November 1, 2005
(From AOPA Pilot , November 2005.)
At Oshkosh this year I was able to look at two examples of beautiful Cub-type aircraft from two different companies. They appeared to be well-built examples of this classic aircraft. The article about one of these light sport aircraft (" Sport Planes Are Here!" September Pilot) was generally complimentary, but I was somewhat dismayed to read the comment stating, "The bad news is that it is a tailwheel aircraft with all the challenges of a tailwheel airplane." I would suggest that, in the future, you have someone fly it who isn't challenged by a docile taildragger with a 30-knot stall speed. Those of us who love these classic aircraft hope to see more of the same.
While tailwheel aircraft are fun to fly, they have higher landing and takeoff accident rates than tricycle gear aircraft and higher insurance rates. — Editors
I enjoyed reading "Sport Planes Are Here!" in the September issue of AOPA Pilot. However, I was disappointed in your knocking of the Jabiru J250 on some minor points. I have followed the Jabiru line of kit airplanes for some time, and at EAA AirVenture this year I saw the J250. I was surprised they had used the four-seat fuselage instead of the two-seat version. The Jabiru representative told me that they had taken out the rear seats and put on a larger wing with more drag to cut the cruise to 120 knots. The good thing that you missed in the article was that the luggage volume is huge. Another light-sport-aircraft rep said the European airplanes have very small fuel capacity, which limits the range. With the larger fuel capacity of the J250, and the 120-knot cruise, it is a decent traveling machine.
Having just checked out in a Symphony, I read your article in the September issue with interest (" Tuning Up the Symphony 160," September Pilot). The airplane certainly is a delight to fly, and the visibility is as wonderful as you say it is. But that visibility comes with a price that probably was not apparent in Quebec two days past the vernal equinox. I fly out of Long Beach, California, and in the summertime here it would certainly be nice if some of those windows could open even a tiny bit. The ventilation is OK once you get airborne, but the cockpit is simply uninhabitable on the ground unless you have a door open. One of the company executives or engineers should fly south for a while. I strongly suspect there would be a little pencil sharpening at one of the drawing boards after his return. But don't get the wrong impression: It is a delightful airplane except for that flaw.
The story of Pearson Field evoked many personal memories of flying in or driving by the field (" Field of Influence," September Pilot). It's a wonderful piece of aviation history. I am delighted to know that Pearson's rich history hasn't fallen into oblivion. There are many more stories out there similar to the Pearson story. A Web site that may be of interest to other aero-history students is Paul Freeman's ( www.airfields-freeman.com).
I really enjoyed reading Thomas B. Haines' article " Waypoints: Flying With the Big Weather Picture" (September Pilot). Even though I fly professionally, there is nothing more relaxing than logging time in my Piper Archer. I recently installed a Garmin GDL 69, and now receive XM weather on my Garmin 430. What a comfortable feeling knowing of adverse weather conditions in advance. Planning ahead is vitally important as a pilot; now you can do it airborne, without a lot of fancy or expensive equipment. Soon XM will be installed standard for all aircraft. It's that good.
I completely agree that understanding insurance coverage will continue to bedevil us (" Pilot Counsel: Hull Insurance and Normal Wear and Tear," September Pilot). What shall we do about it? Even if the potential insured knew of some of the differences stated in the small print of the policy that might influence the choice of underwriter, the final decision is more likely to revolve around who among the few underwriters willing to offer this coverage has the best price. Quite often there is really only one company that is not less than sub-par available for higher liability limits in such aircraft as an owner-flown turbine. The obvious answer is more competition, but that comes with the insurers making more profit either through higher premiums or higher interest rates. I have been in aviation for 37 years and have paid upwards of a million dollars in premiums without a claim of any kind. If I had put those premiums into almost any kind of investment I could no doubt easily retire today. But I may not have slept well during that time.
It was with pleasure I read your account of your experiences as you got to know the Columbia River Gorge (" Postcards: Flying the Gorge," September Pilot). A couple of corrections in the name of accuracy: The Columbia River does not run through Oregon's eastern plains. In fact, it enters the United States in the northeastern corner of Washington after its genesis in the Canadian Rockies and a scenic journey through eastern British Columbia. You speak of Columbia Gorge Regional/The Dalles Municipal Airport but fail to mention that the airport is located on the north bank of the Columbia River in Washington. It is a pleasure to see our little northwest corner of this great country in AOPA Pilot.
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