April 1, 2000

Cessna’s Centurion

I was excited to see Marc E. Cook’s " Hail Centurion" (February Pilot), as I am the happy owner of a 1977 T210M that I flew home from the factory. Cook does a good job explaining the different versions of the aircraft.

I disagree with him when he states "…The turbo and pressurized 210s prior to the 1982 model year suffer from vapor problems." In 1981, Cessna issued service letter SE 81-33 and others that required modifications of the fuel vapor return to solve the fuel interruption problem. I recall that it was mandated by airworthiness directive and that Cessna picked up most of the cost for the modification. My aircraft does not have fuel flow interruptions even on the hottest days.

Please let your readers know that 210s don’t have fuel vapor problems if they are in compliance with all the ADs. Thank you for an otherwise informative article.

Allan Alcorn AOPA 596760
Portola Valley, California

I enjoyed the February article on the Cessna Centurion; for the most part, it was accurate and informative. Unfortunately, the comment about avoiding the earlier 210s is, in my experience, inaccurate and ill-advised, as it fails to consider the relative value existing in these aircraft. My wife and I owned a 1963 model for almost seven years until a tornado destroyed it. We purchased it for $35,000 and after a year or so of good maintenance, we were able to eliminate all the gear door problems. We also replaced the hydraulic pump and rebuilt the power pack. For our efforts, we were rewarded with a reasonably fast, reliable, and fun-to-fly retract for just a little more than a fixed-gear single.

When we lost the ’63, I started searching for another 210. Good ones are hard to find. After about a one-month search, I found one. We bought a 1969 turbo, which is loaded with first-class avionics, has less than 2,000 total hours, and a fairly new remanufactured Continental. We have had the ’69 for two years now and other than some upgrading that we wanted to do, the airplane has been very reliable and not too expensive to maintain.

For most of the people I know, price is a definite consideration in selecting an airplane. My wife and I love the 210 we have now, and we loved the ’63. I think it would be a mistake to exclude these aircraft from consideration, and I know many others who share that opinion.

Richard N. Blank AOPA 1025731
Winter Haven, Florida

Discussing GARA

Having just read " Pilot Counsel: The General Aviation Revitalization Act" (February Pilot), I want to encourage as strongly as I can that AOPA fight any attempt to repeal this act with all the vigor it has. Obviously, there needs to be balance between manufacturer responsibility and the pilot/owner, so I’m not advocating relieving manufacturers of responsibility for incompetent, unsafe designs. But it doesn’t do anyone (including greedy trial lawyers) any good to shut down manufacturers. Then, even they lose someone to sue.

Thank you for a well-written article and a "heads up" on what’s coming. It seems that the forces of evil never give up, so the forces of good cannot either.

Warren Bishop AOPA 1353795
North Platte, Nebraska

I am a longtime aircraft owner and have recently found it necessary to become an airframe and powerplant mechanic to ensure proper maintenance of my airplane. Although I am as proud of my mechanic certification as I am of my pilot certification, I am not happy about the events that necessitated my earning that rating.

I am angered by John Yodice’s "Pilot Counsel: The General Aviation Revitalization Act." I am particularly incensed at Yodice’s statement that he has "yet to hear a complaint from an AOPA member that the act has worked an injustice on anybody."

This piece of legislation that he seems so proud of did not rid us of the liability issue on 18-year-old general aviation aircraft. It simply shifted that liability from the manufacturer to the mechanic.

As a result, liability insurance for FBOs and independent A&Ps has increased dramatically. During this same period, the FAA has intensified its requirements for paperwork and made FSDO-shopping a norm for field approval success. The net effect is that many of our seasoned general aviation mechanics and FBOs who were in the business for the love of aviation have asked the question, why stay in the business? They will tell you that it is not fun anymore.

Not a hard response to understand when you consider that their profits are down due to high insurance premiums, that they spend an ever-increasing percentage of time working for free on FAA-required paperwork, and that they are policed by people who often don’t understand general aviation. Over the years I have used two experienced A&Ps, and last year both left the business. Both gave the same reasons.

John McKenzie AOPA 888898
Walnut Creek, California

Media efforts applauded

As a pilot and a former TV news reporter, I applaud AOPA’s efforts to enhance news media coverage of general aviation (" AOPA Action," February Pilot). I know from 34 years of experience in news and aviation public relations that the vast majority of mainstream news reporters are extremely conscientious. They want their stories to be fair and accurate.

Many times when I was in the news business, my reporter colleagues would ask me to proofread their aviation stories from a pilot’s perspective. This prevented statements such as "The man who was flying the (general aviation) airplane was not wearing a pilot’s uniform" from being broadcast. It’s too bad every newsroom can’t have a pilot on the staff, but AOPA’s effort is the next best thing.

Gil Cawood AOPA 720768
Nashville, Tennessee

Links to the future

Thomas A. Horne’s excellent " Future Flight: Links to Tomorrow" (February Pilot) must have taken a tremendous amount of work to uncover all the many facets of datalink and ADS-B, and explain them so clearly.

It is amazing to me that ADS-B has been so long in seeing the light of day. I personally flew in an early prototype ADS-B-equipped plane more than 10 years ago. The primitive equipment was amazingly simple and worked beautifully.

The inventor and patent holder, Ed Fraughton, has been trying ever since to get the aviation world to recognize the revolutionary nature of ADS-B, its amazing efficiency, and low cost. Hopefully, AOPA Pilot will help hasten the day when all aircraft are equipped with money-saving and lifesaving ADS-B, "boosting pilot awareness by orders of magnitude."

Bob Welti AOPA 1081886
Salt Lake City, Utah

Experiencing England

Congratulations on " Postcards: An American Pilot in Europe" (February Pilot). It is all true, especially the costs. The good news is that this is such a small country, it doesn’t take long to fly anywhere. I fly from an airfield just 12 miles west of London Heathrow, 25 miles west of central London (unlike Andrewsfield, which is about 70 miles northeast). We’re right near Windsor Castle, and Stratford-upon-Avon is about 40 minutes’ flight time away, with Stonehenge less than 30 minutes. Take lunch in France after a flight of less than 90 minutes.

Take it from me, with the strange charts, airspace, radio work, etc., budding aviators would be best advised to take a CFI with them in the right seat. Then they can enjoy their flying. In the United Kingdom, flight levels begin at 3,500 feet above sea level in places, and Class A can begin on the deck. Weird or what?

James Aidan AOPA 1402561
Cookham, England

Timing’s time line

I was fascinated by " Airframe and Powerplant: Heat, Light, and Sparks" (February Pilot), partly because I think it is a great idea and partly because I did some of the pioneering work in using engine combustion pressure to control ignition timing. Professor J. David Powell, a graduate student, and I did this same experiment in the early 1970s at Stanford University. We used a one-cylinder research engine that had a hole in its cylinder head, which we used for the pressure transducer. We soon found, however, that a piezoelectric washer under the spark plug gave an almost identical signal as the pressure tries to "push the spark plug out of the engine." We used a crude microprocessor to slowly change the ignition timing to make the peak pressure occur at just the right time. Like the GAMI unit, our microprocessor also recognized the wildly different pulse that resulted from preignition and retarded the timing just enough to make it stop.

The little engine ran great. The system automatically compensated for octane, fuel additives, fuel and air temperatures, and humidity. It was designed for cars, but would be even more beneficial in aircraft that see wide variation in these parameters. The electronics were no more complicated (but completely different) than those used in the ignition part of all fuel-injected automotive engines. I hope that GAMI succeeds in convincing everyone to put this technology in aircraft engines.

Robert R. Clappier AOPA 547198
Discovery Bay, California

Price increase explained

The price for M-20 Turbos’ Model 300 air-oil separator, mentioned in " Pilot Products" (February Pilot), has increased from $159 to $259. This dramatic change was caused by the unexpected quick transition from a one-man hobby with no payroll or expenses to a full-blown, high-volume business overnight.

The $159 price was part of a limited special offer to get some indication of interest in a market that had been totally dormant. The Pilot announcement generated sudden, explosive activity, and about 800 orders were accepted at the $159 price before our announced cutoff date. The new price is still lower by about half than any other units.

On February 28, the supplemental type certificate was expanded to include all airplanes with Continental or Lycoming engines of up to 360 horsepower.

Bill Sandman AOPA 522993
Boca Raton, Florida

Sandman is manager of M-20 Oil Turbos, L.L.C.—Ed.


The Web site offering links to air traffic control radio feeds provided in " Pilot Briefing" (February Pilot) has changed. The correct address is www.squawkident.com/livefeed.html.

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 number on all correspondence, including e-mail. Letters will be edited for style and length.