravan and the PC-12 are certificated under FAR Part 23, neither is available in the United States with more than nine passenger seats. This means that the pilot doesn't actually need an ATP to fly one, even in air taxi operations. (Barry, was this a quiz?)

Bill Rice AOPA 1151041
Gaithersburg, Maryland

The missing administrator

I always have some fun with " Test Pilot," and in the September issue there was a question that required the reader to name previous administrators of the FAA. It was a little curious to me because I was able to name a former administrator who was not in your list of answers. His name is Langhorne Bond.

I would not take the time to write except that Bond has continued to be a great supporter of general aviation since leaving his position as administrator. He was the guiding light of the Malibu Coalition, later absorbed by the Malibu Mirage Owners and Pilots Association, when the Piper single was subject to a very unfair airworthiness directive that was later rescinded. More recently, Bond has carried the banner for operators of single-engine turbine-powered aircraft in a successful effort to allow those aircraft to carry passengers in instrument meteorological conditions in Part 135 operations. His past and continuing support for the cause of general aviation makes his name especially noteworthy on a list of former administrators.

John K. Foster
Baltimore, Maryland

Langhorne Bond was FAA administrator from 1977 to 1981 — Ed.


The definition of night for logging of night flight time and operation of navigation lights was incorrect in " Measure of Skill: Night Fright" (October Pilot). Night time may be logged from evening twilight to morning twilight as published in the American Air Almanac. Navigation lights must be on from sunset to sunrise.

The Web address in October " Pilot Briefing" for The Fledglings Roost Web site contained a typographical error. It is www.wycol.com/the-roost/.

An incorrect telephone number for Aircraft Belts, Inc., was listed in " Ultimate Arrow: Finishing Touches" (October Pilot). The correct numbers are 800/847-5651 or 281/538-1284; fax 281/538-2225.

Paul Salmon of Burke, Virginia, should have been identified as the illustrator of the postage stamp depicting the first supersonic flight and shown in September's " Pilot Briefing."

We welcome your comments. Address your letters to: Editor, AOPA Pilot, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701. Send e-mail to [email protected]. Include your full name, address, and AOPA member number on all correspondence, including e-mail. Letters will be edited for style and length.