July 1, 2006
I really liked Alton Marsh's " Cubs for a New Generation" (May Pilot). Although I am a private pilot flying a Cessna 172D, I have been watching these two airplanes since the advent of sport pilot/light sport aircraft. I think these airplanes are just what general aviation needs to get a younger generation into aviation (I'm 43 years old, and am generally the youngest person at the airfield).
One thing that disturbed me was the report that the two companies profiled, Cub Crafters and American Legend Aircraft, are embroiled in a lawsuit over promoting their products as Cubs, using the name Legend, and emblazoning yellow aircraft with the black lightning-bolt accent. To Jim Richmond and Tim Elliott, I have to ask: Are you nuts? Only lawyers will gain from any litigation, certainly not the aviation community. One only needs to look at what lawsuits did to the fledgling American aviation industry in the early 1900s during the suit between the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss. That suit tied up the assets of both companies, and it effectively shut both out of aviation development. As a result, American aircraft in 1914 were far inferior to European aircraft as World War I began.
Returning to today, both companies have superb aircraft that are needed as low-cost aircraft for younger fliers. Both have done a superb job of returning different variants of the venerable Cub back to production. There is plenty of market for both companies to succeed, if they are wise enough to drop their litigation. Were I to have an extra $100,000 lying around, I probably would be buying one of these two aircraft. I think Cub Crafters does a better job of implementing the glass panel, but the Legend steals your heart with the open-cowl J-3-type airplane.
Both companies make different products, and there is room for both in our aircraft industry.
I found your recent article "Cubs for a New Generation" well written and informative. The article leads into a question I have been asking for some time with no clear answer. Why and how did the sport pilot movement become so expensive? I thought the idea behind the sport pilot certificate was to make sure everyone had the opportunity to experience flight. I understand the market of supply and demand, economics, and aviation advances, but $99,500 for a sport-ready aircraft? Thank God for my Pietenpol scratch-built airplane.
Alton K. Marsh writes: You are right, sport-category airplanes got a lot more expensive than any of us expected. The promise was that they would go out the door for $60,000. The reality is that almost all of the sport planes have hit the $100,000 mark. I try not to report base prices, given that you will want such things as a radio, and report the out-the-door prices. If we play the base-price game, then the aircraft are $80,000 to $90,000, still higher than expected. The realities of the aviation business are that manufacturing costs more than most people realize.
I very much enjoyed Paul Fournier's article on aerial fish planting (" Trout Raining From the Skies," May Pilot). Although Maine offered much to the success of early aviation, I would like to correct a statement in the article. It stated, "The technique of stocking fish by dropping them from the air was developed in Maine, by Maine Warden Service aircrews." Not quite. Although it may be difficult to prove who originally hatched the idea, the first documented evidence shows that this practice started in the Adirondacks on Lake Pleasant and Piseco Lake, New York, using a Travel Air 4000 as early as 1931. I have a newspaper clipping from that summer stating that the airplane can accomplish in hours what would take men a week to do, and would drop 5,000 fingerling from a height of 150 feet with a 90-percent survival rate. This was not a one-time trial, but continued on with great success through the 1930s with a 1930 Waco CSO Straightwing, which I owned for 15 years, used extensively in this project. It is interesting to read the associated logbook entries as well in this Waco, which once carried Max Schmeling on a flight just 10 days prior to his famous fight with Joe Louis in 1938.
I really enjoyed Chip Wright's " Technique: Playing in the Big League" (May Pilot). One area Wright did not spend much time on is wake turbulence. Obviously avoiding wake turbulence is critical when going to play with the big boys. Good standard procedures include making sure you have adequate spacing, and flying on or slightly above glideslope with a bit of additional speed. Air traffic control usually likes us to be at 120 knots to short final. But one more thing is important. I learned about it the hard way some years ago, on approach to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in a Piper Cherokee Six. With six on board, after a two-hour flight from San Diego, on a cloudless beautiful morning, with no wind, and on final at 1,200 feet agl, we encountered severe turbulence from the jumbo jet ahead. Inverted on final is not fun, and we were.
What I learned that day is to always ask the controller if the jet ahead actually flew on the glideslope. In our case, we were more than five miles in trail, on glideslope, but the jumbo (a Lockheed 1011) had come in high and hot, so to slow down it pulled off the power, dropped flaps, and pulled the nose up — platformed, I think they call it — well above the glideslope, generating very strong vortices. There was no wind to dissipate the vortices, now descending at about 500 fpm I learned later. Timing is everything, and we got to where the vortices crossed the glideslope at exactly the wrong moment. We entered a fast, uncontrolled left roll without warning. The control yoke was pinned all the way left instantly, and it took several seconds before I could even return the controls to normal. I somehow got the aircraft back under control and upright after losing about 500 feet of altitude, from about 1,200 feet agl to about 600 feet.
The big airports are great, and we general aviation types can visit, but some additional precautions are very important anytime you mix it up with the heavy iron.
I enjoyed "Playing in the Big League" by Chip Wright. I am a pilot who has flown small aircraft for 40 years. The part on Boston's Logan airport struck a bittersweet note with me. Wright wrote, "I have no idea who lives in those homes, but I like to think some of them are pilots." My daughter Sara lived in a three-story house on Winthrop Beach with several flight attendants and pilots, flying out of Logan. We often walked the two blocks from her home to the seawall and watched the wonderful mix of sea and air traffic from Logan. I am the father of Sara Elizabeth Low, American Airlines flight attendant on Flight 11, September 11, 2001.
In response to Barry Schiff's article " Proficient Pilot: 10 Knots Below" (May Pilot), I must say I'm disappointed. Not in Schiff's actions, but in the instructor giving him the checkride. Schiff's credentials and experience speak for themselves. Being retired from TWA with more than 50 years flying tells me that he knows what he is doing. During the checkride, the CFI initiated a simulated engine failure in the Skyhawk. Schiff elected to reduce airspeed (glide) to minimum sink after finding a suitable landing strip close by. The CFI was upset that Schiff chose best glide at 10 knots below the published best glide for that type of aircraft. He did not need a maximum-range glide rate, as most pilots would try to accomplish under simulated emergency conditions. The maximum-range glide rate can be a pilot's undoing if his calculations are wrong and conditions cause the aircraft to land short of the intended landing area. That is the best way to scratch the paint and bend something on the aircraft.
Obviously the young CFI wasn't impressed with the response of this seasoned pilot, but he should have been. What really gets me is that the CFI wanted to go back to the airport rather than have Schiff at least set up for the simulated approach and landing by flying the pattern (or gliding in this case) to be sure he knew what he was talking about. Once satisfied that this maneuver was acceptable, they could have powered back up and continued. Looks to me as if the young CFI could learn a thing or two from Schiff. Hopefully, he was listening to Schiff's theory on best glide and may actually have learned something that day, even though he might not admit it.
I'm elated to have read Barry Schiff's column in AOPA Pilot. A few years ago, I deduced such a concept myself, and introduced it to "the elders," if you will. They scoffed at the idea, and dismissed me as simply full of it. Vindication is grand! Should such a thing be taught in training? Absolutely — perhaps not the maneuver itself, but definitely the concept.
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