Letters

September 1, 2002

Flying the B-25

For those of us who went through Air Force pilot training in the early 1950s, the article about the TB-25 Super Rabbit brought back mountain waves of nostalgia (" Bombing With History," July Pilot). In those days the "Baker Two Bits" (we were still using the old phonetic alphabet) was the military's airborne classroom of choice for advanced multiengine schooling. Unlike the Rabbit, ours were stripped — just a lot of plexiglass covering the holes — and therefore lighter, cleaner, and perhaps easier on the controls.

The basics remain in memory: the deafening racket; the tortuous crawl, encumbered with the mandatory backpack parachute, through the tunnel to the greenhouse nose; the notoriously small trapdoor in the belly — the only way in, and in an emergency, the only way out. On the other hand, after wrestling with ground-looping taildraggers in basic, there was the pleasure of the tricycle gear's directional control on the runway, always mindful that the spindly wheel up front was free-castering. And, on instruments, it was a remarkably stable platform as we threaded our way between the As and Ns of those long-forgotten Adcock low-frequency ranges.

We shall always remember the old bomber as the airplane in which we earned our wings.

Walter Albrecht AOPA 761458
New York, New York

Engine out!

Bravo to AOPA for having the courage to print Barry Schiff's " Engine Out!" article in the July issue of AOPA Pilot. The official view taken by the instructors in my area is "don't even think about turning back to the airport." Schiff shows that it can be done (as I had suspected) with a little forethought and under the right conditions. This kind of lifesaving education should be embraced by the instructor community rather than suppressed.

Terry Van Blaricom AOPA 1388715
Sherman Oaks, California

Barry Schiff's article "Engine Out!" was a splendid commentary on a dangerous situation. As an FAA safety counselor, I did a study with five different aircraft and their respective owners. Our procedure used a 45-degree bank as recommended by several authors as a good compromise bank angle in a tense situation. Several engine-out simulations were performed in each aircraft. As expected, altitude losses tended to decrease by the third exercise.

While you cannot tell a pilot when, or if, to turn back, we urge pilots to practice repeatedly in the aircraft they fly so their altitude criteria is established by experience for their particular aircraft, speed of response, and pilot technique.

Joseph Bawduniak AOPA 264939
Naples, Florida

I liked the engine-out article in AOPA Pilot, but there is one statement I must disagree with: "Keep your head in the cockpit and stay on instruments while establishing the gliding turn." When flying VFR, you should be looking outside. You can change pitch or bank and be accurate by using outside references.

Before soloing a student, I would cover all cockpit instruments and have the student take off and land by using outside references only. Also, before recommending for a pilot certificate, I would have the student do all the stalls and emergency procedures with the instruments covered, using outside references exclusively. When flying VFR, pilots keep their heads in the cockpit too much as it is. It scares me.

Ed Langdon AOPA 379195
La Conner, Washington

Barry Schiff's article "Engine Out!" was very timely. I had a complete engine failure on takeoff in a Mooney this past April. The one thing that Schiff didn't describe in the article is how quickly you hit the ground. It couldn't have been more than eight seconds from the time I said, "Uh-oh," until we were sliding in the mud. You don't have very much time to think. You have to act and act correctly. In my case, we landed in a marsh and everyone was fine.

The key to us surviving this incident was training. During one of our frequent recurrent training sessions, my co-owner and instructor pulled the engine power on takeoff. What a shock! At the same time he firmly commanded, "Put the nose down!" This is the same voice that rang in my ears when the engine failed. Because we had drilled for this emergency I was able to move from recognizing the problem to acting very quickly.

Another good lesson is to plan for an engine failure while on the ground. You need to consider the potential ramifications of what you might hit.

Dana Nickerson AOPA 1235539
Newtown, Connecticut

Proficient Flight

I enjoyed Tom Haines' article about Proficient Flight in Waukesha, Wisconsin (" Waypoints: Proficient Flight," July Pilot). I am a 1,000-hour Cessna T210 owner and went to Proficient Flight in March of this year for the two-day instrument course. Greg Plantz runs a professional organization. My instructor was an experienced regional jet captain. The simulator was excellent with quality instrumentation including a Bendix/King 94 color GPS.

My experience at Proficient Flight has convinced me that recurrent simulator training can help reduce the general aviation accident rate as it has for the air carriers. Annual simulator training should be an insurance requirement for all instrument pilots, and there can be little doubt VFR pilots would benefit as well. To visit a professional well-run facility like Proficient Flight was a great experience. I can't wait to go back!

Ray Landes AOPA 1201937
Birmingham, Michigan

I read with great interest the "Waypoints" column in July featuring simulator training at Proficient Flight. I have had the fortunate opportunity to participate in the Proficient Flight program a number of times.

Although I own an A36 Bonanza, I found the training in the simulator a great supplement to actual IFR flight training. I especially appreciate the ability to fly approaches in the simulator down to minimums and to experience true instrument failures. They don't occur with Post-it notes attached. Regular simulator training, like that offered at Proficient Flight, is an essential component to maintaining my IFR proficiency and to my flying safely.

Jim Allen AOPA 1764568
Delafield, Wisconsin

Aircraft co-ownership

Alton Marsh's article regarding co-ownership in the July Pilot (" Budget Buys: Options for Affordable Flying") really said it all. After 20 years and 1,300 hours of flying, I can tell you that I would have been one of those pilots always on the outside of the fence if it were not for co-ownership.

Two of my three owned aircraft have been shared with co-owners, and I have been an active member of two flying clubs as well. I am currently flying a 1964 Beechcraft Debonair. This was surely one of those aircraft I could only have dreamed of were it not for sharing it all, including hangar rental, insurance, and maintenance, with a partner.

Nicholas Frankovich AOPA 787656
Ormond Beach, Florida

I have been extremely fortunate in a co-ownership arrangement for the past year, but there was much planning involved in bringing it to fruition.

My partner and I used the AOPA guide referenced in the article as our basic guide for our co-ownership arrangement. We added and deleted various portions until we had a solid agreement, then set out looking for a Tiger. Hunting for a plane together is actually a very good way to determine how well you might be able to work out conflicts during ownership. And it has been far more rewarding than either of us could have imagined. Trust is a very major part of it. He trusts me to carry the maintenance responsibilities. I trust him to bill us both properly and pay the hangar and insurance.

With the kind of homework that we did prior to the purchase, we've found a great plane that we can afford together but couldn't alone. Thank you for the guidance you offered to make aircraft ownership affordable and profitable (in more than a monetary sense) for those who love to fly.

Sherry Ditmer AOPA 1367090
San Leandro, California

Cheat Mountain

I do enjoy Stephen Coonts when he is writing about flying (" Cheat Mountain," July Pilot). Cannibal Queen is an old favorite. I'm not so favorably impressed when he takes gratuitous shots at a company (or companies) that was operating by the practices and laws of its times. Your magazine is about aviation, not reviewing former mining and timbering operations. The article could have been done without him standing on a soapbox.

Bill Jenney AOPA 424609
Tucson, Arizona

Erratum

In " A Pioneer Passes" (April Pilot), the number of AOPA members in 1977 was incorrect. The actual number of members in that year was 205,639.


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