September 1, 2001


I really enjoyed " Budget Buys: Day-Tripper" (July Pilot) about the Piper Tomahawk. Finally, someone did an honest evaluation of this fine little airplane. I have owned mine more than 15 years and love it. It does require one to fly it at all times; this makes flying fun and interesting.

Most people who talk negatively about the airplane have never flown one or have only read bad articles.

As Julie K. Boatman mentioned in the article, the airplane offers very good visibility and plenty of room for two people. I just completed an 800-mile round trip and enjoyed every minute. At 8,000 or 9,000 feet one can see everything.

As for the nose gear scissor link, if I keep it snug and keep the front wheel balanced, I have no problem with shimmy.

Floyd "Swede" Swenson AOPA 1016343
Portland, Oregon

I rarely write to magazines, but I just had to drop a note about "Budget Buys: Day-Tripper." I got my private pilot certificate more than 10 years ago in a Tomahawk and, despite their being noticeably missing in the high-altitude Colorado environment, have very fond memories of flying them — despite the "Traumahawk" jokes I had to suffer on my solo cross-countries. Finding and getting a chance to fly one on vacation from time to time is a real treat!

After being bombarded by article after article about its "dangerous" properties, it's wonderful to finally see this excellent aircraft shown in a more positive light.

Mark Kolber AOPA 1081599
Denver, Colorado

I found the Tomahawk to be an excellent platform for my initial instrument training. In fact, the first 10 hours of training were conducted in this aircraft. The airplane had a great feel, and it was always easy to put it where you wanted. In fact, it was in the Tomahawk that I finally grasped the principle that power controlled altitude and attitude controlled airspeed.

The big-airplane feel of the Tomahawk made it easy to transition to the T-tail Piper Arrow when I started the commercial segment of my training.

Rolland G. Fitch II AOPA 727688
Summerville, South Carolina

Tailwheel qualifications

As a relatively new pilot still developing my skills with tailwheel aircraft, I enjoy AOPA Pilot magazine, particularly the articles on older aircraft and seaplanes. When I was receiving training for my tailwheel sign-off two of the things I was told by more than a couple of experienced pilots was to fly the airplane until you shut it down on the ramp and not rush to do anything, even something as simple as shutting off the carb heat.

My practice, once I have landed the aircraft (Maule MX-7-180A) and cleared the active, is to stop the aircraft and then go through the normal clean-up procedure: flaps, carb heat, ground frequency, and whatever else you want to do inside the aircraft. The one thing I don't do while the aircraft is moving is to take my hands or feet off of the controls. My other recommendation is that as long as the aircraft is moving, focus your attention outside on direction of travel. (Somebody told me early on that you can't taxi a taildragger slow enough.)

I have flown in a Piper Cub, and I am familiar with the location of the carb heat control. I trust Brian Peck now waits until the aircraft has been stopped before shutting off the carb heat (" Surviving the 709 Ride," July Pilot). I enjoyed the article, and I was glad to see that not everyone who flies a taildragger is always perfect in their landings and ground procedures. I still struggle for perfection and have a long way to go. It takes a humble pilot to share this kind of experience and make us neophytes believe that we will get it down someday.

Thanks for the down-to-earth experience.

Bernard Beaudoin AOPA 1360030
Danbury, Connecticut

Meigs memories

Thanks to Peter A. Bedell for bringing back fond memories of my only visit to Meigs Field (" Postcards: Chicago in a Day — Or Two," July Pilot). Only those of us who have made the approach to that historic field can appreciate what Bedell was describing. The day I flew to Meigs the ceiling was 2,000 feet. I was on an IFR flight plan from St. Louis and was vectored for a long and breathtaking downwind leg over Lake Michigan for Runway 18. The overcast ended before the horizon to the west, and I turned base in time to see the setting sun beam through the manmade mountains of downtown Chicago. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, an image as vivid to me today as the day I touched down.

Bedell has made an eloquent statement in favor of the storied field. I trust that the good work of so many dedicated pilots and friends of aviation will result in the saving of this landmark. I plan to visit Chicago again, and Meigs is where I want to land.

Phillip Palmer AOPA 1074634
Tulsa, Oklahoma

The Julian way

When each issue of AOPA Pilot arrives I read it in the same fashion: skim, scan, and then read. I read it from cover to cover, but when I came across Thomas B. Haines' " Waypoints: The Julian Way" (July Pilot), I was hooked.

The simple statement of "Outside of the immediate family members, few people touch a pilot's life the way a primary flight instructor does" struck home. The person who came to mind was K.C. Hoh.

It began in April 1995. I was stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, as a C-130 Hercules loadmaster when I decided to take flying lessons. I walked into Take Flight Alaska at Merrill Field in Anchorage and asked if they had an instructor available. I'm not sure if the planets were properly aligned or if it was just my lucky day, but out stepped Hoh. She was a slender woman with an athletic build. She had a sparkle of enthusiasm in her eyes and confidence in her voice as she spoke about flying.

From that very moment I knew I had a great instructor. After I soloed and started my cross-country training, Hoh landed a job as a pilot for a local carrier. However, she assured me that she would stay with me all the way to my checkride — and she did. We would schedule our flights around our work schedules, and believe it or not, it worked out very well.

I mention this because Haines also stated in his article that "it's the rare student who moves from first flight to checkride with only one instructor." I am truly that "rare" and fortunate student.

Andrew Benucci AOPA 1286090
Colonial Heights, Virginia

Thank you for Thomas B. Haines' article on John Julian. In 1980 as a young manager in the steel industry (and young private pilot) I took a job in Greenville and moved there from the other side of the state. In need of a flight review I wandered out to the Greenville airport and met John Julian.

Now, 20-plus years later, flying a Beech King Air in support of our consulting firm, I still fondly remember the best flight review I ever received. Julian slowly walked out to N757AB (a Cessna 152), we climbed in, and he proceeded to cover up every instrument and gauge in the panel except for the oil pressure. Then he asked if I had ever flown off of grass before. I said with a bit of shock that flying off of grass with no gauges or instruments would be very new to me!

With a great bit of calm and grace, Julian talked about feeling and hearing how the plane performed. We spent the next hour or so feeling and hearing the little 152 though many maneuvers. I don't believe I ever learned more about flying than I did in that hour.

Thank you for rekindling the memories.

Karl F. Muller AOPA 902182
Williamsburg, Virginia

Missing the big picture

I have the Garmin 530/430 combo and think it's the best (" On Display: The Big Picture," July Pilot). But I believe that pilots need exposure to more than magazine articles, which are good for information — they should take rigorous training, because these new panel mounts have become primary instruments. Most pilots still use "Direct To" and little more.

Why is it that there is no mandated training on autopilots and IFR-certified GPS gear?

Howard Reisman AOPA 1377045
Mashpee, Massachusetts

Which runway?

I'm writing in regards to the July 2001 Pilot table of contents page. It's the two-page spread featuring Paul Diette's Piper Tomahawk taking off from Frederick Municipal Airport — which also happens to be home to AOPA.

I am a student pilot just getting started on my private pilot certificate (but self-taught via flight simulators and books for years). I am also looking toward continued education leading to a bachelor's degree in aviation business administration with a minor in airport design. As such, I was amazed when I opened my July issue to the table of contents and saw what the runway markings at Frederick Municipal Airport look like.

How can an organization that prides itself on safety and on the work it's doing toward improving runway incursions continue to operate from a runway that appears such as the one on the table of contents page? I understand that Frederick Municipal Airport is a municipal airport and, therefore, does not fall to the care and feeding of AOPA. But, on the other hand, why wouldn't Frederick Municipal have the best paint job of all the fields across the country? If I were on the local airport authority, I'd certainly want to take a look at what was in my own backyard since AOPA resides there.

Michael Davidson AOPA 1405122
Portland, Oregon

The extraneous markings on Runway 23 at Frederick represent the old runway end and a displaced threshold from a long-completed runway extension; the faded markings are now closer to midfield than the runway end and do not appear to cause confusion — Ed.


" Ounce of Prevention: Suddenly Single" (August Pilot) stated that VMC is determined with landing gear extended. To the contrary, FAA certification requirements dictate that landing gear be retracted.

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.